Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A World with Octobers

In the book, Anne of Green Gables, Anne Shirley exclaims, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." Not only do I love these novels and movies, but I also could not agree more with this memorable quote.

There is something special about October. The changing colors...the cooler weather...the pumpkin patches...the falling leaves....I love it all! At times, it is almost difficult to feel forlorn or frustrated when you look outside and see the beautiful trees overflowing with orange, rusty reds, and yellows.

At the beginning of the month, I walked around and took some pictures along the trail that is located next to my apartment complex here in Illinois. It had been a rainy, gloomy morning and so the scenes weren't as bright as the typical fall scene. Here are some of the scenes I captured.

In contrast, my roommate and I went for a walk and captured more recent fall photos this past weekend. This time, there were more warm colors. We also ventured on to our campus to explore. When I did my undergraduate studies in South Dakota, I swear I knew every crevice of that campus. However, as a graduate student, I really only have classes in one building, so I am less familiar with the campus layout. That beautiful fall afternoon was the perfect day to explore.

Taylor Swift Keds in honor of her new album release..
Yup, I'm a die hard fan :)

Struggling to self-time our "Leaf tossing" picture
Monkeyin' around

The other morning, my daily devotional read: "Lie down in green pastures of peace. Learn to unwind whenever possible, resting in the presence of your Shepherd." With the business of our daily life, it is easy to become discouraged and view the world around us in a negative light. However, it is in those moments where we take a step away from the craziness of our schedules and social media, and find time to soak in the world around us that we appreciate the beauty of this life. 

Happy last couple days of October!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

That One Time I Ran 13.1 Miles...

Nearly a month ago, I did this spontaneous thing where I committed to running a half-marathon. Normally, when people make the decision to run a half-marathon, they allow at least a couple of months of training to gear up for 13.1 miles of running. 

What did I do? 

I signed up a week before the race. 

In my defense, I do run almost every single day and have been on a few 10+ runs over the course of the past couple months, so it is not quite as far fetched of an idea as it probably sounds. 

On September 27, I woke up at the crack of dawn in order to be at the starting line in plenty of time to stretch and warm-up before the gun was fired at 7am. 

It was a beautiful morning and I was greeted by a breathtaking sunrise. (The picture from my phone does it no justice)

Since my most dedicated fans (aka mom and dad) were not able to make the trip to Illinois to cheer for me, I wrote some words on my hands to help encourage myself throughout the race.

The picture was taken post-race, so it is a little smeared from my excessive sweating

My dad always says "Get moving, Amanda!" when I race. I specifically remember a time where I was not thrilled about hearing it during an 8th grade 800-meter race. Now it gives me a little burst of energy during races.

Meanwhile, while I was running, three of my friends came to support me and were in control of my camera. As you can see below, they struggled a little to find the race route. 

Also, I just need to give a little shout out to Carly (pictured below, canoodling with the police officer.) Did you know that she is the world's fastest nacho server? (Inside joke...don't question these things!)

The first 5-miles of the race were wonderful. I felt strong and was even among the top females overall. However, the second half of the race, I slowly felt more and more fatigued. For the first time in my life, I had to walk for a brief amount of time in my race. Even though I was disappointed in myself for stopping, I also realized that since I hadn't trained as much as a person should, I couldn't have too high of expectations for myself. 

Way more tired mid-way through the race than I had anticipated.
 Finally seeing the finish line was the best feeling in the world! As you can see, I am quite the sweater. I wish I could blame it on the 13.1 miles, but I always sweat that badly when exercising. I'm quite ladylike. 

Did you ever see such an attractive facial expression?!?
13.1 miles will do that to a person!

I ended up finishing 5th in my age division with a time of 1:48:55. I was so worried that the second half of the race would kill my time, but I ended up achieving my goal of obtaining a time within the 1:40's. If I decide to run another, I am hoping that more training will help me shave off a few more minutes and finish stronger.

Also, a HUGE thank you to my friends Abby, Carly, and Des for coming and cheering for me. I don't know how I would have survived without these girls yelling things like "You got this sista!" or "Way to go, ya little beast!" They are truly the best, because I can't imagine how boring it must have been to stand around at 7am on a Saturday morning and watch people run for a couple of hours. Dedicated friends right there!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Exploring Indianapolis

Once upon a time, two girls graduated from South Dakota State University and then parted ways to cruise off to graduate school. It just so happened that these two young women would only be three hours apart. Oh wait...this isn't a fairy tale, this is what happened to my friend, Paige, and I! This past weekend, I packed my bags and ventured out of the confines of Illinois to visit Paige in Indianapolis.

It was quite refreshing to see a familiar face from back home without having to trek back to South Dakota. On Friday, we caught up over cups of steaming coffee (or iced coffee in Paige's case) on the IUPUI campus, where Paige is attending school. I can't say that we accomplished much in the realm of school work during our coffee date, but laughter and good conversation were prioritized. 

After resting up, we explored Indianapolis on Saturday. A couple of years ago, I flew to Indianapolis to assist with the Association of Lutheran Development Executives national conference, which was held downtown Indy. However, my trip was quick and I wasn't able to wander around the city. This time around, Paige and I both played "tourist." Our first stop was the Indianapolis Museum of Art. While we didn't tour the museum, we did take advantage of the decent fall weather after a few days of rain and gray skies. Adjacent to the museum is the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park or as most people call it: 100 acres. We grabbed a map and set off for the trails.

Paige and I decided these signs we kept seeing along the trail perfectly fit our lives. We often talk about how graduate school is a confusing time in our lives, because we frequently question ourselves and wonder if we are headed in the right direction. If you were to dissect my thoughts, I think they would look a lot like the picture above.

Walking through the woods is tough work.
Better stop and rest!

There were perfect picture checkpoints everywhere!

Love is in the air.

Can't get enough of the fall scenery

The beautiful leaves are already beginning to descend

It was such a peaceful walk

We thought this tree was pretty cool,
though the picture doesn't do it justice

Nearing the Lilly House 

It was fun to walk around the perimeter of the Lilly House. Paige and I could hardly imagine what it must have been like to grow up in this mansion. My 10-year old imagination could have gone wild there!

Next, we refueled with some lunch before heading towards the mall downtown. Last time I was in Indianapolis, I don't remember driving around this area. Each time I visit a new city, I love examining the details of the downtown area. It's always cool how the newer buildings are intertwined with the older, more historic buildings. Each city has its own unique vibe in the downtown area and Indianapolis was no exception.

The rest of my stay in Indianapolis was very relaxing. Paige and I had ourselves a mini-movie marathon, watching everything from Hocus Pocus to 10 Things I Hate About You. These older movies sure bring back memories from growing up.

Early Sunday morning, it was time to get back to reality. While it was a quick trip, it is always fun to escape your apartment for a couple days and visit a friend. Just what I needed to feel re-energized to conquer another week! :)