Race Recap: Rock ‘n Roll VA Beach

Looks like race season, feels like race season, it must be race season!

Hope you all enjoyed a nice, long weekend if you were fortunate enough to have the day off work! Labor Day always sort of depresses me because it marks the near-end of summer. No more pool? No more tan? Boo. BUT, it marks the beginning of football, pumpkin beer, and cooler temps which I certainly agree with. It also means the beginning of race season, which typically runs from September to January. I kicked off this season with the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n Roll half marathon on Sunday.

I headed down to the beach on Saturday afternoon. I was trying to avoid the insane crowds that this expo is known for, so I showed up about an hour before it closed. GENIUS. Worked like a charm. I didn’t have to wait in any lines and even capitalized on some sweet freebees that vendors were basically throwing at me. All was fine and dandy until my race buddy Brook (who was supposed to meet me at the expo) called  to tell me that they closed down one of the tunnels into VA beach and she was stuck. I ended up walking around the expo by myself (a new experience), and exploring nearly every booth to pass the time.

Why is everyone so obsessed with zombies these days? I blame the Walking Dead.

After a stressful hour in traffic, Brook made it to the expo with four whole minutes to spare. Phew! Most of the  vendors were already packing up their booths, when they say the expo closes at 5pm, they mean it.

The rest of the weekend went much, much smoother. We spent the night at my brother’s place who (conveniently) lives in Norfolk. He took us in for the night and fed us a full feast of chicken and pasta. Meanwhile, Brook and I chugged about 8 gallons of Gatorade and enjoyed some fitness wisdom via P.F. Changs fortune cookie:

Thanks P.F. Changs, so reassuring…

The next morning, we woke up bright and EARLY and headed back to the beach for the race. In previous years, I’ve had issues getting to the starting line on time. This year, by some miracle, we were at the starting line with 30 minutes to spare. It was perfect, we were able to grab some water and make a last minute porta-potty break. So clutch!

I started in Corral 3 and Brook was in 15, so we said goodbye at the start line. Corral 3 was crowded, but I knew I was in good company since these people were pacing at 1:45. I knew that was out of my wheelhouse, but I’d much prefer to be with runners going faster than to be weaving in and out of people. Check out how crowded this race gets:

Brook snapped this photo at the starting line.

I think I’ve figured out the reason I only run this race every other year. It’s HUMID AS HELL. Apparently I run the race, sweat all the water out of my body, vow to never EVER run it ever again, then promptly forget that pledge every two years. What a vicious cycle.

This year was the worst in terms of heat. It was 80 degrees by 7am and already about 1000% humidity. I started sweating before the race even started and didn’t stop until 2 hours post-race. I sweat through 2 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Impressive, no? Who knew the human body could even hold so much water!

Not a dry spot on my body

Typically, I can make it to at least mile 4 without stopping for water. Not this time. I grabbed something at every. single. station. Sometimes I would chug a Gatorade, chase it with water, and then grab another one to pour over my head. It was that hot. People were so drenched with sweat that I could feel them dripping on me as I tried to pass by. One lady’s clothes were a little too baggy and so weighed down with sweat that she kept losing her pants every time she’d pick up speed. Hilarious, but unfortunate.

That being said, I think I would have absolutely crushed this race had it not been so freaking hot.

Marathon training is really starting to show improvements in my running. I was well under two hours and my body felt great. Besides sweating a ton, I didn’t feel fatigued at all and probably could have run all day! That’s weird, I know. I wasn’t even sore after, wtf (in a good way). I was pretty stoked with my time and how well my body performed considering the conditions. It makes me very hopeful for a good result come October!

Post-race, I had time to spare while I waited for Brook to finish up, so I soaked my feet in the ocean and hung around the finisher’s party.

Bling blingin’

Once Brook finished up, we hung out for a bit and indulged in one of these:

The plan was to come back for the post-race concert with Train. But the show didn’t start until 9pm and a shower, nap, and food sounded far more appealing so we bailed.

Overall, I’d give the race this rating:

Meh.

Too hot, but nothing you can do about that. The local bands are fun, and the atmosphere is super laid back and cool. It’s well organized, but too big. My one qualm about the race course? The finish. You enter the boardwalk able to SEE the finish line, but you don’t actually reach it for another mile or so. It’s like you’re running, running, running but it’s not getting any closer. Agonizing!

Will I run it again? Probably in two years.

Did you run any races this weekend? How did it go?

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Becoming a Morning Person

I am NOT a morning person. In fact, when you take a mental image of what a morning person consists of, I am pretty much the exact opposite. I always joke that my internal alarm is set for 10am, but it’s true. When waking up, unprompted, by my own free-will, I will get up at almost exactly 10am every single time. Sometimes getting up at 7:30am for work is a serious struggle…I’m a big-time snoozer-till-8 kind of girl. I’ve been like this my whole life, and I just can’t kick the habit.

Typically, it’s not a huge problem. But lately…it has been. Why do you ask? Because of THIS:

It’s SO effing hot.

This weather has been seriously hindering my running schedule. The only time it’s even remotely bearable to step outside is at 6am, and even then it’s already 80 degrees! Personally, I think it would be unsafe and irresponsible for me to try to run after work in 97 degree heat. It’s just too hot and I’d risk exhaustion! Seriously, who decided to sign me up for a fall marathon? Why didn’t I think about the fact that I’d have to train for it in the dead heat of summer? Marine Corps Marathon, you will be the death of me!

So anyway, here’s my question to all of you morning people:

HOW do you turn yourself into a morning person?

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I get the whole go to bed early, wake up early concept. But in reality, that just doesn’t work for me. I go to bed at 9pm and STILL have trouble waking up at 8am. There was a stint in college where I actually did wake up every morning at 6am and go to the gym. I loved it, but I also hated it at the same time. When I graduated, that plan went totally out the window because I had to leave my house at 7am, which meant I had to get up at 4:45am to exercise, and that just wasn’t happening. I honestly feel like I could (and SHOULD) start getting up early now to exercise before work. But how?

Here’s exactly what happens when I try to wake up early:

  • At 10pm I set my alarm for 6am and get SUPER pumped about waking up early to run.
  • At 6am my alarm goes off and I feel groggy and far too comfortable in my bed.
  • Most of the time my stomach hurts (I’m probably just hungry) and I mentally decide that I’m just not ready to get up and move.
  • Reset my alarm for 7:30am.
  • Alarm goes off at 7:30am, but I could probably get another 30 minutes of sleep if I don’t dry my hair.
  • Decide that’s a great plan and reset my alarm for 8am.
  • Alarm goes off at 8am, snooze until 8:09. Sometimes even 8:18.
  • Reluctantly get out of bed.

I just don’t understand you morning people. Teach me your ways!

Happy National Running Day!

With no hesitation at all, I will admit that I’m a crazy runner.

When I found out that today was National Running Day I actually got a little giddy inside. I’m a weirdo, I know. I decided to celebrate by strapping on my best running shoes,

my favorite running t-shirt (sensing a color scheme here),

my new Garmin (it locates satellites super quick, btw),

and hitting the pavement for a glorious 4 mile stroll. Running = endorphins = happiness.

Today on RunningDay.org, there was a featured section on 10 Way to Celebrate National Running Day. I think they’re fun, so I figured I’d share!

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I’m working on a few of these:

#1- I love running because it’s my “me” time. It’s the 1 (or 5) hours a day that I have to gain clarity and remove myself from everything else going on in life. That being said, I run races solely for the beer at the end. True story!

#2- Race t-shirt. Check!

#5- I decided to run through Rock Creek Park today instead of my usual route down 16th street. Parks > Busy streets! Parks also = sketchy, so I don’t know how often I’ll be doing that.

#8- Today seems like a pretty good day to get my running goals in order for the Marine Corps Marathon coming up in October. Training schedule – Check!

#9- I hate the treadmill. So this is nothing new.

#10- Any ideas on how to treat yourself like a champion? I’m having shrimp pasta for dinner with my family. Yum!

Annnnnd since I work for Discovery and my friend posted this on my facebook wall, here are some do’s and don’ts of running via the Discovery website! Thanks Colin. 😉 [edited to add: Upon reading these closer, I’m not sure if I agree with all of them. Especially the ones about landing on your heel and the running shoes. Different discussion for a different day.]

How are you celebrating National Running Day?

Things I’m Digging: May Edition

May is one of those perfect months. The April showers are over and it’s so, so close to summer! Although, lately around here, it feels like summer has already arrived.

Here is what I’m diggin’ this month:

Livingsocial Deals

I’ve been looking into buying tickets for this USA vs Brazil game (that is basically being played in my backyard) for months. I had sort of ruled out going/forgot about it, until I saw this little bugger in my inbox. It reignited my desire to go, so I bit the bullet and bought some tickets. I’m SUPERRRRR excited and glad I bought them. I heard that both USA and Brazil are playing their A-teams, so it should be an excellent match. Hopefully we don’t get blown out of the water. Either way, it’ll still be fun to watch!

Weight Lifting

OMFG. I cannot get enough. No, but really, I’m obsessed with weight lifting…again. Is it weird that I actually look forward to coming home and going to my crappy, little apartment gym to pump some iron? Yes? Oh well! I love the way it makes me feel. I’ve noticed some small changes lately, for example: carrying my computer bag into my house with one hand is much easier; I carried a case of 24 full beer bottles without struggle; and I generally have much more energy. I’ve also started to notice some muscle definition in my arms and legs. Added bonus!

Mad Men

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This show. So good. Can’t stop watching. I just finished Season 2 and I am hooked! At first, it really bothered me how slow the story lines moved. Now, after watching a few seasons, I appreciate the depth and attention to detail that goes into every scene. The slowness of the show makes it all that much more believable. No one has epiphanies overnight, typically people change gradually over time. The writing is spectacular and the acting is great too. I love how it simultaneously pays homage to, and pokes fun at, certain old-fashioned beliefs…so clever.

The Beach

Because it’s almost summer and I need a tan, duh.

Spending Time with Friends

My bestest friend in the whole wide world is leaving me. Sarah is moving all the way across the country to San Francisco at the end of this month. While I am eternally sad (I mean, seriously, what am I going to do without my partner in crime?), I am thoroughly enjoying all the time we get to spend together while she is still in DC. Music festivals, movies, food, Disney movie + fondue night! Man, I’m going to miss her. DON’T GO SARAH!

What are you diggin’?

Time Yourself

For the past few weeks, I’ve been debating back and forth about whether or not to invest in a Garmin (or other brand, doesn’t matter) running watch. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I’m still at a stalemate, so I thought I’d see what you guys think.

I’ve never been one of those runners who cares much about time. I’ve always been a pretty average/moderately fast runner, but I never worked hard at making myself quicker. I always ran just to…run. Recently though, I’ve had dreams of increasing my speed. It all started a few weeks ago when I PRed at the Shamrock Half Marathon. I liked setting a goal (albeit a very loose goal, but still a goal nonetheless) and achieving it. I realize that if I do interval training and apply myself, I can (hopefully) make myself faster. My marathon times have been pretty mediocre thus far: close to 5 hours for both, and I’d like to improve GREATLY upon that time for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. If I can run a 1:55 half, I’m thinking that I should be able to run a 4:30 marathon. Easier said than done, of course. It’s going to take some tough interval training and I will have to start paying attention to time during long runs. Which is why I’m thinking about buying a Garmin watch.

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Pros of buying a Garmin:

  • Can finally time myself and figure out what my average pace is/should be.
  • Improve on my speed for the marathon.
  • Be more accurate in my distances. Right now I use google maps, and perhaps this isn’t the best judge of running distance.
  • With that, I can try some new running trails since I won’t have to map them out beforehand. This would be great in marathon training since I tend to get bored of the one I do everyday.
  • Be more of a “real” runner. Don’t all the real runners have these things?

Cons of buying a Garmin:

  • It’s expensive! Ahhhhh!!!
  • Will I become one of those people who is constantly looking at my wrist during races? And the anxiety that comes with that.
  • Clunky, extra weight.
  • Waiting for satellites, I’ve heard fun stories about this.
  • Will it take the fun out of running?

The big con that I’m worried about is that last one on the list. Will it take the fun out of my favorite sport? Thoughts? Should I get the watch or not?

I’ve got some time to figure out if this is a smart investment for me. No better place to contemplate such things than here, which may or may not have happened this weekend:

Happy (belated) Cinco de Mayo!

Setting the bar…low

The barbell, that is.

A few years back when I was still at JMU, I had a brief love affair with lifting weights. 85% of the reason I started lifting was so that I could hang out in the weight room where all the cute guys were. The other 15% of that equation was that I actually sort of enjoyed lifting weights. I did this fairly regularly for about a year until, of course, I inevitably graduated and lost my amazing free gym.

So, thus, my love affair with weight lifting came to an abrupt end. Until today that is.

If you know me at all, you know I cave into peer pressure pretty easily. So, on this cold, rainy, morning (okay, fine, it was noon) as I was laying in bed, in my PJ’s, wondering if I should watch Free Willy or Rocko’s Modern Life on Netflix, when I got a phone call from my friend Colin. The conversation went something like this:

Colin: CAITSTRIDES [yes, he calls me this]! What are you doing?
Me: I’m just chillin’, what’s up?
Colin: Stop chillin’. We’re going to the gym to lift weights.
Me: No.
Colin: Caitstrides, get out of bed. We need get ripped at the gym. I need to do jump rope and you said you wanted to start lifting weights again.
Me: No, I don’t want to.
Colin: Caitlin, listen, I didn’t want it to come to this, but…someone’s life is depending on whether or not you go to the gym right NOW.
Me: No.
Colin: Cool, I’ll be up in 10 minutes.
Me: Fine.

While I was not happy with him at the time, I figured I’d probably be thanking him in an hour. And I was.

I forgot how much I LOVE to lift weights. It’s been over a year since I did any weight lifting and it’s pretty crazy how much strength I’ve lost in my arms. I had to decrease the weights from 40 lbs to 25. By the end of the workout I couldn’t even do 15 lb tricep curls. OUCH! How did I used to do this?

Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m going to start incorporating weight lifting into my regular routine again, especially since my apartment complex has a free gym that I really should start to utilize more. There are so many benefits, especially for runners. I need to start building strength again now that I know I have that whole endurance thing down. I’m aiming for 3 times a week, now I just need to find a legit weight lifting routine so that I’m not just doing random weights. I need to be working towards a goal.

After a solid hour’s workout, we headed back home (feeling great) and had a delicious Sunday morning breakfast.

On the docket for the rest of the day: Mad Men marathon! I’ve been wanting to start watching this series for awhile. Today is the day!

And fun dip! I heard sugar is really good for muscle recovery. Okay, not really. But, whatever!

Oh! New development: I can’t lift my arms up over my head. Soreness, you slay me!

What weight lifting routines do you use? What do you like/not like about it? I’m looking for a good one to start! Please share.

Another Productive Weekend

I know I’ve been sort of slacking on my blog posts lately. I had two in mind for last week, but neither really came to fruition. Oops! I’ve been focusing on my dieting and exercising though, and am getting ready for the Monument Ave 10k which I am running next weekend!

Regardless of my excuses, this past weekend was busy and FUN! I got more accomplished than I thought I would.

I hung out with my family, which is always a crazy time. My brother was in town from school, so we all headed up to my parent’s house.

That’s what you get for stealing my phone and taking unattractive pictures, brother.

Of course, since the family all got together, that meant that we ate…delicious food. And a lot of it! This weekend I had my very first Brazilian Steakhouse experience and it was OMGood. I think I ate about 5 lbs of just pure meat. My favorites were the bacon wrapped filet mignon, the lamb t-bone, the pork ribs, and the parmigiana crusted pork. Holy moly. I will write a full post about it soon!

So like I said, we don’t just go to Fogo de Chao any old day of the year. We were celebrating multiple occasions: my dad’s (belated) birthday, my parent’s wedding anniversary, and my sister being pregnant. So much in life to celebrate!!

With all that food being consumed, I decided I need to run more. To up my motivation factor, I went out and bought new running shoes.

Really though, my old shoes were over 2 years old, have trained and run 2 marathons with me, and were literally falling apart at the seams. I can’t wait to try these guys out today for the first time. I’m hoping to break them in well enough to run in them next weekend! I usually don’t go for Nike, but I couldn’t find any Adidas that were under $125 at the mall, so I sucked it up. I hope they don’t give me blisters…but it’ll be worth it since they’re bright orange!

Staying in the mindset of getting in shape, I also went out and bought a new bathing suit this weekend from Target. I’m officially ready for summer!

After shopping, I came home and helped my dad bottle his homebrew beer, while simultaneously getting a physics lesson on the specific gravity and density of beer. Must be an engineer thing.

Oh, and then I went and chopped off 10 inches of my hair. WHAAAAAT! I love it. It’s so much lighter and easier to manage.

Tonight I’m going to see THE HUNGER GAMES!! Ahhhh! And I am super pumped about it. I’ve read all the books and have heard great things about the movie. I have high expectations in general, so I hope it doesn’t let me down. Either way, I will still love the boy with the bread.

Hello there, Peeta!
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Has anyone seen The Hunger Games yet? How is it? No spoilers!

Alternatives to Running

If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word “exercise” the first thing you do is think about running. And the second thing you do is groan. Running is definitely my most common form of exercise, but let’s be real here, it isn’t always fun.

Now that the weather is heating up, the sun is shining, and spring has sprung I’m all about finding alternative ways to exercise. There are so many outdoor activities that will get your heart rate up and provide a solid cardio workout without your body even realizing that it’s working!

I thought I’d share some of my favorite non-running exercise ideas in case anyone needs some extra motivation to get moving:

Hiking

I went hiking for the first time in a loooooong time the other weekend and my legs were killing me for DAYS! I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, so I was surprised at how tired my legs felt after the 6 hour hike and at how sore they were for the next three days. I could barely even walk! That’s when I realized how great of a workout hiking is: I climbed, crawled, and sometimes even jumped off rocks; my body didn’t even realize it was working that hard…I was just trying not to fall!

Sports

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Duh, organized sports are a good workout. That’s a no-brainer right? But they can be somewhat of a time commitment that many adults are not willing to make. You don’t have to join a team to get a good workout though. You can easily work up a sweat by just kicking around with some of your buddies. If you are all particularly as bad as I am, you will get plenty of running in as you’re chasing missed shots that soared 100 feet past the goal!

Swimming

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I am so, so excited for the pool at my apartment building to open. Okay, okay, mostly I just like to lounge around outside and tan, but occasionally, I’ll do a few laps in the pool. Did you know that swimming is actually a great aerobic activity? And for the most part, you don’t even feel that fatigued because the pool is wiping all that sweat right off your forehead. Awesome!

Dancing

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Have you ever come back from a night out on the town with your feet aching and your legs burning from dancing so much? I definitely have. Now, I’m not the most coordinated dancer in the world, but I’ve been told that after 2-3 drinks I turn into Chris Brown…or maybe that’s just in my head. Either way, I love to dance and it’s actually a great cardio workout too. Double win!

Golf

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When I polled my male friends about what they thought a good non-running exercise was, golf was a popular answer. I can’t really speak to this since I’ve never been golfing in my life…unless we’re counting frisbee golf, which I’m told we aren’t. I have been told that you can walk 10+ miles (maybe an exaggeration), while carry a 30lb bag, and stopping every five minutes to swing a club. I’d imagine that’s hard work. I’m sure most of those calories burnt are offset by the exponential amount of beers that are also consumed. But hey, who’s really counting?

What are your favorite non-running exercises?

March is for…RACES!

Legs, meet sun. Sun, meet legs. It has been far too long since you two have been acquainted, as is judged by my pasty-whiteness (beach trip, anyone?).

Welcome back spring, please never leave again. It had been far too long since I woke up to the sound of birds chirping out my open window, but this morning delivered just that. By this afternoon it was a perfect 65 degrees and sunny as could be and I was able to bust out the shorts for the first time since winter. It almost made my afternoon run pleasurable. Yeah, almost.

March is starting out on quite the right foot if you ask me. I’m hoping that this trend continues because I have races galore planned for this month! Okay, well just two actually, but that’s still quite a few for a single month. Let’s do a quick overview.

The Shamrock Half – March 17

Okay people, get pumped, because this is my favorite race of ALL TIME! Yes, that is quite a bold statement, but I mean it. This race has it all: it’s flat, on the beach, there’s beer (lots of it) and live music at the end, and they give you a ton of swag (finishers t-shirt AND hat? Yes, please!). What more could you possibly ask for? This year will mark the 3rd year in a row that I’ve run the Shamrock Half. I will be running with my little bro, who I’m sure will most likely beat me by well over an hour.

Last year I ran this race in 2:02:and-some-change with very minimal training. So, I’m hoping to run right around the same time [or beat it] this year. Although between you and me, my half marathon PR (which I set in 2008 during the VA Beach Rock ‘N Roll Half) is 1:58:17, so I’m honestly gunning for that, but not optimistic. I’m excited for this race though, regardless of the time I get, since it’s my first back since the marathon!

Monument Ave 10k – March 31

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I did a 10k. Actually, that’s a lie. It can tell you. It was exactly 3 years ago in 2009, the last time I ran this race! I got suckered into running it with a friend of mine who then bailed at the very last minute (you know who you are)!

Yay for new running friends!

Just two weeks after I run the Shamrock Half, I will be heading to Richmond to run this year’s Monument Ave 10k. I’ve been itching to do some “shorter” distance races lately. I like the concept of training for a marathon, but in practice, it’s extremely time consuming and intense. Just as long as I have a race to train for (it doesn’t have to be a marathon), I’m completely content with running 4-5 miles a day. That’s why, when my friend Meredith informed me that she was running, I jumped at the chance to tag along!

Last time I ran this race I was dealing with some personal stuff and became a running FIEND, so I freak-of-nature PR’ed with a time of 0:50:18. I’ve done plenty of 6 mile training runs since and most of them haven’t even come close to beating that time. So, for this year’s race, I’m setting a more realistic goal of trying to keep my time under 1 hour.

What I remember about this 10k is that it was a pleasant 6 miles through the heart of downtown Richmond. A lot of college students (read: hipsters) come out of their apartments, drink, and cheer on runners. It’s a fun atmosphere and relatively close to home, both are wins in my opinion! Plus, I can’t wait to reunite with these two lovely ladies:

Aside from running my favorite races, my March calendar is beginning to fill up. Here’s are some fun things I already have on the docket:

  • St. Patrick’s Day, obviously!
  • My first Brazilian Steakhouse Experience
  • Joining a Body Challenge for work (what’s up, weight-loss goals?)
  • My first haircut in over a year. Ahhh! Haircuts give me anxiety.
  • And some exciting family news that I can’t wait to share when the time is right!!

Are any of you running races this month? What are your other fun plans for March?

Valentine’s Day

I’ve been thinking lately…Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap.

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This may come as a surprise, but I actually like the holiday. I don’t understand people who complain about the consumerism of it or people who throw anti-Valentine’s Day parties. To me, it’s a day to celebrate love. What’s not to like about love? While I agree that people who love each other should show it every day (and not just on Valentine’s Day), I enjoy having a whole day to acknowledge love’s presence. Why not celebrate the good things in life, right? Plus any holiday that promotes chocolate consumption is fine by me!

Love is such a driving force behind all of our actions. Think about it, when’s the last time you made a big decision without taking at least one other person into account? I can’t think of a time.

Although I have spent the majority of my Valentine’s Days sans significant others, I think it’s important to focus on all the different kinds of love out there. There are a lot. Romantic isn’t the only type of love that should be celebrated today and I think that people who focus too much on this are the ones who miss out on the true spirit of the holiday.

There is family love.

There is friend love.

There is roommate love.

There is co-worker love.

There is hometown love.

There is puppy love (and if you don’t think this picture is adorable, I don’t think that we can be friends!)

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There’s cake love (serious on this, I LOVE chocolate).

There’s Bieber love (sorry, I had to. Just kidding with this one…sort of).

And, of course, there is still romantic love.

This is a picture of the cutest couple I know: my parents. They are my role models in life and give me faith that marriages can work. Their love gives me hope that people can still be happy even after years and years. I hope to one day have what they have now. I love them both very much! And seriously, aren’t they cute?

Happy Valentine’s Day! Tell someone you love them today. 🙂