THE WEEKEND IN PHOTOS: FALL IN THE PRAIRIE

 
Fall is definitely alive in the prairie! The change in fall foliage has been sort of slow but this week the bright colors started making their appearance in all their splendor and what a show it is putting!  On Saturday, the Missouri park service had a small fall festival at the Weston Bend State Park and it was the perfect day for it.  The weather was gorgeous and perfect for leaf peeping and a hike.  The foliage has not reached its peak but it will the next week or two.  It is going to be gorgeous.

 
 
I took Jack with me and he had a great time with all the new sights and smells.  But at the end he was pooped out from all the exercise and all the fun.  Plus the day before we went to the doggie part and he was probably tired of that.  This weekend was also perfect for running. 


On Saturday I ran a 5K in honor of my boss.  This year was the second Running with Roy 5K/10K at Texas A&M.  So I did a 5K where I live to show my support.  Yes, my t-shirt is from last year but mine didn't arrive in time.  Still it was a good day to reminisce on the events of the day he was taken from us and to feel blessed for all the things I learned from him.  A very bittersweet morning. 

 


The rest of Saturday and Sunday was spent watching the History Channel series "The Men Who Built America" (nothing like learning about the robber barons.  Thank you Lena from A Crimson Kiss for the recommendation) and trying some new recipes that are to come soon.  And on Sunday evening I relaxed at home with Jack catching up on Revenge (I'm so addicted to this show).  In all a very lovely weekend that left me feeling recharged and ready for this week. How was your weekend?  Did you do anything fun?



MIMM. Monday Link-Up.   Monday Morning Gossip. Mingle Monday. 

BABY STEPS TO CONQUER OBSTACLES: APFT

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled Improving Weaknesses: Strong Core to Improve Push-Ups.  In it I wrote about my struggle with push-ups.  A big part of it is that I have a weak core, but another part is that because of my foot surgery, I have not been able to do full push-ups in like 6 months.  But I have been working hard on variations to help me improve and today was my first Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) since last fall. 

 
You see, I have been plagued by numerous lower extremity injuries from turf toe to Morton's Neuroma, and I was a nervous wreck about this test.  What if I failed?  What if I couldn't even achieve the minimum? There is something about the APFT that manages to turn what is basically a timed-fitness routine into a significant emotional event.  Again, it goes back to the fact that it is TIMED.  

 
So, what is the APFT?  It is a test designed to test your physical readiness.  There is much controversy about the exercises and whether they test fitness.  It is actually undergoing revisions that will eventually be implemented.  But in the meantime, we continue to do this test.  The test is made up of three events which are scored based on age, gender and time.  One must achieve a minimum of 60 total points (not number of repetitions) in each event to pass: 

 
PUSH UPS (As Many As You Can in 2 Mins.)
 

SIT-UPS (As Many As You Can in 2 Mins.)


2-MILE RUN

 
*** Did I mention how much fun it is to run two miles when your hip flexors are stiff and tired after sit ups?  Tons.  The run is usually done at a track which is the one thing I do not like about the APFT.  Eight laps can get pretty tedious.  I prefer when it is an out and back run.  

 
Anyhow,  as mentioned, today was the APFT and I am so thrilled that I improved in every area.  No, it is not the best APFT score I've ever had, but it is a big improvement from where I was 6 months ago when I tried a mock APFT.  How did I improve?

 
EVENT  (BEFORE // AFTER  // TOTAL SCORE)
 
PUSH UPS       13 // 22 // 73
SIT UPS           40 // 60 // 83
2-MILE RUN   26:05 (13.02 mins. x mile) // 20: 12 (10:07 mins. x mile) // 78

 
Now here is the thing:  based on my GPS I actually ran 2.17 Miles (probably because I had to keep changing lanes) which puts me at 9:20 per mile.  So I am feeling pretty happy to leave behind the 13 mins. group and move on up.  Of the three events, the push ups is what I was most nervous about and I still cannot believe how much I improved.  Now, I am all kinds of psyched about building on the improvements and getting better for my next APFT in 6 months. 
 
 
 
 
This does all kinds of things for my motivation. Yes, I can be deflated that I did not score super high, but instead I am choosing to celebrate the little victories and conquering obstacles. They are what fuel motivation and serve as reminders that while progress is not immediate, if you keep at it-- it will happen. 
 
 

FALL FAVORITES: ATHLETIC/ CASUAL FASHION HOT PICKS

It is fall, y'all! And one of the reasons I love fall is because of the fashion.  It is a time for sweaters, jackets and boots.  And did I mention big bags?  This is the season when I eagerly look forward to catalogs (yes, I love getting catalogs in the mail) and what the trends for the season will be.  And I use the word trendy VERY loosely because trends are not my thing.  Rather, fashion needs to be functional and able to crossover.  Comfortable yet fashionable.  Because truly, we all want to look put together even if going to the gym.  Fortunately for us, many companies have all those things in mind when it comes for women's casual and athletic clothing.  And they create looks that take the hassle away of putting something together.  Here are my casual and fitness clothing hot pics for the season.
 
 
AROUND TOWN

For this girl, comfort and effortless chic are a must.  These pieces prove that you can accomplish that in no time.  Brands like Oiselle and Athleta take casual comfort to a new level with luxurious fabrics and modern designs that crossover from lounging at home, to yoga, to going out for coffee with friends. This selection is mostly darker tones because I am drawn to those colors, but the companies offer these pieces in various colors. 



The Big O Hoodie by Oiselle and Lux Track Pants by Oiselle are the perfect combo for those days when you want to be comfortable but still look stylishly put together.  Yes, they are technically "track" clothing but I can seriously see myself wearing nothing but this.  For those days when a more structured yet casual look is required, I am loving the Overcast Coat by Athleta paired with the Moto Pants also from Athleta.  Love this look.  And if you accessorize with the Croft Boots by Born (which I am in love with) and the Gotta Have It Tote by Under Armour you will be set.   I am head over heels with the edgy look of this outfit combination.



RUNNING/FITNESS

When I was in college, I remember going running in sweats or wearing a tattered tshirt and shorts to the gym.  Yeap, those days are long gone.  Running apparel has come A LONG WAY not only on design but also on technologically engineered fabrics.  Pieces are comfortable to wear while claiming to improve running efficiency.   During fall the key to dressing for running is layering.  Temperatures can change from day to day or even hour to hour.  Here are some pieces that are perfect for your fall running wardrobe. 



My personality is very black and white... until it is time to choose running gear.  I like to keep tights and shorts in basic colors but for vests, shirts and running shoes there is one rule: the brighter and louder, the better.  This season there are a lot of bright colors but the biggest trend seems to be prints-- both animal or other funky intense prints.  I do not do prints.  Instead I am about keeping pieces simple yet fun.  The Running Wild Half Zip by Athleta made with their "Unstinkable" fabric and the Big O Burnout Running Long Sleeve by Oiselle are great basic pieces and additions to any runner's wardrobe.  For those days when there is a chill in the air the Nightlife Essential Vest by Brooks offer an extra layer that is not bulky; just the right amount of protection.  Now, I don't know where you live but here in Kansas it can get pretty cold towards the end of the fall season and I am a HUGE fan of the Utopia Thermal Tights II especially when running in the cold Minnesota fall.


Now, let's talk about shoes and running accessories.  First-- running shoes.  When I visited the Go Girl Run Kansas City Expo a few weeks ago there was a Hoka booth and I tried a pair of these running shoes.  I LOVED them.  So much that when I ordered a pair of the Clifton model and I'm waiting on them to come in.  I like a shoe that is lightweight but I'm not going to lie: I love cushioning.  This shoe seems to have found a happy medium to achieving both.  I'll definitely review these once I have taken them on a few runs.


Hats and gloves are my funniest and biggest conundrum during fall running.  One minute I need them, then next I do not.  Do I take them or leave them at home?  So I am always on the lookout for hats and gloves that protect me but that are not too thick.  Which is why I love the Essential Gloves and the Pure Project Beanie by Brooks.  They are both lightweight and provide just the right amount of warmth.  


And these are my picks for hot items for fall.  From the gym to a relaxed day on the town, these pieces are basic enough to enjoy for many seasons to come. 


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