Friday, July 19, 2019

Harry Potter Trivia Night

The other day, an event from a local brewery popped up on my newsfeed: Harry Potter trivia! As I've mentioned, I am currently reading the books to Matt. He's seen the movies, but has never read the books. We're in the middle of OOTP right now.

We very rarely go out and do things like this, but it sounded fun, and it's the last week of summer break for me so...why not?!

We arrived at Millennial Brewing just after 6pm and it was already getting crowded. I immediately spotted a couple other teachers there, but they were with their own groups so we left them to it after saying hello.
It's hard to tell but that's a wand I'm holding.
Matt and I hung out for an hour before trivia started. I had a key lime cider from 3 Daughters, which may actually be my new favorite cider - it was a little tart, not at all too sweet, and tasted very fresh. Matt had the butterbeer cocktail (which was lager, cream soda, and homemade butterscotch) and we split a butterbeer hemp ice cream.

(Side note: this was the most bizarre thing! The ice cream wasn't frozen the way real ice cream is and almost had a sticky/stretchy consistency. It was good and tasted like ice cream but you could tell it wasn't "normal".)
Matt did surprisingly well for the first game of trivia, which was focused around The Sorcerer's Stone. (We played three games; each of the three games focused on a different book. I was glad they weren't movie-based questions.) Our team name was Mimbulus mimbletonia. 
Excited to be on the board! There were 83 teams playing!
Anyway, we got on the leaderboard in the second game (Prisoner of Azkaban) and even made it to first place for some of the last game (Order of the Phoenix). I accidentally hit the wrong answer for a question, though, and ruined our lead. Competition was tight. We finished in 3rd, which wasn't bad at all!

I felt like I'd earned my Harry Potter fan club membership.
Here's a trivia question: do you know whose wand I have?
There were a couple food trucks in the parking lot; we had vegan nachos from Buddha Blends, which were honestly amazing. They were topped with cashew queso and the ground "meat" was made from ground and seasoned walnuts, both of which were new vegan tastes for me. I'm a fan!

As I was at the bar closing my tab, a girl who had been sitting with one of my teacher friends made eye contact with me. I'd noticed her earlier and thought maybe I knew her. We kind of stared at each other, and she said, "You look familiar."

I was like, "I think I taught you."

We exchanged names and suddenly all these memories came rushing back. She was one of my little smarty-pantses, and definitely a kid I remember fondly. She's currently in her last year of undergrad with her sights set on PA school. I was like omg you're old enough to drink now?! 

We caught up a bit, during which time Matt had to hold his own on the trivia game. He did a good job! I was proud of him!
Shoutout to Ashley for the shirt!
There were some really clever team names!
We'll definitely be back for more trivia nights that pique our interest, although I'm not a fount of knowledge for much outside Harry Potter unless they're going to do "general English major random facts trivia". I won't hold my breath.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Our 9th Anniversary

Matt and I didn't have any huge travel plans for our anniversary this year, but we still wanted to do something special. It's easy for couples who have been married for awhile to just let an anniversary pass with an exchange of cards and a special dinner, and I honestly would probably be that person if Matt weren't a bit of a romantic.

A post shared by Ali (@abk_runs) on

This year, we had brunch on our anniversary and opted for a relaxing staycation and a trip to a local bird sanctuary over the weekend to celebrate.
I was really craving blueberry pancakes, so rather than do dinner, we did brunch!
If you've been reading here for awhile, you know Matt and I are bird people. We both feel having a pet isn't in the cards for us right now, but we miss spending time with birds; the moment Matt raised the idea of a trip to the sanctuary, I was in. (Honestly, when he told me he thought we'd be able to hold birds I almost cried.)

First, though, was the staycation. We got a room at the Hyatt Regency where we stayed for our anniversary in 2017. The resort is just gorgeous, with top-notch amenities and beautiful rooms. Once more we opted for a room with a view.
It was overcast on Friday when we arrived, but I still managed to get a tan at the pool.
We got mimosas upon check-in. We cheered to "80 more years"; I asked, "Then we get divorced?" Matt said, "No, then we die." We decided to try for 81 so we can reach an even 90.
And that was it, really. We spent Friday at the pool, then had a nice dinner at the resort. Saturday we spent more time at the pool. It was relaxing and beautiful and maybe a new tradition.
The bird sanctuary was a great experience, although not quite what I expected. Most of the birds are parrots that have been given up because they outlived their owners. There were tons of macaws, African greys, and cockatoos.
Our guide introduced us to every bird and told us about their personalities and how they'd come to the sanctuary. We fed them unsalted almonds and walnuts. I love interacting with birds; they're so funny and personable. They took the nuts from us so carefully, and some even chirped like they were saying "thank you". The one pictured below was shy; our guide said he doesn't like many people, but he happily took walnuts from me, though every time he'd run to the opposite side of the cage to eat them.
We did get to go into the macaw house, where you can hold the birds if you want. I am still nervous around large birds, so I opted to just feed them.
After the tour, we hung around to look at the adoptable birds, which is when we got to see some lovebirds. Unfortunately, we couldn't hold them. It left me feeling torn; someday I'd love another bird, but I still think the timing isn't quite right for us.

Year nine was a good one for us. I'm looking forward to whatever the next year has in store!


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Pink Hair Don't Care

When I was in high school, the emo scene was in full swing and colorful hair made its first appearance on my radar. I wanted so badly to dye the tips of my hair hot pink, but because my hair was so dark I knew it wouldn't take without bleaching first, and I didn't want to mess with that. So I never got to partake in the trend.
Admit it: you, too, wanted to look like Avril Lavigne.
For awhile, it seemed colorful hair went out of style. But in recent years, we've seen it again. Once more I wished I could dye my hair pink or purple, but again, there was the whole bleaching issue and now also the professional-work-lady issue. (My school has a no-unnatural-hair-color policy.)

When I started seeing ads for Overtone I was intrigued but skeptical. Say it with me: I have dark hair. But when they came out with rose gold for brown hair, I couldn't resist. Temporary, non-damaging color that supposedly works without bleaching? What did I have to lose?
Here's my "before".
I did some research and checked hashtags for befores/afters, then placed my order. On Wednesday night, I took the plunge.
I didn't realize gloves would come with it, which was a nice surprise.
I feel like this is a company I can get behind because (spoiler) their product works and they're trying to be environmentally conscious. The included pamphlet is printed on recycle paper and reminds you that their jars and bottles are recyclable. The products are also vegan and cruelty free.
The conditioner is like a thick mousse and smells very minty.
The conditioner says to leave it in for 10-15 minutes, but all the reviews I read suggested 30-45 for dark hair. I set my timer for 45, but actually kept the conditioner in for about an hour. Application was messy. I used petroleum jelly on my neck, ears, and face to avoid stains, but the gloves they provide are flimsy and over-large. I may has well have been wearing produce bags on my hands. I'll definitely invest in a smaller pair from the pharmacy next time I color.
There's no need to be precise, which I appreciated.  The color found my natural highlights and blended itself pretty well without giving me that flat, all-over same-color look.
My hair took on a kind of stiff, gluey texture.
Rinsing was an experience. The color just kept running off with no apparent end in sight; because it's a temporary formula, I wondered if waiting for the water to run clear would mean I'd over-rinsed somehow. The instructions aren't very clear.

Still, I rinsed intensively for like 10 minutes in the shower. My hair towel still picked up some pink when I was done, but right out of the shower my hair had obviously picked up color so I managed not to wash it all out in one go.
Then I blew it dry.

I'd say the color is more reddish/purplish than pink right now, maybe because of how long I let it sit. I know that after a couple washes the color will begin to fade, and I'll definitely post updates on that if the color change is significant. Also, my hair did feel very soft after, as advertised!
Indoor lighting 
Direct sunlight
My final verdict is that this was a fun and good experience that finally fulfilled my dreams of coloring my hair! I didn't have to bleach, there was actual color payoff, and it'll wash out before I go back to work in August (probably)! Even if it doesn't, I don't think the color is so jarring that I couldn't get away with it during the school year.

I may order a sample size of one of their brown shades once this fades, because I like the idea of using this to enhance my natural color year-round.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Blog Facelift & Life Update

Over the last few weeks, I have been making little tweaks to Hit the Ground Running. I have missed writing here but also felt the look of the blog was getting old, so I thought a little facelift might put me in a writing mindset.

I updated my About Me page yesterday for the first time in maybe five years, simplified the banner, and cleaned up the widgets. I'm pretty happy with how streamlined it all looks now.

I thought I'd borrow Meg's "Currently" format for a bit of a life update today.

Current running situation: I'm finally starting to acclimate to summer humidity and temps. I've worked my way back up to four miles three times a week, and my eyes are on getting to five miles in the next couple weeks.

Current writing situation: Something about being not busy makes writing hard. But I think I've finally outlined the end of the novel I'm working on and if I work on it a little bit daily, this may be the first one I finish in years.

Currently reading: Starting in winter or early spring, I began reading Harry Potter to Matt. Despite years of cajoling, he never did read the books, but he agreed to let me read The Sorcerer's Stone to him. Once we finished that one, it just felt necessary to keep going! We're currently on Order of the Phoenix. He doesn't remember much from the movies (and the books are very different in some crucial ways), so it's been really fun to watch his reactions!
Current guilty pleasure: I actually went shopping for real clothes for the first time in years (I know!) right before our trip to St. Augustine, so I'd say that was a guilty pleasure...but buying stuff for my future nephew has definitely topped the charts. I just can't help it - I want to buy everything! (Steph is due in October.)

Current drink: I have become obsessed with hot tea! I don't know what it is...I mean, it's summer! But I don't drink coffee in summer so maybe it's been a bit of a replacement. I'm enjoying a few different flavors and I have at least two cups a day.
The three teas in my rotation right now.
Current triumph: I've been eating very healthfully over the last two months and have successfully lost the weight I wanted to lose. I'm very proud of myself for sticking to it. It's amazing the difference 5 pounds makes when you're short.

Current favorite TV show: Matt and I are nearly done with season three of Stranger Things. It's a relief to watch a show where every episode actually holds my interest and is so good after the disappointment of Game of Thrones season 8.

Current food: Oatmeal. I used to not find it filling or good but lately oatmeal with some salt and PB2 has been my jam.

Currently listening to: Emmit Fenn. His music is perfect to write to. Here's a playlist I'm enjoying.
Current excitement: My sister's wedding and baby shower are coming up at the end of the month! I finished writing my matron-of-honor speech yesterday and feel pretty good about it.

Currently needing: To get back to work on the house. We were making great progress on the yard but the rainy season has thrown a wrench in our progress.
Currently celebrating: Nine years of marriage! Matt's and my anniversary is July 10 and I'm not even sure how that's possible! We'll be celebrating with a trip to a local bird sanctuary and a staycation at a resort hotel.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Summer Running So Far

You would think, given the barely perceptible differences in Florida's seasons, that acclimating to summer running weather wouldn't be so difficult. You'd be wrong. In May, mornings and evenings are still comfortably in the 70s with reasonable humidity. Then June rolls around and suddenly it's in the 90s before sunrise and the humidity is firmly in the instant-sweat-inducing range all. day. long.
My two summer 5k races were humbling and a necessary reminder that Florida summer is brutal and that whole "14-days-to-acclimate" thing is very real.

The good news is that now, at the start of July, I think my body is finally getting it together.

The key has been consistency. I'm running every-other-day like clockwork, except for weekends; on days when my evening schedule looks weird, I've been good about going to the gym first thing in the morning so my run gets done. I'm hydrating a lot, which is easier to do at home than at work. And I've been very conscious of my eating habits, which has re-energized me something fierce.
Basically, I'm using summer break to get myself back in order and back on schedule, and it seems to be working.

I've been mostly running 2 or 2.5 miles when running outdoors, but I've been able to keep to my usual 3-4 miles at the gym quite easily. This tells me my struggles really are about the weather and not my basic level of fitness. 
I don't think I've used the gym this much since...ever.
On Monday I ran three on the golf course and felt better than I've felt in weeks. Wednesday I ran four in my favorite neighborhood and didn't want to die.
The best part of summer running has been jumping in the pool. I'm so glad it's finally back in usable shape!
I have to admit, for awhile there I was feeling pretty defeatist about running. I had forgotten how hard it is to breathe and move and just exist in this heat. I'm glad to see it turning around.

I don't have any desire to race this summer. I have my eye on a November half marathon relay Matt has agreed to run with me (more on that at a later date) but there really aren't any fall races I'm interested in yet, either. For now, my goal has really been to keep up this consistency and when a race piques my interest, I'll be ready to jump into training.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Captiva Island Mini-Vacay

A few months ago, Matt placed 1st in his division in a SUP race. All the first place winners were entered into a drawing for some amazing prizes, and Matt won the best of the lot: a two-night stay on Captiva Island and a full-day boat rental! (For those of you who have been reading here for awhile, this is the second time Matt has won a stay on Sanibel/Captiva!)
Winner winner!
We opted to pay to upgrade our cottage and invited my sister and Gordon. We invited my brother, too, but he couldn't make it. This past weekend, the four of us enjoyed our little getaway.

Matt and I arrived at Jensen's Marina Resort for check-in just after 3pm and ahead of the evening's storms. We hung out at the end of the pier and counted dolphins while we watched the storm come in.
When Steph and Gordon arrived, we decided to get dinner at one at Captiva's most famous restaurants, the Bubble Room. The Bubble Room is known for its overwhelming decor (everything from Christmas decorations, antique toys, and old black-and-whites of celebrities) and gigantic cake slices. Although the Bubble Room isn't new to anyone familiar with Captiva, Matt and I only knew about their cake; we were blown away by the variety of menu items and huge portion sizes.
Gordon and Matt dug into the bubble bread and sticky buns while Steph and I stuck with our starter salads. (Hashtag celiaclife.) I ordered the Alice in Wonderland, which consisted of mozzarella cheese, sautéed spinach, and roasted red peppers sandwiched between two portobello mushrooms and drizzled in balsamic glaze and pesto. I'd never had anything like it and it was divine. 
Not pictured: my salad, twice-baked potato, and veggies. 
The guys obviously couldn't say no to dessert (and neither could Steph), and we brought home slices of orange crunch cake, red velvet cake, and Key Lime pie.

Saturday morning we got up early for our boat day. There was some bad weather predicted for the afternoon, so our plan was to get an early start, go to our farthest destination first, then work our way back, stopping for lunch on the way.
The ride out to Cayo Costa was perfect. I get really nervous around water (literally only a free trip and a weekend with people I love could get me on a boat), but I managed to enjoy myself by looking for dolphins. We sighted a ton. The novelty never wears off!
Once we docked at Cayo Costa, a tiny island accessible only by boat, we rented bikes and made our way across the island to the beaches on the gulf side. It was fun to explore; I actually really dislike biking but these beach cruisers had super cushiony seats and it was fun to ride along together. The only downside to the trip was that the no-see-ums and mosquitos were out in droves; any time we paused they would converge on us immediately. It was pretty creepy to see a swarm of them land on you all at once!
When we got back to the boat, we were ready to head to lunch at Cabbage Key. The Cabbage Key restaurant is known for its dollar-covered walls and ceiling. We definitely partook in that tradition by adding our own dollar, and we chose a very specific location to hang it: directly on top of one that said MAGA. I think our message was much more positive.
After lunch, we walked around to see the gopher tortoises that live near the restaurant and debated whether or not to head back. The radar showed the worst of the storms coming in at 2pm, and we didn't want to get caught in it, but we also didn't want to wait over an hour for it to pass us. So we opted to head back; the return trip to the marina was really choppy and the light rain we went through was positively stinging, but looking back, it wasn't so bad.

(Don't get me wrong, I was an anxious wreck during most of it and during the worst I dissociated but once we were on land again I could look back with rose-colored glasses.)

We showered and relaxed, playing some board games out by the pier, until we felt ready for dinner.
We walked to Doc Ford's for dinner; my shrimp and grits was the favorite at the table and Steph finally got the virgin Pina Colada she'd been talking about all week.
Then we hitched a ride on a golf cart shuttle back to the main strip, where we got ice cream and sat on the beach until sunset. It was the most incredible sunset I've seen in ages.
Steph and Gordon headed back to the east coast early on Sunday, and Matt and I explored the JN Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge for a little while before we made our way home as well.
I am so glad we had the opportunity to take a mini vacation and share it with Steph and Gordon. It was so relaxing and definitely a highlight of my summer so far!