Saturday, June 27, 2015

Return to Arizona, New York, and friends who are like family

My summer weekend in Atlanta was followed up by a hop on a plane and a trip away for the week that brought me back to two places that I love.  Two places that I love for very different reasons though.

On Monday evening I head out from work to the airport for an 8:00 p.m. flight to Phoenix, Arizona.  Right after I decided to go there on vacation at the end of May I learned that I was going to be returning there for work in June, so it was sort of a funny coincidence.  I was looking forward to going back to the area since I had enjoyed it so much when I was there on vacation.  However, what a difference a month makes, because the heat in the area skyrocketed over the past few weeks and temps while I was there were in the 110s!  I have never been anywhere with that sort of temperature!

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, that was also ridiculously cheap.  Since it was work travel, I wasn't paying for it personally, but as a cheapskate, I was totally blown away seeing the $79/night price tag for a beautiful hotel!!  This was the view from my little hotel room outdoor seating area.

I spent Monday evening until Wednesday evening in Phoenix for work and had a fun time with colleagues and a successful business trip.  My original intention was to start over Weight Watchers on Tuesday AM since that's my weekly "reset" day.  Since I knew I was "starting over" on Tuesday, I did what any logical person would do on Monday, and ate like shit.  Including a package of Milky Way Minis that didn't even taste good.

And then when Tuesday came around, I did fairly well throughout the day... until we went to dinner and it was a delicious and Spanish tapas place.  I just went nuts.  I ate so much, including both of the churros that were served to me for dessert.  They were insanely good and my quick jump to shovel that both into my face even caused my male coworkers to comment, "Uhhh Katelyn... do you want mine too?"

Good work, Katelyn.

I know I not too long ago wrote about loving myself the way that I am and I certainly am not forgetting that.  It's mostly that I just feel like crap when I am eating this way and know that what I am doing is just not good for my health.  I have had junk food and processed foods nonstop for the past week since I ordered that bowl of cheese dip last Friday night.  Nothing is fueling my workouts and nothing is what my body needs to move forward.  Cookies, beer, churros, fried food, white bread, ice cream, candy, and all this crap is just taking away from my exercise goals beyond just impacting my waist line.  I am doing my best to always smile and be happy with who I am though, no matter if I am feeling my best or my worst.  I am me and I am human!

I was able to get my workouts in, even though the temperatures jumped way over 100 each day, which I was proud of as well.  In Phoenix, for the first time ever I ran on the treadmill thinking it was too hot outdoors.  I did 3 miles on the treadmill on Tuesday AM followed by some weights, and then on Wednesday I pushed myself to run outside, which was great and actually really not too bad either.  I did 4 miles on Wednesday, again followed by a short weight workout.

Wednesday evening I broke free of the heat, jumping on a red eye flight to my old stomping ground of Albany, NY!  I was so excited to go back to Albany and the red eye I took was a bit silly since it barely even should be called a red eye.  I had a 3.5 hour flight from Phoenix to Detroit then a 1 hour flight from Detroit to Albany - so neither is ideal for really getting a good amount of sleep!

I landed in Albany and went straight to some meetings I had scheduled, and then spent the afternoon with work colleagues enjoying the beautiful sunshine on Lake George.  I am really grateful that I work with some wonderful people who I call friends as well as colleagues.  I have known many of these guys and girls for years now (I've been at my company 7 years and am now an old timer!) and you may also recognize my friend Allie who I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon with this past March.

I purposefully wore a strapless dress for this outing, even though it's not something that is usually my style, in an attempt to try and even out my tan line.  I think it is going to need a lot of work since I have had a "Speedo tan" every summer since I was 6 years old.  When I was younger it was due to the racer back Speedo swimsuits I used to wear nonstop through the summers.  And now it is due to the running tops I have and the majority of my outdoor time being in a sports bra and running top.  I will have to post a pic of my tan line at some point from the back, but you can tell even from the front that I need some work.

Speaking of running, of course being in New York meant that I got to run with my old running besties!!!

I've missed my regular rhythm of morning miles with these ladies so much over the past few months.  I owe so much to the two of them for getting me hooked on running with friends and the importance of being on a schedule and having someone to hold you accountable for.  Plus, how fun and therapeutic it is to chat away your problems while on a sunrise run.  The crew I run with in Atlanta has been wonderful, but Coach B and Aubs are the original crew (along with Dani too!)

We did 3 miles on Friday morning in Saratoga State Park and then Jess and I did 5 miles on Saturday morning in Galway, per my marathon training plan.  On Friday after our run, we went to Uncommon Grounds and enjoyed bagel sandwiches and coffee.  So much has happened in the past year and there is such exciting and fun stuff ahead for everyone too.  It was great to laugh and catch up and run with the girls over (a delicious) (and not the best for you) breakfast.

In between the Friday and Saturday runs, I spent all my time hanging out with my good friends Heidi and Dave, who I haven't always called out by name, but have been two of my best friends over the past years.  They have been there for every birthday, major event, holiday, and so many nights out.  Before I moved to Atlanta, a typical weekend night for me would be hanging out with the two of them at their house, drinking wine and watching movies.  That's how I spent New Year's Eve this past year and that's one of my favorite things to do.  Words cannot express how much the two of their friendship has meant to me over the years.  I stayed with them for a number of weeks before I moved to Atlanta and it is incredible when you have friends who just welcome you into your home as if you are a part of the family.  I love these two and NOW, also am so in love with their little baby!!!!!!!

It's an incredible thing to see your friends turn in to parents.  They are doing an amazing job and to see them in this new role in their lives meant so much to me.  It's been one of the hardest things about moving - to not be able to be there for so many key things for my friends.

"Being there" is one thing I was always good at.  If you've been reading for a while you know how much I was on the move, and that's because it has always been important to me to be there for my friends.  However, with moving somewhere that is a plane ride away, I simply cannot be at things as easily as I have been able to in the past.  As much as I truly am loving Atlanta, it kills me to be away.

I have missed engagement parties, wedding showers, and baby showers and smaller things - like being there to see my niece and nephew more -- or even just be able to help two of my best friends during the first few months of their baby's life.  Of course, my friends laugh at me, and are far more understanding than I am to myself.  Heidi recently laughed at me via Facetime when I told her, "I just really wish I could be there more to help cook dinner or do your laundry for you!!"

She said to me, "Katelyn, haha.  You want to do my laundry?  That's sort of creepy."

Anyways, it meant so much to me to be able to spend the day and night with Heidi and Dave and their baby, Finn.  They are adjusting so beautifully to being parents and it was so nice to see these two who I have known so well and spent so much time with as their 3rd wheel over the past few years, now as parents.  That little baby is so blessed!!!!

Heidi also had him dressed wearing the onesie that I gave him last fall, before anyone at all knew that Heidi was pregnant and was his first gift he'd received :)  And we ate some delicious food, including one of my favorite BLTs in existence, some INSANELY good ice cream sandwiches, and an insanely delicious meal that Heidi and Dave put together and we enjoyed outside.  So yay!

After my visit, I headed to the airport midday on Saturday to catch a flight back to Atlanta.  I spent the evening getting caught up on life here (exciting Saturday indeed!) and am going to be heading to bed quite shortly.  I had a great week.  I ate delicious food.  I got my exercise in.  I saw dear, dear friends and I miss them so much already that it hurts inside.  There is just something so wonderful about the friends who you have known for so long, grown up with, and are just so comfortable with.  Every time I am with Heidi and Dave at their home, I am overwhelmed all over again with how welcoming they are to me and how much I love and feel at home with them.  I am so thankful for the week and am already looking forward to when I will get to see them all again.

Happy weekend everyone!

P.S.  Cannot not say a thing about this... AMAZING decision and step forward for this nation.  Tears of joy and happiness all around.  For so many, two men or two women being able to legally marry across the United States means nothing.  Which is why it boggles my mind that people were opposed to it.  But for so many others, this means EVERYTHING.  I have been waiting so long for this day and am so thankful it is here sooner rather than later.  Love wins.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Braves Country 5K Race Recap

After the 5K in Arizona where I ran a 25:13, which was my second 5K in the 25:10s, I set the goal for myself to break 25 minutes in a 5K. I felt pretty confident that I would be able to do it at some point because the 5K in Arizona, I actually didn’t even feel my best while running. I knew I had more I could have given during that race and was looking for an opportunity to try and break that goal.

With the Braves Country 5K this past Saturday, I thought it might be a good chance to try and achieve my latest goal.  So that is how I started the race, going into an aggressive start corral and taking off RUNNING.

Then literally a quarter of a mile into the race, when I was hot and felt like the air I was breathing in was as thick as jelly (is that a saying? What else is thick? Thick as stew? Thick as molasses? Is that one it?), gave that up mentally.

It was HOT and the course had a number of hills (Arizona was FLAT) so I said to myself, “It’s okay Katelyn, you can PR in a different race. This one might just be about survival.” And I pulled back on my pace a bit.

When I got to the 1 mile marker they had a clock up and I saw that my 1 mile time was about 8:00 minutes. “Huh?” I thought to myself, “I guess I did start out pretty well! That’s not bad!”

Given how I was feeling I thought it would be a lot worse.

I’d previously looked up the course route online and knew that it was a square route and with two right turns, I would be headed back. I told myself to just keep going at the pace I was carrying and see what happened. A PR I still was thinking was out of the picture for this race. I figured I must have run that first .25 miles way too hard and that my pace was still continuing to progressively decline.

There was a little bit of downhill after the first right hand turn and then after turning again and heading back towards the stadium the hills started that were just painful. I literally had to break them up mentally and celebrate the tiniest victories telling myself, “Just keep going until you get to that tree.” “Just keep going until you get to that street sign.” “Just keep going until you get to that garbage can.” Rather than looking to the top of the hill.

While running I try and look at my watch as little as possible and also try to just run as hard as my body will let me. I wrote about this thought when I did the Publix Half Marathon and my running coach was asking me to dothe math to see how much extra time I had cushioned in. I told her I was just going to go hard and if I did the time I wanted, I would. I looked at my watch when I saw I was at 2.4 miles and also saw that my time was under 24 minutes but didn’t do the math to see how well I was doing. Things were pretty painful and I kept thinking, “Where is that damn stadium?!?” Eventually it emerged and my thought immediately turned to, “When the hell are we getting inside?” I was ready for this race to be OVER.

When we hit 3 miles we were still outside of the stadium and they had another clock up and I saw I went by it right around 24 minutes. “HOLY SHIT!” was my immediate mental reaction, knowing that I had 1 minute to finish that .1 mile and that I would reach my goal after all. I immediately kicked my body into gear giving everything I had and sprinting towards the finish. Earlier that week on a midweek tempo run, my friend had forced us to sprint to the finish at the end of a particularly hard run. It was a good practice!

I ran as hard as I could that last .1 mile and I swear to god it was the longest .1 mile ever. I think it was too long, to be honest. I don’t know. Because I crossed the finish line at 24:57 (and technically, I know I was running faster than a 10 minute mile pace that last .1) Maybe they had the 3 mile marker early, I’ll have to check it out when I look at my data online, but I crossed that finish line BEAT.

I thought I was going to throw up and I thought I was going to pass out. I felt similarly crossing the finish line of the Publix Half Marathon, although I did recover much quickly just after the 5K. I had gone hard during this race and the heat and humidity and hills had taken their toll. BUT I PRed and I broke 24 minutes!!! I was so excited but wouldn’t allow myself to be excited right away. According to my personal watch timing of the race, I had PRed, but for races, I go by official times.

I didn’t see the results online until a bit later in the day, and when I saw my time was 24:57 official I was so happy. Never would I have previously thought I could run times like this.

I remember the day I ran “Sean’s Race” which was the first 5K I did where I ran in the 26 minutes.  I thought it was a compete fluke and that I would never see that time ever again.

I remember when I ran 25:35 for the first time at the Jailhouse Rock 5K and attributed the time to the majorly downhill coast to a finish (the race advertises that it is where you will get your “summertime PR.” And then again when I ran 25:10 and then another 25:13. And now I have ventured into the 24s?! Unreal.

My place was 14/215 runners in my age group. Which although not the gold medals I’ve pulled in on the last couple of races that I have done, is still pretty incredible to me and something I am very proud of. I still am only competing against myself. I will not be running to win races and my own personal past race times will still be the main thing I am competing against, however, I do like to see where I stack up in my age group.

We are ranked against our peers in everything that we do our whole lives. It is only natural. I think back to in high school when it is most obvious with the coveted “class rank” that came out on every report card showing you how you stacked up against your peers. I naturally compare myself to those around me and maybe it is mental but I never feel like I stack up to the majority of other people around. Never smart enough. Never pretty enough. Never successful enough. Never thin enough. It’s cool to see myself do something that I WAS NEVER GOOD AT and be at the front end of the pack. I’m a little ashamed to admit that because I feel like I should be saying that the place rankings mean nothing to me. And they don’t mean everything, by my means, but it is cool to see where I stack up and does make me feel good to see that I am not just good “for me” but I am getting pretty good, just in general! It teaches me to expect more of myself. Not having high self esteem my whole life, you can tend to set low expectations for yourself. I’ve been an average/middle-of-the-pack type person in most things I’ve done my whole life. I will repeat this because it keeps repeating over and over in my mind, but it makes me feel proud to have found something that, even late in my life, I am fairly good at. And it is RUNNING, you guys! Something that was my arch nemesis my entire life – RUNNING – that I can do not. It reminds me that I can accomplish anything. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer in Atlanta: The Weekend the Diet Died

This past weekend was another good one in the books! Atlanta summers, although hot, are off to a good start!

On Friday evening I was out with the run group for one of our really fun monthly “Catch Ups” – which are evenings out that are welcome to all active runners. The location is announced only at the weekly runs and it is a fun way to get to know the other runners better. I attended my first back in March and then the “Runcation” counted as the event for April, followed by our evening of roller skating in May, and this past weekend in June.

We went to a local restaurant called Pure that was new to me but turns out they have amaaazing margaritas. They definitely will need to be making an appearance within my life at more points in the future. And speaking of points, it is at this point in the weekend (okay, so pretty much like 2 hours into the weekend) that counting Weight Watchers points went out the window and I decided to order an appetizer of a bowl full of melted cheese to eat tortilla chips. Between that and the margarita in my hand, things were done and done for my Weight Watchers tracking for the weekend. I’d managed to not totally blow things earlier in the week so I did have some room to spare, however, I remember back in the day when I used to attend Weight Watchers meerings, that a margarita is actually about 95 points per ounce, so I knew I was kind of screwed between the few that I consumed. Oh and that melted cheese.

The night was actually so much fun and I had a really good time with the crew. It was a special Catch Up as it was the last that one before our leader moves out of state, so we had a few surprises lined up, including a cake. And you know, since my mind was already out of sorts with the cheese and margaritas, of course I had about 3 pieces.  At least I wasn't the only one.

But again, food aside, the night was a blast! The restaurant we were at was right along the route of the “Moonlight Ride” which is a bike cycling event in Atlanta where a few thousand riders head out around 10pm for a 10-ish mile ride through the city with music blasting and lights rigged all along the bikes. A few members of crew were going to be out riding so we went outside to cheer and just had a hysterical time cheering and dancing for all the riders going through the street. I love people who aren’t afraid to dance in the middle of the street (or sidewalk) in front of tons of other people. If you do that, you are my people.  If you also like to play games.  You are my people.

Saturday morning was an early one and the alarm went off way to soon as I got up to head out to the Atlanta Braves Country 5K race that started outside of Turner Field and ended inside of the stadium on the dirt! There were a few of us running and I love having people to meet at these races as there are so many times I used to show up at races all by myself.

I will do a whole post just about the race, but spoiler alert – I got a new personal best time!!!

It was a tough race and it was hot out. I left the stadium, unfortunately, not being able to spend time with my friends afterwards, to jump in my car and drive down the road where I was leaving on a 9:00 a.m. bike ride.

Yes, I left a run still sweaty and heat rate up, to go bike. I know, sometimes I try to do too much. But there is just so much fun to be had and I like to fit it all in!

The entire week in Atlanta it has been “Atlanta Cycling Festival” with numerous events and group rides going on. I had actually attended one on Thursday night which was put on by the group We Heart ATL and I only joined for a portion of the ride before having to go home. We rode to a few different landmarks in the city, and although interesting at times, was pretty slow paced and not super exciting.

A friend of mine who I actually used to work with in my last job in Schenectady and who ALSO just moved to Atlanta (yay!) was doing this Saturday morning ride put on my another group – Living Wall ATL – and invited me to join. We’ve been trying to get together and this ride sounded way cooler than the last, so I decided to give it a go.

We biked about 12 miles total, although with many many breaks, and stopped for 1-2 minutes through the city at various pieces of street art and wall murals! It was amazing and a very cool experience to discover where some of these beautiful pieces of art work live in the city. It helped me to get a better feel for riding in the roads, gave me a lot of “seat time” on the bike, even though we didn’t do a ton of miles (we were out on the bikes for about 3 hours), and also the opportunity to catch up with a friend!

It was an incredibly well organized ride, with the members of the Metro Atlanta Cycling Club helping to patrol, guide, and keep the group moving. They would block intersections for us to cross, stay on the perimeter to keep us in line, shout out directions, and essentially keep the large group of inexperienced riders from being compete menaces on the road. They were seriously fantastic and helped contribute to making this ride such a fun experience. The street art was all very cool as well. 

Following the ride, I was exhausted and in MUCH need of a shower. I picked up an amazing lunch from the recommended to me to go lunch and juice place, Kale Me Crazy, and brought it home where I showered, ate, and passed out on the couch for a couple hours. It was so very much needed!  My meal was fantastic and I cannot wait to eat it again and also try to recreate it on my own.

I probably could have been happy there all day but with the help of some coffee and friends, I rallied to return BACK to Turner Field for the 3rd time that day (we rode our bikes by it during the ride) and the 4th time this week for the Braves vs. Mets game. We got tickets as part of our race registration and there was a large group of friends from the running crew that were all going to be there.

The sunset was beautiful. The company was fantastic. And the food was a flowing.

At this point I knew I was out of any extra Weight Watchers points. Given the exercise from the day, I had eaten my allotment of points due to being hungry. Going hungry is not my style and there aren’t a ton of healthy options at the baseball stadium. There’s also beer. And snacks. So I ended up having a couple beers, some buttered stadium popcorn, and a piece of pizza. The pizza tasted like Bagel Bites and wasn’t even that good, but I was hungry and it hit the spot at the time. The beer on the other hand, tasted like a million bucks.  Oh and the other exciting thing about the game??  I MADE IT ON TO THE JUMBO TRON!!!!  TWICE!!!  Two times when I was standing and dancing by myself in the row (don't judge) the camera swooped to me and it was so fun and funny.  My friend got it on camera but unfortunately it looks like I am wearing a diaper.

Following the concert was a Boyz II Men concert at the stadium. I tell ya, this Saturday was PACKED. We had a great time singing our hearts out and enjoying the 90s jams before I returned home to PASS OUT HARD in bed.

I was up early to get in my actual longer training run for the weekend, which was to run 7 miles.  I was lucky enough to have a friend who decided to join me and it turned out really awesome because I was able to just zone out as he planned the route and told me when to turn.  We zigzagged through Piedmont Park for a hot 7 miles, finishing with some cold water I had safely stashed in some bushes.  It felt good to get the miles in and I was proud that the whole 7 were done under a 10 minute pace.

I'm still not sure what to expect for my marathon time as I do believe I am a bit faster than I have been in the past but not sure how that sustains over 26.2 miles.

Anyways, following the run, I went home and showered and changed and went out to meet a friend to go to a church service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

For those of you who pay attention, you'll notice that I have never written about attending church ever, which is likely because I don't remember the last time I attended church outside of a wedding.  It is not something I do regularly or have ever particularly even enjoyed, but in discussing the Charleston shootings with a friend, she invited to me attend.  She goes to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is the church where Martin Luther King Sr. was a pastor and Martin Luther King Jr. also served at times.  It is the church where his funeral was held and is now across the street with his memorial.  The church is a symbol in the black community and now has a charter committed to social justice.  I was told that the sermons are often not very church like, but are lectures on current events.  After attending, I believe that is true as well - except there was also incredible music!  One of the members of the church who sings the solos is Jennifer Holliday, who is one of the original Dreamgirls!

Since the service was the Sunday after an event like the shooting, my friend told me it would surely be packed and a really interesting service.  She was totally right and I really enjoyed attending my first service at a "black church" which really is not meant to be defined by race, but defined by being the "anti-slavery church."  Which is something we all can be on board with.  I loved the music.  The words spoken.  The casualness of it.  And the fact that the location is filled with so much history that attending that very same service was Martin Luther King Jr's sister.  How amazing is that?  It was a very welcome new experience in my life.

Following the service was when the food crept into my Sunday.  I met a friend for lunch and there was more chips, shrimp and grits, quesadillas, empenadas, margaritas, frozen yogurt, and all the goodness.  And I will say that I was quite impressed with my frozen yogurt mixture of key lime pie froyo with graham cracker crumbs and white chocolate chips.  SOOO GOOD!

Since I ran in the morning, I was not planning to run in the evening, but I did attend the run because we were celebrating Father's Day at the run.  It is always exciting when there is a special occassion run and I had volunteered to hold a sign and cheer.  I love to cheer and the Friday night shenanigans reminded me of just how much!  Plus, we were all wearing ties for Father's Day and that sounded fun and I didn't want to miss out!

Per usual, it was an awesome way to close out the weekend with an evening with friends.  And because I hadn't consumed enough calories this weekend and I needed to make up for the pizza I had had the night before that was not the best... we decided to go out for pizza after the run!

I ordered two slices and ate them both because that's how I roll.  Happy Sunday to you.

This was another great summer weekend in Atlanta and also the weekend that the diet died.  I'm doing my best to recover now, but.... it is hard.  I'm on the road this week and that doesn't usually go to well for me.  However, I have a training schedule and will be getting my workouts in, so I am looking forward to that.

Happy Tuesday everyone!