October Catch Up

Happy Fall! Thought I would write a post to catch you up on random life happenings.

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  1. Work- I started my job and I’ve been at it for 5 weeks now! I went from having endless amounts of free time, getting lots of sleep, and exercising all of the time to just about the exact opposite…but I’m okay with that. I see clients in the office for prenatal visits (mostly) about 1-3 days per week and then am on call for about 36 hours per week. The call hours can be slow or they can be crazy busy- just depends on the babies who decide they need to be born that day. As a new midwife, I feel like l carry a lot of stress around with me and am constantly double and triple checking myself to make sure that I don’t miss anything. It is definitely a hard transition into the provider role, without a preceptor always reassuring me. All in all, I do think I have one of the coolest jobs in the world.img_3423 (Midwifery school friends at a wedding last weekend)
  2.  Running- After a week hiatus from running last week because of a nasty cold and crazy work schedule, I’m back at it. I’m still hoping that I can run a half marathon at the end of November. It will definitely not be a PR race but I haven’t ran a race in 2 years so I just want to get out there again. The fall running weather has been lovely and it feels good to be increasing my mileage. I also joined the Oiselle Volee! Anne makes it sound like such a fun group of women runners so I decided to give it a try. I’ve been looking for a way to connect with other female runners in the Chicago area so I’m hoping that this helps. Plus, it’s a further excuse to buy fun running clothes 😉
  3. Arlo- Arlo has been doing pretty well adjusting to life with a working mom again. Fortunately, we have a lady in the building who has a dog walking business and I can text her spur of the moment if needed and she can take Arlo out. Since moving to Chicago, the “little” guy has gained a bit of weight so we are now working on getting him back to a healthier size. He didn’t have the best running summer so hopefully with the fall weather, he can get back into running shape and shed a few pounds. Arlo has taken to LOVING ropes…and by loving I mean destroying. I bought four ropes from Amazon and he destroyed them in a week. So yesterday, I bought him a fancy rope at a local dog shop that was supposed to be more tightly twisted….he destroyed it in a day. Any rope recommendations?img_3424
  4. Chicago- It’s crazy that we have lived here for almost 5 months! It is great living so close to water again and I feel lucky that I can run by the lake whenever I want. If Chicago didn’t have the lake, I don’t think I could take it. City living definitely has its ups (so much to do, easy access to everything) and downs (traffic, city smells, noise, lack of green space). I still can’t say definitively if it’s for me or not. Our condo has come a long way since you’ve seen it last. Come visit!
  5. Rob- He is doing well. He works a lot some months and then has some easier weeks (ie. works 50 hours per week vs 80). Overall, I think he enjoys what he is doing.

XO

Mary

Glacier NP Trip

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I’m back with another trip! I’ve been so lucky this summer to go to some pretty amazing places- definitely a perk of not working. My parents planned a trip to Glacier National Park and they had a hotel room with and extra bed at one of their stops and they invited me to tag along. Fortunately, I was able to use United miles and get a direct flight from Chicago to Kalispell, MT (perk of big city living). I had four full days to spend in Glacier with my parents who had driven out from Michigan. We spent most of our time based out of St. Mary on the east side of Glacier NP. The park is HUGE and I definitely did not even come close to seeing even half of it. My dad was stoked to go on a national park trip again; they haven’t been to a NP in over 10 years. He had all of our hikes pretty much planned out and he wanted to cover some major miles. After our Machu Picchu trip, I caught the hiking bug so I was excited for these hikes too!

Day 1 Hiking: Iceberg Lake Hike out of Many Glacier

We hiked up to this lake with a ranger and some other hikers which was nice in terms of scaring any grizzly bears away but I really prefer hiking solo so that I can go at my own (quicker) pace. This hike was about 10 miles but the elevation gain was not substantial. In general, Glacier NP only gets up to around 8000 feet which is minimal compared to Peru and even the Rockies in Colorado.  We carried backpacks each day with lunches, rain gear, some warmer layers, and plenty of h20.

After we finished this hike, we heard that there were 2 moose in a lake about 0.5 mile away so we decided to walk over to check it out. We found them!

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Day 2: Hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel out of Many Glacier (approx 10 miles)

Half of this hike was on the trail that we used on the first day before cutting off and leading us on a steep climb up to Ptarmigan Tunnel. Apparently we just missed seeing a grizzly bear on this trail. Unfortunately, we got to the top and it was all fogged in so we weren’t able to see anything! The tunnel was cool to see and I’m not sure how anyone engineered/constructed it.

After this hike, we decided to do a 3 mile hike to Red Rocks which was an easy trail with a pretty lake for viewing. We also tried to spot our moose friends again but they weren’t to be found.

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Day 3: Highline Trail out of Logan Pass (approx 13 miles)

This hike was the most beautiful of all the hikes we did. The wildflowers, the mountains, the animals, this trail had it all. We started this hike with a ranger but the pace was too slow so we ended up breaking off from the group. Our original intention was to hike the 6.5 miles to the chalet and then hike 4 miles from the chalet to the road and then take a bus back to our car. However, this whole time my dad had been having really bad foot/heel pain from ill fitting hiking boots which was exacerbated when going downhill. The four miles to finish the hike were all downhill and he just didn’t think he could walk downhill for that long. So, we decided to go back the way we came (hence why we did 13 miles instead of 9). The hike was gorgeous but I will be honest, I was pooped by mile 11. My mom and I had beer and goldfish in the car and that’s all I thought about during those last few miles. This hike had a few good climbs but overall was not too difficult. We were able to get a great view of a mountain goat on the hike back which was cool!

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During this hike, my left achilles tendon also started aching. At first I thought it was just rubbing on my hiking boot wrong but then I realized it more of an “internal” problem. I’m not sure if the hiking made my already tight calves even tighter or if hiking all of these miles so close together was too much for me. Since our trip, my achilles hasn’t quite been normal and gets especially achey when running. 😦

Day 4: 6 mile lake hike from Logan Pass

We decide to switch out our hikes for our last day. All of us had something aching (achilles for me) so we ended up doing a fairly easy 6 mile hike instead of another 10 miler. On this hike, we saw a mountain goat, mountain sheep in the distance, and a cute little marmot. When we got down to the lake, the fog once again rolled in which created an erie feel. After this hike, we drove to west Glacier and walked around Apgar Village, saw Lake McDonald, and then went and checked into our hotel in Whitefish. Whitefish is a super cute town and has a ski hill that I wouldn’t mind checking out in the winter. I flew out back to Chicago the next day.

Overall, this was a super fun trip and I would definitely go back. There is so much more to see! My parents are super frugal so we ate most of our meals in the hotel room (hello packaged tuna and easy mac) but this definitely kept the cost of the trip down. I think I spent $20 the entire time…all on coffee (note- I don’t drink instant coffee if there is an alternative lol). It was also nice to take a trip where the only clothes I packed were hiking clothes and I left my make-up at home. I of course got my hiking fix too.

xo

Mary

Peru!

Hi!

Long time, no blog! I have so much to tell you so I’m going to try and get back to posting more regularly and plan on writing some catch up blogs. I’ll start with our trip to Peru from May 2016. Rob and I started talking about where we wanted to vacation in May last summer because we knew we would have a few weeks to go on an awesome trip post graduate school. I’ve never traveled abroad so Rob was kind enough to let me pick the destination (he has been to several places in Europe and Australia). I instantly chose Peru. For some non-specific reason, I have been wanting to hike the Incan trail to Machu Picchu since taking several Spanish classes in college. We started planning our trip last fall and this winter and settled on a 10 day journey to Peru, including a 4 day/ 3 night hike on the Incan trail to Machu Picchu. I’m going to try and give you a brief overview of our itinerary and share some of my fabulous Iphone pics 🙂

First stop: Cusco, Peru

Fortunately, Peru is on Central time so there was no jet lag to deal with. However, we did have to factor in the altitude. In Cusco, we were hanging out around 8,000 feet and on the Incan trail, you hike to upwards of 11,000 feet. Because of this, all of the guide books recommend spending a few days in acclimatizing in Peru before starting the Incan trail hike (or any of the other hikes). I also got a prescription from my primary care provider for Diamox which is an altitude sickness drug that I took prophylactically during our trip (it does make your hands, feet, and parts of your face go numb…). We could definitely feel the altitude! Climbing up stairs and walking up hills in Cusco was so much more breathtaking (literally and figuratively). While getting “adjusted” to the altitude in Cusco, we explored some historic sites and also took a day trip to the Sacred Valley from Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the Incan empire. Side note- I have never seen so many stray dogs in my life! They are all over Peru and generally just ignore humans. It took all of my energy not to try and play with/pet them.

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Overlooking Cusco
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Rob enjoying the first of many Pisco Sours (a popular Peruvian drink)
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Plaza De Armas in the center of Cusco
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These llama/Alpaca are all over! This was our hotel’s
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This large statue of Jesus sits high on a hill looking over Cusco

Second stop: 4 day/ 3 night Incan trail backpacking trip with Alpaca Expeditions

After a few days in Cusco, we embarked on our Incan trail hike with our tour group. Our group consisted of 3 nurses from Washington, a group of 6 friends from Canada, and us. We were all similar in age which made hiking with them so much fun! We also had a fabulous guide and assistant guide, chaskis (porters), a chef, and a sous chef. This was definitely glamping. All we had to carry each day was a day pack with things we would need while hiking with plenty of water. The chaskis carried the rest and they are AMAZING. This hike would have been so much more tough and dare I say not doable for us if we had to carry everything. It was plenty challenging as it was. While the concept of having all of these support people is a little strange, it’s really how everyone does this hike. There are lots of tour groups in Peru that lead hikes on this trail and a few others and they all work similarly. What made the trail specifically challenging was that there are no switchbacks. You are either going straight up (usually rock stairs) or straight down them. At some points, I felt like I had to stop every couple of stairs to catch my breath. However, despite these “challenges” it was so worth it! (I could see how people really struggle and don’t enjoy the trip if they aren’t athletic natured and minded to begin with though.) This hike was definitely the highlight of our trip. We were able to see parts of the Andes that you would not be able to see without hiking and were also able to visit some magnificent Incan ruins that are along the trail. While a fair number of people hike the trail daily, we never felt crowded and there were some days where we didn’t see many other people besides those who were with us. Because we were able to see some large Incan ruins without having hoards of other tourists around, we felt like Machu Picchu, while spectacular was also a bit of a let down. On the last day, we woke up at 3am to get to Machu Picchu for sunrise and it was incredible. But once we got down to the site at around 7:30am, there were already tons of tourists who had come in via bus. Machu Picchu was quite noisy and crowded- something we hadn’t experienced for the past 3 days on the trail. We also really bonded with our group by the end of the trek and were sad to separate! And…I could go on and on. Here are some pictures which can’t quite capture the beauty that was the Andes….

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First day done! Thank goodness for Peruvian women who came to the site with cervezas!
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Example of the stairs that we climbed…and climbed
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Some of the tents at camp
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Machu Picchu

Stop 3: Lake Titicaca, Peru

After our hike, we flew from Cusco to Juliaca and then took a cab to Lake Titicaca, about an hour away from the airport. This is the highest fresh water lake in the world and is at about 11,000 feet. While the lake was beautiful, we didn’t enjoy this part of the trip as much. We went out on a boat tour one day and met some local people who are still maintaining ancient cultures. We also visited a floating island made of reeds where some communities still dwell. This felt very touristy to us and also just didn’t settle quite right. While these communities do make money from tourists who purchase their goods, I don’t like the idea of going to watch how “other” people live their lives. We were able to visit some pre-Incan ruins on our way back to the airport and that was probably the best part. I wouldn’t recommend taking time to visit Lake Titicaca if you ever find yourself in Peru.

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Floating Reed Island

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We had so many airport/flight disasters on the way back from Peru but I will just stick to the happy memories. This trip was so fun and I would definitely recommend going to Cusco and hiking the Incan trail. I’ve also heard that the Salcantay trail is fantastic too. I’ve definitely got the hiking bug now and would love to do more similar trips. It’s wonderful to see beautiful places and be physically challenged at the same time!

XO

Mary

…and another injury…

Well, I guess I will just come out and say it…I’m not able to run the Flying Pig Marathon. Marathon training has been a battle for me since February when I developed right quad pain which resolved and I returned to my training plan. However, because I missed a month of training, my training plan had to become more aggressive, but my coach still thought it was doable if I continued to feel well. I felt so determined to run this marathon…it has been something I’ve been working towards since recovering from a stress fracture last summer. I continued to build my miles but new aches kept coming. My plantar fasciitis flared up in my left foot which made it feel like I was running on a ball but, with lots of epson salt soaks and running my foot over a spiky ball, that let up. I was crossing my fingers that I was in the clear (middle of March). Then, my right knee got really sore after my 14 mile run…and then that didn’t let up for a few weeks. At this point (around March 20th), my running coach really encouraged me to cut back on my running, train for a later marathon, or run the half instead of the full at Flying Pig. I decided that I wanted to keep pushing forward. I then did my 16 mile run in Chicago. It was okay, not great, and then I could barely walk up the steps afterwards because my right knee was so sore. With some ice and ibuprofen, I was able to tame the knee symptoms and gradually my right knee started to feel better. Unfortunately, at the same time, I was starting to notice that not only was my right calf really tight, it was also starting to hurt a lot more, especially when I started running. Throughout training, I’ve been getting massages and I was hoping that another massage could just cure this problem. While the massage definitely helped, it didn’t solve the problem but I was able to make it through my 18mi run 2 weeks ago. I had some calf discomfort at the beginning but that let up over the course of the run. After that run on Saturday, I needed to do a 4mi run on Sunday. I went out on that run and had to call it quits because my calf just felt like it was shattering as I ran. On Monday, I went out for a 9mi run but after 5 miles, I just couldn’t handle the pain….and from there my running decreased and decreased….and my calf pain got worse and worse, even hurting at rest. After last week’s miserable runs, I knew I was not up for the 20 miler. I couldn’t walk down the steps without pain. Rob and I are also backpacking the Incan trail in May (for a total of 4 full days of hiking) and I started to get worried that if I kept pushing, I wouldn’t be able to do the hike….so here I’ve ended up.

I don’t think I have a stress fracture because I don’t have point tenderness and I don’t think I have shin splints because the pain is solely in the right calf (typically shin splints are bilateral). I’m not sure if I just severely pulled a muscle or perhaps I have exertional compartment syndrome. Regardless, I don’t think any new shoes or multiple massages are going to fix the problem.

I’m definitely disappointed because this has been something I’ve been working towards for months. I’ve been running at least a 10 mile long weekend run every weekend (minus February) since the beginning of December. Running a marathon is on my bucket list, but so is climbing Machu Picchu.

I also think that I need to reassess why running a marathon is on my bucket list. Perhaps, my body just can’t tolerate the training….clearly, I’m having a hard time accepting that…(which is evidenced by the fact that my sports med doc has told me this numerous times…yet I still keep training…and am now too embarrassed to go and see him for this injury).

Anyway, sorry for the long, drawn out post. I also feel lucky that while I can’t run a marathon, I can still do other things (ie yoga). And I also know that this is minor in comparison to the struggles other people face.

I might still do the half….

Thanks for listening to me.

xo

Mary

Marathon training restart

Well February was a messy month. The first week of February I started getting pain in my right thigh when running and of course, I got worried. After having 2 previous stress fractures in my left femur, I was convinced that I had yet another stress fracture. This left me feeling so frustrated. With the encouragement of my running coach, I went to see my sports med doctor in the middle of February and he ordered an MRI. I debated not even going to this appointment because I’ve gone through this before and feel like I can self-diagnose and treat myself. But, I went. I had to wait a whole week to go see the doctor again and discuss my MRI results. In this time, my leg was feeling quite a bit better and I had picked up running but was just keeping my miles low (like 7 miles/week). By the time I went to my appointment, I was starting to wonder if I made the whole right leg pain thing up in my head. Turns out….maybe I did. There were no signs of a stress fracture in either of my femurs or my pelvis. WHAT A RELIEF. However, I was also frustrated because I just missed 3 weeks of marathon training. Thankfully, I have a running coach, who makes figuring out how to return to marathon training after a 3 week hiatus a whole lot less stressful. I did my first “long” run since the end of January (14 miler then) last weekend and clocked 8 miles. This weekend, I will run 10 and we will continue to ramp up the mileage a little faster than planned with an emphasis on “slow and steady” pacing. If things start to flare up, I might just have to sit this marathon out. I’m crossing my fingers that I can get back into the swing of things within the next few weeks and still make it through the marathon. With a bigger perspective, I’m grateful for the opportunity to keep moving forward and enjoyed increasing my yoga practice in February. Also, I keep reminding myself, that I am not defined by my physical accomplishments, and if I have to let this go, then I will.

xo

Mary

ps- I only take pictures of Arlo these days. He says HI!

Marathon Training, Arlo, Clinic Work

Marathon Training: Not too much excitement happening around here recently, which is a good thing! I’m still working with my running coach and every week that I complete injury free amazes me (knock on wood). I’ve been feeling really great with where my training is at and how my runs have been feeling. In addition to making it through my runs, I have really been enjoying them. No marathon burn out for me yet. My friend Lindsay and I have actually decided to run the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati because Lindsay can’t make it for the Nashville race. Flying Pig is only a day after the Nashville race which I was planning on so I don’t need to make any big training changes.

Arlo: Arlo’s personality comes out more and more everyday and he has become so much more comfortable over the past month that we’ve had him. Arlo has his first training class this afternoon.  While overall, he is a pretty well behaved pup, there are some things we need to work on (ie. barking meanly at other dogs when they walk by). The poor pup also has to have his back molar removed on Monday. How I love him though…it breaks my heart to think about him in his little kennel at the humane society.

Clinic: I’m plugging away at a really lovely primary care clinic this semester. No calls and daytime hours are definitely nice, although I do really miss birth and midwifery care! The transition to this clinic has been really easy and I’m grateful for the additional experience.

That’s all of the news I have for now! Off to run 14 miles 🙂

Meet Arlo

In December, I was hoping to start a blogging pattern…but that didn’t happen. Perhaps, I will make it a New Year resolution to blog weekly. But, on to more important matters….

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Arlo joined our family on December 29. We adopted him from the humane society for a whopping $45. He had been at the humane society for about 10 days before we adopted him. The poor pup was found as a “stray” so they couldn’t tell us much about him. We were a bit worried that they couldn’t tell us about his habits but he was so sweet, I couldn’t leave without him. The vet at the shelter thinks he is about 5.5 years old (they can approximately tell by looking at his teeth) and is a terrier/schnauzer mix. So far, he appears to be house broken. We are working on teaching him some basic commands and getting him to know his name. I signed up for beginners obedience training at Petsmart which will start at the end of January to help as well. His personality comes out more and more everyday; overall he has been really well behaved. Arlo does bark quite a bit when we are gone which is the biggest issue right now.

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Arlo’s favorite spot and position (he has some cat-like qualities)

I’m also hoping to get Arlo to become a better running buddy. He can only run about 2.5 miles right now….with a little walk break in the middle. The little guy needs a running program 🙂

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Arlo post run.

Stay tuned for more Arlo updates.

xo

Mary and Arlo

Running Coach

I bit the bullet and hired a running coach (or Rob did for an early Christmas present)! I’ve been debating about hiring a coach for the past several months with the idea that perhaps a coach could best help me train so that I won’t get injured. I’ve had 2 femoral stress fractures in the past and I really do not want another one but, I’m ready to cross “marathon” off of my bucket list. I’ve decided to try and run the Nashville marathon at the end of April.

So with about 20 weeks to go until the marathon, my coach is going to help me build miles and distance at an appropriate pace based on my 5k and 1/2 marathon PR times. The coach I hired doesn’t actually live in Nashville so we had about an hour and a half video chat session on Wednesday to review the detailed questionnaire that she had me fill out and so that she could watch me do a few stretches and exercises to see what kind of strength and stretching I need to focus on. The next day, she sent me a very detailed spreadsheet of my runs, what pace I should be running, and what I should be focusing on. She also has given me a few strength exercises and stretches to do several times per week. I can email her with any questions and these first few weeks she really wants to keep an eye on how my runs are going.

Hiring a coach seems like such a big commitment to me because now that I’m paying her money, I feel pretty tied to this marathon. No more excuses for me (unless my body just can’t handle it)! My workouts will focus a lot on running for now with a little bit of yoga. I’m going to take a break from tabata style workouts for the time being so that I can safely build miles without over stressing my legs.

I’ll keep you updated on my marathon journey!

Happy running,

Mary

ps- Here is the info on the coach I hired 🙂

Life Lately

Sorry for the long delay since my last post- I will try to update more frequently now that I’ve completed the majority of my final fall semester of midwifery school. I passed my final comprehensive exam before finishing the program today…hallelujah! This also means that I have finished my training stint in rural Kentucky and am back in Nashville. While I have enjoyed getting to know all kinds of different people and live in places that I never could have imagined, I’m happy to be home with my husband once again. This winter, I’m doing my family nurse practitioner clinical in the area so I can live at home. This also means that Rob and I can finally get a pup! We are planning to adopt one after Christmas. I’m hoping to find a medium size dog around 2 y.o. that can run with me.

Speaking of running….I’ve been adding on the miles all fall and did a 9.5 mile run last weekend. My goal is to be comfortably and easily running 10 miles when marathon training starts in the middle of January. I still get really nervous about how much my body can handle given my stress fracture history. I also go back and forth trying to decide if I really want to risk another injury. However, I REALLY WANT to run a full marathon and am hoping that I can finally cross it off of my bucket list. I’ve been debating about hiring a private coach to help keep me injury free but that is another added expense; I still haven’t made my mind up.

As I was studying for my final exam, I was able to travel with Rob for some of his residency program interviews. I ran around the Duke and UVA campuses which were GORGEOUS. It is so fun to explore new towns by running. We also spent Thanksgiving in Oregon (Rob had an interview there and he has family out there) so I was able to run in Portland, Government Camp (at the base of Mt Hood), and in Eugene on the Prefontaine trail. Pre’s trail definitely takes the cake- it was a beautiful winter morning and a great trail surface.

Hard to believe holiday season is in full swing. Cheers!

xo

Mary

ps. I found some new Hokas for a great deal on Sierra Trading Post 🙂

Update from Mary

Here’s a little update on my life lately: Rob and I got married a few months ago during a break between school semesters for me and during one of his free months in med school. Life didn’t slow down before and it certainly hasn’t slowed down after. Below is our glamorous look at our friends’ wedding this September.

IMG_1712I’ve been spending my fall in a small town in Kentucky completing my integration semester for nurse-midwifery school. I can’t believe I’m almost done…what an incredible whirlwind it has been. In between clinic and baby catching, I’ve managed to maintain a pretty good running and workout schedule. I’ve had so many running injuries with the last being my second femoral stress fracture this past January. Finally, in May, I was able to start slowly running again. Since then I’ve been working on building up my miles at an easy pace. I am still so determined to run a marathon and am hoping to run the Rock n’ Roll Nashville Marathon in April. Figuring out how to push myself at just the right pace to prevent injury but build up endurance and strength is something I’m struggling with. I am feeling pretty good so far but I’ve been contemplating if I should hire a running coach. Thoughts?

IMG_1727 2 Rob and I at our favorite gym class where I get a lot of cross training and strength in when I’m in Nashville.

IMG_1751 2I miss being in a bigger city but this quiet town with little traffic is starting to grow on me. Check out this beautiful running path.