Dick’s Pittsburgh Marathon: I’m a Charity Runner for Our Clubhouse!

If you read my blog and have been following my journey, most of you know that one of the two reasons it exists is because of what my mother’s last words to me were as she lay dying from cancer in June 2009. So obviously, without a doubt, cancer, and those affected by it, is a HUGE deal to me. It changed my life.

Mommy and me

I had planned to sit down and write this post yesterday, as I knew my Steelers were out of the playoffs { :-( } and I’d have the time, which then coincidentally became the very same day the world lost a great man and sportscaster, Stuart Scott.

Stuart Scott quote You beat cancer by how you live

Stuart Scott quotes

He bravely battled cancer THREE times and finally passed away yesterday morning at the age of 49. After crying and watching hours of tributes to him on ESPN and then searching the web to learn more about his life, I finally got back to this post.

Pittsburgh Marathon races

I knew long ago I was going to run the Dick’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon this May. The 5K was my first race ever, back in 2012, and then I proceeded to run the half marathons in 2013 and 2014. Back then I was living in North Carolina and always planned my yearly trips back home to Pittsburgh around this race, so you KNOW I couldn’t miss it now that I’m living here again!

Our club house race

I was about to register as a regular old runner, but then found out about Our Clubhouse. If I ran as a charity runner for them, I’d raise money and feel like I was running for a purpose for once; not just to see the streets of Pittsburgh, collect a shiny medal and snap selfies afterward. I’d be exhausted as usual after the half, but this time I would FEEL GOOD at the same time.

This will be my FIRST TIME running as a Charity Runner!! So why Our Clubhouse? They are dedicated to their mission of offering social, emotional, and informational support to those in our region touched by cancer. They have a passion for helping those living with or beyond cancer, as well as those caring for them. Our Clubhouse provides networking and support groups, workshops, education and social activities and all of the activities are offered to their members at NO cost and membership is free. << Wish I had known about them back in 2009!! Learning of my mother’s cancer, seeing her go through it, then her death and the weeks, months, and years of trying to deal with it all afterwards–support is crucial!!

So, as a Charity Runner for Our Clubhouse, I’m an advocate for their mission. It’s my job to spread the word and do my best to raise funds so they can KEEP offering these amazing services.

Dick's Pittsburgh Marathon Our Club House Charity Runner

HOW CAN YOU HELP? Thanks for asking! :-) Yup, here it is–I’m asking for a donation. You know I have NEVER, NEVER, NEVER asked for money or any sort of payment, money, donation, or anything for the five years of tips, advice, coaching, counseling, responding to your many emails, messages, questions, etc.– I’ve done it all for free. Never asked you to buy an e-book, click on a ‘donate’ button on my page, or wire me money through Paypal for online question answering. Yes, it took A LOT of time to respond to you, but I did it. :-) All of my services and time were free to you–some of you asked, “How can I repay you? How can I thank you?” I said nope, nothing! I never once accepted anything. But THIS–this means the world to me. So, if you really want to know what to do if you truly felt like I helped you in some way over the years and you really meant it when you said you wish you could do something for me in return–it’d be this—A donation to Our Clubhouse to help me reach my goal. And here is my page where you can donate! I have to raise a total of $350. Even if you donate a dollar, much like eating right and exercising, it all adds up!! So, PLEASE help me out, help out Our Clubhouse and donate if you can! :-)

Wait–how do I donate? Again, it’s –> Right here!

Thank you all so much!!!

 

Hello 2015 and the Dick’s Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run!

Hello 2015 and Happy New Year, everyone! OH MY GOODNESS am I happy 2014 is outta here! Let’s never speak of it again, shall we? I’m also happy it’s a new year as I was super pumped to get back to running and attend the first Dick’s Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run yesterday!

But first let me recap a little bit. So yes, that means I do have to speak of 2014 one more time. I already wrote my 2014 recap, but at the end of it, you’ll remember me saying that my birthday (December 30th!!) was the next day. Since it’s my favorite day of the year, I of course have to take a second to shout out to it!

Birthday Comparisons Cherie Runs This

Since 2010, I’ve always taken a full body shot on my birthday just to see how things are going with this journey. As I began in January 2010, by December 2010, that gave me a complete year to see what I looked like at the end of the year. Since my bday is basically the doggone last day of the year, it seems like a good day to take it and compare. I’m not as svelte as I was in 2012, but after major life happenings in 2013 and 2014, I’m pleased that I’m not back to where I started in 2010! I’ll take it and keeping pressing on.
December 30

I came out of work that day and it was beautiful. Super cold, but the sun was shining. It usually was in NC on my birthday, but I was thinking I’d be in six feet of snow this year having moved back home to Pittsburgh. Not so! It was a pretty day and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy. :-)

Oh, and what else happened on my birthday? Yup, my divorce was final. So if you’re keeping tabs on me, I got engaged on my birthday (years ago) and now divorced on my birthday. Who gets engaged and divorced on the same day that’s her birthday, too? THIS GIRL! But I truly wish him the best, best, best always and thank him for the past 10 years. He’s a great guy and the right lady for him is going to be very lucky!

New Year 2015 Cherie Runs This

The next day of course was New Year’s Eve. I took the day off work, reflected on my year, and then got dolled up. I’m a single lady now, gas is cheaper, and I still had this dress left over from the office Christmas Party that needed to be donned again–no way I was staying home!!! I took myself out in Pittsburgh and had a lovely evening. Somehow I came away from the night having confidence, actually believing that sometimes yes, I do clean up well, and I will find love again. Or it’ll find me. Whatev.

Now, back to this Dick’s Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run.

I registered for it a couple weeks ago. It was to be yesterday, January 3, beginning at 7:30am. Again, you know how I cannot stand to work out in the mornings. Nope, it makes no sense to me. I can sleep in and work out later and it still counts. BUT, I am trying to be more social and get involved and do all the stuff I was longing to do while I was living in NC but wishing I were in Pittsburgh.

Dicks Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run pre run

This was my face as I got ready to leave the house at 6:20am. I really do LOATHE morning workouts. REALLY.

The weathermen said there *may* be some freezing rain later on in the morning, but when I left the house, all was fine. Approximately 13 minutes into my travels to the city, it was ALL BLACK ICE ALL THE TIME. Bloody awful.

Dicks Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run accidents black ice

Thankfully, I managed to avoid the six or so cars that had collided, and pulled into a parking lot to wait. There was no driving home; I had to just stay put and wait it out. I watched all the police, firemen and first responders start to arrive. Sadly, I did hear of one death reported that morning, but it wasn’t here on this stretch of road. Black ice is no joke!!!

Dicks Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run in car

Of course at that point, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the run. I was happy to be alive and that my car was safely out of the mess.

Dicks Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run accidents black ice after

I sat there playing on my phone and looking up info on the Dick’s Pittsburgh Marathon Facebook page–I realized I could do my run as a virtual run! Oh joy!! So I figured I’d go home, when it was safe to drive, take a loooooong nap to make up for the sleep I missed, and then go run at the gym later. I wished I could have run outside but the treadmill was going to have to do!

Dicks Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run Virtual

After my nap, I tore myself away from my comfy bed (at 2:30pm–I really love sleep) and made it to the gym.

Dicks Pittsburgh Marathon Training Run Virtual Completed

I had been planning to run 5 miles at the training run (3, 5, and 8 miles were offered) so I committed myself to running 5 on the treadmill. It was great! I feel like come May, this Half Mary shouldn’t be too bad at all!

So here we go–a new year, a new race, a renewed commitment to my journey, and a fresh start. I’m ready for you 2015! :-D

2014 Year in Review: On my own & running through this thing called life

Some wise person once said, “Sometimes you just have to look back at your past and smile about how far you’ve come.” Seems legit.

As a lot of you know, my husband and I got separated in the Fall of 2013. So my 2014 was my very first year in about 10 years that I was completely on my own, roughin’ it and experiencing life solo. A big ‘ol 180° of difference from what I was used to. I was not sure at all how it would turn out, but now, 12 months later, I think I did okay. :-) So here I go; a look back at my 2014 Year in Review.

2014 Year in Review _ Cherie Runs This

JANUARY
untitled_
Being on my own again meant taking care of the finances on my own. I finally decided to put that NASM Certified Personal Trainer in me to work! I landed a part-time job as a personal trainer at my local YMCA. I loved sharing my experiences and helping others reach their goals!!

FEBRUARY
morning running
I decided that in order to be more social, I would join a running group. Note the excitement on my face. I’m NOT a morning runner, or a morning person of any sort, but some of the runs were at the crack of dawn. Or 7am, which is crack of dawn enough to me. I’m also not really one to run in groups, but I actually had fun training with others for some upcoming races.

MARCH
Cherie Runs This - Woman's World Magazine
NASM commercial
This month was fun because my story appeared in Woman’s World Magazine and the National Academy of Sports Medicine commercial that I was in finally debuted! If you asked me a couple of years ago if I thought I would be in a magazine or on TV I surely would have passed out laughing. So crying tears of joy over this kind of stuff was much better!

APRIL
rnr6after_
tarheel8_
I had two big races in April–the first was the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Raleigh and then the Tar Heel 10 Miler in Chapel Hill. You know I don’t really run to be speedy or PR, so I just went out there and had a good time. I ran the R’nR with my college buddy Jamie and the 10 Miler with my running group!

MAY
pittsburgh marathon pre race in garage

pittsburgh marathon during race_

Moving-to-Pittsburgh
I drove home to PA for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I’d been nostalgic about moving back home since I moved away 12 years ago and the feelings finally took me over. About three weeks after the race, I packed up my stuff in NC and moved back home to Pittsburgh for good! Yes, you CAN go home again!

JUNE
daddy
When I first got back to Pittsburgh, I moved in with my oldest sister and father. I had never lived with her (she’s 20 years my senior) and hadn’t lived with Daddy since I packed up and moved away after college. It was great to be back with my family! Especially Daddy, he’ll be 80 in March and time is precious!

JULY
keys
As much as I loved being with my family, I had gotten so accustomed to having my own space. At the end of July, I got the keys to a cute little 2 bedroom house. This was now my THIRD move in a year, but I had a bachelorette pad to call my own!! So worth it!

AUGUST
injured
The word of the summer was “SCIATICA” boys and girls. I threw out my back again on Independence Day and sure enough, sciatica wasn’t far behind. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy! I was sidelined from the gym and pretty much all physical activity. The doc said, no gym for 7-10 days, but it lasted for MONTHS! :-(

SEPTEMBER
Facebook Hiatus

The only memorable thing I did in September was go off the grid. This was something I really needed to do. And to be more specific, I went off the grid from Facebook. Once I moved back to PA I thought it (meaning my life) would instantly instantly better. I was happy to be out of NC, yes, and I did finally have my own little place to stay, but the temp job was leaving me empty, managing bills was exhausting, there was no special person in my life, and I was starting to question everything again. Facebook is NOT GOOD for your mental status during times like these. It’s a place where everyone’s life seems better than yours, and I had to take a little break from it. I clicked that “deactivate” button and started focusing on how to make my life better for myself.

OCTOBER

Red wine and popcorn

While on this hiatus from Facebook I took time to think about what I was happy I HAD in my life instead of focusing on what it was MISSING. I also stepped away from the world of online dating. I started loving my alone time and started scheduling dates with myself. Thursday nights with Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, and Friday nights watching Dateline NBC were especially my favorite. I started doing the things I liked to do and didn’t feel ashamed because I wasn’t out on a real date. I just sat there quietly, enjoyed my food, shows, and wine in peace. I felt more inner peace, too.

NOVEMBER

i got the job

Since graduating college in May 2000, I finally, finally, finally landed a job that put use to my English major! I accepted a job as a Communications Specialist. Basically I do the social media and write blogs–you KNOW that’s up my alley!  After temping for months once I moved back here, I was ELATED to get the word that I landed my dream job! I had a VERY thankful Thanksgiving indeed!

DECEMBER

cherierunsthis

I don’t really like to do “Year in Reviewsuntil the actual year has ended. Seriously, so much can change in your life in mere seconds that it doesn’t seem wise to do a final look back at the year until the clock strikes down on December 31st. In the remaining three days of 2014, Prince could knock on my door and whisk me away on his motorcycle like Apollonia circa 1984. I’d hate to not have that included on my yearly review! What a highlight!

But this December, let’s see, my birthday is still on its way–tomorrow!–December 30th! Also, because my life is soooooo my life, coincidentally that’s the same day that my divorce will be final! *Side note, I wonder how many people got engaged AND divorced on the same day? I can’t be the only one!* Those are the majors of this final month of 2014. This December, I put it all together and learned to be a lot more carefree, just go with it, have fun, let loose and let it go. And those are good things to take with me into the new year. Bring on 2015!

2015 new year

Sh*t People Say on Instagram

After taking a two month hiatus from Facebook, (kind of like Rihanna, but without a nude picture scandal), I spent more time with the types of social media that personally make me happy, laugh, and keep me inspired–Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. I carved out more time to make the recipes I salivated over (and could actually say “Nailed it!” to some of the creations), enjoyed the witty banter and chats with people I swear would be my BFFs in IRL, and scrolling through pictures of everyday life—well, I just became plain ‘ol addicted to Instagram. It’s about to knock Twitter out of place as my favorite!  But as much as I love it, I realized that there is definitely some Sh*t People Say on Instagram that they’d have me believing is the absolute TRUTH if they had their way.

Sh*t People Say on Instagram

Sh*t People Say on Instagram… 

no excuses

1.) There are #NoExcuses
No one has any. Apparently, I am the ONLY one that sometimes lets life interrupt and prevent me from 100% eating clean and getting to the gym everysingledaynomatterwhat because I’m #fitfam and #fitfluential and that’s just what you do or else your fitness card is taken away and you’re beaten with a dumbbell and chicken and broccoli are pelted at you in a public shaming. Phew! That’s a lot of pressure. But #NoExcuses!

nutella

2.) Starbucks, Nutella, & Overnight Oats are totes ahhhmazing.
I’m weird because I don’t like them. Oh I like Starbucks, but because I can’t afford to go to Starbucks every day and post pics of me with my red cup, but instead I make it at home old school like, I’m missing out because it’s not the same. And who doesn’t like Nutella and overnight oats? Me. Oops. What??? So yeah, girl, you can’t sit with us.

Make up at the gym

3.) If you wear make-up at the gym you should suffer “Make-up Shaming.”
That’s right. I’m not Team Natural and haven’t been since the sixth grade, Sephora makes my heart race, and I can and do lift weights with make up on. I didn’t wake up like this, I didn’t participate in the “make-up-free selfie” thing that was going around, and sometimes I wear make up while I’m just sitting on my couch with nowhere to go BECAUSE I LIKE IT even though no one will see me. Shame away!

if you still look cute at the end of your workout

4.) You didn’t sweat enough. Your workout is invalid.
I didn’t work out hard enough because I’m not drenched in sweat. Never mind you can’t see my back sweat or crotch sweat (ladies of IG, some of you and I discussed this already), and because my hair is still in place and beads of sweat aren’t pouring down my face, I might as well just count this workout as a loss. Pshhh. What a waste. Where you sweat is the only determining factor of your effort. Bad personal trainer—how didn’t I know?

I hate online dating

5.) You’re clearly an Online Dating Reject but need to try it for the 16th time because I know somebody who…
Well, Sally met her boyfriend on eHarmony. And Mary Jo is married to the man she met only a year ago on Match.com. And Suzy just got engaged and she met her fiancé on OkCupid. Seeing as how upon even the SLIGHTEST mention of online dating, I’m BOMBARDED with stories of how someone or her best friend or her sister’s cousin’s Zumba instructor met, dated, got engaged and then married her SOULMATE from doing online dating, something is clearly wrong with me because I haven’t. Clearly.

treat yo self

6.) Commitment to clean-eating. You ain’t ’bout this life.
I am the only one who enjoys a fine meal of beer and pizza or wine and a burger sometimes. No one else eats anything that is not paleo/vegetarian/vegan/loadedupwithquinoaandchiaseeds 100% of the time. And they don’t drink alcohol. It’s the devil’s brew. Only water. Infused with a lemon. An organic lemon.

Wraps are a Lie _ Stolen pics 1
Wraps are a Lie _ Stolen pics 2
Wraps are a Lie _ Stolen pics 3
ALL STOLEN PICS OF ME, by the way!!!

7.) Join my $25,000 Pyramid Scheme to reach your fitness goals.
If I don’t join your team and then recruit more members to then in turn each form a team, I won’t lose weight. If I don’t wrap my fat, I won’t lose weight. If I don’t use the exact supplements you take, I won’t lose weight. Because, well, I didn’t already lose weight or anything. I mean, duh, what was I thinking about knowing how to lose weight without those things.

Date Night Friday

8.) Turn down for what?!
It’s Friday night, sister. Errrrybody’s out. Either on a date or at the club with their girlfriends. What are you doing on the couch with your Chipotle and Dateline NBC? Yeah, you’re single but how are you going to meet anyone if you’re at home solving mysteries eating a chicken soft taco? Umm, because it’s not Date Night. It’s Dateline Night.

Working out in the morning

9.) You snooze you lose. Goooooo morning workouts!
If you didn’t spring out of bed to go run or to the gym when that alarm went off at 4:30am., your whole day will be a disaster. You won’t have enough energy to carry you through to the end of your workday. Heck, you’ll be too tired after work and you will skip working out all together. Everyone else is up posting their post-run, post-gym pics by 6am with hashtags like #ITrainWhileYouSleep or #5amgymsesh and you’re just waking up. How lazy, Cherie. We all know workouts after the workday don’t count anyway. Jeeze.

Yeahhhh, Instagrammers. You say the darndest things. Haha, always making me laugh though! ;-) Have any of you regularly seen some Sh*t People Say on Instagram that they believe is the gospel?

Self Deprecation and Two Words You Use That Are Killing Your Vibe

Every time you use these two words self-deprecation wins: “Just” and “only.” Whenever you qualify something that would otherwise be highly awesome with “just” and “only”, a kitten falls out of a tree, a baby unicorn loses its horn and a piglet turns into bacon. Sad, yes, but I must get your attention to make this point.

Self deprecation...STOP IT.

Why do you qualify what you do, how you look and who you are with these two words? Is it the case of not wanting to pat your own self on the back? Not wanting to toot your horn? Worrying that you’ll sound conceited? Girl, pat away, toot that horn and realize that confidence does not equal cockiness.

Confident not Cocky

I hear and see it so much; whether in conversation, overhearing (no, not eavesdropping, thank you) or watching it play out online. Random Girl A does something pretty doggone fabulous but to not sound like a braggart, downplays the heck out of it to Random Girls B and C. After doing this so much, it’s not even that she’s worried about sounding like a braggart, she downright doesn’t believe she’s enough/worth it/deserving of any kudos and starts to convince herself of her lack of badassery.

True examples:

Random Girl A: “Oh cool! You’re running the marathon!”
You: “No, I’m only running the half marathon.”
Self-Deprecation removed: “Actually, I’m running the half marathon and super thrilled!”

Random Girl A: “I love your outfit. You always look so pulled together!”
You: “Oh, this? I just threw it on. I look a mess.”
Self-Deprecation removed: “Thank you. I love to accessorize.”

Random Girl A: “You work at ACME Widgets. Looks like a fun place!”
You: “I’m just a temp.”
Self-Deprecation removed: “I do work there. It’s exciting and different every day!”

Random Girl A:
“You look like you lost weight.”
You: “I only lost 18 pounds.”
Self-Deprecation removed: “Thanks! I’ve been eating clean and working out for a couple months. It’s working!”

Look, I’m not sitting pretty in my glass house throwing stones at y’all. I’ve done it, too. But for the past month or so, I stopped. Cold turkey and said the heck with it. I’m going to stop being using these qualifiers and stop being fearful. Because face it—a lot of this instant anti-positive reaction comes from fear. You’re fearful that someone will think you’re full of yourself, fearful that they didn’t really mean what they said and then you’ll look silly having fallen into a mocking trap, or fearful of what the outcome will be. I’ve had it with fear. I already have debilitating fears of vomit, airplanes and clowns—I’m not adding confidence in myself and my abilities to the fearful list. So I flipped the scaredy cat script.

My own true life example:

Me: “My dream social media job became available. I should apply!”
Self-Deprecating Me: “I just have experience with Cherie Runs This. I’ve only done social media with my fitness business, not a company-company.”
Self-Deprecation removed: “I’ve built Cherie Runs This from the ground up, researched and self-taught myself the ins and outs of social media and I’ve been doing this for almost 5 years. What I don’t know yet, I will learn. I’ve done well for myself with social media and promoting this business of mine. Heck, I have over 22,000 followers on Pinterest alone. That’s more than some companies! I’m applying!”

Once I took the “just” and “only” out of my mouth, acknowledged my capabilities, gave myself a “Dayyyyuuuum girl” peptalk, I wrote a bangin’ cover letter, tooted my horn, I actually landed an interview AND a second interview is scheduled for this week! I of course don’t know what the outcome will be, but I know if I had listened to the self-deprecation spew I wouldn’t even be this far in the job consideration. I wouldn’t be considered at all.

It's Handled
{You can always channel Olivia Pope if you need to.}

So what to do to say sayonara to the self-deprecating you?

One, let people compliment you for a change. Most people, at least in this day and age, don’t have don’t want to take the time to blow smoke up your booty. If they don’t want to say it, they probably won’t take the time to tweet, message, post or tell you that they think you rock their socks off. They’ll keep on scrolling or walk on by.

Two, with or without their compliments you have to get to a place where you truly believe that you and your actions are worthy. You didn’t only squat 135lbs. You SQUATTED 135lbs!! That’s 20 pounds more than you’ve ever done. You didn’t just run a 5K. You RAN A 5K!! Remember a couple months ago when walking around your block one time gave you major grief? If you stop and think about it for a moment instead of automatically adding “just” and “only” before you speak, you’ll see your awesomeness coming out.

If you don't ask the answer is always no.

Three, remember the three “ifs.” This quote is the truth. If I’m ready to wuss out about something lately, I start reciting it to myself. It’s simple. It’s right. Try it. Seriously, like today. These have you ready to spring into action, tell fear to hit the road, and leave self-deprecation, “just” and “only” in the dust.

Well, I feel ready to just go be awesome all over the place now! {I hope you do, too!} And at some point, I will apply all of this confidence in talking the opposite sex. Because right now I’m still working on the “just” and “only” when it comes to landing a fabulous hot, sweet, loyal, dependable, sarcastic, musclely, tattooed, bearded guy who drives a big truck. It’ll come, it’ll come. ;-)

Am I just alive or am I living?

I left my heart in North Carolina. Well, a piece of my heart and not literally. I’m supersupersuper thrilled to be back in the City of Champions or “Pittsburgh” as the non-believers may call it, but the main thing I miss is spending time with one of my best friends, Tracy.

Cherie and Tracy
Me & Tracy celebrating Memorial Day in NC before I moved!

When I found out that I really was moving back here for good, I had all these visions in my head of going out for girl’s nights out on the town {or at least going to the local Applebee’s} with my high school and college girlfriends who live here. But those visions were dashed. While I’m soon to be divorced in 50+ days, have no babies/kids, husband/fiancé tending to do, they’re all shacked up, married with kids and can’t ever seem to get away. Blah.

Someecards everyones getting married

So I have to make my own fun by myself. It’s cool. I’m finally understanding the difference between alone and lonely. I’m not lonely, I am alone. And alone is okay. I’m the one responsible for making my fun. Haha, but since I’ve been here, I think I’ve been doing a sucktastic job. Taking myself to the local smoky dive bar to watch Steeler games (especially when they lose like this past Sunday–the JETS?! Come on, man!) is okay, but it’s not really what I had intended to do with this newfound freedom and fresh start. I had to ask myself, am I just alive or am I living?

When Tracy announced she, her hubby, her fabulous daughters + one boyfriend and cool niece would all be in tow and heading up here for the weekend of October 26th for some debauchery, tailgaiting and all around awesomeness in Pittsburgh I. Could. Not. Wait. My calendar had been marked for months! Tracy is 50. Yes, 14 years my senior but she is the coolest 50 year old ever (other than my 50 year old sister who also rocks). We met at a Steelers bar in Chapel Hill, NC, years ago and it was friendship at first sight. I think we were making fun of the same thing and it was just meant to be. (Those are always the chicks I end up befriending.) Her hubs rocks and her twenty-something daughters, the boyfriend, and niece are equally fabulous. I love good people. And people I already know. So light and easy and comfortable!

Tracy and family
me and ashley
Obviously pics from Easter weekend. Haa. Hence the ears.

The weekend finally arrived (yeah, I’m obviously late writing about it, whatev). I met them at their hotel where they were staying. After hugs all around, we piled into one van and trekked off to the city. I was beyond pumped. Okay, so I live in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. I think it’s a mere 26 miles or so. If I were a marathoner I could run it. Yet I cannot get my arse there to do annnnything. I’m lazy in that respect and always like, “Ughhh, but I don’t feel like driving into the city. Gas is too damn high. Maybe next month.” Yet, I loooove Pittsburgh, right? I know. Told you I’ve been doing a sucktastic job of this, haha.

Primanti Bros Sandwich
Yeah, no. Don’t put me down for fries on my sandwich.

The first stop was Primanti Bros. in the Strip District. It’s home of the “French fries” on the sandwich-sandwich. I might have my Yinzer card taken away for this, but I’m not down with fries on my sandwich. I love French fries too much to combine any other tastes with them. So I ordered mine on the side. You face shaming for doing so, but we don’t mess with my French fry consumption okay. I don’t get to eat them that often! Though I like to keep my fries separate but equal, I was amazed that I hadn’t been to this Primantis since college. Seriously, like 15 years. How on earth have I not gotten back here since then?

After lunch we walked down to the street to check out some Steelers vendors/stores. I can’t have enough Steelers stuff. And they don’t live here so they needed to stock up. (I will always make excuses for needing to go into a Steelers store just so you know.) We saw a restaurant  across the street with a rooftop bar. Of course we were going to have to go.

Rolands Pittsburgh PA
Rolands Pittsburgh PA view

It was an unusually awesome late October weather day in the ‘Burgh so we sat up there and sipped adult beverages. I took pictures. Because, well, blogger. Then it dawned on me that I pass this restaurant while running the path of the Pittsburgh Half Marathon! I’ve always wanted to sit up here and have drinks while looking at the passerbys below. I couldn’t believe I was finally doing it. Seriously, FINALLY. After like two years of wanting to come here?! What took me so long?!!!! After the drinks outside, we went inside for air hockey and more drinks. Then a little bit later we made our way over to the Duquesne Incline.

Duquesne Incline front
Duquesne Incline me

“What, we’re going on the Incline?” I asked with glee?

Duquesne Incline view
Duquesne Incline front building

Born here, raised here, came back here and now I was JUST riding this world famous incline for the FIRST time? I couldn’t believe it. Yeah, I do have a weird fear of falling and just look at it—it has “falling” written all over it, but I’ve still always wanted to ride it. Thanks to Tracy + The Gang, I was about to do it.

It was total awesomeness. We didn’t die. So that was especially awesome, and the city looked even more gorgeous from above. I need to do this more often. :-)

We finished up the evening by heading to Quaker Steak and Lube for dinner and more drinks (my liver was in for a hurtin’ this weekend) and then said goodnight for the evening.

Heinz Field
Heinz Field tv in truck tailgating
We set up right outside of Heinz Field. No tix, but Tracy’s husband hooked up a TV in the back of his truck. Handy!

The next day we piled back in the van and headed back downtown for the main event of the weekend–the tail gating! It was my very first time tail gating (I know, right?!) and it did not disappoint. Even if we hadn’t kicked the Colts’ butts (which we did) it still would have been and amazing day!

Heinz Field Tailgating

Heinz Field Tailgating Tracy

Everyone was setting up the food, drinks & such.

Heinz field me in steelers hat

I was helping of course, but had to stop to take a selfie. I’m always me no matter where I am, haha.

Heinz Field me and tracy

Since I was taking pics, Tracy and I took one together to commemorate the day!

The only bad part of the tail gaiting is the bathroom situation. There are none. But being a runner, I’m used to the Porta Potty struggle. It was on the other side of the parking lot, and because I had a good bit of adult beverages throughout the day, I often had to go. Brightside, I got to sample random foods from fellow tailgaters along the way (it was free to take, right? Ughh?) and stopped to listen to Steeline–an awesome Pittsburgh drumline.

Heinz Field Steeline drum line

I wanted to play the drums but my mom made me pick the flute. Bummer. Anyhooooo, this was an AMAAAAZING weekend. Again, I can’t believe it took my bff to come all the way from NC to get me to experience stuff in my own dang city. But I know what’s out there now and I really know what I’m missing. I want to see more. I want to do more. I need to put myself out there and experience Pittsburgh…experience life.

I’ve wanted to move back here since I left in 2002. I’m thankful for all that I experienced in my 12 years away, but there’s nothing more that I wanted than to be back. Single, about to turn 37, soon-to-be divorced, no set career, financially roughin’ it–this was definitely not how I pictured it though. I suppose I thought I’d have my own little version of Tracy’s family. But it is what it is. This is the life I have; this is where I start. I was alive but now I’m going to live.

Yeah–alone and living. I can do this. :-)

The 10 Guys I See at My Gym

I’m a chronic people-watcher. Love it. I could do it for hours and never fail to be entertained. But for lack of time of being camped out at the local mall, bus stop, or park bench, I get in my people-watching at the gym. A guilty-pleasure and a pleasure-pleasure knocked out at the same time…twofer!

We ladies are an interesting bunch. And I say “we” because I’m sure I do something that must be quite odd to others as I never see anyone else doing it. (Except my male counterpart and I’ll discuss him later.) My thing? I’m the star of my own lip-syncing version of American Idol, the X-Factor, and The Voice all rolled up into one. I am LEGIT busting out the song as if this is THE performance that will get me to the end of the show, trophy in hand with confetti falling all around me. No one else seems to be bopping along and singing like I am. What are they listening to in those earphones? NPR? Whatev. I know I look strange. I caught my own self in the mirror and was like, “What on earth?!” But I was happy. Endorphins do it every time.

The 10 Guys I See at My Gym

But this post—this is all about the guys. Whilst I gaze around, there are 10 guys I see at my gym.

1.) The Helper

gym spotter

I don’t just see The Helper. I interact with the helper. Moreso, he tries to interact with me. Picture it—I’m in position to do my weighted hip thrusts, I believe I only had two 45s on the bar at the time, and he’s all tapping me on the shoulder, standing over me, “Do you need help? Are you in distress? I can help you. Let me get those off you.” Guuuuurl. My looks usually precede my words and I really am trying to get better with this, but he quickly knew that I was A-OKAY without his assistance. Usually if people are in danger of being crushed, they’ll scream. I didn’t scream.
Maybe I grunted, but I didn’t scream. Don’t help me; help the bear.

2.) Cool Water

Someone has soiled the air

If you’re putting in work at the gym, you’re bound to end up stinking. Sometimes STANKIN’. I appreciate the effort to control your odoriferousness, but that mixed with the cologne is creating a whole new type of pungency. Besides, your manly sweaty pheromones are way hotter, IMO.

3.) Run DM (and I) C You in Those Track Suits

80s tracksuit and mullet

I. Love. The. 80s. Apparently the older dudes at the gym loved and are still loving them, too. Now, I envision that I will always be partial to my Lululemons as I get older, but maybe 30 years later I’ll realize it’s time for an update. But nope–these dudes are holding on to the swishy pants/jacket combo until the very end. Bonus points for the guy with the mullet AND the track suit. He’s my fave.

4.) Brosef, Dude & Associates

Bros at gym

I’m a lone lifter. I go in, pick sh*t up, put sh*t down and bounce. These dudes travel in a pack. Not just for spotting action when going for a bench press PR, but errrrywhere. To the free weights, to the weighted barbells, to the cable pulls, to the water fountain. “Leave no man behind!” is their motto. I’m all for the camaraderie, but man does it tie up a station sometimes. You have to wait for ALL of them to get their sets done. Although listening to their language is like a class in linguistics. No clue what they’re saying but I think it’s usually about a party, a girl, last night, and beer all being AWESOME, DUDE.

5.) Average Joe

cuddle and protein shakes someecards

He is my most favorite of all. Not quite there yet, but far from where he started. He knows what exercises to do, does them with great form, and he even works legs! Regular t-shirts, gym shorts, headphones—nothing flashy. He’s not making a big commotion to make his presence known. He’s under the radar AND under the bar,
simply putting in the work. This is a dark horse, y’all. Definitely my “one to watch.”

6.) Hyped Hoverer

When pre workout kicks in

“Hey, honey, how many sets you got left? Are you almost done? You ‘gon be finished soon? I got next!” Man, calm the f*ck down. I’m going to need to you take a little bit less pre-work out next time, m’kay? He’s hovering, jittery, pacing, jumping up and down all right up in my space! The C4 has kicked in and he has to lift NOW! Too bad any of the above questions work the exact opposite on me and I suddenly take my sweet ‘ol time…

7.) This Is My Jam Sam

swolemate

So yeah, this guy is my swolemate. He feels the beat. The music is about to propel him to the next level of the most epic workout ever and he’s not afraid to let anyone know it. He’s not just lip-syncing and pulling a Cherie, he’s dancing, too. Mad, fresh skills. I want to talk to him, but I think it’s going to end up one of two ways: He’ll either challenge me to a dance off and I’ll decline because I’m a wuss and he’ll just walk away because I’m not on his level or he’ll challenge me to a dance off, I’ll perform horribly and he’ll shout, YOU JUST GOT SERVED.

8.) Creepy Rob Lowe

creepy gym guy

He’s not just in the commercials. He’s at my gym. Just staring. Leering. Creeping. All the while wearing jeans. JEANS.

9.) Mr. Tips

Do you even lift

Similar to The Helper, I see Mr. Tips walk over to ladies who appear as though they’re newish to the weights side of the gym. This is when Mr. Tips likes to pounce. He’s not always skeevy, but the way he finds the need to show the ladies how to hold the dumbbell just so, or get into proper form—yeah, not necessary. It all appears to be a rouse so that he can touch them or ask for the digits because usually Mr. Tips is the type of guy that the question “Do you even lift?” would be directed toward. Because, umm, no. I don’t think he even lifts.

 

10.) Loud Muscles

I pick things up and put them down

(I got a quick pic of mine! The pumpkin is covering his head, haha.)

He looks like the guy from the Planet Fitness commercial, “I lift things up and put things down.” But that guy in the commercial seemed like a harmless old chap. Yeah, he was jacked, slicked up muscles poppin’ from every inch of his body, but he seemed generally nice. Like he would lift and keep to himself. Let the muscles speak for themselves. Loud Muscles looks just like him but he HAS to make his presence known no matter where he is in the gym. So loud, so boisterous, so much standing in the mirror flexing, peacocking, and talking to any and all around him. Whether they want him to or not. It’s like he was a member of Brosef, Dude and Associates when he was a little bit younger, but then somehow DID get left behind (probably because he was annoying even to them), and he’s been trying to make his presence known ever since. We hear you. We see you. And again, we hear you.

So, are any of these fellas at your gym, too?

Nutri Ninja Review…Time To Shake Things Up!

Remember how I was all excited back in June to go to my first Fitbloggin’ Conference? But then I up and moved cross-country which depleted my bank account and any available vacation time to take such a trip back down south for said conference? Well, some good came out of it—even though I couldn’t make it, I was still receiving all kinds of lovely emails as though I was still a popular blogger participant.

Nutri Ninja

One such email—my fave—was all, “Hey, thanks for coming to Fitbloggin’. Would you like a complimentary Nutri Ninja to review?” Umm, hey hell yeah I would! But then there was that whole “not being an attendee” thing. :-( I ‘fessed up that I was on the list to go, but could not due to personal circumstances. Sure that this would have me losing the opportunity to score such a free fine piece of blending badassery, I was a bit sad to hit ‘send’ on that email. But honesty pays off, kids—they said I could still receive one and review it anyway!

Nutri Ninja and its contents

I couldn’t wait to tear into the box! I’d been seeing them on store shelves and infomercials for a while now and was stoked to have my very own. But until the grocery fund would allow me to stray from the standard necessities + bacon, I kept it wrapped up. This gave me more time to salivate create recipes in my head and then pretend like I had a secret Christmas gift stashed in my living room.

Nutri Ninja shake ingredients Klean Athlete Protein Powder

Nutri Ninja ingredients in cup

During this last trip to the store, I finally managed to scoop up some ingredients to make a creation—the Appleblasm, I call it. Autumn has me craving apples like no other season. And apple cider, apple pie, and appletinis…The Appleblasm will do my body better, though!

Nutri Ninja Smoothie Recipe

The ingredients I used:
1 green apple (cut into pieces)
1 cup of fresh spinach
½ cup cottage cheese
1 tsp vanilla
½ orange
½ water
4 ice cubes
1 scoop of non-flavored protein powder (optional)

Nutri Ninja fruit

Nutri Ninja contents in cup

The green apple makes it tart, which I love, and the orange gives it a nice balance so I’m not puckering the whole time. You could also use Greek yogurt instead of cottage cheese. I’m a fan of plain Greek yogurt so I rarely, if ever, have flavored yogurts in the house. Of course I thought I had yogurt in the fridge and didn’t when it was time to make this, so luckily I happened to pick up the cottage cheese. I added the protein powder because I like that additional serving of it after my weights sessions. Depending on your workout goals/protein needs/ingredients at home, you may leave it out if you desire!

Nutri Ninja blended ingredients

**I normally keep the skin on the apple when I eat it alone, but I’d probably peel it the next time I make this. Also, the cottage cheese doesn’t make it tart enough for me, so I’ll grab my plain Greek yogurt the next time I’m at the store.**

Nutri Ninja in glass

Overall, I rate this Nutri Ninja with an A+!! It completely blended and pulverized my ingredients to a nice consistency—no lumps! This motor is powerful, haha! The set up was super easy and it doesn’t take up a lot of space on my kitchen counter—fantastic when you only have a small amount of space and want to have access to it on the daily. I’m sad I had to miss Fitbloggin’, but getting this Nutri Ninja wasn’t too shabby of a consolation prize!

**All opinions were truthful and my own. A favorable review of the Nutri Ninja was not required for receipt of the item. I honestly loved it!**

Sciatica Update & Digging dōTERRA Oils

I don’t want to speak too soon, but my sciatica madness that has plagued my right leg for three solid months is 99.999999% gone. It no longer wakes me up on cue at 3 or 4 am every night while I writhe in pain. I am able to walk without looking like drunk pimp. I can stand for longer than 24 seconds at a time without needing to sit in a chair or any dirty floor (giving zero cares to the grime underneath me). And sweet baby goodness gracious, I’ve solidly been able get back to the gym!!!

post gym pics

I haven’t yet been able to determine why it finally stopped hurting.  I mean, no joke, it was EXCRUTIATINGLY the worst pain of my life from July to September, nonstop, never relenting. I wouldn’t wish sciatica on my worst enemy even Tom Brady. I was taking Vicodin like Tic-Tacs to no avail. When my prescription ran out, a friend’s husband suggested Excedrine for Migraines. Odd, but it helped a little. I added in some Aleve for good measure. Seriously, it was getting ridiculous. I felt like a druggie!!! I’m much too goodie-two shoes for that. So when I couldn’t take one more pill to knock out the pain before bed, red wine did it. Because yeah, alcohol seemed much more classy than the pill-popping. It was all bad. This HAD. TO. STOP. I was envisioning that scene from the movie Saw where the guy hacks off his foot and it seemed like a brilliant idea. This was bad, y’all.

Saw...sciatica relief

As a last ditch effort, I started rubbing some dōTERRA® oils on my leg, hipbone, back and butt. My sister is a dōTERRA® Wellness Advocate and insisted I try it. I won’t lie. I rolled my eyes. Oils? I’m ready to go all Jigsaw and sever ties with my right leg and you want me to rub oil on it???

Doterra Essential Oils _ Dianne Hart Pettis

She mixed together a couple essential oils (different oils have different uses) and I put it on every night before bed. The smell was awesome. But even better? After the first night of using it, I actually felt some relief. Ever the skeptic, I was like, “Well, it couldn’t be the oils.” But the ONLY thing I had done differently in three months was use the dōTERRA® oils and then suddenly I started to feel better. Now, maybe the sciatica had started to run its course. I don’t know. But if using the oils was wrong I didn’t want to be right. But yeah, after it didn’t hurt for about 5-6 days (I wanted to really see if it was gone), I deemed it time to go back to the gym. That was a little over a month ago and I’ve been feeling pretty fantastic!

doTerra Breathe Respiratory Blend oils

This Breathe Respiratory Blend oil is my favorite. I put a drop on a tissue and sniff it when I’m stuffed up and can’t breathe, put a drop in my shower after a hard workout (ahhhmazing aroma all through my house) and I even took a few whiffs of it when I was getting over food-poisoning the other day. It helped the queasy tummy feeling! I shall never roll my eyes at my big sister again. Well, not as long as she’s offering me these oils. ;-)

I’m so thrilled to be back in action. I’m not myself when I’m not working out. Well, I’m a heavier, more depressed version of myself, I’ll say. I don’t like it. What I do like is taking care of body. This is the only body I have and I need it to be healthy and happy. Inside and out. Physically and mentally. Gym game on!

 

Friday Night Foodie Night: Bowl of Ramen Noodle Goodness

When I’m craving a food, I lose all a good bit of ability to concentrate on anything else but said food. This happened last Friday afternoon. As productive as I tried to be, ramen encompassed my entire mind. I don’t know if it was the weather—it is starting to be the kind where you want to get bundled up on the couch in your Snuggie slurping from a huge bowl of something hot. Or maybe it was the fact that it was Friday—as grandiose as the plans in my mind will be for work’s departure, I usually end up being bundled up on the couch in my Snuggie watching Dateline.

Ramen Noodles_

I was determined make this past Friday different. One, I spent quality time at the bar. Not the bar-bar, but gym, as in lifting. No beer for me! After pumping some iron, I then set off to get the fancy-schmancy ingredients to make the ramen.

Okay, no—they weren’t fancy schmancy. Long gone are the days when I stroll through the aisles of Whole Foods to get my groceries. I’m totally in the “shop at Walmart and rollllll-back” game. You know that All-State commercial where the deep-voice black dude is talking about a girl on a “ramen noodle every night” budget? Hahahahaha = my life.

Ramen Noodles broth and noodles_

I walked into Walmart with swagger. Totally from the workout though—sore AF.  I knew from checking out Pinterest earlier that I wanted to make a healthier ramen. Not the $0.29 cent a pack, crimped brick ramen—I was going to be a little bit classier on my solo date night. Treat yo’ self!!!  I found a pack of fresh-cooked Hokkien noodles which seemed to be the best Wally World offered and then I headed over to broth aisle. Oooooh store brand organic broth was only $0.30 more? Hey big spenderrrr! I got it. I had all the other ingredients at home minus a green onion. Picked that up and I was on the way to my house to get cooking.

Ramen Noodles shrimp and ingredients_

So the thing about me and cooking—I usually just look at a picture and then tell myself how I’m going to make it. I’m not necessarily the best at creating recipes or following them. If it looks like it should go in there, I put it in there. If it looks like I should bake it at 375* or broil at 500*, that’s what I do. I’m a free spirit chef. Which is why when y’all ask me—“How did you make that? What did you put in there? What is the recipe? How long did it cook? At what temperature” etc., etc., etc., I usually can’t tell you. Jeeze! Sheesh! Who knows these things?! I just cook! But seriously tho—I make it look good. Well, I try.

Ramen Noodles cooking_

I used two pans. One for the broth, noodles, shrimp, peppers, green onions, mushrooms, and a little salt and pepper. I may have even added a little rotisserie chicken spice. Maybe. The other pan was to soft boil the egg (I did it for about 6 minutes). Haha, as my sister said when I showed her a picture of the finished product, “I’d like all that if the egg wasn’t raw.” Well, with this dish that’s how it’s supposed to be. I don’t make the rules. I just look at the pretty Pinterest pictures.

Ramen Noodles Eggs and Shrimp_

Right as the broth/noodle pot was almost done, I tossed in the spinach for a hot second. I didn’t want it too wilted. Poured that pot of goodness into a bowl, peeled the egg, sliced it and placed it on top. Boom. Ramen that I had been waiting for all my life all day. It was so tasty I had it two days later. Took my bowl of yum and then proceeded to cuddle up on the couch in my Snuggie right on cue for Dateline.

Ahhhh, the single life. Don’t hate. (I see you reaching for your Snuggie and some noodles…) ;-)