Monday, October 5, 2015

The weekend before Chicago

I think I can definitely say I am feeling pre race jitters.  Every free moment my mind has, it is thinking about the marathon and playing various scenarios through my head of things that could go wrong and how I plan to react.  I am playing over and over in my mind what I think I can accomplish time wise and starting to give myself mental pep talks.  I'm analyzing numbers of my past races, my past training cycles, and thinking over and over in my head about what is feasible and what is not. And when I do all of this, I start to feel the adrenaline flow through my body and then I have to start to calm myself back down.  The main thought going through my head is if I go for my dream pace I want, will I crash later in the race?  I can't stop thinking about it and need to just shake it from my mind for the week because there is nothing I can do about it now.  At times, I've felt like I've been going into full on anxiety panic attack mode.  And this is what pre-race week is like for me.

You guys, race week is here!

I'm scared. For sure scared.  But trying to get through each day and not focus too much on it.

I spent the weekend relaxing and catching up with some friends in Atlanta. Drinks and some snacks on Friday night.  Sleeping in, doing errands, and starting a project to declutter my apartment on Saturday, followed by another dinner out with a friend that evening.  And lots of rest and relaxation in between.

I woke up on Sunday to kick the week before MY race off by cheering on friends who had their own race yesterday!  Yesterday was the Michelob 13.1 Half Marathon in Atlanta that ran right near my neighborhood (actually right by where I work) so I decided to head out and cheer on the runners.  It was drizzly raining so there wasn't a ton of crowd support and I was so glad I made the choice to go out and cheer!

I camped along the 10-mile and 12-mile mark (you could see runners at both points here) and cheered on my friends, as well as everyone else I saw.  The runners definitely seemed to be struggling.  A number of them mentioned things about tough hills, which didn't surprise me knowing the neighborhood.  A few of them shouted to me asking what mile they were at, which really surprised me to know that the race didn't have marked miles for them!  And then what was worst of all was that 4-5 people stopped and asked me for some of my water since I guess there weren't any water stops along the route!  How crazy is that!

I was glad I'd brought extra water bottles and filled up a few different water bottles for runners along the route and felt bad that the race seemed to be not well supported.  I later learned that they ran out of t-shirts, MEDALS, and that they didn't even have any beer at the finish of the MICHELOB sponsored race.  So bizarre to me.  It brought up flashbacks to Kansas City last year and the massage-less beer-less finish that I am still salty about.  I cannot wait to redeem myself from that race with a better marathon experience!  But anyways - it was a great morning cheering on friends and fellow runners, especially learning that a bust the race itself seemed to be.

FINALLY, to the runner who shouted to me that she reads my blog and wished me good luck next week?  Oh my gosh, you made my day completely!!!  THANK YOU so much and congratulations on the race yesterday!

After cheering for this race, I did a few errands and things around my apartment before going out and doing my own run.  As I mentioned, I started a project on Saturday to declutter.  I think I was so fixated on keeping my hands and mind occupied and didn't know what to do with myself without a long run to plan for.  So, you know, tapering is really helping me be pretty productive.  I got a few things done I have been meaning to for a while and I ended up rearranging my whole extra bedroom, reorganizing, cleaning, and feeling pretty productive in general.  I also caught up with some old friends - no, not the ones who I had dinner with, although it was great to see them too.  But, I was able to catch up with Olivia Benson and gang and start to get caught up on past seasons of Law & Order: SVU.  Oh, how I missed you guys!

And, I did my final run of any substance on Sunday as well!  I joined the Movers and Pacers long run training group, who have worked up to 8 miles in training, and which happened to be the exact distance I had to run on Sunday.  It was great to do the final miles with people who are all so encouraging and who have helped get me through the training thus far.

I've cooked some tried and true recipes for the week, so my food is all prepped.  Have some fun activities planned such as yoga this evening and a work happy hour tomorrow.  I'm doing some last minute appointments and race prep, packing my bags, and getting ready to give this thing a go.

I'm getting really scared you guys.  As my fitness level has progressed and my experience with these things has moved on, I am pushing myself to do more than just have the goal to "finish" but to set certain times.  And frankly, that scares me a bit because what if I miss those times?  I don't want to feel any disappointment at the end of a race I have been training the past 18 weeks for.  That I've been signed up for the past 6 months for.  And that I've been thinking of running for more than a year.

I'm scared that setting rigid time goals will lead to potential disappoint and I'm not sure how to handle that.  This week I'll be doing my best to channel my anxiety and not freak out but store it to use as adrenaline and excitement on race day.

Hope you had a great Monday and your weeks are going well!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Five things on a Friday

Let's get into it, shall we?

1.  I decided to part my hair on the other side of my head this week.  Someone asked me why I wear my hair on the side of my head that I do and I didn't really have an answer besides, "It's the side I always wear my hair on!"  Nothing upsets me more at work if someone gives the answer, "Well, that's the way we always do it." so I knew I needed to challenge myself and wore my hair a few times on the other side of my head.  I thought things would be life changing.  But it was pretty much the same.  Nobody noticed.  Yet I felt like I felt my clothes on backwards all day.  Ho hum!

2.  I tried this week to go back to eating real home cooked food after being away for a week.  I roasted brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, onion, cut up berries, bought a rotisserie chicken (kinda cheating), and also made some soup.  I started out making a mushroom barley soup but then realized that I had a block of frozen chopped spinach in the freezer and just threw that into the soup as well.  I felt like it would taste good and I was definitely right!  I was so happy with how this soup came out.  I like my soups really thick and this was totally delicious.  Sometimes I impress myself when I make things on a whim and they turn out well.  I decided to do it with vegetable broth, I randomly threw in some chicken, I forgot garlic at first so threw in a few cloves whole to simmer with the soup, etc. etc.  And it ended up SO yummy.  I've loved eating this all week.  It may not be pretty but it was good!

3.  I pulled out my boots and wore them for the first time this week, woooo!!! I loooove boot weather more than anything in the world.  I love wearing boots.  I went to pull a pair of socks out of my drawer to put on with the boots and they were a Valentine's Day themed pair and for a split second was like, "Eh, maybe I shouldn't...." but then figured, oh, who cares.  To be honest, I love holiday themed socks and I wear them year round regardless of the holiday season.  However, this day it made me laugh because when I went to pull the boots on, I realized that a pair of socks from last season was still shoved inside of the boots and then when I pulled them out I realized it was ANOTHER pair of Valentine's Day themed socks.  Yeah, guess I do wear those a lot!

4.  When I was just home, my mom gave me a running skirt as a present because she loves me and she is awesome.  I wore it on Thursday morning on my run and I actually really loved it!  I have always been tempted to buy one but never did.  It felt really comfortable to wear, very airy, and very good for a hot day.  I also thought it looked kind of cute.  I want more now!

5.  Anyone else who trains for races out there, do you keep a calendar?  At the start of any training cycle I print out and make a plan for myself and keep it at my desk at work.  I get such a thrill of checking off each of the boxes.  It is fun for me to see the progression over the weeks.  Right now, I'm in a little bit of awe of how far along on my training I have already gone.  This year has been flying by and in many ways I feel like I just started training for this marathon.  I've come so far with my goals for the year and this is my third and final race goal of the year and I can't believe it is 10 days away!

I'm also a total nerd and have all my previous race calendars at my desk.  I keep them there and love them at my desk.  I pull them out every now and then.  It is amazing to see how far I have come.

Plus ONE EXTRA, because it is Friday....

#6 Bonus:

I don't know if I'm just really into the music on the radio lately or if adrenaline is already pulsing through me for the race or if I've just been in a good mood... but I've been having some SERIOUS car dance parties lately.  ALL OUT dance parties in my car. And I've been loving it.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Injuries and being an athlete

This week has been all about REST and RECOVERY.  It's been about starting to get hyped and setting my final goals.  Today is officially October 1st and we are officially in race month and getting super close to race weekend!  Now is when anxiety has started to kick in, butterflies come in my stomach when I think of the race, and I start obsessively checking the 10-day weather forecast for Chicago.

So, a little bit of what I have been up to... I have been getting back into the groove of work, trying to get more sleep, and working to get in all my mines, as minimal as they are.

I did a four mile run on Tuesday evening, after cancelling on a morning run for the first time in a long, long time.  I woke up to rain on Tuesday morning and since I was fighting off the cold that I had gotten from my little niece and nephew, I chose not to go out for a morning run in the rain. Instead I got some miles in the evening along the Chattahoochee and was so surprised at how humid it still is in Atlanta!!  Up north it was NOT this bad.  It was a good run however, and even though my legs felt dead during it, I was pleasantly surprised with the pace I put up, as well as the view of the river.

Wednesday morning started with a 6-mile run with Janet that was at what I would like to refer to as "sexy pace." We kept it comfortable and caught up on the past couple weeks while running and getting in our morning miles!  It was a great way to start the morning and I was happy to be back in this routine that has kept me moving and getting my miles all throughout the training cycle.

Following that, I spent the day all throughout the city going to appointment after appointment to get my body checked out, partly for health, partly for the marathon.  I started with an appointment at a sports medicine doctor/orthopedist.  I decided to see a sports doctor because of the pain that I have been feeling in my right hip during my long runs.  It is not a super inhibiting pain, as I have not stopped any of my runs due to it, but it is definitely apparent and had been occurring earlier and earlier in runs over the past few weeks since my 18-mile run.  I also wanted to get some advice about my left knee, which has now been clicking/popping every time it goes from straight to bent for the past few weeks now.

The doctor did some x-rays of my hips to compare them and did an examination and essentially told me that he saw in the x-ray that my right hip fits into the socket a bit funny.  It didn't come as too much of a surprise to me, to be honest, because after he identified that, I was able to realize that it probably was also a source of the fact my right foot has always turned out a bit when I walk.  And when I swam my whole life, I was never able to compete in the breast stroke because I could not (and cannot to this day) get my legs to accurately line up with that frog motion.

He said that it is something that is so small and not really going to be an issue with shorter distance running, but as I've been experiencing, it can add up when I get to higher and higher mileage. Which then causes me to shift weight and pinch other things in different ways.  He gave me a prescription for an extra strength anti-inflammatory and also said that if I saw a chiropractor it would likely be able to give me some relief before the race.  So I took his referral and called from the parking lot and they were able to take me right then, so I went immediately to a sports chiropractor in Atlanta.

When I walked IN, walking OUT, was a local run club organizer and race director who helped me train for the Publix Half Marathon in March.  If you run in Atlanta, you know her, and I already felt confident in them when I learned that she has been seeing this sports chiropractor for the past 3 years.  I also learned that they work with the Olympic team, so hey, not too shabby!

I've only seen a chiropractor once before, but this was a whole new experience and I LOVED it.  Immediately after seeing him, I already felt some relief in my hip. He ran the Chicago Marathon last year, made me feel so comfortable, and treated me really really well.  He also helped educate me a bit on what I can do to prevent this from happening again and to relieve this "injury."

We had a number of interactions that struck me as funny that I am SURE had him thinking, "Where in the world did this girl come from..."  For example, I corrected him when he called my hip pain an "injury" and said, it's not an injury, it's just some pain.  He was like, "What do you think an injury is?!"  My response, "Umm... I don't know... that just feels so SERIOUS!"

Another good one was...

Him: "So, do you do core work?"
Me: "Um... well... what do you mean?"
Him: "What do you do to work your core?"
Me: "Doesn't running work your core?"
Him: (more seriously) "Do you do anything specific for your core?"
Me: "Um... maybe... do you mean like planks or something?"
Him: "....." (blank stare.)

Apparently I need to be doing "core work."  So I'll be working on that in the future.  And I guess some more stretching as well.

Him: "Do you stretch your hip flexors?"
Me: "If you could just explain to me what that looks like or where that is.... I can then let you know."
Him: "...." (blank stare)

Anyways, I loved the experience of going to the chiropractor and made an appointment to go again on Tuesday of next week.  I followed up the day with also an appointment at the dermatologist and then finally with a sports massage.  The sports massage was AMAZING as well.  Wow, I have never had a massage like that before and it really worked and stretched and massages parts of my hips and butt and legs that I have not been able to reach with a foam roller.

I woke up today feeling sore from all the work done on my body yesterday, but also feeling okay from the pain.  I did a 3-mile run this morning at the Jackson Street Bridge with my running group and felt really good during it.  Plus, the view there is amazing and I love seeing Atlanta in the morning in all its glory!

I am anxious for this soreness to go away so I can tell for real how it actually feels on my hip and side, because right now I definitely still feel achey from the chiropractor and the massage.  Last night at the masseuse's recommendation I did an epsom salt bad, and tonight, at the recommendation of the chiropractor, I took an ice bath.  It's the first time in my life that I have ever done an ice bath and to be honest, I thought it was going to be a lot worse than it actually was!  This picture may not tell that story though.

And to be honest, I also feel sort of stupid.  I feel sort of stupid that I am working so hard and spending so much time and effort (and money) into preparing myself for this race.  Why am I doing this?  I'm not trying to win any medals.  I'm not setting world records or trying to qualify for anything.  I'm just trying to run a race.

Besides, I just wrote this whole post about how I am okay with losing some time off my run because of the hectic schedule.  I guess, I mean, maybe this is just part of where my priorities are.  Now that I am home, I do want to get myself into top shape.  I know that I did myself some harm by enjoying myself and enjoying my moments with family and living my life, but now that I am back, I want to put the investment in to repairing my body and getting myself race ready.

But why?  Why am I doing this?  To be honest, I need to explore this thought a lot more.  Because I literally spent the majority of the day yesterday at appointments trying to fine tune my body.  I don't know how much it will do, but this somehow feels worth the investment.  I know I'm rambling at this point but I do want to be as ready as I am race day.  I know there are no quick fixes and maybe I wouldn't be in this position of having to spend money to repair my body before the race if I had been better at investing the time earlier, but alas here I am.

I find it funny though that I jumped back and corrected the chiropractor when he addressed my pain as an "injury."  He called me out on it and addressed the fact that when I first introduced myself I let him know that I had psoriasis (to account for the blotches on my skin that he had to touch.)  He laughed and said to me, "You can say you have psoriasis but you can't say that you have an injury?"

And then the masseuse (who happens to also be my friend Nikki) told me that she sees similar things that she has been seeing in me in the other "athletes" that she treats.  I again corrected her, "Ha! Nikki, I'm not an athlete!" and she stopped me with, "Girl, you do marathons. You are an athlete."

I've been struggling a bit leading up to this marathon with accepting some of these things about myself and about my training/race.  Calling my pain an "injury" and ME an "athlete" does not feel right.  It makes me feel quesy and a bit uncomfortable.  It feels so serious.  And because I don't consider myself an "athlete" and don't consider what I have to be an "injury" than why am I spending so much time and money investing in a race?  Why am I doing this?

A few weeks ago I was thinking about the Chicago Marathon and thinking about the race weekend. As I mentioned before I compare things a lot and I have been thinking about the finish lines and the races I have done in the past.

When I ran the Kansas City Marathon, I had picked out and run that race with my friend Kristen. We knew we wanted to do a race together and chose that location, planned our trips together, shared a hotel, etc. I would never have picked the Kansas City Marathon as a race to run if I hadn't been doing it with my friend Kristen.

When I ran the Paris Marathon, I ran it with my friends Dani and Jess. I signed up for that race when Dani signed up and invited me to join.  I trained for the race with Jess, made arrangements to stay in Paris with Dani, Jess, and another friend who was coming to cheer. I would have picked the Paris Marathon as a race to run if I hadn't been doing it with a group of friends.

So why did I sign up for Chicago Marathon and pick that as a race to run?  Well there is one difference between why I signed up for this race and why I signed up for others.  I signed up because I wanted to run the Chicago Marathon.  ME.  I wanted to do it.  Nobody else.  Regardless of what friends are doing.  I wanted to run this race.

This is a first for me.  My first marathon I am running for ME.  I tell all my friends who begin training for things and who worry about pace or finishing times that that doesn't matter.  What matters is that they are out doing something that the majority of people are not.  That they are fighting and pushing themselves and that whether you finish in 2:30 or 5:30, a marathon is 26.2 miles for everyone.  However, when it comes to myself, I think, "Why are you trying so hard when you are barely trying to set a decent time?"

As you can see, I have a lot of back and forth going on in my head.  I've also been working on trying to set goals for myself.  I haven't had a time goal throughout all this training, wanting to set it at the end after I've seen the times I've been able to post during the long run training.  Well, now I've done it all and here I am and what can I expect to do?  Run at 10-minute pace? 9:45 pace? 9:30? Can I run a 9:10 pace?

I don't know! I don't know what goals to set.  I don't know what to expect of myself.  I don't know why I am paying all this money in attempts to fix myself from this non-injury when I didn't just invest the time earlier.  Maybe I'm just getting anxious, maybe I'm just over thinking things, maybe I care about this more than I let my earlier post realize?

Usually I love writing here because it helps me figure things out.  I don't feel like I'm closer to figuring things out right now, but it is helpful to let everything out.  I am getting nervous and excited and scared for Chicago.  Which I think is natural a week and a half out.  I'm doubting myself and doubting what I am capable of.  I am analyzing my times and my runs and my aches and pains and at any given moment changing my mind of what I think I am capable of.  I know some people think I'm crazy for all I'm investing in this.  A part of me thinks that I am crazy too.  Who do I think I am getting sports massages and seeing an Olympic chiropractor?  I'm just a goofy girl who barely knows what she is doing. I'm not anyone special or doing anything extraordinary.  My times are not stellar and wouldn't impress most marathoners.  I feel a bit like a poser and one of those people who goes to the gym in a fancy expensive outfit but barely does anything to break a sweat.  I mean, I survived all these other marathons without doing this stuff.  And yes, I think I can do better in this race with all that I've been doing with my training lately, but at what expense.  Maybe I run a few minutes faster with the help of the masseuse and the chiropractor, but am I buying those minutes?  I have always worked hard and gotten ahead at things by earning them.  Am I feeling like I am buying this race by investing so much money in my well being?  Or are these just my insecurities about being new to thinking about these races on a more serious nature?  It all feels odd to me. Do you guys know what I'm saying?

Anyways, I'm rambling.  I've got a lot of stuff on my mind and I guess I should think some more before I put it all in writing.  I will sign off and try to do some more of that :)

I'm done my miles until Sunday, which feels weird.  So I am going to keep resting and taking care of myself and spending time relaxing, seeing friends, and having fun over the weekend.  If you've read this far and have any thoughts, let me know what you think.  I always appreciate hearing from you guys.  Happy Thursday :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A week up north!

Hey guys!  It's been a super busy week since last Tuesday and I feel like I've done 100 different things since then so I wanted to try and just get caught up.  I sometimes hate the whole "this is what I did this week" posts but I always appreciate them for myself later in life when I look back and read what I was doing a year or two or three years ago (I've had this blog for a long time at this point!)

I wrote on Monday, the night of my 20-miler, which I told you I did from my old stomping grounds of the Hudson Mohawk Trail!  Well, I was in the Capital Region last week for work from Sunday-Wednesday following the wedding I had in Boston.  I stayed the first two nights with my good friends who I stayed with while I moved and the other times that I have visited.  It was great to catch up with them on Sunday, and then on Monday night, the three of us, as well as their little baby, and some of our friends in the area all got together for food and drinks.  I knew I was going to want a celebratory beer the evening of my 20-miler so it worked out well to schedule that!  And it was sooo good to see friends, laugh, and be in my old comfort zone. Until I crashed and needed to go to bed.  But until then it was great!

Tuesday night I don't have any pictures of, but rest assured, it was just as wonderful a night but a bit more low key.  I spent it with my friend Jenna, as we drank water, ate Whole Foods, and had a foam rolling party at her house.  Jenna just completed her second Half Ironman distance race in an amazing time, and you may remember that I went and cheered her on in her first race this time last year.  She is a constant inspiration to me and I laughed, joking with her, could she believe that this is where our friendship evolved too and we were now sitting around talking about races?!  That I was participating too!

I was up early on Wednesday morning, and met up with Jess for a run that ended up being 3 miles instead of the 5 miles that I had planned, but I was okay with that and valued the extra time with Jess to be able to catch up over coffee!  The Starbucks we go to has since changed, but our routines are still the same (note to Jess: buy solar panels.)

My Atlanta morning running crew got together for a run that Wednesday morning and it was funny because I noticed the messages on my phone that we were all finishing up at the same time.  We sent hello selfies and it made me feel good to have my running crews all over the country semi merged together!

I took a screen shot because it definitely made me happy!  And holy heck - look at the differences in light between Atlanta and Albany!  Anyways, it was a fun morning getting miles and I felt pretty decent considering I'd done 20 on Monday. That Wednesday evening after three lovely days in my old home, I drove back to Boston yet again for another day of work meetings there. I worked Thursday and before heading to my next destination, did a Thursday evening run in Boston along the Charles of 8 miles with a finish on Boylston right by an iconic finish line I hope to cross some day in the future!

And then from there, on Thursday night, I drove up to New Hampshire to spend the weekend at my sister's babysitting my little niece and nephew with my mom!  If you are exhausted just reading this, imagine how it was living it!  I was tired and my body has been tired too.  I have been feeling a lot of pain in my right hip area when I run and it has been freaking me out a bit.  I started to feel the pain at mile 7 of my 8 mile run on Thursday evening, which is the earliest in a run I have felt it before. 

I felt the pain throughout the day on Friday too, which was odd for me on a day that I hadn't even run.  So I ended up taking Friday as a rest day too and running my 4 miles on Saturday and then 12 miles on Sunday.  It was my last double digit run before the marathon and just TWO weeks to go until race day at that point!  My sister's neighborhood was super hilly so it was a bit of a challenge, but I finished it with minimal pain and feeling exhausted but good. 

As I mentioned, I was babysitting that weekend with my mom.  So she had taken over baby duty while I escaped for two hours for the run and when I walked in the door I was greeted by the little munchkins scooting over to me and pulling themselves up on my leg reaching out to be picked up.  It was SO cute, but I was also SO sweaty so I had to just give them kisses from afar before running off to shower and clean up.

I seriously cannot even handle the cuteness of my niece and nephew.  They are the sweetest, funniest little babies and I had so much fun with them. It was a totally exhausting weekend but well worth it to be able to spend time with them, as I mentioned in my post yesterday.  Both babies came down with a cold, which I have now been fighting off myself, so it was a lot of up-in-the-night-nights as well as babies that just wanted to be held.  It is hard to foam roll when you have little nuggets crawling around your or to stretch when you are holding an 11-month old child on your hip. I loved it though. And was definitely sad to leave on Sunday night when I head back to Boston to hop on a plane back to Atlanta.

But seriously, they're the best.  I am going to sign off for the night but just wanted to leave you with a hundred million pics of the cutest kids in the world before doing so.

Excuse me being creepy in that last pic.  Goodnight everyone!

Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm tired.

So we’re less than two weeks out from marathon and how am I feeling? I’m back in Atlanta but I'm tired. I’m tired of living out of a suitcase. I’m tired of sleeping in beds with pillows that don’t feel like my own. I am tired of doing runs on whatever territory is available to me – whether its hills or treadmill or what.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some amazing runs this training cycle and the past two weeks in particular. Doing my 20 mile run on the Hudson Mohawk was pretty ideal. And I LOVE running in Boston along the Charles River. And over the past two weeks, and beyond that the past month, I have been able to spend time with SO many people in my life that are vastly important to me and whom I love dearly. I know when I am older and my niece and nephew are grown, I am going to be so thankful to have been able to spend an entire weekend with them at such a fun and lovable age as 11 months.

I know that being able to see my little brothers play in their U7 soccer game is going to be something I’ll always have. And being a part of every moment of my friend’s wedding weekend? Unmissable.

Life comes down to a set of priorities and what you make a priority is what your life is. Is it work? Is it family? Is it travel and experiences? It is all up to you.

And to be honest, I can’t say that my set of priorities for my life is clearly defined and set out into the future. I become fearful at times that I should think longer term and invest more in longer term goals rather than the short term. However, fact of the matter is, we aren’t always promised tomorrow. And not that I live every day with that in the back of my mind, but when life progresses, am I going to wish I had gotten more sleep leading up to my third marathon or am I going to cherish the moments I had dancing and singing with friends, holding my baby niece and nephew, exploring new cities with breathtaking historic beauty, or watching the early stages of fall appear before my eyes as I drive up and down the Mass Pike multiple times (okay maybe I could do without that last one.)

I’ve had an exhausting couple of weeks, an exhausting month. I started to put it into numbers and the hours on a plane (more than 50), miles I’ve run (more than 150), pounds I’ve gained (we’ll find out on Tuesday when I do an official weigh in), and it's tired me out even in just the process of trying to calculate it.

But I choose not to focus on the hours of sleep I’ve lost, the seconds I’ve lost off of my ideal marathon pace, the extra pain I’m now feeling in my hip/butt due to the added stress and less rest, but am choosing to remember all the happy moments. Perhaps that will change when I run Chicago Marathon and spend the majority of it in pain from my nagging aches and injuries (I’ve started to mentally prepare myself for how to handle that if that should happen.) Perhaps that will change when I try to button in to some of my work clothes this week. Or when I return to the gym and try to cross train or lift weights.

However, in the past month I have experienced new cultures and seen some of the most beautiful architecture of my life.  I traveled to new places and opened my mind to new things and ways of life.  More than that even, when I returned from my 12 mile run on Sunday, the last double digit run before October 11th, I was greeted by my niece and nephew each crawling over to me, pulling themselves up on my leg, and reaching out to be picked up. When I spent time with my childhood best friends, E confessed to me that I have been an inspiration to her to get up in the mornings and work out some days. When I was in Schenectady for work, I spent time with a coworker who just ran her first half marathon at my encouragement and motivation. And my dad’s wife just ran her first 5K after coming out and joining the Movers and Pacers run in July when visiting in Atlanta.

These are the little things that matter. These are the little things that I will remember. Not my finish times.

At least this is what I tell myself now.

I have two weeks until Chicago Marathon. I intend to give it my very best. I intend to run through pain. To put the nutrition plan I’ve been developing to work. To be the best I can be on that given day and not give up until I cross the finish line.

I’m tired. And I’ve got two weeks to rest and get myself race ready. The focus will be on getting enough sleep, on stretching and foam rolling, to eating healthy and nutritiously, to mental preparation, to hydration, and to seeing how little I can do and not how much. Here we go, Chicago – see you soon!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Meaggie and Jon Wedding Weekend Recap

Last Thursday I arrived in Boston after a quick day trip out to Albany for some meetings. After unloading my car with all my things (I did not pack light for this trip!) I met up with two of my fellow besties and bridesmaids, Teenie and E, for dinner at Barcelona. Even though the three of us live in different cities (Chicago, DC, and Atlanta, of course), we all had various work obligations in the area during the day so we showed up for dinner post-work and in our work clothes. It struck me as funny and so nice, because I realized that this would be what it was like if we all lived in the same city and could regularly meet for post-work dinner and drinks. I’ve been “long-distance friends” for so long with these girls that doing something simple like this was so nice and something I wish could be a part of my normal routine more often.

We’re old ladies and had a busy weekend and the girls had husbands/fiances arriving in that night so it was an early evening, which suited me just fine. I did some foam rolling at the hotel and then went to bed, getting up early to get in a 5-mile run along the Charles. I really love running in Boston and this morning was nice and crisp and a great way to start the day. I didn’t stop to take any pictures this time but I snapped a post-run selfie in the bathroom of the hotel, where I silently had foam rolled, showered, and changed for the day, while my friend’s fiancĂ© slept!

After a few hours of camping in Starbucks, I met up with the girls to begin wedding weekend festivities!!! Oh my gosh, it was so fun.

First stop in pasting on the layers to get me beautified and ready for the wedding began on Friday with appointments for manicures and pedicures. I was excited to get my nails done since it is not something I do regularly (at least for my fingernails.) One of the reasons I don’t often get my nails done is that I am impatient. I am not good at sitting still and not using my hands. I love pedicures, but struggle to keep my hands still for a while. Even when I was younger, I’ve always needed to keep my hands busy while I am in meetings or watching TV or doing things statically. I tap my fingers a lot of times when driving or running and just like to keep busy. More often than not I smudge my fingernails before they dry when I get them done.

Because I didn’t want this to happen for the wedding, I asked my friends if they would be okay with me getting my nails done first. I figured that if I sat in the chair first, and finished first, I would be forced to just sit and wait until everyone else finished and therefore give me time to let my nails dry. My friends laughed, but agreed, and I sat down to get my nails done first. They started with a pedicure and slowly everyone else ended up sitting down in the chairs. I am not sure exactly what happened, but all of a sudden I started to notice people’s feet getting finished up before me and starting on their nails, or people having another technician working on their nails the same time their feet were worked on. I have no idea how, but believe it or not, despite being the first person sitting down, I was the last to finish getting their nails painted by about 10 minutes. HOW does this happen!?! Oh well, they turned out nice.

Everyone was laughing a ton and it became a joke throughout the weekend, because obviously something like that would happen to me.

From nails we went and had an amazingly delicious lunch with the bridal party before a little down time and then the wedding rehearsal! The bridesmaids were actually the first people to arrive at the rehearsal (fist bump to the bridal party for being on time!) so we actually started getting a rundown of our duties from the priest early. The priest was VERY strict with what he was explaining to us about we needed to do and how we needed to do it in order to look nice. Everything that he told us not to do, he finished with the threat, “IF you do XYZ, it will look TERRIBLE.” He said it so many times it became a little bit of a joke to us. But we were also noting all the rules to be sure to be nothing less than the best for Meaggie’s wedding day.

The evening ended up a gorgeous and delicious dinner along the Boston Harbor where we ate, laughed, and had our final moments of hype leading up to the big wedding day!

We started at about 8:30 a.m. meeting up at the bridal suite in the Ritz in downtown Boston.  Because we fancy.  It was a fun morning of pampering, laughter, hair spray, food, dancing, and just total happiness and celebration.  KO and I danced in the windows.  Meaggie looked like a princess.  We all helped come up with ideas of what would be best in each other's hair.  We ate.  We cried (some of us.)  We helped one another get into our dresses. And we celebrated Meaggie's last moments as a "single" woman.

I was really happy with the way that my hair and my makeup for the wedding.  They were done by a team called "Eye 4 Beauty" and the woman who owns the company's name is Jaime Berkman. I highly recommend anyone getting married or needing hair and makeup for a special occasion in the New England area to check them out!  They were a lot of fun and did a great job of getting us all wedding ready!  I ended up going with a side ponytail, which at first, I felt a little lame about, because I wear a side ponytail pretty much every day of my life.  But she made it beautiful and different and I thought it was the perfect look for the dress and for me!

We took pictures in the bridal suite and then boarded the trolley to head to the church.  I had a full on dance party throughout the morning in the bridal suite and kept that going on the trolley to the church.  We had to wait for all the guests to arrive and we were counting down the minutes until showtime but we kept the energy fun and happy on that bus!

From there we went to the church, for a beautiful ceremony where the bridesmaids managed to not "look terrible" (or so I hope) and we saw our beautiful friends officially get married!  There were a few more pictures in and around the church and from there, the party started as we got back on the trolley that doubled as a party bus.  Meag and Jon met ON a party bus, so it was only fitting for this to be our ride around Boston during the wedding weekend.

The weather was absolutely perfect this wedding day and I cannot wait to see how the formal pictures came out as the backdrop of Boston Common was totally amazing.  I saw as the photos were being taken that they were going to come out totally breathtaking and I can't wait to see them.  We continued to smile, laugh, and be silly throughout the day and had a number of mini bridesmaid photo shoots on our own.  Last year E said that when she was going through her professional photographer wedding pics there were so many fun ones that she'd seen we had taken while her and her husband were getting their portraits done.  She was excited to do that this year, so I made sure to oblige her!  I also snuck in a portrait too. I am nothing if not always down for a good photo opportunity!

From the photo shoot we waited on the bus a bit before returning to the reception.  My nonstop dance party that had been taking place all day long continued on that trolley while we were waiting for Meaggie and Jon to finish their pictures.  I have always loved dancing as a way to express emotion.  I just was feeling happy all day last Saturday so I shared it all by making whereever I was a dance party, even if just of one!  I did manage to get a lot of stares and smiles from passerbys in downtown Boston and if I happened to make any of them smile, than all the better!

The reception was just a great night and an all out dance party where I certainly WAS NOT the only one on the dance floor.  That thing was packed from the very beginning of the night!  Our dinner was amazing, the girls and I gave a joint bridesmaid toast, we danced, we celebrated with our parents (who doesn't love a wedding with their mom there?!), we drank, we bustled our dresses, we laughed, we had a private super sweet toast with the wedding party, Meaggie and Jon surprised everyone on the dance floor with their Boston spirit, and the whole wedding was perfectly them.  Including their table names that were all references to different dates they have been on, including our infamous Gobble Wobble Thanksgiving 5K that we all run together.  It is where we all first met Jon and where they later asked me to be a bridesmaid!

The night was amazing and so much fun. There is nothing like a best friend getting married. A best friend you've had since childhood whose family you know, whose cousins, family friends, college roommates, adult friends, etc. you all know.  It makes for a great party and a great support as they start their married life together.  Congrats Meaggie and Jon!