Thursday, April 30, 2015

My little brother is in Atlanta!

Hey everybody!  I'm officially on a long weekend, so writing in quick before going to have more fun with my brother.  Yep, that's right, the J-man is in the A this weekend!

Jeff arrived this morning, which was great because it gave us a full day to eat, shop, explore, and have a few drinks.  We started by going directly to a donut place that I had seen online and had been anxious to try called Da Vinci's Donuts.  They are incredible.

The donut bases are all the same but then there is a variety of different gourmet toppings.  We got an assortment, including two that we custom made ourselves and sat right down and ate them all.  I promise that they were small, although not small enough that I think that it was okay.  But man it was delicious!!  The sugar coma kicked in immediately afterwards.

We did a bit of shopping and hanging out back at my apartment before going out to spend the afternoon in the city, in what turned out to be an incredibly beautiful day.  Our first stop was to go to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.  This originally was not on our plan for the weekend at all and I didn't even tell Jeff that I wanted to go until today because I didn't want it to be a question (that that I thought it would be!)  But as we headed out, I just let him know we were going to be stopping by there as our first stop.

This week's events in Baltimore (and as I type, Philadelphia) have had me doing a lot of thinking and attempting to read and learn.  I have seen a lot of different articles and view points on social media being posted and shared and I haven't weighed in to anything, mostly because I don't feel educated enough to weigh in.  I don't think that is an excuse though, so I have been trying harder to feel smarter and more informed on these really intense issues.  With that, I also realized that I don't know enough about the history of my own city, which I know was an influential part of the civil rights movement.

Earlier this week we used the MLK Jr. National Historic Site as a parking lot when we went out for our Monday evening run and I knew that couldn't be the only time that I have been there.

It was really great to see the site and I learned a lot.  There is a lot of reading within the exhibits so it is definitely something that I need to return to on my own to really spend the time reading through every exhibit and piece.  However, for those of you who are unaware, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, attended elementary school, high school and college in Atlanta.  And first became giving sermons to the congregation at the Ebenezer Baptist Church here.  His funeral took place in Atlanta and he is buried here.

 I'm really glad that we took the time to visit the Historic Site and appreciate my friends here who recommended it.  On the way out, we also stopped at the bridge where we took all the pictures on Monday night with my running group to try and get a nice sibling shot with the city in the background.

Unfortunately that turned out to be a major fail and we just look like idiots in every picture.  Exhibit A:

We spent the day after that bopping around, getting some food and drinks on the rooftops of Atlanta and checking out some of the different neighborhoods, including a walk through Piedmont Park, where we did end up getting a nice sibling picture!

And also a silly one.

And also Jeff climbed a tree while I sat on the ground and watched.

And with that, I am going to leave you to go continue MVB weekend!  Have a great Thursday!

Chicago Marathon - here I come!!

Ladies and gentlemen -- it is official, I am running the Chicago Marathon this October 11!!!!

It has been a whirlwind couple of days as I spent all of Tuesday sitting at my computer hitting refresh on my e-mail to see if I got into the race via the lottery system.  Unfortunately at the end of the day it became clear that I did not get in and I was SO disappointed.  I have been researching alternative marathons for weeks and nothing excited me.  I thought back to last year when I was training for Kansas City and wishing I was training for Chicago.  I saw SO many people I know posting to Facebook that they would be running Chicago.  And I knew deep down in my heart that it was the marathon I wanted to run next, so I started looking into charity organizations and how that process worked.

I realized that Girls on the Run, the organization that I just finished volunteering for over the past few months, had a Chicago Marathon team and charity affiliation.  Not only that, I can delegate that the funds that I raise through the program go specifically towards the Atlanta chapter of Girls on the Run.  So, I submitted an application, was approved within 24 hours, and I am now officially registered to run the marathon!!!

I am so thrilled and also a little intimidated at the idea of raising $1500 without becoming a total hound begging friends and family to donate.  I do not want to be that person, but definitely will be making requests here and there, starting right now.  If you would like to donate to my Chicago Marathon funds for Girls on the Run Atlanta, please visit my fundraising page!   Your funds will go towards providing scholarships for girls in Atlanta to participate in the program, including everything from shoes to pre run snacks.

Since I am not doing the charity route to get out of paying for the race myself, I kicked off the donations with $185 of my own money, which is the cost of the Chicago Marathon registration.  This is what I would have paid were I to get into the lottery system on Tuesday.  Please donate if you are able and also support this organization.  You've heard about my experience and seen the pictures of the smiling girls I worked with this season.  I think that having more girls experience the fun and empowerment of running can only be a good thing!!  THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Atlanta happenings - festival season, running weather, binge eating

This past weekend was a really fun and busy one, outside of just the Girls on the Run Atlanta 5K on Saturday morning!  I mentioned that the weather cleared up for the race, but I was actually so happy that it cleared up in general because I had lots of fun activities planned, many of which involved being outdoors!

Starting with Friday night though, in which I stayed in, did laundry (I'm exciting), put together the kitchen table that I had bought and had delivered weeks ago, and also got in a long-ish run.  As I mentioned, I had been working towards the goal I set of running 100 miles in the month of April.  I wanted to be the first girl to complete the challenge and have been anxiously following the leader board for the past week.  I had a good head start on the other females in the competition (and most of the guys too!) and was doing really well working towards that goal.  I knew that I was going to hit 100 but wanted to get it done right away.  So, after running every single day last week except Monday (in which I still went to the gym 2x that day!) I ran 8 miles on Friday night.

These were what I call stupid miles in that running them was stupid.  My body didn't want or need them, but my mind forced me to do them so that I would be at 97 miles on Friday night and then hit 100 after the Girls on the Run Atlanta 5K.  Those Friday miles weren't pretty but I got them done!

I finished third overall in the competition and hit my goal of being the first female to complete it.  I guess what you could say is that I really don't give up on things and stick to the goals that I set.  I didn't realize how few of us would actually get to 100 miles this month which makes me all the more proud of this goal!  I know there is still a few days until May 1st so others can finish too, but I was proud of myself for doing it with about a week to spare.   I ran more miles than I have in a while since I didn't really do any long, long runs throughout the month.  I mostly just spread them out.  Last week alone I did 9 last Saturday (between the two different races),  3 on Sunday, 1 Monday, 2 Tuesday, 6 Wednesday, 5 Thursday, 8 Friday, and then 3 Saturday.  That is a lot of miles!!!

Anyways, I got that over with and am pretty happy to have a break from the pressure I had on myself, but it still just is leaving me back to that race itch I keep feeling!

After the Girls on the Run Atlanta 5K and achieving my miles goal (yay!) I went to breakfast with the Movers and Pacers crew that came out and supported.  I then did a quick jaunt home to shower, change, and head back out again to my first festival in Atlanta's festival season!!

The festivals in Atlanta are something that I heard a lot about when I moved here.  Everyone said that there are so many activities every weekend and different festivals every weekend throughout the spring, summer and fall.  And I have just started to get a taste of that with the many different events I've seen advertised and promoted.  For some reason I haven't really gotten myself to any of them until this past weekend when I went to Inman Park Fest with a friend.

The festival consisted of tons of local art vendors all throughout the streets, which I LOVE walking and browsing, but also some great house parties where I didn't know a soul at, but everyone was so welcoming.  I joined my friend and some of her friends, and we went to a few different daytime house parties and was just amazed at how hospitable everyone was to a complete stranger!  Offering food, drinks, opening their homes, etc.  It was really incredible!  The festival also had a great parade.

Following the parade I enjoyed a few more house parties, then left the festival to go to a housewarming party in a different area of town with a different group of friends.  Which was SO fun.  Apparently I still have some beer pong skills up my sleeve.  Who knew?

And the night ended with randomly meeting up with some of the Movers + Pacers crew for some slight shenanigans before going home and crashing in bed.   I love this picture.

Sunday ended up being one of those perfectly gorgeous days that you just want to be outside the whole time.  After a slow morning start, I spent a little bit of time by the pool in my apartment complex before heading out to my group's flagship run on Sunday afternoons.  After a little bit of stress I ended there right on time, which was great because I had a friend who joined for the group run for the first time.  I introduced him to a ton of people, we ran together, and he loved it, which made me so happy!  He actually hadn't run more than 2 miles in more than 10 years he said.  And he had gone out that morning to buy running shoes for the run!  Now that's dedication!!

It was absolutely beautiful running weather on Sunday and just a beautiful day to be outside.

After the run we did an ab workout and then went to get fruit smoothies and hung outside for a bit.  I don't think any one of us wanted the beautiful day to end!  In fact, we hung around long enough that we all ended up getting some falafel wraps from the place next door.  Which, totally negated the run.  But that's sort of a theme for me lately at least.

Monday morning was a great day on the food and exercise front (at least I got one in!!) where I did a leg workout in the morning (which I am feeling now!) and finished the day with a tempo run with Movers and Pacers.  Which also came with an amazing view!! The run was special being on a Monday night, as a send off to one of the runners who is moving away this week.  We met at the Jackson Street Bridge in Atlanta which is a little iconic because it has a beautiful view of the city.  We took a ton of amazing pictures, which I will flood you with in a second but I first want to tell you how proud I was of this run!  It was about 3.5 miles that I averaged an 8:40 pace on.  I NEVER run that fast outside of a race environment and it was definitely a challenging run for me, but I was also really proud of myself.  I was one of the first people to finish the run and that usually does not happen for me.  I want to maintain the speed I have built up so I need to mix in tempo runs and this was a great night to do it.  I felt so good at the end of the run, which I very much needed that confidence boost!

And check out these photos...

Looking at these pictures makes me so happy, which is why I post so many on here.

Moving to a new city has been so hard.  And running for me is still something that is very hard.  But it has become a huge part of my life.  And there is something about running that bonds you with people.  I cannot believe how connected I feel to so many in this group, how included I feel, and how much I have looked forward to seeing this group every day in the few short months I have been running with them.

Today I had a really shitty day and the only thing that got me out of the house was going to run with the sprint crew.  I really enjoyed the time while I was there, and then returned home to have ice cream and beer for dinner.  Because apparently I spoke too soon when I talked about that motivation I have been having lately!!!

I actually binge ate for the first time in a while today.  Where I sorted through my cabinets looking for something to eat and pulling out a box of crackers that I have had since December and eating them standing up on my counter with cheese as fast as I could.  I continued that after sprints stopping to get a bowl of ice cream, knowing that I didn't have anything that would satisfy my binge in the home.  It is a bit disappointing to me and I knew in my mind that I should run or exercise or focus the binge urge elsewhere, but I just let it happen.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow and struggling with how to reach the goals of where I want to be when I have suddenly lost the motivation I had just a week ago.  Why is every day a struggle, people???

Monday, April 27, 2015

Girls on the Run Atlanta 5K Recap

The opinions expressed here are solely my opinions and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Girls on the Run® International.

This past Saturday was the day that the Girls on the Run teams - my own and the others throughout Atlanta - had been working up towards for the past 10-12 weeks!  It was the day of the official Girls on the Run 5K!

I had marked this race on my calendar months and months ago and I was really excited for race day to finally arrive.

At the beginning of the week I began to get a bit nervous because the forecast for Saturday morning said a 100% chance of rain - even starting as early as Monday - the weather forecast was bad.  Our team had been going inside for any form of weather problem so I was nervous how the girls would handle running in the rain or what that would mean for race day.  I kept my fingers crossed all week hoping that the forecast would somehow differ and we would have a sunny and beautiful day for the race, but alas, on Saturday morning I woke up to downpouring rain.

I got over to Georgia Tech, where the race would start and finish, around 6:30 a.m.  I had invited members of the Movers + Pacers running group that I run with out to volunteer and I knew that some of the volunteers were there starting at 5:00 a.m.!  I was so impressed with that dedication and wanted to get there early even though I didn't necessarily need to be there that early.  I stopped to get coffee and brought some snacks as well and it was good to just hang out and chat, even though it was super early in the AM.

The rain turned into thunder and lightning as well and I got pretty nervous about what was going to happen at this point as they ushered all the volunteers and expo people into the Georgia Tech stadium for shelter.  However, instead of just canceling things, a notification was sent out via text message that there would be a one hour delay of the race and it would start at 9:00 a.m. rather than 8:00 a.m.

And I'll tell ya, whoever gave the Girls on the Run organizers advice on the weather did a really good job and should get a raise because right at 9:00 a.m. the rain stopped and the sky cleared up for the race!

We met up with my team and although the rain did scare a number of people away and cause us to not be able to quite find everyone right away, we did have a great group out.  It was awesome to meet more of the parents/running buddies that the girls have and introduce everyone to the friends that I had brought with us to run.

After lots of pictures, some pump up songs, introductions, and stretching, the race was underway.  It was a bit of an underwhelming start (and later finish) to the race as we just sort of all started running at one point.

There was quite a bit of weaving around at the beginning since a lot of people go out just to walk this race.  Before we started, one of the girls, A, asked if she could run with me.  I wasn't assigned a specific girl (they all have to have running buddies) so I of course said yes and the rest of the crew I was with all decided to stick with her as well.

The race itself was nice, we ran all around the Georgia Tech campus and all of the athletes from the various teams were all out cheering for the girls, which was so fun!  There were lots of high fives to get along the way and a great energy on the course.  A did so great, smiling the whole race, saying she was doing awesome every time I asked, and keeping her feet moving even though I could tell she was tired.  Our whole group encouraged her the whole way and I was so proud of how well she did!

I was really nervous about how the girls would do in the race since I didn't feel like we had trained as much as I would have liked. We had so many days where we had to go indoors and the most we probably ever did was 2 miles.

A remained so determined throughout the whole thing, even sprinting up some hills at the end, and cheering and smiling as we ran through the crowds and into the Georgia Tech stadium to finish on the football field.  It was an anti-climatic setup for the end of the race - no archway or finish line shoot or even line to cross.  To be honest, I couldn't tell you exactly where the race had even ended.

However, we made sure to have a big celebration for A and take lots of pictures to celebrate the occasion (this is how I roll, people!)

The stadium was pretty chaotic and we could barely keep track of the people that we were with, nonetheless find the rest of the team.  The water and refreshments were in the most obscure, hard to get to place, and it was a bit crazy so after a bit we ended up just leaving the field.  However, it was very cool to have the race finish on the football stadium. AND we SO lucked out with the weather.  After the crazy amounts it was raining and storming earlier, the day ended up being great with the sun coming out and lots of us shedding layers during the run.

Even within the stadium it was still crazy once we left the field area, so we just quickly grabbed our "Finisher" shirts and moved off to the side.  The race had medals for the girls running and also they had coach appreciation bags and free massages for the coaches, so of course, I had to partake in that!

I found a few more of my girls and asked how they did in the race, but to be honest the finish was just very anticlimactic.  I didn't get much time with the girls, didn't really know what to do, and sort of just ended up saying bye to the girls and coaches and left to go have breakfast with my friends.

I loved the race, running with A, and getting to cheer on the rest of the runners.  I think being a coach for this first time was a big learning experience for me and if I were to be a coach in the next season (which is this fall) there is a lot I had learned from this round.  I wish that we'd planned a better meeting point.  I wish we'd planned a post-race celebration or even just spot to go have breakfast.  I felt so proud of the team and wanted to hear all about the girls races, but I didn't even know where anyone was for the most part.  I have no idea if I will now see the girls again since the season is officially over!  The other thing that felt weird to me was the fact that I have been running with and training for the race with the girls for the past 10-12 weeks and then didn't really see them at race day as they all ran with a parent or running buddy/family friend (except for A, who asked to run with me and for which I was very grateful!)  It was a bit bizarre and I guess just a learning experience for next time around as to what to be aware of and how I could do things better and be a better coach.

Many of the girls I asked if they thought they improved from the beginning of the season and I think they did.  I hope that they had fun and that they took pride in running the 5K and the work that we put in leading up to the race.  I really enjoyed coaching the girls, getting them to run a bit further than they thought they could at times, and being surrounded by their young, positive energy for the past few weeks.  I also was SO appreciative of the Movers + Pacers crew who came out and ran with my team this weekend.  It meant so much to me to have them their supporting the group and the organization I have been a part of.  I know that they didn't do it for me, but for the organization as a whole, but it just meant a lot to have them be there.  Many of them posted some really nice things on Instagram afterwards as well and it just really meant a lot to me.

The next season for Girls on the Run is not until the fall so I have some time to determine what I am going to do, but it was a lot of fun and a rewarding experience to coach this year for Girls on the Run.  It is a great organization and I wish that I had learned about running at an earlier age!!!  Congratulations to all the girls who completed the 5K this past weekend on my team and on others!!!