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Half Marathon Training Plan for Beginners

I've talked a little about my struggle with health and fitness on the blog, here and here. In the past few months I've been working on making my health a priority (lets face it, I'm not getting any younger) and focusing on getting in more exercise. 

When my sister mentioned she was going to sign up for the Disney Avengers Half Marathon in November, I jumped at the chance to join her. We ran our first 1/2 Marathon together back in 2010 and it was so helpful having someone to train with and especially to keep each other motivated during the race whenever one of us was struggling. 

I knew this was exactly what I needed to stay motivated with exercise. Plus, I hope it will be something fun that my sister and I can do together and bring us closer. And as it turns out, our cousin and friend will be joining us as well! So in addition to helping me stay motivated to exercise regularly, it's going to be a family weekend in Disneyland! 

Since I hadn't been running regularly prior to signing up for this race, I wanted to plan a beginners training guide. I looked around and found a few 12 week training programs that seemed doable and used those as a guide to make my own training plan. Since it's only a 12 week guide, I technically don't need to start until August. My plan until then is to get in at least 3 runs each week. So that by the time I start my 12 week training guide, I am able to easily run 4 miles at a 9 minute mile pace. I can always adjust my training plan come August if I feel I need to get in more mileage. But for now, this feels like a comfortable starting point. I will also be incorporating cross training (XT) because I've read that is very important for race training. 

So far, I've been running 3 miles a few times a week. I'm pretty slow, between 10 and 11 minute miles, but have already seen improvement in my time. My last 1/2 marathon I completed in 2 hours and 12 minutes, so I really want to beat that time. I know that if I focus on the training and fueling my body during the next few months, I can do it! 

Of course, another aspect I'm excited about is dressing up for the race! Since my nephew loves superheros, I am excited to run in costume on race day. Any ideas for what to wear? I think Superman or Batman would be classic and fun. But I also love the idea of Captain America so I could wear my best red, white & blue gear! Any fun costume ideas for me?

If you have any tips for training for a half marathon I'd love to hear them. It's been 6 years since my last race, so I am definitely rusty. I will keep you up to date on how my training is going and be sure to share a recap afterwards! 

You can see my training guide below, I made a fun graphic too in case you want to pin it for future reference! 


Front Porch Makeover Before & Inspo

As I mentioned in this post, we've been slowly working on updating our apartment to be a true reflection of our style. I was recently listening to the new Chris Loves Julia podcast, and Julia recommended when you're starting to redecorate your home, start small. Focus on small rooms that don't need major improvements. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and make the whole process seem less overwhelming. Perfect advice for someone like me. I tend to put a lot on my plate which leaves me feeling overwhelmed. This way, I can focus on small areas that need attention, taking things step by step to create the space I envision. The entryway is almost finished, I'm just waiting on one last piece, so I can already feel that sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a room. I've decided to stick with the small spaces that I can finish quickly to keep up the momentum.

The next area up for a makeover is our front porch. We live in an flat here in San Francisco on the first level above the garage. There is another apartment above ours, so we have a large landing by our front door where the stairs continue up to our neighbor. It's a pretty large area with room for plants and possibly some seating. I don't want to go overboard, but I do want to add a little personality to the space so it's a warm welcome for us and our guests. 

I've included a few pictures of the spaces that have inspired my design as well as what the space looks like now. Hopefully in the next month or so I'll be able to share the finished space! 

What do you think of my inspiration? Any tips for places to shop with affordable outdoor decor pieces?

You can also follow me on Pinterest for more design inspiration! 


Summer Memories Out On The Boat

I've recently been going through old photos, trying to organize both my printed and digital pictures. It's overwhelming! But I know I will be so thankful to have everything organized and in scrapbooks that we can enjoy for years to come.

As I was looking through pictures I came across a bunch from the many summers out on the boat back home in the foothills. Throughout high school and even during the summer in college and years following I used to spend a lot of time out on the boat with friends and family. They are some of my best memories. Andrew and I would love to have a boat of our own someday.

Something about the early days of summer makes me want to turn up the country music and spend time out on the lake. Sadly, San Francisco isn't exactly one to show off in the summer. It's usually gloomy and cold with a blanket of grey fog. Andrew and I have started escaping the city on weekends during summer months so we can get a little taste of sunshine. Seeing these photos made me want to try and spend as much time out on the lake as we can this coming summer! Luckily, my sister and brother in law have a boat, and are actually members of the boat club at Lake Clementine up in Auburn. We went with them one weekend a few summers ago, so hopefully we'll get the invite again!

I thought it would be fun to share a peek at some of my favorite photos I uncovered from the many afternoons spent out on the boat!

* the picture on the inner-tube we were anchored in a cove, so life jackets weren't necessary.

It's funny how life ebbs and flows, there are different seasons when some things are a huge part of our lives, and then somehow it becomes less a part of it. It's interesting looking back, how not that long ago I spent countless hours out on the boat. I would rush home after work to meet friends and get a few hours of boating and wakeboarding in. And now, I think it has been nearly 3 years since the last time I was wakeboarding! I suppose a lot of that has to do with my move to San Francisco. But I do miss it! There is something about being out on the water that is good for the soul. I especially love the evenings out on the boat after a hot day. Hopefully this year we'll make it out to the lake at least one time!

In addition to going out on my sisters boat, we were talking with our friends recently about planning a day to go boating here in San Francisco. You can rent sail boats and spend the day in the bay, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge, then end the day in McCovey Cove for a Giants game! On a warm day in San Francisco, it would be incredible! We tend to have Indian Summers here in the city, so hopefully we'll make that happen in a few months! Who knows, maybe we'll even plan another sailing trip like we did back in 2011!

All this got me thinking about the many reasons I love boating. Because really, what's not to love?!

Spending Time with Friends & Family // There is nothing like spending an afternoon in the sunshine with your friends and family. Some of my best memories are summer days out on the boat! 

The Great Outdoors // during the summer, it's especially nice to spend time outside. For those of us that are cooped up inside all week at the office, it's so nice to kick up your feet an relax on the water during the weekend. 

Wakeboarding // one of my favorite things about boating are the water sports! I learned to wakeboard back in high school and it's still something I really enjoy. 

Wake Surfing // this is another fun boating activity, one I have yet to master. Andrew is a natural, and loves wake surfing but I still have to hold on to the rope or I can't stay up more than a few minutes. 

Travel // it's so fun to travel and see new places. There are so many amazing places to go boating. I am lucky to have grown up so close to a number of beautiful lakes including Lake Tahoe. But I think it would be so fun to rent a big house on a lake somewhere with friends or family and rent a boat to use while you're there. We've talked about doing this with Andrew's family and I think we should make it happen! 

Swimming & Exercise // not only is it fun and relaxing to be out on the water, swimming is also great exercise. And water sports like wakeboarding are also a good workout, I'm always so sore after the first time I wakeboard each season. 

SUP // stand up paddle boarding is another fun activity for a day on the lake. My cousins have a boat they often take to Lake Tahoe in the summer and we usually take turns going out on the boat and using the SUP in coves along the lake shore. 

Tradition // another thing I love about boating is the family time and tradition that you can create. My sister and brother in law are members of a boat club and each summer they do a camping trip with everyone for a beach clean up. The families that go have been a part of the lake community for generations. They have built friendships to last a lifetime, and the memories for both my nephews growing up with summers at the lake is priceless. 

Camping // some of my favorite memories at the lake have been camping trips. As I mentioned above, going with my sister on the boat club annual trips. As well as a few weekends with friends. If you ask me, boating and camping is the perfect marriage of summer activities! 

FUN // of course, the best thing about boating is it's just so fun. There are so many beautiful places to see. A different types of boating activities for everyone. 

Do you spend time boating in the summer? Do you prefer boating in the ocean or a lake?

** A special thanks to Discover Boating for sponsoring this post. As always, the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.  


Wedding Wednesday: Things to Consider When Choosing A Venue

Of course the first thing you'll need to consider is the budget. Does the venue match what you're hoping to spend on a venue? Think about what is included and be sure to keep in mind additional costs. As I mentioned last week, I absolutely loved the barn we toured but it was slightly more than we hoped to spend. And when we considered the additional costs that would come with choosing that venue, we ultimately decided it was out of our budget.
Another important thing to consider is the location of your venue. Does it require any special form of transportation? Part of the reason we decided against the barn venue was because it was quite a long drive from the town our wedding guests would be staying in. This meant that we would have to arrange for a bus or shuttles to transport them from hotels. Because of the additional cost and coordination, we decided against it. If the location is somewhere that most guests will likely drive to, it's also important to ask about parking. Depending on the size of your wedding, you may need parking attendants.

I would suggest working on a guest list before you start looking at wedding venues. It would be tragic to find the venue of your dreams, only to discover they are unable to accommodate the size of your guest list. We knew we wanted to invite about 150 people to our wedding, which was the maximum for our venue. It was so hard narrowing down our guest list to make sure we stayed under than 150 mark. In hindsight, I would have invited more than 150 people, because of course not everyone can come. Even those who RSVP yes, often don't make it for unforeseen circumstances.
This is another big one that can impact your venue budget. We were lucky to find a place that included the tables and chairs for both the ceremony and reception. This was important to us because we didn't want anyone to have to worry about moving chairs between the ceremony and reception. (This would have been an issue at another venue we toured). In the beginning, I had planned to use their tables, but rent chairs that were more in line with my style. However, as we got further along in the planning process, we realized how much chair rentals would add to the overall venue cost, and had to eliminate them. I was so disappointed at first, but now I realize no one really notices the type of chairs you have. Other additional costs to remember are linens, glassware, utensils (unless your caterer provides them) furniture, decor, etc. All these little things add up.
If you have specific vendors you hope to use for Catering, DJ or Photography it's important to find out if the venue you choose has any restrictions on that. Often times, they will only allow you to use their "preferred vendors" which can limit your options. It's also worth asking if they allow you to bring your own alcohol. This can be a huge money saver and was part of the reason we chose our venue. They didn't have restrictions on alcohol so we were able to get kegs from a local brewery and source our own wine at Costco and BevMo. We were able to save a substantial amount of money because of this. And our caterer was included a bar tender with her staff, so we didn't have to worry about serving either.

Think about the overall theme you want for your wedding day. Are you going for a rustic and vintage feel? If so, a barn or outdoor venue may be perfect for you. Are you wanting a glamorous wedding? A classic hotel ballroom may suit your needs. For us, we wanted to create a romantic and classic day to share with family and friends. We both knew we wanted to get married outside, and the landscaping at Gold Hill Gardens sold us. It was beautifully maintained and with only a few personalized signs and decor items, we were able to create a romantic garden wedding.
Another important thing to remember is privacy and noise. This was important to us because we wanted a intimate wedding with our family and friends. One venue we toured was near a busy highway and a few motorcycles drove by when we were there. I wouldn't have thought about noise if that didn't happen so I'm glad it did. It would have been so distracting during the ceremony and of course it is something totally out of your control. The venue we chose was in a rural area, set back from the road on the property. There was no car noise and no risk of people "crashing" the wedding (although someone did)!  If your ceremony & reception is indoors, noise may not be a concern. But privacy is something to consider.

One thing we knew right away is that we wanted to have both the ceremony and reception at the same location. We didn't want our guests to worry about driving to another location, and that way we could have a cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception while we finished family photos. We only toured venues that could accommodate our wishes, which I think was beneficial. I'd recommend deciding beforehand what your venue needs are. This way, you don't waste time touring locations that ultimately won't work for you.
Since our ceremony and reception were at the same location, it was important the there was good flow between each area. This was something that our venue really knocked out of the park. Their landscaping is done so well, including pathways connecting each area. With the signs, it was easy to for guests to determine the ceremony location when they arrived. And there was a path that went from the ceremony site down to the cocktail reception and bar area. It was great because the cocktail party and bar area was lower than the ceremony site and reception tables and dance floor, so it felt like a completely different space. Almost like individual rooms. If both your ceremony and reception are at the same location, it would be helpful to have separate spaces like this.

We were having an outdoor only wedding, and took a risk by not having any sort of "plan B" because our venue didn't have any indoor space. They could however accommodate a large tent, so if the forecast changed to include rain, we would have been able to rent a tent and make do. Thankfully, the weather in our area is pretty reliable and we knew rain wouldn't be an issue. However, September can be HOT so that was a concern. Because of the heat, we made sure to ask about where the sun would be during our reception time, and if there were shady spots for the ceremony. As it turned out, the forecast was predicting temperatures over 100* on our wedding day. To say I panicked was an understatement. My sweet friend bought fans that we placed by the beverages at the ceremony site. That way guests could fan themselves during the ceremony. The cocktail area was shaded and near the pool which helped keep it cool. And thankfully, the venue set up sun umbrellas over the dinner tables that were quickly removed once the sun went down. I never even saw it happen! Thankfully, it only ended up being in the upper 80's and low 90's on our wedding day! If you're getting married in the spring or fall, when there is a chance of rain, it's important to ask what options the venue offers if that were to happen. Or, if you have a situation like we did where heat could be a factor, try to think of solutions to make your guests more comfortable.

Something I didn't think to ask about was outlets and access to electricity. This is especially important for the DJ and microphones during the ceremony. Our venue had two ceremony sites, I originally wanted to have the ceremony near an old oak tree, but there was no electricity available for the DJ. This was obviously really important both for our music, but it's such a bummer to be at a wedding when can't hear the ceremony. You'll also want to ask about where the DJ or band can set up and if there is enough power for their equipment.
With an outdoor wedding like ours, it's important to consider lighting. One of my favorite things about our reception area were the cafe lights. It created the romantic feel I was hoping for, and was just enough light for dinner. As it got darker, the DJ also had lighting for the dance floor so it never felt too dark. The venue also had the bar area and pathways lit very well, which made it easier for guests to get around. If you are planning to get married outdoors at a private residence or park, you may want to consider renting lights. And keep in mind the added cost this would incur.

I hope you find these tips helpful! I feel like I went in to our venue tours blind, without really knowing what questions to ask. Thankfully, most places are prepared and offer almost all the information you need on their own. But of course, some things are specific to each couple. Making sure you address all these items before signing on the dotted line and putting a deposit down on your venue can save you a lot of money on rentals in the long run. It's amazing how many little things come up, which ultimately affects the bottom line. 

I hope you enjoyed this installment of Wedding Wednesday! I'd love to hear your input and experiences finding the right wedding venue!  


Clement Nursery

Andrew and I have been wanting to get a few plants for our house. Of course a fiddle fig was at the top of our list, but we hadn't purchased one yet. Then a few weeks ago we went to see our friends new house, and they had so many plants. It really makes the space feel complete and more lived in or cozy. So we decided right then, it was time to bring some life into our house and buy some plants!

We were finally home this past weekend so we decided to head down to the Clement Nursery our friends suggested. It was such a fun and eclectic place. They had a wide variety of plants and the sales people were very helpful. As you know, I'm working on giving our entryway a little makeover, and had wanted to get a snake plant for that space. But of course, I know nothing about plants and how to care for them so I was a bit worried. I didn't want to spend money on a plant only to have it die a few weeks later. Lucky for me, they told me snake plants are nicknamed "mother-in-law's tongue" because you can't get rid of them. (For the record my mother in law is amazing)! They can live in bright sun, low light and need hardly any water. In fact, they told me not to water it more than once a month for the size we purchased. Perfect for my inexperienced ways. I was sold! Another interesting fact they told us was that it's one of the only plants that produce oxygen at night, so it's beneficial to keep in the bedroom to purify air while you're sleeping.

Although we looked at a few other plants, we only came home with one for now. We figured we should wait to be sure of what we want, and where we want to keep it, before we buy another.

Do you have houseplants? The only other plant we have is a type of cactus or succulent my colleague gave me, which I love. It can go months without water and has grown about a foot in the past two years. Hopefully our new little snake plant thrives as well.

Do you have any suggestions for houseplants that can be in direct sunlight? I want something for the living room but it gets a lot of afternoon sunlight so I want to make sure that I find one that will do well in that environment.

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