My Saturday started out with an 18 mile solo run. I remember the days that running 7-10 miles solo was torture. But today wasn’t bad at all. Of course, I’d rather run with my friends – there is a point in a long run where your brain goes a little crazy (I call it “runner’s brain”) where you start trying to comprehend the number of miles behind you and how many you have in front of you instead of just moving and doing what your watch tells you to do. Where you literally feel like you haven’t spoken to another human in years…decades even. When I reach this point, I either start talking to myself/sing along to my music (which makes passersby stare) or text friends as I run. Today my Sole Sisters and my mom got me through the miles.

img_20160827_123334-01.jpeg

Getting back to the fact of running 18 miles solo – I didn’t mind it or dread it or try to push it off. It was just something I needed to get done. And I love that I’m at that point with running.  I felt fierce and awesome today while knocking out those 18 miles and even more so when I finished, even though I was a gross and hot mess. The miles weren’t easy, I can tell you. And I have had to work extremely hard to get where I am, running-wise. Lots of strength training, yoga, and early mornings. But I wouldn’t trade a single second of it for sleeping in. I always end each run feeling grateful for every step I could take.

After this run, I joined my sole sisters in a birthday celebration for S.🙂 We ate at a new cafe in Fayetteville and soaked in the beautiful morning. I’ve known S. for a little over 2 years (It seems like I’ve known her my whole life) and she’s definitely a keeper😉 I remember her as the new girl in the department down the hall, who dressed like Doris Day🙂 I invited her to have lunch with me one day and our friendship was a done deal after that. And the Sole Sisters formed shortly thereafter.

 

img_20160827_120954.jpg

img_20160827_182742.jpg

wp-1472346506846.jpeg

img_20160827_122902.jpg
Pesto and spinach omelette, avocado slices, and potatoes. I paused for about 10 seconds to take this picture and then promptly inhaled the food. A distance runner’s dream😉

Each one of the sole sisters is currently at a different spot in her “fitness journey” but it’s more than running or working out that brings us together. We celebrate each other’s successes and are there for one another when life throws a curve-ball. And I love that.

img_20160827_181319.jpg

img_20160827_182324.jpg

20160827995827159.jpg
Nitro cold brew coffee

My evening consisted of a short bike ride to a brewery/coffee shop near the university with my friend H. Traffic has certainly picked up since school started and it was fun to see the kids scattered about the shiny tables in the building, their fingers furiously typing on their laptops and their eyes widen with their already sky-high caffeine intake😉

As usual, my Saturday was chalk full of goodness.

XOXO

14067843_844196871324_4036093444035396136_o

 

Today is the first Friday I’ve worked in a couple of weeks! This summer has been a whirlwind of work trips and visits with family and friends. Every moment precious, full of adventure, and far too fleeting.🙂

September will soon be here and then October (my favorite month) full of color and pumpkin spice lattes. Change is coming but I’ve learned to embrace it, good or not so good. It helps us all grow.

XOXOx

I just returned from my third and final trip this summer. Three different cities within the course of a month. Even I know how crazy that sounds.

But it’s been worth it. Every since second. And this final trip was extra special as it involved family.

Several members of my dad’s family gathered in Omaha, NE, at my late aunt Connie’s house for pie and coffee. I vaguely knew everyone but all of their eyes and humor betrayed them as Baumerts🙂 It was so nice to reconnect with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Aunt Connie’s house has remained the same since her passing – large, bright and cheery. Art sings from the walls and the white curtains that hang on the front windows whisper and flow with the breeze when the windows are open.

14086461_842679851444_8797267532766832969_o

The reunion only last 3 hours on Saturday – I spent the remainder of the time with my parents, sister, and her family. We laughed, talked, ate delicious food that my parents cooked, and enjoyed the cool weather. My dad and I ran every morning and I was able sit on the porch with coffee and drink in the sunrise.

14107915_842847675124_302365230550769461_o
M&M kept us busy!
14054313_842773553664_3508920420041405871_o
I had the privilege of seeing my mom’s two childhood homes😉
14103024_842683873384_3912872017216761326_o
M&M had 6am cocoa every morning on the sun porch

 

14086418_842781597544_337152088845311964_o
The laundry shoot has fascinated them from day one😉
14086403_842779267214_4597877209788438626_o
M’s toy Walrus “lost a tooth” and received a visit from the Tooth fairy. M quickly began to plan how she would use her new wealth. 

As usual, this visit ended fair too quickly. Thankfully we already have another gathering planned in October😉

XOXO

KS

Canada! A second home.

I am back from the biggest adventure I’ve taken in a long time. And I loved every single second of it.

I traveled to Alberta, Canada on August 10th, not knowing what to expect. All I knew is that I was going to be the Maid of Honor in the wedding of my dear friend of 14 years, M. I didn’t realize how many new friends I would make nor how I would fall in love with landscape and weather.

13996212_840496846204_8529142556961553411_o
Lethbridge, Alberta

The days leading up to the wedding on August 12 were full of preparation – rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, finalizing every little detail. I met M’s parents and brother, people that I had heard about since we were in high school together. They spoke very little English so I solicited M’s help in learning (or trying to learn) a few phrases so I could talk to them. All three were so kind and had a great sense of humor. They brought everyone gifts and were always so grateful for help, a compliment, or information.

The night before the wedding, M. and I stayed in a hotel room and just caught up. I am so lucky that I have several friends that I can see every 5-10 years but it’s like we hung out the day before. M is one of those friends. We saw each other 4 years ago and talk at least once a month but that night in the hotel room, as we feasted on dried plums and gulped water, it was like we were still sitting at Starbucks as 18 year olds,  giggling about school and boys.

13923877_840480019924_4277212853691215984_o
Our wild and crazy bachelorette party – dried plums and water😉 M. is pregnant…thus the low key night😉

I was up early on the wedding day and ran while M. slept in. The weather was perfect, just for her😉 The clouds were peachy crystal gauze on a robins egg sky, with a slight, teasing wind. When I returned from running, we still had some time to lounge. I made us coffee while we gathered our things in preparation for getting ready for the wedding.

Soon, the other bridesmaid N. arrived, with Tim Horton’s coffee. It was truly a Canadian morning.

Getting ready…

13914038_840584929684_2791364630404391906_o

13925922_840591666184_1975904959829217314_o

13913972_840594655194_8221383225849799184_o

13996317_840613088254_2862205922204440930_o13963087_840618751904_4492282298885684259_o

I won’t go every little detail of that morning because this blog entry would go on and on. We talked about so many things and laughed so much before heading to the ceremony. Of course, when we left the hotel room, it was a mad dash. We were all dressed for the wedding and were also carrying our luggage out to the car, with the bride in the lead. If you know her, that won’t surprise you at all😉

The ceremony went off without a hitch…except that I definitely can’t do a slow walk and I forgot to bring the groom’s ring. M. turned to me after J. put her ring on and gasped “We forgot the ring!” Straight faced, I pulled a ring off my finger and handed it to her, thinking she could use it as a substitute. I didn’t look to see which one was it – it was a ring with a large blue heart shaped stone on it, that happened to fit on the groom’s pinky😉 Story of my life! The guests erupted into laughter, as did the groom (thank goodness!). Needless to say, N. and I found his ring shortly thereafter and gave it to him.

The rest of the afternoon was spent taking pictures in and around the park where the ceremony was held and the city’s Japanese Gardens. My main duty was to make sure M. had food and water and was ok.

13995628_840720268464_5136769139563386714_o
The full family.
13988152_840718362284_7748370365197984544_o
The flower girl.
13920070_840742468974_5599568744886243934_o (1)
The Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens

The evening wrapped up with the reception at the Galt Museum and Archives. The wedding party was presented to the guests to Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” and M’s face shown with happiness. It hit me right then and there. We weren’t kids anymore – well I knew that, obviously. But there had always been this almost fantasy between us, full of Starbucks visits, rice crispie castles, and early 2000s pop songs. M was married (although she and J. were already officially married nearly a year before the actual ceremony) and had a kid on the way. It was  whole new chapter. But an exciting and happy one😉

During my Maid of Honor toast (which N. translated flawlessly into Japanese), I reminisced about our early carefree days in high school and how I remember when M. first mentioned J. I ended the speech by saying “乾杯” (kanpai) – Cheers!

13925980_840946834424_7686147502961885649_o
The bouquet toss! M’s cousin caught the bouquet!
13975302_840944324454_2044606351385930856_o
Cutting of the cake
13920409_840944164774_8027578723783038732_o
M’s awesome parents. They gave a thoughtful and beautiful speech in Japanese that M translated. At one point, her dad looked at her and grinned and said (in Japanese) “I have to tell you a secret about my daughter. Her Japanese is HORRIBLE.”😉
13913645_840911400434_7325848556494611578_o
M. and J. had so many friends at their wedding. A true testament to how amazing they both are. 
13996183_840909868504_6086264779413673786_o
B (left), the groom’s brother, and S (right), the groom’s best friend and best man.
13963017_840907752744_5091838319129662508_o
Wedding favors

The remainder of my time in Canada was spent with M., helping her and my new friends clean up after the reception and tying up loose ends after the wedding.

13920037_841144253794_4085603587245956488_o
Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch, where you got a free piece of maple fudge when you paid your bill. 
13923343_840733576794_1234849721566372432_o
She hasn’t changed in 14 years  – thank goodness!🙂

These pictures or my brief description of my time in Canada obviously does not do the country or those I visited justice. I met some amazing people and made friends that I hope to stay in contact with. I had adventures that I only seem to be able to find. I want to be there for M. and J. as they become parents. Change is hard but necessary and can be wonderful. My friendship with M. is one of the things I treasure most in life and I know that it will be around forever. In the back of my mind, I’m already counting the days till I can see her again😉

 

XOXOX

KS

Canada, here I come!

So, believe it or not, I’m hitting the road…er…skies, for the SECOND time this summer. Those of you who know my eternal hatred of flying will be surprised. However, when one of my besties is tying the knot, offers to fund my travel, and wants me to be her MOH…what else can I say but – OK!😉

So I’ll be in Canada by Wednesday afternoon. Seems a little insane, considering I just got back from a week long work trip to Nashville and will be heading to Omaha shortly after Canada for a wonderful family gathering. I don’t know if I’ve ever traveled as much as I have this summer but I’m loving every second of it.

 

In addition to packing and trying to get the apartment organized before trip #2, I ran 16 miles with my Sole Sisters and enjoyed some well-deserved girl talk over coffee. The best part of my week. Seriously😉

img_20160806_091314.jpg
These two beauties joined me for different portions of the 16 miles.
img_20160806_095057.jpg
We appreciate a beautiful coffee drink.
img_20160806_120406.jpg
You know you’re best friends when you unintentionally wear the same color.
img_20160806_122002.jpg
#werunforcoffee Seriously

We got a little relief from the summer heat this morning when the skies threatened rain but none came. The heat followed soon after.😦 Looking forward to fall…

XOXOXO

KS

Nashville Part 2

I am back from Nashville! What an incredible experience it was, too. Five days full of learning, networking, exploring, and relaxing.

We stayed in a gorgeous hotel in the middle of Nashville’s country music scene. A long, winding entrance snaked into the grounds from the outside, bringing visitors to the lobby where people and taxis were constantly coming and going.

Inside, well, you kind of got sucked in by the trees, fountains, and winding paths. I’m not kidding when I say sucked in…it was a maze. I walked around an area in a huge circle two times before I realized what I was doing.

13767376_836403653994_4159908945194310070_o13738060_836461183704_4850995583297817990_o13731819_836369103234_8598283921566264653_o13731067_836536707354_8993162463837373018_o

13730879_836894041254_6556216540535725136_o13710530_836552430844_1448708901686785542_o13692871_836710064944_5775848826262038105_o

What immediately drew me in about this hotel were all the details. The ceilings, the lamps, the hallways. They all had a decadent story to tell.

And the food! Everywhere you looked there were healthy options for vegetarians. Taking care of myself while traveling is a priority. I can rest, eat right, exercise, and feel AMAZING while seeing new places and doing new things.

20160731_211048.jpg
This was actually at the Atlanta airport GOING to Nashville. A Kale smoothie and a hummus wrap.
20160731_211120.jpg
This was from a farm to table restaurant in the Atlanta airport returning to NWA. Beets, goat cheese, arugula, and chunks of whole wheat waffles.
13767298_837345880764_1949444269048964256_o
Farm to table restaurant
13669269_836524766284_4444170953776218326_o
From the hotel – black bean burger, avocado, bean sprouts, and watermelon

My day would consist of getting up, going to the fitness center (where I would run on treadmills that had programs that would project a trail on the screen from around the world), and return to my room by way of the coffee shop for coffee and oatmeal. Then I’d launch into a full day of sessions about prospect research, data analytics, best practices, research during a campaign, impact giving and how it relates to research…and a whole other slew of topics.

I not only learned a ton, I met some amazing people. One woman was from Quebec and I was able to tell her “Je parle un peu francais,” surprising her and myself. I met another woman who had made a goal to run a marathon in every state. I talked to a guy who has run one marathon and has fallen in love with the distance but HATES race day. And I met another guy had the most incredible voice and everything he said sounded like a sportscaster, booming in into a silvery mic.

Those are my people. My fellow researchers. From all walks of life and none of them (or at least a good amount) probably had any plans to be where they are now.  It just kind of happened. LIFE happened.

And while I spent between 8-10 hours a day talking to people and learning, I did get a chance to explore the convention center and downtown Nashville, too.

A few shots from in and around where I was😉

13724933_836783028724_616823839759649_o

13731049_836834470634_5205854448012234557_o

13882559_836892429484_501100083176676370_n

13730879_836894041254_6556216540535725136_o13613323_836938986184_6909203411503507282_o13767118_836931900384_7482547242891671939_o

13661988_837199324464_9116462108851590784_o

13613607_837203416264_2628428953775721538_o

13662108_837206919244_2447153084980832504_o

13710615_837208046984_1070683244028969393_o

13667892_837209020034_5049123410279866531_o

13765807_837210776514_3150743947742503953_o13734929_837276908984_2357722626116363393_o13680178_837277642514_8935585003499234780_o13641083_837302842014_8458331309284699242_o

13653494_837341798944_13089740492384845_o

The days flew by and soon enough, it was time to leave. Some storms in Atlanta threw a slight hitch in our plans and delayed our journey by about 4 hours but we still arrived home safe and sound. It’s all part of the adventure of travel.

13710498_837540605534_2166041268037826206_o

13653308_837571214194_4163323532362015476_o13723918_837641333674_1977497153484528923_o

 And how, do you ask, did I manage to make myself get on a plane and learn and have the great time described above? If you know me well, you know that I love traveling and HATE planes. I have had three full blown panic attacks on a plane before. I FINALLY did something about it two years ago when I had to travel for work. I went to my doctor and got some Xanax. I know the stigma attached to taking medication but I do NOT subscribe to that. I believe that if what you’re taking is regulated by a doctor and it’s helping and NOT hinder you, then why not? I was able to get on a plane and BE OK. And sure, some people might say that my flight anxiety is all in my head, but so what. The medication let me travel from point A to point B and do my job. That’s worth a lot to me.

Back to a routine this week, which has already been full of surprises😉

XOXOX

KS

Nashville

I’ve been in Nashville since Tuesday afternoon and wanted to check in briefly on the blogosphere. ::waves hi::

Yes, I got on a plane. With a litte help from a 3am distance run and anti-anxiety meds, the journey happen without a hitch. When we got to the city, there were a few surprises that occured along the way with lodging but that has been straightened out, as of today. I now have a room in the 6th floor that looks down on a massive swirl of twinkling lights and people.

A few shots of the journey to Nashville are below. More to come😉

The obligatory airport bathroom shot from xna
A fellow traveler whose headphones were bigger than he was.
Atlanta’s airport was bustling.
It always intrigues me what people use to calm down during flights.
We made it!

Xoxo

KS

#whywesweat

I’ve never considered myself a particularly gifted runner.  I think I’ve improved a ton in the 17 years since I started running for fun and have gotten a whole heck of a lot stronger. But it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I have to work really really hard at it.

One of my favorite runner bloggers, Kelly K Roberts, recently wrote about #whywesweat. And it got me thinking…why DO I run/sweat? I’ve done it for so long that it’s seriously automatic at this point and I often start moving in the morning before my brain has woken up enough to say “Hang on there, slow your roll!”

Running has stopped being something that I do to “look good.” Sure, I went through that phase where the main reason behind my runs was to be skinny and to fit an image in my head that doesn’t exist. And I can’t remember really enjoying any of those runs.

Now, armed with strength training and some serious muscle of which I’m immensely proud, I can honestly answer why I sweat:

I sweat to be able to fly.

I sweat to remind myself of how strong I am – physically and emotionally.

I sweat to give myself the “me time” I deserve and need.

I sweat to become more aware of my surroundings.

I sweat to feel beautiful, not because I’m losing weight but because I’m gaining strength and endurance and those are dazzling qualities.

I sweat to meet new people.

I sweat for that small window of time, early in the morning, of absolute clarity before the sun comes up.

I sweat so I can see the sunrise.

I sweat for ME.

img_20160722_060759.jpg

Why do you sweat? :)

XOXOX

KS

 

 

Every run is a good run

I used to roll my eyes when people told me “there’s no such thing as a bad run.”

“Are you KIDDING me?” I’d ask. At the time, I had mixed feelings about running. I understood the benefits and even enjoyed it. But I also knew that it could be very painful and draining. And I had had what I considered bad runs. I had been tired, sweating, woozy, faint while running. Not what imagined something good feeling like.

But now, after having done distance running for close to eight years, I finally get it.

I am so grateful for my strength and my ability to log miles after miles. It is a tangible thing that’s incredible to talk about (almost to the point where I don’t believe it myself). When I say “I ran 15, 16, 17…26.2 miles…” that’s insane, right?  But it happens. And I am so lucky that I have stayed healthy and fit and still possess the drive and ability to put in  those miles.

That being said, there are still long runs that throw MAJOR curve balls at me. Like last week, during my 17 mile run. I made the small mistake of eating a pretty fibrous breakfast beforehand and too close to when we started running. That plus a lack of enough water before running (it’s a balance so that you don’t have to use the bathroom right away)…well the odds were stacked against me for about the last 9 miles.

I’ll spare you the graphic details, but let’s just say that potty stops were necessary. Several, in fact. However, I laughed through them all and kept going. I was also incredibly lucky that my running buddy is completely aware of how disgusting I am (most people who know me well understand) and still loves me anyway.

fb_img_1468761821159.jpg
C. is the best. She ran 10 with me and then biked the last 7 while I ran.

So I pushed through, despite the tummy troubles, which also made eating during the run (which is necessary when running 17 miles) difficult. One thing lead to another  thing..and ooof. Regardless of how unglamorous my morning was, I still got in those miles. Every single one- all 17. I focused on the pure joy of moving, chatting with with C. and laughing about how much this reminded me of the almond butter crisis of 2010.🙂 I was a little annoyed at how silly the whole thing was (and could have been avoided) but I also felt strong when I finished…and I ran the 17 miles in about 2:35, minus potty stops.

Distance running is a constant learning process…and just when I get into a routine and my body gets used to a certain food or exercise – BAM! Surprise!😉 But just like any form of learning, you have to try many different things before you can find what works for you.

The rest of my weekend involved my favorites…

fb_img_1468761813518.jpg

….Running into a bridal party at Starbucks where I took the official photo of them, post coffee, pre hair and nails (not the one below, the one I took was with the Bride’s phone)….

wp-1468702598600.jpeg
Matching shirts!

…And a glorious 18 mile bike ride with C. on Sunday morning in the glowing dawn.

img_20160717_081017.jpg

And just like that, the weekend was over.

 

No bad runs…just obstacles to overcome. And next week, when I  run 16 miles, I know what to do.🙂

 

XOXOX

KS

 

A short story

He sat in the shadows barely moving or breathing. Just watching. His large, hazel eyes glistened in the waning evening light. It was almost time to make the rounds.

As soon as the street lamps that lined the left side of Spruce Street turned on, their golden rays casting over the nearby weedy patch of grass, Diego hoisted himself off of the thin thatch rug where he kept watch by day, and moved out into the parking lot of the apartment complex.

It was small, neatly lined with different cars, and eventually led into a grassy areas, full of weeds and Queen Anne’s Lace which was illuminated by the soft moonlight, growing stronger by the minute. This, in turn, became a small, wooded area. Diego stayed clear of the woods. That wasn’t his turf.

He started with the cars, sniffing under each one and exploring, perhaps somewhat timidly, any shadows cast by the wheels that were twice as big as he was. All clear.

Next he moved from door to door and step to step of each apartment in the complex. Sniffing and keeping his eyes wide for anything unusual.

The fireflies started dancing and twirling, playing hide-and-seek in the clover. Diego pressed on. He had a job to do.

He stuck his little, black, wriggly nose into the lush, evergreen bushes near the entrance of the complex and inhaled their sweet scent. All quiet. No buzzing insects or other animals. Just soft, green needles.

A cool breeze tickled Diego’s ears as he did one final scan. Satisfied for now…he sighed, almost nodded his head, and glided back to his rug.

All was safe. The nightwatchman could sleep.

 

20160714_203143.jpg
The real Diego. 

XOXOX