Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours...wishing you a very very Merry Christmas!

(...and Bo, Molly, & Abby!)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday. It always has been, although my reasoning has certainly changed over the years. I used to countdown until Christmas day, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa and his load of presents. It felt like the longest month of the year. As I've grown older, my Christmas list and shopping list have both shrunk in size considerably and are practically non-existent, as I now anticipate simply seeing the people I love most and spending time with them. December is now by far the shortest (and most fun) month of the year!

Bo's work Christmas party at the Buckhead Club

Kelly & Brian's housewarming/holiday party

Christmas Carol at the Shakespeare Tavern
Katherine's annual cookie exchange

My work Christmas party at the High Museum

Josh's tacky Christmas party

White Elephant gift exchange at work - very fitting that I ended up with a key finder, since Abby destroyed my car key a few weeks ago, and I hope to never lose my spare key since a replacement is $420..!!!!

our annual friends feast

I promise there were more than just the 5 of us who consumed all the wine....

Whew! We survived the whirlwind :)  We are now up in North Carolina for the week just relaxing with family and puppies and logging many hours on the couch with said family members and puppies... Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Under 30, Before 30

For the past year and a half or so, I've been running one race a month. My main objective was to simply stay in shape and to challenge myself to improve on both distance and speed. I ran three longer races in the past year - the St. Pete Women's Half Marathon, the Peachtree Road Race (10k), and the Atlanta Marathon 10 Miler. The rest of my races have been 5k's, so about a year ago (after the half marathon), I set some goals for myself to get faster - first to get back to a 10-minute-mile pace, and then to run a 5k in under 30 minutes, before I turn 30 (which is exactly 30 days from today!).

I have a good group of friends here in Atlanta who have been running with me on and off during that time. It has been a great way to hold each other accountable, which is extremely motivating on days when I really don't want to run. It has also made it much more social and enjoyable when we have a delicious brunch planned after each race. We all run at a different pace, so even though we start together, we run by ourselves and meet up at the finish line.

That is, until a few months ago when Adrienne, one of my old college running buddies, moved to Atlanta. She and I started running together regularly again and I was back to my old pace pretty quickly. After our 10 miler where we nailed exactly a 10 minute mile, I knew if I trained a little bit harder I could reach my second goal. Adrienne unfortunately had really bad shin splints so I was back to running by myself. I mainly worked on speed, with interval training. I only found one race in Atlanta that fit my schedule, but it's not until January which was cutting it pretty close to my 30th birthday. So I convinced my mom and Leslie to run a Turkey Trot with me on Thanksgiving Day and I'm proud to say I achieved my goal - under 30, before 30! I officially finished the race in 26:32 which is drastically faster than my usual time. It was a great race and I was so excited!

It was freezing cold that morning, Leslie and I were a weeee bit hungover, and I was pretty sure she and my mom were going to kill me for making them run this race. But in the end it was probably the best race I ever could have picked to meet my goal, and we all really enjoyed it. So much so that we might make it a new tradition whenever we are in town for Thanksgiving.

Now there are a few caveats - I've been training in Atlanta's humidity and hills, so it played in my favor BIG time to run a race in Florida in late November when there was a lovely ocean breeze, no humidity, and definitely no hills ;) After the incredibly hilly 10 miler I ran the month before, it was a nice relief when a spectator warned me about the "hill" up ahead, which was a meager speed bump :)  The other caveat is that it was only a 3 mile race, so it wasn't technically a 5k. But I am totally counting it. So thank you to all of my running buddies for helping me get there!! Looking forward to another year of racing ahead of us!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

This year we decided to switch things up and spend Thanksgiving with my family down in North Palm Beach, Florida. Sadly enough we had planned this entirely around the Gator football schedule, since we played at home the weekends before and after Thanksgiving, which was a (not so) good way to break up the 8 hour drive there and back.

The puppies were such troopers and slept most of the way, which was awesome! Until we finally got to my parents' house, and they were well rested and ready to 11pm. Hank (my sister's cat) was not too pleased with their arrival.

My brother Paul drove down from Charlotte two days later with his girlfriend Sarah and their new puppy, Belle. We had a full house that week and it was the best time ever - eight people, four dogs, and a cat, all under one roof. Insane, I know. Thankfully the dogs all got along really well and I think Hank really appreciates living with only one dog (for now). We all spent far too much time just watching the pups play together. They are so cute and highly entertaining.

Bo and I worked from home most of the week to save up on vacation days. Which wasn't too bad considering the amazing view. If only we could work there every day.

We celebrated Bo's 29th birthday while we were in town! We took a long lunch at the Yacht Club (thanks, Dad!) with Leslie and Liz. That evening, Bo and I went to dinner at Okeechobee Steakhouse, an old favorite and just as good as we remembered. Followed by a few drinks at Bradley's with Liz - so glad she has moved back to West Palm.

surprise carrot cake from Leslie!

We met up with Jesea and her boyfriend Nolan the next night at Rum Bar. Love seeing old friends as if not a single moment has passed :)

Thanksgiving morning I ran the Turkey Trot with my mom and Leslie, and I PR'd! It was freeeeezing that morning and I thought they were going to kill me but in the end we all did better than expected and really enjoyed it. Their slogan was "run the race before your stuff your face" which was amazing. Yes and yes. More to come on this...

And of course...the main event, Thanksgiving! There were over 30 of us at Grandma's house this year and it was so so great seeing everyone. We are lucky to have family who are also friends :)

I have a lot to be grateful for but above all, I am most thankful for these people!! <3

Grandma with only about two-thirds of the grandkids. Love my cousins!

Grandma and 7 of her own children and spouses

And just like that, our trip was over. The next day we packed up the car and headed back to Gainesville. This was Abby's first visit so we took the pups around campus that afternoon...yes, we are crazy dog parents...imagine the day when we have actual human children ;)

That night we went to the UF-FSU basketball game at the O'Dome. It was a great game and we were glad to finally see the Gators win something. If only we could have won the next day in football as well. Dare to dream.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the Christmas season :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

In All Kinds of Weather

When we planned out our football games for this season over a year ago and realized we'd be out of town every single weekend of November, we knew it was going to be a crazy month. Add to that, we spent a week in Florida for Thanksgiving (more to come on that!) and Bo ended up having to travel for work the remaining weeks of the month. I think in total he spent maybe 4 days at home - it was rough. Add to that, the Gators didn't win a single game. Not one. We stayed faithful to our plans and went to each and every game, and ohmygosh was it depressing. Especially considering we lost the last two games in October as well (thankfully we did not go to those). Attending 5 out of the 7 consecutive losses was not at all how we envisioned the season going. But as the song goes... in all kinds of weather, we all stick together.

So without further ado, here's November in a nutshell....

Loss #1: Georgia, 20-23

This was officially our last year staying in St. Simons with our UGA frenemies. Don't get me wrong we always have a great time with them at the rental house and tailgating but I'm ready to return to staying in Jacksonville.  Losses are that much tougher when you have an hour drive to go hang out with a bunch of bulldogs the rest of the evening. Ugh

Loss #2: Vanderbilt, 17-34

 Are you kidding me?! We hadn't lost to Vanderbilt in 25 years. Similar to the Kentucky game, if we broke that winning streak I didn't want to be there for it. We always stay until the bitter end of each game, but this was just disgusting, and once the 3rd quarter was over we just couldn't take it anymore and left. It was even our homecoming game. At least we had planned ahead of time to go back to Atlanta after the game since it was at noon, so, we had that going for us which was nice.

Loss #3: South Carolina, 14-19

Very much expected to lose this game, so it was somewhat of a moral victory that we only lost 19-15. This was our first visit to Columbia and we enjoyed it - SEC campus #10 for us! The game wasn't until 7pm so we drove there that morning and got in town just after lunch time. The football stadium is off-campus near the fairgrounds so it actually felt like tailgating for a pro game. We had a great day of tailgating with the few friends who stayed committed to going ;)  Though it was weird not being able to walk around campus during the day, so we went by the next morning on our way home. We liked their stadium a lot, but if I never hear "Sandstorm" again it will be too soon.

Loss #4: Georgia Southern, 20-26

Ouch. In the history of Florida football this was our first loss ever to an FCS team. Thankfully, this was just a pit stop in Gainesville for a few hours to break up our drive from Atlanta down to West Palm. Yes, that was a very long day.

Loss #5: FSU, 7-37

Also expected to lose this game and we were actually surprised it wasn't any worse. They are going to the national championship game, so we are now rooting for Auburn to beat them. I must emphasize how very proud I was of our fans during that game, for showing up and cheering on our team despite how poorly this season has gone. And we at least had a sense of humor and came up with some pretty clever cheers that aren't exactly appropriate for this family-friendly blog ;)

Before. During. After. Couldn't even pretend for a smile pic at this point..!

It was a really pitiful season and next year has to be better. It's the first time we've had a losing record in my lifetime (and then some...since 1979!) and the first time we are not going to a bowl game since 1990, which is somewhat of a blessing so I don't have to stress about another game. So glad this season is finally over!