Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review - WOW!

I'm a nerd about the changing of the year.  There's no way to avoid that.  I can admit it.  My friends know it to be true.  I have no reason to try and deny it.  One of the reasons that I love to blog is that I love to spend time reflecting - whether it is on the past weekend, a race, a time of my life, or what I had for dinner and how I cooked it.  I like to document and think back.  It's something that I have been prone to my whole life, which is proof by the two boxes full of notebooks, journals, and diaries that I just brought back with me to Atlanta that I just found in my childhood belongings while I was at home.

So let's get to it. 2015 in review. What will I think back on when I think of 2015?

Well, I will think of 2015 as the year that I grew. The year that I did what I set out to accomplish.  The year that I defined going into and then made happen.

Let's flashback to the beginning of 2015 shall we?  What many of you may not have known, I broke up with a boyfriend days before the new year last year.  Our new years eve plans and couples ski trip plans were no more.  It was supposed to be my first new year in my life that I had someone to kiss at midnight and the first time I did something as a "couples" thing and then it was all scrapped. Instead, I third and fifth wheeled it, with the low point being having to share a bed with my friends who are married because a hotel we were staying in was completely out of rooms or rooms with double beds (I can look back at it now and laugh but at the time it made me want to cry.)

Additionally, I entered this year in a bad place mentally.  The breakup was hard, yes.  But I also was not exercising. I had fallen into a funk after Kansas City marathon.  I was out of shape.  I was struggling to get the motivation to do anything.  My fitness level had been dropping even before the marathon, which was evident in that my marathon times slowed by 20 minutes from April to October.   I was struggling in my new job.  And I literally had NO friends in Atlanta.

I remember when my plane landed in Atlanta around January 5th or so after being in the north for a bit and I had nobody to text for the first time saying "Just landed!" after moving here.  I had a feeling of sadness, of aloneness, and also of, "Welp -- this is it.  Now or never."  And then I decided to tackle 2015 head on.

My initial commitments were to make friends in Atlanta and build a life here.  And my gosh, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the people in my life in Atlanta who make this a place where I return to be "home."  Many people have asked me over the past year how I have done it and how I have made friends when I moved to a completely new place.  One thing I can say is that I made it a priority, another is that running helped, and a third is that I continued to get really lucky.

I enter into 2016 still single as can be but as rich as ever with amazing friendships that make me luckier than anyone I know.  I cannot believe what incredible friends I have made here in Atlanta.  I cannot believe the family and community I found in this city once I actually sought it out.  I am in amazement at the people who inspire and motivate me every day who I call friends.  The life I have built here in Atlanta have made 2015 a success on its own.

Beyond that, my accomplishments in the athletic world -- have literally blown my mind.

Coming into this year, I had very specific goals.  First, to spend the spring getting faster.  I wanted to work on speed and break 2:00 hours in a half marathon.  It was a goal I knew was in my world of possibility, but when I actually achieved that goal in March, it exceeded what I thought was possible of myself at that time.

My next goal was to spend the summer working on triathlons, improving my biking, and to compete in an Olympic distance triathlon.  Which I did in early August and not only did I finish it -- I came in 2nd in my age group.

And my 3rd goal was to do a fall marathon.  And holy cow, not only did I do a fall marathon -- I crushed a fall marathon, running beyond my wildest expectations in 3:58.  Seriously. 3:58??  What that means is that my second time running a sub 2:00 hour half marathon was the SECOND HALF of a MARATHON.  This day, this accomplishment, makes me feel like I can fly and do anything.

My running accomplishments in 2015 have been so strong.  In addition to all of these goals that I set for myself. I did things that literally, didn't seem possible.  I won my age group in triathlons. In road races. I beat times that seemed like flukes in past years.  I hit times that I didn't even think were possible for myself.  I achieved more than I thought possible. I entered this year thinking that there was no way I could top the year before.  I ran a marathon in 2014.  How could I beat that?

This year, I have accomplished things that have been so out of my realm of thought that it has literally been rethinking every aspect of my life.  I know that sounds drastic, but it's true.

The things that I made happen this year, I made happen on my own.  It's made me proud.  It's made me expect more of myself.  It's made me push myself harder.

Today, I did my final workout of the year.  A final 3 miles throughout Piedmont Park.  It literally was a struggle run as I realized that I went a whole week without running, which was the longest that I have gone in all of 2015.  That's definitely not the way I want to close off the year!  However, I did close it off with a run today.  And as I ran I thought back on the whole year.  I thought of all the high points and what it felt like.  I put myself back in the place of running the Chicago Marathon, seeing friends as I ran through those miles, and how good I felt during that race.  How amazing it was to see my time and what it felt like to know that I had run sub 4:00 hours.  As well, how painful it felt at the finish when I felt like I couldn't breathe and wasn't sure if I should go to the medical tent or not.

I thought about how I felt when doing the run during the Olympic triathlon, how much I wanted that race to be over so badly. How I wasn't sure what my place or pace was, and that I just wanted it to be over.  How hot and tired I was and the willpower it took to keep me moving forward.

I thought about the Publix half marathon and the point in the run where my friend/coach Holly asked me what time I had for myself in the race and I told her, "I have no idea - I am just going to run as hard as I can if I make it, I make it!" and how much pain I was in during that last mile in the rain running uphill and using every ounce of my willpower to keep myself moving forward.

I thought about the people that were there during all of those races.  The Movers + Pacers crew cheering me on when I barely knew them.  Brick jumping up and down and cheering for me during the Olympic tri, or how excited she was for me when I placed for the first time ever in Arizona.  My mom's voice cheering for me as I rounded the corner and finished the duathlon in New Hampshire.  Everyone that was there for me to celebrate in Chicago. And all those who made signs, posted on my wall, wrote comments or text messages throughout all of these races.  Legit, it makes me cry even thinking about it now.  Which is why I am probably able to repost this image, even though its terrible... it shows feelings well.

And, during my run today I thought of the hard points of the year that made these races worthwhile.  The day that I ran through a hangover and heat and thought I was going to pass out.  The days of getting up early to run on the treadmill in Mexico, Orlando, and Thailand.  The time spent planning meticulously runs and training schedules and stressing about fitting these workouts in.  I thought of the days of running through the rain.  Of running in .3 mile circles within the gated hotel in Nigeria.  Of compression socks and hydrating and going to bed early.  I thought of the pain and mental fortitude to get myself through the last miles of my 18-mile or 20-mile runs in training for Chicago.  Of gathering the courage to put my clip in shoes on for my bike.  Of falling off the bike.  On multiple times.

I thought of all these things today as I ran.  Because all of these things are what make up 2015 to me.  I am sure that the new year will bring a whole new list of trials, tribulations, and accomplishments to write about.  But today, I feel so proud of 2015.

And that's not to say that everything in this year has been a success. Has been a victory and something to think back on positively.

I think maybe that part of the reason that this year's athletic successes are such amazing accomplishments to me is because of what I wrote about before.  I made all of this happen for myself.  I came into this year knowing noone in Atlanta.  Nobody saying to be, "Hey, why don't you run with me this AM?" or "Hey, you should sign up for this marathon!"  Funny enough, I became that person to others.

Everything I did this year, I did because I wanted to.  And I made it happen.  That is huge.

Outside of running as well...

I traveled.  To exotic places like Mexico, Nigeria, and Thailand.  And within the U.S. I had new experiences like my amazing trip to Arizona.  I also saw friends get married.  I spent New Years and other weekends with friends:  doing simple things.  Laughing, talking about our lives, meeting new people.  I think of the time I spent foam rolling and eating Whole Foods dinners with Jenna.  Devouring ice cream sandwiches and going for walks with Heidi, Dave, and Finn.  Being in Atlanta and having Brick take me to new restaurants and bars. Visitors to Atlanta.  Getting my nails done with friends in Boston.  Walks on the beach, TV shows on the couch, FaceTime conversations, and long written e-mails. Unexpected cards and gifts and texts and all the tiny moments that make life happy when you have long distance friendships.  They have all been here this year as well.

However, just as much as I could write about the things I did this year... I have the urge and temptation to think back on the things that I didn't do or that I missed out on.

I missed baby showers.  Engagement parties.  Wedding showers and bachelorette parties.  First birthday parties. And worse, the meaningless un-event driven days.  I missed being there for my friends on the days that don't really matter. I missed being able to say, "Hold on, I'll drive right there." when my friends are having a bad week.  I missed meaningless conversations and who knows how many hours of laughter.  I missed cheering on my little brothers and some of my best friends during their first 5Ks and being there for a countless life moments. The list could go on on and on.  However, I don't think of those things.  or at least I try not to.

2015 is the year I set three goals for myself crushed one after one. 2015 is the year that I went places that scared me and took trips that took me outside of my comfort zone - from Mexico, to Nigeria, to Thailand, to traveling to Arizona with a group of friends I barely knew.  It is the year I got to make my niece and nephew laugh uncontrollably and see them grow to little humans. 2015 is the year I made Atlanta my HOME.  It is the year that I fell in love with myself a little bit more than I ever have before.

I have no idea what 2016 has in store for me.  Athletically.  Mentally. Physically. With relationships. With friends. With family. With travel, life, living.  I have no idea.

Don't get me wrong, I've set some goals. I have some plans. I am preparing for the future and excited about everything in store. It's just an open box.  And I like it that way.

Happy new year, lovies.  Thank you for reading. Seriously, thank you for reading.

Thank you for being a part of my life, my community, my support, my humility, my high points, my low points, and everything in between.  I wish you a happy, healthy, and safe new year and all that you hope for in 2016!!!  As well as things you never thought imagineable :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Exercise Streak Days 20-34

It's been a while guys.... let me catch you up.

Day 20, Tuesday December 15 - All the way back in the days of being in Atlanta, on this day I did a sprint workout.  I definitely want to keep mixing up spring workouts and tempo runs with my training and need to become more serious about it.  On this day, I loved the workout that I did and thought it was going to be too hard so I was proud of myself for finishing - although I didn't do any of the elevation that I was supposed to add to the treadmill.

Day 21, Wednesday December 16 - PM upper body workout, which was awesome. I really enjoyed this workout, but then messed up the rest of my evening by having to run from the gym back to work to get my laptop because I had forgotten it there.  (This feels like a million years ago, posting now, by the way!)

Day 22, Thursday December 17 - I had made plans to run with a friend in the morning, but the rain kept us indoors.  Without having someone to specifically meet, I was lazy getting out of bed and didn't make it to the gym in time to get an actual workout in.  So I ran 1 mile on the treadmill.

This is the part of my "exercise streak" that got a little messy...

Day 23, Friday December 18- I spent 11 hours in the car on Friday, leaving Atlanta at 6:30 a.m. and arriving in D.C. at 5:30 p.m.  When I got here I was exhausted, however, wanting to move.  We had plans to go out for a drink so I insisted we walk the 1 mile each way to and from the bar.  Workout? Two mile walk.

Day 24, Saturday December 19 - Another 8 hours in the car today.  I stretched for about 20 minutes while watching TV at my sisters.

Day 25, Sunday December 20 - Happy Birthday Nikki! Finally was in New Hampshire and was able to get my legs outdoors again on a 4 mile run. I was nervous about making the mistakes that got me injured earlier this year by running a hilly route after being really tight and sedentary for hours and hours. I was careful with my stride and felt good about the run I squeezed in!  I don't have any pictures from the run, but here is a cute pic with my niece and nephew.

Day 26, Monday December 21 & Day 27, Tuesday December 22 - Guys, I have to admit.  Even if the other days I somehow managed to sneak in something that I could excuse for a workout, on these days I didn't even try to fake it.  I was babysitting and hanging with my niece and nephew, which definitely kept me on my toes!  I tried to plan a run for Tuesday but unexpected rain had me change my plans.  These days - the streak was absolutely broken.

Day 28, Wednesday December 23 -  I laced up my running shoes for a 5K through my hometown up past my high school and back. I felt like I was running through Jello but my pace didn't end up being bad, a 9:15 pace. I left the music at home and ran just me and my sneaks (and my running watch) and although it felt like a struggle run, was super glad to get back out there.

It's funny, I saw this Instagram post the other day and it totally cracked me up.  It is 100% true that I get like this!!

Day 29, Thursday December 24 -  A tradition I have whenever I am home is to get in some exercising with my mama.  She is a spin class devotee and I have loved going to classes with her over the years, so I knew we needed to figure out when we could go together and Thursday morning was it.  In the past we've done Christmas Day spin classes, which I have always loved, especially when we can do a class with our favorite instructor (hi Chris!) but this year Christmas Eve would have to do.  It was a great workout and awesome to be back on the spin bike since I haven't spent much time there in a while!  I loved having some Christmas music in the playlist and I was sweating a ton by the end.  I proceeded to then replenish all the burnt calories with a bagel with butter and a sugary coffee.  But whatever.

Day 30, Friday December 25 - A three mile Christmas run throughout Cumberland!  I got up and out on the roads early, as I knew I wanted to get in some Christmas miles.  It felt good to be out early and the streets were quiet and calm.  It was also odd to run in such mild temperatures at Christmas! I logged 3 miles before returning home to eat cookies for breakfast.

Day 31, Saturday December 26 - Four mile walk with my mom!  I decided to trade in my run to get some exercise with my mom.  We walked from her place 2 miles down the road to the coffee shop.  We got coffees and meandered our way back home.  A run would have burned more calories, which is needed drastically right now, but a walk was able to give me some also much needed quality time with my mom.

Day 32, Sunday December 27 - Dancing?  Does dancing at a wedding count.  That's pretty much all I can manage to say I did for my health this Sunday. #Fail

Day 33, Monday December 28 - Monday was another car day for me and one that left me totally drained. I spent 6 hours in the car driving from New York City to D.C. and it was a painful drive.  I was tired, traffic was bad, and I felt like I needed to really think and concentrate on the road.  I was EXHAUSTED when I returned and didn't have the energy to even think about exercise.

Day 34, Tuesday December 29 - XTEND Barre class in D.C.!  As I mentioned, yesterday I drove down to D.C. from NYC where I was for a wedding on Sunday evening. E and I started the day by going to her regular studio for a really sweaty XTEND Barre class.  This was my first time trying this variation of Barre and I loved it.

I also was a bit horrified by what I saw all around me from the Barre studio mirrors. I have put on quite a bit of extra holiday fluff.  Which, I know I have  been feeling lately and it sort of came crashing around me when I looked in the mirrors this morning.  I know that I have the mental fortitude and ability to take it off once the new year happens and I get into a routine.  However, I am a bit nervous about doing it without Weight Watchers. It is going to be a new journey for me and I'm scared. But for now - I have two days left of this "streak" and I am hoping to do better than I did Sunday and Monday!

Monday, December 28, 2015

KC's Classic Burger Bar Review

Earlier this week while I was home in Rhode Island for the holidays, I was able to finally eat at a restaurant that I have been drooling over for months now, KC's Classic Burger Bar.

KC's Classic Burger Bar is a 50s diner in North Attleboro, Massachusetts that was opened by my childhood best friend (whose name happens to be Katie) this past summer.  Her family owned the local car dealership for many years and a lot of that classic old timey car feel can be found in this diner.  Even down to the big mural on the wall that features a big picture of her grandfather from the early days of the family car dealership.

Katie was more than just a best friend to me growing up, but her family was like a second family to mine. Her siblings I have known since the days they were born as my mom babysat them. I knew all of her cousins, aunts, uncles and extended family -- which wasn't hard since Katie's cousins were also my next door neighbors growing up.  Our families have vacationed together in the past and for many many years we were as close as can be.

Although we haven't stayed in touch over the years, their family means so much to me and since I heard about Katie opening the restaurant I have been anxious to try it!  The drool-worthy pictures of the burgers, fries, and spike milkshakes that I would see all over social media didn't hurt either.  Or the fact that they've been getting incredible reviews from friends, local news, and Boston-area food reviews.  They were even visited by the Phantom Gourmet not too long ago!

My mom, brother and I decided to go on Wednesday evening and as we made our way over and walked in the doors, walking in at the same exact time was Katie's younger sister. Come to find out her younger brother was there too and mom was on the way.  It was such a fun impromptu dinner (as we all decided to join tables and eat together) and the food was FANTASTIC.

I ordered the "Not Your Granny's Cadillac" Burger, which is actually an item that isn't on the menu, but that had been in a Boston burger competition earlier this summer.  I had been eyeing the "Cadillac Burger" on the menu and then when Katie's brother ordered the "Not Your Granny's Cadillac" -- I had to find out what that was and decided to follow the recommendation of a seasoned diner at the restaurant.

The burger was cooked really well, it looked and smelled amazing, held together well, and you'd better believe I finished every bite.  Never have I had a burger with apple slices on it, but it was amazing! And those sweet potato fries?  I'm not gonna lie, I was a little hesitant when I read that the sweet potato fries were dusted in cinnamon.  I usually don't like my sweet potatoes with cinnamon on them, as I prefer to eat them as a savory side and am not a fan of the sweetened sweet potatoes with marshmallow or sugar or anything.  However, they were perfect!  I traded half my sweet potato waffle fries for my brother's garlic french fries and those were incredible too.  And for that side of "baconnaise" -- I personally am not a mayonaisse person (I don't really eat any condiments... no ketchup or mustard) so I didn't eat it, but others at the table LOVED it and asked for a huge extra additional side of it to have with their fries.

And can we talk about that milkshake a minute?

This is their S'Mores spiked milkshake that is made with whipped cream vodka (I think), graham cracker crumbs, chocolate, and I don't even know what else but it was amazing. I could have drank that thing in a second, but I paced myself.  It was so, so good.  My mom was lucky that I let her have a sip!

Others at the table got everything from a plain cheeseburger (my mom) to a salad with the veggie burger on top and everyone was so happy with their meals.  Granted, we were basically dining with the owners - but I actually think that's a good sign, right?  They come in often to eat dinner there and there is something on the menu no matter what you are trying to find.  In addition to the spiked milkshakes there is also a full bar with a really reasonably priced beer menu.  My old next door neighbor and Katie's cousin works in the kitchen and is also growing some of the vegetables and seasonings to use in the food -- which is super cool and I love that!

The whole place was awesome, the service was great, and the food was amazing.  I chose to absolutely not go the healthy route, as I have been pretty much off the deep end lately. I stand by my choices because they were delicious and I am nothing if not a supportive friend :)  I loved the restaurant and also loved the impromptu get together catching up with good friends.  If anyone is in the Northern Rhode Island area, I definitely recommend a stop at KC's Classic Burger Bar.  You will be glad that you did!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!  I hope that you are enjoying your holidays with your family and are surrounded by people or things that you love and lots of food and twinkling lights.  I've been thoroughly enjoying the time off and the time with my sister and niece and nephew earlier this week.

On Tuesday evening I drove down from New Hampshire to Rhode Island and have been spending the days here with friends and family.  Enjoying the town favorites of places to get coffee, sandwiches, and pizza, as well as some new restaurants, which I will write about later.

As the years go on and Christmas traditions change, it's been fun to see my families change as well.  Exercising with my mom.  Exchanging Christmas stockings.  A tradition with friends and family called "Christmas Surprise."  Movies.  Junk food appetizers. All sorts of fun and silliness with my family and friends the past few days.

I hope you are enjoying your holidays - Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Home for the holidays

Well hello there from way further north than when I wrote last time!  Since last week when I posted, I spent many many hours in my car as I drove north from Atlanta all the way to my sister's house in New Hampshire!  The reasoning for driving north was a factor of many things... but mainly I desired flexibility with this trip.  I wanted to be able to have my own schedule and not commit to a plane ticket months in advance.  Plus, there was a lot I wanted to pack in and trying to figure out the logistics of it all was a bit exhausting so I decided to go with taking my own car and planning the trip my way!

On Friday morning I head out from Atlanta at 6:20 a.m. and spent about 11 hours in the car and drove to Alexandria, Virginia at about 5:30 p.m. to stay the night with E and her husband James. I have never been to their house before and having a place to stay at this point in the journey was integral to my plan to drive north.  Especially since I normally wouldn't be seeing them during the holidays, it seemed like a perfect opportunity!  Starting so early gave me a good head start on Atlanta traffic and also the opportunity to view the sunrise from my car.  The sky was gorgeous and I loved watching every stage of it rising from my car.

The drive took me through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and then to Virginia and I made numerous stops along the way to stretch, get food, take some pictures, and just take some breaks from being on the highway.  It was a fun adventure and although very long, it wasn't super terrible.

I listened to music for a few hours, listened to a few podcasts, took a few phone calls, and made sure to stay relaxed and not letting myself get too drained during the trip. I swear, long distance running helps you to have the mental tricks to be able to tackle big things like this as well!  I also had lots of coffee.  In addition to my Dunkin Donuts I randomly found a super cute coffee shop off the highway in North Carolina, which I was excited about because it seemed there were chain restaurants in every direction I saw.

In Alexandria we walked to a local bar to grab a drink of bubbly during their happy hour special and then returned home for dinner and hanging out and wine with E and her husband James.  It was great to catch up with them and just hang out and have an easy going night.  We were literally crying laughing as we looked up on E's old hard drive her high school graduation speech (she was our class salutatorian) as well as a paper we had to write our senior year of English where we predicted where ourselves and our classmates would be 30 years into the future.  I was literally crying real tears laughing so hard at these two items being read aloud.  It was a great night and a great stop on the trip!

My trip picked up again at about 9:10 a.m. and I did a bit of a more straight through drive on Saturday, spending the majority of the time in the car listening to Aziz Ansari's audiobook version of "Modern Romance" I haven't quite finished it yet, but there were a few times that I was laughing out loud in my car.  Very relevant and very much relate able to my own life!  There were also some great views along this route as well.

Around 5:30 I arrived at my sister's in New Hampshire.  It was great to be able to squeeze my little niece and nephew, play with them, and make them laugh.  They are 14 months now and such a fun age to play with and they are so smiley and happy and I've been pretty much spending all my time since I arrived on Saturday evening trying to make them laugh.  Or at least a lot of my time (a girl's gotta sleep and babies gotta eat!)  The poor little Snickerdoodles are having some teething and things going on so sometimes aren't feeling the best.

On Monday, my dad and younger brothers also made the trip up to New Hampshire and I cannot believe how big they are getting.  I swear they are a foot taller than when they visited me this summer in Atlanta! It is mind boggling to me.  We all exchanged Christmas presents and I think that the light sabers that I got for my brothers were a hit.  In fact, I think my little nephew needs one of his own as well!

It's been a great few days hanging out and spending quality time with my niece and nephew.  They are a ton of fun but also a ton of work. I know I say this every time, but my sister is doing an awesome job!! Twins are not easy!!

Hope you are all having a great week and having safe travels whereever the holidays may be taking you!  Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reader appreciation day

This past weekend after the Westside 10-Miler I had the opportunity to do something that I haven't ever done before and meet up with a reader of my blog in real life!  I have met people off the internet plenty of times (both through online dating and through Instagram) and have become friends with a few blog readers over the years that I now text with, talk with regularly, and consider to be friends -- but have never had the opportunity to meet up with anyone before in real life that I've met through the blog.  Earlier this year marked one of the most amazing things ever that happened and I still regret not being able to meet with Christina in real life after she made an amazing sign for me and came and cheered during Chicago Marathon (still chokes me up to think about.)   So when a reader named Jen reached out and let me know she was going to be in Atlanta, I absolutely jumped on the opportunity to find the time to meet up.

This past weekend was back-to-back with things going on.  I had three different holiday parties on Friday night, was hosting my own on Saturday, had a race to run, holiday shopping and prep to do, AND had a friend staying with me from out of town.  So I didn't have a huge window of availability, BUT I knew I was going to make it work.

Luckily, Jen was kind enough to allow me to meet up with her in my nastiness after running 10 miles of hills in the sun.  (Sorry about that...)

I picked her up from downtown Atlanta and took her over to a little bakery and french coffee place in West Midtown where they have cozy couches and delicious full fat coffee drinks.  The coffee that I managed to get in my mouth (I spilled half of it all over me) was delicious, and even more awesome was getting the chance to just sit and chat with Jen.

The vain part of me was curious how long she had been reading and where she had originally found my blog.  I knew that it was some time that she has been reading because I've been seeing her comments for a long time.  But I was so surprised and excited and honored when she said it has been since early 2013 that she's been reading, since before I had ever even run my first half marathon!

Back in the day, Runs for Cookies linked out to a post I did from her Motivational Monday series that drove a lot of traffic to my page (it still is one of the top referring domains.)  And again, this was before I had ever even run my first half marathon!!  It totally boggles my mind that I have come all this way in my running and it means the WORLD to me that people like Jen have been with me through the whole journey.

It was so nice to chat with her and learn more about her.  As a blog reader, she has a pretty good indication of what is going on in my life as I write about running, fitness, my day to day life, friends, family, etc.  However there is SO much that I don't write about... such as dating, what's really going on with friends and family, work, etc.  So it was nice to be able to share a little more context around some of my life that I only touch upon from the outside with the blog.

Jen is super interesting and inspiring to me as she came to Atlanta with a friend to run a half marathon and finished it, even though she got sick while here!  I love that she took an adventurous road trip with a friend, reached out to me, and was so independent and warm and welcoming.  I can't explain enough how cool it was for me to get to know her and to have the experience of meeting someone "in real life" that I has been a reader online for so long.

Most of the time when I write this, I don't know what sorts of reactions I am going to get.  And I don't know if what I am writing is actually resonating with anyone.  I just sort of throw a lot of emotions and thoughts and words out into space and hope it sticks with some of you.  I love all my friends and readers who reach out to me whether it is through comments here, on Facebook, text messages, etc.

Just knowing that you are out there and are listening/reading makes me feel alive.  A simple e-mail from Google Blogger saying there is a new comment on the blog is enough to make my day.  So getting to meet a reader and now friend and be able to have a 2-way conversation and interact meant so much.

To Jen, thank you for reaching out and for making the time to meet up with me while you were in Atlanta.  Thank you for reading and for commenting! Christina, for making that sign and cheering for me in Chicago with your boyfriend and now being a friend to me, THANK YOU.  Thank you to Malory, who I think of as the first person to ever have read my blog that I didn't actually know.  I'll never forget seeing your message on Twitter wishing me luck on the Nashville Half Marathon and thinking, "Huh?!?! Someone out there reads this!?"

Thank you to Kimmy for always reaching out to me letting me know she is reading on the blog and on our other blogger friends blog comment sections.  Thank you to Polly and Heather who recently used my blog as a goodnight story hour while on vacation. Thank you to my mom and Grampy and Armelle and everyone else who I know reads this from afar even though you don't always comment.

Reader appreciation is not something I cover all the time I guess, but I think the end of the year is a great time to point it out and say from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Thank you for being a part of this journey with me.  For making me feel relevant.  For making me feel heard, feel loved, and feel bigger than my little day to day life in Atlanta or Albany or whereever I am around the world at that moment.

Your time and YOU are appreciated.  Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Holiday parties and eating

A couple of years ago, I asked the question, "How many holiday parties are too many holiday parties?" and here I am in 2015 asking myself the same question.  Eating healthy in December, which was a mission I set out for myself, quickly has turned into "Binge eating my way through December" as most days I have been treating my body like a garbage disposal and fitting as much in as possible until I feel physically ill or need to unbutton my pants.  The scale is not my friend right now and is currently tucked away in a back drawer.

The holiday parties have been a challenge but mostly it's just been myself that is giving myself permission to eat this way.  "Everyone is doing it!" is something I feel like floats through my mind.  However, I don't think most people binge eat Hershey's kisses on their couches on a Sunday morning.  But alas, I am hanging in there.

I heard a really amazing quote the other day.  I will have to dig through the memory bank to remember where I heard this, but someone said, "You HAVE fat, you are not fat.  You HAVE fingernails too, but you are not fingernails."

My waistline on my pants is definitely feeling a bit more snug the past week or so but I think part of the problem is my lax approach to training as well.  I know that I am working out every day, but as you may have read, I have a few days in there that really were "rest" days, I'm not sure how much I can consider it a workout to do 12 minutes of abs while I watch TV with wine in my hand.

I love that the holidays bring people together though.  I've gotten to see so many friends these past few weeks and have had such a great time with all of them.  2015 brought some amazing people into my life and when I think back to last December I feel like I am in such a better place.  Last year at this time I was fighting with and feeling anxious about a coming breakup, I was unhappy at work, and I was unhappy with my body and struggling to get into a routine of exercising. This time this year, I have a family here in Atlanta that keeps me exercising, having fun, laughing, and drinking wine on the regular.

It was last December that I officially joined a gym in Atlanta and wasn't until the end of January that I even started training again.  If nothing else, I know I am in a good place going into 2016 and in much better shape than I was last year at this time.  Mentally.  Physically.  Emotionally.

My goals for 2016 are yet to be defined.  I know I want to get faster, I know I want to accomplish this half ironman thing.  And I know that I want to enter my 30th year feeling fitter and happier than I have ever in my life.  And despite the fact that last night I ate fried gouda cheese, fried green tomatoes, and fried chicken for dinner, I think I am well on my way to that goal.

Every year is a year of progress and a year of growth. I hate New Years Eve but I love the process of entering a new year, reflecting, and resetting when needed.  This years holiday parties have definitely added a number of extra pounds on my body.   But I'm taking deep breathes about that right now.

And granted, it's not all happiness and joy and holiday merriment all the time over here.  But I choose to use this blog as a place to write about the good things in life so that's what I will tell you about. I will say however, that I don't blame my eating lately just on the holiday parties.  I've also been extra hormonal.  Extra homesick.  Extra stresssed at work.  And extra busy.  All of which leads to extra calories being consumed on my part.  Binge eating when stressed and busy is a challenge for me.  I've also been struggling with the changes to Weight Watchers, which just went through a new program release.  And the last thing I want to do at this busy time of year is try to learn a whole new Weight Watchers system.

So, for now, I'm enjoying all the holiday gatherings.  I'm "allowing" myself to binge eat, although I probably shouldn't be.  And I am looking forward to the new year.  Hope you are enjoying yourself these weeks leading up to Christmas.

And if you celebrate Hannukah, like many of my friends do, I hope that you had a great Hannukah and enjoyed wonderful time with your family.  I am certainly looking forward to that myself.

Happy Hump Day!