Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 201777 in 2018 and 67 in 2019!) has morphed into this passion for books. As you can see, my reading has slowed a bit, but my love for books has not! In the past couple years I've added longer distance races (which means more time running/ training and less time reading), we've remodeled our condo (I think it legit took us six months to finish the whole thing... DIY seems to take twice as long {and cost twice as much} as you originally think it will), and I've added another part time job (which means I'm now working 40ish hours a week, cutting down on my reading time). Even still, I love getting my read on whenever I can.

Truth be told, I was never much of a reader when I was younger (CliffsNotes were my best friend when it came to books), but recently I fell in love. Although I may not read at the same speed as I previously did when I first caught the reading bug, I still want to keep the hobby going (and what better form of accountability than to post a list of the books I finished at the end of the month?!). I don't have any set number of books I am shooting to read this year, but hopefully a lack of goal doesn't mean a lack of books completed. So, without further ado, let's jump into everything I read in June!

  • So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo - With all that is going on in the world, I wanted to make sure I was educating myself on the struggles Blacks face on a daily basis. I had seen this book recommended on a few lists and I was able to grab it on my Hoopla audiobook app. The hubby and I started listening to it together on our drive to hike San Jacinto (he fell asleep on the way home and then I finished it while walking on my lunch breaks, but don't worry, he is still planning on listening to what he missed). Ijeoma not only gives it to you straight when it comes to the realities of racism, power and oppression, but she also offers hope and ways to overcome - including dialogue. I will be honest, this isn't an easy read. At times it is harsh and blunt, and it forces you to truly take a look in the mirror, but it is necessary. I can't recommend this book enough to those folks wanting to be an ally, wanting to make change, wanting to dive into the racist system and environment in which they have been raised. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi - I will mention this from the jump, because it can sometimes turn people away from picking up a book in the first place - this is long. I listened to the audio version and it was over 18.5 hours long. With that said, it is important, it is necessary. The author takes a deep dive into the racist ideas intricately woven into America. While I was thinking about the length of time I was spending listening to this history, I was thinking that throughout my 18 YEARS of schooling (I went to pre-school for two years before starting kindergarten and graduated from a four-year college after high school) I have to believe I spent less than 18.5 hours IN TOTAL learning about Black history. Maybe you would get a lesson a year taught about slavery or civil rights, but other than that there wasn't much... And, to be completely honest, I never thought anything about it... which is white privilege TO A T! History, as I'm sure you know, is always told by "the winners" and they spin it in whatever light shows them the best. I am grateful that this author took the time to not only dive into this excruciatingly painful history, but sets the record straight when it comes to many of the people and actions taken. If you believe everyone has gotten or does get a fair shake at life, please take the time to listen (or read) this book. It is eye opening and blatantly obvious when the facts are laid bare how racist of a society America has been, is currently and will continue to be unless we demand change. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele - If you saw any of my pictures from our San Jacinto hike or read my blog post, then you probably noticed the sign that I wore on my hydration pack read Black Lives Matter. When I saw this book, a memoir written by one of the founders of the movement, I knew I wanted to give it a listen (I know the majority of the books I have "read" recently have been audiobooks, but that's because A. our library is still closed and B. I am able to listen to them on my walks to work, on my lunch break and when I'm riding the stationary bike). Patrisse opens her heart and world to the reader, inviting us in on her childhood and the realities of not only growing up Black (as well as female and queer), but also as a social activist. From start to finish this book is filled with love (for her family, for her community) and honesty. I appreciate Patrisse's willingness to put these harsh realities down on paper so that others can learn from them and continue to enact change. This book, like others I have read this month, was an eye-opener and really forces you to confront the privileges that you may have been oblivious to in your life. I wish it was longer and included more about the BLM movement, but I did walk away with the understanding that it was founded on love, the desire for justice and demand for change. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

With that, June has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?

Monday, June 29, 2020

Mount San Jacinto Hike

A few weeks ago the hubby and I hiked Mount San Jacinto (also known at San Jacinto Peak) and I thought I'd share our adventure - that way, if you're considering doing it yourself or you're just interested in our journey, you can see what went down (and up... literally ;)). It is the highest peak of the San Jacinto Mountains, and of Riverside County, California.

Hubby and I at the summit

With the weather getting warmer and the crowds hitting the trails more regularly (we waited until everything was officially open after the COVID closures), we knew we wanted to get an early start on our hike. The drive to the trailhead is approximately 75 miles away (a little over an hour and a half), so we set the alarms for EARLY and hit the hay.

At least I was in bed early ;)

We got to the trailhead in Idyllwild with no problems (we even stopped in town to use a port-o-potty and then swung by the State Park Headquarters before we started the trek to the top). Note - normally you need to stop by Headquarters for a wilderness permit {or apply for one online} but due to the pandemic this permit was not required (but they did strongly urge you to tell at least one other person where you were, what you were doing and when to expect you back).

The hubby has done this hike before when he tackled the Three Peaks Challenge back in 2017, but I hadn't been to San Jacinto before. When he did it, they tackled the climb from the Palm Springs side of the mountain and used the tram for part of it (the challenge allowed this option and since they were attempting to tackle the three highest peaks in SoCal within 24 hours this was the best way to do it). The hubby and I did hike the first few miles of this trail (Deer Springs Trail) during our Thanksgiving camping trip this past year, but only until we veered off to Suicide Rock.

Much colder and with more snow a few months ago ;)

The parking area (which is technically just along the side of the street near the trailhead) was fairly full when we arrived around 6am, but thankfully the trail seemed pretty empty for the majority of time we were hiking it. We met a friend and his son there (but we drove in separate cars, made sure to stay at least 6 feet apart the entire time, etc to adhere to the social distancing orders) - but other than those two, we only seemed to come across a handful of folks on the hike up.

When we started the hike it was pretty foggy and soggy. I had made and attached a sign to my hydration vest so I could have it at the summit and was slightly nervous it'd get ruined by the mist we were walking through (thankfully it held up). Once we started climbing in elevation we got ABOVE THE CLOUDS and didn't have to deal with the "weather" any longer.

Making it above the clouds!

When the guys stopped to catch their breath or grab a snack,
I took the time to snap selifes, HA!

I have a thing for trail signs...

Isn't nature awesome?!

Got a little artsy with this one ;) but the pine cones were EVERYWHERE!

The trees were so tall!

If you remember, the hubby and I hiked Mt. Whitney last year, which was gnarly, but I've gotta say, although the challenge and burliness of the hike for Whitney (you are peaking out at over 14,500 feet above sea level) is greater, the views and enjoyment of Jacinto are much preferred. (Surprisingly the hikes aren't that crazy different - Whitney was 21 miles round trip with close to 7,000 feet of elevation gain and Jacinto was close to 19 miles round trip with 5,500 feet of elevation.)

Another sign shot because I love them so!

We try to take fuel every hour or so. Our go-to is PROBAR BOLT chews.


Even dead trees are amazing!

I'd say the weather was almost perfect for hiking. Like I mentioned, it started off pretty misty and foggy, but once we broke through the clouds it was sunny and gorgeous. When we got closer to the summit it got chillier and windier, but we packed jackets in preparation for that. We stopped at the stone cabin shelter to add our layers before venturing to the peak.

The emergency cabin near the summit

Had service near the top, but not sure how accurate the temps were.

Again, the guys were adding their layers, so I was snapping selfies... 

The summit sign has been destroyed, but thankfully a new one (no longer attached to a pole) has been left in its place. The hubby and I waited our turn, snagged the sign and took a couple shots. The wind was really howling at the top, so we took our photos and found shelter amongst some of the boulders so we could eat a few snacks.

I wore my #BlackLivesMatter sign on my hydration vest because although I wasn't
able to attend the protests I still wanted to have my voice (and stance) heard.

Summit selfie!

Apparently you can see San Gorgonio Mountain, the Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea and much of the Inland Empire on a clear day.

Although the 360* views from the peak may not be as epic as John Muir once observed (due to the urban sprawl and worsening air quality {aka SMOG!}), I would still venture to say his quote about the area and the sights still stands - "The most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth." #JohnMuirWasTheMan

The views on the way down were just as stunning as on the way up. Normally if it were just the hubby and I, we probably would have ran some of the downhill, but since we were with friends we kept it mellow and chill. Well, that is until about 3 miles from the end, when my left foot was on a rock that started to move so I jumped off it... and landed with all of my weight on the side of my left foot. OUCH! I heard and felt something pop/crack and immediately felt the pain. As any stubborn runner would do, I tried to "walk it off", but quickly the hubby told me to stop and take a second. The tears welled in my eyes and I sent up a quick prayer that A. I could make it back to the car and B. that I didn't break it. After a few minutes I knew I needed to keep moving or else it'd tighten up and getting back to the car might require a piggy-back ride.

I used paperclips and safety pins to attach my sign to my hydration pack.

The flowers were pretty spectacular as well.

Some of the pine cones were HUGE (and sappy... as I found out when I picked these up!)

The last three miles were painful and slow-going, but I kept chugging along. I knew the adrenaline was helping to get me back to the car. The guys kept the pace slow enough so I wasn't too far back and kept asking to make sure I was okay.

This is a shot of my ankle after I got home, took off my shoe (and showered)... It swelled to about twice its normal size.

By the time we got to the car we were at about 19 miles with 5,4595 feet of climbing. It took us 8 hours and 35 minutes total (I don't stop my watch when we are hanging out at the summit, snapping pictures or having to take a breather for sprained ankles). The route we took was San Jacinto Peak via Deer Springs Trail (there are other trails, including ones from the Palm Spring side, but with COVID the tram is currently closed so all paths to the top require your own two feet).

It took about 4.5 hours to get up and then 4 hours to get down.

Trying not to grimace in the picture...

If you haven't hiked San Jacinto, I would highly recommend it. It isn't an easy walk in the park (AllTrails considers it "hard"), but if you have the physical fitness and ability to make it happen, you should absolutely do it. (And, if you are looking for a hiking buddy, you can always let me know and I'll meet you at the trail ;)) Don't forget your water though!


What is your favorite hike you've tackled thus far?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Workout Recap - Week 26

Sunday, June 21st – 95 minutes on the stationary bike

Monday, June 22nd – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, June 23rd – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Wednesday, June 24th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, June 25th – Rest Day

Friday, June 26th   95 minutes on the stationary bike

Saturday, June 27th – 3 mile run, 3.4 mile hike with the hubby and pup

I'm STOKED to report that I tried my ankle out on a short run after THREE WEEKS of not running. It isn't completely back to 100%, but it feels more like a sprain now instead of a potential fracture like I had been worried about. This past week I was also able to bring back my walk commutes (walking to work in the AM and having the hubby pick me up in the OM) and walking on my lunch break, so although I haven't been running, I've still been getting in some decent mileage. With zero races on the calendar currently (well, Chicago still hasn't cancelled but I'm sure it's just a matter of time), I don't need to force my ankle back any sooner than necessary. I plan to try a few longer runs (maybe 6ish miles or so) next week, but will take it as slowly and comfortably as it requires. I'm just super excited to actually be going faster than a brisk walk.

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

REVIEW: Daily Harvest Scoops {& DISCOUNT CODE}

A few weeks ago Daily Harvest released their newest edition to their line-up of scrum-didily-umptious products... In case you haven't seen the news, it's SCOOPS! A decadent, creamy frozen treat without fake fillers, gums or refined sugars. Just whole, nourishing ingredients that make every scoop deliciously unique. Gluten and dairy free FOR THE WIN!


When I saw the original post on their IG account I was secretly hoping they'd ask me to give the yumminess a try and low and behold they reached out to see if they could send me some - OH HECK TO THE YES! #ComeToMama

Let's just say I was STOKED to dig in. Although the hubby is the one in our household with the MAJOR sweet tooth, I don't think I can or will ever pass up an opportunity to feast on some vegan "ice cream". (Truth be told, more brands are getting with the times and releasing plant-based sweet treats, but they are still pretty few and far between so when I see an option I will jump at the chance to try it out.) The only question was picking which flavor to scoop into my mouth first.

Source: @DailyHarvest's Instagram Feed

I decided to demo the Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote first. I will be honest, I wasn't too sure about this one because I am normally not a huge strawberry ice cream lover (in general I don't love the creaminess of ice cream to begin with and usually stick with sherberts anyway) but this one came out swingin'. I loved the ribbons of the berry compote throughout (it was an extra layer of texture and flavor which was delicious!) and the flavors felt very fresh and summery.

Next up was the Mint + Dark, Melty Cacao Chips flavor. I think I was the most excited for this one from the jump because mint and chocolate just go together like peanut butter and Miracle Whip {wait, you didn't eat PB&MW sandwiches growing up?!}. This one did not disappoint and I scarfed it down before I remembered I needed to snap a picture. #BloggerFail

The last flavor I tried was the Vanilla + Salted, Swirled Black Sesame. #RealTalk - I was a bit nervous about this one because although plenty of folks rave about salty and sweet flavors going together, I'm not always sold on the combo. Well, Daily Harvest may have made me a believer because this flavor profile was so yummy. The black sesame was a very interesting choice (it might not have been anything I would've ever dreamt up), but it absolutely worked.

I was sent the Chocolate + Ooey, Gooey, Midnight Fudge flavor, but chocolate isn't my jam so I let the hubby smash it. He tried all of the flavors and thought this one was the most like a traditional ice cream. He said that had he not been told it was vegan he would've thought for sure it was made of milk and cream because it was so smooth and flavorful. He also enjoyed the "chunks" and thought if Daily Harvest were to add more he wouldn't have been mad about it. (FYI - Make sure to let them "melt" for ~10 minutes so they feel more creamy than icy, but this tip is on the packaging as a reminder.)

Now for my overall thoughts beside the delectable flavors. First, the per pint cost of $8.99 is a pretty penny, but with the real, high-quality ingredients I can sort of see the price (although, if it was in the grocery store I probably would pass it by due to the higher cost). Next, there are three servings per container... and, let's be real, you can eat a pint in a single sitting. Finally, seeing as I grew up in a world of diet culture permeating life, I was a bit surprised when I saw the nutritional facts per serving. Again, I realize the ingredients being used are real, but when the container of strawberry "ice cream" has 870 calories, 57 grams of fat, 51 grams of saturated fat and 39 grams of added sugar it's slightly shocking.


Don't get me wrong, these are yummy and if Daily Harvest offers to send me more I'd take them up on the gift without a second thought, but if I had to pay for them out of my pocket I'd probably pass. With that said, if you think the costs sound worth it (or if you still have some of your stimulus check burning a hole in your pocket that you're looking to spend), you can absolutely use code CARLEEMCDOT to save you $25 on your first order (no matter what you include in your box).

Which flavor would you want to try first?

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Workout Recap - Week 25

Sunday, June 14th – Rest Day

Monday, June 15th – Rest Day

Tuesday, June 16th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Wednesday, June 17th – 75 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, June 18th – 75 minutes on the stationary bike

Friday, June 19th  10.82 mile hike with the hubby

Saturday, June 20th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

I wish I could say my ankle was healed, but it isn't... Seeing as I don't have any races on the calendar for a couple months (and I'm assuming they will be cancelled any day now anyway) I'm not stressing out about it too much, but I am GREATLY missing running. Sure, I might be able to listen to an audio book or watch an episode of a cooking show or two while on the bike, but it isn't the same. I'm praying it gets better soon... PS In case you were wondering, when the hubby and I hiked Mt. Baldy on Friday we took it VERY slow, I used poles and I taped my ankle (as well as wore two compression socks, tied my shoe tight for extra support, etc). It didn't seem to make it any worse so I'm counting it as a success!

How were your workouts this past week?