17 March 2017

Five on Friday

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Anyone doing anything fun to celebrate? We haven't really celebrated this holiday in a few years because to be honest, our local celebration {St. Pat's in 5 Points}, gets a little out of hand at times. Or it rains. Who wants to play at an outdoor festival in the rain? Not me.

There might have been some super gross looking green waffles this morning though...

Anyway, on to this week's Five on Friday with April!
Last year, I celebrated {if running counts as celebrating!} St. Patty's Day by running the St. Pat's Get to the Green 5K in Five Points.

Won't be doing that this year though. My streak of running races every single Saturday this year is coming to an end tomorrow morning {probably}. I haven't signed up for a race yet and there's a good chance I might not before tomorrow. I'm kind of looking forward to being able to sleep in a little on Saturday and being able to hit up Soda City Market right when it opens in the morning.

PS - Columbia friends, be sure to go to Soda City tomorrow! They're kicking of the Soda City Suds week and will be selling quite a few local craft beers at the market in addition to all of their other fabulous goods.
Anybody else really excited to see this movie now that it's been officially released in theaters?

One of my favorite childhood movies + one of my favorite actresses = must see. I'm almost positive that the last movie I saw in theaters {& stayed awake for} was the last Harry Potter movie. So, um, it's been a few years. Hopefully, I'll get to check this one out in theaters soon!
Pretty printed things {like wine bottle labels} get me every single time and I had to snag this bottle of wine when I saw it in Total Wine last weekend.

Bonus: it's actually really good! Love when that happens.

Now that we're a little more settled in our house, it's time to start thinking about buying some new furniture for it and replacing all of the just out of college furniture / hand me downs from our parents. I met with our interior decorator yesterday to look at some couches and chairs for our front living room, as long as different fabrics to cover them with.

I'm loving the fabric that she picked out!
Word of the week: patience.

& cheers!

Because sometimes being patient pays off and you get to celebrate with a glass {or your favorite Westbrook Two Claw Rye IPA if you're my husband} of wine!
Have a great weekend y'all! Enjoy all of the March Madness on TV & any St. Patty's Day festivities that you're partaking in this weekend!

16 March 2017

Recipe: Cast Iron Garlic & Brown Sugar Pork Chops

Recipes like this one make me so glad that we added a cast iron skillet to our wedding registry last year.

& by "we", I mean Patrick.

This was the #1 thing that he wanted in our new house and it actually ended up being the very first thing purchased off our wedding registry. Guess someone else knew that we'd be super happy to have a cast iron skillet to cook with?

Patrick cooked these pork chops up for us last night and y'all, I know how we're going to be cooking pork chops from now on. These chops were crazy delicious and you're definitely going to have to make these sometime soon.

Cast Iron Garlic & Brown Sugar Pork Chops
{original recipe found here}

2 bone-in pork chops, 1" thick
4 tbsp. butter {half of a stick}
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 black pepper
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1. Mix together all dry ingredients {brown sugar, Cajun seasoning, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, & paprika} in a small bowl.
2. Rub each side of the pork chops with the dry rub.
3. In a cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Place pork chops into skillet and fry each side of them for about 3-4 minutes each.
4. Flip the pork chops one last time and place cast iron skillet into the oven at 350 degrees.
5. Bake for 4 minutes and then turn/baste the pork chops. Bake for an additional 4 minutes or until done.

*Total bake time is around 20 minutes, but we used our super awesome digital thermometer to let us know when the chops were 100% cooked*

These pork chops were SO good!

We served ours with some seasoned, oven roasted red potatoes. Don't worry - that recipe will be coming your way next week! My mom taught me how to make these {& I may have been texting her last night to make sure I was cooking them correctly} and they're too good not share with y'all.

It made for the perfect weeknight dinner in our house, especially when paired with a glass of white wine ;)

Happy Thursday, y'all!

{check out more recipes here}

15 March 2017

My Top 5 Early Morning Workout Tips

I don't know about y'all, but I'm such a pro when it comes to hitting the snooze button on my alarms in the morning. I'm also really, really good at talking myself out of getting up and going to the gym to get in an early morning work out.
But it's cold outside.
Ugh, it's raining.
I'll just go tomorrow morning instead...
It's dark out!
Anybody else like that? I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'd much rather workout in the morning at the gym when it's pretty empty than fight the after work crowd in the evenings, so I'm pretty set on trying to wake up early to go. It's hard though!

I love daylight savings time as much as the next person but that first week after? So hard to get out of bed and get to the gym. Figured I might not be the only one having trouble waking up early for the gym this week so I thought I'd share five things that I do to make it a little easier in the mornings.

Set your alarm & lights.
I set about 5 alarms to make sure we're up in time to get to the gym and I've programmed our lights to come on at a certain time in the morning. While the alarm is easy to snooze, it's a lot harder to ignore the lights that you can't turn back off unless you open up the app on the phone or ask Alexa to do it for you.

{& yes, it does take that many alarms to get me up in the morning. My husband loves it.}
Lay out your workout clothes the night before & fill up your water bottle ahead of time.
This is a must for me. I lay out my clothes, my shoes, and my daily contact lenses to make getting ready in the morning that much easier. Put out anything that you need to get to the gym including your workout bag, wallet, keys, etc. The fewer decisions I have to make in the morning or things I have to find, the better. Same goes for the water bottle - it's much easier to open up the fridge & grab your water bottle than it is to hunt down one in your kitchen.

Go to bed on time.
Don't play on your phone in bed {guilty!}, read a book you can't put down, or stay up late binge watching something on Netflix. If you're exhausted in the morning, no alarm or light is going to convince you to get out of bed.

Have a workout plan.
Got a class you want to attend? Got a specific workout that you want to do? Got a set number of miles you want to run?

It's a lot easier to wake up and go when you know exactly what you're going to do when you get to the gym that day.
Have someone to hold you accountable.
Find a friend to workout with! Having someone hold you accountable to your workouts is huge - at least it is for me. I don't want them to know that I opted out of the gym for whatever reason. For me, my husband holds me accountable for going to the gym in the mornings and I hold him accountable for going with me.
Unless it's raining outside.

Because seriously, who likes going to the gym in the pouring down rain?


14 March 2017

March for Meals 5K Recap

Well, after six really good races this year, I've finally had a not-so-great one.

It was a perfect morning for running. The sun was shining, the race didn't take place until 9am, and it was still fairly cool out. It wasn't a super popular race {less than 200 people} and we were going to be running the majority of it on Timmerman Trail.
Sounds like a great day for a race, right?
I was a little worried at the start line because my left heel was killing me and I had spent most of the morning keeping weight off of it. Most people would have skipped the 5K. I thought it was a great idea to run it anyway!
{Photo from March for Meals 5K FB page}
Mile 1
The race started off at the Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center and we ran about half a mile on paved road down to a branch of Lexington Medical Center and hopped on Timmerman Trail. The trail itself is pretty flat and a little curvy - but it was a lot of fun to run on! We were running over bridges and through the woods. I spent most of my 1st half marathon training back in 2014 on a greenway in Charlotte and this reminded me a lot of that. Hit mile 1 at a decent pace and was pretty happy that my heel wasn't bothering me too much.
{Photo from March for Meals 5K FB page}
Mile 2
This mile lasted fooooorever. I kept looking down at my watch and wondering how I was only at 1.5 miles when it felt like I should be much closer to 2 miles. I also spent most of this mile alone. Everyone ended up pretty spread out along the trail and because it was so windy, it was hard to see any of the other runners. There was one girl who looked about my age and one guy close by that I stuck with during this mile. The 2 mile marker caught me by surprise right before we went over another bridge - sure enough, my GPS watch wasn't fairing so well in the thick trees and along the windy path.
Mile 3
All I could think about during this mile was that we had a looong way to get back to where we started on the trail and how much I didn't want to run up that gentle, uphill slope in the full sunshine back to the start line. Joke was on me though because we hopped off the course on a different route back to the start line. We veered left on the path and headed off through a big field. I could see the finish line up ahead, and knowing that my watch was measuring short, I decided to go all out and race to the finish line. My watch was still measuring around 2.6 miles and I knew there was no way the finish line was half a mile away. The girl closest to me looked like she might be around my age and I wasn't going to finish 1 second behind the 3rd place finisher in my age group again. I blew by her right at the finish line... only to find out later that she was in the age group above me and the 3rd place girl in my age group finished a full minute ahead of me {oops!}
{Photo from Columbia Running Club's FB page}
Final Results
Watch Time - 29:15
Chip Time - 29:19
Pace - 9:26/mile
Overall - 54/170
Gender - 18/97
Age Group - 4/10
My how times have changed if I'm considering 29:19 and 4th in my age group a "not so great race". I think most of my frustration on this race was not being able to accurately tell where I was along the course thanks to a weak GPS signal and from being a little concerned about running on a heel that didn't feel so great.
To be honest, I just want another crack at this race. I'd love to run it again and see if I can run it better because it's one I should have finished well under 29 minutes based on all of my races lately.
And of course, there just so happens to be a race this coming weekend that runs almost the exact same path through Timmerman Trail. The start/finish is in a different place and course goes Timmerman Trail backwards compared to the March for Meals one. As of today, I'm not signed up to run it. Talk to me on Friday though because my need for redemption on this trail might be too strong to pass up!

07 March 2017

Run Hard 5K Recap

I know, I know.
Another 5K?!

Yes, another 5K. Mostly because this is the best time of the year to run: it's cool outside, there are plenty of races to choose from each week, and it's the only time of the year that we're not busy traveling {I'm looking at you, tax season}.
There were two guest appearances this weekend though to make this recap a little more fun: my mom & my newest sister-in-law, Jen!

How I talked them into waking up and getting to downtown Columbia at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, I'll never know. But it does mean that I have some sweet running pictures at the finish line this time!

The race, the Columbia Run Hard Race Series, this weekend also had a marathon, half marathon, and a 1K kids run. The half and full marathons started at 7:30 so I was able to watch the beginning of their race before the 5K started at 8am. Here's the crazy thing about one of the runners in the full marathon: he was running is 85th consecutive marathon that day. Not like 85th weekend in a row of running a marathon. 85th DAY IN A ROW of running 26.2 miles.


Anyway, on to the less crazy portion of the day: the 5K!
Mile 1
I knew going into this race that the entire first mile was either flat or a free fall downhill {reverse of the insane Blossom Street Hill from the old Governor's Cup 8K race}. The race started out on Sumter Street down near the Horseshoe and the Long Street Theatre. From there, you ran onto Greene Street and onto Main Street before turning left onto Blossom Street.

Free. Fall.

I could run down Blossom Street everyday! We hit the bottom of the hill, ran along a flat portion for a second, and right before we got into 5 Points, we finished the first mile and took a left on Laurens Street.
Mile 2
Holy. Hills.
I also knew going into this race that after that free fall in mile 1, we'd be turning around and going straight back up hill for all of mile 2. I like running hills y'all but a mile straight up? Uh, no. Even my legs were like "nope!" and I ended up walking for about 30 seconds of this mile during one of the steepest parts of the hill. I wish I hadn't though... because the hill wasn't a mile long like I had thought, but only about half a mile. I walked right at the very end of it.

The rest of mile 2 was pretty flat and easy to run along. But my time for mile 2 definitely slowed down a lot thanks to that hill!
Mile 3
Time to speed back up! The last mile of the race is a flat rectangle that shares some of the Bunny Hop 5K and MGC Not So Long Run course. It was super easy running during this mile which was much appreciated after the brutal hill of mile 2.

The finish line of this race is 100% why I had this one on my list all year to run. You get to run straight through Soda City & finish on Main Street! Plus, you get a medal when you cross the finish line. ALL the reason to run this race y'all, all the reason.

Final Results
Watch Time - 28:49 
Chip Time - 28:50
Pace - 9:23/mile
Age Group - 3/16
Gender - 22/144
Overall - 70/246

{can you see where I walked? Ha! This elevation map though doesn't show you how crazy steep that hill was}
28:49 wasn't good enough for a PR for me, but it was good enough for 3rd place in my age group! Y'all. This is a bigger race that usually has some fast competition in it and I was not expecting to place at all. I just wanted to run it so that I could run through Soda City Market & walk away with some sweet bling. But I placed!

They had a bigger awards ceremony than most 5Ks do and there was definitely a photo op with all FIVE Chickfila Cows that they had on hand. There was even a cool beer glass for all of the award winners.

If you need a fun race to run in Columbia next year, sign up for this one. Don't let the one hill scare you because I've already {mostly} forgotten about the pain from that hill and am already penciling this run in for next spring.
Next up: March for Meals 5K this coming Saturday because it's running on my favorite new greenway in Columbia, Timmerman Trail.

06 March 2017

The Seven Hour Saturday

Let's talk about Saturday.
Specifically, this past Saturday. It was a 7 hour, 17,000 steps kind of Saturday for us.
It started bright and early that morning on Sumter Street, down by the Horseshoe on USC's campus and the Long Street Theater. The first weekend in March is the Run Hard Race Series in Columbia: a marathon, half marathon, 5K, and a 1K fun run for kids.
I had signed up to run the 5K and had convinced my mom and my sister-in-law to come watch me at the finish line.
After putting on some more clothes {since it was 36 degrees out!}, we hung around for the awards ceremony.
{Plenty more about this race to come tomorrow!}
From there, we only had a couple of loose plans: pick up a couple of cookies at Blue Flour, walk down Main Street to Soda City Market, and get a manicure somewhere. We figured we'd be done downtown before noon.
7 hours and 17,000 thousand steps later...
We wandered through Soda City Market and Jen bought George the Octopus while I debated over bringing this elephant home with me. One day, I'm going to buy something from this vendor. One day.
All of the Run Hard races turned on Main Street right at the end of Soda City Market and they sent all the runners through a chute through the market. So we got to see quite a few half and full marathoners making their way down to the finish line.
After the market, we grabbed a drink or two at Liberty's Tap Room down in the Vista.
We ventured down Gervais Street looking for a nail salon and stumbled across Gervais Nails & Spa.
I've driven past this place a hundred times and had never stopped in for a manicure. I'll definitely be going back here! We had awesome service, it wasn't super crowded for a Saturday, and two manicures/1 gel manicure was only $60 total. Win.
Obviously, at this point, it was time for another drink.
... and some French fries. We stopped by Grill Marks and had some of their truffle parmesan fries, fat fries, and skinny fries.

Were we done yet? Nope! We walked back up to Main Street to pick out a baby shower gift at my favorite store downtown {Uptown on Main} and to see my friend Lindsey.
With one last hug, we finally left downtown after we realized it was nearly 3pm. Where in the world had our day gone?
It was an absolutely gorgeous {even if it was slightly on the chilly side compared to the weather lately} day to be out and about in Columbia. I'm so glad that my mom and Jen were up for whatever and were 100% on board with the spontaneous wandering we did around town.
Happy Monday, y'all!

03 March 2017

Hey, March!

Ever have one of those weeks that goes by super fast and completely disappears and you have no idea what just happened to it?
That was definitely this week for me. One minute, it's Sunday and we're busy in the yard tearing out old bushes, raking up the last of the leaves from the fall, and spraying down the weeds and the next thing I know it's Friday.
How is already Friday? Heck, how is it already March? I'm still trying to figure out what happened to January and February over here.
All of that is to say... oops! The blog took a back seat this week.
I'm blaming the beautiful weather outside this week for the week blowing by so quickly. Patrick and I have been enjoying being able to sit outside in our backyard and enjoy a drink at night.

& there might have been a happy hour at River Rat on Wednesday when the temperatures reached the mid-80s because c'mon, you can't ignore perfect outdoor brewery drinking weather like that. You just can't.
Greenville friends!

I want to plan a day trip up to Greenville on Saturday afternoon this spring, specifically for some biking along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Any suggestions for which portions are the best ones to bike along? Anywhere that we need to stop by along the way for food &/or drink?
To nobody's surprise, we're still on a major waffle kick.

We haven't had waffles every morning but there's been quite a few times that we've started off our day with some.
I'm still in disbelief that there are things growing in our yard right now. Partially because it seems too early in the year for things to be blooming but mostly because I usually kill every single plant that I've ever been in charge of.

There's a special package on it's way up to Indiana to my two best friends today... & I hope they love how it turned out just as much as I do!

Again, apologies for the slacking off that happened on the blog this week. The weather outside has been too pretty to not enjoy and I 100% got distracted by it. Don't worry though, there are plenty of posts headed your way next week including a review of a Columbia brunch spot and one of my very favorite crockpot recipes.
See y'all Monday!

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