A Review of 2014 (Plus, what didn’t make it on the blog the first time around!)

Happy New Year!  My 2014 was bookended by two huge events. In January Matt and I suddenly lost our beloved Bailey, the affable, energetic, wonderful dog that was the original inspiration for this blog. Then, in late October, we brought home Piper, a wacky, awesome little GSP puppy who, of course, will never replace Bailey but nevertheless immediately made us feel whole again.

Although I spent much of the days between January 30th and October 26th mourning Bailey’s loss and awaiting Piper’s arrival, I still managed to find time for a healthy dose of running, cooking, photography and adventures. Here’s a recap of my year.

JANUARY

Matt and I froze our way through the coldest January ever, blissfully unaware that we were enjoying our last days with Bailey.  We kicked off the month by running a 5K in 10° temps (and kudos to both of our little brothers who still showed up – and beat us – on race morning!).  Then Matt, my brother and I headed to Las Vegas for a work trip.  We returned to freezing Pennsylvania in mid-January and, twelve days later, had our hearts utterly broken when Bailey died.

What didn’t make it on the blog? The last photo I ever took of Bailey.  This was January 26th and she was hanging out with her best buddy, Hershey, on Hershey’s extra-large bed in our mud room.  When I went through my iPhone camera roll last night to find this photo it still made me so sad to see Bailey’s beautiful little face.  😦

Bailey and Hershey (1/26/14)

January Races: Just one, the Athlete’s Closet January 5K (26:19)
January Miles: 153.3

FEBRUARY

February began in a dark, cold, snowy blur.  An ice storm hit eastern PA early in the month, knocking out power for days and severely damaging several of our trees.  There were, however, two silver linings to the ice storm.  First, it gave Matt and me a reason to take refuge at my mom and stepfather’s house (yay for back up generators!) where we got to spend some much needed time around loving family.  Secondly, all of the ice and snow DID make for some cool photo ops.  The goose photo is still one of my favorite shots of the year.

After the ice and snow melted Matt and I enjoyed a wonderful getaway on Virginia’s eastern shore with friends for an all-you-can eat Oyster fest.  After weeks of frigid temps I was very grateful for this mini vacation and the chance to stretch my legs with some outdoor running.  A good end to the month!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  This photo of our mailbox, obscured by a ridiculous amount of snow… all personally shoveled by myself and Matt!  (It still makes me tired thinking about it.)

Snowy Mailbox

February Races: One again, the Athlete’s Closet February 5K (26:02)
February Miles: 144.9

MARCH

I kicked off March with my first 5 mile race ever, then ran 10 miles in mid-March (still my longest run to date!) and finished the month with another local 5K.  Matt and I also ate like kings this month.  We enjoyed Shrimp Scampi (which first made an appearance on the blog in February but was too good not to make again immediately!), Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya and, perhaps my favorite stew ever, Cassoulet.  YUM!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  Matt flew up to Montreal for a weekend bachelor party in late March (lucky him!) and I spent a quiet weekend at home with both of our parents’ dogs, Hershey the Chocolate Lab and Bella the GSP.  After being dog-less for several weeks it was nice to have four-legged companions in the house again.

Hershey and Bella

March Races: Two official, the Athlete’s Closet 5 Miler (42.47) and the Color Out Cancer 5K (28:13).  I should have run a third race, the Pickle Run, except that I got the time wrong and showed up several hours late!!
March Miles: 143.1

APRIL

In early April Matt and I escaped from the east coast’s terrible winter weather with an 8-day work trip that took us from sunny Las Vegas to the L.A. area.  We spent a blissful, amazing, perfect weekend in Temecula, California, a mini wine country paradise not far from L.A. and San Diego.  I would go back in a heartbeat.

What didn’t make it on the blog? We roasted an entire chicken… on the grill!  For some reason this Tex-Mex recipe never appeared on the blog (I guess I was still in a post-California haze?) but believe me, it was delicious!

Grilled Chicken

April Races: Three, the Security 5K in Vegas (25:26), Rick’s Run 5K (25:56) and St. Tim’s 5K (26:22)
April Miles: 136.9

MAY

In May Spring finally arrived.  FINALLY!  Matt and I spent a few days in Baltimore for work where we ran in the Inner Harbor and enjoyed a complementary 5PM happy hour wine reception at Hotel Monaco.  I also ran a huge new personal best at the Victory Brewing Company 5K in mid-May.  Woohoo!

What didn’t make it on the blog? In May we fell madly in love with an $8 bottle of oaky Chardonnay, only to find out shortly thereafter that it was a special Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board “Chairman’s Selection” that had subsequently sold out throughout the entire state.  Apparently the PLCB buys up the complete year’s worth of wine from the vineyard so our new favorite wine was no longer available anywhere in the world after it sold out in PA.  Boo!  But at least I learned that if I like a PLCB selection wine I should buy ALL OF IT!

Aura Chardonnay

May Races: Three, the Elwyn 5K (26:17), Run for Victory 5K (24:17… NEW PR!), and Rocky Run Trail 5K (27:40)
May Miles: 138.1

JUNE

We spent June on the go, traveling to the Hunting Camp with family before heading out on a work trip in western PA and then journeying east to New Jersey for a friend’s wedding.  In the middle of all of this road-tripping we still found time to celebrate our first anniversary over a glass (or two) of wine at Sweetwater Farm’s Grace Winery.

What didn’t make it on the blog? On June 3rd I took Bella out for a jog and discovered that she clearly had previous experience running in a perfect heel position.  Matt’s parents rescued Bella so we don’t know much about her history, but she definitely was somebody’s running partner in the past!  Following this discovery I happily took Bella on several runs while she was staying with us in early June.

Bella

June Races: Two, the Radnor Conservancy 5K (25:49) and the Media 5 Miler (42:57)
June Miles: 142.8

JULY

July marked the completion of several of our household projects.  Matt and I had spent much of the spring and summer digging up and replacing all of the shrubs and perennials in front of our house as well as repainting and fixing up our living room.  Everything came together perfectly just in time for the fiesta-themed bridal shower that we hosted in late July.

With the household projects finally out of the way, I started focusing more on running.  I began doing group runs with The Running Place on Mondays and joined the West Chester Running Club for their speed workouts at a local track on Tuesdays.  The extra running work started paying off quickly, which brings me to what didn’t make in on the blog for this month… on July 26th I ran the entire 4.3-mile Ridley Creek multi-use trail loop without stopping!  This loop includes an enormous uphill section so I was extremely excited to finally be able to run all the way up it!

July Races: Two, Cam’s Moonlight 5K in the rain (24:46) and the Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (40:28… NEW PR!!)
July Miles:  148.4

AUGUST

I kept busy in August with lots of running, participating in three 5Ks (including a huge PR!) and more group runs and track workouts.  I also spent a weekend in Philadelphia and managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to get in a great 5 mile city run that included the section of the Schuylkill River Trail that passes by Philly’s famed boathouse row near the Art Museum.  Although I’ve walked up the Art Museum’s steps many times I took this opportunity to run up them and then took pictures of the city stretched out before me like a total tourist.  😉

What didn’t make it on the blog?  My brother and his fiance got a puppy in August!  She is a German Shepherd named Lady and she’s beautiful.  She and Piper have played together several times and really seem to feed off each other’s endless puppy energy.

Lady Puppy

August Races: Three, the Riddlewood 5K (25:01), the Radnor Red Steeplechase (27:49) and the prediction-style Pickle Run 5K (23:41… NEW PR!!)
August Miles: 157.5

SEPTEMBER

September was much like August except with nicer weather.  I ran in three more 5Ks and Matt and I spent a lot of time outdoors.  We also hosted an epic Beer Tasting Party mid-month, which only didn’t make it on the blog because we were too busy having fun and drinking beer to take a single photo of the event.  We had a blind IPA tasting, 20+ types of beers, soft pretzels, sausage, pepper & onion sandwiches, and lots of friends and family there to enjoy everything with us… it was great!

September Races: Three, the TALK 5K Trail Run (25:40), the much-anticipated Run-A-Muck Trail Run (28:08 on a long course), and the Haverford Township Day 5K (23:50)
September Miles: 158

OCTOBER

In October we drove to Wisconsin and brought Piper home!! That was at the very end of the month, so first we had to make it through a few more long weeks of waiting for our little pup.  I kept myself busy by making delicious Italian White Bean Hummus (I made more last week… so good!) and Apple Crisp.  I also ran in a few more races, including a dog-friendly 5K with Hershey in tow.

What didn’t make it on the blog?  After logging hundreds of miles in three different pairs of Mizuno Wave Rider 16s I finally took the plunge and upgraded to the new WR 18s.  I love them!!!  I now have 200 running miles on my October pair and they still feel as springy and supportive as the day I first put them on.  Yay for new shoes!

Mizuno Wave Rider 18s

October Races: Three, Martin’s Run 5K (23:54), the Fueled Up 5K (23:56), and the Bark in the Park 5K (26:21)
October Miles: 158.6

NOVEMBER

Piper kept us very busy in November.  Crate training proved to be a challenge, resulting in us having to let her out to do her business pretty much once every 3 hours, be that during the work day, night, or anytime in between.  Needless to say, all of this was totally worth it and we didn’t need potty training as an excuse to spend every possible moment with Piper.  We hiked, trained, snuggled, and even got to play in the snow with her in November.  A good month!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  Matt got me a Garmin Forerunner 220 which replaced my ancient Timex stopwatch.  My birthday was a few days after we brought Piper home so I joke that I got a GSP and a GPS for my 30th… ha.  Anyway, my new Garmin is awesome and so far I’m really enjoying having more pace and distance data available to me during runs and races.

Old Watch and New Garmin FR 220!!!

November Races: Three, the Trinity Berwyn 5K (23:32… NEW Birthday PR!), the Metal Run 5K (24:18) and a local Turkey Trot 5K (23:40).
November Miles: 149.4

DECEMBER

Our adventures with Piper kept getting better and better this month.  She is growing up FAST and she’s clearly enjoying hiking and exploring the parks, preserves, and trails we’ve been taking her to.  Piper also started Puppy Class and is eagerly soaking up every new command as quickly as we can teach it.  She takes “down” very seriously, making a big deal of dramatically flinging out her front paw as she descends from a sit to the down position.

What didn’t make it on the blog?  For the past week Piper has been sharing her car, kitchen and yard with Hershey while my mom and stepfather are out of town.  Piper has adjusted to this change well and seems very content to go quietly to her crate when it’s time for the two dogs to be separated.  Hershey has also been doing a great job of tolerating Piper’s nonstop puppy antics.  What good pups!

December Races: Three, the Jingle Elf 2 Miler (14:33), Brian’s Run 5 Miler (39:11… NEW PR!!!) and an unofficial prediction fun run at The Running Place (2.8 miles/20:54).  I was planning to run a NYE 5K but just learned that the race I did last year is not happening this year.  Therefore the fun run was my 30th and final race of 2014!  I’ll pick things right back up again in 2015 with a New Year’s Day race tomorrow morning.
December Miles: 142

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So yeah, that was pretty much how my year went!  I should probably change my blog tagline to “Dogs, Races, Food, and Photos,” don’t you think? 😜  Thank you to all of my readers for following along with my adventures.  Here’s to even more fun in 2015!

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A (Long) Look Back at 2013

As 2014 rapidly approaches I am happily reflecting on the wonderful year that I had in 2013.  Most importantly, I married my best friend and the love of my life (and had a blast doing so!).  I also started running again after a six year hiatus, I spent time with Bailey, and I cooked lots of yummy foods.  All in all a good year.  Here’s my official recap!

Matt and I got married!

On June 8th Matt and I got married at Sweetwater Farm in Glen Mills, PA.  The celebration started Friday night with a laid back barbecue ‘rehearsal dinner’ during Tropical Storm Andrea (luckily we were under a covered patio!).  Then the sun came out on Saturday and we got married outside at the edge of the woods before partying the night away with our guests in a renovated 18th century red bank barn that doubles as a winery.  After our wedding Matt and I honeymooned in beautiful St. Lucia.

I ran! (a lot)

When Matt and I returned from our honeymoon I decided it was time to get back in shape.  I started streaking on July 1st and we bought a treadmill on July 18th.  Spurred on by a goal that I set for myself (100 miles in 42 days), I started walking, jogging, and then running like crazy.  I hit 100 miles in 21 days, 200 in 37 days, and 300 in 54 days.  Then I nervously entered and triumphantly finished the Run-A-Muck, my first 5K race since freshman year in high school.

After Run-A-Muck I was completely hooked on running.  So much so that I overdid my training and injured my foot to the point where I could hardly walk.  I didn’t want to break my streak, so I switched my training over to the elliptical trainer in our garage.  With time my peroneal tendonitis healed and I was ready for more 5Ks.  Matt and I ran three races on consecutive weekends in late October/early November (Fueled Up, Oy Vey, and Trinity) and then enjoyed a crowded Turkey Trot on a chilly 29° Thanksgiving morning.  Matt hurt his back so he cheered me on from the sidelines at the Athlete’s Closet 5K in mid-December, then I finished off the year with a new personal best (25:13) at the New Year’s Eve 5K at the Upper Main Line YMCA.

iFit Stats as of 12/31/13

I started tracking my mileage on July 18th and I’m finishing off 2013 with exactly 812 miles.  That’s an average of 4.86 miles a day since mid-July, whew!  My best month was August with 180.2 miles, followed by a strong December with 161 miles.  My longest run was an 8 mile jaunt in Wallingford, PA on December 22nd (I didn’t mean for it to be that long… I got lost!).  I’ve been streaking for 184 consecutive days and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

Bailey played!

I can’t write a year end recap without mentioning our cuddly, energetic, “petite” German Shorthair, Bailey.  Bailey turned 6 in May, competed at the DockDogs Regional Championships in June, had a GSP house guest in July, wallowed in the mud in August, and frolicked in the snow in December.  When she wasn’t outside patrolling the yard for squirrels, Bailey snuggled with us on the couch (she’s only allowed on the furniture if we invite her up) and snoozed in her doggie den bed.  She also started K9 Nosework classes in January and she’s working on hunting for birch scent now.  (That reminds me that I really need to do a post about NW one of these days… maybe next year!)  🙂

Hiding behind the tulips

We cooked!

When we weren’t busy planning a wedding or running, Matt and I spent time in the kitchen making lots of yummy meals.  Here are a few of our favorites from 2013:

Smoky Beef ChiliBanh Mi Steak SandwichesZacatecas Skirt Steak Tacos

Chicken Lo MeinWhite Pizza with Sausage, Spinach and RicottaPork Carnitas Tostadas

Pozole RojoCoconut Cream PieCaramel Corn

Rotisserie Chicken BurritosStuffed Poblano PeppersMexican Pizza

I blogged!

And, finally… in 2013 I blogged!  WordPress sent me a stats summary for the year so I thought I’d share a few quick factoids.  My blog had over 58,000 views in 2013 and my visitors came from 150 different countries!  Thank you very much for visiting, everyone!!!

My most popular post by far was this recipe for Candied Yams (it had over 1300 hits on Thanksgiving day alone!).  Other popular posts were my DIY Tutorial on making your own “vintage” blue ball jars and my Rotisserie Chicken Burritos.  I’ve really enjoyed blogging in 2013 and I can’t wait to continue next year!

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OK, I’m off to get ready for a New Year’s Eve party.  Have a wonderful last few hours of 2013 and happy new year!!!