Baustin Celebration!

Happpyyyy New Year’s Eve!! I have been sooo so stoked to write this post, and I’m hoping reading it will feel like we are ringing in the New Year with a celebration! Leaving off the weekend before starting our fall semester (late August), DJ requested we keep that last Saturday totally free. Fine with me! All I had on the agenda was an 18-mile training run. Little did I know all else he had planned. 

On that Friday, DJ recommended one last trip to Aussie’s, our new favorite spot in town. I was not about to turn down an opportunity for those shrimp tacos! When we arrived I had a moment of utter confusion when I spotted my mom, Pete and Halston sitting at one of the patio tables. I could not wrap my head around what was happening! I quickly learned they had all planned a “Baustin” weekend since I would not have the Boston experience we had planned prior to the marathon since it went virtual rather than in-person. I did not have any idea about all they had planned! They pulled off this surprise so well, and DJ helped coordinate it during a time he knew I wouldn’t be bogged down with school. *Please note, COVID precautions were taken*. 

We enjoyed some apps and meals at Aussie’s while I sat in shock, and then my mom handed me this itinerary for the weekend! 

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After dinner, we went our separate ways but then met back up in the morning to let the festivities begin! We picked up some Summer Moon coffee to go, along with some light pastries to tide us over to lunch. I’m telling ya- if you have never had Summer Moon- prioritize trying it if you find yourself in Texas! The “moon milk” will change your life. I like the 1/4 sweet moon milk because I don’t like too much sweetness with my coffee, but you can adjust to your tasting! 

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One place we have all wanted to go together since we moved to Austin is The Oasis located on Lake Travis. It is primarily known for its gorgeous views. 

We arrived around 11 am and made it before the lunch rush. Thankfully, there is plenty of outdoor patio seating and we were seated far away from anyone else. 

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They don’t have a reputation for having the greatest food around, but I thought was actually pretty dang good!!! 

After soaking up the views and fueling up for the day, we went to a place nearby to pick up a boat rental to take out on Lake Travis. It could not have been a more perfect day for boating.

We had the absolute best time. Those hours out on the lake were not only one of my favorite memories of the year, but of ever. Pete drove the boat and found the best spots to anchor down so we could swim. Swimming is one of my favorite things in the world, and we just swam and swam out there for hours. There is something about being in the water that it feels like the world stops for a second. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 0fb71966-71eb-43e9-8cf9-4750a7adb3e1-1024x768.jpgAfter returning the rental, we returned home and got ready for the evening. My mom then planned a whole “expo”. And she went all out. She had an assortment of “samples” (typically my favorite part of expos, hah) including protein bars and gu, hair-ties, other goodies, a can of New England Clam Chowder (ha!), and a lot of personalized Boston memorabilia including a Nike Boston Tank and Boston bag. A family friend made the coasters, coffee mug and wine glass! There was also the book Run the Mile You’re In. I definitely teared up seeing all they had poured into making this special and all the thought that went into it <3 I still cannot believe it!!! Even now writing about this weekend as a whole is making me emotional! 

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Next, we headed down to South Congress Bridge to watch the famous 1.5 million bats fly out at sunset. Yup, you read that right! The first time I saw this daily bat exodus happen, I could hardly believe my eyes. There were so many bats flying out that in the distance they almost looked like a cloud or a massive swarm of mosquitoes. It. is. wild. According to the Bats in Austin website, “People are simply batty for Austin’s world-renowned Mexico free-tailed bats and their night flight of 60-plus miles per hour and 2-mile high flight patterns, and feeding frenzy of Austin insects”.

We grabbed a spot on the bridge that wasn’t crowded and hunkered down to watch the flight. You don’t know exactly when it will occur, so you want to be there a bit earlier than sunset to make sure you don’t miss it. Be prepared to wait 30 mins-an hour. It seems like a long wait, but it is worth it to see once! It’s funny because when we first moved here we had no idea about it and asked someone randomly while walking over the bridge “what is everyone waiting for?” LOL. Then we waited forever to see them, and now it seems when we are casually out on a walk or run we see it happen pretty often! One time we were actually under the bridge when they took off, and that was an adventure in itself, haha. 

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I love this video because you can hear my mom’s natural reaction to the bats which mirrors just about anyone’s who sees this for the first time! 

It’s hard to capture the magnitude of the flight on video or in picture, especially because it’s hard to time up when they will make their first big exit from under the bridge. If you want an idea of the full experience follow this link and watch the video! 

After alll that swimming and bat watching, we were ready for some grub!! We headed to Geraldine’s to get our food on.  This is one of the most wonderful hidden gems in Austin in my opinion.

We entered to live music playing up on the stage of the spacious, industrial and beautiful venue.

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The dining experience was one of the most memorable we have ever had in Austin. Every single menu item was extremely unique and delicious with a beautiful presentation! They are served tapas style, so we tried a little bit of every magnificent dish! Every bite was… WOW. 

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I am soo stinkin’ grateful to my family for making this weekend so special. What was originally so devastating for me with Boston going virtual ended up being the most unforgettable, special memory. I joked with them that after all this, I better actually do well in the virtual Boston race! Pressure was on! Of course, I will recap the actual race next 🙂

I’d love to know:

  • What are you looking forward to in the New Year?

Gusto, Barrett’s & Austin Art!

Hellllo. How’s it kickin’? It is currently 3:24 AM, and I am feeling a-ok! I am trying to stay up to 5 am today, gonna have breakfast, hit the hay and then get up at 2ish. Side note- the last few weeks I have been having the weirdest dreams. I can’t remember them much, but I was talking to another nurse who said she was too. We had nearly the same dream one night about a tornado. How odd is that?

Okay well I’ll be trudging along in my pre-lockdown recaps, if you’d like to follow along! On February 28th I headed out to meet up with my friend Alana at Gusto for some delicious Italian cuisine.

We made it at the tail end of their happy hour, so almost all our dishes were discounted. We started with their focaccia bread with rosemary + garlic, warm olives, extra virgin olive oil. I mean…. jus’ look at this beauty!

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We also split a cheese board with some sharp and delicious cheeses.

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We also tried the beets and barrata with roasted baby beets, frisee, creamy mozzarella, pistachio, mint, and smoked citrus vinaigrette. This was actually one of my favorites we had that evening. The combination of all the ingredients was delightful.

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Now for the absolute star of the show- the mushroom truffle pizza!!! ‘Nough said.

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We had such a wonderful time chatting. I cannot wait for when we can hangout again ❤️ (Also, if you’re in Austin- gusto is still delivering)

February 29th Austin walk pics: 1d0f2017-e4e1-4856-aa98-770db01698e24a68e480-9b7f-4336-b138-825819947243

March 2nd– time to study for a big exam. I went to Barrett’s Coffee Roasters per the suggestion of some established locals. The coffee was perfect, the staff was super friendly, plenty of seating was available, and it was quiet and comfortable to get lotsa studying done.

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Austin from another view since I took a different walk that evening than usual 🙂

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March 3rd I started the day with some chia seed, PB and yogurt toast with a bit of granola. I’ve noticed if I add chia seeds to my breakfast I tend to stay full longer. I will say they trigger my trypophobia a little, but worth it for the tasty nutrients.

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Clearly I was on a toast kick because on March 4th I had toast with chocolate almonds, raspberries and peanut butter.

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In the evening I made us mahi-mahi burgers from TJ’s (really good!) with wild rice and a mushroom medley.

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More of Austin as spring was springing on March 5th. 

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On March 6th I noticed a new mural going up downtown. It was pretty amazing to watch the painters working on their each individual section- and they were working fast!

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While out on a long run on March 7th for marathon training I saw this mural at the base of one of the power towers. At first I was thinking “how cute!”, but then upon looking closer it’s in memory of those affected by cancer. Very special and touching. I just love the little hidden gems amongst the city.

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I went pretty far out and discovered an awesome new running trail along the lake. It was cool to see the city in the distance around different turns.

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Below was the mural by the end of the day (March 7th)…Yes, they painted this whole thing in just a couple days- how?! Artists astound me.

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Below is the summary of my run.

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I was worried about my stamina since I hadn’t taken training very seriously up to that point. But this run felt great and confirmed I’d be okay at least finishing the race even if it wasn’t as fast as my qualifying time. Obviously, Boston (scheduled about a week ago) did not happen. It’s definitely a bummer that it’s postponed, but I am extremely thankful it’s not cancelled entirely. I am going to do my best to make it in September and re-train before then. For now, I’m letting my body rest a bit. Running is a passion and a form of therapy for me, but the intensity of it has taken a toll. The older I get, the more I feel it too. Right now I’m doing alternatives to running like walking, pilates and super short HITT routines to get the heart rate up. It hasn’t been easy putting running on hold especially with the increased stress of late, but I can tell that my body is appreciating the rest. Hopefully I can come back stronger and healthier than ever this summer when I retrain!

Question for you:

  • I have yet to try the whipped coffee trend, but it looks yummy. Have you tried it? What do you think if so?

 

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Home Sweet Home. Richfield, OH!

As I have been going back and forth recapping trips from this summer with recent updates, I have been quite excited for this particular recap, although it is a bit out of order! Before our big trip to Maryland and New York we spent a few days at home in Richfield, OH at the end of May. Even though this short trip home was brief it was packed with memories I love to reflect upon. In the evening after a delicious homemade dinner, we all walked on the towpath, which is part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP).

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I wish I could described the views of cascading foliage that enveloped us as we walked along the path. The rainfall was more than usual this year, and while annoying to many people, the greenery did not seem to mind. We kept our eyes peeled for wildlife especially around the Beaver Marsh. Without fail, we saw a turtle and a beaver as well (may have been a muskrat?).

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This park has a special place in my heart. I grew up on it, running and hiking the trails from a young age with my cross country team, family, friends, and many times alone to contemplate on many aspects of life and enjoy the serene outdoors. While physical growth occurred over the years, the true visceral growth was a journey of maturity and endurance. I never realized how much the dirt and muddy paths shaped my perspective and encouraged epiphanies. It was my own form of therapy. I now am taking this love of the CVNP and hopefully will find somewhere like it here, my new home. This is wayyy sappy, but here is a poem I wrote inspired by running in the CVNP.

I am an artist.

I strive for neither glory nor perfection, but to just create. I hear doubts of those around me who think I cannot succeed. I hear the cheers of those who think I can and choose to listen to them.

I am an artist.

I create a skyline filled with dust that swirls and breathes the space I have disrupted. I cause a perfect stillness in the winter frost to swirl in beautiful chaos that leads the way through a winter storm. I sculpt my mind, a perfect struggle as a burn quakes through my legs and my lungs. The morning beckons and I answer understanding that I can create footprints on an unadulterated backdrop before the sun dries the dew.

I am an artist.

I create a melody of dissonance, a beat of my own. The rhythm so insistent and one I cannot decide upon. I get lost in my work, feeling there is no better place but there. I create this art for those around me, and they admire the work, but a passion of an artist causes fullfillment that cannot be explained. I feel I can do anything when I am painting the earth with my pain, struggles, and sweat.

I am an artist who rejoices in the Ultimate Artist.

My art glorifies the one who sculpted me. His art gives my art meaning. I am an artist and I am a runner and creation is my canvas.

In order to symbolize the surrender of our prayers and worries to God, our parents take rocks on their towpath walks and toss them into the river. As the river carries the rock away, out of their hands, it truly allows them to feel a sense of letting go and surrendering that request to God. It is one of the most beautiful, symbolic ways I have ever seen prayer done. We all took turns throwing our hand-picked rocks into the rapids below. We then decided to take them to one of our favorite trails. This is called Oak Hill Trail, one of the CVNP’s most hidden gems. The best part of the trail is the Pineway Alley (pictured at the top). It is one of those places that you just can’t help but stop and marvel at for a few minutes before passing through. There also is a gorgeous lake tucked in the depths of the woods.

Also- if you are interested in understanding the essence of the CVNP there is none who captures it better than Rob Blair. Here is a link to his photography.  Below is one of my favorite samples of his work.

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We ended the evening eating delicious rhubarb crisp (my mother in law is the greatest baker) and prepared for my early morning race! I am a strong believer of eating all the bad-GOOD stuff the night before a race ;). I aways have a great race when I have the carbs from sweets like pies or donuts the night before. Guarantee many people would disagree, but hey- it works for me! Anyways, I decided a few months back that it would be fun to run a half this summer. I have done two fulls and a few halves, but in my last year of nursing school I didn’t train for anything, and I was having the itch to race! I found out the Medina half was going to be the same time we were home. This race was quaint. Can you call a race quaint? Well downtown Medina is so gosh darn quaint, and that is where the start and finish was located. It was not terribly hilly, and I finished with a pretty decent time (1:40:49). My dream is to qualify for the Boston marathon, but I certainly have some work to put in. My favorite part of the race was seeing everyone at the finish and walking around the Farmer’s market.

Later that day our parents treated us to an Orioles vs. Indians game. I felt like such a traitor, but I had on my black to support the O’s. After the game we had a fantastic dinner at fishbone grill.

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Fast forwarding through the Baltimore, NY trip, after the Broadway show we drove through the evening and finally arrived back in Richfield at 5 am. We rested up for the next twenty four hours and then took a flight to our next destination. Stay tuned to find out where our next adventure took us!

Wishing you lots of rhubarb crisp (or your flavor of choice),

xo <3

Mack