Seriously!?!?

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OK, so as you know I have been ruminating like CRAZY about the Broad Street Run!  I am SOOOO excited but SOOOO nervous!  So, in my craziness, I have been checking the Active website like a madwomen in attempts to confirm my registration.  Well, as of yesterday, there was no Jessica Downes to be found.  Yes, I was bugging.  They even updated registrations this morning and I STILL couldn’t find my bib number!  So, like a freak, I called the person in charge at Students Run Philly Style, the charity I am running for.  She was not able to help me yet, as the Expo hadn’t even opened yet.  SO, I decided to just type in my last name (duh, why did I not think of this before?!!?) and look what I found!?!?!…

Downes Jessca Philadelphia PA 30823

YUP, there I am…JESSCA Downes.  Does anyone see anything missing?!?!?  Like say…an “I” in JessIca!??!? OY!  Well, “Jessca” is breathing a HUUUUUGE sigh of relief (punctuated by laughter of course).  AAAAANNNNNNNDDDDD…..did you see it is an ODD number?!?!  I know, I am SUCH a dork!  Anywhoooo moving on…

I have found a new party in my mouth yummy way to refuel- OH CLIFF WHITE CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT FLAVOR, where have you been my whole life?!?!?  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  Have you ever had this flavor?  HOLY YUM!

Yes, I DO take a lot of pics in my car...MAYBE while it's moving??? I know. Terrible.

OK, well HAPPY FRIDAY!  TOODLES!

A Visit From Two Friends (One old, One new)…

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OK, so they are inanimate objects, but nonetheless, friends to this runner!  Excuse the blurry picture, but here are the “friends” that came out to play yesterday!

OLD FRIEND…

THE TREADMILL! That's me popping out behind it-flash wasn't working well...

The weather here in Philly has been CRAZY!  Windy windy windy.  So, I needed to bring my final “longer run” inside.  Bummer, but interesting and different.  I definitely appreciate running in the great outdoors WAY more now that I was stuck inside for a day. I did 5 miles at about a ten minute pace.  The TM tends to bang on my shins badly so I took it easy in preparation for Sunday’s race!!!!

NEW FRIEND

THE FOAM ROLLER!

Well, this baby and I began quite the love affair friendship yesterday.  IN LOVE.  The foam roller allows you to self massage and get out any kinks or muscle soreness.  According to About.com,

Foam rollers offer many of the same benefits as a sports massage, without the big price tag. The foam roller not only stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. By using your own body weight and a cylindrical foam roller you can perform a self-massage or myofascial release, break up trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.

The latest issue of Runner’s World highlights to foam roller for use in runner training.  It had GREAT suggestions for exercizes/stretches to do with the foam roller to target specific muscle areas.  An explanation of some of those exercizes is here.  I used a roller at the gym but will be “running” (hehe) to my beloved Philadelphia Runner after work to get one of my own!

DO YOU USE A FOAM ROLLER?

Mental Vomit

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Help!  I am ruminating like CRAZY about this Sunday’s Broad Street Run!  As you may have read, I GET to run Broad Street this year for the charity Students Run Philly Style!  Remember, you can click here to donate ;-)

So now, to explain the title of this post…to be brief, I AM BUGGING OUT!   I need to “purge” this list of craziness that is running through my head…don’t judge!

- What if I can’t do it? I’ve never ran ten before…only 8 and that sucked.

-What if I get blisters, soreness, any other kind of running yuckiness?

-What if I have to go to the bathroom

-What if I can’t fuel properly?

-What if my bib number is EVEN?  I know-weird- I’ve only run TWO races but am CONVINCED that a lucky bib number is odd, as my others have been odd and I have had great experiences.

-What if I HATE it and want to turn down Pine street off of Broad and call it a day?

-What about the weather?

-What about packet pick-up.  I hope Students Run Philly Style have my confirmation by then (they did not as of today!)

-What if I embarrass myself?

-What if I get injured?

-What if I can’t run with my iPod (you arent supposed to but I seriously have NEVER run without it) and flip out

-AHHHHH what if I run out of what-ifs?!?!?

Help guys!  Talk me down…PLEASE!?!?!?

PS:  Husband just passed along this great article detailing how eating/drinking a slushie before a run can enhance performance- I want to believe it!  What do you think?  Click here.

I GET to blog today!

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Good Morning all!  Happy Monday!  Oy.  Living for weekends lately.  Anyway, I am ready to combat the Monday morning blues with this here post!  So Saturday I was getting a pedi and catching up on my reading…

LOOOVE me some Runner’s World Magazine!  Ian’s aunt and uncle got me a yearly subscription for my birthday- what an AMAZING present-LOVE IT!  Anywhooo, I was reading and was intrigued by most of the articles in there, espcially one in particular that I wanted to “blog” about. 

The article was entitled “Feeling Lucky” by Kristin Armstrong that discussed viewing runs (and everyday life) as opportunities and how the power of positive thinking can really change your life. 

(Source)

Running Motivation

FEELING LUCKY?

If you view your run as an opportunity, your attitude will get an adjustment.

By Kristin Armstrong

Image by Huan Tran
From the May 2010 issue of Runner’s World

I don’t know about you, but my to-do list often rivals the length of my Target receipt. I have activities mapped out from the time my alarm sounds: Down coffee, run, pack lunches, herd kids to school, walk the dog, write and be creative on command, drink more coffee, squeeze in yoga?, prep dinner, drive kids to activities, return to nest, cook, help with homework, eat, wash dishes, oversee hygiene, read stories, give tickles, say prayers, collapse (them, me). Repeat.

When I have a race on the calendar, I sprinkle in long runs and speedwork. By then my to-do list starts to look like a complicated recipe, my day broken down into cups, cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons. Sometimes I can feel the weight of my responsibilities pressing down on me, the way the X-ray apron rests heavy on my chest at the dentist.

I felt this way during a recent hard workout. I was chugging up a hill saying to myself, I have to get up this hill. I have to finish this workout. And then all of a sudden, a few people came to mind, some sick, others struggling, and I thought about how much they would love to have the opportunity to tackle this hill. I bet they wouldn’t think they had to. In the clarity of thinking that comes with adversity, they would likely say they got to run up this hill. I wondered what might happen if I started to think that way.

I decided to try it. Instead of thinking or saying, I have to finish this project or I have to pick up my kids, I stopped myself and tweaked my language: I get to work on this assignment. I get to pick up my children from school. I get to help them with homework. I get to buy groceries and make dinner for my family. I get to do speedwork. I get to take Luke to football practice. I get to go on a long run. I get to bring cupcakes up to Grace’s class. I get to fold clean clothes for my children. I get to listen to Bella sing in choir. I get to run this 5-K, 10-K, half-marathon, marathon…

At first it felt forced and silly, but after a few days, it became natural. I felt freer, more thoughtful, and more aware of why I do what I do. Perhaps I had become so encumbered with my to-dos that I forgot to be thankful for the opportunity to do them. I realized that it’s possible to have a reawakening about the beauty in our lives, to understand that we are so damn lucky to be healthy, to have people to love and the ability to care for them.

Since then, I’ve shared the idea and gotten inspiring feedback. A friend told me she felt more joy while taking care of her kids. Another told me her running group spoke in I get to language for an entire run. A woman and her friends wore “I Get To Run” T-shirts on race day. A woman running the Turkey Trot in Santa Barbara on Thanksgiving morning came up to me and said, “What a beautiful day. Aren’t we lucky we get to run?”

Gratitude is contagious. It’s the smallest thing, but it has the power of something big. It’s a shift in perspective that can open your head and your heart. And if you want, you get to try it.

I loved this article and thought it was quite inspiring.  So, I started with this little mantra this morning as I got into my car to begin my hour long torture drive into work.  Instead of saying “OMG I cannot believe I have to go to work today,” I said to myself, “OMG I cannot believe I GET to work today.”  And it is true. I am lucky to be able to go to work today on account of several reasons, ranging from “I’m healthy” to “I have a job.”  I think that if we can all change our way of thinking in this little manner, it will do us a large world of good.  Do you agree?

What do you GET to do today!?!??

First Anniversary!

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So, today is Ian’s and my first anniversary (real one at least).  We got married a year ago today in a lovely Judge’s chamber right across the river in Camden, New Jersey.

That night was our rehearsal dinner.

It was the day after that, the 25th, that we had our ceremony and reception with our extended family and friends.

It was amazing.

We took a “mini moon” to Miami, Florida that weekend, and stayed at the wonderful Icon Brickell’s Viceroy.

spaview.jpg

(Source)

We later took our real honeymoon to Hawaii.

With a stop over in Oregon for Seamus and Kasia’s wedding.

232323232fp53669>nu=325;>438>56->WSNRCG=32-6<98;7232<nu0mrj.jpg

So, overall, it has been a great year.

Last night, Ian planned a lovely evening for our anniversary, and this evening, I planned a few little things for him! ;-)

I made up a Jeopardy game about our “us” since he is amazing at Jeopardy!  It was too fun!

Then I took him to his favorite restaurant in Philly, Tequilas.

Handsome date!

Dinner was delish!  After inhaling having some homemade tortilla chips with melted cheese (holy yum)

I was not sooo hungry for my meal, but it was VERY good!  It was grouper crusted with sunflower seeds grilled on top of sea scallops and topped with calamari stuff with lobster/crab meat!  Holy YUM!

The best was yet to come when we returned home and dug into our cake!  I had the top layer of our wedding cake recreated to celebrate this special occasion (and we left our actual top layer at the venue-oops!)…  Actual cake:

Top layer re-creation:

YUM! The inside is vanilla cake and lemon filling!

Anyway we had a WONDERFUL anniversary, and I truly believe, as they say…the best is yet to come!

xoxo

I PULLED THE TRIGGER!

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I know it sounds bad…but it is a GOOD THING!  I just signed up to run Broad Street with Students Run Philly Style!  YAY!  Although registration was closed to the public (capped at 30,000) I was able to sign up last minute to run with this wonderful charity!  From their site

Students Run Philly Style is tackling childhood obesity, low graduation rates & youth violence with a unique combination of long distance running & mentorship.  Youth in this program train alongside adult mentors for nine months in order to complete a marathon or half marathon.  As mentor and student take on the challenge of a 26.2 mile race together they discover the strength and potential of both their body and mind.  To date, Students Run has served over 1200 youth.

 The statistics for youth in Philadelphia are alarming.  Over 50% of children are obese or at risk for becoming so and almost half of high school students do not graduate in four years.  

I truly believe in what Students Run is doing to provide a brighter future for Philadelphia’s youth.  I hope you will join me in supporting their mission.

If you are interested in finding out more or donating (every little bit helps) :-)  Please click here.

THANK YOU!!!!

It’s a Blogger’s World!

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Good morning everyone!  Sorry I have been inconsistent with posting lately…I am waiting for life to present a lull where I will be able to get things done!  Anywhoooo happy Thursday!  So…here are a few things I have been up to lately…

Tuesday night I was lucky enough to be involved in a Philly Phoodie meet up at Garces Trading Company  organized by Sabrina and Leslie-thanks girls, by the way!  I can also thank them for their great recaps here and here.  It was a blast!  All of the girls were so nice and I cannot wait to meet up with them again!  Garces was really delish but I think I did not order enough as I left still hangry (which was not helped by the fact that Oscar decided to get sick while I was gone so Mama had to rush home)…

Nom Nom Nom- amazing bread and oil...I DEFINITELY judge a restaurant by its bread basket :-)

Delicious endive salad ordered for my entree although I should have done it as an app! I was hangggry!

Because really...what's a good meal without a Diet Coke?!?!?

Ok, sorry for the brief recap…moving onto other things I have been doing…

Rewind to Monday…Sabrina KINDLY agreed to try a Zumba class with me at the Club. Shout out to Eamon who helped me get her in :-)!  Anyway, I have to say that it takes a lot of nerve to meet someone and take a Zumba class because if you are uncoordinated like me then it can really be…mortifying!  Haha!  BUT, Sabrina was so nice and we had a great time.  I even got her this hilarious card, that I must showcase on the blog, to thank her!

So funny! And so true????

I have to thank Sabrina as well for giving me a brussel sprout tutorial after I burnt my batch to a crisp the other night.  Thanks to her I was left with these yummy babies!

YUM! Great success!

I used Trader Joe’s ground chicken patties for the protein portion of the meal (and put Husband’s on a Rosemary roll from Whole Foods-he swears he’s into rosemary right now-we shall see how long that lasts) and added squash to mine, rice to his.

His and Her plates- can you guess which is which?

 SO…question- What was your biggest kitchen disaster?  DO tell!  Don’t be shy!  I guarantee mine have been worse!

Chaturanga Challenge

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Alright, bloggies!!!  Who’s in?!?!  I’m starting a CHATURANGA CHALLENGE.  In examining my arms in my tank top last night, I decided it was time for a chaturanga interevention.  Who wants to join?!?!  For those of you unaware, Chaturanga is the torturous amazing yoga sequence…

From Yoga Journal.com,

(chaht-tour-ANG-ah don-DAHS-anna)
chaturanga = four limbs (chatur = four
anga = limb)
danda = staff (refers to the spine, the central “staff” or support of the body)

Step by Step

Perform Adho Mukha Svanasana, (Downward dog) then Plank Pose. Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and press your tailbone toward your pubis.

With an exhalation slowly lower your torso and legs to a few inches above and parallel to the floor. There’s a tendency in this pose for the lower back to sway toward the floor and the tailbone to poke up toward the ceiling. Throughout your stay in this position, keep the tailbone firmly in place and the legs very active and turned slightly inward. Draw the pubis toward the navel.

Keep the space between the shoulder blades broad. Don’t let the elbows splay out to the sides; hold them in by the sides of the torso and push them back toward the heels. Press the bases of the index fingers firmly to the floor. Lift the top of the sternum and your head to look forward.

Chaturanga Dandasana is one of the positions in the Sun Salutation sequence. You can also practice this pose individually for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. Release with an exhalation. Either lay yourself lightly down onto the floor or push strongly back to Adho Mukha Svanasana, lifting through the top thighs and the tailbone.

HERE’S A PICTORIAL STEP-BY-STEP…

1.  Downdog

2.  Plank

plank

3.  Chaturanga Dandasana

chaturanga

4.  Updog

HP_209_UpDog_248.jpg

5.  Flip your toes and back into down dog

OK, now…who wants to try it with me?!?!?  I vow to do ten chaturangas a day until the end of May (because it rhymes LOL kidding).  But really, I will do ten chaturangas a day in hopes of increasing my core and upper body strength for at least a MONTH.  I am not doing before and after pictures for fear of obsessing over the visual aspect of this “challenge.”  :-)  Who’s in?!?!?

SOOOOO AWESOME!

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Well blog world, I think this weekend was simply the best, and I think I was duped!  Husband did it…he surprised me BIG TIME!  This weekend was AMAZING.  Now, let’s get down to the recap!

Happy girl!

Friday night Husband and I carb-loaded for our race :-)  (the best part, right?!?!?) with Veggie/Tofu Pad Thai, which Sabrina had me craving like crazy. It really hit the spot!  My favorite Pad Thai restaurant in Philly is Pad Thai :-)  Easy enough, right?  Looks sooo yum on Sabrina’s site!

(PS: I’m going to see if she will make it for me one day hehe)

So, Saturday, all carbed-up and ready to go, we headed over to Fairmount Park for the Gener8tion Run 8K Race

My pre-race getting ready dance-SILLY GIRL!

It was sponsored by Students Run Philly Style that encourages youth to get out there and exercize! 

The event was wonderful and it was the second race for me and the first for Husband!  He had only run 4 miles before (and on the treadmill) but this was an 8K race (4.9 miles) so he was totally nervous-it was cute!  Well, we did a GREAT job and crossed the finish line holding hands (well, he kinda let me sprint ahead so I could “beat him” hehe)…

Look at my race results!

80 15/82 Jessica Downes F 30 Philadelphia PA 43:25 8:45

And Husband’s…

Most Handsome racer there (ever)!

186 30/54 Ian Downes M 34 Philadelphia PA 43:26 8:45

There were some really cute animals on display as well that perplexed interested Oscar…

After the race, we headed home to shower and go to “dinner.”  It was pretty late in the afternoon as the race began at 3 pm (strange starting time, no?)You see, I knew that we were planning to go to dinner with Husband’s parents and my parents for my birthday-30 IS a big deal, but what I did NOT know awaited me in a private room at XIX!  O.M.G. was I super surprised!  Husband invited all of my family and friends from all over to a dinner party in the Wine Hall.  In all honesty, I was sorta tipped off when I saw very good friend Kelly’s father in the lobby of the Bellevue!  And so the subsequent elevator ride up to the nineteenth floor (hence the restaurant name, XIX) seemed like it took FOREVER!  OK, let’s let the pictures do the talking…

Needless to say, I was SHOCKED!

Look at that face...priceless!

Beautiful flower centerpieces made by Mom

Customized pretty menus!

Raw bar apps YUMMMM

YUMMY awesome cake from the Night Kitchen Bakery in Chestnut Hill-SWEEET!

Sign-In Photo Book that got the tears flowing BIG TIME!

Dad and I :-)

Party table!

Dad, Sissy and I

 

My girls- Stephie, Myself, Kristin and Kelly

Ian's cousin Justin-HE'S SINGLE, LADIES :-), Sara, Eamon and Ian

BROTHERS: Dad and Uncle Allen

Dad-In-Law among the slew of toasts!

Gerallyn (mom of Justin) and Greg

Mr. (surprise spoiler-I KIIIIID) and Mrs. Labowitz

Aunt Susie (mom's sister), Sandy (Sam's wife) and Uncle Sam (mom's brother)

And one more time because it’s priceless…

What can I say? It was divine, amazing, wonderful, unforgettable.  I feel truly blessed…the luckiest 30 year old girl ever! THANK YOU EVERYONE!

xoxo

Is this Really MY LIFE? I am so blessed.

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WOW.  That is all I can say.  Yesterday was seriously THE best birthday I have EVER had.  I say this because I wake up today feeling SO loved, so grateful and so blessed.  OK, without further ado, moving on to the rest of the “birthday recap!”

At lunch time, my mom called my cell phone (which is strange because she knows I am at work) and then texted me to “open the side door.”  I was shocked to find she was surprise visiting me on my birthday, complete with more balloons, yummy cupcakes for my kids, and my favorite-a cookie cake (which we promptly dug into).  It was SUCH an awesome surprise!  I couldn’t imagine not seeing my mum on my birthday!

Sorry-took picture AFTER attacking it!

It was such a great surprise!  LOVED it!  I was also surprised by beautiful flowers from my Dad!

I really had SUCH a wonderful day-thank you to everyone who made it special :-) 

I was able to fit in a great run; a nice 5-mile river run (45:58) in preparation for Saturday’s race.  It was lovely!  I then “raced” home to get ready for the Phillies game-I thought we had tickets last night included in our season ticket plan.  Well, boy did I have some MORE surprises in store for me!  As we were leaving, HuI ran up to the computer room to check something on my (beat up) laptop and instead found a NEW MAC PRO BOOK waiting for me!!!!! OMG wootwoot!  SOOOOO excited! I can’t wait to open it and give ya’ll a full review!  I was psyched but we were late so we rushed out and got on our merry way.  When we got to the stadium, Husband was fooling a bit; stopping at maps and pretending like he didn’t know where we were going.  I knew something was up becuase we were LATE and he would not normally dilly-dally like this and he knows Citizens Bank Park like the back of his mitt hand!  So eventually, the cat gets out of the bag that we are sitting in the Diamond Club for the night and that our plan doesn’t even include the night’s game- boy was I tricked!  IT was aaaaawwwweeeesome!  Take a look inside the swanky lounge area…UNREAL!

Private dining

Mr. Amazing!

The food options were numerous and unique!  Yummm!  We hooked ourselves up with a little appetizer action, as you can order from your seat as well (how awesome!).

Soft pretzle, chicken caesar salad, diet Coke

And then the game began!  It certainly was no pitchers duel with the bats going like crazy!  The Phils ended up winning 14-7!  Yay!  Check out these pics from our ridiculous (8th row!!!) seats…

UNREAL.  I seriously kept saying, “oh my God, oh my God.”  Then came the 4th inning where they list the special events on the big score board and look who was up there…..(see the 4th name down!!!!)

It was soooo cool!  I got a hat too for being on the board!  SO awesome.  As IF the night couldn’t get any better, I decided to get some vanilla soft serve and LOOK what was awaiting me…

Topping heaven! Sprinkles, caramel and hot fudge all self-serve! A DREAM!

OH BOY, what a night!!!!  This picture pretty much sums it up:

 

So in a perfect way to end the day, when we got home Husband had ONE more hilarious suprise waiting for me!  As you know, we LOVE cookie cakes…

(EXHIBIT A)

 Well, check THIS baby out…

Hilarious! Funniest mistake ever!

Husband said he had a feelinig they would mess it up and that when he saw it, he KNEW he had to bring it home and I am SOOO glad he did-TOO FUNNY! 

WHAT AN AMAZING DAY.

xoxo