Monday, March 31, 2014

My Top Ten

I thought it would be fun to share a little bit more about me with you today!  I've had this top ten list of important things on my about me section for quite some time, but I am changing up that page a bit and wanted to share these things once more with you all.


I am a Christian that is so thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Without His love, grace, and forgiveness, I am not sure where I would be right now.

Christopher is such a blessing in my life.  He helps me stay positive and focused on the big picture.  We have a great time together pretty much no matter what we are doing.  I am so happy to have such a wonderful man in my life.  I know things won't always be rosy, but after 3+ years of long distance dating we've gotten a good handle on working through issues and problems.  We always find a way to make things work in the end.  That's really all that matters.

I love my family and friends. I am a loyal and protective gal. My family is very important to me.  I am sad that I don't live very close to them right now, but I try to be a part of as much as I possibly can especially now that I have an awesome little niece and nephew.  My friends are a close second to family for me. Some of them still live in Kentucky so I don't get to see them nearly as often as I would like, but I love them all the same. I have a great crew of NYC friends that have been there through the trials and tribulations that this city brings to all. I have other friends I met through internships and studying abroad and just general life spread out all across the country. And through Christopher I have a whole new set of friends that I truly adore as well.

Celebrating my 30th Birthday with fabulous friends :)

I am quite passionate about football - the game, the camaraderie, the fanfare, the atmosphere, the discipline, the players and coaches. Seriously, I love it! I like other sports, too, but nothing compares to football though. I have a goal of attending all 32 (technically 31) NFL stadiums. I do a pretty good job of knocking out a couple of these each year. I have a little less than a third left to go! Check out my bucket list to see all my Sunday Stadium Review recaps under item #1!
Super Bowl in NOLA - February 2013
New York has fed my love for the arts. Mostly going to the theater for a show. I love Broadway (as evidenced here, here, and here)! The movies are insanely expensive here, but that doesn't stop me from trying to see as many of the Oscar nominees as possible! 


I am an avid traveler.  I have been to all 50 states with my family.  We finished our journey in 2010.  I have also been to a handful of countries and briefly lived in London, England, while studying abroad for my Master's in 2006.  Check out my travel page for recaps of most of my trips abroad along with a handful of US cities.

Checking Hawaii off our list in January 2010
I enjoy scrapbooking. I have done a number of handmade scrapbooks, but I have also tried my hand at the online version. Both have positives and negatives, but serve their purpose well.
I run.  I'm not that fast, but I enjoy the thrill of preparing for and then running in races.  I had the running adventure of a lifetime when I completed the NYC Marathon last year.  Check out my running page for recaps of all my races!  

Cupcakes are a reason to get up in the morning.  In fact, I love them so much that Christopher even incorporated them into his proposal.  Such a smart man!

Photography is one of my hobbies that I long to delve deeper into, but fear I would spend entirely too much money if I did.  Doesn't stop me from capturing some awesome shots with my regular old digital camera and iPhone though!  Maybe someday when I have more space and more money I can fully indulge, but until then...

Enjoying Vermont (Fall 2012)

Andrea :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mini of the Month: March

I knew the moment I saw the name of this mini of the month that I was going to love it!  I am a huge vanilla fan.  About the only two flavors that top vanilla for me when it comes to cupcakes is strawberry and pumpkin.  I'm not a chocolate fan at all.  Just by name alone, I knew this would be delicious!  And I was right!

Ingredients: Yellow Cake, White Vanilla Icing, Vanilla Cookies & Cream Stuffing, and Vanilla Cookie Topping

This is basically a Golden Oreo cupcake.  Or at least that is exactly how it tasted to me.  I've never really liked regular Oreos, but could eat a whole package of the Golden Oreos easily!  And I would have loved to have more of these bad boys, but stopping at one was probably the best idea!  So very tasty!

Would you like this cupcake?  Which type of Oreos do you prefer?

Andrea :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Runners Tell All: I'm a Nike Girl

I'm super excited to be co-sponsoring the Runners Tell All link-up with Beka from Sunshine to the Square Inch and Amanda from The Lady Okie this month!  I hope you have a post about your favorite running gear and products ready so you can join in all the fun today!  And did I mention there is a giveaway, too?!?!  Be sure to read to the bottom for more info about how you could win!

As you may have noticed from the title of this post, I'm a Nike girl.  I didn't start out that way.  In fact, I avoided the Nike products mostly because I thought they were overpriced honestly.  The turning point came in the form of a gift.  My very new boyfriend at the time wasn't too sure what to get this birthday crazed girl that was training for her first half marathon.  He wisely decided to treat me to a trip to Jack Rabbit - a local NYC running store - that does specialized fittings for running shoes.  As it turns out, a pair of white and red Nike shoes were the perfect fit that day.  For the past four years, I haven't gotten tired of him (check out our engagement story here) or the Nike running shoes.  I now run strictly in the Nike Structure.  I love them...and as long as I switch them out roughly every nine or so months depending on how much I am running, they work well for me. 

I'm not super picky about what I'm wearing as long as I am not too hot or too cold.  I tend to reuse races shirts most often, but it is rare I go without my best running find ever - my Nike running capri pants.  They are perfect for pretty much any type of run - indoor or outdoor (even when it's a bit chilly).  I didn't wear them for the NYC Half this past weekend, but I did wear them for the NYC Marathon back in November.  I truly can't express how much I love these pants!  I found them on a sale rack and snagged them up mostly because they had a zipper pocket on the waistband in the back.  I needed something to hold my keys during long training runs and these looked like they would work.  I have gotten my money's worth times a million.  And as it turns out, the zipper pocket is also big enough for a pouch of gu.  Perfect!

During these lingering weeks of winter, I have been thrilled to have my dry fit NFL branded Nike hat and my new Nike gloves.  My little brother got the gloves for me at Christmas.  I've been surprised how much I liked breaking them in over the past couple of months.  They are a tad bit too long for my small hands, but the only real disadvantage there is the difficulty it causes if I try to use my phone.  They have an awesome little key pouch that has come in very handy.

I'm not too picky on undergarments, but I have found a couple of solid pieces that I refuse to race without these days.  I really like the Swiftwick socks for long runs and races.  They keep my typically sweaty feet dry and comfy.  On the other hand, sports bras have been the bane of my existence for pretty much all of time.  I finally found one that works, but I still think there has to be something better out there for those of us that need a little extra support up top.  The brand I have been using is Moving Comfort.  Any suggestions for me would be very welcome though!!

These last two products are non-negotiable.  At least the Body Glide.  I simply will not work out period without a good coating of this stuff.  It is phenomenal.  I really should buy stock in it.  The other product is a new find for me, but I am really liking it.  The Clif Shot Bloks don't seem to upset my stomach like the gu or gels usually do, and the taste isn't bad either.  These two are definitely my favorites when it comes to powering up before and during a run.

What type of running gear and products do you live to use?  Any suggestions for something new I should try?

 Andrea :)

To fit with this month's Runners Tell All theme, we are giving away a $30 gift card to Lululemon. The winner will receive the gift card via email.  The giveaway is open internationally because Lululemon has locations worldwide.  Good luck to all!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The NYC Half: A Personal Record Story

I had been hoping to run the NYC Half for the past three years, but had not managed to be chosen in the lottery until this year.  Even this year, I only got in via a secondary lottery.  But I got in.  I knew I wanted to make the most of this race, but had a limited training window due to Super Bowl.  I trained consistently and intensely for six weeks...and it showed on race day!

The expo was great.  I went in the evening after work, but it wasn't too crowded.  I liked looking around at the booths.  And taking some photos, too.  They had a neat area set up where runners could write why they run.  It was fun to look at all the reasons listed there.

I hadn't been feeling super great the week prior to the race.  I'm blaming it on the yo-yo weather.  This had me a bit concerned leading up to the race, but I just layered up and headed out there.  It was about 31 degrees for the entire time I was out on the course, but I started with earmuffs and my new Nike gloves. 

I ate a banana and tried to load up on water while I was getting ready.  I left my apartment with plenty of time to get to Central Park on time, but had a bit of a debacle with the cab driver and a short stop at the port-o-potty that put me at the back of the wave two corral. I was determined to keep a 12 minute mile pace.  And I was pretty much on target through all of hilly Central Park.  My 5k time was 36:28.  I was feeling great and starting to warm up.  The earmuffs came off around this time.  The next three miles includes the difficult hills on the west side of the park.  I decided to speed walk up them and make up the time on the down hill and flat stretches in between to conserve some energy for the second half of the race.  It worked for me because my 10k time was 1:14:49 - just a tad off my starting pace.  I was pleased...and headed into the flat portion of the course.

Out of the park, we ran through Times Square, an area particularly familiar to me since I live just 1/2 a block east.  This part was a lot of fun for me.  Usually Times Square is jam packed full of people and cars.  Not a great atmosphere.  At all.  But on this day, it was perfect.  Another reason I loved it is because Christopher was set to meet me there.  He was able to get a couple of great pics of me, too!  I gave him my earmuffs and gloves because I *thought* the coldest part was over.  He also handed off my chews.  I didn't stop long, but it was good to see him.  I had run the first 10k hard and this pit stop gave me the encouragement I needed to keep pushing through.

The turn at 42nd street to make our way to the final stretch on the west side highway was brutal.  The wind was coming full blast into us.  I wished I still had my gloves and earmuffs.  I think I lost some ground here because of both the wind and my exhaustion.  I devoured my chews and kept pushing along.  Once we made it to the west side highway, the winds subsided, but I was still struggling.  My 15k time was 1:54:12.  I was roughly 6 minutes off my pace.  In other words, I had a 1/2 mile to make up if I wanted to finish in line with my goal.  I was

I was determined to finish strong so I turned those last 4 miles into a game.  I picked a point and ran as fast as I possibly could toward it.  Then, I rewarded myself with a brief walk break after each successful completion.  I played that game until we hit the Battery Tunnel.  It was dark in there so I just tried to stick with a steady pace and prayed for daylight.  The strategy seemed to work for me as I was able to make up a little time on these miles recording a 20k time of 2:33:59.  This put me roughly 10 minutes off my pace with just under a mile left to go.  I knew that I would not be able to make up that time, but I wanted to run that last 800km strong.  I gave it every last bit that I had.

And I could not have been more thrilled to sprint to the finish with a final time of 2:42:05 - a personal record by 5 minutes!  That is huge for me!! I mantained a 12:23 per mile pace. I was pumped and completely exhausted all at the same time.  I got my medal, goodie bag, and heat sheet before my phone died.  I was close to a melt down after the unneccesarily long finish chute that was the required exit of all runners.  I ended up having to loop back walking another mile at least until I was in the area I planned to meet Christopher.  I was completely done at that point.  This finish area is by far the worst aspect of the race.  NYRR definitely needs an early exit for runners without baggage to claim.  Or something.  It's terrible!

After I calmed down, we rushed home for me to get ready for brunch with my friends and fellow finishers - Amanda and Reba.  Alice's Tea Cup was the perfect spot for us after 13.1 miles through NYC!

Andrea :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Goodbye, Winter!

Tomorrow is the start of Spring.  I hope our weather is taking note!  I am beyond ready for some consistantly nice weather.

To bid winter farewell, I wanted to share with you the cutest piece of artwork I ever recieved.

Brinley, Me, and Landon - LOVE!!

Over Christmas, everyone got some creative artwork that incorporated my niece and nephew except me.  To be fair, I usually request items that I can easily get back to NYC on the plane with me.  This time I was really sad not to have something special while the kiddos are still so little, so I requested a unique piece of artwork after the fact :)

I couldn't have been more excited with the finished product that is now proudly hanging on my wall.  My sister-in-law is very creative and amazingly talented.  She did such a great job making something unique for this lifetime penguin collector.   I think what I love most is that it is a forever snapshot in time capturing our footprints.

What's your favorite piece of homemade artwork?

Andrea :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Five on Friday: NYC Half Edition


The NYC Half is on Sunday.  I feel sort of ready.  I found out in mid-January that I got into the race via a second round of lottery drawings.  Between the craziness of Super Bowl and the insane weather, training has not been very easy.      
I have been training mostly on the treadmill for the past six weeks missing maybe two runs total for that entire time frame.  I took a bootcamp class on Mondays.  Tuesday was a longish run (5-6 miles) with Thursday and Friday being shorter runs (4-5 miles) and one long run on Sunday.  This past Sunday, I completed a 10 mile run that covered much of the beginning of the course and felt pretty confident, but I know those last few miles will be tough. 
I would be thrilled to finish the race in 2:30 something. If I keep a 12 minute per mile pace which I believe is possible, I will finish in roughly 2 hours and 36 minutes.  That would be ideal, but I know the west side of Central Park and its hilly nature will slow me down a little.  Hoping that I can regroup as I head out of the park and make up some time on the flat west side highway where I have done the majority of my training runs throughout the years.  
My fastest half marathon time so far is 2:47 in the Diva Half that I ran four years ago so beating that would be ideal even if I end up in the 2:40's. I am as familiar as I have ever been with a course for this race so I'm interested to see if that helps or hurts me. 

And, of course, the chilly weather could turn out to be a factor.  Right now, it looks to be in the low to mid 30s, but sunny!  I'll need more than the luck of the Irish to stay warm in those conditions :)

What are you doing to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this weekend?
Andrea :)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII

Super Bowl was weird this year (which is why you are just now reading about it mid-March).  We were all spread out over various offices throughout New York and New Jersey. I was unfortunate lucky enough to be one of the few stuck over at the Hilton Meadowlands in Jersey.  Stuck was exactly the word.  We worked all day and ventured to one of the wide variety of chain restaurants or Wal-Mart in the evening.  Let's just say it was a step WAY back from New Orleans last year in terms of nightly entertainment and food selection.  I mean, WAY back!

Mom and Dad were on deck for the big game this year, but they didn't arrive until Thursday night.  Chris came out for a fun little date night on Wednesday, but otherwise I spent most of my time recovering from some sort of sickness the winter so gladly bestowed upon me...and counting down the days until it would all be over.

view of Manhattan from the top floor of our hotel

Surprisingly, the work portion of the event wasn't too bad at all this year.  We had a super early morning on Super Bowl Sunday which was a change from previous years, but I did have a chance to have a little fun on Saturday night.  I met Christopher along with Mom and Dad in the sea of people that was formerly known as Times Square in the early evening to get a few photos with the Super Bowl letters on Super Bowl Blvd.  Needless to say, that was a mistake.  By the time I found them, I was just totally over the whole thing.  Picture taking in that mind set is a real thrill...

Afterward, Chris and I made a mad dash back to my apartment to change for NFL Honors.  Quite possibly the quickest I have ever gotten ready.  We all headed over to Radio City for lots of laughs and a fair share of tears, too.  Those Man of the Year montages were tough to watch.  Lots of great men doing wonderful things in their communities though!  And if the montage didn't make you tear up, the acceptance speech Charles Tillman gave was sure to get those tear ducts flowing.  What an incredible story!  Of course, one of the highlights of the night for me was as far from NFL based as you get...I was stoked to see JESSE PINKMAN!!  Also known as Aaron Paul...for anyone that somehow missed the amazing Breaking Bad series.  (P.S. - Start watching Season One tonight.  You won't be sorry.)  Anyway, we had a fun night together and topped it off with dinner at one of our favorite Thai restaurants! 

Aaron Paul presenting an NFL Honor Award

Charles Tillman giving an emotional acceptance speech.

I stopped in Baked by Melissa for some Super Bowl treats before we headed back to dreaded Jersey.  We all liked the Denver cupcakes better than the Seattle ones, but both were pretty tasty.

A few hours later (seriously, I was up at 3:30am), Super Bowl Sunday began for me.  This year, the credentialing group had the honor of welcoming all the vendors to the scene to get proper credentials and uniforms for the event.  It was a LONG morning, but we were finally released around 1pm when we all headed back to the hotel for a quick rest before heading back over for the game. 

Fortunately, we didn't have too much of an assignment at the actual game. We stuck around for the first half to make sure we weren't needed in any official capacity before we checked out the halftime show and then disappeared into the crowd. 

I was able to find a seat nearby my parents so for the first time in five years, I was actually able to watch the Super Bowl.  At least the fourth quarter.  Too bad it wasn't a better game because there really wasn't too much to enjoy at that point...but I still finally sat in a seat and watched.  I was quite happy about that fact.

After the game, I drug mom and dad over to the Super Bowl letters for some photo ops.  We were all worn out at this point, but I'm glad we found them there! 

The weather waited to turn until the next morning which was nice on Super Bowl Sunday night, but not so great the next day.  We scurried back to midtown Manhattan where we bundled up and hunkered down for the following few days.  As I mentioned at the top, it was a weird Super Bowl, but at least it's in the books now!   
Andrea :)