Wedding Wednesday: Engagement Photos

Happy Hump Day! Per usual, I’m linking up with Jordon and Meredith for Wedding Wednesday! I thought today I’d share a few pics from our engagement shoot. Since K and I didn’t settle on our photographer until late December, we decided to do our engagement shoot once the weather got warm again. So we did our shoot about a month ago, about ten minutes away from our venue. It was really fun getting to know our photographer, Stacey, and we’re so excited to have her shoot the big day!

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The weather was super windy the day we shot and so my hair looked crazy pretty much the whole time. But, we still had some great shots. I love the shots with Sasha, because that’s pretty much how it always looks like when we walk her. This next picture below is one of my favorites from the day. I saw this covered bridge online and thought it looked like a little barn. We were able to track it down and get a few pictures using it.

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I like this one because it features my purty ring. No, but seriously, this is a super common engagement / wedding photo and I was kinda meh about the pose but love how it turned out…

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I also LOVE this next picture. I think it’s just really cool photography and love how it turned out.

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Since we obviously didn’t include these pictures in any save the dates, we will frame a few and put them on display at the wedding. Happy Wednesday and don’t forget to visit the other blogs in this linkup!

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What did you do with your engagement pictures? 

Blogger Tip Tuesday: How to be a Great Guest Poster

Guest posting is a fun way to introduce yourself to a new audience and to help out a blogger who may need guest posters because they are traveling or they just like to feature new voices. If you have the chance to be a guest poster, you should spend a bit of time thinking about how to be a great guest poster.

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  1. Write a post that is original and will interest the audience you’re reaching. This is just my personal preference, but I don’t want a guest poster just copying and pasting something from their site — I want my readers to have the chance to read new material. It’s also nice if you put some thought into who you are writing for.
  2. SHARE the guest post – I have had a guest poster who didn’t once share the post on their networks or channels. Needless to say, I won’t be asking this particular person to guest post again. If you are taking the time to craft a post, why wouldn’t you want it shared?
  3. Make it easy for the blogger you are guesting for — send the post in a word doc, attach pictures, send a short bio. My guest posters did an AWESOME job of this and I appreciated it so much.
  4. Reply back to comments that your guest post receives. I loved looking at guest posts and seeing my guest posters engaging with readers. I think this also garnered my guest posters many new readers who were anxious to consider the conversation.
  5. If you’d like to guest post again, make sure to stay in touch with the blogger you guest posted for! There are so many ways to connect — facebook, twitter, google+, etc. You should definitely be following them on social media already, but stay connected! You never know — someday you might want them to guest post for you!

What tips would you add on being a great guest poster? 

Tips for Warm Weather Workouts

We are finally moving into spring and as we do, I thought I’d share some tips for warm weather workouts (or runs). Note, I said warm, not HOT. That’s a post for another day. However, if your winter has looked anything like mine, you’ve had pretty much nothing but ridiculously cold runs. Now as the weather is turning (thank goodness!) there are some tips you should keep in mind.

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  1. Hydrate all the time. Hydration is SO important — all the time, but especially as the temperatures heat up. The key is to remember that hydration is important not just during and after your run or workout, but leading up to it as well! I drink an absolutely crazy amount of water during the day. But it helps keep me hydrated — when I actually feel thirsty, I know I’m REALLY behind in my hydration.
  2. Dress with the end of your run or workout in mind. What do I mean? I mean that spring is notorious for large temperature swings throughout the day. You may begin a run in 38 degree temps and end it in 50 degree temps — that’s a big difference! How do you combat that? Layer up! Personally, I find that running with my Oiselle arm warmers is a perfect solution — the arm warmers help keep me warm when I’m starting out, but then can easily be rolled down if I get too warm. Plus, they’re stinking cute (and good for wiping sweat on the run!). arm warmers for the win!
  3. Think beyond just water. Have you ever finished working out or running and noticed you have white streaks on your forehead? That’s salt you’ve lost. Yeah. So in order to help combat that, I recommend you take in a beverage that will help replace lost electrolytes. Everyone has their favorites, but I’m partial to Nuun. I love it so much that I’ll often just drink it in my water during the day.
  4. Take your time easing into the weather. It may feel harder than normal, you may be slower than normal and it just might suck a bit for those first few warmer weather runs. Don’t be discouraged if that’s the case — just know your body is getting used to the weather and soon it’ll feel like it should!

What tips do you have for transitioning into working out or running in warmer weather? 

Friday Five: Five Fitness Goals

Happy Friday! Per usual, I’m linking up with my girls Mar and Cynthia and this week we are sharing five fitness goals! I can’t wait to hear about what everyone is gearing up for. Personally, I have some goals that are more long term and some that are short term. Make sure to check out some of the posts in this link up and if you are linking up, please link back to either myself, Mar or Cynthia. Happy blog reading!

Friday Five-

  1. Run a sub two half marathon. This is my next big goal. My goal race is the Navy – Air Force half marathon this September in DC. I’m not going to start officially training for this until after the wedding, but I’m already researching plans and kinda getting excited about committing to tempo runs and the like. After spending months running long and slow, I’m excited about learning to run faster.
  2. Cross train two times a week. I think this is going to be KEY as I train to run faster. I’m loving Pure Barre lately, and have been going 2x a week, but I’d also like to incorporate some swimming into my schedule.
  3. Run a sub 60 10k. I am very, very close to this goal (within a few minutes) and I think I could go run a sub 60 10k right now if it was the right course. While I was in Seattle, I ran my organization’s unofficial (but timed) 5k in 26:43, which is pretty fast for this gal. I know I couldn’t hold that pace for 3 more miles, but I do know I could hold a bit slower for longer.
  4. Run a 4:30 marathon. Yep. I’m already thinking about my next marathon. I do not think this will happen in 2014 — although there is a slight chance I may decide to run Richmond again, but it will happen soon-ish. Once I can run a sub 2 half, then I should be able to tackle a 4:30 marathon. Of course, I know better than most, than almost anything can happen during 26.2 miles – but I still think this is a feasible goal.
  5. A tri for 2015! Let me clarify: a sprint tri in 2015! :) I couldn’t fit one in this year, so this is on my long term radar!

Friday Five Link Up

Should You Run a Marathon?

I’ve gotten a number of questions about how and why I decided to run a marathon. Usually, when people are thinking about a marathon, one of their first comments is “oh I’m not sure if I could do that.” The thing is if you’d like to run a marathon, you can!

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Here’s the thing about running a marathon. The race is hard (the hardest thing I’ve ever done) but it’s the training that is the biggest challenge. After running two (and a half, kinda) marathons, these are the things I think you should consider if you are asking yourself if you should run a marathon:

  • Do you have the time to devote a few hours to running each weekend? This was the biggest challenge for me. I got used to it, but running double digit miles each weekend takes up time. And recovering from running double digit miles (especially when you are running 16, 18, 20+) takes quite a bit of time as well. I got used to waking up with the sun each Saturday morning to run.
  • Are you prepared to change your social life a bit to accommodate your running? This looks differently for everyone, but for me, it meant that I pretty much didn’t go out on Friday nights during marathon training. I wouldn’t drink on Friday nights either (not that that was a huge adjustment, but it sometimes stunk) because I always wanted to be as clearheaded as possible before running for 2+ hours Saturday am.
  • Do you have training partners? For me, this was huge. I never would’ve made it through this winter without my training group. You might not like running with others, but I would urge you to consider trying it for your long runs. Running for hours alone every weekend can be very taxing and it’s more fun if you have others to commiserate with! Plus, everyone gets a bit crazy during points in marathon training and having folks you understand your crazy is key. :)

Those are three things that I think everyone should think about before signing up for a marathon. Obviously you should examine your fitness level and all those good things (maybe get a physical, too!), but I imagine you’re all thinking about that already.

Ran a marathon? What else do you think folks should consider before they sign up?

Wedding Wednesday: Shoes + a Veil

Hi y’all! It’s Wedding Wednesday today on the blog and I’m linking up again with Jordon and Meredith. Make sure to check out their blogs (I particularly love Jordon’s post today) and visit other bloggers who’ve linked up.

Wedding Wednesday- Shoes + a Veil

Today, I’m hoping y’all will help me narrow down my shoe choices! As I’ve mentioned, we are going with a navy and yellow (with grey here and there) color scheme and as such, I want to wear navy peep toe pumps for the wedding. I’ve found a few options and would love some opinions — tell me what you love, hate or think should be THE SHOE!

  • Choice 1 - for some reason, the color doesn’t change when I click on navy, but imagine this in navy. I like it because the heel is manageable, it’s cute but simple and I can easily see wearing these again and again.
  • Choice 2 – if I was Carrie Bradshaw, I’d be saying “hello, lover” to these bad boys. Wow. Kinda pricey, but they are simply gorgeous. I LOVE them!
  • Choice 3 – I like these but they feel more like a day at the office rather than a wedding, no?

Also, I’m debating whether or not I want to wear a veil. I’m leaning towards yes because to me, a veil screams bride. But I’m curious…did you wear a veil? Why or why not? Weigh in below :)

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Blogger Tip Tuesday: SEO for Bloggers

Blogger Tip Tuesday is back and this week we’re breaking down SEO for bloggers. If your first thought is “what the heck is SEO?” then you are in the right place.

SEO for Bloggers

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What does mean for you? It means that SEO is essentially how people can find your blog in a search engine (i.e. google). It’s how you find different blog posts by searching things like “fried chicken recipe” “best bacon recipes ever” and “how to run faster.” (Oh, y’all don’t search for fried chicken, bacon and running? Weird.) How does this help you as a blogger? Well…if you want people to find your blog, then it needs to be searchable. That’s what SEO does.

Okay, so now you understand (kinda) what SEO is. But how do you utilize it? This is where being self hosted comes in. Are you self-hosted? If not, stop reading and go read this and then this. Then come back and we’ll get to business! Okay, everybody self-hosted? Great. Here we go!

The easiest possible way to integrate SEO into your blog is to use a trusty plugin! I use and recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast. It is so simple to use that you’ll wonder why you are just now starting. After you go ahead and install the plugin, start drafting your next blog post. Below the post, you’ll see a section titled “WordPress SEO by Yoast” – you’ll want to go through this section (under the general tab) and create your SEO step by step.

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See those 3 arrows? They each indicate things you need to attend to. First start off by choosing a focus keyword. You can see that the focus keywords for this post are “seo for bloggers.” This means that when someone types seo for bloggers into a search engine, this post will pop up as a result. The stronger your SEO, the higher your post will be in search results. You’ll also notice that you are given some things to ensure — make sure your keyword is present in your URL, heading, title, content and meta description (more on that below). The second arrow is your title and this will populate automatically, although you can change it if you like. Finally, the last arrow is that meta description I mentioned above. The meta description is what the little preview of your post would look like on google. Meaning, it’s those few lines of text that pop up under google search results. You can see what this looks like by viewing the snippet preview, which is the very first thing on the general page.

You with me? Wondering how you’ll know if you did all those things above correctly? Well, the plugin rates your SEO attempts with a little dot. That dot will be red, yellow or green based on if you’ve done a good job with SEO. You want that green dot! You can find the dot under the Publish section on the right side of your screen. You’ll also see the dot after your post is published (then it’ll be on the top header). If your dot is red or yellow, change some things around. I don’t ever write with the sole purpose of getting that green dot but I will change language a bit, if it works for the post.

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I hope this makes sense! I’m certainly not an SEO expert and this post is really just scratching the surface but I hope it helps get you started in the SEO world.

Do you pay attention to SEO when drafting blog posts? 

#FitTeaDetox

I am an avid tea drinker. I probably drink at least three cups of tea a day and I love it. When I first heard about FitTea, I was curious to learn more about the product. FitTea is an all-natural detox tea. What does that mean? Well, it means that in addition to tasting delicious (which is ALWAYS my first concern), FitTea helps give you energy, boost your metabolism, aid in digestive health and boost fat-loss naturally in problem areas (ahem, not that we have any problem areas, but just in case).


My second concern when I was checking out FitTea was what exactly is in it. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the ingredient list: Organic Green Tea, Oolong Wu Yi, Organic Rooibos, Ginger, Pomegranate, Guarana, Birch, Stevia, Corn and Honey Powder. That’s it. No other junk or unneeded items. Just good stuff.

These ingredients provide a fast-working and natural detox. These natural ingredients have other benefits besides detox, which includes weight loss, increased energy levels, suppressing the appetite, and natural antioxidants. I mentioned that the tea was delicious — what I didn’t tell you is that it’s all loose leaf but I couldn’t find my strainer during the days I was drinking the tea (read: I have no idea where my strainer is), so I improvised and man, it was yummy. You can see a bit of the ingredients made it through my homemade strainer, but as I mentioned, it didn’t take away from the taste!

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Curious what others think about FitTea and want to see some results? Click here. Personally, it was very easy for me to just drink FitTea with my breakfast each morning. I did add a bit of honey to give me the sweetness that I craved and if you like your tea sweet, I’d recommend you do so as well.

FitTea’s motto is: “Give us a few weeks and we’ll give you a new waistline”. I’ve been drinking it every morning for a couple of weeks and while I don’t weigh myself (got rid of the scale years ago), I do feel lighter and have more energy. I think one of the main benefits of FitTea is that it’s easy to fit into your day.

If you really want to ramp it up, you should try the FitTea Pro Pack, which is the Tea plus Tea Pills. Another easy way to help detoxify! Finally, I should mention that there is a decaffeinated tea available if you’re into that :)

I have never done a cleanse or anything of that nature so this was my first foray into a “detoxifying” product and I enjoyed the FitTea so much that I bought some with my own money!

Tea or coffee? If tea, have you ever tried anything like FitTea?

*Note: This is a sponsored post, which means I received payment and product for writing this post. However, I am very selective with sponsored posts and only endorse products I truly believe in, thus all opinions are mine.
 

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Recap

Hey y’all, I’m back! Hope you enjoyed Guest Post week on the blog — I have to say, I missed y’all :) Seattle was amazing and exhausting and I’m happy to be home. I thought I’d finally get around to sharing my Cherry Blossom 10 Miler recap. I may have said this before, but I think that the ten mile distance is my clear favorite distance to run. It’s long enough to really get into your preferred pace but short enough that when you are at mile 5 you are half way done. Cherry Blossom is a lottery because it’s so popular but they have a great bib transfer system if you don’t get in the lottery.

Because I’m a Zooma Annapolis Ambassador (don’t forget to use code ANNAMB2 for 10% off the race – click here to sign up!), I volunteered to work the Zooma Booth at the Cherry Blossom Expo the day before the race. I loved working the expo table. I got to meet a bunch of fun runners (including a woman who recognized me from my blog — how cool is that!) and chat about Zooma. It was a fun way to pass the afternoon.

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Race day dawned a bit chilly, but I stayed with my same outfit from my marathon the previous weekend. My Lesko Shimmel, stride shorts, arm warmers and calf sleeves were a great choice. I threw on a throw away shirt for the starting line and got ready to run. I started the race with my friend Tiffany. We picked a meeting place afterwards in case we got separated. We were planning to run together and I wasn’t planning on pushing it since I was fresh off a marathon. Best laid plans…

I felt great from the start. A little cold during miles one and two, but I felt strong and knew I could run faster than miles two and three.

mile 1: 9:56

mile 2: 10:35

mile 3: 10:31

mile 4: 10:13

mile 5: 10:01

Around mile five, I started to think that even though it wasn’t my intention, I could totally PR. I told myself if I could just hold my pace, I would for sure beat my Reston 10 Miler time.

mile 6: 10:11

mile 7: 10:09

mile 8: 10:16

At mile 8.5 I saw my coach from my winter training program. It was a surprise (although it shouldn’t have been) and really pumped me up for the rest of the race. I kept up my pace (basically) during that mile even though, I did stop to give her a huge hug.

mile 9: 10:07

mile 10: 9:40

Once I got to mile 9, I knew that I had less than 11 minutes left of running and just kept telling myself that I could push hard (what I like to call throw-up pace) for less than 11 minutes. So I did. There is a teeny tiny hill at the end of the race that doesn’t feel so tiny when you are closing in on mile 10. But even with that hill, mile 10 was my fastest.

tiffany and i before the race and my results.I am proud of myself for not giving the race up when it hurt. I dug deep and pushed through the pain and was rewarded with a 3 minute PR! One week after a beast of a marathon. This race was confidence building and has me excited to start working towards a two hour half marathon!

As a total bonus, I saw SO MANY people I knew during / after this race. Jenny from Run Jenny Run found me after she finished and I was so pumped to meet her. Cyanne from Run Stretch Go also spotted me post race and it was awesome to meet her in person. My friend Tiffany managed to run the entire race — which was her #1 goal after not running much before the race. It was my friend Ally’s first ten miler and she absolutely killed it. I could seriously go on forever — such a great race!

with cyanne after the race!

Did you race Cherry Blossom? How’d it go? 

Guest Post: Friday Five – 5 ways to run with your dogs

Hi y’all! I hope you’ve been enjoying Guest Post week — I know I’ve learned a lot from the awesome group of bloggers that have visited Eat Pray Run DC. We’re closing out Friday with a post that is close to my heart. Jeremy at Confessions of an Amateur Athlete has written about running with your dog! I’m adapting the normal Friday Five for Jeremy’s post and so it’s a Friday Four today! Please still link up your posts — I’ll check them out after the end of my conference :)

I’m a big fan of running with friends.  They hold you accountable every morning whether it’s a super early run to beat the heat, or a heavy mileage day on sore muscles.  But sometimes there isn’t anyone around, or no one willing to hit the road with you. So I say, grab your pooch!

Now, keep in mind, not every dog is fit to run.  But on those days when you’re lacking some motivation, and have a pup that can handle it…strap on a leash and go! Or if you’re on the fence about getting a dog… this is a great excuse to go to a local shelter and rescue your new running buddy!

Dogs need the exercise, and so do you, so why not enjoy it together?  Before you do, there are a few things you should know about running with dogs.

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Here are just a few:

  • They need water just like you.  If not more.  They don’t sweat like us and so it’s tougher to stay cool.  So if even on a 30 minute run, it’s best to carry enough water for both you and your pet.  I take my camelback bottle or fuel belt and a small collapsible cup from REI.
  • They need to train just like you.  Most dogs can’t just go out and run 8 miles if they’ve never been running with you before.  So make sure you start off small.  They need to work up to longer miles just like you do.
  • They will stop frequently.  Besides all the smells, they will need to poop and pee and investigate EVERYTHING.  So don’t expect to go run a PR.  Just enjoy the company of your furry companion.
  • They WILL frustrate you.  That’s right.  They will see a bird… another dog… a stick…and want to go play.  It’s going to take time to teach them to run alongside you so you’ve got to be patient.  Eventually they will learn to leave those things behind. And the payoff for your patience will be worth it!

My Janie loves to run.  She seems me grabbing my running gear and can’t wait to get out the door! If I have a long run I run the first 3-4 miles with her for a “warm up” and then go the rest solo.  Or if I just need a little recovery run I grab the leash and get some one on one time with my pup!  We BOTH end up loving every minute of it.

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Hopefully these tips can help you build a similar running relationship with your pooch.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, so stop by my blog, find me on Twitter and let me know what you think!  Happy Trails and Happy Tails!

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