Manly to Bondi 50 Miler!

The Idea

I have felt like 2020 is both a year where time is frozen and a year asking me for more. I am constantly torn between wanting to push myself to do so much and wanting to lay on the couch all day. Some days I am motivated, others I am not. But overall, I have been saying yes to some crazy things…like covering 50 miles in one day.

Back in January Kyle and I were out to brunch and he was talking about the new Bondi to Manly path that was officially open. He looked up the distance (roughly 50 miles) and said out loud, “wouldn’t it be cool to do that in one day?” I laughed. Kyle did you just realize you said you want to be an ultra marathoner?! We chatted about it more and decided we would attempt it around June this year.

Well, this year did not go as planned. We dealt with some things in May/June that had both of us hardly sleeping or taking care of ourselves. So, June was out. I had mentioned this to Julia and she said she wanted to join us on the trek and said how about August 1st?

Kyle and I figured sure, why not? We added it to the calendar without a lot of lead time. And I decided I wanted to raise some money for two amazing organizations to make the miles a little more meaningful. We started our GoFundMe on Sunday, planning to fundraise for the 5 days leading up to our trek. (I know this all felt a little last minute. But that’s what I wanted. We had to just go for it and not think about it too much).

I was blown away by the generosity of our friends and family. We raised over $1500 for The Loveland Foundation and the Indigenous Marathon Foundation. It helped us get really excited. We would not want to quit knowing the support we had for this very unofficial event. There wouldn’t be any spectators, no medal, no finish line. We were just going to go out and casually cover an ultra distance.

We knew there would be elevation. Sydney makes it pretty hard to avoid in general. But we did not practice pieces of the course. We kind of wanted to be surprised.

We also decided to do the route in reverse since we live in Bondi and figured it would be better to end at home rather than need to get in a car for a 40 minute drive after that kind of day.

Thankfully Julia’s fiance agreed to drive the three of us out to Manly at 4:30 in the morning. It was time to go for it.

 

M2B 10

The Day

We arrived in Manly just after 5 a.m. and began our adventure. Headlamps were on and we were in the dark. We had about an hour before the sun started to rise. This area once we were away from the beach was pretty technical, so we were walking.

 

Manly sunrise
Our plan was to run once the sun was up. Kyle had agreed to run about 10 miles of the distance. After the sun came up we ran for probably a total of 20 minutes and Kyle said, “nope, walking it is.” We had already covered a decent amount of elevation and he knew if he was going to make it all day, he had to walk. And Julia and I weren’t going to leave him behind.

We truly had a beautiful day. Winter in Sydney has actually been my favorite. There’s still a lack of daylight hours, but we were in shorts and perfectly comfortable once the sun came up.


We made a quick stop for coffee after a couple hours. No sitting down or stopping our watches was the only real rule of the day.

There are some markings along the course, but we still had to have a Strava route up for the majority of the day. There are some extra turns required that are not intuitive. The terrain was a mix of trail, gravel, mud, concrete, grass, sand, OCEAN, etc. The mix was kind of hilarious. We couldn’t have imagined covering this path on a rainy day.

We all felt good at the half marathon point (thank goodness). Stopped for another coffee. Kyle did most of the navigating at first with his phone plugged into a power brick. He threw headphones on around mile 20 when he started hurting.

Julia and I felt good. It was truly beautiful. The surroundings were distracting and kept us going. As we made our way to the Harbor Bridge, we saw at least four engagements/weddings – that was cool. And crossing the bridge itself was awesome. Just one of those iconic things when you can see the Sydney Opera House and so much of the city. The stop for ice cream cones after the bridge helped our moods too.

 

M2B8
We ate as we went. We all packed some sandwiches, protein bars, pretzels, gels, etc. We tried to just space out the eating and savor our water. Our only planned aid station was around mile 32 where we had two friends waiting for us with Gatorade, snacks and water refills. When we got to them Kyle changed his socks (broke the sitting rule) and we stood and talked with them for about 10 minutes.

We lucked out with bathrooms along the way for most of the route, so after another quick stop, we were off again and feeling refreshed. Kyle had his podcasts on and Julia and I were chatting. We knew he was hurting, but we tried to just keep him moving.


We got to Rose Bay, close to our home, at around mile 37 and Kyle decided to turn in. He was in pain and didn’t want to slow us down any more or risk really injuring himself. So, he turned off. He had never even run a marathon before this day and I was so so proud of him. 38 miles is no joke. He was an ultra marathoner.

M2B 11
Julia and I kept going. The sun was setting now, around 5:15 p.m. And we knew we were in for the hardest few hours yet. We both had been feeling good up until this point, but we couldn’t run anymore either now. Plus in the dark, we didn’t really want to risk falling or getting lost. We kept walking.

After mile 40 the miles were passing SO SLOWLY. Julia wanted me to yell “THIS SUCKS” at the top of my lungs with her and I didn’t because I didn’t have the energy lol. But our feet just hurt so bad at this point.

To distract us, I basically talked for 3 hours about every friend I have ever had. It was nice to reminisce and tell her about so many great people. She took turns with some stories and we tried not to focus on what we were doing. It helped.

Around mile 47 I had my crying breakdown. I thought about everyone who had donated for those last few mile markers, how much I miss them, how difficult this year has been. It all hit me. I told Julia, “I am crying, but I am fine.” We stopped for a hug and then kept moving. She had her crying moment shortly after. WE WERE A MESS. But we never stopped. We didn’t sit. We kept moving.

I was thankful Julia was navigating because I couldn’t even focus at this point. I was hungry, thirsty, tired, sore. So ready to be done.

As we neared the end, our final descent to Bondi, we passed two guys that said, “Woah long walk?” And Julia said, “Yeah we’ve come all the way from Manly.” His face and response were priceless. “…today?” We had a good laugh at that point.

I was so glad I had Julia with me. I definitely would have quit if I had been in the dark on my own.


As we finally got to the beach we saw her partner and Kyle, and slowly cried/hobbled our way to them. There was no finish line, no medal, no post-race party. It was just 9:30 p.m. and we were completely exhausted. But we DID IT! I was in shock. And incredibly proud.

Strava M2B

 

The After

Ow.

Julia has already asked me if I want to try again. (Only 7 days after our attempt). Lol. I won’t say never. But I definitely need to forget how my feet felt at hour 16 first. I would like to see what it is like running most of it compared to walking. Less time on my feet would be good. And it truly was beautiful. I might want to try again, but definitely not any time soon.

Thankfully, we all came out okay. Kyle was walking around just fine two days later. Julia was running that week. And after five days of very little movement, I was feeling normal too. I had a slight tendon irritation on the top of my left foot from overuse/all the stairs. But it was healed within a week or so. I took 14 days off from any running and focused on getting lots of sleep. Very grateful no one was hurt!

The Advice

This course is challenging. It is not super clearly marked, so it requires frequent map checking. We took a few wrong turns throughout. If you want to do this, I’d recommend actually practicing parts of the course beforehand so you have a better idea of where you’re going.

Practice more time on feet! If you know you will be walking a lot, I’d suggest adding on a few hours of walking after your training runs. I wish I had done more really long walks in addition to runs.

Have a couple crew spots. With an unofficial event you do not have aid stations. We had one nice friend stop for Gatorade and we looked forward to this all day. It would have been more fun to have a few of these connection points throughout the day!
I really learned a lot. And this adventure did make me fall more in love with ultra adventures, even with how difficult it was.

We are on the leader board: https://www.bonditomanly.com/leaderboard

Not many people can say they have attempted this feat. That’s pretty cool. I made a video of our journey if you want to see more of it, too.

And I look forward to the next crazy adventure we come up with.

11 Things We Have Learned From 11 Years of Dating

August 11th: Celebrating 11 years together, 11 things we have learned!

It’s an anniversary over here today. And even though I have not felt like celebrating much in 2020, I think 11 years of dating is something to celebrate. Kyle and I spent our 10 year anniversary apart (him in Australia, me in Chicago), so it does feel special to be together for this one. 

Our relationship has changed a lot over the years. And truthfully, I feel like it is always getting better. I used to think it  was cheesy when people would say things like “I love you more each day”, but with Kyle it’s easy to feel cheesy.

I thought it would be fun to share 11 things I have learned from 11 years of dating him. We have both grown so much and learned a lot about what works for us and what doesn’t. And I asked Kyle to pull together a list too (more on that later).

11 Things That Keep Us Happy:

  • Good communication. If you are going to be stuck at work late, send a text. If you’re apart from each other for a trip, give a quick goodnight call. If you are upset about something, address it quickly. The upfront updates just make everything easier. 
  • Kiss and make up. This goes along with “don’t go to bed angry”. But really it’s hard not to smile after making out, right?
  • Independence. This is something Kyle and I have always prioritized. Be okay on your own (we have done quite a bit of long distance). Have different interests. Have plans with friends on your own. 
  • But also do things the other likes — together. I have gone to my fair share of concerts or sporting events that I would not have gone to on my own, but will go if Kyle wants to go. If you love the person, really any event can be fun. And I think supporting their interests is important too. 
  • Do the little things without being asked. Fill up their empty water bottle. Make the bed. Make coffee. I appreciate these things so much.  
  • Give Dale quiet time. This is something Kyle picked up on quickly – lol.  Introverted empath over here and I absolutely need quiet alone time to recharge. He gets it. 
  • Take turns making plans. Whether this is planning a road trip, reaching out to friends for weekend plans, or making a reservation for a weeknight date night. We take turns being the planner. We both enjoy it, but it’s also nice to not have to be the one always making the plans. 
  • Don’t stop surprising each other. We love to make a new restaurant reservation and not tell the other where we’re going. And I love Kyle surprising me with cookies when he goes to the grocery store just as much. It’s nice to have the reminders of how much we think about each other and want to make each other happy. 
  • Be the strong one when the other can’t. Tough times are hard to navigate in relationships. Kyle and I do our best to be the strong one when the other can’t be. We try to have a rule of ‘we both can’t cry at the same time’. Does not always work (yes Kyle cries), but we try. Sometimes you just have to step up and be the strong one. 
  • Encourage the uncomfortable. Get out and try new things! Kyle encourages me to do things I might not try. Like for example, move to a new continent I had never even visited before. And I encourage him to run and go on adventures with me so much that now he loves them too. We always encourage each other to be a little better, try new things and not to be afraid to take some risks. 
  • Laugh. I am lucky Kyle has me laughing every single day. His humor has gotten me through so much. And it is one of my absolute favorite things about him. You just have to laugh some things off. Kyle reminds me not to be so serious. And I really think laughing makes most situations better. 

 

I could keep going, but these were the first 11 things I thought of. Relationships take work. But I think the more you work at it and learn about each other, the easier it gets. Kyle and I have found the best way to be the best partner for the other and it really feels like we get better with age. It’s fun. We are not the same people we were when we met at 15. We grew up independently, while also knowing we always wanted to be together. We work at it. We are by no means experts, but it was fun to think about what helps us work so well together and I wanted to share it. 

Just for fun, I asked Kyle to write a list of his 11 things he has learned from dating me before I showed him mine. I was not even sure if he would give me a serious list, but I wanted to ask. It ended up being the perfect mix of funny and serious, kind of like him. And we had a few overlapping of course.

Kyle’s honest list below.

  • Don’t let Dale go hangry
  • Have interests different from your partner
  • But also some the same
  • Screen prospective partners for snoring
  • Running isn’t that bad after all
  • Make sure you like different flavors of chips so you have your own snacks
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things together
  • Find a partner who can do mental math if you are unable
  • Distance is hard but the right person makes it easy
  • Keep going on dates
  • Always say goodnight before you go to sleep

His is a good list too. XO.

tas selfiebarefoot runningbyron lighthouseCoffee with KyleKyle and I

What I Think About Run/Walking

Let’s talk about the run/walk! This post is way overdue, but I am happy to post in a time where most of the United States is facing extreme heat. Now is the perfect time to try the run/walk method.

I love run/walking. If you know me personally, you still might be surprised to hear me say this. I used to be the QUEEN of running my easy runs too fast. I thought if I wasn’t running fast, I wasn’t running. What was the point? 

Not shockingly, always running too hard and not taking recovery seriously, led me to an injury back in March of 2017. I decided to start working with a coach in January of 2018 and the first thing he told me was that he was going to make me slow way down for a lot of my runs. I did not love that idea. And he can tell you how much I pushed back that first month or two. The best way to make me take easy runs truly easy? Introducing the run/walk as part of my training.

A run he would often plan for me was 60 minutes easy: 9 minute run, 1 minute walk, repeat. I remember the first time I saw this, I thought excuse me, you want me to take walk breaks on the Chicago Lakefront Trail? Let people pass me? What if I don’t need the breaks? 

That was the point. Run/walks are meant to help you get in time on your feet, while keeping your heart rate lower, and therefore requiring less recovery time. You should end a run/walk feeling like you want more. 

As Eric (my coach) says, “This type of running forces you to take a break and reassess what you are doing. There is no mentally slipping into a pace that is just a little bit faster than what you should be doing and before you know it you’re 45 minutes into an easy run with a HR pushing zone 4. The secret here is that these 1 minute breaks aren’t nearly enough to actually recover. They’re enough to stop and catch your breath, remember what you’re supposed to be doing and that’s about it. Most people’s heart rate slips barely back down to zone 1, if it slips at all, before they are off on the next 9 minute jog.” He wrote about this topic for the Runners’ Report, find more here

It took me a while to get used to this type of running. I felt like I was “cheating” at first. And I fought the urge to pause my Garmin while I walked (you should just leave it on). But I slowly started to realize that over the course of an hour, I was only walking for 6 minutes total. That’s not much at all. Those 6 minutes were just brief opportunities to drop my heart rate a little and reset my pace to make sure I was not moving too quickly. And it also served as a reminder to really take in the views and the nature around me.

I even started to look forward to these days. My hard days were HARD. They required a lot of effort. So, my easy days had to be easy. It was the perfect balance. And once summer hit, I realized run/walking in the summer heat was a way better idea if only just to convince myself to get out the door. 

Running in the heat is hard. You naturally have to slow down a bit to sustain similar efforts. Run/walking helps keep your heart rate in check while allowing you to be running out in the hot sun. If you are having a hard time motivating yourself right now, please try this approach!  Do not worry about what your overall pace is. I try not to even pay attention to it at all. Some days for me this can be an 8:50 overall, other days 10:30 pace. Doesn’t matter. 

Garmin run walk photo

Over two and a half years later and still at least two of my weekly runs are run/walks. Doing this helps prevent risk of injury, while maintaining high mileage. Since Eric introduced me to this type of training, I have been injury-free and set PRs in almost every race. This type of training can make you faster. 

I haven’t used run/walking in a marathon, but I did use this method to complete my first ultra marathon last August. I signed up for a 50K (my first) with only a couple months to ‘train’. I had a marathon base already. I knew it would be a hot day being an August race in the Midwest, so my coach and I decided I would run/walk this from the start. Every long run leading up this race was a run/walk of either run 19 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat. Or run 14 minutes, walk one minute, repeat. Again, not a ton of walking time, but enough that I looked forward to it every time I had a ‘walk minute’. This paid off for me. Race day was 85 degrees Fahrenheit and I do not think I would have covered 31.50 miles so well if I hadn’t run/walked. I went with the 14/1 approach. Did I want to walk after only running 14 minutes in a race? No. Did I have a little bit of a hard time letting people pass me every time I walked in the first half of the race? Yes. But the thing is…I passed them all eventually. I rigidly stuck to the 14/1 for the entire race. And I ended up catching every person that had passed me before and I felt GOOD. I mean as good as you can on that hot of a day running the farthest you ever have. I finished in 4:48:17 (9:09 average pace) – 3rd female overall. I never would have thought I would run/walk a race, but this was the perfect opportunity to try it out and it worked well.

So, saying again: I love the run/walk. This is something I have all of my athletes do too. I truly believe it helps keep you healthy and helps you get faster. I know it can be hard to get used to at first, but it is worth trying. Eric and I joke now about how I am the one convincing runners to try this, when I used to think he was crazy for even suggesting it to me. We can all learn if we are open to trying new things. This is one thing I really will utilize forever. I want to run throughout my entire life, so smart training is really important to me. This is why I became a coach myself. I am so passionate about taking care of yourself while also hitting the fast time goals you want to. You can do both.

Happy run/walking. Let me know if you try this out!

 

2020 Reads!

I have always loved to read. I vividly remember going to story time at my local library as a young child, completing summer reading challenges through middle school, actually enjoying reading the classics in high school English class, and escaping into books on long solo plane rides as an adult. Reading has been an escape and a challenge I have enjoyed throughout my whole life. Some years I read more than others, but I have set a Goodreads goal for 4 years in a row. It keeps me accountable and helps me prioritize reading time.

I set a goal of 35 books for 2020 at the end of last year (obviously not knowing about the pandemic that was about to hit). So, it’s now the beginning of May and I just finished book 24 of the year. Think I’ll have to change my goal to 50. I’m loving the extra reading time!

I like to share what I’m reading in hopes you find some good reads from my finds. And I love getting book recs, so please send them my way! I’ll keep updating this blog post with my short reviews (very – or you’d be here all day) and star ratings for each book as I finish them. Also a quick note, I am a bit of a tough critic in that I hardly ever give 5 stars. But I also will always give a book 2 stars unless I DNF it. So, I really enjoy all my 3 and 4 star rated books, but those 5 stars are saved for books that impact me in a big way.  And as always, if you want to chat with me more about a book below, please reach out!

Happy reading.

XO,
Dale

  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (4 stars)
    • Emotional book to start the year with. I’m a sucker for a good dog story! The characters in this story were really well developed and I definitely shed some tears.
  2. Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl by Jeannie Vanasco (4 stars)
    • This was heavy and honest. A look at sexual abuse from someone you know. It made me uncomfortable, but I was glad I read it. Probably would have given it less stars if I read it later in the year, but sharing my star reviews from right after finishing the book.
  3. Less by Andrew Sean Greer (2 stars)
    • Could not get behind this at all!! It won awards and was recommended to me by a few people, but I was so bored. The main character seemed so entitled and I never felt a connection to him. I finished just because I thought it might get better, but honestly I didn’t care for it.
  4. Know My Name by Chanel Miller (5 stars)
    • I could write an entire blog post on the importance of this book. Hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Chanel’s way with words is stunning, especially in the way she shares such traumatic experiences. I am so grateful Chanel chose to share her story. The power and honesty in this book. I think every single person should read it.
  5. City of Trees by Sophie Cunningham (3 stars)
    • A nice collection of essays. I liked that it focused on Australia and I share her affinity for trees.
  6. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (4 stars)
    • I need a good fictional story every so often. I enjoy Jojo’s writing. This wasn’t my favorite of her books, but I did enjoy it. Strong female characters.
  7. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (3 stars)
    • I really enjoy historical fiction and this book had high praise from so many people. I found it to be a bit of a let down. It wasn’t bad, but I have read many better WWII era historical fiction novels.
  8. The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma (2 stars)
    • This is an oof from me. I liked the concept, and I learned a couple good takeaways, but honestly those could have been summed up in about 10 pages. I had to force myself to finish this one. A lot of it felt scattered and unnecessarily lengthy.
  9. All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church (4 stars)
    • I chose this one randomly from the library shelf and I’m glad I did. The abuse was tough to read about, but I really liked the main character. She was strong and resilient. Interesting story!
  10. Empty Bottles Full of Stories By Robert M. Drake, R.H. Sin (2 stars)
    • I usually like poetry, but this fell flat for me. Nothing spectacular.
  11. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan (4 stars)
    • This book was so perfect for me and my stage of life. I am going through a lot of what the author went through when moving to London without knowing anyone. It was relatable and enjoyable.
  12. This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (4 stars)
    • This story is about the last death penalty death in NZ. Sad, and hard. But I liked learning more about some history over in this part of the world. Well written.
  13. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (3 stars)
    • An erotic, romance novel I could not put down. I liked both main characters and thought the story was enticing. Super quick, enjoyable read.
  14. Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes (3 stars)
    • Cute collection of stories. I like Jojo (clearly). The Paris stories in the collection were definitely my favorite. She can do a lot in just a few pages.
  15. Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi (4 stars)
    • Another random library pick up that had me glued to it. This story is about a 17 year old alcoholic. Tough, but a little bit sarcastic and humorous. Definitely recommend!
  16. The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman (3 stars)
    • An interesting story of friendship and love. Quick read and I liked the characters.
  17. Atomic Habits by James Clear (4 stars)
    • I actually purchased this book because a friend told me it was ‘life changing’. I’m glad I did. So many great takeaways and i know i will refer back to it often.
  18. Alpha Girls by Julian Guthrie (3 stars)
    • I was so excited about this read, but found it really hard to follow. This is the story of four different women who worked in the Silicon Valley world. I think these women are amazing, but the chapters jumped around from one perspective to the next, one year to the next, and I thought it was confusing. It made it difficult to connect with the women.
  19. The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore (3 stars)
    • Quick ‘murder mystery’ type fictional story with a ton of music references. Not evolutionary, but I found it enjoyable. Loved all the music notes!
  20. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (3 stars)
    • I’m a big Gillian Flynn fan. This short story was well written and made me want more. I think that was the point.
  21. The Power by Naomi Alderman (3 stars)
    • Another novel that was recommended to me by many, that I found disappointing. It was good. But I didn’t get sucked in the way I expected. The first half felt a bit boring. I am glad I finished it and the story is important, but I did not fly through it.
  22. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Griffin (4 stars)
    • Read this in less than 24 hours. I really like Emily Griffin’s writing style. This book was from different character perspectives as well, but in an easy-to-follow way. Just a realistic, fictional story.
  23. The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts (4 stars)
    • Wow. Such a hard read, but a great read. A look at the work of Sue Lloyd-Roberts before she died and both the terrible and incredible things she saw along the way. Tough to get through, but powerful, well-written and important.
  24. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (4 stars)
    • I loved Nightingale, so I was excited to read this one. It lived up to the Kristin hype. A story of love, life and struggle out in Alaska. I shed a few tears. I love her character development.

And that’s it for the year so far.  I’ll keep adding to this list as I finish more books! Xx.

 

Screenshot 2020-05-07 at 12.30.56 PM

 

 

 

Ideas to Make Running Fun In The Midst of a Hard Time

I don’t know about you, but running really has not been very enjoyable for me for most of this lock down/pandemic time. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me as I watched the Boston Marathon get postponed, my flight home to see family and friends for the first time in 6 months cancelled, and I began living this new “stay at home” way of life. I needed time to adjust. And running (something I love) just didn’t sound fun most days. 

I had been training hard for Boston since November. Training in Sydney, Australia through the summer. It was HOT. It was hilly. It was hard. Having a goal race kept me out there doing hard runs, long runs, and uncomfortable runs. But once I didn’t have a marathon to train for anymore, I felt kind of lost. And I knew my body needed a break. Five months of hard marathon training is a lot. I knew I should not continue training through this pandemic at full capacity, especially if I will start training again in June. I need the break. I need the time to focus more on strength, yoga and chilling. THAT IS OKAY! But that does not mean I have to stop running completely. 

Now what? I love to run just for running sake. It isn’t all about races for me. But that said, getting out for runs anyways when you do not feel like it, is a lot easier when you have a date on a calendar you’re working toward. Speed work in heat just isn’t going to happen for me if I’m not racing soon, because it isn’t enjoyable for me. And all I want is for running to feel enjoyable. I had to reset my mindset. I wanted to just run for my mental health. To get outside and get fresh air. To run for pure enjoyment. And for me, that means not forcing anything.

For the last two weeks of March and first three weeks of April, every single run felt frustrating. Despite stay at home orders in Australia, there were more people out running and in parks than ever before. Running paths I used to have to myself were now flooded with people (groups of people!!) who were breaking the rules and oblivious to those around them. Most runs were flat out angering. I didn’t feel like myself. And having something I love that usually brings me peace all of a sudden bring me panic and frustration is just a terrible feeling. 

I had to kind of trick myself into enjoying running again. I am still working with my coach, but he is letting me lead what I want to do at the moment. I do still think even in spite of the uncertainty, now is a great time to work with a coach. They can hold you accountable, challenge you (if that’s what you want), encourage you, and make sure you don’t over train (huge right now). My athletes have been inspiring me with the work they are still putting in day after day. And I truly believe running is a good thing right now. You might just need to frame it differently in your head. If virtual races and normal speed work is your jam, then go for it. If it isn’t, that’s okay too. I came up with some ways to make running feel “fun” and wanted to share if you also are in need of some inspiration!

  1. Random Directions – Set out to run with no total time or mileage or route in mind. Try to run down some streets you haven’t run before, or at least don’t run often. Every time you get to a stoplight or stop sign, just choose a direction. Go right, stay straight, etc. Just use your gut instinct and go every which way with no real plan. Turn around and run home when you want!
  2. Run/walk – (I promise I will actually get my blog up soon about the benefits of run/walking.) I am a huge proponent of the run/walk approach. Especially in a time like this. If you’re struggling to get outside because running feels daunting right now, try this: run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat. Or run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat. The walk breaks are short – just enough to drop your heart rate a little and help you reset your easy pace. They make a big difference in effort and are so great on the days you think a run won’t feel good. Try it!
  3. Photo hunt – If you run with your phone and like photos, try to set a silly photo challenge before you get out to run. Choose an object like trees, street art, leaves, anything you want and plan to take X number of photos on your run. I think this is a good reminder to look up, take in nature and scenery around you and be willing to press pause. It’s a nice little distraction. The purpose of this run can just be to go take some photos, and however far you run is however far you run. 
  4. Errand run – I love the errand run. I use my Camelbak pack to carry things when I run and it’s great. I often run to drop off a library book, pick up something from the store, etc. I have been doing this for years, but I have found it especially nice in this time. We are all staying inside more, as we should be, and time in stores or visiting restaurants is limited. But if you choose a run once a week where you can run to go leave a book on a family members front porch, or a card in your friends mailbox – go for it! You might not even think about the running part. It’s just something on your to-do list and maybe a nice gesture.
  5. Fartlek – If you are wanting to get some speed back in your legs, but don’t love the idea of structured speedwork, try a fartlek run. You can set the “hard” minutes and “easy” minutes for however long you’d like. Try a 10 minute easy warm up, 3 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, 3 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, 10 minute cool down. Really any combo you like! Just make the hard a hard effort, don’t worry about paces. 
  6. Stair/hill climb – I am lucky I am surrounded by SO many hills and staircases, but I think most people can find a good staircase somewhat close by where they live. If you can, try a stair workout. Maybe run 10 minutes easy, climb the stairs 4 times, run 10 minutes easy, climb the stairs 4 times. However many stairs or hill reps your heart desires. Different terrain is really good for you and now is a great time to work it in if it’s something you usually avoid. 
  7. Podcast length – I have been “saving” my favorite podcast episodes for runs. Since I know I can only listen to them while running, I look forward to the run. And I set out with the intent to just run for the length of the episode. I might pick a 20 minute one or an 80 minute one, it doesn’t matter. I just put on my headphones, and run until it’s over. This lets me really disconnect and not even think about the running part. Highly recommend it. 
  8. End at a coffee shop – You might not all love coffee, but this could be anything really (a doughnut treat, a smoothie..). Start out a run with a final destination (that isn’t your home) in mind. Mine lately has been a coffee shop a few miles away. I run there, grab a coffee, and walk home as I drink my coffee and maybe call a friend. I love walking almost as much as I love running and coffee, so this way I get all three. You can support a small business, get some exercise and get extra time outside. I find having a place to ‘go’ on a run really helps. 

 

I hope you try some of these and find new vigor in your running. Run for fun! Run for your mental health. Run for alone time. Run to run. Now is the time to just enjoy it and remind yourself why you love it in the first place. But also, just one more reminder that now is also a great time to take a break. On the days you don’t want to workout, don’t. It will be okay. Just do what you feel like, when you feel like it. If you feel like running, but need an extra reason to get out and enjoy the run – I hope one of these ideas helps. 

 

Currently…

So we all know what is going on in the world. I didn’t end 2019 anticipating April of 2020 to begin like this, but none of us did. I’ll keep this short: I’m okay. Not every day is good. Not every day is bad. I am finding something to be grateful for every day (even on the days I cry multiple times). We’re all in this together. And any way you’re feeling today is okay. But I wanted to share some ways I am distracting myself. Here’s a short list of some things I am listening to, reading, watching, etc. Hope you find something from it that you’ll enjoy too. Hang in there xx. 

A few things I’m listening to:

  • Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us Podcast. I just started this new series a couple days ago. LOVED her episode on FFTs. And I just finished the episode on comparative suffering today. Really relevant and uplifting. Big Brene fan. 
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  • The XX first album. This album brings me comfort, always has. I turn to music in hard times and I like to return to albums and artists I have loved for a long time.
  • Addie’s ‘a sense of calm’ playlist. I also love a good calming mix of songs I might not be all too familiar with. Addie’s latest playlist is really great. 

A few things I’m watching:

  • Bon Appetit YouTube Channel (always). Gourmet Makes and anything with Chris is a definite mood booster. And love that they’re offering home video content during isolation! This team is pretty amazing. We’ve been cooking up so many of their recipes too. But even if you don’t cook, it’s fun to just watch their videos. 
  • Ozark. (On Netflix). Just started season one since it’s trending and I’m enjoying it. I’ve always liked Jason Bateman. Season three just came out this week!
  • Tiger King. (Also on Netflix). I had to with everyone talking about it. And honestly I have no words for this except…WHAT?! There’s only one season with seven episodes, so if you are into it, it flies by. 

A few things I’m reading:

  • Atomic Habits. I purchased this book (which I rarely do since I’m a big library person) because Jake recommended it to me and said it was life changing. If I’m going to read a life changing book, I need a pen or highlighter in hand. I’m about 100 pages in so far and really enjoying it. 

 

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  • Nina is Not Ok. Just finished this fictional story. I randomly picked it up from the library a couple of weeks ago because the cover said it was ‘laughable’ and ‘hilarious’. I wanted something light-hearted. And this is not. Sure, there’s some humor. But it’s the story of a 17 year old alcoholic and her struggles. I didn’t find it really funny, but I liked the characters and read it really quickly. 
  • Alpha Girls. My up next read about the women of Silicon Valley. Excited for it!

A few workouts I’m loving:

  • Studio Three IG Lives. Three a day! I have been doing a combo of strength and yoga. I attended Studio Three in Chicago for classes shortly after they opened over 4 years ago and every week since until I moved to AUS. I’ve been missing these classes and the people like crazy, so the chance to take classes with them again (virtually) right now is a big reason to be grateful for me. I’ve loved Court, Heather, and Jen’s body weight strength circuits, Mar, Lauren and Katy’s yoga flows. I could name every instructor. They’re all amazing! I love that Studio Three is doing this. 
  • Melissa Wood Method. I always do a few of her workouts a week. Usually a quick abs, flow, or arm series. I love that I can do these at home and fit them in before or after a run. I pay the $9.99 a month and definitely think it’s worth it!
  • Mobility with Jake. I also regularly work with Jake, but he sends me videos to ‘take class’ with him right now too since we’re in different countries. We do a lot of mobility and strength work. I love having the direction. And the extra time for mobility right now is a very good thing for me!

A few other random things that are entertaining me:

  • The NYTimes daily crossword mini. These are free and there’s a new one every day. I love them! Kyle and I race. And I’ve recently challenged my Mom too (but she’s like TOO good). It’s a fun push notification to look forward to every day. 
  • Doodling and coloring. Before entering quarantine I bought a giant sketch pad and some markers. I have drawn more in the last few days than probably the last 10 years. It’s something fun and relaxing. 
  • Perfecting my cup of Chemex coffee. I always wanted to be that kind of person that makes GREAT coffee at home. I was okay before, but I wouldn’t practice that often because I love to go out to coffee shops. Now, I’m practicing a lot. And I think I’m getting pretty good. 
  • Beating Kyle at Bananagrams. This was the only game I brought with me from Chicago to AUS and I am glad I did. I am a huge word nerd, so I love this game. 
  • Getting approval for a rescue dog!! We’re a few weeks into this process. Tentatively approved and waiting to get matched with a dog. I am SO excited. 

 

I hope you found something on this list to check out. And I’m just here to say hang in there, you’re doing great, and it will be okay. ❤ 

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Why Coaching?

I have worked with my endurance coach, Eric, for over two years now. I originally sought out a coach in December of 2017 after a recommendation from my chiropractor. I had spent a lot of 2017 injured from over training, but I had earned my spot at my first Boston Marathon that coming April and all I really cared about was getting to that start line injury free. My chiropractor knew me pretty well at that point and said the main thing I needed was someone to reel me in, slow me down, and teach me how to run in a way I could sustain for life.

Intro: Eric.

I met Eric for coffee to learn more about his coaching style and what he offered and decided to go for it. Yes, this was an investment. I now had a new monthly payment. But I really wanted to prioritize my training and my health, so I made it work. I knew there would be value in 1:1 coaching completely custom to me, my strengths, and my schedule. 

Obviously, this has worked well since I am still working with Eric as my coach over two years later. But I won’t tell you I was an angel athlete in the beginning. Eric made me start training by heart rate and time rather than set mileage. And he quickly told me my easy runs were nowhere easy enough. I was confused. I felt like they were fine. But he could tell by my heart rate that I was working harder than I should have been. He also had me start run/walking. This was a huge adjustment for me. Let people pass me on the lakefront while I took a walk break? I hated it at first. Next I found out that he was never going to have me run 20 miles as a training run in this marathon cycle. Excuse me, what?! I had always run at least one 20 miler. I fought him on this one. But I realized that I was paying him for his expertise and it would be a waste if I didn’t trust him. So, I gave him my trust. I did exactly what he said for the 4.5 months leading up to Boston. 

I got to Boston feeling extremely nervous. The night before the race I was more nervous about a race than I had ever been before. I felt like I hadn’t done enough. How hard would 26.2 miles feel when my longest run that year had been 16 miles? What if I hadn’t done enough speed work. What if. What if. What if. Luckily, Steph and Melissa singing show tunes for awhile helped me laugh the nerves away. I didn’t even mention how terrible the racing conditions were going to be…

But I showed up. I said, okay this weather is insane, but I am going to push as hard as I can for as long as I can. And I walked away with a 2+ minute PR on a hard course in crazy conditions. I felt truly amazing throughout the entire race. So, maybe Eric really did know what he was doing. 

It really wasn’t even about the PR that day, but the fact that I had gotten through the training cycle without injury. Having a coach to check in with regularly, ask questions and hold me accountable made SUCH a difference for me. If I had to move something around, he made it work for me. If I was sick, he adjusted for me. If I wanted to go out and run like a maniac, knowing he would see it held me back. Having this contact and someone invested in my training was really a game changer.

I’ve stuck with having a coach ever since. I can’t imagine not having one now. My running is really important to me and I think having the individual support is what makes me run well and healthy. I have learned a lot from Eric and Superfly Coaching and it has made me extremely passionate about smart training. So passionate, that I decided to become an endurance coach myself.

I took on my first few athletes this past November and had a few more start in January. Being on the other side of training is really exciting. I understand the hard parts of making changes, slowing down, dealing with injury, etc because I have been there. I want to help athletes reach their goals and also teach them habits that will help keep them running for a lifetime. I am so invested in their goals and working with them is truly fun for me. 

If you want to learn more about my run coaching, please feel free to reach out. Send me an email to marathonerdale@gmail.com or a DM on Instagram. I have room for a few more people to start if they are ready. And I will be taking on more athletes come fall marathon training cycle too. Eric and I are also in the works of bringing together a virtual Superfly Track Club a group through Superfly Coaching that will focus strictly on runners. Stay tuned! 

I am always working at being the best runner and coach I can be. I learn new things every day, I try new things, I talk through things with Eric. 

I can confidently say I would not be the runner I am if I had not explored coaching. No matter what your goals are, I think coaching can help you reach them. It helps to have someone believe in your goals as much as you do. 

Coach

Favorite Moments of 2019

It is hard for me to believe we are almost at the end of 2019. This time of year is often my favorite because it is a chance to set new goals for the new year. But I never look ahead without first reflecting on the past. The good and the bad. I set goals every year very well knowing I will not achieve them all. And I also do some things each year I had no idea I wanted to do. It’s cool to be working on yourself always, but I think it is also really important to be proud of what you have accomplished too. So, before talking 2020 plans I want to look back at 2019.

The craziest, most memorable, big-leap kind of year I have ever had. It deserves some reflection because I often feel like “what just happened?!” I could write about this year for hours and hours. I’ll save you. But I am going to share some of my favorite moments from the year. I’ll call them ‘fitness moments’ as this is a running blog most of the time, but they really are just life moments.

Running my first half marathon without looking at my watch, adding a new state to my 50 state goal, and setting a PR.

My coach challenged me to go into this race without glancing at my watch – at all. I thought it was crazy, but I did it. I tucked my Garmin under my sleeve and I ran entirely off of feel. It was the best half I ever had. PR’d by over 3 minutes while exploring a new city and then meeting new running friends. It was an amazing birthday weekend! I always love these February trips to knock off a new state.

 

Returning to Boston for my second Boston Marathon. 

No words really for Boston Marathon weekend. I will never feel anything but proud and grateful when I get to run from Hopkington to Boston. The energy in this city on the day and all weekend is incredible. I got to run along side some of my favorites. And I had SO much fun.

Traveling to Denmark, running the Copenhagen Marathon, PR-ing my marathon time, and getting engaged.

What a trip. I loved Copenhagen for so many reasons, but I’ll always love it for holding my first international marathon finish line and where I got my fiance. I had never felt such pure happiness as I did on May 19th, 2019. It was the best day of my life.

 

Running my first beer mile.

Never had I ever thought I would run a beer mile, but this summer Jake convinced me. I made it a point this year to not say no to things just because they scared me. So, I went. I ran a 7:10, I didn’t throw up, and I got to slide through an inflatable slip n’ slide to end it. Such a fun day and I am SO glad I got out of my comfort zone and tried. it.

 

Becoming an Ultra Marathoner, seeing one of my best friends run 50 miles, and a weekend full of happiness with my people. 

Another favorite weekend of the year, the first weekend of August when Lexi and I became ultra marathoners. This was something I did not think I would do in 2019, but Lex convinced me. We had the most incredible support system with us and we did the dang thing. I’ll always remember crying across that 50K finish line feeling so proud of my independence and crying when Lex came in after 50 miles because I was so proud of hers. We’re lucky we have the best support systems, but also it’s nice to remind ourselves that we do okay on our own. This day was the BEST.

 

Having a private yoga class send off from Katy.

I had a lot of favorite yoga moments in 2019 too, but the best was Katy’s small private class send off for me in Chicago. Katy is the brightest light and the reason I got into yoga in the first place. To have one last class with her was really important to me. She even read my favorite Cleo Wade poem at the end of class and we both cried. It’s a morning I won’t forget. Thank you, Katy.

 

Spending my last ‘Chicago Day of Fun’ with my run squad. 

We had a few send offs, an Evanston sleepover, a Gilt Bar final goodbye and a day after Chicago Marathon ‘day of fun’. I don’t know where I would be without this group. On October 14th we started the day with a photo shoot with my friend Aaron (sadly without Cait & Jenny) and we went to the zoo lot to run a last 800 meter rep to celebrate what brought me all of these friendships in the first place. It was a day I’ll remember.

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I have a lot more I could share. I’m grateful for all the experiences of 2019. I worked at a nonprofit I loved, I officially started coaching endurance athletes, I planned a wedding, I lived alone (for the first time) for 5 months, I packed up my Chicago apartment after 4 years and I moved across the world with just a few suitcases to a place I had never even visited. If you had told me in January 2019 I would be living in Australia as I was writing my year recap I would have said “good joke”, but sometimes you just have to make the leap when life presents you with an opportunity. I am glad I did. I am proud of myself for going for it and making the most of 2019. And I cannot wait to see what 2020 has to offer.

To New Routines and a New City

Moving somewhere you have never even visited before is scary. I am actually still surprised I did something like this. I packed my life into three suitcases, got on a plane by myself and traveled for 20 hours to a new home. It wasn’t like me to make such a big jump, but I guess that’s why I am even more proud of the decision to go. If you had told 16 year old me, or okay even 24 year old me, that I would do something like this – I would have laughed and said “yeah right”.

But I really did it. I live in Bondi now. A new continent. 17 hours ahead. I kind of feel like I live in the future.

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Before this move, I had lived in Illinois my entire life. I grew up in the suburbs, went to school in Champaign and then moved to Chicago after school for four years. I loved it. But I also knew I wanted to live in another place in my twenties. I had no idea I would be in Australia, but here we are.

I essentially closed out a chapter of my life to start a new one. One where I can’t flip ahead and find out what happens. The only person I knew here was Kyle (and thank goodness for that). I am so unbelievably happy we get to share this adventure together. But besides him, I moved not knowing anyone. No family here. Nothing. That’s scary.

In an attempt to find my way around and establish some new routines I had to think about what is important to me. This was actually fun to map out interests and ideas of how to meet people. Getting used to AUS will still take time, but I wanted to share what I have been doing to try my best to lean in.

Take or leave my suggestions. If you’re moving to a new place and feeling unsure, I’d love to chat about our mutual unsure-ness. I am no expert, I feel lost some days and I am kind of making this up as I go, but I want to offer my experience in case it will help anyone else take a leap or make a change.

Things I have done so far or am doing:

  • Joined Classpass
    • Classpass is like a fitness studio Disney World. You can book so many different types of classes and try different studios. I joined Classpass when I first moved to Chicago in 2016. It helped me find Studio Three (the forever home kind of studio). So, I knew I had to try it in AUS too. I did the two week trial and now I’m paying for the monthly membership. I love group fitness classes as a way to meet people! I have not been to a studio I didn’t like yet. They do fitness well here. And the people are so welcoming!

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  • Got a library card
    • Reading has always been important to me. When I’m feeling down, I love to lose myself in a book. So, I knew getting a library card was a must. It was a top priority. The librarian who helped me get my card actually laughed at how excited I was. I am so grateful to have more time to read right now. There’s something really comforting to me about walking into a library and deciding I can learn anything, read anything.

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  • Airbnb Experiences
    • I have loved Airbnb Experiences since the early stages. Kyle and I have done a few in Ireland and in Copenhagen. Nothing beats having a local show you a cool part of their city. These are some of my favorite vacation memories and we have met amazing people. AUS Experiences are the same. We did a day hiking trip with people from all over the world last weekend. Over ten hours of hiking, swimming, driving and exploring with a group of 16 and two local guides. I think it’s the best way to see places. And we plan on doing more while we live here!

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  • Both cooking more and trying new restaurants
    • I heard on a podcast recently that one of the only things you have complete control over is what you put into your body. This hit me hard. It’s true. And when I’m feeding myself garbage, I feel like garbage. So, one of the nicest things I can do for myself right now is eat well. And eating well to me also means eating treats and high quality, high calorie meals. It’s enjoying food! I have been cooking a lot more after not having a kitchen for a month and I am enjoying cooking more than I ever have before. And I am also LOVING all the food options here. The restaurants are truly incredible. I find more places have healthy options, vegan meals are popular, and portion sizes are much more realistic. I will share a blog soon of all my favorite food spots so far!

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  • Joined a running group
    • Running group, duh. I met some of my best friends through running in Chicago. Running is such a bonding experience. I wasn’t looking for a full time group training group, but just a fun run I could do every so often. After some searching, I found the Midnight Runners. They meet in Sydney every Wednesday evening for a 5K or 10K run with multiple “exercise stops” where you do lunges, burpees, etc for the length of a song. The run leaders wear speaker backpacks to lead the 100+ runners who show up. I am loving it. Kyle has been going with me and it is such a fun way to enjoy Sydney and get outside. Oh and the best part? It’s totally free. And welcoming. It can be hard to join a running group that seems like they’ve know each other forever, but this group made me feel welcome from the first minute.

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  • Encouraging group hangs with Kyle’s friends
    • Since Kyle moved here 5 months before me, he has had longer to make friends. And luckily, he works with some pretty great people. Quite a few other Chicagoans have also come over to Sydney, so I have been able to meet some wives and girlfriends of his friends. We have done a few group hangs and I genuinely really like them all. As an introvert, it can be hard for me to be the one encouraging plans and meeting new people. But I am really glad I have been making an effort. Every hang has been fun. And also who knew I just had to win a few games of beer pong to impress some Aussies? The people here are pretty great.

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  • Searching for events
    • I have been checking Eventbrite and Facebook Events regularly to find fun stuff to do in the area. Tonight actually I am attending the Almost 30 Podcast event with Jessica Sepel. And I am going ALONE! Crazy right? For me anyways. I am actually excited. I love this podcast and I know it will attract an awesome group of women. Events are a good way to push myself to get out there. If I buy a ticket, I will show up.

 

  • 30 day unlimited yoga trial
    • Yoga always calms me. For this transition period, I really wanted to get back to a regular practice. After trying Power Living on Classpass, I learned they offered a 30 day unlimited yoga trial for $49, so I signed up! I have gone every day this week and it is making a big difference for my mental health. I have also met some of the nicest people. Yoga people are good people. I crave yoga practice and the space to just “be”. Daily practice is really good for me. Going to be sad when the trial is over!

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  • Marco Polo
    • I am especially glad I had friends get me on Marco Polo before I moved. It’s basically a video chat app that doesn’t require you to be on at the same time. This is SO helpful with the crazy time change. You can leave a message whenever you want, they’ll watch and respond when they can.  It is helping me stay connected to my people and “see” their faces every day. I miss everyone so much, but Marco Polo helps me feel like we’re still hanging out. You can basically have a group text, but it’s all video messages that don’t disappear. I have friend groups, individual chats and even a family group. My Dad on Marco honestly cracks me up. I love it! Highly recommend this for anyone who lives far away from their people. Very thankful this was invented!

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Marco Polo is the best.

  • Bumble BFF
    • Another big out of my comfort zone thing: I joined Bumble BFF for friends. As someone who has never online dated, this is funny to me. But I made a profile and have been swiping and having convos with some girls in the area. Hoping this will turn into some fun coffee dates! I know a lot of other people here are in similar situations and honestly making new friends as an adult is HARD. It’s not like I’m trying to pick up friends at bars. So, this seems like a good place to start too. We’ll see how it goes!

This is what is working for me (so far). The introvert in me is proud of my little wins. Going somewhere alone used to freak me out, but now I do it all the time. I already feel like this experience has made me grow as a person and I am excited to see where it takes me.

I won’t lie and say that every day I wake up feeling positive and happy. To be honest, I still don’t have a set routine. I’m not working full time. And I really miss all my people. But I refuse to not make the most of this opportunity (even when I don’t feel like it).

I’m giving myself grace to just be where I am right now. I am not in a hurry to get to the next part. It is actually harder for me to sit and feel content where I am than be working toward a goal, so I am trying to get better at it. I am aiming to be comfortable being relaxed and stress-free. I am doing the things above to give myself some normalcy, meet people and acclimate. It is working, but it is a slow process. And that’s the thing – I can’t be in a rush. I don’t want to do things just to do them. How often do we get the chance to do absolutely only what we want to do? I am grateful I have the chance. And I won’t waste it.

So, while this week is hard being away from family for Thanksgiving and I know Christmas time will be even harder, I am choosing to focus on the good things here. Kyle and I are lucky to live here. We’re having a lot of fun and I also get this time to be selfish and really explore ‘me’. I am loving this city and the adventure. And I have a good feeling about where it will lead.

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What I Read in 2019

I love a good book recommendation. Most of what I read comes recommended from someone I know. And I want to share what I have read this year in case you want some recommendations too!

I have always loved to read. My Mom got me involved with the local library at a young age and having time to read has always been important to me. As my responsibilities grew, my time to read for fun often became hard to find. Some years were better than others, but in 2017 and 2018 I felt like I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted.

So for 2019 I set a a goal of 15 books for the year. I thought it was ambitious, but as soon as I set the goal, I prioritized reading time and I quickly hit it. By August I had doubled my goal to read 30 books for the year. This means I have to read roughly one book a week for the remainder of 2019, but that is doable. I am so grateful I have more time to read right now and I have been seeking out cute bookstores and cafes to read in all over AUS.

I’m sharing the list of books I have read with a star rating and a quick few sentence review. I could go on and on, but that would make for a super long blog post. If you want to chat more about any of the books – please message me!

I read a lot of nonfiction and young adult fiction, but honestly I will read anything that gets a good rec.

And one quick caveat: I RARELY give a book 5 stars. 4 stars is really good for me. I save the 5s for truly incredible books.

Okay, so here we go. In the order I read them in below from January on. I’ll keep adding as the year continues.

  1. Heart Talk by Cleo Wade (4 stars). Cleo Wade is my favorite. I had seen a lot of her poems, but at the beginning of the year I ordered her book and sat down to read it cover to cover. She has such a way with words.
  2. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (3 stars). I wanted to read this book before watching the Netflix film. I always want to read the book before the movie. It was a quick read with a heart warming story, but just okay.
  3. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (4 stars). This was a really unique perspective on running. I have read a lot of running books and they often say a lot of the same things, but this one felt different – in a good way.
  4. Becoming by Michelle Obama (4 stars). Oh Michelle. I love her and loved this book. It was so interesting to read her life history, especially the early years. Highly recommend.
  5. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero (4 stars). I like self-helpy books. This one was pretty motivating, even though I do think it gets a little over hyped.
  6. 26 Marathons: What I’ve Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life From Each Marathon I’ve Run by Meb Keflezighi (4 stars). Meb! The sweetest, most genuine guy. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him twice and will never forget it. His publisher actually gifted me this new book before it came out and it did not disappoint. I love his attitude and his storytelling. And I enjoyed this book more than his first!
  7. So Here’s the Thing…: Notes on Growing Up, Getting Older, and Trusting Your Gut by Alyssa Mastromonaco (3 stars). I wanted to like this, but it felt pretty repetitive and random. I like her, but this seemed hastily put together.
  8. Not Afraid of the Fall by Kyle James (2 stars). I loved the idea of this book. Quit your jobs, travel the world, do cool things. But basically everywhere they went…they ate and drank. Cool. I found it repetitive and dull. The idea was still cool though.
  9. Run Strong Stay Hungry by Jonathan Beverly (3 stars). A running motivational book that had some good lessons in it. Nothing truly ground breaking to me, but it was still worth the read.
  10. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco (4 stars). This was Alyssa’s first book and it was WAY better than the second. I probably should have read this one first. But either way, I loved learning more about Obama and the administration and Alyssa’s role in it. Definitely recommend.
  11. Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (4 stars) Laurie always enthralls me. Difficult subject matter, but such an important read. Worth picking up if you have never heard of her (or even if you have).
  12. The Passion Paradox: A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of an Unbalanced Life by Brad Stulberg (3 stars). I love following Brad on Twitter and wanted to love this book. It does offer some good advice, but I guess my expectations were a little too high. And I felt like I disagreed with a few things I read. Maybe it was the mood I was in or the job I was in, but I didn’t completely love it.
  13. Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson (3 stars). This true story is so fun. I love Paris and I love American breakfast food, so I am thankful for Craig. A really neat story of him bringing his dream to Paris and the hard times he faces before making it.
  14. I Am Her Tribe by Danielle Doby (4 stars). Danielle’s poetry is moving. I bought her book because I knew it would be one I flipped through regularly. I keep finding myself back in the pages.
  15. That Summer by Sarah Dessen (3 stars). I love Sarah Dessen. I read all her books as a teenager and now decided I want to reread them. I started with That Summer. It was never my favorite of hers, but still fun to relive.
  16. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (3 stars). This book was ALL OVER my social media for months. It seemed like everyone was raving about it, so I read it. Honestly, did not think it was all it was cracked up to be. Sure it kept me interested and I read it quickly. It was an interesting story, but I felt like the ending was a little abrupt and I walked away not feeling like it was as amazing as I thought it would be.
  17. Beyond the Pill by Jolene Brighten (3 stars). This book was recommended to me by a few people and I found it helpful to read before starting my transition off birth control. Take it for what it is, it does push a lot of supplements, but I think a lot of the information is useful.
  18. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (3 stars). The newest in the Sarah Dessen collection. This one did not keep me as interested as she usually does. It wasn’t bad, but it was set in a summer lake town and I think I was just too overwhelmed with my own life at the time to put myself there. Will always read anything she writes though!
  19. Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World by Cleo Wade (5 stars). Wow is just about all I can say for this one. Cleo did it again and in a bigger way. I actually had tears in my eyes when reading many of these poems.
  20. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander (3 stars). I randomly picked this up at the library. It’s a collection of short stories, all from different time periods. It was good, and thought provoking, but I felt some stories were kind of hard to follow.
  21. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (4 stars). I couldn’t put this one down. You follow three women during the Holocaust with alternating chapters in their voices. It was tough to read some of it, as these type of books always are for me, but it was captivating. I cried at the end.
  22. The 12-Step Mind-Body-Food Reset by Jessica Sepel (4 stars). I have followed Jessica on Instagram for years and just recently bought this book. It includes a lot of great recipes that I know I will go back to, but it is so much more than a cookbook. I really enjoy her approach to eating and living your life. Can’t wait to hear her speak at the Sydney Almost 30 event in a couple of weeks.
  23. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan (3 stars). The general idea here is to eat mostly plants. I knew this. I was hoping I’d gain a little more insight as to why. And I guess I did, but it felt very negative. I know there are a lot of conflicting opinions when it comes to food and the food industry, but this book kind of made me feel worse rather than better.
  24. Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels (4 stars). Jack Daniels is the best. Smart training goes a long way. I have learned a lot of what he teaches through coaching and my last two years of running, but it was really interesting to learn even more about him and his philosophy.
  25. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (5 stars). Up there for best book I have read this year. This poetic, unique storytelling was captivating. This book is over 500 pages, but I read it in two days. I simply couldn’t put it down. If you enjoy historical fiction and great stories, I highly recommend it.
  26. The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory by Corey White (4 stars). Woah. I picked this book up randomly at the library over her in Australia. It’s a memoir that talks a lot about the foster care system in this country. It was pretty gut wrenching, but really interesting.
  27. The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates (4 stars). I loved this book. Hard to read some chapters, but they were all important. The things women go through in this world…it breaks my heart. But this book left me feeling inspired and hopeful of change.
  28. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. (5 stars). I could not put this book now. It might have been my favorite book of the year (even though it didn’t come out in 2019). This story is an honest look at race in America. I loved the main character and shed many tears for her and the people in her life. It’s a really really important read.
  29. I Was Here by Gayle Forman. (3 stars). I have read a few Gayle Forman books. I’m a big young adult fan and I like how these are quick reads.  This one was heavy, dealing with suicide and life after losing someone you love. Wasn’t my favorite of hers, but still liked the characters and the way she dealt with a serious topic.
  30. The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr. (4 stars). A collection of short stories! Picked this up since I loved All The Light We Cannot See so much. This collection was very random. I never would have guessed the topics they covered, but each story was more interesting than the next. Definitely recommend!

Hope you enjoy. Happy reading!