Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Let's talk about running.

So, guys, remember how I am training for that marathon and I've been barely talking about it?!  Well, let's talk about it.  It's freaking September already and I have no idea when that happened.  Let's forget about all the life stuff going on right now, where I flew to today, or where I will be tomorrow an just talk about running, shall we?

I am now just starting Week 12 of the Hal Higdon Novice 2 marathon plan.  I originally started the Novice 1 training plan, which is the plan that I did for the Paris Marathon, but I randomly decided to try upping my mileage a bit and do Novice 2.  The midweek mileage doesn't get as high as the Novice 1 plan but there are more long weekend runs.

I am not sure if I will be doing this new plan justice since I am not really concerning myself with pace, and some of these runs are supposed to be at a specific pace, but I'm just going with it.  My whole thought process for training for this marathon was to be a little more easy-going than the first time around.  Especially as life has become more crazy, I am not trying to accomplish anything more than completing this race, which will be a huge success in itself with all that I have had going on these past few months and weeks.

It's funny to see how things have changed from my long runs the first time around to my long runs this time.  It's been a similar transition to when I did my first and second HALF marathons.  The first half marathon I did, I ran 10 miles, then lay on the floor for the rest of the day feeling like death.  The second half marathon, I ran 10 miles and then went about the rest of my day like a normal person.

For the marathon this past winter, my whole weekend was built around the long runs.  What I did the night before was dictated by an early bedtime and a (mostly) healthy meal.  My post-run plans were nonexistent beyond putting on my compression socks and planning to eat a lot.  After our 16-mile run, I lay on the floor of Jess's house in front of the wood stove for hours and ate a bowl of ice cream.

Then, a week ago, on August 22nd, I did a 17-mile run for this training plan, where I literally ran ALL AROUND my town that I grew up in (which was an awesome route, by the way) and then immediately had to get ready for a busy day at my friend's wedding.

We had to be in southern Rhode Island at 11:30 a.m. and I also had some pick-up duties with the other bridesmaids since I am the only one with a car.  Teenie was planning to be at my house at 10:15 a.m. to leave to head out, and I needed to run 17 miles beforehand, stretch, eat, shower, do my hair, and pack up everything I needed for the wedding and be ready to go at 10: 15 a.m.  I mapped out exactly what time I needed to leave my house for the run, how long it would take me to get ready, and managed to fit everything in.  However, I don't even think I paused to take a post-long run picture of my watch or a selfie, which is something I always do!

I finished running, and achingly went right upstairs to shower.  And, funny story, was that I accidentally blew a fuse in my mom's house before I got in the shower, which meant I then had to walk down two flights of stairs from the upstairs down to the basement to try and switch the fuse.  I walked 2 flights down, with my knees aching, and then went 2 stories back up and saw that I hadn't switched the right fuse!  Well, knowing that a) it was tiring to walk up and down those stairs after running and b) I didn't have much time to figure it all out -- I just lit some candles, showered in the dark, and left a note for my mom that I had accidentally blown that fuse and apologized.

I was so proud of myself at the end of that day because my legs felt great the whole time and I was able to stay awake, and on my feet until the very end of the night (which was around 10:30/11 p.m.)  It was seriously the best recovery I have had from a long run ever.  I am sure that there was some adrenaline involved with all the wedding stuff.  Plus, in the afternoon we all got pedicures, which were amazing!  It was something that I thought about all during the run when my feet were killing me.  I just told myself to keep going and promised my feet and legs that they would be getting massaged later if they just got me through the run -- which they did!

This Saturday I did an 18-mile run with Jess, which was a slight adjustment from the 15-mile run that we did from Galway to Saratoga this past winter.  Jess planned the route, and I went along for the ride, and it was a beautiful beautiful route that we ran.  It was cool seeing some familiar spots on the route from the winter, and that part of town is just beautiful so it was very scenic.

One thing that has been a challenge is that I have been having some pain in my knees lately.  I know that when I have knee pain it is time to buy new sneakers, which I did a couple weeks ago, but they did not feel right on the couple runs I took them on, so I chose to not use them during the long runs I have had lately.  I ended up returning them, and wanting to order them in the same style & size, but the Wide variety, however those need to be special ordered.  Since I was moving, there was a holiday weekend, etc. I didn't know when I would be able to get them and I didn't special order them sneakers through the store.  After the run I did on Saturday, I finally ordered them via Amazon Prime and they should be delivered to the hotel I will be in this week on Thursday.  Hopefully they make it on time because on Friday I check out of that hotel to head somewhere else!

Anyways, I did Saturdays run in an older pair of sneakers and I had some pretty bad knee pain a few times throughout the route.  I also had it on Wednesday and Friday during my midweek runs, so it has been making me nervous.  On Saturday at mile 8 we stopped to buy an additional bottle of water at a Stewart's market and as soon as I started walking, my knee started hurting.  And then when I tried to run again, it took a while to get in a groove and randomly hurt again throughout the last 10 miles.  I finished the run in 3:14, which is a little better pace than my 17 mile run that I did in 3:07.

I made it through and am hoping that the new sneakers help me out when I get them this week.  I also made a stop at the running store and bought some random stuff that supposedly help with knee pain like Rock Tape.  I always see people at races with this stuff on and thought it was silly, but figured why the heck not?  I've been wearing it around the past couple of days and although I haven't run, it feels fine (maybe mental??)  Staying healthy is one of the key elements to training, so I am trying to be really cautious with the knee this week during my runs and also took an extra day off today.

And on the nutrition side of things, on Saturday I started tracking my Weight Watchers points again.  I am going to try hard to keep it up while I am traveling, because it really helps me to be more conscientious and mindful of what I am consuming.  I would ideally like to get rid of some of the extra weight I am carrying around on my runs before the marathon, but without a kitchen and essentially eating out for the next month, I know it is going to be hard.  As least making sure I am getting nutritious food and adequately hydrating will be important.

In the words of the new headband my mom gave me for my birthday, "Strong is the new skinny."

I'm hoping to try and write more, even if it is quick, as the next couple of weeks progress to share the ups and downs of marathon training, while moving, while traveling, while living out of a suitcase and not knowing when I am going to be able to do my dirty running clothing laundry (this is a real concern of mine.)

Hope that the start to your September is going well!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Thank you.

Last weekend, the day before my 28th birthday, one of my best friends in the world got married to an incredibly guy.  I stood as one of her bridesmaids, along with her two sisters, and our other 3 best friends.  

The night of the rehearsal dinner, the 4 girls and I gave a toast to E & J and to the future of their relationship.

In preparation for our toast, I was thinking back on the memories of my friend and her now husband and one of the ones that stood out most was when I first met him.  I had been down in Washington, D.C. visiting for New Year's and I spent a couple days staying with E and got to meet J for the first time.  This was a big deal as I was the last in our group of girl friends to meet him and I am also notorious to be the hardest to win over by my friend's suitors.  I think I've said this before, but my friends mean the world to me, and I think that they deserve the very best, so I've got high standards.  However, at that very first introduction, I could see what an amazing person he was, how happy they made each other and how well they complemented each other.  He got my total thumbs up approval after that very first night of hanging out and playing beer pong back in 2009.  And then fast-forward to last weekend when they celebrated the start to a beautiful marriage.

Photo stolen from KO's Instagram
That same "pickiness" and high standards that I have is not just in my friends' significant others, but really, with the people in my life in general.  As I write this, I feel I run the risk of sounding snooty or bitchy, and I hope it doesn't come across that way or that I do a good job of explaining myself.  I love people.  I love meeting new people.  I love seeing different personalities, ways of doing things, lifestyles, and learning from all these different individuals in my life.  I just don't have a lot of patience for phoniness or rudeness.  I don't have ANY patience for meanness or bullying.  I choose to not keep people in my life that only bring about drama or start trouble.  And I think you know what I mean.  Because the fun, silly, get-in-trouble-for-climbing-out-the-window-of-the-bar-onto-the-roof kind of trouble is welcome, just not other the kind of picking fights, talking smack, being fake kind of trouble.  And by the way, that "climbing out the window of the bar" thing may or may not have happened last night while out with a pretty awesome and good looking group of people...

The reason that any of this is on my mind, in addition to that toast I was talking about, is that I have been feeling overwhelmingly blessed by -- and grateful for -- the people I have in my life.  Let me try and explain a little bit of what I am talking about, starting with that wedding I went to.

E & J's wedding was such a fun and special weekend.  The two of them, and their families, are all such incredible people and their thoughtfulness came across in so many aspects throughout the whole weekend.  From the incredibly special gifts for the bridal party, to inviting their out of town friends for drinks after the rehearsal dinner.  From coordinating even the most complicated details of the day for us to providing details that helped make our decisions of what meals to choose for the weekend. I know it sounds silly, and we laughed about how detail oriented E is during the wedding weekend - but a few days before the rehearsal dinner, E texted or e-mailed everyone attending the rehearsal dinner to ask us what we wanted for a meal.  And as a reminder, she included in the messages what we had chosen as our meal choice for the wedding.  Since she told me that I had chosen the beef option as my meal for the wedding, I went with the chicken option for the rehearsal dinner.  It was a tiny detail, but the thoughtfulness in reminding me of what my meal choices had been, was so helpful!

And I guess the theme of this post shouldn't just be, "I am so great at picking really thoughtful and nice friends!" but more that I think the process of having the high standards for who I include in my life has paid off.   Now, everyone that I meet from these people, are just as wonderful.  Goodness attracts goodness I think.  It was apparent at the wedding, because all of E & J's friends and family that I had the pleasure of meeting throughout the wedding shared their incredibly thoughtful and kind natures.  J's mom planned such wonderful details for the rehearsal dinner, including some Rhode Island & Texas shaped cookies (not to scale) that stole the show.  

Even their precious little niece was the most happy and easy-going baby I have ever met, smiling and remaining pleasant as she was passed from person to person throughout the weekend.  And E's friend in Atlanta was so wonderful when I introduced her to my mom, assuring her that she'd take care of me when I moved down south.  It was such a fun weekend celebrating the two of them, being surrounded by loved ones, and meeting new friends that I'm hoping to stay in touch with.

Then the day after the wedding, which was my 28th birthday, my mom, friends in Albany, and so many others were so sweet with little details, cards, gifts and positive wishes that made me feel so special.  I am terrible at getting cards and gifts to people on time for their birthday, and my many friends who do such a good job of being on top of those types of things are so amazing and really make you feel special.  There is a special place in the world for people who remember and are able to get birthday cards to people on time.  You all deserve cake and cookies and hugs every day - I love you so much!

This next one may seem a bit off topic, but this Saturday I spent cheering on my friend Jenna as she competed in her first Half Ironman competition at the Big George competition.  It really meant a lot ot me to be able to be there for her as she is one of the people who is constantly doing nice things for others, such as hanging that birthday sign outside of my apartment that totally made my day when I arrived back in Albany after the wedding!  Jenna has been training and planning for this race for years and I was so happy that my schedule worked out to be able to be here to cheer it on.  Jenna has been dating one of my other best friends, Dave, for the past two years, and I had such a good time driving around with him to find Jenna throughout the 60 mile bike portion of the race and seeing how he cared and supported Jenna as well.  Their relationship has been so fun to watch develop from almost exactly two years ago after my birthday party when Jenna said to me, "You know, I actually had a conversation with Dave for the first time last night and he is pretty cool."  :)  Again, goodness attracts goodness and I am so thankful to have these two in my life, and that they two of them were able to find one another.

Then finally, it would be impossible to write a post titled "thank you" and not mention my friends that I have been staying with this weekend at their beautiful home outside of Albany.  I have had such a great time being here with them and its hard to put into words how grateful I am for these, and all of my friends.  On Friday, I spent the day with movers packing and moving out of my apartment in Albany, and at the end of the day when my place was empty headed out to their place.  I was pretty bummed, as leaving that apartment was really emotional for me.  It was the first place I lived alone.  The first apartment I fully furnished and decorated.  And the apartment where I truly learned about independence.   As well as where I apparently bought a lot of clothes and shoes and purses...

I moved into this apartment in a pretty challenging time in my life.  And I was determined to be independent, from the very first night I stayed there and haphazardly put together my bed single handedly.  And it was there that I bought a power drill and hung my own curtains.  There that I changed my car lightbulbs in the backyard for the first time. There that I learned how to cook for one.  And that I really learned how to be happy on my own.  I loved this home and in many ways wish I could pick it up and bring it to Atlanta with me, but alas, I said goodbye on Friday.

And when I arrived at my friends' on Friday evening, teary-eyed and exhausted, it made all the difference to have them welcome me in.  And they, as well as many others, have told me that I will always have a place to stay in their homes when I come back to visit Albany -- which, I will have to do often.

In the speech that we gave at the wedding rehearsal dinner, one of the things we talked about was the difference between the family we are born into and the family that we make for ourselves.  The past week, I am continually reminded of the wonderful family I have made for myself in Albany.  On Saturday morning I got up early and met Jess for a long run.  Hers, as well as my friends I am at now, are homes that I do not knock on the front doors when I arrive, but just walk right in.  Because they make me feel so welcome and it just feels natural.  Jess and I had a great 18-mile training run and then her husband and kids, and my friends, all met up and we went to lunch.  On the drive back to their house, I was squished in the backseat of the car with her two kids and while we were driving, one of cuddled up on my shoulder, and the other grabbed and held on to my hand.

These little things are what I am so thankful for in my life.  Friends, both young and old, who have taken me into their families over the years.  And another of those that I was lucky enough to see this week is my friend Taslim, who was one of my first friends I met 6 years ago when I moved to Albany.  Although from totally different backgrounds, Taslim has welcomed me into her family and culture and I have now seen her home grow to include two beautiful and happy children who I have been fortunate enough to see and babysit over the years.  Last week we met for our annual end of August dinner in celebration of Ramadan and it was emotional for me to think of when we first met 6 years ago.  Taslim's friendship has taught me so much and opened me to such wonderful new things and I am so thankful for her loving heart, kind nature, and how much she has brought me into her life and family over the years.

There are so many other friends and people in Albany whose friendship fills me up and for which I am so grateful for.  I can't stop writing about it on the blog because I can't stop feeling overwhelming appreciation for these people in my life.  And you know what?  More than once in the past week I have also had conversations with people along the lines of, "I wish I had known you sooner!"  I continue to meet such loving and great people in this area that makes me sad and it's hard to leave.

Tomorrow I get on a plane and I'll be traveling for a couple of weeks, then returning to Albany at the end of September for one final week.  Saying goodbyes have been difficult and I have been avoiding them as much as possible.

I've spent a lot of this weekend just relaxing with friends, and I love when you are at the level of friendship where you don't need to be doing anything to be having a good time together.  Or when you are comfortable with silence with friends.  It's odd to say, but it's really special.

Anyways, I guess what I want to say in the end is that I am so grateful for the people in my life who have welcomed me into their lives over the years.  You are all so good to me and I do my best to return that to you.  Goodness only attracts more goodness.  E & J thank you for including me in your wedding day. My friends I have been staying with this weekend, thank you for not even questioning having me eat your food and do laundry in your place and including me in pizza Friday and waffle Saturday.  Thank you to my friends in Albany who have been coming out again and again making these last couple weeks SO much fun and filled with so many belly laughs that I am wondering why I ever wanted to move.  Thank you to my family, who understands that I am sometimes not the best with answering phone calls and returning texts, but that you are so important to me and I couldn't do anything without you.  Thank you to everyone who supports me and gives me the confidence to be able to move to a new city in a new part of the country.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for always being there for me and keeping me smiling.

Here goes nothing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dear life.

Dear life,

You've been moving so fast lately and I feel like I can't keep up.  I can barely figure out where I am supposed to be at any particular time, keep track of everything going on at work, see family and friends, and fit in all my marathon training runs.  I feel bad because some of the things that mean so much to me on the personal side -- celebrations and spending time with friends -- are creeping towards starting to stress me out instead of being what it should be, which is wonderful and a joyous events.  But that's okay because I do have a good head on my shoulders and I REFUSE to let that happen.  I am so in love with how much my family is expanding lately with marriages and babies and sometimes I feel like I am just going to erupt with all the emotions that are taking place.  Happiness and excitement and love, that is cut with some guilt and fears and anxiety.

One of the things that has just gotten pushed back in my list of priorities is writing here.  However, that makes me a bit sad because the busy times, are the times when there is the most that I want to record here.  It's a bit of a Catch 22 in that the times that life is slow, is when I have more time to write, yet less to write about.

I've been wanting to write about my trip to Atlanta.  And how my flight was cancelled initially but it turned out okay because I was able to spend an extra day in Albany and see the beautiful and kind and so easy to talk to, ICT, who I haven't seen in months.  However, it also meant I had a day less to apartment search.

And I've wanted to write about how on that trip Atlanta I got so overwhelmed looking for places to live, trying to figure out the logistics of moving, and setting up a new life there. However, it was also one of the healthiest and most active work trips of my life.  My mood did a complete 180 on Sunday evening when I joined the Movers and Pacers running group for a 3 mile run throughout downtown Atlanta.  The group was SO welcoming and kind and encouraging, I met some amazing people and loved joining them for the run.  The next day the team I am joining all went to a yoga class together on Monday evening.  Then Tuesday morning I joined a friend at her gym for a BodyPump class that left me sore for days.  Not to mention the delicious homemade granola bars that some of my coworkers had made for us to all snack on throughout the week.  Delicious!  Access to running groups, great yoga instructors, and gym classes such as BodyPump are some of the reasons I have been wanting to be in a bigger city for the past few years.  There is more access to life-minded people, opportunities to try new things, and it made me reenergized and excited about the move, despite the overwhelming feelings I'd been having.

I want to share about marathon training and how things are starting to get really intense.  I am focusing on just getting the mileage in, and not concerning myself with pace.  However, I have been pleasantly surprised with my pace on a couple of runs.

I've been wanting to post the link to my "Ice Bucket Challenge" video and encourage all of you to donate to something and pay more attention to the world around you.  Although I participated in the challenge, I've been thinking about it a lot and the many points/counter points it raises.  It's important to remember that dumping a bucket of ice water on your head isn't going to make any real change in this world.  But raising awareness for causes that you are passionate about does.  Donating money where it makes sense does.  Being an educated and informed global citizen does.  There has been a lot going on in the news lately that has been catching my attention.  Some is heart breaking.  Some shows progress.  Some makes me scared for the world we live in.  However, nothing will change without action from you and I.  I know it's not usually the topic of this blog, but I wanted to share.

I want to blog about the Crystal Lake sprint triathlon I did this past weekend, totally winging it.  Although I had signed up months ago, I haven't done anything to train for the race.  I rode my bike 8 miles when I was in Provincetown in June, but that is all I have done to actually be on a bike since last August when I did the Duanesburg Sprint Tri.  I also have not swam laps since last August at the last sprint tri!  I have been wanting to tell you that the swim came back to be easily, although I didn't really push myself too hard in it.  And that the run portion felt like a major shock on my legs/muscles at first, but I was totally surprised and happy with my 9:30 pace for the 3-miles since it felt like I was running 12-minute/miles.  And I've been wanting to complain to you guys that OMG the bike portion was BRUTAL!! It had an extra 4-5 miles on it from a normal sprint tri at 18 miles and was SO hilly.  Since I just have a silly hybrid bike I am already at a disadvantage and man, it was hard.  I made the decision that I want to invest in a road bike or tri bike.  This sprint tri was the most challenging of the ones I have done so far and the one that I was least prepared for, but it was also incredibly rewarding.

I had been contemplating not doing it, but I am so glad I did.

Then since last Thursday, I've been really wanting to document the memory of the incredibly overwhelming and wonderful experience I had of having a good friend write a song about me that he performed at an open mic.  I had jokingly said he should write me a song as a going away present, and then was surprised when I heard that he actually was, and then was even more surprised when the song wasn't just something silly and joking but one of the most beautiful and kindest things anyone has ever done for me.  I think I am responsible for 75% of the views on YouTube because I like listening to it over and over (is that vain?) and it was actually stuck in my head for the majority of the sprint tri on Saturday.  It is catchy!  Start the video at 5:00 minutes in to catch the song about me :)

I just more recently wanted to write about how I finally had a breakdown when it comes to moving.  Throughout the past month I haven't really gotten emotional about my move.  I usually cry at all things so the fact that I didn't cry at my surprise party and didn't cry when my friend performed this song, was weird to me.  I knew that it was coming though.

On Sunday night, after spending an incredible day celebrating my sister and her and her husband's growing family (twins!) I finally broke down.  We threw a shower for my sister, which it had meant so much to me to be able to spend time planning and making special for her.  We haven't always been the closest and we butt heads like no other, but she is my only sister, and I would do anything for her.  I drove the 3.5 hours to her town on Sunday AM in time to help set up for the shower and spend a great day there.

I realized at the end of the day that it was the last time I was going to see my sister pregnant.  With my crazy next few months I won't be back in New Hampshire until when I get the phone call that the babies were born and I get the chance to get up there.  There were a lot of tears and some drama as my breakdown didn't come at the best time, or probably present itself in the best fashion.  But I am glad that I finally was able to let out some of the emotion that I knew I was holding in.

And finally, life, I've been wanting to share that in addition to being incredibly overwhelming for me, these past few weeks have been wonderful.  I am so excited for what's to come in the future.  Thanks for always being good to me and for giving me the strength to get through even the hard times.  I know, partly through running, partly through growing up in general and experiencing more, that the hard times shall pass and I am strong enough to carry myself through the bad days.  Especially with the support of those around me, there is nothing that cannot be done.

Thanks for all the good you keep bringing to me life.  You scare me and overwhelm me sometimes, but I truly love the adventures and wonderful people and experiences you keep throwing at me.  I love you, life.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday bullets: I love my friends!

There is a number of random thoughts that have been swarming through my mind that I wanted to share and decided to do a little bullet post Friday with a list of very random thoughts to share.

- To start, I finished off this week getting all my runs in.  It was a 3-6-3 week again and very hot and sweaty for the runs.  I did the Monday and Wednesday runs solo in Albany, and man is it 100 times harder to get out of bed to run when you don't have a friend waiting for you!

- On Thursday afternoon/evening the team that I work with surprised me by throwing a "Congratulations/Going Away" party for me at a local happy hour spot.  I had thought we were just going out for a drink with our team but there were many of our other coworkers there, people I used to work with at my last job, and some of my closest friends.  There was a slideshow going with photos from throughout the past 6 years and then food, drinks, and some amazing gifts and cards.  Needless to say I was completely overwhelmed, choked up, and felt so loved and special by everyone coming out for me.  I am going to miss people here SO much!

- On that note, a couple weekends ago I was talking to a friend about how I have amazing female friendships in my life and I feel really blessed about it. I mentioned how this summer we have had a lot of events for my friend E’s wedding and it was the first wedding of the group of girls I've been friends with since kindergarten. The guy I was talking to then asked, “What happens when there is only one of you left who is single? Will that be weird or awkward?” My response, “Oh, you mean like right now? With me?” …. Oh the single life, haha.

- BUT, I’ve been researching running groups in Atlanta and have found some pretty cool ones that I will try to get out and join when I arrive there. Getting excited!
- AND, I should mention that my girl friends get a lot of (much deserved) love on this blog, but I've got some pretty amazing guy friends as well.  One of the things that brought me nearly to tears yesterday was having the three guys there who have been best friends, brothers, mechanics, handy men, shoulders to cry on, pseudo-dates on occasion, drinking buddies, and just absolutely priceless to me over the years.  I love these boys!

- At work the other day, I was leaning forward in my chair because I was scratching my leg/reading something on my computer screen that was really small print. A coworker walked by and came over and said, “It’s really not my place, but you should sit up straight, it’s not good for you.” My reaction? Uhhh, you’re right. It’s NOT your place. STFU. Seriously, this made me so angry. Would you go up to someone eating a cheeseburger and tell them not to? Someone smoking and tell them it’s bad for them? A woman wearing high heels and say it’s bad for you? No. It’s not your body. People can treat it however they want.

- Recently, my alma mater sent an e-mail with a “Save the Date” for a building dedication celebration on campus and in italics on the bottom of the e-mail it says, “Special guest Oprah Winfrey” – what the heck? Why was this not in bold letters!?!  The e-mail subject should have been "OPRAH IS COMING!!" and the body of the e-mail could have just said, "And YOU get a dedication! And YOU get a dedication!  Dediiiicaaaaatioooonnnssss!"
- I mentioned in a post about the game "Loaded Questions" and got a question about what the game actually was from one of my friends/readers.  The game is sort of like Balderdash but with questions like "What is the best advice you have ever received?" and everyone writes an answer anonymously and then one person reads aloud and another has to guess who wrote which answer.  I assume most families play like normal human beings and write things like, "Be yourself!" or "Never give up!" 

However, when my family plays, the actual question is sometimes irrelevant and it ends up just being a game of "Who can write the most outrageous thing on a piece of paper?" and for a question of "What is the best advice?" my family members would write things like, "Don't forget to wipe your butt!!" or "Katie is an idiot!!" --- We laughed a lot while we were on vacation saying that it would be so funny if one of us were somehow joining to play a game of "Loaded Questions" with a new group and didn't realize that other families don't play the way that we do.  So if the question was "What's the best compliment you've ever received?", how funny would it be if the responses were read aloud as "Beautiful smile!" "I'm very thoughtful." "That I inspire them!" and then something like, "PRETTIEST BUTTCRACK IN THE WORLD."  Uhhh... that last one would be from a member of my family for sure :)
- I had a very "upstate New York" day today spending a couple hours at the iconic Saratoga Race Course and then painting the race course at a local Paint And Sip class!  My friend booked the whole studio and chose a custom picture to paint, so it was really fun!  Although it is by no means a masterpiece, I am looking forward to finding a home for it when I get an apartment in Atlanta as a memory of my loves in Upstate NY!!

- I fly to Atlanta in the morning for my first trip to explore my new soon-to-be home!  Woohoo :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Can you be health conscious and a diet soda drinker?

The other day I posted a pic to Instagram showcasing some of my favorite things.  My favorite time of day, my favorite seat in the house, my favorite snack (apples and cinnamon) and my favorite non-alcoholic beverage.

I had a comment from someone saying "As healthy as you are, I am surprised that you drink diet soda." WHICH, brings up a couple really good points that I wanted to address.

One of which is the first part of the statement "as healthy as you are" and I think that part of the comment really surprises me to hear because I don't really think of myself of THAT healthy as a person.  I love candy and sweets.  I cannot seem to keep myself away from beer and wine.  And although I run quite a bit, I can be pretty stinking lazy and pretty much never take the stairs if an elevator is available.

I always question what I am sharing with the world and whether or not it is a real portrayal of me because I don't always showcase my vices -- and lord knows, I have a lot.

As for the second part of the comment, "I am surprised that you drink diet soda."  Which, I think made me react a bit because yeah, I wish I didn't drink diet soda.  And to first address diet soda vs. full calorie soda?  I will just say that I don't think I have ever drank a full calorie non-diet soda in my life.  That was never in my home growing up, and as my mom will back up, I blame every bad habit of mine on her (hi mom, love you!) -- my mom was a diet soda drinker, and that's what I always have been as well.  I now do not life the taste of full calorie soda but also just try to avoid "drinking" my calories.  I would prefer to eat extra calories then drink them (beer and wine and milkshakes aside.)  I'm not an OJ or sweet tea or full calorie soda kind of person.

However on the thought of diet soda vs. literally any beverage in the world... yeah, I get the point, and I do fully acknowledge that every single tiny little thing that is in a diet soda, is absolutely nothing that my body needs to survive and function and thrive.

I read the book last year "Happiness Diet" (which, maybe I should pull out again for a reread) that made me really, really reform my eating and after that started to have a mentality of "Is what I am eating GOOD for me?" rather than "How many calories and Weight Watchers points does it consist of?"

When I was losing weight a few years ago and doing Weight Watchers regularly, I ONLY thought about "How many Weight Watchers points is this?" before putting something in my mouth.  I drank diet soda every day, and I mean, I drank SO MUCH diet soda, fat free pudding, artificial sweeteners up the wazoo, etc.  If something was labeled "low fat" or "fat free" or anything along those lines, I was all for it.  I didn't think about what was in those foods and I wasn't really exercising at that time, so I didn't have a "total health" mindset.  It was all about dropping the pounds.  I can think of multiple times when I was craving sweets at the end of the night and went out and bought a 2-liter caffeine free diet soda and would drink the majority of it, just to fill myself up and give myself something sweet for 0 Weight Watchers points.

However, as my mindset, fitness, and health consciousness has evolved over the years, so has how I thought about food.  The book the Happiness Diet that I read last year affected that a lot.  Running, and wanting to fuel my body for my runs, has affected that a lot as well.

When I read the Happiness Diet, I remember I was on a place heading to Dallas and I was mid training for the Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon, and when I learned about what diet soda does to you, it totally blew my mind.  I vowed to not drink diet soda until after the half marathon and cut it completely.  I kept that promise to myself and avoided diet soda for a long time.  I'm not sure when exactly I had a soda again, but I did at some point after the race.

Since I read that book and started thinking about my "whole body health," what I put into my body and how I treat it, I have never gone back to drinking diet soda the way that I used to.  There are other changes that have stuck with me as well.  I avoid processed foods so much more than I did before trying to become healthier all around (rather than just losing weight.)  I try to eat real foods rather than packaged foods.  Lean Cuisines are no longer a staple in my diet and very rarely eat frozen meals all together (I keep one or two on hand for emergencies, and try to pack them with veggies when I do have them.)  I no longer put artificial sweetener in my coffee.  I don't shy away from "full fat" foods.  I drink milk even though it has calories in it.  I do try to avoid diet soda as much as possible but there are times when I do have it and when I do, there are some "rules" that I have for myself around drinking diet soda. For example:

  • I never, ever drink diet soda if I need to run later in the day.  This is something that I stick to solidly.  Never ever.
  • Diet soda as a treat, not a daily thing.  Although it isn't the best option, I let myself have diet soda if the alternative is having something that is "worse" like candy and cookies, or in the case of the other night, beer.
  • I never drink diet soda when outside of the U.S. (I don't know why this is a rule, but it is)
  • And finally, everything in moderation

  • I will totally admit, lately, as I have been struggling to eat right, been traveling and overtired all the time, I have been feeling a little out of control, as I have written numerous times.  And because of that, I have been drinking diet soda more than usual.  And probably the most disgusting and bad for you form of diet soda as well -- I've been drinking a lot of Diet Mountain Dew.  So weird, I know.

    I know that diet soda perpetuates sweetness cravings.  And you know what, my tendencies to towards to diet soda lately might be fueling my "out of control" feelings I've had lately.  I do know it is a vice, but sometimes I think of it as the lesser of two evils when it comes to something that has additional calories vs. diet soda.  

    So yeah, I do pay attention to my health and yeah, I do drink diet soda.  However, being called out on Instagram has made me think about the fact that diet soda has become too much of a "norm" in my diet lately so thank you for helping keep me honest and aware!!  THIS IS WHY I LOVE YOU GUYS!

    I also love you guys for all the positivity you send my way.  These past few weeks have been a struggle and the next few weeks will continue to be a struggle because I have going away parties, happy hours, lunch dates, dinner dates, and an apartment of food and wine to consume before moving.  I don't want to miss out on any of these things and I don't want to hold back from life so I am letting myself live.  However, I know it will have an affect on my running, my weight, my appearance, etc. and I am trying to figure out the right balance.

    I don't know what will happen with my goals to run faster and my goals to beat my past PRs.  However, I just need to keep remembering that this is a "forever" journey and not one that ends after a few months or a few years.  If I miss a PR this fall, I will try for it again.  If I am not at my "fighting weight" when I move to Atlanta, I will keep working at it once I get there.

    Day by day my friends.  That's all we can do.

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Overindulgent food-crazy monster status

    Hello!  I'm at the point in busy-ness that blogging is more of a chore than something I want to do, which is not good because it is usually an outlet and relaxation for me.  I also don't like when I get so busy and post so infrequently that all I am doing is writing about what I've done because I feel like that is boring.  So let me recap in a different way as best I can.

    First, lets talk about running and about how freaked out I am about this marathon.  I am going through such waves.  Remember when I said how I was making my goal to beat my time in Paris of 4:37?  Yeah, well, I may be switching my goal back to just finishing.

    Yesterday I did my long run of 12-miles and afterwards I was BEAT.  I mean, granted, I was pretty beat before I even started.  However, afterwards I felt like I was back to more than a year ago when I ran 10 miles for the first time and then lay on the floor at my mom's house for the rest of the day!

    I chose a route to run that was pretty fun because it is a road in my hometown that I must have driven down thousands and thousands times throughout my life, but never would have ever thought to run, so it was a cool accomplishment.  However, I also chose a portion of the route that was so incredibly hilly it was  just hard to keep moving.  And I finished my run, not at my mom's house, but still a mile away that I had to walk straight up hill to finish.  I was starving when I walked in the door and consumed two pita bread halves smeared with peanut butter and a cake batter protein drink as soon as I could.

    I also ran three days in a row at that point as the day before I ran in a Ridiculous Obstacle Course 5K with my brother.  It was hysterical and a really fun, silly race, that involved blow up obstacles similar to the TV show Wipeout!  It wasn't super strenuous, but it was still running!

    I absolutely love running races with my brother and that this is now something that we do together.  He found this 5K and asked me if I would run with him, and I was so glad that it worked out that I was able to do it while home for the weekend!  After running we went out for breakfast where we each devoured a bacon, egg and cheese bagel breakfast sandwich and split some chocolate chip pancakes.  And I wish that I could say that this type of eating was way out of the norm, but as of late, this is pretty much the norm for food consumption.  I should absolutely not be eating the same amount for breakfast as my brother who is like, a foot taller than me and weighs a ton more and goes to the gym 2x a day and is a boy, so just has a higher metabolism in general.  But, hey, it was delicious.

    After breakfast I raced home to squeeze myself into a party dress and head out for the wedding of one of my high school friends, Kelly!  It was so special to be included in her wedding day and I loved getting to spend time with her and our extended group of friends who all came into town for the wedding -- including one friend who lives in Spain and came all the way home for it!  Kelly looked absolutely beaming with happiness throughout the whole day and it was so great to be able to celebrate!

    My friends all made fun of Kristen and I because we both wore royal blue dresses to the wedding -- which we both had accidentally done two years ago at another high school friend's wedding.  Nobody would probably notice normally, but the blue in our dresses is the same royal blue of our high school.  So we just joked that we felt it was important to always wear Cumberland Clipper blue to every high school friend's wedding :)

    Also, of the group of girlfriends I've mentioned a few times who are like my sisters (that I spent the bachelorette weekend with), a couple of those girls were at this wedding too so it was such a treat to see them too weekends in a row.  We are really getting spoiled with all these weddings and wedding activities!

    And although KO was not there, her younger sister DO, who is also like a little sister to me, was IN the wedding and I looooved getting to hang out and dance with her all night.  She is such a little peanut and I am obsessed with her!

    I know at some point weddings might get old, but man, do I still love them!

    I was surprised that the dress I had gotten still fit me after the crazy amount of eating I have been doing.  I was in NYC all the week prior with work, which is always busy and fun but exhausting.  Since I had been on vacation the week before, my sleep schedule was off because I had been sleeping later than I usually do when I am in Albany.  And then I went right back into getting up early in NYC and also staying up later than I usually do because there were so many wonderful friends and coworkers all at the conference that I don't usually get to see! One of the best parts of the whole week was getting to see so many wonderful people that I don't usually get the chance to connect with in person.  Including, many of the people that I am going to work with in my new role!  Which, was overwhelming and exciting, and meant that there were just not enough hours in the day.  And when I am tired/stressed, what do I do?  Eat of course.  And did I eat apples or nuts or carrot sticks?  Nope.  I ate Dylan's Candy Bar bulk candy, ice cream sandwiches, and a frost-your-own-donut bar.  Are you kiddddding me, people?  The food in NYC was unreal.

    Here are a few snapshots from the conference and week in New York City -- including my runs that I had in Central Park, that were just absolutely beautiful.  I ran in Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Monday, but my other runs were in Central Park and I just loved it!  If only it were enough to negate even a quarter of that donut that I ate...

    I always loving visiting New York City and I have so many dear friends there that it is impossible to see them all on any single trip.  Which, just means all the more reason to continue to visit!!

    However, for now, I am back in Albany and back to basics trying to return to counting points and not be an overindulgent food-crazy monster.  I am pretty sure that the few weeks of being on track where I was starting to see progress, have totally been reversed after Waukewan, bachelorette, New York City, and the wedding.  And everything was so wonderful that I really shouldn't complain at all -- except for that I am going to be IN a wedding in just a few weeks that I want to feel good for!  Last night I had a glass of wine before bed, as a celebration of the past few weeks of craziness and am enjoying a few days of relaxation (while doing laundry, preparing for a move, working, training for a marathon, and seeing local friends...) before it starts up again!

    Happy Monday everyone!