Friday Favorites

Welcome to another edition of Friday Favorites with Allen, where I will take a look at some of the things that I think are awesome!

Yeti Rambler Tumbler

I finally picked up a Yeti last weekend, and I have to say I’m super impressed so far. I took it to work one day this week and my ice did not melt the entire day. It looks great, too. I can definitely see what all the buzz was about.


Brooks Heritage Shoes

I saw these shoes on Carlee’s Instagram a few weeks ago and I knew I had to have a pair. I like the classic look and multiple color options. I have worn them probably 5-10 times already and I love how they look and feel. I will be ordering another pair soon.


Fuller House

I grew up watching Full House. It was a good, clean TV show that my parents were ok with us watching. I was stoked to hear several months ago they were releasing a sequel series on Netflix, with several characters returning. Rachel and I are looking forward to watching this over the weekend.


Pro Compression Socks (#thegibblers)

As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, I love Pro Compression socks! They look and feel great during running and are awesome for recovery purposes post-run. My favorite pair are the multicolor striped socks, aka #thegibbers, named after Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) from Full House. I had the opportunity to meet Andrea in September at one of the #WeRunSocial meetups, and she is awesome. I love that “Kimmy Gibbler” is a runner!

Since today is the launch of the Fuller House show, a lot of runners are showing their support of the show (and Andrea) by rocking their socks on social media with the hashtag #NationalWearTheGibblersDay. I wore mine this morning during my 7 mile run.


Slow Down and Enjoy Life

My life has been quite busy recently. So much so that the blog has taken a backseat. Between finishing up the youth basketball league that I run and planning for the summer (we host over 23 different camps in our gym/building), I have had a lot of my mind.

Sometimes when life gets so busy, I tend to forget to slow down and enjoy life. But slowing down and enjoying life is what’s most important! Every day is a new opportunity to make a difference in the world. I want to be more present where I am. Does work need to get done? Of course! But it doesn’t mean that I can’t be the best Allen I can be.

Sometimes I need this reminder. Otherwise I get so caught up and distracted that I miss the little (and big) opportunities to truly impact the world around me. May we not get so busy that we forget this truth.


Friday Favorites

I have to give props to Carlee for this blog post idea! Here are a few things that are awesome in the world of Allen right now.

Better Call Saul


Better Call Saul started back last Monday night with a solid first episode of their sophomore season. I was a huge fan of Breaking Bad and loved the first season of this spinoff prequel. Very much looking forward to this new season!

MuteMath – Light Up

MuteMath is one of those bands that has been around for the past 10 years and consistently puts out solid music, but I honestly don’t think about near enough. I recently added like 4 of their songs to my running playlist and have been really enjoying it. Light Up is one of the songs off their new album that I heard a few weeks ago on SiriusXM ALT Nation and I’m really digging it.

Nike Zoom Pegasus 32


I just broke in a new pair of Nike Pegasus 32’s during my run this morning and they are sweet. There is nothing better than the first run in a new pair of running shoes.

Any favorite things you’ve been enjoying lately?!


Duke vs. UNC

I’ve been a Duke Basketball fan since 1987. Growing up in Alabama where football is king, I was looking for a college basketball team to cheer for. My older brother started watching Duke in 1985, and I had a good friend in middle school who moved from Durham, NC and was a huge fan of Duke. So I started watching them play and was hooked! Over the almost 30 years I have been a fan of Duke, they have had amazing success, with 12 final fours, 5 national titles and 13 ACC championships.

Of course, this can all be attributed to their legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski (or Coach K). I have been to multiple games at Cameron Indoor Stadium, in additional to multiple away games in Atlanta and Tallahassee. I love the Duke Blue Devils!

Which means, of course…I am not a fan of their biggest rival, the University of North Carolina. The Tar Heels are the enemy. For the past 30 years, I’ve watched UNC have major success as well, with several final fours and national titles. Every year Duke has a “home and home” against UNC. Tonight is the first of at least 2 meetings in 2016 (they could meet in the ACC tourney and/or the NCAA tourney).

Duke has had amazing success against UNC the past few years. They are 10-3 over the last 13 meetings, including a season sweep last year. However, I fear this year might go the other way. UNC is a top team with depth, experience and talent. Duke, while very talented, is young and very thin. Plus, tonight’s game is in Chapel Hill. But it’s Duke/UNC. You never know what can happen in this game.

However, no matter the outcome, I am looking forward to this great basketball rivalry. It is, in my opinion, the best in college basketball and one of the best in sports. Let’s go Duke!

Youth Basketball League

One of the cool parts of my job as Director of Activities at St. James UMC is running a youth basketball league during the winter months. Our gym is one of 11 different gyms that have teams participate in the overall league. This season, there are 12 different teams participating from our church. The age range is from 7-14 years old. The teams are broken down by age brackets of 7/8, 9/10, 11/12 and 13/14.

Back in October, we began to recruit coaches/assistant coaches as well as opened online registration. Typically the last Saturday in October, we host tryouts and draft the teams. By the second week in November, practices have begun in our gym. Games begin the first Saturday of January and run for 8 straight Saturdays.

Between scheduling the courts, hiring and training scorekeepers, hiring refs, ordering jerseys, communicating with coaches and parents about game times and practice times, maintaining the basketball goals, courts and balls…there is quite a bit to do. But watching the kids play and have fun, plus the connections we are building in the surrounding community of Brookhaven/Buckhead, makes it all worthwhile.

We are 2 weeks away from playoff Saturday and after 5 months, the season will be wrapping up. It’s been a rewarding season for us at St. James UMC and our gym/activities building.


The Lenten season, which lasts from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday, is intended to be a time of spiritual self-examination, repentance and renewal.

Today marks Ash Wednesday. My church will be holding the traditional Ash Wednesday Service tonight for the imposition of ashes. The ashes used to mark a cross on a person’s forehead symbolize the belief that God created man from ashes and that man returns to ashes after death. The ritual is usually marked by a minister or priest saying, “Remember, man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.” The ashes are also seen as a mark of sorrow and grief for personal sins and as a symbol of repentance.

Before my current job, I worked as a Youth Minister for almost 18 years. I spent a lot of time working with teenagers who would talk about what they were going to “give up” during the 40 days of Lent (although technically it’s 46 days, but who’s counting?). I always wanted to make sure they understood the reasoning behind the practice of giving up something they normally can’t do without. I wanted them to remember this idea was more about repenting of their sin and dedicating their lives to God. It was not a time of boasting of one’s sacrifice or trying to earn God’s favor or love.

Instead of thinking about what I’m going to give up this season of Lent, I want to adopt some new habits. Here are a few goals I have set for myself:

  • I want to be more present in the here and now. I am going to be very intentional about staying off of my computer/phone/iPad early in the mornings and later in the evenings. I have a tendency to spend way too much time on them.
  • I want to have more meaningful conversations with family members and friends.
  • I am going to try to reach out to someone I haven’t talked to in a while at least every few days, for no other reason than just to catch up.
  • I want to spend more time giving back to others. I spend way too much time focused on myself.
  • Finally, I want to spend less time watching TV and more time reading, playing guitar, and spending quality time with Rachel.

Movies I’m Looking Forward To In 2016

Rachel and I love watching movies. Several years ago, we saw movies in the theaters all the time. However, it has gotten so expensive to go out to the movies, that we have become pretty picky about which films we pay money for.

This year has quite a few new movies coming out that I really want to see. Below is a list of the movies coming out between now and May that I am looking forward to. My guess is we will end up seeing about half of these in the actual theater, and we will end up renting the rest down the road.

  • Hail! Caesar (February): This is definitely one I want to see in the theater. I love the Coen Brothers. Several of their movies are on my top movies of all time list. Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski…I could go on and on.
  • Deadpool (February): This movie looks really cool and really funny. Not sure if I’ll end up seeing this in the theater or waiting till later. But Ryan Reynolds looks much better as a anti-hero (Deadpool) than the Green Lantern for sure.
  • Zoolander No. 2 (February): I have mixed emotions about this one. I loved the first movie. Derek Zoolander is one of my favorite Ben Stiller roles. Honestly, I don’t know enough about this new movie to truly have an opinion. But I’ll definitely see it at some point.
  • Zootopia (March): If you know anything about Rachel and me, you know we love Disney. This movie looks like another slam dunk for the mouse. Can’t wait to see it.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March): I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS MOVIE! The previews look awesome. I am a little skeptical of Ben Affleck as Batman, but I trust Zack Snyder as a director. Can’t wait!
  • The Jungle Book (April): We really enjoyed the live action version of Cinderella last year. I’m curious to see The Jungle Book as a live action film. Plus, Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo is a great choice!
  • The Huntsman: Winter’s War (April): I thought the first movie (Snow White and the Huntsman) was very entertaining. This one looks like more of a rental for us.
  • Captain America: Civil War (May): Maybe the #1 movie I am looking forward to on this list. I love the Marvel films and Captain America. We will see this as soon as it comes out!
  • Neighbors 2 (May): The first movie was hilarious. I hope this one is too. Curious to see the reviews. My guess is this movie will end up being a rental with so many amazing movies coming out in May.
  • Alice Through The Looking Glass (May): I so wish Tim Burton was directing this sequel. I thought the first movie was amazing. However, the trailers for this sequel look great, so I am cautiously optimistic. Plus, this is one of Alan Rickman’s last roles as the voice of the Caterpillar.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (May): We both love the X-Men movies. The first two movies, with this new cast, were excellent. Looking forward to seeing this one in the theater!

And there you have it: The movies in the first half of 2016 that I am looking forward to. I’m sure I am missing a few others, but this is a pretty long list already.

What movies are you excited about seeing this year?

TV Shows I’m Looking Forward To In 2016

It feels like it’s been a while since I wrote a blog post that wasn’t running related. I guess it’s been dominating my life more recently. Work has also been taking up quite a bit of my time. It’s been over a month since we’ve had a free weekend. And it doesn’t look like that will change until March. All that to say, it’s been busy!

Anyway…Rachel and I love pop culture. Whether it’s watching TV shows or movies, we try to stay on top of what’s new. As we are getting closer to the spring, there are quite a few things I’m looking forward to in the world of TV and movies. Today I want to take a look at some of the upcoming TV shows we are looking forward to this winter/spring.


  • Better Call Saul (February – AMC): I was a huge fan of Breaking Bad, so I was a little nervous about Better Call Saul’s first season. But it was excellent. Looking forward to seeing where they go in season 2.
  • Girls (February – HBO): Rachel is a bigger fan of this show than I am. But I do enjoy watching it with her. Adam Driver is the best part of this show, in my opinion.
  • House of Cards (March – Netflix): While I wasn’t the biggest fan of season 3, I really like this show. Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood is a lot of fun to watch.
  • Daredevil (March – Netflix): I thought this show had an excellent first season. Curious to see where they go in season 2.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (April – Netflix): We loved season 1. The show feels like 30 Rock and The Office got together and had a baby. Plus, the theme song is so catchy!
  • Game of Thrones (April – HBO): I LOVE THIS SHOW! I’m so excited! (That is all.)
  • Veep (April – HBO): Rachel and I just binge-watched the first 4 seasons of Veep. This is another show I think Rachel likes more than I do, but I definitely appreciate how funny and quirky everyone is.
  • Silicon Valley (April – HBO): Silicon Valley is hilarious. Erlich Bachman is one of my favorite characters on TV.

That takes us up to the summer months. As you can see, HBO and Netflix are well represented. Tomorrow I will look at some of the upcoming movies we are looking forward to!

Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon Recap

This past Saturday, January 30th, I had the opportunity to run the Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon in Suwanee, Georgia. Suwanee is about 25 miles north of Atlanta.

I was excited to run this race, as one of my goals for 2016 is to run more local races. Plus, I am familiar with the area, as Rachel and I used to live in Gwinnett County, where Suwanee is located. 

I got up bright and early to make my way up to the Suwanee Town Center. The race started at 7:30, but I was aiming to get up there a little before 7:00 to park and find the starting line. One of the nice things about this race is the runners could hang out in the City Hall building before the race starts. It was a chilly 30 degrees that morning, so not having to wait outside in the starting corral was awesome!


Hanging out in City Hall.

The race was a nice size of around 300 runners, which made for an easy transition to the starting line, which was literally right down the steps from City Hall. I ended up running into several people I knew from when we lived in Gwinnett County.

I also knew that my new social media running friend Brandi would be there as well. It was great to get to talk with Brandi and one of her friends Jennifer for a while before the race got started.

At 7:25 we made our way down to the starting line and by 7:30 we were off. I stayed with Brandi for the first mile just chatting and getting to know her a little better. She was running her 50th half marathon that morning. She is a rock star!

After the first mile, I ended up leaving Brandi, as her pace is just a little slower than mine. My goal was to maintain around a 10 minute per mile pace. I had read there were several hills in this race, so I was mentally preparing myself to dominate the hills!

The first 3-4 miles were nice and steady. As we entered into George Pierce Park, we encountered our first big hill. And I’ll be honest, it about wore me out. I train on some hills in Atlanta, but my long training runs during Dopey were mostly flat to simulate running at Disney. It had been quite a while since I had run a hill like this one for sure.


Running down Peachtree Industrial Blvd. before getting to George Pierce Park.

After George Pierce Park, we headed into the Suwanee Greenway, which was my favorite part of the run. The greenway feels like you are running on a trail through the woods with beautiful scenery, trees and water along the way. As we exited out of the greenway, the hardest part of the run was next. Mile 8 to around mile 10 is a steady incline. It definitely took a lot of my energy to continue to push through.

But the nice part is once you get past this section, it’s a steady decline from around mile 10 to around mile 12.5. My fastest 3 miles were during this stretch and I was able to regain some of the lost time from the previous hills.


Right around mile 11…I was happy to be coming down the hill this time!

As you make your way back to the Town Center and the finish line, you encounter the final hill, which unfortunately is at the very end. But as I crossed mile 13, I was able to push the last tenth of a mile and cross the finish line with a solid pace and great finishing time.


One of my friends got this picture of me coming down the finish line!


The Finish Line!



I grabbed my medal, water and banana and made my way to my car, which was right at the mile 13 marker. I hung around for about 20-30 minutes catching up with some more friends and cheering on the remaining runners. I even got a great picture of Brandi coming up the final hill. She was dominating!


Go Brandi Go!

All in all, it was a great race! For the size of this kind of race, there were plenty of water stations and good crowd support along the way. I will say there were quite a few more hills that I was expecting, but nothing impossible. I definitely think I will do this race again. Hopefully Rachel will consider running it with me next year!