Another year older...33!!

My annual tradition. Carrot cake on my birthday!

I've never been one to get excited for the New Year like I do for my birthday.

When it comes to birthdays, we celebrate our life. Another year of growing older, wiser, smarter and healthier and another year to add to the list from when we were brought into this world to live our one and only life.  

I find myself doing a lot of reflecting around my birthday as well as goal setting. I am not one for New Year Resolutions or using January 1st as the marker of when in the year I am going to begin to change my life. 

Birthdays are exciting. As Karel wrote in my birthday card yesterday

Birthdays are good for you. Research shows that the people who have the most live the longest!"

My 33rd birthday celebration started on Friday when our friends/athletes Peggy and Anthony drove down from the DC area (with their adorable silver lab Brutus) for two RETUL fits from Karel. Of course, no weekend with us would be complete without local food and some training/physical activity. 

On Friday evening we went to Sidewall Pizza in downtown Traveler's Rest. I highly recommend this pizza joint as the service was great (despite being incredibly busy on a Friday night), the atmosphere was wonderful, they are dog friendly (outside) and the family style seating outside was very inviting. Oh, and the food is amazing!!!
I made my own pizza with fresh mozzarella slices, spinach, mushrooms and pineapple and Karel, Anthony and Peggy got their own pizzas as well. 

We started our meal with the strawberry walnut and blue cheese salad special. One bowl big enough for us all to share. 

Campy and Brutus enjoyed their treats as a few pieces of meat from Karel and Anthony's pizza just accidentally happened to land right in front of their faces. 

By 9pm, we were back home and Brutus and Campy were exhausted from all their fun.

On Saturday morning, Karel took Peggy, Anthony and me on a 80 minute ride and it was fun to show off our country roads. Our ride certainly woke up our legs!!

After the ride, Karel continued on riding for two more hours and Peggy, Anthony and me went for a run. Peggy recently ran a marathon so she only joined us for the first 20 minutes as a shake-out run. My workout called for 1:20-1:45 of EZ running with walk breaks so Anthony joined me for the rest of my run (Peggy took the doggies for a long walk after her run). 

It was great to chat for 12 miles and despite a very hilly course (which is my favorite route where I live), we both felt comfortable and maintained good form throughout. It was a bit hotter than normal here so we refueled our flasks in our hydration belt (Nathan) twice and we made sure to keep up with calories. Despite the slow pace that we wanted to hold, the calories were needed to help the body stay strong and healthy. 
We averaged around 8:25-8:30 for the entire run until the last mile. You know you paced a run well if you can pick it up on the last 1-2 miles.
I kicked it up for 1.3 miles and Anthony was a great pacer and we finished our last mile on gentle rolling hills at 7:43 min/mile.

After we all finished our workout, we had our recovery drinks (Clif Shot Recovery Powder mixed with 1% Organic milk) and then we all cleaned up and had breakfast (which consisted of leftover pizza :)

Karel fit Anthony in the afternoon (Peggy was fit on Friday) and then around 5pm we headed downtown for dinner. 

We ate at Wild Wing Cafe. Although not a local Greenville restaurant, the food is good and it is in a good location just off Main Street so the doggies could relax while we ate. A few rounds of IPAs were consumed by Anthony, Peggy and Karel as well as some winds. When it was time for our entrees, I yummed over this delicious meal from the fiesta menu - veggies, tomato, cheese and smashed avocado. I started my meal with a garden salad. 

After our delicious dinner, we walked all over downtown. We headed toward Falls Park and then made our way to the Westend to Karel's favorite ice cream shop - Blueberry Frog

Peggy spoiled the doggies with their own ice cream treat, complete with a doggy bone inside. Campy and Brutus both shared their dessert. 

On Sunday morning, we said good bye to Anthony, Peggy and Brutus and then the rain came.

My planned birthday ride with Karel was postponed until 11am so we spent the morning watching the Giro cycling tour (last stage) on TV and I studied sport nutrition for my upcoming board certification exam.

Although we were a bit off our normal schedule, the ride was exactly what we needed as it was so great to be out in nature for 2.5 hours. After the ride, I had enough motivation/energy to head to the Furman Pool for a swim but sadly, I made it 3 minutes until I was asked to get out due to lightening. 

And two turtles were saved during our ride. 

Around 6pm, my mom came over and we enjoyed a delicious veggie-packed meal (plus tempeh for me and chicken for my mom and Karel) on the grill.

This was our first time using our new grill, which use to be my dad's.
This was Karel's first time using the grill and he did a great job - minus a few burnt veggies. My dad would have been so proud to see Karel in action. 

After dinner we enjoyed a slice of carrot cake and finished off the night with a very appropriate gift from my mom. 

Cheers to many more years, letting the good times roll!