Winding Down Life in Pittsburgh

Schenley Park, Pittsburgh // lynnepetre.com

When we decided to move to Pittsburgh for Alex’s MBA program, the almost 2 years we would be here felt like an eternity. We were upending everything in our live and I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick – I would be trading co-workers and a well connected community in Denver for working at a kitchen table and no network in Pittsburgh. Time moved so slowly last year and I struggled to see the forest, I could only focus on the big, seemingly obstructive trees.

Working from Home // lynnepetre.com

But now, 1 school year in Pittsburgh, an insane summer in Denver/LA (and several places in between) and 6 months of long distance living, we are closing down our time in Pittsburgh. That move we made in 2015 feels like yesterday and eternity ago at the same time; so much change, growth, tears and cheers have been sandwiched into these past 18 months.

This week, I’m in Pittsburgh for my last week of working remotely with a Pittsburgh address — we are moving out of our apartment this coming weekend and a sublease tenant will move in and take over the remaining months of our lease.

And then, the next round of exciting chaos begins!

In March, we’ll travel to Europe together for two weeks of REAL VACATION – no school, no work, no obligations – and I couldn’t be more excited. After I head back to Denver, Alex stays for a few more weeks for his study abroad capstone in Germany. When he comes back, he’ll give a final presentation at school, we’ll spend a week in an Airbnb in Pittsburgh, celebrating and savoring our last moments on this journey and then, he’ll graduate with his MBA. Following graduation, he’s moving back to Denver (!!!) and we get to start ‘real life’ together. After living in limbo for the past 3 years, we both cannot wait for regular schedules, normalcy and dual incomes again.

Petre Road Trips // lynnepetre.com

This week, though, I plan to soak up as much as I can in the ‘burgh. Running my favorite routes, eating at my favorite restaurants, visiting my favorite local shops and spending time with my favorite people. It’s hard to believe this is it!

Heading West, Again

welcome to lynnepetre.com // lynnepetre.com

It’s a gorgeous fall day in Pittsburgh; humidity is low, temperatures have dipped and the sun is shining brightly. The kind of day that makes me appreciate spending time in the midwest for this moment in my life, yearning for the crunch of leaves beneath my feet as I walk Philly around our neighborhood, snuggling under a blanket with my husband in the evenings in our poorly-insulated old apartment.

But this is likely my first and last midwest fall day this season because, today, I begin a drive west to move back to Colorado.

Earlier this summer while working in Denver, I knew spending this upcoming year working remotely would not be the best decision for me, professional or personally. Truthfully, I knew this the moment I left Colorado last July.

Working from Home // lynnepetre.com

Being the sole remote person on my team was challenging; I missed interacting with my coworkers and I felt really isolated. Growing and leading a team remotely is extremely challenging and, this summer alone, I added 4 new members to my team and currently have open several open positions for my territory. Things at Ibotta are moving so fast and it’s such an exciting time to be part of this company that I don’t want to miss out on the unique opportunities and experience in front of me.

Alex immediately supported the move; he’s always encouraged me to find and follow what’s important to me in a career. After many thoughtful conversations, we made a game plan and I found a short term apartment in Denver before I left at the end of the summer. I will be spending most of my time in Denver and ‘reverse remote working’ where I’ll work remotely for a week in Pittsburgh every few weeks so I’m able to still spend time with Alex.

I’m as excited to move as I am sad to leave. 

For much of the past couple of years, I’ve felt like I’m in the passenger’s seat, figuring out how to fit my plans into my husband’s school schedule. This, though, is me taking the driver seat (literally) and making a decision about what’s best for me, a decision that sets me up for current and future success and is a decision I feel really good about. I’m excited to continue to grow in my career and be in the office as the next months unfold.

Of course, it’s not without it’s tradeoff. I’ve cried many tears about leaving Alex and Philly. About the life experiences Alex and I will have separately from each other. About missing out on the precious little time I have left with our Pittsburgh friends before graduation in May. About not living a short drive from Cincinnati.

It’s going to be hard and exciting and lonely and rewarding, all a the same time. In the end, these 10 months of long distance will fly by and be an interesting story in this ‘unconventional’ moment of our lives. (And after 2.5 years of long distance dating, 10 months feels like the blink of an eye!)

Moving to Denver // lynnepetre

See you soon, Denver. Just 1500 miles to go.

Race Recap: Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend 5k (#GameOnPGH)

Race Recap: Pittsburgh Marathon 5k // lynnepetre.com

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.

Fortunately, I saw my fellow Pittsburgh Marathon & Half blogger friends, Chelsea and Lauren, on Thursday at a pre-race party and we chatted about the 5k and made plans to meet on Saturday morning to shake out before our races on Sunday.

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.

Race Recap: Pittsburgh Marathon 5k // lynnepetre.com
PC: Chelsea!

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.

Race Recap: Pittsburgh Marathon 5k // lynnepetre.com
PC: Chelsea!

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!

Race Recap: Pittsburgh Marathon 5k // lynnepetre.com
PC: Chelsea!

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.

Pittsburgh Running Route: North Park Lake

North Park Lake Loop // lynnepetre.com

Soon after moving to Pittsburgh, I asked around for favorite running routes to help get myself acclimated with my surroundings. I kept hearing about North Park and its infamous 5 mile loop and how all Pittsburgh Marathoners would do a majority of their long runs at this park.

This past weekend, I woke up late and missed my opportunity to run with Raela which was likely for the best. I headed out to North Park to run 2 laps around the lake for a 10 mile training run. No pausing to say hi/bye to my friend, just 10 miles of me and the pavement…something I honestly haven’t done much of this training cycle but knowing I’m running the half solo, I wanted to get a solid long run in by myself and make sure I could keep a steady pace.

North Park Lake Loop // lynnepetre.com

IF YOU GO….

North Park is ~25 minutes outside of Pittsburgh. I would offer tips on how to get there but Google has told me different ways to go each time. If you’re going during rush hour, give yourself ~35 minutes since there’s no highway route.

There is parking throughout the loop so you can start wherever is most convenient for you. I parked at JC Stone Field since this was at an ‘end’ of the oval and I planned my run so that I ended with a downhill cruise where I could see my car (I hate not knowing how much further is left).

The running/biking path follows the lake through the park. It’s very well marked and obvious where to go to continue on the path. The loop is shaped like an oval and surprisingly, it felt like time passed quickly.

North Park Lake Loop // lynnepetre.comThe weather was beautiful for March so there were lots of people out – runners, bikers, roller-bladers, strollers and dogs all out enjoying the same path as me. In the park, people were fishing, kayaking, picnicing and more. As a solo female runner, it was comforting to have so many people out and about – should anything happen, someone would be around to offer a bandaid. (I’ve heard weekends are usually busy-ish in the winter time, too.)

There are bathrooms at several points along the route and all looked to be open (not sure if this is a seasonal thing; I know the bathrooms at the the North Park Boathouse are open in the winter). Be sure to bring your own water, though; all of the water fountains I passed were taped up and not in service. I had stashed my water bottle and a coconut water in my car and made a pit stop at mile 5 before taking off for loop 2.

Lastly, there are a number of races at North Park throughout the year. If you’re a little bit shy about showing up and not knowing exactly how to get around the park (it’s big!), registering for a race would be a great way to get acclimated.

Compared to the 2.5 mile loop I’d spent many, many, many mornings running in Denver (HOLLA Heidi, Paula, Christine and others), I really enjoyed this 5-mile loop distance. I can’t say I’d be excited to run more than 2 laps (and especially not 6, like Chelsea) but 10 miles around the park felt like a good distance.

Side note: there is also an off-leash dog park, zip-line course, hockey + ice skating, horse trails, a swimming pool, restaurant/cafe and much more to do at North Park. So if running isn’t your thing, you can likely still find something fun to do at the park.

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Training – Month 1 #GameOnPGH

GameOnPGH Banner // lynnepetre.com

So it’s been exactly a month of half marathon training and so far, so good! Despite writing about my knee/MRI earlier this week, my knee is feeling pretty good right now and I’m hoping everything comes back clear from my doctor next week.

I haven’t hit every single weekday run but I’ve hit most. I’d counted on being able to attend OrangeTheory at least twice a week but the gym here has recently exploded in popularity so it’s really difficult to get into a class. And without a dedicated class time, I have found myself saying, ‘oh, I’ll just run later this afternoon when I have a break in my meetings.’ But of course, by the time that break has come around, I am in the weeds and have missed my opportunity to run. So I just need to be better about getting up earlier and running before Denver starts working.

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Training Month 1 // lynnepetre.com

Long runs this month included 2×4 milers, 1×5 miler, 1×6 miler.

The 5 miles SUCKED. I was on week 2 of Whole30 and I failed to fuel properly. The night before, I had a kale salad paired with pan-fried chicken and sauted veggies covered in tomato sauce. Delicious, and it filled me up for dinner, but terrible for long run prep. I spent much of the 5 miles lightheaded and took frequent walk breaks.

To contrast, my 6 miles the following week rocked. I made sure to eat carbs the night before, ate a banana before heading out and brought Honey Stinger chews with me. At mile 3, I popped a couple and have saved the rest for my run this weekend.

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Training Month 1 // lynnepetre.com

Right now (Saturday), it’s snowing and 11* outside; with windchill, it’s a ‘feels like of -14*’. The training group run was cancelled and, as much as I like to do my long runs on Saturday vs. Sunday, I am saving my 6 miles for tomorrow morning/afternoon when the temps should be around 20*.

1 month down, 2.5 to go! I’m feeling really good about training so far and am looking forward to ramping up my long run mileage.

Let the Half Marathon Training Begin! #GameOnPGH

GameOnPGH Banner // lynnepetre.com

It’s been a while since I’ve been serious about running. I’ve always incorporated running into my fitness but for the past couple of years, I haven’t stuck to a dedicated plan or trained for a race; I love running but in Colorado, mountain adventures on the weekends won out over long training runs. I took to city park paths and mountain trails to keep my endurance up but, more so, to spend time with my friends. I rarely wore my GPS watch and rarely pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

Trail Running Boulder // lynnepetre.com

Soon after unpacking in Pittsburgh, though, I started looking up local races; I knew if I could find the races, I would find runners I could convince to be my friends. And if I couldn’t find friends? At least I would have a big goal on my horizon that would keep me busy.

I quickly found the Pittsburgh Marathon and Half and started reading recaps on the internet – this would be my race! The May 1 race date meant I had plenty of time to train my body to run more than 5 miles at a time again and I was excited to use training as a way to explore my new city.

I applied to be a blogger ambassador for the race and am thrilled to have been accepted! I will be partnering with the Pittsburgh Marathon team to blog my way through training – as this will be my first half since 2012, I’m basically starting from scratch. I’ll be sharing not only my run training but also how I’m fueling, cross training that I’m incorporating, fun gear I’m using and more.

Track Running // lynnepetre.com

I’m excited to take on this challenge, run 13.1 miles again and bring you along with me. And if you’re a Pittsburgher – or want to visit Pittsburgh to run with me! – use the code PETRE2016 for $10 off your registration (register here) or 15% off official race gear in the P3R Store!

Ending 2015 On A High Note

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Man, this year!

This time last year, Alex found out he was accepted into 2 excellent MBA programs and in the 365 days since, it’s been a ride. Perfectly happy with our life in Denver and really excited about my then new-ish job and it’s potential, I was not jazzed to think about what 2015 would bring for me, personally, or our little family.

After much deliberation and consideration, I decided in April to tell my company that I was moving to Pittsburgh with Alex. In my heart, I always knew it was the right decision but I dragged my feet, knowing that moving away from Denver would likely mean a stunt in my career growth. It’s been hard to reconcile two very different, seemingly mutually exclusive things: if I moved to Pittsburgh, I’d be limiting my career and sacrificing growth; if I stayed in Denver, I would be sacrificing my relationship with my husband. I felt like I was between a giant rock and an un-budging hard place and couldn’t ignore the weight of the decision.

Fortunately, my company allowed me to stay on as a remote employee and I moved to Pittsburgh in August. We spent 2.5 really great weeks on the road as a last hurrah of our dual income/same schedule life before landing in Western PA. We camped at the Grand Canyon, stayed a few nights in Vegas, swung back through Colorado to pick up Philly and ventured east, seeing friends and family along the way. (More here.)

welcome to lynnepetre.com // lynnepetre.com

The first weeks and months in Pittsburgh were rough, emotionally. I’d ‘lost’ everything I knew and loved in Denver and was in a new city, working remotely, with a husband who was already in the thick of his MBA program and had very little free time. I felt sad and sorry for myself a lot in those early days.

Adjusting to the ‘remote employee’ life has taken some time but I’ve finally found a cadence that works for me for right now. I’ve found friends and am learning how to get around in Pittsburgh with less reliance on Google Maps. I cry a lot less tears these days than when we first arrived – so that’s a plus! But many days, I miss our ‘old life’ in Denver: the city, the community, our friends, our routine.

This past week, I was back in Denver for work and it was especially wonderful as Tuesday brought a snow storm that dumped nearly a foot of snow before the system moved out (PA has been too warm this winter – it’s 65* today!). I spent a week working in the office, staying in an AirBnB in my old neighborhood, eating at my favorite restaurants and feeling so happy to be back. We had a company-wide meeting to discuss 2015 and where we’re going in 2016 – all exciting things! – and celebrated our incredible growth with a really fun holiday party.

In my year end review, I earned a promotion and I’m not ashamed to admit I found myself wiping tears – happy tears, this time! After a hard year, emotionally, and questioning how working remotely would affect my career, it felt really great to know that I’m not ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

To cap off a great week, I spent Saturday flying down the mountain with my girlfriends at Keystone. It was such a blast to be with the friends I’ve missed, catching up and laughing the whole day.

Keystone Skiing // lynnepetre.com

I boarded my flight home on Sunday with a full heart. The week in Denver was one of the best I had in 2015 and was a great way to close out this year of change. I’m excited to spend the next 2 weeks with my husband, family and friends and celebrate the holidays; I’m even more inspired to welcome 2016 and hit the ground running.

I have big goals for making life in Pittsburgh feel more like my own; it’s hard to not feel like 2 years in grad school mean living in limbo while we bide our time before the next adventure. I’ve let myself feel that way for these first 4 months and it’s not helpful or accurate. There is a lot I can do to thrive in PA while we’re here. Gotta bloom where you’re planted, right?

So in 2016, I have no doubts there will be a lot less tears in store and I can’t wait to get started.

Fall Colors in the Midwest

Fall in the Midwest // lynnepetre.com

When we decided to move to Pittsburgh, I was really looking forward to experiencing fall in the Midwest again: the vibrant leaves in reds, yellows, oranges; the chilly mornings and crisp afternoons; snuggling up under blankets.  (side discussion: Pittsburgh is Midwest or East Coast? I call it Midwest – we are less than an hour from Ohio and West Virginia – but people in Pittsburgh seem undecided; there are arguments for each side.)

Now, I don’t know if this fall is typical of Pittsburgh or not but it’s been exceptionally great fall weather this season. There have been some rainy days, some gray days, but many of the days have brought bright blue skies, warm afternoons and chilly evenings. It’s felt like quintessential fall and I definitely dig it.

Fall in the Midwest // lynnepetre.comOf course, when I went out the other weekend to hike and look at fall colors, it was not one of those blue skied days; a cold front was rolling in so it was gray and a little drizzly. But even still, the leaves popped and looked so beautiful.

Fall in the Midwest // lynnepetre.com Fall in the Midwest // lynnepetre.com

Fall in the Midwest // lynnepetre.com

This is certainly not to say fall in Denver was anything to gripe about – I loved it! But Denver has a very different fall in my experience. It’s not usually the slow decline from summer to winter…it’s a long summer that bleeds into a warm (sometimes hot!) fall that quickly jumps straight into frigid winter temps and then bounces around between warm and cold for a number of weeks before settling on winter.

And Denver just doesn’t have the same ratio of deciduous tress as the Midwest so there are far fewer opportunities to see the beautiful reds and oranges of fall. (Though, in the mountains, Aspen trees turn the mountain-sides a glittering gold that is absolutely stunning. #tradeoffs). Even compared to Cincinnati leaves, Pittsburgh colors trump. +1 for Western Pennsylvania!
Fall in the Midwest // lynnepetre.com

We may not stay in Pittsburgh forever but I am certainly glad we’ll be here for at least 2 years of fall weather.

Pittsburgh Hike: McConnell’s Mill State Park

Pittsburgh Hike: McConnell's Mill State Park // lynnepetre.com

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.comSince moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve been slow to explore much outside the city. With weekend visitors, school commitments, travel and settling in, it’s been hard to get out and check out our surroundings. And frankly, despite having a super long list of things I want to be sure to do, it felt intimidating to know where to start. (note to self: just START.) 

Living in Denver, I hit the trails at least once a week either by trail running, camping, hiking or climbing and, a couple of weeks ago, I realized just how much the lack of nature was affecting me and did something about it. Of course, the forecast called for rain all day long but I loaded up a small day pack and hit the road for McConnell’s Mill State Park, fingers crossed for a break in the drops.

As luck would have it, the rain eased into a light drizzle as I pulled into the parking lot and had completely dissipated as I locked up my Subaru to explore.

I’d done only a little bit of research before my trip; I knew the gristmill was a short hike from the parking lot and I knew there was climbing somewhere in the park. My goal was to find both.

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

A short hike from Johnson Road/McConnell’s Mill Road parking lot, the trail to the mill is a packed dirt trail with rock obstacles throughout and full of lush greenery alongside. It was really beautiful and hard to believe the colors around me. I forgot just HOW green the midwest is!

The hike is maybe 1/2 mile from the parking lot and is marked with a blue reflector. It’s a well worth path and easy to follow along the river.
Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com Because it was a rainy afternoon, I enjoyed a very quiet day on the trail and inside the mill. I poked around inside and around, snapping photos and reading the plaques inside before deciding to continue further up the trail. (Note: there is also a parking lot right at the mill so visitors who don’t want to or can’t hike are still able to visit the mill!)

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

I ventured up another 1/2 mile southwest on the trail, past the Kildoo Bridge and falls; the trail follows the river the majority of the length of the park and, while there were no kayakers while I was hiking, I know it’s an option and I plan to come back and kayak along the trail I hiked.

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com
Kildoo Bridge

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

I turned around and headed back towards the mill as darker clouds started rolling in above. I made it back to the parking just as the sky opened up and dropped big fat raindrops on my car, satisfied in my short afternoon jaunt in a Pennsylvania state park. While I didn’t see the climbing spots I’d hoped to scope out, I know exactly where to find them for the next trip out to McConnell’s Mill.

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

I drove back to Pittsburgh with a full heart; I’d found a small piece of what I’ve been missing so much in Pennsylvania. Trails and dirt; places to play outside. And over the coming weeks with no weekend plans, I’m penciling in a lot more park adventures to find beautiful vistas to view the fall colors. I can’t wait to see miles of reds, oranges and yellow; fall in the midwest can’t be beat.

IF YOU GO: 

Only 45 minutes away from Pittsburgh, this state park is an excellent choice for hiking, backpacking, camping and climbing. Hikes are available for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels of ability. The park is 2,500 acres and is situated next to a sister state park, Moraine State Park, that looks to have a beach(!).