Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A week up north!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm tired.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least this is what I tell myself now.

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

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Meaggie and Jon Wedding Weekend Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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