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#BostonStrong

April 15th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (2 Comments)

After the Boston bombing took place a year ago today, I vowed to do whatever it takes to be a part of the event in 2014. While I wasn’t there in 2013, the 2012 race holds such a place in my marathon-loving heart. Despite the heat, I discovered a new way to love the marathon. It wasn’t about PRs or executing the perfect race strategy– it was about enjoying the experience and soaking it all in. The city of Boston was alive that day and I’ll never forget it.

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Qualifying for the 2014 race meant running a marathon on a stress fracture, since it had been a while since I last raced and I needed a BQ time. With an abbreviated time period to train for this race once I got out of the boot, I knew I likely wouldn’t be in PR shape and just focused on getting in what training I could. Then, I got tendinitis and couldn’t run for a few weeks, and have been rehabbing my foot pretty intensely to make it to the starting line healthy. In my personal running bubble, it’s been a frustrating process getting here, but next Monday will put everything in perspective.

Mom & I in 2012

Mom & me in 2012

Races can be selfish when you’re gunning for a PR, even when running with a team. But this year, my Boston race isn’t about me. I’m running to join in a community that means so much to me. I want to give back to that community and celebrate our strength and resilience the best way we know how: running. To prove we are strong and can’t be stopped. I’m thankful to be healthy enough to be able to run the entire race, something I wasn’t sure would be possible just a month ago. I’m so excited to get up to Boston and be a part of the atmosphere I’ve been looking forward to for nearly a year.

I don’t think I’m fully prepared for what the weekend and race day will bring, but know it will be deeply emotional. Being here in NYC, it’s easy to feel a little disconnected from those in Boston who have been training with such a deep sense of rallying purpose. The last few days, and today in particular, I’ve read through stories of the survivors and those deceased, watched tributes and recaps and it’s starting to feel a bit more real. I cannot begin to imagine what Marathon Monday will be like, but it’s going to be one to remember. My heart and soul is ready to soak it all in.

I’m heading up Friday morning and will stay through Tuesday morning. Thankfully my last long run went really, really well. Following a reverse taper plan of sorts, I had a great 15 mile run on 4/5 and a final 20 mile run this past Saturday. I had friends to keep me company the entire 20 miles and it was a beautiful spring day. My pace averaged at 8:00, which felt really relaxed and comfortable. It was a confidence booster that I’m not completely out of shape after barely running for the last month.

My legs are surprisingly feeling pretty good this week, but I’ve been focusing on resting, icing, stretching and keeping up with my PT exercises. I haven’t felt any pain in my foot at all since I’ve returned to running, and I’m not concerned with not being as ‘fresh’ as usual considering I’m not racing. Whether I run 3:15 (lolz..) or 4:15, I will be happy with my race if I enjoy the day fully and my foot doesn’t hurt.

Good luck to everyone else running, I can’t wait to be a part of this day with you!

Also known as the race where I got a little more than just a medal at the finishing line.

But before we get there, here’s a spoiler: I ran a comfortable BQ with a 3:19:43, my first race in nearly 1.5 years. Hooray!

Last week, I wrote about my recent confidence-boosting workouts and plans for the race. While training had been going awesome, and I’ve experienced no back pain since the bike accident, I started feeling a slight twinge in my left shin on Friday morning following a tough workout on Thursday night. I wasn’t sure what to make of it: a normal soreness from training, or something more? Following my 14-miler on Saturday, I decided it was still just there and took off from running on Sunday and Monday. I decided to get my legs moving with a morning workout on Tuesday, and felt pretty crappy. But worse, my shin pain was pretty bad when I finished.

I’ve had two consecutive stress fractures before in high school, first in my right tibia and then in my left. I’m now pretty aware of what they feel like, and had no doubt in my mind that the pain was the start of a stress fracture. Enter race-week panic mode!

I weighed the pros and cons of both options:

  • Scrap the Lehigh Valley Marathon: Safer, more sane route for my health but total fail on the marathon front. If I took the next 5 weeks to cross-train, maybe the mild stress fracture would subside and I could still race Chicago? Unlikely and only time would tell. Even more depressing, I wouldn’t have a qualifying time to be able to run Boston ’14. Then, I’d be scrapping Lehigh, probably Chicago, and definitely Boston.
  • Run the Lehigh Valley Marathon: Run on a possible stress fracture and turn it into a definite stress fracture over the course of 26.2 miles. Drop out if my leg is about to snap in half. Get the BQ time and be able to race Boston ’14! See how things go, but most likely not be able to run Chicago.

Obviously, I went with the later and probably need to get my head checked out. I know everyone might not have made the same decision, but I was okay with potentially scrapping Chicago ’13. While I have been gaining confidence in my fitness, there is a slim chance I’d get minutes within my PR at Chicago, let alone under it. Running Boston ’14 will not only be awesome for all the #BostonStrong reasons we all love, but personally it’ll allow me more time to get back into PR shape and go for that sub-3:00 that still alludes me.

My pre-race prep was anything but normal. I had a stressful and off-schedule week leading up to the race due to work, staying way late and even working at the office overnight (I don’t know how night shift workers do this.) Pretty sure my diet of nothing but pizza, sour gummy candies and way too much coffee didn’t help, but I wasn’t too concerned because I love my job and at least the craziness took my mind off of the race and shin pain.

After a relaxing haircut and a nice long sleep on Friday night, I drove out Saturday afternoon with my friends Noelle and Veronica who were kind enough to accompany me on this crazy journey. We headed straight to the expo to get my bib (#999!), checked into our hotel, and had enough Italian food to feed a family of at least six.

I woke up race morning around 5 a.m., which was definitely not early enough to digest my pre-race oatmeal, banana and coffee for a 7 a.m. start, but I had no desire to set my alarm for the 4 a.m. hour. They drove me to the start, but traffic at the exit meant I was hopping out of the car at 6:45 a.m. and running on the highway offramp to make it to the start. Ooops!

Half asleep on the highway

I ran into Meg (hi, Meg! You had an awesome race!) and my teammate Audrey at the start, and easily hopped into the crowds a few minutes before race time. One perk of a small race= no strict corrals that make you feel like you’re going to war.

The gun went off and I tried my best to settle into an easy pace. My goal was to run around 8:00 pace, then settle into 7:50s for the bulk of the race, and then drop it to 7:40s or under the last few miles. Considering most of my training and long runs hover between 7:55-8:15 pace, I figured this was doable and would feel comfortable for 26.2 miles.

But of course, race day comes around and the adrenaline flows! My times early on were faster than I wanted, and I tried to reign it in but decided to go where the day took me. I even had to stop and tie my shoes, twice. My leg was feeling mediocre and after a few miles of pavement through neighborhoods and parks, I welcomed a soft trail.

I’d guesstimate about 75% of the race was on a light packed dirt trail along the canal, which was absolutely beautiful and scenic. If I lived closer, I’d love to do long runs there! I settled in, made a new friend named Greg who was also aiming around/under 3:25, and waited until mile 11 where my friends were waiting to hop in with me. The trails were great, but got very narrow at times where we had to run single file and that drove me a bit nutty.

Noelle ran with us for a few miles before hopping out around the half-way mark to get the car and drive to the finish, while Veronica did the rest of the race with me as the end of her long run (which was mighty speedy, it turns out!) I was capable of running the entire thing solo, but having a friend to keep me company was SO helpful! I felt incredibly strong and the miles just kept ticking off.

Look at how much fun we’re having?! I hate myself on camera.Running is flattering on nobody.

Things got a bit tougher mentally around mile 21, especially once my shin decided it had nearly had enough. Each step felt like a slightly painful jab, but I decided it wasn’t debilitating. Plus, I’m pretty stubborn and I wanted to finish the race since I had come so far.

With two miles to go, I realized if I kept around a 7:30 pace, I could break 3:20. I never entered this race gunning for time except a BQ with a cushion, but my competitive side kicked in and I decided to focus a little more on the last mile to get it.

Because I hate when my watch auto-laps/beeps ahead of mile markers in races, I typically manually lap split at the mile markers during races. I was too scatterbrained to remember to do this before the race, and then I missed some markers throughout, so the splits below don’t make sense in spots.

It’s also the first time I have ever negative split a marathon? I’m guesstimating around 7:42 pace for the first half, 7:31 for the second. I felt really, really good, and am really happy that I was able to hit a 3:19 relatively comfortably on just over 3 months of semi-consistent training. While my body might be a bit broken right now, I’m pretty impressed that I was able to bounce back after a rough winter and spring and get that BQ time with tons of wiggle room. You go, body. Sorry I fractured you.

Veronica, me, Noelle

After the race, I was so happy to finish but needed ice immediately. I met up with friends, grabbed a beer, and immediately hobbled over to the grass to sit and ice. Once we walked back to the car to head back to the hotel and hit the road, I noticed that I could barely put any weight on my right leg. The pain was so excruciating I couldn’t help but keep laughing because it was so ridiculous and stupid that I just ran a marathon on it.

Coincidentally, I had a regular doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday morning at 9 a.m. so I was able to get my leg checked out and get an air cast boot to help alleviate the pressure when walking. I have a referral for a bone scan that I intend to get this week pending some doctor/insurance stuff, but I am 95% sure it’s a stress fracture so I’m looking forward to seeing the recommended healing time and how long I’ll have to be off of it.

In my experience, it’s about 6-8 weeks, which is just in time for base building…

So, there’s the good and the bad. I have a few things in mind that might have contributed to the injury but for my sanity, I don’t want to get hung up on them too much: I switched to a new model of lighter shoes for all my training runs about a month ago, and even though I was pretty cautious about building my mileage slowly, I increased the intensity of my workouts and long runs kinda quickly, etc. The reality is that sometimes these things happen, and I’m just adding it to the list of weirdo injuries that have plagued 2013 thus far.

And of course I get the bone scan results next week, all of the above is pure speculation based off my prior experience and how I feel. Until then, I’ll be taking a hiatus from the bridle and sporting these kicks, just in time for New York Fashion Week.

I love running, but sometimes, I love not running even more. It’s hard to believe it’s been just about a month since the Boston “Speed Can Kill” Marathon, and about 2 weeks since I trudged through the Big Sur Marathon to complete the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. In effect, besides those two days of running 26.2 miles, I’ve run exactly 6 times, only 15-30 minutes each, in the last month. Yay!

Less running, more drinking with friends!

I am a strong believer in periodization of training cycles. Part of this has to do with competing through high school and college. The seasons were clearly defined: Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track. We always took about two weeks of rest in between, give or take depending on practices. Breaks were natural, built-in, and welcome after a hard season or race.

After my LAST college race. I took a whole 3 months of NO exercise after that, and it was glorious.

It’s a little more difficult in the ‘real’ world of running, where there are fun races just about every weekend to sign up for, and no coach setting your competition schedule or telling you when to work out and when to rest. Unfortunately, I think too many runners get caught up in racing and training year-round without a break in between cycles and no real concept of periodization, and ultimately end up burnt out or injured. I get it, there are so many awesome races and marathons to sign up for…it’s easy to want to do them all and do them all right now.

But that’s also the awesome thing about the ‘real’ world. YOU control your training! YOU control your rest! YOU control your goal races. I know everyone is different, so I’m not saying you’re doing it wrong if you don’t split your training into cycles. Everyone’s bodies handle training differently, and everyone has different motivations for running and racing.

However, I really don’t think most people benefit from racing week after week, almost entirely year round, never allowing themselves to peak for a smaller handful of goal races. Instead, it’s just a steady stream of mediocre races at less-than-your-full-potential. I don’t think it’s physiologically or psychologically possible to be in your prime racing shape year-round. Of course, the type of races you do will influence this: training cycles differ in duration if you’re running 5Ks versus running marathons. I do firmly believe that periodization allows me to perform at a high level, while keeping enjoyable and injury-free. I love to race, but I love to race fast more. That means being patient and having 1 or 2 kickass races a year, over dozens of mediocre races.

I’m not a coach, so I’m not going to tell you how to structure your training. Again, it depends on the timing and length of what you’re racing. Google “training periodization” for a better guide than I’d give you. But from my personal experience over the past 3 years of post-collegiate racing, I select a goal race and build my schedule leading up to that. For a marathon, I start to focus on building my base about 4+ months out from the race. As the weeks pass, I steadily increase my mileage. I might schedule in a few races during training, but I use these races as workouts or fitness indicators, not goal races. About ~3 weeks from the marathon, I begin to taper. After the goal race, I take as much time off as I feel I need to recover: physically and mentally. Entirely ‘off’ is key: no physical exercise of any type (besides walking, that’s kinda inevitable..) Sometimes I need a little less than two weeks, sometimes it’s a month.

If you’re not longing for a break after a really hard few months of training or an awesome PR in a race, you’re probably not training and racing hard enough. If you’re back rocking workouts and long runs a week or two after a goal race, I don’t understand you. I’ll be chilling on the couch, not lacing up my running shoes until I’m fully longing to run.

I wouldn’t still be head over heels in love with running after 11 years of competing, chasing PR after PR, if I didn’t rest. It’s one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, and an often neglected one. If I trained hard, all year round, I’d never be able to peak accordingly to run a 3:03 (and soon, sub-3:00) marathon.

Another great part about not running? You get to focus on other areas of your life that got a little less love during your hard training. Like friends, family, and work! Lucky for me, my busy work season just started to kick in after Big Sur. Between personal and work trips, I am traveling every. single. weekend. in May and June. Bring it on, and see ya never, friends!

Sun Valley, Idaho for the Idaho Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Association Conference

Boulder, Colorado as a sponsor of the Blend Retreat. Gorgeous view from our hike!

After Boulder, I was lucky enough to hang out in Denver for about 2 hours with my college roomie Emily before jetting back home!

And then I went to Dallas for the Team USA Olympic Media Summit

...Where I got to meet Bernard Lagat and was a HUGE runnerd.

And get to hear the First Lady Michelle Obama speak!

Yeah, it’s been busy, and I’ve come to appreciate my bed at home more than ever, but I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. I’m in a very exciting place in my career, and though traveling to events primarily on the weekends isn’t the most awesome way to maintain a normal social life, I absolutely love my job. I’m working more than ever, traveling more than ever, and sometimes I can barely keep my head on straight, but it’s so rewarding to feel so challenged and get the opportunity to do some very cool things.

I’m traveling to San Francisco the next two weekend, but for FUN! This weekend is my sister’s college graduation (wahhhh how do they grow up so quickly?!), so I’m looking forward to a weekend of celebrating with the family. Then I’ll return to CA for Memorial Day Weekend with three friends for a little Napa Valley getaway. At least there’s a bit of fun squeezed into my schedule. And maybe some running, too….maybe.

What’s your viewpoint on periodization in your training? Do you like taking breaks after races, or are you more of a year-round racer? Favorite place you’ve been lately?

In less than 20 hours (fingers crossed), I’ll be making a right on Hereford and left on Boylston. I’ll see the finish line in the distance and hopefully cross it in one piece.
For the last year+, I’ve had my sights set on breaking 3:00. It’s only been over the last 2 months that I’ve really started to believe — truly, confidently, believe —  I could do it tomorrow at Boston. I’ve spent the final miles of recent runs visualizing those last few miles, knowing I’m running 2:5X:XX, and actually felt the butterflies, excitement, and adrenaline. I worked hard for this. I earned this. I proved to myself, most importantly, that I could do it.
But no matter how hard and how long you train, some things are simply out of your control. Like tomorrow’ weather forecast.

 

90 DEGREES. 

 

In April, 70 would be HOT. 90 is just cruel. I didn’t really start worrying about the forecast until Friday morning, as I woke up to an email from the BAA warning about heat stroke. Yesterday, we received the official announcement that they were adding a deferment option, extending the course time, and signed off with a warning that “speed can kill.” Yes, really.

 

Reality check.

 

I’m not sure how to adjust my race strategy, but I’ll need to. My plan was to start out a tad slower than goal pace, around 6:55-7:00, feeling relaxed & comfortable on the downhills. I’d cruise until we hit the uphills, working a consistent pace, and then use the energy I banked by starting out conservatively to kick it the last 5-6 miles and bring it home under 3:00. The one thing I’ve heard, over and over, is to start conservatively or you’ll pay for it later.

 

I hate the thought of entirely discounting my goal before I even toe the starting line, but I can’t pretend I’m invincible either. The heat is going to affect me and everyone out there tomorrow. Yeah, I’m hydrating, packing in electrolytes, and will be sure to focus on taking water & gatorade at every stop I can, but it’s a fact that heat imposes real physical limitations on performance. BAA’s email today said: “You should adopt the attitude that THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience.”

 

Just like thousands of others here in Boston, I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed. I’m in the best marathoning shape I’ve ever been in and success could be totally out of my reach tomorrow. I’ve had people tell me to just throw all goals out the window, run easy, and just finish. But I don’t train for months on end to simply finish, and it’s really, really hard for me to accept anything less than the finish I’ve been dreaming of.

 

But you know what? It’s BOSTON. My first! And more than likely, not my last. Every training cycle and race has it’s purpose. If I don’t break 3:00 tomorrow, I will be disappointed, but it’s just more experience under my belt that’ll lead me to a 2:5X:XX when the time is right. Maybe it’ll be Chicago in October, and maybe it won’t. But I’ll keep believing I can and working towards it.

 

So I’ll hit the streets in Hopkinton with my game face on and play it by ear. I’ll still start out conservatively and see where the race goes. For all of those who would like to track me, by bib # is 3752! I hope to wear my orange Central Park Track Club singlet, but I might strip down to a sports bra if it’s already warm in the morning.

 

 

And if anything, I’ve had a fabulous weekend so far in Boston– driving up and checking out the expo with teammates, dinner and exploring with my Mom, and just taking in the energy in this city pre-Marathon Monday. Hopefully it’s sunny and warm (but not THIS warm!) next year– I’d love to come watch!

 

Of course, I bought the requisite Boston jacket (& pint glass– because I’ll need a cold brew after this one):

 

Well, I don’t know if tomorrow will be ‘wicked fast’, but I’ll do my best to make it wicked fun.

 

THANK YOU for all of your support over the last few months especially, and for continuing to follow me along on this journey. I know you’ll all be rooting for me out there, and I’m happy to have made it this far healthy, happy, and fit. Boston, here we go! Good luck to everyone racing, let’s do this!

Boston 2012 Training Plan

January 18th, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (14 Comments)

As much as I’d like to continue living in blissful denial of the reality I’ll be running a marathon in 12.5 weeks (gulp), it’s time to figure out my game plan and get myself together. Fact is, January is almost over and I can’t put it off any longer if I actually want to give myself a fair chance at Boston.

Last night, I sat down and finally mapped out my plan. While I’m certainly not far behind my weekly mileage and long-run goals, I have substantially less base-building time than I usually like to build in, meaning I have to start ramping up ASAP. But I’m okay with this, because I needed every single day I took off after NYC to refresh myself: mentally more than physically.

If I haven’t said it enough, the NYC Marathon kicked my ass this year. Like, 50x harder than in did in 2010 when it was my first marathon. And I only ran <1 minute faster last year. I think most of this has to do with falling short of my sub-3:00 goal. I know I put in the hard work to make it happen, and race day wasn’t the day. Honestly, I can tell by my motivation towards training that I’m still recovering mentally. Time to get over myself, right?

If I hadn’t registered for Boston back in Sept. (& Big Sur, but let’s forget that one exists right now), I would have zero plans to race a spring marathon. After the blow of NYC, I would have given myself winter to chill out, maybe race a spring half, but really focus on regaining my drive to want to get back out there day in and day out and work hard towards my goal. Because I’m just not feelin’ it as naturally as I tend to.

But alas, I’m racing Boston. And I’m not the type to half-ass my training towards a marathon. If I’m putting in the work, I’m going to make it count the best I can given the circumstances. I don’t want to put myself into a position where I am undertrained. I am not going up there looking to run an easy/slow (for me) time. If I am putting in any time to train for a marathon, especially for BOSTON- the mother of marathons, I am at least going to give myself a fighting chance. Here’s to hoping I find my drive and motivation somewhere along my 6 mi. tempo planned for tomorrow night– or anytime before April 16th, really.

I’m not aiming to break 3:00 in Boston, though I wouldn’t mind if I did ;) I want to be competitive yet realistic with myself. I am aiming to run around 3:05. This seems reasonable to me given my base, motivation, work schedule, travel schedule, and downright suckiness of winter training. It might not be a PR, but it won’t be far off. I also don’t know how I’ll fare on Boston’s course: I’ve only ever run NYC.

So finally, my training plan. As you may know, I’ve got all my training plans/logs up on my training tab so you can follow along in a handy dandy Google Doc. Though, I’ve also returned to keeping a paper log thanks to the Secret Santa gift from Meggie: A Believe I Am journal!

Boston Marathon 2012 Training Plan/Log

A few notes:

  • As always, the only ‘structure’ I give my weeks is to hit a certain goal mileage and do a certain long-run. These are indicated in the gray columns. The rest is wiggle room to adjust depending on my schedule- flexibility relieves a lot of anxiety about planning. Though it does require a few mid-week calculations ;)
  • I know my body functions best on one day of rest/week. Like, total 110% rest, no cross-training.
  • I’ll always aim to get in one workout a week, most likely on Thursday nights with the CPTC team. With schedules, I might find myself doing these solo on other days of the week.
  • I’ll look to hit a high of 65 this cycle. For NYC, I found myself comfortable at 60, good at 65, pushing it at 70, and just impossible to hit 75. 65 in the winter should be a nice peak.
  • I’ve incorporated a cut-back week in mileage since that helped a ton when training for NYC. I might move it depending how my body feels.
  • No races planned due to weekend travel in March, though it’d be nice to do a half as a fitness indicator.
  • I want more of my long runs to finish at marathon pace.

And there you have it! Thoughts? Feedback? Overly ambitious? Underly ambitious? Have at me.

Festivity & Secret Santas

December 18th, 2011 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (9 Comments)

Sometimes, the best runs are the ones you least expect. I’ve had a pretty busy week & weekend and running hasn’t been high on my list of priorities. This morning, I woke up early after too many drinks last night and too little sleep. I felt a bit lot like death. Instead of going back to bed like a normal person, I decided the only cure for this hangover was some fresh air. I bundled up (when did it become winter?) and hit the roads for a run to get the blood flowing. 6 miles later, I felt semi-normal again. Surprisingly I averaged around 7:20 pace, something that shouldn’t be possible after getting a total of 10 or 11 hours of sleep all weekend.

Excellent. I’m honestly pretty surprised by how well I’ve been functioning on so little sleep. A very small part of me is regretting signing up for Boston. Marathon training takes a lot out of me, and I’ve kinda been liking non-training Lindsay. She’s fun and goes out and stays up late and takes too many shots and doesn’t have to worry about a 20 mile run or workout the next day.

Fun Lindsay

Don’t worry, I’m definitely still going to be racing Boston and Big Sur, no questions there. It’s just hard to strike a balance between putting in the hard work to get sub-3:00, and being a single 24 year old living in NYC and all that entails. At the end of the day, I need to remind myself not to take running too seriously: it’s only a part of my life, and something I do because I love it. It’s not do or die, and I can still be fun Lindsay…. most of the time. :)

Despite Christmas being less than a week away (!!), I still hadn’t hit up the NYC must-sees. So I finally made my way to midtown to be a Christmasy tourist this weekend. We explored Bryant Park and the Rockefeller Christmas tree. Christmasy things make me happy :)

And my friends Noelle and Kristen came into the city to go out and stay at my apartment last night. We met up with Terence, and we always, always have random nights out together. Last night included a lesbian bar, an apartment party, and a hole-in-the-wall Irish bar. Fun!

Terence, Kristen, Me and Noelle

After the surprisingly great 6 mile run this morning, I headed over to Ali’s apartment for a fun Sweat Squad Secret Santa party with Megan, Susan, Kelly and Meggie!

Meggie, Me, Kelly, Ali, Susan, Megan

Meggie was my Secret Santa and got me an awesome Believe I Am Training journal. I am so excited to use it for training, I think it’ll help get me in the game mentally and be neat to record my training. Thanks, Meggie!

Over the course of our 7 hour “brunch”, we opened presents, drank mimosas, and ate baked treats. That’s my idea of a festive Sunday.

All in all, a very, very festive and fun weekend. Cheers to many, many more! And now, I will proceed to pass out. I’m road tripping to upstate NY tomorrow to finally see the Chobani plant on Tuesday and can’t wait!

Highlight of your weekend?