Misty Morning Run

Morning Friends! I went to bed last night thinking that I may have to run indoors this morning. Most of the weather reports called for rain in the early morning. But, I was very happy to wake up to find that it was only a light mist.

I woke up very early this morning – around 4 AM and just couldn’t fall back to sleep. Maybe it’s the Autumnal Equinox causing an imbalance in my life and sleep patterns – he he! I stayed in bed trying to go back to sleep but that did not work of course. So, around 5:45, I got out of bed and on the computer. It was still dark outside, otherwise I would have hit the road right away. It did not get light enough for me to run until around 6:15.

After my misty 4-miler, I enjoyed a familiar breakfast…

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Trader Joe’s nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt! After nearly a week of  not having any yogurt, this was definitely a welcome change from cereal. A girl can only go so many days without her Greek yogurt (a week max) before she starts to go through yogurt withdrawal.

I topped my yogurt with about 1/4 cup of Cascadian Farm organic dark chocolate almond granola. If you haven’t had this granola, it really is worth a try. It has a great flavor and has chocolate in it!

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I also added a giant strawberry to my granola bowl for added vitamin C and other healthy antioxidants. I have been eating a ton of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries this summer – all of which are great for the immune system and your skin!

I topped off my breakfast with a shot of daily wellness from Zola. This was day 21 in my RWC Daily Wellness shot challenge. I must say, it has become kind of a habit to drink this juice shot every day. I wonder if I’ll miss it when I run out at the end of the month?

Have to get to work. See you all after dinner!

Flavors of the Fall

Evening everyone! With the official start of fall just a day and a half away, I thought I’d do a little fall decorating this afternoon.

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This made me wonder – Fall is my favorite time of year, but what was my favorite thing about the Fall? Well, there are so many things that I love about the Fall that it’s hard to choose just one thing – so, I made a list!

Jen’s 10 Fall Faves:

  1. Watching the leaves changing colors
  2. Changing my signature Spring/Summer drink – a Starbucks Frap – to a Starbucks skinny vanilla latte
  3. Wearing my Fall sweaters and Gap jeans
  4. Listening to my Fall transition music – James Taylor’s Greatest Hits
  5. Cheering for Big Ten Football
  6. Running in much cooler weather
  7. Picking pumpkins and gourds
  8. Eating fresh cider donuts from the cider mill
  9. Watching Fall classics like It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
  10. Finally being able to put up Fall decorations!

So, my question to you is – what is your favorite thing about the Fall?

Scott’s parents came over this afternoon and stayed for dinner. And, an amazing dinner it was!

We started out with some multigrain crackers and white cheddar cheese… 

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And with it, we had some vino…

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I don’t drink very often, but when I do, it’s usually wine. Tonight, my father-in-law brought a new wine over from Trader Joe’s…

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This was a very different type of wine than I’d ever had. It was a mixture of several different kinds of wine…

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As you can see, it was such an unusual wine that I had to try a glass. It was pretty smooth and had a good flavor, especially for being on the less expensive side of wines.

For dinner, we had my husband’s famous minestrone soup! He makes a huge batch of the soup about once a season and it’s usually when we have people over for dinner. I have not received the ok from my husband on whether or not I can reveal his secret recipe, but I can tell you that it requires a ton of vegetables!

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Along with our very warm and tasty soup, we had fresh 12-grain bread for dipping…

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We dipped the bread in our soup and in olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar with added spices and parmesan cheese..

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The balsamic vinegar was actually from Gourmè Mist. A few weeks ago, the company had sent me several samples of their olive oil and vinegar misters to try. I am happy to report that the balsamic vinegar mister was fantastic!

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It had a great flavor, was easy to use, and the mister was a very clever way of adding just a hint of balsamic taste to the dipping oil. Can’t wait to try this on a salad!

For dessert, my father-in-law made homemade “apple slices”, which is a cross between an apple pie and apple strudel…

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This was my first time having this dish and it was so yummy! We paired it with Breyer’s Vanilla Bean ice cream – ok, can this get any better?

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After that fabulous dessert, I am happy to report that dinner (and the food) had finally ended. I seriously don’t think I could eat anymore and I only had one bowl of soup!

I have an early day tomorrow, so I’m ready to turn in for the night.

Have a great night everyone!

Sunday Morning With Bob Marley

Running With Cake Fact: I ONLY run in Nike running shoes. I haven’t worn any other running shoe since high school.

Hey all!

It’s so nice to actually sleep in on a Sunday. Before I started my typical run, I had a little pre-run snack..

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I had 1/2 of one of my LUNA bars – Nutz Over Chocolate. I usually only eat power bars half at a time. Any more than that and I’m afraid I may feel too full during my run.

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As far as nutrients, this bar had 180 calories, 10 g of protein, and 3 g of fiber. Plus, it combined two of my favorite things – nuts and chocolate! The bar tasted awesome…I just really wish that there was more fiber in it.

My run consisted of a quick 5-miler. Although I was well-rested and it was a gorgeous morning, I just wasn’t in the mood for a longer run – I’m sure you all have been there.

I wasn’t too hungry when I came home from my run, so I ate a simple breakfast of fresh, whole fruit…

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A super yummy pear! I used to hate pears as a kid – I’m not sure why, maybe it was the texture. Now I love them – although they have to be pretty ripe for my taste.

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After the pear, I still had a taste for something a little sweet, so I picked out a few fresh strawberries….

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Now these beauties were VERY sweet and juicy! Just like watermelon, I am sooo going to miss strawberries in the winter.

The rest of the morning/early afternoon was spent house cleaning. My in-laws are coming for dinner and somehow, the house looked like a tornado swept through it. It’s not as if I don’t clean EVERY day, so how does it get like this?

While cleaning, I listened to the melodic sounds of Bob Marley. I typically can’t wait to listen to Bob Marley, Jimmy B, and all of the other summer favorites. But this summer wasn’t that hot and most of the time, it just didn’t feel like summer. Hence, Bob and Jimmy were barely played at all the last few months. I guess today was as good a day as any to bring them back out for a final summer fling. Now, for the next month or so, it will be my Autumn transition music (what I play until I’m allowed to play Christmas music in the house), including Jack Johnson, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and plenty of classical.

I stopped mid-cleaning and had a simple lunch…

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…which was a 1/2 salami and ham sandwich with cheddar cheese, and Mezzetta hot peppers, all on 12-grain Brownberry bread. Plus, I had a handful of carrots and my tasty Cape Cod potato chips!

We’re making homemade minestrone soup for dinner tonight, so I’d better get chopping! 

See you all tonight!

Dinner Cereal with a Side of Chic-Lit

Hello everyone! I’m feeling so much better than I was earlier today. I’ve decided I’m not going to let a few sour apples spoil my work endeavors!

Even though I only had one piece of not-so-good pizza and a little salad for lunch, I just wasn’t hungry for dinner. I came home around 6:30 PM, cleaned up a bit and then debated on dinner. I knew I needed to eat something. Then, I remembered my special delivery from a few days ago…

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My new Kashi Heart to Heart cereal finally arrived! This was a single serving size box – even though it looks full size. It was just perfect for a light dinner, but still full of nutrients. The cereal has 130 calories per serving and 4 g of fiber. Plus, it has little clusters of blueberries!

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I added raspberries to mine to give my cereal a little more kick, but you can clearly see the blueberry cluster right up front. Holy yum this cereal was fantastic! The blueberries even made my milk turn blue! I would definitely buy this cereal – even when it was not on sale – he he! I just wish it had more fiber like their other cereals.

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If you want to try a box of Kashi’s new cereals, just go to the Kashi Web site to sign up for your free sample. How fun is that? Kashi has SO many awesome cereal products that it’s hard to choose just one. But I know I’m preaching to the choir on that one!

QuestionHow do all of you feel about cereal for dinner? I don’t eat cereal for dinner very often, only when I’m not hungry or there’s absolutely nothing else in the house.

After my very long and tiring day I am really ready to curl up with a good book. Aside from Harry Potter re-reads, I haven’t read a book for fun in sooo long! I used to be really into the Shopaholic books, but stopped after the first chapter of the Sister book. Now, I’m psyched to read….

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It’s another book set in England, but this time with an American heroine. I just love books set in Britain, especially when there’s a young British heroine. I mean, who didn’t love Bridget Jone’s Diary?  I also plan to have a little snack while reading my new Brit Chic-Lit…


I decided that a new fun book needed a fun book snack – enter…100-calorie microwave popcorn!

Ok, enough chatter. Must get reading before I end up falling asleep! 

Night everyone.

There is such a thing as bad pizza..

Hello All,

My training course today went ok. It was delivered very nicely by my team. Now, how it was received is another story. It’s very disheartening when you put so much effort into a presentation or program and then someone in the front row is texting the whole time. Not cool in my book. You could at least fake that you are somewhat interested. 

Anyway, for breakfast, I tried my new Cascadian Farm organic dark chocolate almond granola…

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Oh my, this was GOOD! I think I could actually get my husband to eat it. He even commented when he saw the box, “hmm, dark chocolate almond granola… I could go for some of that!” He doesn’t usually eat granola, so, that’s really telling you something.

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I really like this granola – reminded me a lot of my own homemade granola, although I don’t include chocolate in mine. I added it to a bowl of Trader Joe’s vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt and it stayed crunchy the whole time. And, it was yummy!

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I only added 1/4 cup of the granola to the yogurt (only about 70 calories) but I wish I would have added more! The only negative is that I wish there were more chocolate pieces in my box. I shook it around a bit and really didn’t see much chocolate in it.

Between preparing for and actually delivering today’s training session, I was busy from about 9 AM – 1:30 PM, then I had a meeting from 1:30-2:30 PM. Thankfully, the training included a pizza lunch. However, by the time I actually got around to eating the pizza, it was soggy. Oh my, two soggy pizzas in one week = a really bad week!!!

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The photo of the pizza actually looked BETTER than it tasted, if you can believe that. This was really proof that you can have bad pizza, no matter what people tell me.

Alright, I’m wrapping up and hoping to get out of here soon. See you all tonight!

A Bit of A Power Bar Snob

So much for leaving at 4:30 PM like I had planned. I didn’t leave work until 5:45 PM and didn’t get home until nearly 6:30 PM. But, on the bright side, I did get a LOT done. It is really crunch time for me now (and for the next 5 weeks) so every hour of every day counts.

When I finally arrived home from work, I was just aching for something tasty. Well, I got my wish! My husband and made one of my favorite meals – linguini with homemade meat sauce!

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I was so hungry that I actually had two servings (although they were small!).

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Italian dinners like these always seem so comforting and just make your day seem so much better. 

Aside from my fabulously yummy dinner, I had another surprise waiting for me at home – a full box of goodies from Cascadian Farm, makers of over 75 organic food products. This company has actually been around longer than I’ve been alive! I only just recently noticed their cereal products in the store, but never bought them because I hadn’t heard anything about them.

Well, the very nice folks at CF sent me several of their products to try, including their version raisin bran cereal, two kinds of granola, and two types of high fiber granola bars. That was great news to me because I have really been into fiber these days after reading the Full Plate Diet.

So after dinner, I tried one of the granola bars – the fiber right dark chocolate almond bar to be exact.

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Doesn’t that description and flavor combination sound yummy? Well, when I tore open the bar I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bar was drizzled with dark chocolate which, by the way, had a very good taste – not too “organic”. The granola part of the bar was good, but nothing extraordinary. But, I’m very hard to please when it comes to granola/power bars. I’m a bit of a power bar snob I guess, and I haven’t had much luck with them lately.

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As a whole, I thought this bar was definitely better than all three Odwalla bars I tried last week, but not as tasty as the LUNA bar. I would absolutely have this bar again, if not for the yummy chocolate drizzle, then for the 5 g of fiber (and only 130 calories) that this bar has!

Can’t wait to try the Dark Chocolate Almond Granola for breakfast! 

I’m off to bed. I have the first of three staff training sessions tomorrow and I’m leading all of them! So, wish me luck!

A Tale of Two Kashi's

Morning everyone! Just when I thought I was over my cold, I went to bed stuffy and woke up stuffy once more. I guess it really is cold and flu season. I didn’t let a stuffy head keep me from running though. Although, I was out the door later than I had planned – 6:30 AM. Yikes! That’s late for me for a weekday run. I could only do a fast 4-miler because I was pressed for time.

For breakfast, I decided to NOT eat a full bowl of the really high fiber Kashi (10 g). It was probably a little too much on my system yesterday. So, I opted for a cereal mixture – two Kashi cereals – Go Lean and Original – both high in protein and fiber. After all, what’s better than a bowl of Kashi cereal? A bowl of two Kashi’s mixed together!

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Although I’m sure Scott would disagree. My husband has “issues” with mixing things. He can’t mix noodles (Rotini with elbow? God forbid!), cereal, or other foodstuffs. But, I have no problem mixing and matching, especially with cereal. And, that goes double for two awesome Kashi cereals! In addition to cereal, I had a shot of wellness from Zola and a small bowl of watermelon juicy and sweet watermelon chunks…

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Ohh..so good! 

I didn’t get to work until nearly 9:30!! Oh my, that is so late for me – I wonder if anyone noticed me slinking in so late?? But, when I arrived at my desk, I was delighted to find a bunch of little surprises all over my desk. A girlfriend of mine from work has been in Europe for two weeks and brought back a ton of little mementos for me (not tchotchkes Holly – this stuff I can actually use!). If you want to see all of my great Euro loot, check out my alter-ego post Bistro Chic on Thursday. I’m going to give a full report there.

Have to get some work done. See you all tonight!

Running with the Foxes

Well ladies, I don’t know about you, but I am really dragging this morning. I didn’t get to bed until after midnight (racing thoughts about the work week) and then managed to wake up at 5 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep! Don’t you hate when that happens? Especially at the start of the work week.

Oh well, the world keeps spinning, and somehow I keep running. I finally got out of bed around 5:45 after spending 45 minutes of wishing myself back to sleep to no avail. Many experts will say that it is better to sacrifice a workout for more sleep and I am all for that! But, what happens when you can’t sleep? Well, those who can’t sleep go for a run! 

I was out the door a little after 6 AM. It was barely light outside and it was very quiet. It’s that time of year when it’s getting darker earlier at night and staying dark later in the morning. This makes running in the wee hours a little challenging. I don’t like running in the dark by myself. Aside from crazy human predators that plague our society, I also have to worry about coyotes, large fox, and skunks. I don’t live in the sticks by any means, but my area is a very wooded area. I’m also adjacent to a golf course so we get all sorts of critters scurrying around. Even this morning, I caught a glimpse of something low to the ground, moving in the shadows. Could have been a fox or a squirrel, but I did not stick around the find out.

After my fast 4-miler, I headed inside to get ready for work. I decided to throw caution to the wind (and my digestive track) and load up on fiber today. I’ve been reading bits and pieces of the Full Plate Diet, a book scheduled to come out in early 2010 that focuses on filling up with fiber as a way to maintain or lose weight. One of the cereals the book recommends is Kashi high fiber cereal. 

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I always thought high fiber cereal would taste like sticks, but this Kashi cereal is excellent! So for today, I had a full cup of Kashi’s high fiber high protein cereal (10 g. of fiber!!) and a nectarine (2 g of fiber) for a whopping total of 12 g of fiber for breakfast. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommends that women under 50 get at least 25 g of daily fiber and I’ve already consumer 1/2 of that!

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Along with cereal and fruit, I had a shot of Zola’s Daily Wellness juice – I’m on Day 14 now of my RWC Daily Wellness Challenge!

Now it’s time to actually get some work done. Hope y’all have a great day!


As American As Shopping and Apple Pie

Good evening everyone. Hope you had a great Sunday! Scott and I did a little house cleaning – OK, I did the cleaning while he made an apple pie – but that definitely counts as work.

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Scott comes from a long line of pie-bakers so I was highly anticipating the first apple pie of the season. Except for the crust, my husband made this pie from scratch – even peeling all of the apples himself. But, at the end, I had the important job of taking the pie out of the oven.

With the pie cooling at home, we headed for lunch at the local Italian eatery.

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I had a cup of minestrone soup and a veggie-goat cheese personal pizza. I was getting full after the soup and two slices of pie (pizza, not apple) so I saved two pieces of pizza for lunch later in the week.

After lunch, we headed to Williams Sonoma so that I could sign up for my first-ever cooking class! It’s not that I don’t know how to cook (although Scott may disagree), but I’ve always wanted to take a culture-specific cooking class. This one, which is next Wednesday, is all about French cooking. So cool! And anyone who reads my other alter-ego blog knows how much I love France and Europe in general.

The rest of the afternoon was full of more shopping with a trip to Barnes and Noble and a highly worthwhile trip to Ann Taylor Loft! They have these new very feminine t-shirts in all different colors. I may or may not have bought the shirt in a few different colors, as well as a few camis.

For dinner, I made homemade chicken soup with orzo soup (see I can cook!).

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The soup was really easy to make, full of flavor, and very low in calories. 

After soup, I got busy making homemade caramel sauce for the apple pie. I’ve made caramel sauce before but just couldn’t find the recipe anywhere. So, I found a simple recipe on the Internet and went to work. Well, the first batch I made burned so bad it turned back into hardened sugar. Not fun. The second batch turn out ok, although I did not let the sugar brown as much as I could have and the color looks more like dulce de leche, rather than caramel. But, it still tasted good over the apple pie…

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So messy, gooey, and yummy – all at the same time! The flavor of the caramel was fantastic! Along with sugar, water, and cream, I also used a very posh vanilla that was sent to me called Nielsen-Massey Mexican Vanilla. Oh my gosh, if you’ve never had high end vanilla, this is so worth it! Nielsen-Massey also sent me several other extracts – coffee, lemon, etc. – which I can’t wait to try this holiday season! FYI – you can get the extracts at Williams Sonoma but they are expensive!

Now, it’s off to bed for me. Monday mornings have been coming very early these days.

Night all!

Hands Out of the Bread Basket, Please…

Wow, what a day! We went nonstop from about 1-9 PM and had so much fun! Right after lunch, we headed to Brookfield Zoo just north of Chicago. The zoo itself is amazing but it’s also featuring a traveling exhibit, Dinosaurs Alive!, until the end of September. A friend of mine had given us free tickets to the exhibit so we decided to go today.

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The exhibit had about 10 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs, that moved and roared when you pushed a button. It was pretty neat – kind of like being on the Dinosaur ride at Disney World. The rest of our zoo time was spent viewing the animals – bears, gorillas, penguins, etc. While walking around, I got a little hungry so I tore open my third and final Odwalla bar…

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Once again, I really did not care for this power bar so I only ate 1/2 of it. It was overly chewy and really did not have much of a flavor and what flavor it did have was not very good. I don’t plan on buying these bars again – unless I have no other options – give me a LUNA or LARA bar any day!

After the zoo, we headed to dinner at Antico Posto, an Italian restaurant, for dinner. We started with the typical Italian restaurant starter – bread and oil. But I do have to admit, this bread and oil combination was exceptionally good.

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That is my excuse for eating way too much of it! The bread basket is my #1 downfall at restaurants. I still haven’t figured out a way to control my bread habit. I always tell myself to only eat 1 or 2 pieces then push the rest away, but somehow I don’t hear that little voice when I’m actually munching on the bread.

For my entree, I ordered the cavatappi pasta with roasted chicken, fall veggies, and parmesan cheese all in a chicken-based broth.

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The dish was very good, although it seemed like it was missing something. I think a few red peppers or spinach would have made the dish even better. I ate about 2/3 of it then gave the rest to Scott.

After dinner, we did a little shopping. We hit Anthropologie, Lucy, and Nordstrom but didn’t manage to find anything within our budget to buy. For all you Foodie bloggers out there, Anthropologie had a ton of new dishes (plates, bowls, etc.) in all different designs and colors. They’re a bit expensive but worth a look if you’re wanting to spruce up your food shots.

On the way home, we stopped at Red Mango! I have been wanting to go to this place for months now. I’ve heard so many great things about it (as well as pinkberry) and really wanted to try it. I decided to get a regular size original yogurt with watermelon chunks and bits of Ghirardelli chocolate.

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Oh my gosh – this tasted like pure Greek yogurt – and you all know how much I LOVE Greek yogurt! I loved this new treat and could easily see how a person could become addicted to the creamy, sweet taste. On the other hand, my husband did NOT care for the froyo at ALL. But then again, he does not like yogurt – Greek or any other kind. Thankfully, he tried a sample before buying a full cup. He opted for one of their flavored iced teas instead.

I am so tired now from walking around for hours and hours today – but it was great exercise! Tomorrow, I’m planning an 8-miler which should take me just over an hour to complete (hoping for no more than 65 minutes). So I’m off to bed.

Night All!