Journey to 13.1

I haven’t been blogging as much as would like, but I’m hoping that changes in the coming weeks.  Summer is such a fun time of year, but somehow, all the fun makes things very busy, and blogging has fallen through the cracks.

Another factor that has made my schedule a little fuller than usual is I’ve officially started training for my first half marathon!  

I’m excited, anxious, and apprehensive all at once.  However, it’s a challenge I’ve thought of doing for almost 10 years, and ever since I completed a 10k in 2014, the desire has been even stronger.

I guess I should rewind a bit…back to January of 2014.  I felt like I was in a rut.  Life was great, but I felt like I was stationary.  I wanted a goal; I wanted a challenge; I wanted something to invest myself in.  So I signed up for a Saint Patrick’s Day 5k race.

I never dreamed the 8 weeks leading up to that 5k would change my life.  (No, I’m serious.)  I had been an athlete as a kid and right on up through high school.  Then I remained active – went to the gym, did kickboxing DVDs, jogged occasionally on a beautiful day.  But in those 8 weeks during the winter of 2014, I became a runner.

I learned as a runner, it’s only me and the road ahead.  When I needed a challenge, I was up against myself.  Could I run faster than last week?  Could I top my pace from my last run?  Could I run further than I have before?  The reward was finding I could do something I never thought I could.

After that first 5k on a windy, but sunny morning in March of 2014, I ran several more 5ks during the spring and summer, and trained to run a 10k that October.  Prior to signing up for the 10k (6.2 miles), I had never ran more than 3.5 miles at one time.  And to be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me to run more.  The training was hard, but the joy and triumph I felt as I crossed the finish line after running 6.2 miles was unlike anything I’ve ever felt.   I challenged myself to do something I had never done, and I succeeded.

I know most of you found my blog because of my writing, but I hope you’ll enjoy following along my personal running journey as well.  I hope it inspires you to challenge yourself (even if it’s not running or physical activity of any kind)!  The reward of accomplishing something you thought you couldn’t is amazing and it ripples through to all aspects of your life.

Yesterday, I finished the first two weeks of training, and I’ll be honest – I didn’t get off to the start I would have liked.  However, while I haven’t been able to stick to my training plan every day, I’m happy that my weekly miles are increasing and I’ve completed each week’s long run.  When I get discouraged, I keep my eyes on the road ahead because every day is a part of my journey to 13.1 miles.

Book Review – To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

Over the past few years, Jill Mansell has become one of my go to authors.  Whenever I’m in need of a new book and I don’t have one in mind, I search the Kindle store for one of hers and I’ve never been disappointed.  To the Moon and Back is the fifth novel I’ve read by Jill Mansell, and like all of her others, I was thoroughly entertained with her witty humor and storytelling.

What would you do if the love of your life was tragically killed?  Could you pick up the pieces and move on?  Unfortunately, Ellie Kendall finds herself in that situation when her husband dies in a car accident.  A year after his death, she realizes she needs to move out of their flat which had suddenly become rundown by low income tenants and find a new job with colleagues who won’t look at her as though she’s about to break at the drop of a hat.

With her move across town, Ellie finds a new friend in her new neighbor, Roo – who is true to form to all of Mansell’s supporting characters.  She’s a former pop star diva, once mistress turned do-gooder to pay for her sins.  Her new job?  It’s perfect.  She lands a job as an assistant to Zach McLaren – a successful entrepreneur.  Like all of Mansell’s novels, there’s twists and turns along the way and nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems to Ellie.  As she heals and starts to move on with her life, she faces opportunities that force her to decide if she’s really ready to jump back into the dating pool.

Whether it’s your first or fifth Jill Mansell book, you won’t be disappointed.  It’s perfect for a warm summer day by the pool or a perfect one to save for those early, chilly fall nights at home.

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Source for image above is Amazon

Book Reviews – Baby Proof and Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

As you can probably guess by now, Emily Giffin is one of my favorite authors.  So this week I have two more of her books to share with you!  Baby Proof  and Love the One You’re With are Ms. Giffin’s third and fourth novels.  Like Something Borrowed and Something Blue, she takes on tough life situations with an interesting perspective.  I hope my reviews do them justice and you give them a try!

Baby Proof

Growing up, most girls dream of becoming a mom one day, but not Claudia.  It was never in her plan. Now, as a successful book editor, she couldn’t be happier to have found her husband Ben, who shares her “no kids for me” philosophy…that is, until his biological clock starts ticking.  She loves Ben, but a baby was never part of Claudia’s life plan so she moves out and ultimately agrees to a divorce.

Claudia begins to live the single life again living with her college roommate and starts a steamy love affair with her colleague, Richard.  However, when she suspects Ben has found a new, young love interest to perhaps bear his children, Claudia begins to doubt her decision.

Like all of Giffin’s novels, Baby Proof tackles tough life decisions, and drives home the point that some decisions don’t have a right and wrong.  “There are trade-offs and sacrifices” in life, and there comes a point when you have to realize nothing is perfect.  We can have the best laid plans for our life, but sometimes, we have to change our plans.

As I said, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book given the subject matter, but like always, Giffin intertwines a few subplots with her strong character development to make Baby Proof a page turner until the very end.

Love the One You’re With

When I hear the phrase “love the one you’re with,” I automatically think settling. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the plot of this book, but once again, Ms. Giffin didn’t disappoint me. In fact, Love the One You’re With is one of my favorite Emily Giffin books!

Not long after her wedding, Ellen has a chance encounter with a past love, Leo, and afterward, she’s left wondering whether her life with her husband Andy is truly what she wants or if it’s what she has decided to settle for. When Ellen and Andy move from New York City to the suburbs of Atlanta for Andy’s career, her internal battle intensifies with resentment. As Ellen’s marriage begins to fall apart, she’s forced to choose between the life she has with Andy and the life she thought she lost long ago with Leo.

What I loved most about this book even more so than the other three books I read by Emily Giffin, was how real it was. Whether or not you’ve been in the same situation as Ellen or not, I think most readers will be able to identify with her internal battle. We all know what’s “right,” but sometimes we can’t help but wonder what if. The what if may not be better and we know that, but yet we still wonder. As Ms. Giffin so poignantly says “it’s simply human nature to have an occasional, fleeting interest in someone whom you once loved.” But is pure human curiosity enough to take a leap of faith?

Love isn’t straightforward. “Things are seldom as neat and tidy as that starry-eyed anecdote” shared with family and friends. Love isn’t a constant fairy tale painted with romance day in and day out; it’s a “choice to commit to something, someone, no matter what the obstacles or temptations stand in the way.” Ms. Giffin illustrates this so well with her innate ability to characterize raw human emotion as she tempts her heroine and poses the age old ethical question: do you stray or do you love the one you’re with?

I hope you enjoy both of these books as much as I did!  Load them on your Kindle and head to the beach or the pool for an afternoon of some great reading!  If you’d like book reviews like this email directly to you each week, sign-up here for my weekly book review newsletter!

Book Review – Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

I’ve been a fan of Barbara Delinsky for several years. Looking for Peyton Place and Lake News are two of my favorite books, and Sweet Salt Air ranks right up there with them!

While they haven’t seen each other in 10 years, Nicole invites Charlotte back to her family’s home on Quinnipeague – an island off the coast of Maine – to help write a cookbook on the cuisine unique to the island. Throughout the summer, they reconnect but are forced to face secrets from the past and realities that threaten to change their lives. I was drawn into the story from the beginning. Ms. Delinsky’s attention to detail and character development feed the plot seamlessly!

After reading Sweet Salt Air, I was ready to book a trip to Maine.  I wanted to walk along the rocky beaches and taste some of the amazing food that’s part of Nicole and Charlotte’s cookbook.

Sweet Salt Air on Amazon

Sweet Salt Air is a perfect beach read!  Just be prepared to be hungry after reading about all of the delicious Maine cuisine!

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Source for image above is Amazon.