Peonies and a few odds and ends

Since this time of year is one of the craziest times of year for wedding photographers (we lovingly refer to this as "busy season"), it's all I can do to keep up these days! It's also getting warmer outside, so things are heating up in our day to day lives as well. (Pun intended).

We're currently working on moving out of the 1910s house we were renting (which means painting, landscaping work, and a bunch of other odds and ends), as well as preparing for several weddings we're involved in next month...including one where John is actually a groomsman! It's his first time being a groomsman, which is funny to me because I've been dying to be a bridesmaid and he, of course, gets to be in a bridal party before me! We've also joined an adult kickball league for the first time and I'm learning how to do sports. Most of what I can do is run...but they haven't come up with a position yet that allows for someone else to kick the ball and me just do the running...ha!!

Since this weekend is Mother's Day, I went to Trader Joe's today for flowers for my mom (and myself, because hey, cat moms matter, too!) and instead of buying a pre-made bouquet, I decided to make us both arrangements instead. 

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Although I'm kind of already over the gray weather forecasted for the next three days, the rain and gloom was actually perfect to put on Alabama Shakes and get to work creating with these pretty flowers with a cup of sugar cookie coffee.

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I love how the arrangements turned out! I love playing with flowers...it was a fun little escape from my work for the afternoon...now it's time to head back to my editing cave!

Charlotte Spartan Sprint Recap

Oh hello! I feel like it was just the beginning of April, wasn’t it? How did we already get to the first day of May?? It seems like I was literally just prepping for my second Spartan Race the first weekend of last month and now here I am several weeks later and I’m just now blogging about it! I’m a total slacker lately when it comes to this blog, but I’ve got a TON of stuff to share in the upcoming days and weeks! 

I think anybody who’s known me a really long time (beyond a couple years or so…) would think it’s somewhat hilarious and/or ridiculous that I’ve actually run TWO Spartan races now. WHO AM I EVEN?? Last year when I turned 29, I decided to set up a list of challenges and activities to work on completing before my big 3-0 birthday this July and one of those things was to run an obstacle course race! I started OCR training through a local group called ROC Training and it ended up being perfect timing. My friend and I ran our first Spartan, the Wintergreen Sprint, back in the Fall and set our sights on a Trifecta in 2017 by signing up for Charlotte Sprint!

Thank you to my friend Tori for the pics! She ran her own preggo Spartan running around taking photos of us!!

Thank you to my friend Tori for the pics! She ran her own preggo Spartan running around taking photos of us!!

Since this was my second race and I didn’t have to work until late the night before, I felt so much more at ease going into the race! Not only did I know what I was getting myself into this time, I’d also heard from multiple Spartan veterans that the Wintergreen Race we’d run (I’m using the term “run” loosely here…) is one of the hardest Sprints out there. Starting Saturday morning I was excited to see how far the last few months of training would take me and what I could improve upon…especially the rope, which was my nemesis at the last race. You can read all about that here in my Wintergreen recap, if you’re interested!

One thing I’ll always remember about this race is how freaking COLD it was at the start. A lot of that, I’m sure has to do with the time of year we raced (beginning of April) and the time of day our heat was (8:00-8:30 competitive). I’d definitely take the cold weather though, over racing later in the day because the second thing I’ll always remember about this race was the MUD. 

Oh, the mud. It smelled like straight up cow poops and had the texture of what I’d imagine quicksand to feel like. I’m usually pretty good at barbed wire crawls because I’m petite, which makes me lower to the ground naturally, but I can’t imagine there was even one person who didn’t struggle through that mud! It almost would have been worth it (and faster!) to do the 30 burpees and skip slogging through that crap (literally…haha).

The mud made all of the obstacles more difficult…especially the rope. 

The rope. THAT STUPID FREAKING ROPE. Last year, when I started ROC training I think I laughed (or more likely rolled my eyes or grimaced, which I have a tendency to do) when they started trying to teach us how to climb a rope. It’s not like I’m not strong, but upper body strength has never been a strong suit of mine and I’d always imagined a rope climb would be straight up upper body work. It turns out that it’s mostly technique and since we spent a lot of time before the Wintergreen Spartan learning that technique and I felt like I stood a pretty decent chance at getting it at the race.

Well, if you've read my Wintergreen recap post, and/or ever talked to me about that race experience in real life, you’ll know that it was a pretty epic fail at my first race. I basically got 3/4 of the way up the rope and lost all of my energy and did a horrible, awkward slide down the rope before bursting into tears. I tasted my hot, salty tears during the angriest, most defeated thirty burpees of all time. That moment was my biggest regret from that race and I think it was because I felt I really did have the capability to climb it. Some obstacles I don’t feel bummed about failing because I know that right now they are so far out of my reach due to my size, genetics, strength levels, etc that even if I literally gave 100 percent towards completing it, I still wouldn’t get it. The rope wasn’t one of those things, so it made me so mad at myself knowing that I failed and ultimately let myself and everybody who was cheering for me down. I vowed to make it up the rope at my next Spartan and dedicated as much time as I could practicing rope climbs and working on my grip strength. 

The morning of the race, we could see the rope area as we parked and headed to the start. “Oh that doesn’t look too bad!” I said out loud. It was almost like I jinxed myself. It technically wasn’t all that high (though, when you’re afraid of heights, pretty much anything is high) but it was destined to be the most slippery thing on earth after hundreds of people attempted to climb after crawling through literally SHIN DEEP poop mud. 

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After slogging through the poop mud, I hustled to the hoist and the rope. The hoist was a piece of cake…again, because I think they have us do heavier hoists in training, I was well prepared! After the hoist, I was antsy to get over to the rope. Cheryl noticed and commented on how ready I was. “I’m just trying to get it over with!” I said. I think most of us were just DONE after the mud, so I know I wasn’t alone in feeling that. I couldn’t relax or concentrate on anything else until I’d gone up that rope. The closer I got to it finally being time to attempt the climb, I started to feel more and more anxious. I felt it in the pit of my stomach. What if I didn’t do it? Especially after I made such a big deal about making it happen this time?? 

The first thing I did when I approached the rope climb was look for one that had dry-ness starting lower than the others. The ropes were ALL muddy and slick towards the bottom, but towards the tops they were dryer where you could tell that people had quit. I grabbed the rope in my hands and went to hook it around my foot and that’s when I realized this was going to be NOTHING like climbing the rope in training. Nothing really could have prepared me to go up a rope so slippery I couldn’t really keep it between my feet very well OR hold onto it well enough to grip it with my hands. I could feel my heart sink and my tear ducts filling up after I jumped up on the rope only to have it slip through my fingers and my (unfortunately bare) legs.

I slid down off of that rope, hot tears in my eyes, already feeling like a failure, full on toddler style meltdown about to erupt, when my friend Leah stood in front of me and told me “NO CRYING!!”. She said it with such sternness and fierceness that I immediately sniffled and took a deep breath before collecting myself as best as I could to go at it again. I couldn’t walk away with that being how it ended…I just couldn’t. I knew in that moment that the only way I’d be giving up this time would be if I physically fell off of the rope because my arms and grip gave out. 

After a couple more deep breaths, I jumped back up and took it kind of slow. I realized that if I could just somehow get past the slick, wet mud stained part of the rope, I’d be home free (I mean, as home free as you can actually be when it comes to a rope climb…). If I could just get past the slick, slimy length of the rope, I’d be able to inch up the rest of the way just like I’d done a hundred times before in practice.

Thinking back to that moment, my memories of making it up feel like a blur. Like it happened in an instant, but also like it took a lifetime. Near the spot where I quit on myself at Wintergreen, I felt exhaustion creeping in. It hurt, I was tired, wet, and I was so hungry! My arms were burning and I just wanted it to be over. That’s the moment when I realized that I couldn’t give up. I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t let my mind take over when my body knew what it needed to do. That’s a moment I will go back to again and again in my mind when I need that little bit of extra to push through something difficult…in that moment I knew that the only difference between me last time and the me that I wanted to be…the one succeeding and ringing the bell, was to keep going despite how hard it was. 

And isn’t that such a good metaphor for life? What’s the thing that separates successful people from those who aren’t? What’s the thing that separates athletes from people who aren’t? It’s that grit that says keep going even though everything in you wants to stop. I say all the time “If Katie Nesbitt can do it, anybody can” because I know that I’m not special. None of us are. We all have the capability to give our best or the capability to quit. If exercise hating, junk food junkie, bookworm, couch potato, Katie Nesbitt can climb ropes and deadlift twice what she weighs, I feel that anything is possible…(but seriously).

Anyway! Back to my story: I kept pulling away at the rope while my coaches and my friends (and a few strangers) yelled encouragement and other random things at me. Suddenly I heard people yelling at me to hit the bell. I was so confused for a second because I didn’t think I was close enough to it, but I held on for dear life and swung my arm out and hit the bell. In that moment I felt fear (because I was literally swinging from the top of a rope and afraid of falling off) and SO much relief. 

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After sliding awkwardly to the bottom, my eyes welled up with tears. This time becauseI realized I had climbed the freaking rope! I had conquered an obstacle that had frustrated me to no end at my first race and I’d done something I NEVER would have thought I’d be able to do in my lifetime.

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That moment, that feeling of being able to prove to myself that I could do it was something I will never ever forget. Wintergreen was a great experience, but Charlotte was all about redemption for me. I am so glad that I got to go and do this, AND that I got to do it with friends! Throughout the race I bitched and complained a lot, repeatedly asking “WHY DO WE PAY MONEY TO PUT OURSELVES THROUGH THIS SHIT?!?” but I know why it is we do it. Because it’s cathartic to be able to push yourself, to prove what you can do, to redeem yourself from past failures, and because the camaraderie you share with your teammates is something so special. 

Running a marathon a few years back was just a yolo thing I did to say that I’d done it that ended up wearing me out, but running Spartans has been an intentional thing I’ve done that’s given me confidence, strength, a tribe of amazing athletes that I get to call friends. I can’t wait to sign up for my next race!

Photos & Meal Planning

One of the weird things I do that maybe not everyone else does (or maybe they do??) is photographing most of my meals. Not all of the photos are nice or are in good lighting. In fact, most of them are just quick snapshots of whatever I'm about to dig into before I chow down on it. 

I started doing this for two reasons.

1. I really, REALLY love food. I like to remember great meals that I've had! Taking a photo of a meal is like taking a photo of any other good memory to me. 

2. I like to look back through my food photos for ideas on what to eat when I'm in a rut food-wise or just can't decide what to eat. We all have those nights when we're trying to decide what to eat because nothing sounds good and this helps me pick from things I've had before. It really does help when I'm meal planning or just thinking about what I should have for dinner!

Meals pictured (left to right) 

Row 1:
1. Coconut Thai Shrimp Bowls, 2. a Blue Apron salmon and cous cous dish, 3. a kid's meal from Cafe Rio, 4. Chicken pita from Zoe's Kitchen

Row 2:
1. Skinnytaste Butternut Squash Lasgana rolls, 2. Skinnytaste Crockpot Sesame Chicken, 3. Leftover chicken teriyaki and beef bulgogi and salad, 4. Ground turkey, roasted green beans and butternut squash, 

Row 3:
1. Lean Cuisine Vermont Cheddar Mac & Cheese and open faced tuna sandwich 2. Rice, broccoli, chicken, and a cara cara orange, 3. Homemade chili, 4. Bagel thins, baby bel cheese, spinach, and smoked salmon

Row 4: 
1. Peanut Butter Pie from the Roosevelt, 2. Skinnytaste Crockpot maple drumsticks and cauliflower gratin from Trader Joe's, 3. Angel hair pasta with olive oil and sauteed shrimp 4. Baked Chicken, rice, and sriracha ranch. 

Must Haves for Long Haul Flights

We are a little over a week from heading out to HAWAII (!!!) and I couldn't be more excited. I've already started working on my packing list (which is actually a spreadsheet...and includes things like who I want to buy souvenirs for and what sights I want to see). Is that really weird and type A?? I can't help it, I guess I was just born this way, because that's how I roll. 

Since Hawaii is a little bit of a trek (we've got a four hour flight and then a seven hour flight to get there), I thought as I was packing up some of my long trip essentials, I'd also share them here!  

1 & 2. Earplugs and a sleep mask - These long haul flights are the perfect opportunity to get a little bit of sleep if you can sleep on a plane. I personally can only sleep on a plane if I'm exhausted beyond belief. And even then a sleep mask works wonders, especially when people near you decide they really want to keep their window shades open and the sun is right in your eyeballs. Earplugs are a bonus. 

PRO TIP: I usually pick a window seat on the side I sleep on. I sleep mostly on my left side, so I usually pick the left side of the plane. Something about doing that helps to trick my body into feeling like it's time to sleep.

3. Comfortable headphones - If you don't want to use earplugs, comfortable headphones are so important. If you're wearing your headphones for more than an hour or two at a time, comfort is really important! I recently got these Beats headphones, that I love! I'm a big earbud person, but a lot of people also love to wear the over ear headphones too. 

4. Spotify Premium - I started using Spotify Premium when I was marathon training and needed access to hours of music that I could also access offline without purchasing 70 or 80 dollars of music from Apple. I love it for long haul flights because you can make a playlist of as many songs as you'd like and then you can make it available offline, meaning you won't have to use wifi or data to listen. This is awesome for flying or any other time when you might want to conserve data or battery life! 

5. Mophie Charging Case for iPhone - Speaking of conserving battery life, I don't travel without a Mophie Charging case for my iPhone! Previously I had the external universal mophie charger, which I'd use with my regular phone charger, but I've found the charging case to be the most convenient and easy to use when you're traveling. You don't need to carry anything extra, the charger is on your phone! You just flip a little switch when you're low and it starts charging right then and there. Such a lifesaver for a flight on a plane that doesn't have power! I have this one. I thought it would be super bulky and I would hate it, but once you get used to it, it's just fine! 

6. A zippered pouch - I think the key to staying organized when traveling is lots of compartments. There's not much I hate more than looking for something I need and having to dig through my entire cavernous carry on bag. I keep a smaller bag of some kind in my carry on with all of my in flight essentials (gum, dramamine, headphones, advil, lip balm, nyquil, etc) so that I can grab that and stick it in the seat back in front of me so I'm not digging through my carry on every time I need something. 

7. Compression socks - I'm very pro wearing socks when I fly. If it's a shorter flight, I might wear sandals, but for long flights, I always wear socks, specifically compression socks. Long flights are always FREEZING, so socks are very important. Compression socks are great because in addition to keeping your feet warm, they also help keep your feet and legs from swelling due to cabin pressure and lower the chance you might get a blood clot. 

8. Zabees Immune Support and Sleep powder I discovered this stuff on a trip earlier this Fall and fell in love with it! When you're traveling, your immune system can always benefit from a little bit of a boost and the melatonin and other things in the powder also help me relax enough to drift off to sleep. I highly recommend this stuff before a red eye flight! 

My last "must have" is a must have for ANY flight. It's TSA PreCheck. I signed up earlier this year and was mad I hadn't done it earlier, because it makes the process of getting through the airport SO MUCH SMOOTHER. You pay a one time fee and go to your local office to have them verify your identity and take your fingerprints and you get a known traveler ID that allows you to bypass the long TSA lines and go straight to the PreCheck line instead. I love it because I can keep my shoes and jacket on and I don't have to remove my laptop or liquids! I travel alone a lot and really prefer people not know I have an expensive laptop in my possession. 

A Girl's "Weekend" in Charleston, PT 1

A little over a week ago I returned from my very first trip to Charleston. It seems like almost everybody is going to Charleston these days and so instead of feeling all of the FOMO feels, I decided to make the trek myself to see what I might be missing out on. My friend Sarah (who is also a wedding photographer!) and I road-tripped together from Virginia. Surprisingly, the drive isn’t terrible and it’s well worth it, in my opinion, because it turns out, if your favorite things in life are food and cocktails, Charleston is the place for you!

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I have quite a bit to share from our short trip (I really love to pack it all in on a trip!) so I'll be sharing two separate Charleston posts. I only took my little film camera (a Canon AE-1, if you're interested) and my iPhone, so most of my photos are just phone photos! Don't judge too harshly, guys. 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

Sarah and I live a couple hours apart, so we met in Richmond and drove into Charleston Sunday afternoon. After a few re-routes thanks to destruction from Hurricane Matthew, we finally made it to town in time for a late dinner!After consulting Yelp and comparing menus of a few places with good ratings, we chose to head over to Voodoo Tiki Bar in search of Cheeseburger egg rolls. 

I have to say, after the experience we had at Voodoo Tiki Bar, I will be a little skeptical of Yelp in the future. I was hoping for a chill bar where people go to have a bite and some cocktails. It ended up being a full on club atmosphere (we’re talking black light halloween party here, guys). It was a pretty interesting way to start the trip, considering I was basically wearing pajamas (leggings and a big comfy sweater) and had no makeup on…not even moisturizer! 

We had drinks and shared both Cheeseburger egg rolls and Shrimp po boy sliders. Both were pretty good, especially for a club-y type place. I don’t think there are many places like this where the food is actually really good! I imagine if you'd had a few drinks, it would taste even better! 

I also noted that they had several types of tequilas that seemed really cool (like a strawberry jalapeño infused variety) and I’m already regretting not having the pecan pie bourbon. All in all, I do think I would return if I was in the area for like, a bachelorette party, a birthday, or something else with a big group. I will definitely try to dress more appropriately next time, as well…HAHA.

The next morning we set out for the day to explore and eat. And eat and explore. We had no real set agenda, just mainly stuffing our faces as much as possible. Which is pretty much par for the course when you are on vacation with me. That and day-drinking. 

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Our first stop was Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. It’s such a cute place, but it’s really tiny. So tiny that we actually passed it twice walking King Street before we made it in! We decided to share three biscuits (our main strategy here was to share smaller portions so we could eat as many things as possible since we were only in town for a couple days). We sampled ham, cinnamon, and buttermilk with pimento cheese. 

The biscuits were so good! I highly recommend trying a few different things because there were things I liked about each of them. The cinnamon had a sweetness to it that complimented the saltiness of the ham biscuit. And the pimento cheese? Well, it’s pimento cheese so you know it was amazing!

We also shared a homemade oreo cookie. I'm an oreo connoisseur, if you weren't aware, so I felt this was a necessary snack to try. The cookie was chocolate-y and shortbread-y and amazing! I could eat a whole sleeve of them if they were smaller, for sure. 

After browsing some of the shops on King Street, we took a break for a donut at Glazed Donuts. I chose a raspberry frosted donut that was delicious! Probably one of the best I’ve ever had! The raspberry icing really tasted of raspberry. I could tell that they used real berries to make it. The donut itself was a perfect yeast donut. Light, airy, and soft! I would rate this as an A+ donut. 

Following our donut tour, we went to a distillery tour at Charleston Distilling Co. Living in Virginia, there are a ton of wineries and breweries around and I’ve been on my fair share of tours of them. I’ve yet to go to a distillery though, so this was a neat experience! We learned about how they make rye whiskey, vodka, and gin (did you know gin is actually FLAVORED VODKA???) and sampled a few. 

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Next, we set out in search of the infamous Rainbow Row that’s pinterest and Instagram famous. I loved the pastel colored houses and the charming architecture in this area! The bright paint colors are just so happy I wish that they would catch on at home so at least when we’re in the depressing throes of winter we’d have something cheerful to look at! 

We also stopped by the pineapple fountain at Waterfront park, since it’s in walking distance from Rainbow Row. 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

After walking around quite a bit, we stopped at Pearlz for a bite to eat and a glass of champagne. We shared some oysters on the half shell, pork rinds, and corn fritters. The oysters were good, but I was underwhelmed by the corn fritters and pork rinds. The corn fritters were pretty bland and the pork rinds tasted like they came from a bag. 

It could be I'm just spoiled by the amazing homemade pork rinds back in Richmond at the Roosevelt. I think Richmond is gonna be the next Charleston, guys. At least foodie wise!

A lot of people highly recommend Folly Beach, so we drove out to check it out around sunset. There were SO MANY SHELLS. And rocks! I’m imagining that’s because hurricane Matthew rolled through only a week prior. I can’t wait to see my film photos from Folly beach because it was just so pretty! 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

Instead of a full on dinner, we decided to go to two bars and have some snacks and drinks. Our first stop for the evening was the Gin Joint. The most unique thing about the Gin Joint is that you can order a drink based on two adjectives listed in their menu and the bartender will create something special for you! I chose fizzy and floral. I’d like to go back at some point and choose another combination…maybe tart and unusual? Or herbal and fruit?

We split a ricotta stuffed meatball and pretzels and then headed to the rooftop bar at Vendue hotel, where we met a couple who had just gotten married and were on their honeymoon and were treated to two rounds of salted pretzel shots (who knew that was a thing??) by the bartender. Totally made for a fun evening and a neat story to remember when looking back on the trip. We meant to eat something else, but being that it was late Monday night and lots of things were closed early, I ended my evening with Doritos from the hotel vending machine. (Typical Katie Nesbitt).

If you’re wondering where we stayed, we had a room at the Hampton Inn in Mount Pleasant, just over the bridge. I’m a Hilton Honors member (what, what!) and I earn points every time I stay, which during wedding season is pretty frequently. I had enough points for us to stay for three nights for FREE in Mount Pleasant, so it worked out really well for us to make that our home base. It wasn’t too far away that it felt like a hassle to go “home” and it was a lot cheaper than staying downtown. 

That concludes the first part of our trip! When I return with part two of our adventure, I'll be recapping the trip to Boone Hall Plantation (where the Notebook was filmed!) and several more food pit stops. We hit THIRTEEN places from Sunday night to Wednesday morning, so you’ll definitely want to stick around to hear about Tuesday/Wednesday! 

23andMe Ancestry & DNA test Review

I can’t start this post without sharing a little bit of back story on me. I’m adopted, if you didn’t already know, and I have very little information on my biological family. I have been interested in finding more about my heritage and my history for a while, but there isn’t much information out there on most Korean adoptees. There’s much more of a stigma against unwed/single mothers in Korea and it’s often a big source of shame for Korean women, so a lot of the information I do have is not reliable because some of it may or may not be straight up made up stuff.

(You can read a little bit more back story here if you’re interested and/or bored.)

I’ve been interested in doing a DNA test through 23andMe for a while. A few companies have these DNA tests now, but to my knowledge, 23andMe is one of the only ones that actually test for some medical things too, not just ancestry. I went into the test thinking, oh, I don’t really need the ancestry part anyway….I mean, I’m Korean, that’s pretty much it. 

The actual process of doing the test is super easy. You order it online (it’s $200, so a bit of an investment…), wait for it to come into the mail, then you spit into the little canister provided and ship it back. I can’t say that I ever thought I would be doing a mail order DNA test

It took about a month from when I got the “Sample received” email until I got word that my results were ready. They’d advertised it as taking about 6-8 weeks, so I appreciated that they got it done even sooner! I love companies that practice the whole “Under promise, over deliver” thing! 

The results are broken down into four categories: Ancestry, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Traits. The most surprising thing about mine was that I’m not 100 percent Korean like I initially thought. I’m not even 80 percent Korean! I’m only 47 percent Korean! And it turns out that I’m also almost 1/3 Japanese. This was a huge revelation that I wasn’t really expecting. That much Japanese in my DNA means that I most likely have at least one grandparent who is fully Japanese! Learning that gave me a lot more questions to ask about my family history, but it also helped paint a slightly clearer picture of where I might have come from.

The Carrier Status portion of the report is worth doing the test in itself, especially if you have plans on starting a family one day. They look for variants of genes that show you could be a carrier of 41 different diseases including some I’ve heard of, like Cystic Fibrosis, and a lot I haven’t, like Maple Syrup Urine Disease (yes, that’s a real thing…I’m not joking!). Luckily, I’m not a carrier of any of these things, but it’s good information to have!

The Traits section was really fascinating, but also really fun to look at. They included things like whether or not you are genetically likely to be able to taste bitter things (I’m more likely to not be able to), skin pigmentation, newborn hair amount, etc. 

I also found the Wellness portion to be neat. I think this was one of my favorite parts because it confirmed a lot of things I’ve always known about myself, like that I have a very low tolerance for caffeine, that I do not have the dreaded Asian flush (from drinking alcohol), and that I’m not a very deep sleeper. Two of the more interesting results were that I’m genetically likely to stay the same weight whether or not I eat high or low amounts of saturated fats (which probably explains why I can eat so many processed foods and stay mostly the same) and that my fast twitch muscle fibers have the protein that makes me more likely to be a sprinter than an endurance athlete! The second one really surprised me, but at the same time, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Yes, I ran a marathon and prefer to run longer distances more slowly than going on fast, short runs, BUT when it comes to lifting weights and lots of other exercises, I excel more at lower reps of heavier weights as opposed to endurance workouts with higher reps at lower weight. It was really cool to learn that there’s a reason I hate high rep workouts and it’s just how I was made!

Another thing you can see with your results is if you inherited certain things from your parents. That was really cool to me, for obvious reasons. 

The hardest part about how difficult it is to research my past is that a lot of my questions about my heritage will never have answers. I think doing the DNA test was helpful for me in that it helps to piece together more of a picture of where I might have come from, but at the same time, it gives me a few more questions that may go unanswered for a long time, if not forever. All in all, I am really glad I did this DNA test and I think it was well worth the investment. It would be really interesting and neat for anyone to look at their results, but I would highly recommend doing this if you’re like me and you are adopted and can’t, or don’t want to find your biological family. It’s so neat to be able to learn these things about yourself! 

Wintergreen, VA Spartan Sprint Recap

This past weekend I ran my very first Spartan Race, a Spartan Sprint, in Wintergreen, Virginia! I left Wintergreen on a high and am still super pumped to be able to say I've done a Spartan Race! It's funny that I'm so excited about it because a couple years ago I would have only been competing as a professional donut eater (I can eat at least a dozen hot Krispy Kremes at once).  I seriously have no idea when I became someone who genuinely enjoys working out, much less someone who pays HARD EARNED MONEY to jump into mud wearing expensive workout clothes (can we talk about that later?), but this is apparently part of who I am now. 

Me and my Spartan buddy Cheryl before the race started. Notice how clean we look??

Me and my Spartan buddy Cheryl before the race started. Notice how clean we look??

When I wrote my big 30 Before 30, I decided I wanted to add an obstacle course race. It worked out really well that the Spartan Sprint happened to fall on a day that I wasn’t already working AND a friend from class was already signed up. I work a lot of weekends this time of year, so it is VERY rare that something like this is at all feasible for me! Even though I was able to physically make it to the race, it was still kind of a stretch since I had a wedding all the way across the state until 11pm the night before. I'll admit that I might not have been at my best Sunday morning. I raced on very little sleep, a lot of adrenaline, a chugged can of Red Bull, and many, many Clif energy chews. (The ones that taste like gushers are DA BOMB, by the way!). I probably won't schedule myself like this for any future races, but at least I know that if I can do it running on fumes, I can do it even better when I'm well rested!

The morning of the race we woke up to a chilly, misty day. It was plenty dreary and just wet enough to make everything slippery and muddy...Like the ropes…but, I’ll get to that later. I'm grateful it wasn't super hot, but it was FREEZING afterward when our bodies started cooling down. 

I’m so glad that the race that I could make was the shorter of the two Wintergreen races because I heard from several people who go to the same obstacle course racing class that I do (you should check it out here if you’re interested!) that the longer race, the Super, was freaking ridiculous. Like almost 9 miles up a mountain both ways ridiculous. Lucky for me (lucky being a relative term here), we only had to trek 4 miles up and down the Blue Ridge mountains. I kept saying “Are these the mountains people SKI DOWN?? And we are climbing UP? Can I get on the ski lift please??". Before the race several people told me "You'll be great at the running part!" because I've run a marathon and several half marathons, but in reality, there was actually very little running. A lot of the course was just way too steep for running, which was fine by me because the climbing felt like an obstacle in and of itself! 

So, getting to the obstacles. There were 20 of them for our race, the Spartan Sprint. My favorites were the Herc Hoist, the walls (the taller of which we helped each other over), and some of the climbing ones, even though they were pretty scary if you are scared of heights like me and also scared of potentially breaking your neck. 

The bad: I failed at five obstacles.  The good: I only failed at five obstacles. 

Let's start with the bad. No one loves talking about their failures, but I think they are a pretty big part of the Spartan Race since you have to do 30 burpees to pass any obstacle you miss. So, unless you really love doing burpees for some reason, you're going to try as hard as you can to avoid doing them in the wet, rocky mud. Going into the race I knew I was probably going to fail on at least a couple things, especially the spear throw. No real surprise there since I have very little hand/eye coordination! I also failed a couple of obstacles that were difficult for me because I have shorter arms and legs and am not what you would call a gymnast. The worst one though, was the rope climb. I was SO close and I think if it had been another day and it maybe wasn’t so slippery and I had a couple hours more sleep, I could have gotten it. At least, that’s what I like to think. 

I got 2/3rds-ish up the rope and my arms just couldn't pull anymore. I let go and burst into tears. I was then mad at myself for failing AND mad at myself for being a cry-baby! I said later "I WASTED SO MUCH SALT BY CRYING AND THAT'S WHY I HAVE CRAMPS NOW." Pro tip: tears contain much needed sodium, so keep that shit on lock! 

I think I cried when I failed at the rope because that was the one I wanted to hit so badly. I knew I wasn't going to hit the spear throw or the monkey bars, but I really had a shot at the rope. I was angry with myself for giving up and for not being strong enough to make it. Sometimes it’s hard to know when you really gave all you had or if you should have pushed just a little bit more and this was one of those situations. I tend to doubt myself, so was I capable of doing it, or not? In the coming months I plan to practice climbing ropes more and really pushing myself beyond my limits as much as I can in my workouts so that I'm ready to do it next time. I've already decided I'll do another Spartan Race if only just to conquer that freaking rope. 

The good about failing 5 obstacles? Even just a year ago, doing a Spartan Race at all would have been such a stretch for me. This was one of the hardest things I've ever put myself through physically. Five obstacles out of 20 isn't too bad when you consider that. I think the Spartan Sprint (at least the Wintergreen one) was HARDER than either of the two half marathons I've run. I've never sweat so much, cramped so much, or cursed so much as I did on Sunday on that mountain. But, although this race was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it was also something I’ll look back on fondly for a long time. Yes, the course was challenging and a lot more taxing than I thought it would be, but it was also so beautiful! Climbing to the tops of those mountains reminded me how amazing Virginia is and how lucky we are to live here. I also realized that as tough as the race was, I was so glad to be doing it because otherwise, I wouldn’t have been on the mountain that day experiencing how beautiful it all really was! I might have been at home watching Flip or Flop instead, and really, you can watch Flip or Flop anytime. It’s not every day you can climb mountains.

My best tip if you're looking to do a Spartan Race is to make sure you do it with a friend. This experience was so much fun because of my friend Cheryl! It would have been so terrible to do it by myself, so I'm so glad I got to do it with her! I would also highly suggest loading your body with electrolytes and sodium the day before. Cramps were an issue because of all of the up and downhill climbing. 

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All in all, I'm so glad that I got the opportunity to run this race and experience such a fun day. I'm really looking forward to working hard to improve on the things I failed on this year to be even better next time! Thanks for reading my little recap of the race! 

 

 

30 Before 30 - Two Month Update

It’s been exactly two months since I started my big “30 Before 30” challenge, so I thought it was time for an update on my progress! 

I like to be proactive with my projects because procrastination stresses me the heck out, but I haven’t been able to cross too many things off of my list just yet. It was giving me a little bit of anxiety for a little bit…30 things in 12 months is at least 2.5 items per month!! That means I should be up to 5 by now!! 

Some of the things on the list I’ve decided to wait and do during the winter. I inevitably get bored during the slow winter months (which just so happen to be when my work is a lot slower too!) and am always looking for things to do, but the list is full of things I can do in the wintertime!

Here’s a little recap of what I’ve done so far:

#13  Eat a soft-shell crab

One evening after an outdoor concert here in town where you can bring your own bottles of wine, we decided to head to one of our favorite seafood restaurants to check this one off the list. I went for the soft-shell crab sandwich since it was my first time.

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Honestly, I think these are maybe an acquired taste. I didn’t hate it….and I normally love anything having to do with crabs (steamed blue crabs are one of my top five favorite foods!) but maybe it was the fact that you can literally see the whole body of the animal AND everything I have been taught about crabs in the past is that you DON’T eat the shell was so ingrained in my brain, but I just felt like it was a meh experience. Will I have one again? Probably. Did I love it? Not really.

#19 Keg Stand

HA. So, there are no photos of this (although there is go-pro footage somewhere, courtesy of my loving husband…) and that’s probably for good reason. This entire item on the list is a really good example of how I live my life….when I want to do something, I believe in just going after it with gusto, even if it may happen in a somewhat random or unconventional way. I wanted to do a keg stand (for what stupid reason, I can’t even remember!) and I did it! 

I say it happened kind of randomly or unconventionally because, normally people do keg stands at parties, right? Labor day weekend was my last weekend off until November 12, so I felt like if we were going to do it, it should happen before the weather gets too awful. It turns out when you plan a last minute labor day weekend party, most of your friends already have plans. I didn’t let that stop me though, and went ahead with getting a 1/6 keg of Landshark (all that was left) from Total Wine. I was all pumped to do my keg stand in our backyard…that is, until we found out about the hurricane! 

So, that’s pretty much how I came to do a keg stand in my living room with just my husband and a friend of ours. It wasn’t pretty, so I will spare you all of the foamy details. Afterward we went to a new local brewery, which was amazing, and salvaged what otherwise might have been a really weird evening. I’m excited that although the keg stand was not all that great of an experience in itself, it’s going to be a really fun story to have!

In progress:

#7 Send 30 handwritten letters

I’ve written about 7 letters and have sent 5. I’m trying to write and mail 5 at a time, so I’ve got a few more to write to get to 10! The hardest part seems to be finding people to write to, since 30 is a bigger number than I thought. If you’d like a letter, email me at katielovestoeatblog@gmail.com!

#27 Try 30 different donut places
So far I’ve been to six! Here’s a list of where I’ve been. 

  1. Carpe Donut
  2. Duck Donuts
  3. Glazed Donuts
  4. O's donuts 
  5. Dough Joe's 
  6. Sandy pony donuts 

I plan to write a post with a mini review of each of these donut stops, so stay tuned for that!

#18 Start allergy immunization shots.
I start this Monday! The doctor says these shots will also help with my dog allergy, which excites John, because he really wants a corgi and right now, I am sadly allergic. 

#26 Get my DNA tested
I sent out for my kit from 23andme the other day and it should come next week! It will take about 6-8 weeks from the time I send it out, so hopefully a little before Hawaii I’ll be able to cross that one of the list! 

#3 Spartan/mud/warrior/rugged race
I’m running a Spartan Sprint on September 25th! Wish me luck! I have run a marathon and a half marathon before, but I'm really nervous about the Spartan because I don't have a ton of upper body strength. I'm excited though! It should be a fun challenge!

That’s about it for this update! Hopefully next time I’ll have a few more things to show for myself :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donuts, Trump, and Ryan Adams & the Shining

A couple of months ago I bought tickets to see Ryan Adams in Charlottesville. I got the tickets in the mail (I always get the physical tickets so I can save the stubs!!), stuck them in my desk drawer, and promptly forgot about them for many weeks. I was digging through my drawer looking for stamps or pens and found them! It was such a great surprise!

John and I went to Charlottesville early and stopped at Trump Winery for lunch. I was kind of conflicted about this because I do NOT support Donald Trump or what he stands for one little bit….but I do support sandwiches. And food kind of rules my life. Is there any way we can get a sandwich for president?? The sandwiches at Trump Winery would probably get my vote because they are wildly delicious. John and I each ordered a different one and shared. I had the ham, which has apple butter and arugula and he had the BLTC which comes with a garlic aioli and swiss cheese! 

What’s not to love about wine and a sandwich?

After the show we met our Charlottesville friends for a drink at Commonwealth & Skybar. I’ve been to the restaurant before but never the Skybar. There’s almost nothing I don’t love about a rooftop bar! Unless of course it’s raining. That kind of takes the fun out of a roof bar, if you know what I mean. 

After drinks with our buddies and a little bit of Pokemon hunting (I consider myself a “casual” hunter…John’s new name might as well be Ash Ketchum…ha) we went to the show. If you’ve ever seen Ryan Adams live, you know what a treat this concert was! He sounded so great and played all but one of my favorite songs of his! (Ryan, if you read this, next time play Sweet Illusions for your girl, Katie Nesbitt, please). 

When the show ended, we headed out expecting to leave, but a row of food trucks caught my eye…in particular, a donut truck! Carpe Donut is pretty popular around Charlottesville and I’ve photographed enough Cville weddings to have had a Carpe Donut or three, but not at all since starting my 30 Before 30. One of the tasks on my list is to have a donut from 30 different donut shops…so Carpe Donut ended up being #1 of 30!! 

I went with the Frodo, which is a donut ice cream sandwich. It was rock hard at first, but as it softened up, it became more and more delicious. The cinnamon sugar on the donut complemented the vanilla ice cream so well! 

All in all, we had such a fun day in Charlottesville! It's nice to escape regular life during the week every once in a while! 

 

 

30 Before 30

I’m turning 29 today, which means my 20s are now officially coming to a close! It’s so hard to believe that an entire decade of my life is almost complete, but I want to make sure that I end it as best as I can. That’s where my “30 Before 30” list comes in! I probably should have thought about starting this a couple years ago so I could have a little bit more time to get through everything on the list, but I kind of like the idea of spending this one year as kind of a last love letter to my first decade as an adult. 

Part of me wanted to create this list because this year has been kind of rough for me. My 30 before 30 list is full of things that require me to get outside of my comfort zone, seek adventure, or experience new things. One of the most important things that I've learned in the last decade is that there's really nothing more valuable than memories, so I look for opportunities to create new ones whenever I can.  Mostly, I just want to keep seeking out ways I can live my life to the fullest and this list will definitely help with that!

It was kind of tough to come up with 30 things for this list because, well, it turns out that 30 is actually a bigger number than I had thought it was…ha. But thanks to a lot of googling, brainstorming, and the help of friends, I have my list! 

  1. Learn to give CPR
  2. Learn to play an instrument 
  3. Spartan/mud/warrior/rugged race
  4. Learn to change a tire
  5. Ride a horse
  6. Write a story about Lucy 
  7. Send 30 handwritten letters
  8. Invest money in the stock market
  9. Learn to shoot a gun 
  10. Laser tag 
  11. Stand up paddle board yoga
  12. Start a 401K
  13. Eat a soft shell crab 
  14. Do a legit strict pull-up 
  15. Deadlift 200 pounds 
  16. Go rock climbing 
  17. Participate in a food eating contest 
  18. Start allergy immunization shots 
  19. Keg stand
  20. Hike a mountain 
  21. Ski or snowboard
  22. Volunteer for habitat for humanity 
  23. Pay off my car
  24. Eat vegan or vegetarian for a week
  25. Attend a music festival
  26. Get my DNA tested
  27. Try 30 different donut places 
  28. Visit two new countries 
  29. Road trip
  30. Turn 30

I'd love for you to follow along as I work through each of the items on the list! Follow me on Snapchat (@photo_katie) or check the Instagram hashtag #kneezys30before30 to see more. I also plan to blog about my progress, so check back for updates!