Goodbye, Pensacola!

November 27th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (8 Comments)

Yesterday was my last day living in Pensacola.

I can’t say I will miss it! I’ve been here for about 8 years and I’m ready for a change of scenery. I came out here (my hometown, fort walton beach, is an hour away) to get my undergraduate degree at UWF, which turned into my graduate degree at UWF, which turned into my academic advising/adjunct jobs at UWF and PSC. So, my thoughts of “I just have to finish my degrees” turned into a ‘when am I ever going to escape?’

Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of things I loved about Pensacola, but I felt like I capped out at my potential here. It’s not a huge city, just recently has the downtown area become ‘thriving’, and there is a total lack of jobs for professionals.

To say farewell I went on an 8 mile loop that covered all of my favorite running stops.

Mile 1; the palafox pier. I loved living so close to the downtown area!
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Mile 2; the rich-folk Aragon neighborhood.2014-11-26 07.24.30

Mile 3; the train tracks leading up to East Hill (my old neighborhood which, in my opinion, is the best place to live in Pensacola.)2014-11-26 07.34.25

Mile 4; one of my favorite water stops at a park in East Hill. 2014-11-26 07.49.22

Mile 5; Bayview Park2014-11-26 08.05.07

Mile 6; the old Sacred Heart Hospital. I used to live across the street! It’s full of restaurants and business now. Ozone’s (on the side of the building) has the best pizza in town. 2014-11-26 08.23.26

Mile 7; this random dive hipster house. You can’t really see it in the photo but it’s covered in stickers and flyers. I don’t know why but it always makes me smile when I run by it!2014-11-26 08.34.54

Mile 8; home.2014-11-26 08.54.11A lot of friends keep asking me if I’m nervous about the move, or how I’m handling it. I’ve had a blast throwing away/donating bags of stuff all week and I’m so, so, so ready to do something else with my life. I LOVE teaching and I hope to always continue doing it, but teaching 4-6 classes a term for a few years now has me totally burned out. I want to write, I want to learn, and I want to step outside and not know that it’s .4 miles to the nearest busy road or .8 to a water fountain. I want the unknown again.

Here’s to new adventures!

When’s the last time you moved to a new town? 

Do you like to live in one city for long, or do you like to hop around (which is my dream!)?


My 2nd Annual Holiday Charity Challenge

November 26th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (11 Comments)

Last year I shared this list and the idea behind it means so much to me that I wanted to do it again this year.

Black Friday is looming just around the corner and instead of jumping on the anti-shopping bandwagon aiming to preserve the ‘sanctity’ of Thanksgiving (which is a farce to me considering what the holiday really represents) I wanted to offer up a challenge.

Replace the purchase of one gift this year with a donation to a charity instead.

That’s it.

Can you imagine the impact of every shopper taking $25+ dollars and giving it to a worthwhile cause instead of investing it in some physical gift that will likely be used up/forgotten about in a few months? After doing a bit of research on which charities are the ‘best’ I’ve come up with a list of my 10 favorites.

1. World Wildlife Fund.


You can ‘adopt’ an animal starting at $25. For $50 you get a stuffed animal of the one you’ve adopted, a tote bag, plus some other cool goodies. I have the pygmy elephant on my Christmas list! (Update: Mom got me the elephant last year and it’s been perched happily on my bookshelf ever since!)

2. Heifer International.

Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animals can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood.

My marathon training partner told me about this one. She said she wanted to buy a goat for someone for Christmas and the immediate look of bewilderment on my face forced her to explain what Heifer International is all about. Basically, you can chose what types of animals to buy and they will be donated to a family to use. They have everything from a flock of ducks for $20 to a camel for $950.

3. Unicef.

Unicef provides vaccines for over 50% of the world’s children, they responded to 200+ emergency events last year, and are currently raising funds for Syrian child refugees & Philippine’s typhoon victims. Basically, their your catch all good guys.

4. Shop Komen.

water bottle

The famous pink ribbon! 25% of the purchase of anything from their online store goes to the Susan G. Komen foundation. They have a great list of items under $20.

5. Tree People.

For the dirty hippie nature lover on your list I can’t think of a more appropriate gift than planting a tree in their honor. Browse through their holiday card selection, donate $25, and the card will be mailed to your recipient informing them that a tree will be planted on their behalf just in time for the Holidays.

6. Oceana.


Oceana is like World Wildlife Fund but specifically for sea creatures. You can adopt an animal starting at $30 and that adoption package includes a cookie cutter in the shape of the animal. #SoCute

7. Rainforest Alliance.

Growing up my ’cause’ was deforestation. I think every kid goes through a phase around the middle school years where they get super passionate about saving the world from some evil. Donations of $35+ come with your choices of a tote bag or tree frog plus. Perfect stocking stuffers!

8. Charity Water.


100% of donations and sales of their online store go to fund water projects. From playing cards for $5 to gorgeous gold necklaces there’s something for every budget.

9. The Nature Conservancy.

Want to adopt an acre in the Northern Rockies? Of course you do, and now you can! All donations of $10+ receive one of the iconic Nature Conservancy calenders (they send them to me every year … I guess I owe them now!)

10. Donate to your Local Animal Society.


Raising money for the Pensacola Humane Society with my marathon was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Animals are my weakness, and I can’t even look at the photos of animals waiting for forever homes without tearing up.

What charity would you pick and who would you ‘gift’ it to?
Did I leave your favorite charity off this list? 

Immediately after finishing my first trail race this weekend I though, “well, there’s no way in hell I’m doing that again.”

Yet, all Travis and I could talk about Monday was finding the next trail race to run as soon as possible.

I think the next time around will go much smoother because (1) I’ll know what to expect and (2) I won’t have a pie-related foot injury.

Friday afternoon I was working on my pie post that went up yesterday. It was going great! It took me about 2 hours to shoot the video, take and edit photos, and cook + clean up. After everything was finally done I picked up the chair I had been using to put the camera on and somehow let it slip right out of my hands and onto my bare foot.
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Directly onto my bare freaking foot. I took this photo about an hour after it happened. Don’t let the small injury size fool you. I was in excruciating pain. I like to think that I have a very high pain tolerance (hello falling face first into a paved road and loosing 4 of my teeth) but this was unbearable. I tried to walk it off for a minute but I started getting extremely dizzy so I laid down on the kitchen floor. I wiggled my toes so I knew nothing was broken. I thought that I should try to get my foot in a bucket of ice ASAP to minimize swelling.

2014-11-21 15.41.15Every time I tried to get up I’d get so close to passing out I had to lay down again. I may have passed out to be honest I don’t really remember. About 20 minutes later I was finally able to grab some ice, a bucket, and head to the bath tub to lay down.2014-11-21 15.44.31After icing it for 20 minutes it felt much better (because my foot was totally numb.) I continued to work on some blog stuff while I waited for Travis to pick me up so we could go get our race packets for Saturdays half marathon. Within an hour I realized the pain was getting worse and I turned to Dr. Google. The moment I saw the phrase “fractures in the foot left untreated can get worse over time and small pieces of bone can break off causing further damage” I realized I should take advantage of this newfangled health insurance I have and get my butt to urgent care.

Travis and I picked up the packet first (priorities people!) and headed to the not-so-urgent care. The doc was great. After my X-rays he came in with the results. He handed me the X-ray and said, with a dramatic pause, “Well, the results are in and you are ….. okay.” I asked him if running on it the next day would make anything worse. He said no, but it certainly wouldn’t make it feel any better..

That’s all I needed to hear!2014-11-21 19.37.39The next day we were up at 5 a.m. to make the hour drive to Blackwater State Park. I have hiked here numerous occasions and was so excited to have the chance to run through the trails! While I’ve run around Westgate Park in Dothan with Travis a few times (including that one time I placed in my age group at a 5k) I haven’t done any ‘real’ trails. I went into this race with no time expectations, especially considering how bad my foot was hurting, and just wanted to finish.2014-11-22 07.49.16

The night before the race a photo was posted of the race director standing in the stream that we had to run through twice. It was WAIST DEEP. I panicked. Running in wet clothes for 2 hours sounded miserable. Turns out it wasn’t nearly as bad as I though, and was actually a lot of fun! Running felt like a complete adventure out there. The first and last 2 miles (it was the same trail with a 9 mile loop in the middle) were very technical. We ran through swampy areas, thick trees, and over multiple streams. My pace for those miles were almost 13 minutes because of how hard they were to maneuver. It was the best part of the race though! I was so happy Travis, who had run ahead of me, stopped at the stream around mile 1.5 to wait to see me cross. He snapped a few photos, gave me a kiss, and I didn’t see him again until the finish line. (That’s me out front in the purple jacket.)2014-11-22 08.22.03

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A few miles into the half I swore I’d never do a trail race again. I was hurting everywhere! I had to keep reminding myself that I just ran a marathon two weeks prior, had been dealing with a nagging hip/knee injury, and had a bum foot. I’m a big advocate of using mantras to help keep up motivation when running but I haven’t had to rely on one in months. Well, around mile 6 anytime I caught myself thinking something negative I would think, “I don’t HAVE to run, I GET to run.”2014-11-22 09.33.50The course was absolutely gorgeous. There were a few very rough patches of sand which killed my ankles and running down these small rocks (you can hardly see them in the photo above but they are killer.) By the time I came out of the trail and saw the finish line I was elated. The course ran long so it was 13.6 miles before I got my medal and it was WELL deserved! The best part? Travis was waiting at the finish line and was the one to give me my medal. So sweet!

2014-11-22 10.44.44

2014-11-22 11.14.39They had an amazing post race BBQ set up. DIY Burgers (including veggie burgers!), cookies, sweet tea, chips, etc. Travis grabbed a burger and I stuffed a few cookies in my mouth. Overall the race was perfect except for the fact that they ran out of cups for water at the last aid station when I was there. Thankfully I always run with a water bottle but I would have been livid if I had to go the last 3 miles without anything to drink!

When we got home I was starving and I ate the craziest thing I’ve ever eaten post-race; HEALTHY SHIT. I was craving veggies burgers and green beans so I made up two patties and ate a whole can of green beans. I normally shove whatever carbs and sugar I can into my face and call it a day. The times, they are a changing.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in recovery mode; ice, rest, etc. My bruise didn’t hurt too bad but I had a lot of swelling on the top of that foot around the ankle and big toe. Same thing happened after my first marathon. It’s been a few days and I still can’t bend my big toe down or up. It’s gradually getting better though. If you’ve ever had this happen, or may know what caused it, help a sista out!
2014-11-23 17.11.56-1That night we made our usual post-race trip to Tijuana Flats to gorge on the worlds best queso. 2014-11-22 17.06.35As for our next trail race we are about 90% certain it will be a 50k in two weeks.

Yeah. Two weeks.

Let the carbing up begin!

Are you a fan of train running?

Have you ever dropped something on your foot and thought you may die?