Monday, April 25, 2016

Saying no.

I've heard some people talk about "the year of yes" or challenges that they have to themselves to say yes more often. It's good in theory - try new things, get out of your comfort zone, take what life throws at you, etc. However, for me, saying yes has never been my problem. I am a yes girl.

"Want to stay for another drink?" "Yes!"
"Want to go to the movies?" "Sounds good."
"Hey Katie, want to run a marathon in Paris?" "Okay!"
"Want to go on vacation to Iceland?" "Sure!"
"Want another serving of ice cream?" "YES."

I tend to say yes a lot. It's my go to response and I like being a yes person. It gets me into adventures. It makes me someone for my friends to rely on. It gets me out of my comfort zone. And a lot of times I end up with good stories.

However, the down side of that is that I have a really hard time saying no. It stresses me out. I fret over it. I agonize if I am going to miss out on something or if I am making the wrong choice. If the path of "No" is going to lead me to missing out on life's next big adventure or the night out that something amazing and life changing happens.

Many in this day and age refer to that as "FOMO" or "Fear Of Missing Out," which is definitely something I struggle with and haven't been shy about that here. But what if it is sometimes more than just fear of missing out, but fear of making the wrong choice, of turning down your next great adventure, or turning away your future husband.

Okay, so maybe that is still FOMO, I don't know, but whatever, I struggle with it. I struggle with passing up a night out (although I have gotten much, much better at that) and with big life choices.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been contemplating some pretty big life choices and it scared the heck out of me. I struggled with what to do and it took a lot of mental energy and focus out of me. Deciding what I want for dinner is hard enough, but deciding what I want out of my life is even harder. And then in the end, I said no to a couple potential options. They were no's that were really, really hard for me to say and that was a big learning experience for me.

I'm not used to saying no. I'm not used to turning away adventure and excitement and new things. However, this wasn't a vacation or a new cuisine, but life and career choices. I think I made the right choice, but there is some sadness in turning down new opportunities.

I was told today that it is sometimes more courageous to say no than to say yes. And I think that can be true. I am learning that in my personal life. In my career. And in a place where it isn't always talked about as much -- in training as well.

Sometimes it's not smart to stupidly stick to a plan because it is written on a piece of paper. Or run a race that you haven't prepared for you. We don't always get that point of view when your Facebook and Instagram and whatever other social media feeds you follow are full of people boasting about beasting their workouts, toughing it out no matter what and training 3X a day. Okay, your feeds aren't full of that? Well, mine is.

But life happens and you need to be smart about what is right for you in that moment and at that time. I am learning that a lot with the past few training cycles I have gone through and especially with Half Ironman training and as we get down to the wire. I am doing the best I can with fitting in what my schedule allows, accepting that I have to say no to some workouts and things that are on my training plan I mapped out, and not fearing the unknown. I need to eliminate the "What If's?" and focus on the now.

I mentioned it yesterday but positivity and relaxation are going to be key elements of my last month of training. Controlling what I can control and staying positive and happy with where I am in my life. I am learning to embrace the no.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Workout Recap: 4 Weeks out From Half Ironman Chattanooga

This past week I was out in San Francisco for work, which made swim and bike off the workout menu, and some hills were added to my run schedule. I made a commitment to get in 4 runs while I was there, including one long run. I got out four times, but my long run didn't go exactly as planned and I wasn't able to get on the bike when I returned. It was a little bit of a frustrating week and I honestly start to panic when I think about what I have coming up in the next two weeks as well.

Doing the best I can and trying to keep my stress levels down and positivity high. Two aspects of training that are important but often overlooked!  Here is my workout recap from the week.

Monday, April 18 - Rest Day.

I was still wiped from the weekend and was up late packing to fly out on Monday evening. I chose to sleep in on Monday morning rather than stress myself out trying to get in a swim practice that would only be a portion of a swim anyways.

Tuesday, April 19 - 3.1 mile run (9:56 min/mile at 30:48)

After arriving late the night before, getting up early to be at work, working a full day, sitting in traffic on the Bay Bridge to return to the city, then Ubering home... the last thing I wanted to do was run. However, I forced myself out for 3 miles of hills in San Francisco. Good thing it is pretty here!

Wednesday, April 20 - 6 mile run (10:20 min/mile at 1:02:12)

Knowing I had a full day of work and then a dinner with a vendor, I got up and out early for a 6 mile run. I felt surprisingly good!

Thursday, April 21 - Rest day

I had a breakfast meeting that started at 7:30 a.m. and a full day of work and dinner/drinks planned again, so I decided to shift my run from Thursday to Friday. I needed the extra sleep Thursday morning.

Friday, April 22 - 3 mile run (9:54 min/mile at 29:52)

At this point in the week, my uncles that I was staying with were concerned at how little I rest. After being up at the crack of dawn (I needed to be in the office, which is 45 minutes away, by 7:00 a.m.) I returned home from work, did a quick 30 minute run, before showering and changing and being out the door again to meet friends for a Giants game. At least I got it in!

Saturday, April 23 - 10.25 mile run (10:34 min/mile at 1:43:27)

Soo.... I drank a little too much at that Giants game. And at the bar afterwards. Saturday morning sucked and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get out at all. I took some Advil, a short power nap, and head out around noon. I ran down Market Street in San Francisco to the Embarcadero to run along the bay and near the AT&T Stadium where the Giants play - which is exactly where I'd been the night before. I was having some serious problems with lotion or something I had on my face running into my eyes and burning my eyes. I basically was running with my eyes closed. I started to fall apart around 8.5 miles after I had stopped for some water.

I'm getting really worried about my runs lately because they have been feeling terrible and I haven't been in the game mentally. This is the second week in a row that my long runs have ended with me walking and returning home defeated.

Sunday, April 24 - Rest day

My plan was to get home and ride my bike 60 miles. Then I realized that wasn't a good idea so I decided to adjust weekends and make this a recovery weekend and do 90 minutes on the bike.

I flew back from Atlanta at 7:30 a.m. then landed in Atlanta at 3:00 p.m., returned home at 4:30 p.m. and was over at the Silver Comet about to hop on the bike at 5:00 p.m.  I was about to mount the bike and I realized that my back tire was completely flat. I had forgotten to put air in my tires before I left the house (which is something I usually do every time before I ride) and that I hadn't even brought the air pump. I turned around and drove home and filled the tire, but got really worried that there was a slow leak in the bike tire. I wanted to go out and ride, but I get nervous riding in the evenings on the Silver Comet and my cell phone was also at about 25% power.  Which, with my phone means it could literally die at any moment. I started getting paranoid about being stranded on the trail with a flat tire, so I opted to just skip the bike.

Overall, I am proud of myself to sticking to getting in 4 runs while in San Francisco this week. The hills are no joke and my schedule was pretty busy this week so I was proud to fit it all in. It is hard to not be disappointed with my long run being so poor and not getting a bike in today but I'm trying to be smart about what is healthy and what isn't healthy. I foam rolled and stretched tonight to try and ease my achey legs and hoping to try again on the bike tomorrow!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The differences between training for a Marathon and a Half Ironman

So, I think I am okay with admitting this, although I am a little embarrassed to say it – but I underestimated a little bit, or maybe a lot of bit, what it would mean to train for and be prepared for a Half Ironman. It is a lot of work.

I know that might seem silly and a lot of you might be reading this and thinking, “Well, duh, Katelyn!” but since I have trained for Marathons before, which is twice the distance of the run portion of the Half Ironman. I thought I’d be okay. I thought I knew what it meant to stick to a plan and make sacrifices for the sake of training and I thought I knew how to put in the time it takes. But there was a lot I didn’t think about.

I started to make a list:

1. Mental and physical stress of double weekend workouts 

One of the things that is a basic standard of triathlon training is using both weekend days for workouts. A long bike ride on a Saturday, followed by a long run on a Sunday. One of the things that I wasn’t prepared for was the mental and physical stress that would have on me. By the time my long runs on Sundays come around – I am exhausted. And I still need to run. The Publix Half Marathon was the hardest and my long run this past weekend was really tough as well. My legs are tired, my body is sore, and mentally – I am tired too!

On Saturday’s, it takes so much focus and willpower for me to get out and do the bike rides. The bike rides have been a huge challenge for me this whole time and so it takes a lot of mental energy for me to make the commitment to spend hours on the bike. Aside from the stress on my body, I need to pull together a whole new volume of mental willpower and determination to get me through the Sunday workout. And beyond that, with the rest and recovery, it makes it difficult to have a social life. I was used to giving up a weekend night to go to bed early during marathon training, but now it seems like I have to give up both weekend nights and that’s a different kind of mental challenge and sacrifice.

2. Time commitment 

The actual time of it takes a lot too! On Saturday, I got up around 7:45 a.m. to be out of the house around 8:15 so that I could drive 45 minutes out to Cartersville and be on the bike. Say I start riding at 9:00 a.m., it took me 3 hours and 24 minutes to ride, so I finish on the bike at 12:30 p.m. then go out for a run, which takes me to about 1:00 p.m. before I am finished. I pack everything back up and head back to Atlanta at about 2:00 p.m.

On Saturday I exercised for 3 hours and 40 minutes. When I train for a marathon, the biggest workout that I do is a 20 mile run. When I trained for Chicago, last September my 20 mile run took me 3 hours and 20 minutes. And that was the PEAK of my workout, which a rest day before that workout and a rest day after that workout.

I’m not even at my peak of training yet and I exercised for 3 hours and 40 minutes on a Saturday, after having swam the day before, and still with an 11 mile run to do the next day. It just takes a lot of time to actually get these workouts in! My swim workouts are generally 1:30 hours and my midweek bike rides are about 1:30 hours. It’s hard to make it all work!

3. Mental difficulty of biking 

Dannnnnng is the bike hard!! I always thought it was easy to ride a bike. I never really trained for the bike portion of any of the sprint triathlons I ever did, except maybe a little. And last year I did some biking to get myself used to my new road bike and also to learn the clip in pedals. But there is a lot more to it physically and technically to learn how to pedal, how to stop properly, how to take turns without losing too much speed, how to climb, how to go downhill, how to eat and drink on the bike, how to look behind you, how to draft, how not to draft, and how to get as much out of your biking while exerting as little power as possible to save it for later.

As I mentioned before, you’re also on the bike for so much longer than running. And unlike training for running, which I usually switch up between listening to music or podcasts, I avoid ever using headphones while on the bike. So that’s a lot more time with just you and your mind to occupy. Nowadays, most people (myself included) can’t go 15 minutes without looking at their phones. It’s a lot of time to be focused on biking.

Because that’s the other thing too, you really have to be focused the whole time – especially on the roads. You need to watch your speed, look for potholes, changes in terrain, turns in the road, hills, other bikers, cars, wind, and so much more. When I run, I tend to just turn into a robot and try to forget that my body is running and become a machine. But I spend a lot of the time on the bike being hyper alert, which is a different type of mental challenge than running. I know that probably with more experience and practice, I will get to the point where I can do all the things on the bike in autopilot, but I am not there yet.

4. Difficulty of traveling 

One of the final things that has been extra hard about training for the Half Ironman that may be a little unique to me, is my travel schedule. From the beginning of the year I have been to Miami, Dubai, New Orleans, Wilmington, Mexico, and right now I am actually writing to you from San Francisco. One of the reasons that I signed up for this race in this time frame was that I thought my travel schedule was going to be light. But, I guess I’ve gone through that before. You know, like traveling for 5 weeks leading up to my first marathon, or moving in the middle of training for my second marathon, and then doing some crazy whirlwind trips around the world when training for my third marathon. My life has a way of just letting things not be normal for me.

But the hard part about training for a Half Ironman comes first when you add in all the things I’ve written above – the time commitment in both the number of days needed for training and the endurance of each of those sessions, the mental and physical stress – which is only worsened by sitting in planes and cars and being shuttled all over, and then of course just the mental awareness and alertness needed to be able to give training what it needs. It is hard when you are on the road. Especially since my work travel usually involves a good amount of time just by the simple nature of it. And travel days sometimes leave exercise impossible.

And if I do have time? Well, how am I supposed to access a bike or a pool when I am on the road for work? That’s one of the major challenges as well – access to equipment. Every time I am away, I am missing time on my bike, which is the hardest part of this Half Ironman for me and really where I should spend the majority of my training time. But it’s just not always possible.

Finally, although manageable, traveling does make eating healthy and staying hydrated a lot harder.

So, for me, this shit is hard guys. I don’t have it figured it out. I am taking things day by day.

My go for being in San Francisco this week has been to try and eat healthy, avoid alcohol, and get in 3 runs during the week and one long weekend run on Saturday. Then, I focus on coming home on Sunday and biking 60 miles.

But alas, one day at a time. One single day at a time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Workout Recap: 5 Weeks Out from Chattanooga Half Ironman

Hello everyone! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, the reasons for that I will get into some other time, but let’s just say that I have had a lot on my mind the past week, lots going on at work, and a coworker staying with me for a few nights. It didn’t make for much time for writing and blogging and the time that I did have, I just wanted to rest and do nothing. Luckily, I managed to get in at least one workout a day and a big weekend under my belt. Here’s my workout recap from the past week.

Monday, April 11 – Run 3.5 miles (9:26 min/mile, 33:07) with Run Smyrna (in the rain) 

With no real running over the weekend and my focus being on the bike rides, I knew I had to get out for a run on Monday. I slept in, feeling the need for sleep outweighing the need for a workout (I set my alarm first to swim, didn’t make it up, then thought I’d do a weight workout, and didn’t make it up.) I met up with Run Smyrna and despite the rain, did a 3.5 mile run with them. All in a day’s work!

Tuesday, April 12 – AM weights and PM 17.55 mile Atlanta Cycling ride (12.61 min/mile, 1:23:29) 

Since I ran the night before, I wanted to give myself the morning off from running, so I decided to get in some quality time in the gym. I miss lifting weights. I know I say this all the time, but there is something really satisfying about it. I did an upper body workout and was feeling myself quite a bit. I noticed that tracking my calories and watching what I eat has been paying off and snapped a couple pics in the mirror for what my friend AJ calls a “swelfie.”

That evening, I forced myself out to Atlanta Cycling’s women’s only bike ride, another group ride that they run. It is the same course that I rode the Thursday before, but this group is just for women. I had a friend who also was there doing the ride and that made me feel a lot more comfortable. I rode with the faster riders in the group for the first 5-6 miles then got dropped but ended up staying with one woman. We talked and rode together and it made it go by quicker. I was still a bit bummed at my pace for this ride, but at least I got a midweek ride on the road in! And conquered another group ride, which is a mental challenge for me. The final victory was that this whole workout was challenged as I had the last minute opportunity to go to dinner with someone in town. I stood strong that this ride was a commitment to me and was proud of myself for that.

See me in the background?
Wednesday, April 13 – AM Swim workout – 3200 meters 

I didn’t write down this workout and honestly don’t even remember that much about it. I feel like it was hard? It was a small group and it was a long workout – 3200 or 3300 meters. I wanted to hop out early so I wouldn’t be late for work but made myself finish and then just rushed in the locker room to get ready. Although, I couldn’t really tell you what I did in the workout, but I know this much!

Thursday, April 14 – AM 4 mile run (10:35 min/mile, 42:22) with Melana and Janet 

It was great to have two friends to run with on Thursday morning up and down the beltline. It motivates me to get out of bed and start the day with something healthy, social, and outdoors. It makes me feel like I’ve got a little secret life before I even start work, to have gotten a run in before the sun is up.

Apparently we only took pictures on Snapchat though.

Friday, April 15 – AM Swim workout – 2400 meters 

Nothing super notable here, the workout was a total of about 2400 meters and there was a full pool this day. We did series of 8 x 50s on 1:00 minute then 1:20 then 1:40, all hard. I started the 50s swim, then did a set of them pull, then a set kick. My legs were tired at the end of those kick sets!

I thought about running in the evening because I had in my mind that I hadn’t run since Monday. Then I remembered that I ran on Thursday morning… goes to show you where my head is at. I skipped the PM run on Friday to instead be lazy on the couch.

Saturday, April 16 – 50.29 mile bike (14.64 mph, 3:26:02) + 2.18 mile run (9:12 min/mile, 20:05)

I was singularly focused on Saturday with what I wanted to accomplish – bike 50 miles. I stayed in on Friday night, I made sure that I had my nutrition ready to go. I got a lot of sleep and I set out to bike 50 miles no matter how long it was going to take me.

I went out to Cartersville to ride the loops that I have been riding at the Budweiser plant. I wanted to sleep in and wake up without an alarm and then get out as early as possible. I ate a good breakfast, packed up my bike, and drove out to get on the road around 9:30 a.m. I knew that there was going to be a lot of people there since two different bike groups were doing group rides. I purposefully wanted to try riding on my own, so actually was hoping to avoid them as much as possible.

The first loop I did was the 30 mile loop, which brought me back to my car, where I refilled my water bottles, then set out to do the 14 mile loop. I tried not to think about how many miles I had left or how many miles I had done, just first focused on doing 30 miles, then 14 miles, then the last 6 miles. I was for sure exhausted at the end, but I got it done.

 When I finished the 50 miles, I hopped off my bike and went out for a 20 minute brick run. It sure is hard to run after being on the bike and I can mentally push myself through these bricks by telling myself it is only 20 minutes. I started to try and envision myself in the mindset of the race throughout both portions of the workout today though and it worked well on the bike – but it is still hard for me to visualize running for another 11 miles after the 2 that I ran. It will be a big mental fight for sure.

Sunday, April 17 – 11 mile struggle run (10:48 min/mile, 1:58:48) 

My Sunday workout helped to prep me for that mental fight. It was a real struggle run.

I decided to head out from my apartment and do something that I have only done once before, back in July, and run from my apartment to the Silver Comet Trail. I am trying to incorporate more hills into my run training but also didn’t want to make the run totally torturous by running hills the whole entire time.

It was 3.3 miles to the point where I usually start at the SCT and then I went out until I did 5.5 miles and turned back. At 7.5 miles, I felt horrible and started to walk, but let me get there in a minute… It was warm out on Sunday. The first warm run we’ve had this year. The sun was beating and being on the Silver Comet made me happy to have some shade. I was really tempted to just keep running on the trail and then call an Uber to go home. I realized I’d be bored though and turned back when I got halfway through. I was so glad I did.

My stomach started to go into serious disarray as I got closer to the point where the SCT starts. I really wanted to run until I got to the bathroom but I couldn’t. My stomach was in knots and I started walking. I tried to ask myself, “What would I do if I were in a race?” and I would have had to fight through until I got to the bathroom.

I used the restroom, then kept going. I walked until I got to 8 miles, then ran again for .25 miles, then walked for .25 miles. My stomach was still settling a bit and I could tell I was really dehydrated and I was getting side stitches, which is something that never happens to me when I run.

I stopped at a gas station to buy some more water, took some of the salt tabs I had brought with me, and got myself home, only allowing myself to walk a sum of 1 mile the whole thing.

It was a fight but I am glad I got myself through it. I think it made me stronger and I also learned a lot from the run about what I need to do to prepare myself. I don’t want to have runs where I feel like that again.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mexican Vacation: Dani's Wedding & End of Trip

Just in case you weren't sick of vacation posts yet... let me finish up writing about the trip. Starting with the main event: the wedding.

The actual wedding was a complete fairytale setting and absolutely beautiful from the moment we arrived. It was held at an old hacienda about 25 minutes outside of Campeche called Uayamon. They were kind enough to set up shuttles that drove people back and forth from Campeche to Uayamon so in the mid afternoon, we got picked up from our hotel and taken out to the site of the wedding.

Before we left, I had one of my friends do a mini photo shoot for me because one of the things I had wanted all week was a nice picture of myself in front of the beautiful colored walls of Campeche in my bright yellow dress that I had brought for the wedding. The dress of Dani's wedding was "tropical formal" and when I found this bright yellow dress I immediately fell in love with it and had to have it for the wedding. We got a little snap happy with the photoshoot. What do you think, should I turn this into a fashion blog? I was told on Instagram that I looked like a famous Instagrammer :)

We took the shuttle over to the venue and arrived to such a magical setting. The tables were set for an outdoor dinner and there was a cocktail hour upon arrival. We used the time to have additional photo shoots, enjoy a cold drink, and take in everything around us.

A little while after arriving, we were walked over to the setting for the ceremony, that again, was just fairytale perfect.  In the middle of the jungle, surrounded by ruins, with the sun setting, and soft music playing. The ceremony was officiated by Dani's brother and they wrote their own vows, said both in English and in Spanish. I cried as Dani walked down the aisle and again as her friend heartfully read a passage and broke into tears and again as they recited their vows. Thank goodness I chose the waterproof mascara for today.

Following the ceremony, as they walked down the aisle, we all blew these heart shaped seeds above the couple that fluttered down as they returned back down the aisle.

Dani's dress was stunning, which goes without saying, as she is one of the most fashionable people I know. The ceremony was really pretty and luckily, the temperatures were MUCH better than they had been the day before. Which I think everyone was happy about.

Side Note: One thing that I should mention, in case any of you are playing back the timing in your heads... Saturday evening, April 2nd, was the day of the wedding and also the day that Syracuse Men's Basketball played in the Final Four. As you know, if you made it through my love post about Syracuse, I'm a fan. The timing obviously sucked to have these two things be pretty much at the exact same time, but I also wasn't going to miss my friend's wedding. My initial thought was to plan to stream on my phone and catch as much of the game as possible. I tested out the live stream on the earlier of the two games while we were in the bus on the way to the ceremony. I thought all was good, but then once we arrived, there was ZERO cell phone reception at the venue. We were in the middle of the jungle. There was WiFi, but you had to be inside. So pretty much - nothing was coming through. I accepted that and enjoyed the wedding night. Syracuse didn't win, but I am still super proud of the team and the season!

Following the ceremony there was a margarita post-reception drinks, complete with mariachi band and lots of catching up with friends. It was great to see all of Dani's friends from the salon, the few people that I had met at the cocktail reception, and of course, my friends who had also traveled for the wedding. Everyone was dressed up, looking beautiful, and I also got an addition to my outfit of a pretty flower in my hair, that one of Dani's friends brought for me after I commented at the salon that I felt like I needed a flower in my hair. How sweet!

I also randomly ran into a guy who was a friend of the groom's, whom I had met when I was in Dubai for work last month. How bizarre is that??

Dinner and speeches portion of the night were delicious and perfect and wine-filled, as good weddings are. For a little bit, the sky opened up and rained and as we were all sitting outside, it got a teensy bit wet. However, pretty much everyone just stayed in their seats. It was hot out and the rain was refreshing. They brought out umbrellas and in our seats, we had the shelter of this amazing arbor tree that we were all obsessed with.

Post dinner turned into an all out dance party. There was both a live band and a DJ that went back and forth from playing traditional Mexican and Spanish language music and modern day dance music. It kept everyone happy and get the entire dance floor packed the whole night.

We'd been warned early in the week that Dani was not going to let us on the bus returning to Campeche until the 4:00 a.m. shuttle. We follow rules well and stayed dancing under the ruins and the shade of the arbor tree until the last shuttle left. And as the final late night partiers pulled out of Uayamon, Dani and her husband Paul, were still dancing together under the stars as the DJ packed up and the caterers folded the chairs. Legit fairytale beautiful.

One thing that basically sucked though was Mexico had yet to spring forward and change their clocks. Until this Saturday night. I HAD TO LOSE AN HOUR OF SLEEP ALL OVER AGAIN. Ugh. And on a night where I stayed up MUCH later than I usually do anyways. That was not cool, my friends, not cool.

We returned to our hotel covered in sweat from dancing all night, exhausted, and in need of many hours of sleep. But instead of that, we got a few, checked out of the hotel, and then returned back to Uayamon for the wedding brunch. The food was delicious. The company amazing. And the drinks continued flowing.

I originally thought that maybe getting sick would mean that I wouldn't gain any weight on vacation. But then I made up for it when I felt better.

The Uayamon hacienda, in addition to being an amazing wedding venue, was also a hotel and had an incredible pool. We explored a bit and walked around, before hopping in a taxi to get on a bus to take us back to Merida. Not gonna lie, I wasn't ready to leave Campeche and that beautiful hacienda, but the fun has to end at some point.

Luckily, it wasn't quite over yet, we got back to Merida and went out to explore their traditional Sunday evening in the town square. They have live music, dancing, vendors, and food on the street. We explored, walked around, and enjoyed some more local ice cream - Helado de Colon - that is a staple of Merida and tasted pretty delicious to me.

We had dinner from the vendors by the street, two small tacos for me and a Diet Coke out of a bottle, which somehow makes it more fun.

The next day, my friends had early flights out of the Merida airport and I had the day to myself. I went on a run, as I mentioned in my workout recap, and then I decided to make a little adventure out of the day. Across the street from the hotel there were a number of car rental places so I stopped in on my way returning from my run to ask about pricing and the various options that they had. It turned out for $45 USD I could rent a car for the full day, keep it overnight, park for free at my hotel, and then return the car in the morning at the Merida airport. This would save me having to get a cab in the morning and allow me to do whatever I wanted throughout the day so I absolutely accepted that offer, rented myself a car, showered and cleaned up at the hotel, and set off on a solo adventure on my last day in Mexico.

I had looked up a cenote that was listed as being the closest to Merida and right in between Merida and Progreso, a beach city near Merida, which is where I am told that the Meridians go to go to the beach. Unfortunately, the weather was sort of cloudy that day and not the most ideal beach day. But for me, it was still great.

My first stop was at the cenote, which happened to be inside of a historical site that also housed more ancient ruins. I didn't realize that I was going to be getting to witness all of this when I set out in the morning so it was a cool surprise to see more history along with the cenote.

Unfortunately, the cenote wasn't that cool. It was still a cenote, so pretty cool, but not as good as the other ones. The area to swim was rather small and there were all sorts of lilly pads in the center, which was a bit different from the other ones we went to. Every cenote had fish swimming in it, but we kept commenting how clean they were and they weren't covered in moss or algae. This one did have a bit of that and also not a lot of area to swim and was crowded with other tourists.

What I did think was cool about it was how deep it went though! I was pretty fascinated by that and it reminded me of the Titanic or something like that. There was so much below that you just couldn't see.

I climbed into the water and splashed around a little but the fact that I had to walk on the bottom, the mossiness, and the seemingly millions more fish than the other cenotes didn't have me staying too long here. Instead I head to Progreso to check out the Meridian beach and grab lunch.

Turns out Progresso reminded me a lot of say, the Jersey Shore, in the U.S. It was an interesting site, with a boardwalk and tons of vendors, tons of places to drink, and just people milling about all over. I grabbed lunch and then lay down on the sand for a few hours reading, listening to music, and enjoying just relaxing and doing nothing. It ended up being nice that it wasn't too bright and sunny because I wasn't sweltering in heat. It was a nice temperature to just relax.

I also decided to do a little bit of yoga on the beach and got my zen on by doing some handstands and playing with my self timer. Normally I would never share these photos, but in the safe of full disclosure, here is my beach headstand for you. Voila!

I stayed until late afternoon before returning to Merida. I stopped at a spa on the way home for a massage, which I had googled and called and made an appointment for. However, turns out, it was actually more stressful and upsetting than relaxing as the girls there refused to massage my legs due to my psoriasis. I explained that it wasn't contagious and that nothing that they would use on me would be harmful but they insisted that they could not massage my legs for my own safety/protection. They agreed to do a back and arm massage, which confused me because they had no problem massaging my elbows, where the psoriasis is just as bad as on my legs. Weirdos (slash... it actually upset me a lot.)

After showering at the hotel, I went back out for one last meal of tacos and then stopped at an Irish Pub that I had also Googled to watch the NCAA Championship basketball game. I met a few American ex-Pats that were also at the pub watching the game. It felt a bit lame to be spending my last night in Mexico at an Irish Pub, but when it came to the last few minutes of the game, I was SO glad that I did. What an amazing, incredible basketball game. I was so glad that a former Big East school had taken down UNC to win. If Syracuse wasn't in it, at least not UNC!

I had an early flight back the next day, which included a connecting flight through Mexico City. Luckily, I was upgraded on my return flight so was able to enjoy the trip in first class. Seriously people, it is insane how well and often they feed you when you are flying first class! I ate my face off and the food was really good. Why can't I fly first class all the time!?

So with that, vacation was over. it was so nice to have my first real vacation and non-work related international trip in years. I loved getting to see friends, explore parts of Mexico I probably otherwise would have never gone to, celebrate a dear friend's wedding, and also make so many new friends in the process.

Back to training. Back to Atlanta. Back to work. And back to apparently the cold temperatures, because Atlanta forgot that it is supposed to be springtime. Thanks for reading and hope you're having a great week!