2016: A Year in Review

Like most people, I can agree  with the sentiment that 2016 was a bit of a dumpster fire. I'm not really sad to see it go, but there were also a lot of highlights and memories made that I will cherish forever. Here is my 2016 year in review:

-I took trips to Chicago, San Antonio, DC, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis (again), St. Louis (again), Dover, Niagara Falls, Riviera Maya, and Boston;

Kansas City has a pretty great skyline. #travelswithlauren #adventureisoutthere #collectmomentsnotthings

A post shared by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on

ย 

-I said goodbye to my beloved Grandma Margaret;

-I ran 26.2 miles and didn't die (mostly thanks to Jeff and Chelsea);

-I turned 30 and had two parties to celebrate;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on May 7, 2016 at 7:24am PDT

-I celebrated the weddings of friends;

Whoever thinks running is a solitary sport is just. plain. wrong. ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜ #mcshuppwedding #ohana #manatees #runbutler
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on May 22, 2016 at 4:35pm PDT

-I scrambled around downtown Pittsburgh with Laynie to find a place to watch the last few minutes of the Stanley Cup Final so I could see my favorite team win their 4th Stanley Cup;

-I watched David Boudia and Steele Johnson qualify for the Olympics in person;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jun 24, 2016 at 5:54am PDT

-I said goodbye to my childhood home and moved to a new one; 

Thanks for the memories, 431.

-I got to spend time with cherished friends;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jun 22, 2016 at 5:20pm PDT
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Aug 8, 2016 at 6:00pm PDT

-I wish bon voyage to a dear friend who embarked on a huge adventure;

I am so proud of this brave girl, but damn I miss her! 

-I ran new race PRs (heyyyyyy sub-30 5k!);

And the season of PRs continued today with a HUGE PR at Buffalo Creek today."! 2:12:04 - holy crap! Huge thanks to @pghrunner for helping me through that final mile today! #hshive #nuunbassador #gameonpgh
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 15, 2016 at 1:36pm PDT

-I met one of my favorite people and told him he was my favorite (and he loved it);

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 9, 2016 at 9:26am PDT

-I earned a medal the size of my head;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:07am PDT

-I discovered Popeye the Foodie and he became my favorite instagrammer; 

A photo posted by Popeye the Foodie Dog ๐Ÿ˜‰ (@popeyethefoodie) on Nov 23, 2016 at 9:16am PST

-I took my racing international and also ran 3 half marathons in 3 weeks (including another HUGE PR);

-I visited every country in North America in 4 days;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 6, 2016 at 1:00pm PST

-I visited Mexico for the first time and watched my lovely roommate get married;

Nice close-up of the back of my head haha

-I raised a lot of money for CCFA;

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 17, 2016 at 8:35am PST

-I read 53 books; 

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Nov 29, 2016 at 5:36am PST

-I celebrated my 4th anniversary with an organization that treats me like family (and I got a promotion!);

-I hugged my favorite super heroes 58982986389237967876532312787 times;

-Annnnnnnd I ended the year with a bout of shingles. But here's a picture of some of the many tacos I ate this year instead. 

When I write it all out like this, there was a lot more good than bad. But that doesn't mean I don't have big goals for 2017!

52 Books in 52 Weeks

I've had a Goodreads account for several years now, but I used to forget about it for months or years at a time. When I'd remember, I'd log on and update my "Books I've Read" list with as much as I could remember (and synced it to my Kindle account!), scroll through the newsfeed to see what my friends were reading, and then promptly forget about it again. I don't know why, considering I have always loved reading and books.

Towards the end of 2015, I was on the Goodreads app and I noticed a "Reading Challenge" section. I learned you can set a goal for how many books you'd like to read in a year, and then use the app to track your progress. If your friends have challenge goals, you can also follow along their progress and see which books they've read to help them reach their goal. I'd never had a reading goal before, and again, I don't know why.

I decided to read 52 books in 52 weeks - one book per week for an entire year. Considering there have been times where I've blown through an entire book in a day, I figured this goal would be easy-peasy! And for the most part, it was, though I did have to read 7 books in December to finish off my goal. I didn't put any restrictions on myself in regards to genre or book length - just 52 books in 52 weeks. Some were print books, some ebooks, and a few audiobooks as well. I did read 2 books that were advanced copies of not-yet-published books. Since they aren't on Goodreads yet, I elected not to include them in my count. I also read a few boxed sets or 2-in-1 books and I counted those each as one book (since they show up on Goodreads as one book).

Here's my reading list for 2016:

1.

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)

by Christian Rudder (print)

2.

Modern Romance

by Aziz Ansari (print)

3.

The Quotable Walt Disney

by Kiki Thorpe, Dave Smith (print)

4.

A Secret Kept

by Tatiana de Rosnay (print)

5.

Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends

by Tim Sanders (I had him sign a copy when he spoke at a conference I attended in 2015!)

6.

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins (audiobook)

7.

Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally

by Kelly Starrett, T.J. Murphy (print)

8.

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival

at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres (print)

9.

The Perfect Witness

by Iris Johansen (audiobook)

10.

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

by Dean Karnazes (print)

11.

Never Never: Part Three

by Colleen Hoover, Tarryn Fisher (ebook)

12.

November 9

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

13.

The Best Goodbye (Rosemary Beach #12)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

14.

Leif (Existence Trilogy #2.5)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

15.

Why Not Me?

by Mindy Kaling (audiobook)

16.

Beautiful Burn (The Maddox Brothers #4)

by Jamie McGuire (ebook)

17.

Work Rules!: Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

by Lazlo Bock (print)

18.

Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

by by Todd Burpo (audiobook)

19.

Running Until You're 100

by Jeff Galloway (print)

20.

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic

by Hazel Gaynor (ebook)

21.

Fire Country

(Country Saga #1) by David Estes (ebook)

22.

My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan

by Tom Foreman (audiobook)

23.

Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

by Michael S. Kimmel (print)

24.

Yes Please

by Amy Poehler (audiobook)

25.

Marrow

by Tarryn Fisher (ebook)

26.

Hot as Hell

(Deep Six 0.5) by Julie Ann Walker (ebook)

27.

Wild Irish Ride

(Weldon #1) by Jennifer Saints (ebook)

28.

Confess

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

29.

Hopeless (Hopeless #1)

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

30.

Losing Hope (Hopeless #2)

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

31.

Up in Flames (Rosemary Beach #13)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

32.

Devil and the Deep (Deep Six #2)

by Julie Ann Walker (ebook)

33.

When SEALS Come Home Boxed Set II

by Anne Marsh (ebook)

34.

It Ends With Us

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

35.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

by Elizabeth Gilbert (print)

36.

Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial

by Rabia Chaudry (print)

37.

A Beautiful Funeral (The Maddox Brothers #5)

by Jamie McGuire (ebook)

38.

Under the Lights (The Field Party #2)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

39.

Always You

by Missy Johnson (ebook) 

40.

Once She Dreamed (Once She Dreamed #1)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

41.

Stubborn Love (Stubborn Love #1)

by Wendy Owens (ebook)

42.

Broken Flowers

by Robert M. Drake (print)

43.

Born For This: How to Find The Work You Were Meant to Do

by Chris Guillebeau (print)

44.

The Chemist

by Stephenie Meyer (ebook)

45.

Too Late

by Colleen Hoover (ebook)

46.

Christmas in Alaska

by Debbie Macomber (print)

47.

The Last Orphans (The Last Orphans #1)

by N.W. Harris (ebook)

48.

She, the Kingdom (She #1)

by Olivian Pope (ebook)

49.

Once She Dreamed (Once She Dreamed #2)

by Abbi Glines (ebook)

50.

A Christmas Homecoming

by Melissa McClone (ebook)

51.

The Christmas List

by Chrissie Manby (ebook - Kindle Single)

52.

Married for Christmas

by Noelle Adams (ebook)

BONUS: 53.  

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-Minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper!

by Ree Drummond (print)

There it is - the complete list of books I read in 2016 (as of December 27). I included the last one because I received it as a Christmas gift and read it cover to cover. I've already flagged recipes I'm excited to try! I finished with a week to spare and even finished a bonus book.

I haven't set a goal yet for 2017, but I'm thinking somewhere around 45. Yes, I know some people would set a goal that was even bigger than 2016's, but I'd like to keep it fun and don't want the pressure of having to read books quickly to finish up (that sort of happened in December). 

What were your favorite reads in 2016? I am looking for recommendations! Comment below with your best suggestions! 

Five Things Friday: October 28

I've got five awesome things to share this week! 

1. I completed the Monster's Mash Half Marathon this weekend and earned a medal the size of my face!

#MedalMonday: I completed my 6th half marathon on Saturday! The race begins with a lap around the Dover International Speedway and ends next to the Miles the Monster statue! It was a windy and rainy one, but I had a pretty great race! ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ…๐Ÿ#teamanchored #gameonpgh #nuunbassador #nuunlove #hshive
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:07am PDT

2. I had a GREAT customer service experience with WALMART this week. Yes,

that

 Walmart. I'm gonna write a whole blog post about it, but for now,

use this referral link

to save $10 off your first order! 

3. I'm all set for Trick-Or-Treat on Monday! I've picked up some of my favorite chocolate treats, as well as some fruit snacks that are allergen friendly! Check out the

Teal Pumpkin Project

and consider having allergen friendly treats available! 

4. Coach Jeff and I are headed to Niagara Falls, ON this weekend to run the Niagara Falls Marathon. I'm doing the Half and Jeff is going to crush the Full in order to gain a qualifying time for the JFK 50 Miler next fall. I'll have my phone on airplane mode, but will try and post to Instagram on wifi whenever I can. Follow along by following me on

Instagram

and following the hashtags #PGHLaurenNATour and #CoachJeffJFK50 (and probably other hashtags I will make up on a whim). 

5. Speaking of #PGHLaurenNATour (NA stands for North America, by the way), I will be in all three North American countries within a span of 4 days! On Wednesday, I leave for Mexico to celebrate my college roommate Elyssa's wedding in Cancun! On the way home, I'll be spending a day in Miami as well and would love some restaurant recommendations, so leave your favorites in the comments below!!!

I'm back!

Since the last time I posted here was in July, I thought it was time for a new header and some updates. This wasn't an intentional blogging hiatus, but so much life has happened since then and I've just been focused on other things.

Up first, I've made progress on several of my goals! 

Successfully train for and run a marathon - DONE 5/1/2016

Raise $1000 for CCFA - DONE 5/1/2016

Run a sub-30 5k - DONE! I ran the Steelers 5k in 29:34 thanks to Coach Jeff's help and then ran the inaugural Flyby 5k in 29:30!

Run a sub-60 10k - still chasing this goal, but I did get a new 10k PR at the Great Race this year (1:01:29 so close!)

Run/walk 1500 miles - 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 94.08 (Apr) + 67.02 (May) + 53.28 (Jun) + 53.1 (Jul) + 8.51 (Aug - YIKES! But this is only what I actually tracked, so it's not

this

 bad) + 58.16 (Sep) = 574.25. 

Clean out my boxes in the basement - DONE! We moved in August (which contributed to the low mileage displayed above), but since then I've taken several very full carloads of stuff to Goodwill! 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use - DONE! In fact, that desk is in the garage ready to be donated/sold. 

Read 52 books: I've read 36 so far this year! 

Use more vacation days: I'm going to Mexico in less than a month, so I'll be using at least a week then! 

Blog more: HAHA oops.

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can 

finally

 blog about the experience and design and order photo books: HAHA maybe before the 2 year anniversary of the trip? The photos are mostly sorted - I just need to actually put the books together.

Denali National Park

----

As I mentioned above, we moved in August and I also had a huge work event, both of which went very well, but I'm glad to be done with. Moving to a smaller house has allowed us to go through and get rid of a lot of crap we don't need, and the result is a lot less clutter! 

As I also mentioned above, I'm going to Mexico next month! My college roommate Elyssa is getting married at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya. I've never been to Mexico so I'm looking forward to some pool time, margaritas, and as much chips and guac as I want!

Time to plug a great cause and a super fun event! I'm on the planning committee for Opening Night! A movie premiere event benefiting the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America - Western PA/WV chapter. This year we are premiering

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

 and will also be showing

Dr. Strange

 in a second theatre! Tickets are on sale now and we have some awesome things planned! For more information and to purchase tickets, click the picture! 

When I go to Mexico, I'll also be stopping in Miami for a day on the way home. Comment below with your suggestions for things to do and places to eat! 

Training Update, and a Belt Review!

Training for my second marathon has been even more all over the place than training for my first. Between a busy summer and some nagging achilles tendinitis, there hasn't been as much running lately as I'd like. 

But, some of the running has been fun and productive! 

My first race after running the Pittsburgh Marathon was the Brentwood 5k - it's become an annual tradition to run with friends and then stick around for beer and prizes. They did the prizes a little differently this year and it was sort of lame, but the beer and company were still awesome!

Brentwood Firecracker 5k!

I ran the 2nd annual Hot-To-Trot 5k as part of Zelienople's Horse Trading Days last weekend. They adjusted the course this year and I really liked the changes (though there's a pretty tough hill in the middle!). Following the race, we got to ride in a hot air balloon! It was tethered, and "only" went 40 feet up, which makes me pretty confident that an un-tethered ride would be terrifying. 

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jul 18, 2016 at 12:57pm PDT

As a Level Up Virtual Runs Ambassador, they asked if I wanted to try out one of their new LED light-up running belts! I've tried several different belts/armbands, so I was anxious to see how this one measured up to the

SLS3 belt

I've been using for shorter runs (I use my hydration vest for longer runs). 

The pocket easily holds an iPhone 6 in an Otterbox,

with plenty of room left for car keys, cash, gels, etc.

The fit of the belt is similar to the SLS3 belt, but the elastic seems slightly less stretchy (this may change over time). The pocket is much deeper, which makes it much easier to get my phone in and out without having to manipulate the pockets. I kind of wish there was a separate pocket I could keep my car key in so it doesn't fall out if I take my phone out mid-run, but this really hasn't been an issue. Even when the zipper is open, stuff doesn't really move around or fall out. 

Easy on/off and adjusts for a perfect fit!

The LED lights are pretty cool! This would be an excellent addition to any night-time runner's reflective gear. The battery casing doesn't take up much room at all in the belt, and the lights have different patterns (or steady on, if you prefer). 

Great fit and it stays in place!

Want to try out the belt for yourself? Level Up Runs is offering my readers a chance to purchase it for 50% off - what a steal! You can purchase your own LED belt

HERE

. Use code RCE5FGY8 to get it for HALF OFF! 

You can also join Level Up Virtual Runs and I for the

Dog Days Virtual Race

next month! Use code SAVE10 to save 10% off your race registration - register

HERE

!

Comment below if you have any questions about the belt, the race, or about becoming a Level Up Ambassador! 

Dog Days Virtual Race!

Hey all! I'm excited to share I've teamed up with

Level Up Virtual Runs

for another Virtual race, the Dog Days 5k/10k/Half! Participants receive the awesome finisher's medal featured below as well as a $25 gift certificate for

SLS3USA

AND, for every entry, Level Up is donating a toy, blanket, or dog bowl to the Second Chance Dog Rescue in San Diego, CA. Learn more about the work of

Second Chance

here. 

If you love dogs and running as much as I do, what are you waiting for?

Register

today! 

Ziva loves the Dog Days of Summer! 

June Goals Update and a Weekend Update!

June Goals Update:

Successfully train for and run a marathon:

 DONE

Raise $1000 for CCFA:

 $2100+ raised.

Run a sub-30 5k: 

Coming this summer?

Run a sub-60 10k: 

Coming this fall?

Run/walk 1500 miles:

 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 (Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 94.08 (Apr)  + 67.02 (May) + 53.28 (Jun) = 454.48! It's not likely I'll make 1500 miles (since I'm only counting logged running/walking workouts and not ALL my steps).

Clean out my boxes in the basement:

 Done, I guess? They're all in storage at the moment. We're moving in August so maybe I'll get a chance to sort through some of that crap then. 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use:

 Done! 

Read 52 books:

 30 books read to date. 

Use more vacation days:

Big fail on that so far this year, but I've got a trip to Mexico in the fall and hoping for a few long weekends here and there as well. 

Blog more:

 Oops.

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can 

finally

 blog about the experience and design and order photo books:

Sorted, but no photobooks yet. 

I had a pretty solid July 4th weekend: I enjoyed craft beers with penguins at the Aviary on Friday, had yinzeritas on Saturday, went to a Daniel Tiger birthday party for two special girls on Sunday, and ran a new course PR at the Brentwood 5K on Monday! How was your holiday weekend?

PENGUINS!

Happy the Penguin tried to steal some ShuBrew!

New Course PR at Brentwood!

Finally, a plug for a super awesome event that is coming up on FRIDAY! Hope you see everyone at Cosmo - use code HOTNIGHT for discount tickets! Details can be found at

trustarts.org/cosmo

.

2016 Goals

Remember when I said I was going to post my goals 2 weeks ago? Oops.

Here are my 2016 goals:

Successfully train for and run a marathon

Raise $1000 for CCFA

Run a sub-30 5k

Run a sub-60 10k

Run/walk 1500 miles

Clean out my boxes in the basement

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use


Read 52 books, including the large stack sitting on aforementioned desk (I've already read two so far!)

Use more vacation days 

Blog more. I currently have 11 drafts in various stages of completion about a variety of topics

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can finally blog about the experience and design and order photo books

What about you? Do you have goals for 2016? Comment below!