You guys, what a summer. I am in my happy zone, that’s for sure!
From spending weekends in Los Angeles or in the Rocky Mountains to working my tail off during the week with some of the best people I know to finding time to read 2 books already, I am in love with my MBA Summer Break. And I’m not even the one in B-School!
I won’t bore anyone with nitty-gritty details of Colorado life since my last check in but suffice it to say, I am so grateful the stars aligned for me to spend my summer in Denver.
I definitely miss my husband – we live on very opposite schedules, despite being situated only 1 timezone apart – and being able to share my day and stories with him. It’s especially hard to talk about ‘big’ things/decisions when we only catch each other for a few minutes a day in between activities but we’re surviving and knowing there’s a finite timeline makes it easier/more bearable. And each of us are so involved in our jobs that if I were with him in LA, I think we’d be a bit miserable (he because he’d be working all the time and not be able to spend time exploring together; me because I’d be in a temporary city with no friends or husband to hang out with).
But right now, my days are so full of life that, for this brief chapter, I am enjoying only thinking/planning/taking care of only me. No one to clean up after or take out in the morning (#philly), no one to consider for dinner plans, no one to feel slighted if I want/need to work late. I’ve been spending my time bike commuting, working hard with the best people I know, backpacking and car camping, watching concerts, practicing yoga, reading books, making new friends and maximizing my time in this city.
I have stories to share about backpacking near Breckenridge, spending weekends on the beach in Los Angeles, new gear that I can’t not share with the internet and more.
Stay tuned, internet friends. Until then, I hope you’re enjoying your summer as much as I am!
Today is Bike to Work Day in Denver, the official day Denverites are encouraged to swap their car for a bike ride on their daily commute. This year, like last year, I am excited to be participating – not just for the cause but also for the 3 free breakfast stations along my route into work. YAS.
Truth be told, bike commuting is still fairly new for me. I bought a bike when I first moved to Denver but rarely rode it and relied on my car for just about everything. My commute was 11+ miles by car (9.5+ miles by bike) and for someone who had never biked commuted before, I didn’t even consider it to be an option. I lived in suburban-ish neighborhood where most of the things I did (groceries, restaurants, gyms, work) were not convenient to my apartment and were easier to get to by car.
A few apartments later, I found myself living in Capital Hill, an urban neighborhood outside of downtown Denver and when I started at Ibotta, my commute shortened drastically to a mere 3 miles each way. Some days, I drove to work when I had things to do before/after work (and on bad weather days), but most (nice) days, I biked and it truthfully changed my world.
(In Pittsburgh, I do a lot less biking simply because most places I go are either walkable or require a car due to distance.)
Now that I’m back in Denver for the summer without a car, my primary mode of transportation is my bike. And I love it. I never want to live in a non-bike-friendly city and for the rest of my working life, I want to live close enough to my office where bike commuting is an option.
As a gal who does *not* usually spring out of bed, ready to go in the morning, 25 minutes on my bike helps me wake up, get my blood flowing and think about my upcoming day before I have to be ‘on’ at work. The same is true for biking home after work – I like the time on my bike to decompress after busy days in the office – although, in Colorado, we typically have afternoon thunderstorms sometimes I’ll light rail to a stop near my house and bike the 1 mile home instead of 4.2.
But I also love biking for a slew of other reasons:
No sitting in traffic(!!!)
Built-in 60 minutes exercise each day
No cost!(no Uber or parking expenses)
No polluting (yay for doing tiny things to save the Earth!)
Bike lanes and bike paths = less interaction with cars (and distracted drivers)
Breakfast burritos at the office cafe
If your city has a Bike to Work day, I encourage you to try a bike commute. Definitely for the free breakfasts along the way but also, if there’s ever a day to try it, it’s when a whole bunch of fellow bikers are out, going your same direction – it’s a lot less terrifying than trying to navigate an unknown route for the first time on your own. After the first day biking, it’s easier to visualize how it can become a regular part of your routine and, soon enough, maybe you’ll find yourself in love with it like me.
2 weeks ago, Alex dropped me off at work and continued driving west, bound for Los Angles. Days prior, I’d moved all my stuff into my ‘summer home’ but over the weekend, we stayed at a friend’s house while she was out of town. Coming home to the summer home on that Tuesday evening felt a lot like walking into my college dorm room after my parents drove away that first night. I’d only met 1 of my housemates prior and, walking in on Tuesday night, the other 2 girls were hosting a spirited book club discussion. I quietly sneaked past and holed up in my basement room, unpacking and situating myself.
I felt the, OMG WHAT AM I DOING panicky doubts – should I have rented a place with no roommates? What if they don’t like me? What if our schedules totally clash and I’m always in their way? What if they get tired of seeing me wearing 1 of only 10 outfits I brought with me?
As the book club carried on loudly, jovially upstairs, I talked myself off the ledge. Don’t be inflexible, Lynne! Just like moving to college…the first few days of not knowing where things are, how to get places without a car, what to talk to your new friends about, those days are challenging.
But those days pass quickly. And then you find the bike path to ride to work and to the gym, and you make friends with your housemates, and you realize, no one actually cares that you only brought 10 outfits to wear this summer (but WHY DID I ONLY BRING 10 OUTFITS FOR NEARLY 4 MONTHS IN DENVER?!)
It took a few days but I settled into my new normal and, now, can hardly remember those panicky moments 2 weeks ago. I love starting my day with fresh air and sunshine as I bike 4 miles to work. I love working in the office with my co-workers (and am a little terrified of having to go back to #remotelife at the end of the summer). I love the simplicity of not having a car and having to be very intentional about my plans. I love spending time with friends and putting myself in situations to meet new connections. I love being to consider only myself and what I want to do. I love the independence.
I’ve been at this ‘new normal’ for 2 weeks now and it’s easy to forget this is a temporary normal. For the next 10ish weeks, I’m relishing this moment in my life.
We arrived in Denver 2 weeks ago and have been living the nomadic Airbnb and guest-room-crashing life thus far. It’s been fun living within walking distance to work, in our old neighborhood, near the parks we loved but I’m ready to settle into my ‘summer home’ and get into a routine again.
It’s so wonderful (and weird) to be in Denver and know I’m *staying* for the next few months. It already feels as though the summer will fly by and I’ll have to pack up to head east again in just a few moments. What’s that saying? The days are long but the summer is short? I’ve packed my upcoming summer weekends with camping, backpacking, visits to LA, visits from friends, yoga at Red Rocks, concerts at Red Rocks and most importantly, tackling a whole list of new breweries that need their IPAs tested.
During the weeks, I’ll be waking with the early Colorado sunrise, biking to work (!!), enjoying face-to-face meetings again, playing kickball with my co-workers, running on trails (mountain + urban) and not apologizing for one second for the giant smile on my face.
The first year of Alex’s MBA program has officially finished and he is on ‘summer break’! Kind of a misnomer because ‘summer break’ in business school is the time between school and internship. For Alex, he has a month off between classes ending to his internship beginning but other students had just a few days to get from Pittsburgh to their internship (but they have typically have a longer break at the end of their internship before classes start again in September).
Most of the first year of business school is focused on finding a summer internship and we always knew that for Alex, this likely meant not working in Pittsburgh. We spent many hours discussing cities, companies, lifestyles, future goals and more together as Alex identified his target companies for the summer. In many cases, the internship leads to a full time offer so we wanted to set ourselves up for the best post-MBA decision possible.
In March (on my birthday, in fact), Alex landed the best internship for his skills set and ambitions – it’s the perfect bridge between what he had been doing before school to what he wants to do after school. He’ll be working for a super cool media tech company, in Santa Monica/Los Angeles, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that his apartment will be 6 blocks from the beach. Homeboy is living the Summer Internship Dream!
We also knew, before we even moved to Pittsburgh, that if Alex’s internship was not in Pittsburgh, I wanted to spend my summer in Denver. Working remotely is hard and working remotely and leading a team at an aggressively growing and extremely innovative company is even harder. While I’ve come to enjoy my personal life in Pittsburgh and feel like I am in a good ‘working remotely’ rhythm, I’m missing out on in-office collaboration and career growth opportunities. Plus, it’s lonely! I miss talking to my coworkers in person and socializing. Without Alex in Pittsburgh, I would surely become the crazy hermit lady who goes days without talking to anyone in real life and nobody (especially not me) wants that.
So, all this to say that Alex and I are en route across the country, wheels pointed west! We are spending a couple of days with our family in Cincinnati and then will drive to Denver. Alex doesn’t start work till early June so he’ll/we’ll have a few weeks of downtime in Colorado before he finishes the last, 17-hour leg from Denver to Los Angeles.
These next few months of Summer Break are sure to be chaotic with both of us working at companies we’re excited about and traveling/exploring on weekends and I couldn’t be more giddy. And bookended by a cross-country road trip?
Disclosure: As a Pittsburgh Marathon Blogger, my race entry was comped but all opinions and thoughts are my own.
After months of preparing and many hilly training miles run, I crossed the finish line at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon with a giant smile on my face!
Let’s back up.
Race weekend kicked off on Thursday evening with a blogger happy hour at Wigle Whiskey where it was great to mix and mingle with blog friends, new and old.
On Friday afternoon, I hit up the expo for packet pick up and to (quickly) browse the booths. I’m not a big fan of expos but Pittsburgh’s was sizable and had great brands participating and interesting demos/giveaways, including beer tasting. What?!
Then, on Saturday morning, I trekked downtown to run the 5k as a warm-up run and Saturday night, I met up with runner friends at Chelsea’s house for an delicious pasta dinner. Much later Saturday night, I picked up Heidi from the airport! We gabbed until very late and slept for a few hours before our alarms started buzzing at 5 a.m.
Heidi and I were both selected as bloggers for the race which meant we were given VIP access to pre- and post-race festivities. Pre-race, this meant access to breakfast (score!), indoor bathrooms and a special gear check table. We opted to try our luck with the pre-race breakfast and left Shadyside at 5:45 a.m. to find parking and still have enough time for breakfast ahead of the race. Traffic was (surprisingly) non-existent and we breezed right into a parking garage approximately a mile from the start/finish.
We jogged to the Westin where the VIP hospitality suite was located in search of breakfast; after scarfing bagels with cream cheese and a few slices of fruit, we hit the bathrooms and navigated our way to Corral B.
I don’t know about the other corrals but getting into Corral B was kind of a cluster; there was a single point of entry and a race official checked all bibs for anyone entering. As the minutes ticked down to the start and there was still a huge mass of people waiting to get through, it felt like there could have been a better way to get runners to the start.
But the race did start and Heidi and I crossed the timing pad at about 7:10 a.m. As we pushed through the first 3 miles into the Strip District, a light rain drizzled down but considering the initial weather forecast (thunderstorms and heavy rain), we couldn’t complain.
Heidi and I spent the first half of the race catching up – we both have big summers on our schedule and haven’t seen each other since my trip to CO in December. So much to chat about!
Around mile 7, I started to feel mentally tired and Heidi encouraged me to eat my Honey Stinger chews which helped give me a boost. Fortunately for me, Heidi dropped from the full marathon to the half and, selfishly, I loved that decision. She paced me the last half of the race and kept me on track to finish in under 2:05. Really, she was trying to pace us to a sub 2hr finish but I didn’t have it in me this race… I stepped in a pothole, like a n00b, at mile 9 and walked a few paces in mile 11 up the final hill (woof). We crossed the finish line at 2:04:35.
Overall, given my long-ass taper, I’m pretty pleased with my race (and very thankful to Rabbit Heidi!). If I’d carved out more time to stick to my plan in the last 4-6 weeks of training, I know I could have finished at or under 2 hours, but alas. I don’t regret anything I did instead of running in the weeks leading up to the race. I enjoyed vacation, spent moments with friends and family, tackled work projects and sometimes, just needed downtime with my husband.
In thinking back to the route, I really loved weaving through neighborhoods I’ve only visited a handful of times since moving to Pittsburgh.
We ran through or by all the Pittsburgh must-sees: Strip District, North Shore, Mt. Washington Incline, South Side, and Downtown. And in true Pittsburgh fashion, we crossed 5 bridges. I’m glad I had points of reference in most of the neighborhoods – it was helpful to give me context to where we were and anticipate what to look for next.
Crowd support throughout the half marathon route was amazing. The first half of the race had bands every mile or so while the second half of the race was full of snacks along the course. I couldn’t stomach any but I remember gummy worms, oranges, cookies, mimosas(!). Each neighborhood had people out holding funny signs and cheering; especially towards the end of the race, it was encouraging to have so many people out watching!
I will definitely sign up for the Pittsburgh Half again next year. The race was well executed, the course was interesting and support was awesome. Well done, Pittsburgh Marathon team!
When I signed up for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I noticed an option to complete the Steel Challenge which meant running the 5k in addition to the Half/Full. Figuring it was a nice was to warm up for the half on the following day, I registered myself and pretty much forgot all about it until race weekend.
I was a little nervous about parking logistics since I’m still not super familiar with Pittsburgh’s downtown and the 5k is not a loop (starts on the North Shore by the stadiums but ends in Downtown). But I had nothing to worry about: traffic on Saturday morning was non-existent so I made it from Shadyside to a parking garage downtown in 15 minutes. I opted to park downtown and jog the mile to the start line at PNC Park.
Chelsea and Lauren know pretty much every runner in Pittsburgh so it was fun to run with them on Saturday morning. Every few minutes, Chelsea would cheer on someone she knew or someone who knew Lauren would bump into us and chat for a bit. Case in point, we were a group of 13 hanging out before heading to our corrals!
Chelsea and Lauren were running the full marathon (Lauren’s first!) and knowing if left to my own devices, I would run too hard, too fast for a true shake out run, so I hung with my friends and we ran Lauren’s marathon pace. Chelsea’s friend, Kathleen, was in town from Chicago for the half marathon, too, so we were a chatty group of 4 running through the Pittsburgh streets.
We finished the 5k in 39:09, running 3 minutes, walking 1, to mirror the pace/cadence Lauren and Chelsea would use the following day in the marathon. It felt good to get the blood flowing and loosen up my muscles while catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while!
We finished with smiles, feeling warm but not spent. After the race, I headed home to nap (#yolo), prepare for visitors and plan out half marathon race day logistics.
I’d never participated in a back-to-back race schedule but, given the option in the future, I would opt to run an organized 5k the day prior again. I liked getting a feel for the course and it was fun to feel race day energy ahead of ‘the big race’, it helped me get into race day spirit/excitement that much more.
Working from home, it’s hard for me to keep track of what day of the week it is. I sometimes go to a coworking space, I sometimes work from home, sometimes (most days) I sleep in (one perk of working on MST!), sometimes I don’t. Without a regular work commute and dedicated days in an office, the days easily bleed together.
But I do know today is Friday! So I’m hopping on the popular ‘5 Things Friday’ format to share a few items.
Friday morning Breakfast Club! A few months ago, I started planning breakfast dates with fellow Partners (significant others of Tepper MBA students) on Friday mornings as a way to be social and kick off the weekend. It’s been a great way to catch up with friends and see new Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
Gearing up for SUMMER. Immediately following the race this weekend, it’s about to get cah-ray-zee in my world. Alex and I are finalizing our plans to spend our summers away from Pittsburgh (he for an internship in California, me to be in Denver for work) and I’m super excited. And not only do I get to spend 3 months with my team in Denver, I have fun travel throughout the summer, too. It’s going to hectic and amazing and I feel so fortunate to be able to . I am bummed to be missing summer in Pittsburgh but, for me, it’s more important to be in Denver this summer.
Swapping screen time for flipping pages. Every year, I say I want to read 1 book a month and I usually start strong in the early months of the year but then ‘life gets busy’ aka I stop making time to read. This year, after already finishing a couple of really great books, I’m making it a point to read more. It’s hard for me to give large chunks of time, like I’d prefer, so instead, I have been reading for 15-30 minutes in bed each night. I’m reading American Wife right now and can’t wait to see how the story unfolds.
Co-working spaces. In the short time we’ve lived in Pittsburgh, coworking spaces have been popping up throughout the city so we work-from-home and work-remotes don’t have to work in our apartments or coffee shops, if we don’t want to. I’ve visited a number of spaces and last month, a new space, StackPGH, opened nearby. I’d cancelled my previous coworking space membership in December due to logistics/change in my work role so I ready for a change after a few months of working from my dining room. I signed up at Stack and am in love: it has huge windows, a cool vibe, lots of coffee and social, like-minded people.
Pittsburgh Half Marathon Weekend! Aahhh! It’s here and I’m nervous/excited. Fingers crossed the weather holds out and my legs hold up and that there is a recovery mimosa in my hand after the race. I’m running the 5k tomorrow to earn my Runner of Steel medal and I’m looking forward to a mini-half-marathon-course preview!
And with that, I’m taking my Friday self out for pizza to carbo-load before this 5k in the morning. MmMmM.
*Disclosure: This product was provided at no cost to me in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.*
Last fall, my friend Chelsea connected me with her contact at SLS3 to review their Dual Pocket Running Belt. Travis, at SLS3, assured me that this is his favorite running belt of the bunch and actually stays put while running. Admittedly skeptical, I agreed to try the run belt and see if it lived up to Travis’ hype.
In my early days of running, I tried a whole slew of running belts: ones that zipped, ones that flipped, ones that held water bottles. None I loved – they jostled too much, crept too far up my waist or didn’t hold everything I wanted to carry with me. I gave up on running belts and switched over to a small CamelBak pack and have used a small pack ever since.
But this is exactly why I agreed to try the SLS3 belt – I went into this experience with an open mind, ready to see if the world of run belts had changed over the years. I knew I wouldn’t want to run the Pittsburgh Half with a pack so I was hopeful this run belt would perform well enough to win a spot in my race day outfit.
And ya know what? It did!
The dual pockets on this belt are huge but still lay flat on my person while running. I slip my phone (Samsung Galaxy s4 + Otterbox case) into one pocket and my keys, snacks and chapstick in the other. I probably wouldn’t try to add too much more in the pockets but there is some extra room to carry cash, ID cards, pepper spray, etc.
Amazingly, the belt really does not really move, even when packed with all my things. I suspect I can thank the the wide strap and buckle – the strap is 1.5 inches wide which is the same size as the pockets, not expanded, and when clipped together, the belt feels sturdy. Past belts I’ve used have had a thinner strap so when the pocket was full, there was no support to keep it in place. Not the case here!
I’ve used this belt on a number of shorter runs and my 10 mile run at the park and I’ll be wearing this belt for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon this weekend. I love that I can stuff my phone and keys away – but still have easy access to pull my phone out for photos #realtalk.
Officially, it’s taper time for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon but really, with the travel in my life recently, I have been tapering for the past 3+ weeks. We’ll see how this translates for the race on May 1 but not much I can do about it now except roll with it.
After Mexico, I was home for 4 days and ran 10 miles before hopping a plane to Denver for a busy week at work. I’d brought my gear to run in my old neighborhood and meet friends for OrangeTheory but, for a number of factors, I didn’t do either. From Denver, I flew into Philadelphia late Friday night to play in a volleyball tournament all day Saturday before driving 5+ hours home. Whew!
So these last few weeks have been light on actual runs but I’ve been very active which doesn’t substitute for training but is better than being sedentary!
This week, I’ve run a few 3 mile loops, am playing volleyball and doing yoga. I debated doing an OrangeTheory class but decided to not risk sore or tired muscles in the days before next week’s race.
A few weeks ago, before the crazy 6 weeks of travel, I’d set some goals for the Pittsburgh Half and I’m hoping they’re still realistic.
A Goal: Under 2 hours
B Goal: 2:00-2:05
C Goal: Under 2:10
If I’d stuck with my training a bit better these past few weeks, I’d have 100% confidence in myself but now, I’m going to go out and just do my best next Sunday. I know I can cruise through the first half of the race and my 10 mile long runs have been strong…but I wished I’d given myself an 11 or 12 mile long run to feel really good about aiming for my A Goal.