First Half-Marathon Recap

I don’t even know where to begin when talking about this weekend!

             

Liam made his first communion Saturday morning. He did such a great job! I am beyond blessed that he is a part of such a fantastic school community. I love his school and the fellow families who attend. After the church service, we went back to our house for a cookout. It was perfect: low-key and casual. Liam was thankful for his day!

I went to bed early Saturday night because the half began at 7:30. I planned to be out of the house by 6. Liam woke up with me at 5:15. We tried to be as quiet as possible. Because he wasn’t sure if he would wake up with me, he left me a note for the morning with the bagels Mike picked up from Panera.

I was trying my best to be organized, but nerves were starting to kick in. In being hopelessly proactive, I applied Tiger Balm to my calves as I got dressed, only to panic when realizing I had not yet put in my contact lenses. Somehow, I managed to put in my toric lenses into my puffy, allergy-hating eyes one handed! My goal of getting out the door by 6 was only off by six minutes.

One the ride down to the race, I decided to listen to Hamilton, my go-to “Let’s do this!” music. The Spotify account was set to the Kitchen Echo. Luckily, people slept through the music blasting through the kitchen speakers for four seconds while I wondered why it wasn’t playing in my car.

The atmosphere before the race was calm and cheerful. We chatted and laughed until it was time to gather by the starting line. The gentleman who coordinates the races explained a few things about the race and the course, beginning with, “I don’t give a sh*t who comes in first as long as everyone finishes.” His cell phone number was on every sign; if you couldn’t finish, he informed us to call for help. He would come get us and provide free admission to any future race.

We started off together, separating by the time we made the first turn. My friend Kerri and I stayed together. We were hauling! My goal was to finish the race in three hours, requiring a 13:42 pace. Kerri assured me I could do that. My first mile was 11:36! I became scared of burning out. We slowed down, clocking our second mile at 12:46.

Our third mile was back in the 11’s.

“Should we slow down?”

“We’re good. Our goal is 2:45. You can do this. You are stronger than you think you are.”

So, three miles in, my goal changed!

The course was beautiful. We ran to Charlestown Beach and back through country roads. Kerri and I stayed together for the first ten miles, then she went ahead. At the next mile, I encountered a girl I “knew” from a Facebook running group. On the way out in the race, I stopped and hugged her, then let my social anxiety kick in, worrying that she thought the worst of the crazy, sweaty random person who hugged her. The next time I checked my phone, I had a friend request from her. I saw her again just after Mile 10. She took pictures and shared them with me, including one of my favorites of Kerri and I high-fiving when we reached double digits!

Just after Mile 12, I hated everything! I was done running, my shoulder was sore, I was gross and sweaty and wanted to be done.  As I turned the corner, I saw two of my Rhode Runner buddies! I have never been happier to see anyone! Ignoring how sweaty I was, I left into each of their arms and expressed my love for them both! I began to cry as I ran up that final hill, overwhelmed by the support and the fact that I was actually about to complete this huge accomplishment. Hold it together, I told myself, you can’t run if you’re sobbing.

After that encounter, I was recharged and ready to finish this race, pushing myself through the last bit. When I turned the corner towards the finish line, my friends cheered me. I was at 2:44, I still had a chance to reach my goal! And I did, finishing in 2:44:59!

I don’t even care if this picture is flattering. It was taken immediately after finishing the race! I was ecstatic!

 

I was deliriously happy! My friends surrounded me and cheered for me. Then I realized the problem with finishing fifteen minutes faster than I planned: Mike and Liam were not yet there. I had told them to get there for 10:30; I finished at 10:15. They arrived a few minutes after I finished.

My friends are amazing! In this entire process of becoming a runner, they are my favorite takeaway! They make terrible runs tolerable and push me.  They are supportive and silly. We gathered and ran in with the rest of our group.  We stayed for over an hour after the end of the race, eating and celebrating.

Many times, I consider running a solo sport. Because of my schedule, the majority of my training was done by myself. However, races are what bring everyone together.  We made friends with others in the parking lot before the race and at the finish line. People we have never before met cheered for and supported us.

I’m still riding the high that comes from reaching a goal. My next half is in October, allowing a few weeks to regroup and decide the next goal. I’d like to work on speed; I think I doubt myself and fear burning out at the end when I need energy the most. It’d be great to take a minute off of my 5K time.

For now, I need to thank my husband and son for supporting me. For screwing up weekends by filling them with long training sessions. I need to thank my running friends, now simply known as my friends, who pushed me out of my comfort, convincing me to accomplish what had previously seemed impossible! I don’t think you will ever understand how much I appreciate your support and friendship!

Liam’s Christmas Trip

This was the first year we struggled to decide what to get Liam for Christmas. Even he couldn’t think of anything he to tell Santa he wanted this year. Because we all had all of the “stuff” we needed, we decided to take Liam to New York City for a weekend. When Mike and I were down there last summer to see Hamilton, we purchased a small “I love NY” teddy bear to wrap up and give Liam.

When we gave him his gift on Christmas, the four months before the trip seemed like years. As life flies by, it arrived in a flash! We took the train, which was so much easier than trying to drive and equal in cost when factoring in the cost of parking a car for three days in the city. It was a comfortable, three-hour ride.

Liam was in awe as soon as we exited Penn Station and stepped foot in the city. He loved the buildings. Our first stop was McGee’s, the bar that inspired McClaren’s in How I Met Your Mother. It was the only place Mike specifically mentioned wanting to visit, so we made sure to get there as soon we arrived, which worked out perfectly because we were starving and they hadn’t become too busy.

As we walked to the restaurant, Liam was able to see Times Square for the first time. On Friday afternoon, it wasn’t too busy. After lunch, we walked by Rockefeller Center on our way towards the subway to check in at our hotel. After a small, panic-inducing mix-up at the first hotel, which was not the one we where we made a reservation, we arrived at the correct hotel and settled in for a little bit. There was nothing scarier than hearing they did not have a room for us. Because there are three Holiday Inns in a small area, they said it happens pretty frequently.

     

After our break, we headed towards Battery Park. I could not wait for Liam to ride the Seaglass Carousel. We walked around, making our way to the 9/11 Memorial.

9/11 is difficult to explain to a child. We told him about a little bit about it at the airport last year. He gets the gist of it but still has many questions. He was incredibly respectful as we walked through the memorial. We stopped for pizza, providing Liam his first New York pizza experience. Like the Seaglass Carousel, it lived up to the hype!

We continued walking along the water, stopping to look at boats and the Brooklyn Bridge. Finally, we admitted defeat and headed back to the hotel to crash.

The following morning, we woke up early so we could eat breakfast and head to our reservation to visit the Statue of Liberty and climb to the crown. Our timing was perfect! We got there before it was too busy, being only the third group to reach the crown that day. As I wrote yesterday, Liam was scared but managed to do it anyway. He was so glad he did! The views were amazing! We visited Ellis Island, but, again, a lot of the significance went over Liam’s head.

                    

After leaving Liberty Island, we raced to Times Square to make sure we were there in time to see The Lion King. Mike’s folks bought us the tickets for Christmas. It was such a great surprise! The subway system is much more efficient in New York than it is in Boston; we never waited more than a few minutes for a train, and they seemed to travel much faster. In Boston, we sometimes wait fifteen minutes for trains. The MTA is a nice improvement, which brought us to Times Square with a lot of time to explore!

Times Square on a Saturday was a beast! None of us enjoy crowds and were not overly excited to spend any more time there than we had to. Liam, who is eight, could not wait to eat at the huge McDonalds! While we rarely eat fast food, I was happy he was up for a quick, cheap meal. After lunch, we explored the M&M Store, which instantly made Mike and I queasy with claustrophobia. Liam was happy but eventually got tired of being pushed around.

We made our way to The Lion King, thankful for a chance to sit for a few hours. The show was amazing! It was as great as we hoped. I am eternally grateful for such a great gift!

Liam was such a good sport through our trekking through the city that we decided to make a stop just for him at the Nintendo Store. He was in heaven! Even though we told him we weren’t buying anything, we couldn’t resist buying him a T-shirt.

Done with the crowds, we head back towards our hotel in the financial district. We found a great old pub where we had dinner. By this point, we had been going for twelve hours, walking over ten miles. Liam was tired, but holding up. (Actually, we all felt that way.) Liam asked if we could walk back to the Seaglass Carousel and ride it at night. How often do we get here? When would we be here again? Knowing it was a gamble with an exhausted child, we took the risk.

 

Liam proved he was my child by saying, “The city is so much nicer when there aren’t any other people around!”

 

   

It was one of my favorite moments of the trip! At night, the Seaglass Carousel was even more beautiful! We reached the sweet part of the day where the crowds had gone home. We didn’t have to wait to ride the carousel again. We walked along the water, admiring the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline illuminated. It was a beautiful way to end the evening, bringing our total daily distance walked to twelve miles.

       

By Sunday, we were exhausted. We went downstairs to eat breakfast, then went back to our room until checkout, watching The Discovery Channel and lounging. When it was time to leave, we headed one last time down to Battery Park and wandered around. We discovered a cookie spot that offers warm cookie delivery until 3am! I am a suburban girl at heart, but knowing I could have warm cookies brought to me at all hours of the night might make me rethink my position about cities. We tried our best to explain Wall Street and the Stock Exchange to Liam. While he didn’t fully comprehend the significance, he was happy to see the bull. We stopped to visit Hamilton’s grave.

A childhood friend lives in New York. I was delighted we had the chance to catch up Sunday afternoon. She suggested meeting at Chelsea Market and walking the High Line. These were two events we never would have known about on our own.  Chelsea Market was interesting but crowded. Liam enjoyed some gelato while we waited. The High Line was beautiful! I am so glad that we explored it, giving us a chance to enjoy the city and catch up with Liz.

The weekend was better than I hoped! Liam was an absolute trooper! He walked and stayed with us and made all sorts of safe decisions, making it easier for Mike and me to relax a bit. We made a point of giving him time to be a kid, letting him chase pigeons in a park or burn some energy on a playground. While Liam is not exactly a traveler; he followed along with us great!

This weekend may begin a tradition of weekend trips in lieu Christmas gifts. Liam asked if we could do it again next year, choosing a different city to explore. When we began discussing Philadelphia as a possible destination, Liam asked us to stop talking because he wants it to be a surprise. I am thankful that we were able to travel together. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a great family tradition!

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was nominated by the lovely Laketra Chick!

I love her writing style! She manages to be optimistic and positive while creating engaging, thought-provoking pieces. I have been moved to tears by some of her reflections and experiences.

In response to the nomination, I have to thank the blogger who nominated me and link their blog (check!), write a post and answer her 11 questions, nominate 11 other bloggers and let them know, write 11 new questions, and display the award on this post.

Here are her 11 questions…

1.) If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Time. I feel like I am always trying to get the most of every day and preparing for the future. In doing this, I feel like there are never enough hours in the day. I would love to have a few extra hours to get in more runs, read more chapters of Harry Potter with Liam,  throw the ball for Banjo, and maybe even just get caught up on my DVR, which always makes me feel guilty.

2.) Celebrity crush? John Green. He’s a nerd writer who looks very much like my husband, proving that I do, in fact, have a type.

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3.) If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pizza. I don’t even need to think about this one! I love all types of pizza: traditional pepperoni, breakfast pizza, fire cooked pizza. I could each pizza every day an never tire of it.

4.) If you had a time machine, would go back in time or into the future? I would not use it. I like where I am right now and would not want to mess with things.

5.) What would the title of your autobiography be? When I was younger, I lived in a town that was one town north of a town called Harmony.  North of Harmony always seemed like a great title for an autobiography.

6.) What is your biggest accomplishment thus far? The eight-year-old who is currently playing in the yard with his dog. He is inquisitive, smart, thoughtful, reflective, and kind. If I can keep him this way, I will have lived a successful life.

7.) If you can instantly become an expert in something, what would it be? When I was younger, I wanted to earn a degree in late 18th Century American Literature and write a dissertation comparing the Peanuts characters to Mark Twain’s protagonists. Now, I am happy being happy with my life. I would love to be an expert in being content with what you have.

8.) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Recently, I’ve been hearing “Run the mile you’re in” a lot. It carries over into other parts of my life. I get caught up worrying about the future and worrying about what ifs.

9.) As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was very young, I wanted to be an astronaut. This dream was shattered when I realized I was scared of flying. Since I was in seventh grade, I knew I wanted to be an English teacher. I’m thankful that I am able to live my dream.

10.) You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick? The only time I’ve even sung karaoke, I sang Superstar by the Carpenters.

11.) Are you a morning person or a night owl? When I was younger, I was a total night owl. Now, I am the exact opposite. I am in bed by 9:30 most nights, even on weekends, and rarely sleep past 7.

 

Why, yes, I was asleep at 9:19 last Saturday night!

 

Biggest Loser Dropout

I made a promise to myself that I would not weigh myself during April. #noweightilmay has proved easier than I imagined. To be honest, I looked myself up and down and felt my tummy for a few days to gauge how my body felt and looked.  I can tell by merely putting my hands on my hips whether or not I am bloated that day. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate surprises and need to know what is going on. While not seeming the number has been nice, it is difficult to relinquish that control that accompanies the scale.

I paid into the second round of Biggest Loser with my coworkers. We were supposed to weigh in each Monday. I skipped last week but was curious, more because I didn’t want to give up my chance at the monetary prize than for the number on the scale. Without getting on the scale, I had managed to stay the same weight for almost two weeks. Yes, I would be happy if it had gone down a few pounds, but I was pleased that I did not gain weight when I was not holding myself accountable with daily weigh-ins.

Hoping that I would be down a little, I went to the weigh-in. The scale said I was up a half pound. Whatever. I had a realization about this contest: I was not going to win. We are on vacation next week and won’t weigh in. The following Monday, I will weigh in after spending three days in New York City. We don’t get down there very often. Therefore, it would be a crime not to eat my weight (whatever that number is right now) in black and white cookies and whatever other treats I encounter. When I go away, I prefer to eat like I had been just voted off the reality show Survivor.

The kind lady who supervises the weigh-ins tried to give me friendly advice: “Just watch your portions and go for walks.”

“I ran ten miles on Saturday.”

“Oh… it’s okay; you’re not that big.”

I know her intentions we well intended. I truly believe that. If I have learned anything through my adult life, it is this: my body does not believe in being anything below a size ten. For the six months leading up to my wedding, I watched every calorie, attended back to back workout classes, ran miles and miles, and never made it below 155 pounds. (This was also before my hypothyroidism was discovered, but the weight doesn’t move below 160, even when my thyroid is in check.)

I work out a lot and eat a pretty good diet. It could always be better, but most people could say the same thing about themselves. I drink plenty of water. It has taken me a long time to accept the fact that I will never be tiny.

During this round of Biggest Loser, I have run my fastest mile. I have run my longest runs: ten plus milers. I PRed my deadlift: 210 pounds!

My obsession with my weight gives me a weird ability to remember what I weigh at any picture I see of myself. I keep an album on my phone illustrating gains and loses.  As I get stronger, the number might not go down.  Sometimes, It might go up. I need to remind myself that as I continue this journey.

I weigh less in the first picture than I do in the second one, proof that I need to get over the scale obsession!

The final weigh-in of Biggest Loser is the day after the half, May 7. I may jump on the scale to see if my final weight qualifies me for a prize. Or I may finish the race, go for a beer with my friends, celebrate that we worked together to reach a fantastic goal, and not worry about what the scale says on Monday morning!

Four Weeks and Go, Red Sox, and Feeling Like an Adult!

Four weeks from now, my car will have a 13.1 sticker on the back window! Is it sad that I am ridiculously happy about that?

This weekend, I went out with a group of fabulous Rhode Runner ladies for a long run on the East Bay Bike Path. It is one of my favorite places to run but because it is about a half an hour from my house, I rarely go there on my own. Sometimes, Liam, Mike, and I will venture over there, visit an amazing playground, order Subway sandwiches for a picnic lunch, and walk along the bike path. It is beautiful, and I have sworn that if I lived closer, I would be the sanest, fittest person around.

The following pictures are a few years old, but they illustrate the beauty of this bike path and playground:

        

As we met up that morning, I was unreasonably nervous. Yes, I had already run ten miles. Yes, I knew all of these ladies. We’ve pushed each other through self-doubt and celebrated so many victories. Honestly, my anxiety, which hasn’t shown up in a long time, decided to visit. Ten miles will take us well over two hours. That is a lot of time to chit-chat. What if I say something silly or inappropriate? What if my fear of silence kicks in and I talk too much? What if my fear of talking too much kicks in and I don’t say enough, causing everyone to think I don’t want to be there? I had a knot in my stomach as I drove there. Once we got going, I was fine. I am so thankful to this group of ladies who encourage me to do things I would never do on my own. We ran ten miles, laughing most of the way. This past year has been focused on stepping out of my comfort zone. Yet again, I am glad I did! I am so happy that I faced my fear and met up with them! I cannot wait for all of the hugs and tears that will flow freely as we cross the finish line of the half-marathon… in twenty-seven days!

My knee pain has plateaued. I am aware of it when I run and lift heavy weights, but it is manageable and not getting any worse. I’m glad I visited the doctor and know that it isn’t anything serious. I’ve been really good about icing it and stretching. As long as it doesn’t get any worse, I can manage the pain. Even though I followed doctor’s orders not to run for a few days, I still managed to have my busiest week ever in my five plus years of owning a FitBit!

Yesterday, we went up to Fenway. It was bitterly cold, and we went up there knowing that we probably would not stay the entire game. Liam has been attending games since he was a few months old, often enjoying the State Street Pavillion seats occasionally offered to us for free. Last year, when we sat in the grandstand during the tickets I bought Mike for his birthday, Liam complained that we had to go and get our own food instead of having it brought to us by a waitress. “You mean I have to get my own hot dogs?” he exasperated. Yesterday, he realized quickly that right field seats do not come with access to an indoor viewing area. Mike and I were well into our twenties before either of us had visited Fenway; I hope Liam someday realizes how fortunate he is to have so many experiences at a young age. Even though it was sunny, by the fourth inning, my toes were icicles. The game was moving at a snail’s pace, they were down four to one, and we decided to cut our losses and head home. Even though they came back in the seventh inning, we stand behind our decision. I love that we have a tradition. Even when they lose in thirty-degree temperatures, I’m never disappointed to head to Fenway.

  

While I would never want to live in the city, I do enjoy walking around Boston. After the game, we strolled Newberry Street and Copley, enjoying the excitement of next week’s Boston Marathon.

     

Can I tell you how much I love Amazon’s Subscribe and Save? Seriously, I have an unhealthy love for it. For the most part, the prices are cheaper than at Target or the local markets, and I never feel more secure and put together than when I realize that I will never again run out of granola bars, Nuun, or Lysol wipes. While it was weird to do the math to figure out how many poop bags Banjo uses in a month so we could order the correct amount, but Subscribe and Save makes me feel like I have my life together! Nothing makes me feel like a successful adult more than having a box containing contact lenses solution automatically mailed to my house each month.

Speaking of feeling like an adult, my texting and phone habits created the ultimate “You’re really an adult” realization this weekend. Saturday morning, the group texts began just before seven. A few years ago, I would have cursed whoever thought of texting me at that hour of the day. Now, the texts began while I was washing the pan I used to cook myself breakfast. This morning, my first text message came through before six. I was already up and getting ready.  I am amazed that I rarely sleep past 7 or stay up past 9:30, even on weekends. For years, I had read about the importance of maintaining a steady sleep schedule. I finally understand how much truth is in this sage advice!

Five Weeks to Go, Injuries, and #noweightilmay

Wow, that’s a long title!

This first half is quickly approaching! While ordering Liam’s lunches for the month, the calendar brought me to the weekend before the half. How is that happening? It seems as though I was just nervously and excitedly texting my friend on Thanksgiving, assuring each other that we could complete a race that was scheduled six months from then. But now the almond milk in my fridge expires after the race; it will be here before I know it!

The expiration date on this milk is after my first half. Why did this make me nervous?

So this is not the worst time to get hurt, but it certainly isn’t ideal. I was able to run Saturday and Sunday with just enough pain to let me know it was there, but I don’t want it to get worse and stall my training entirely. Because I had been experiencing knee pain for over a week, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor, who informed me I had pulled a tendon. It could definitely be worse, but I need to give my knee a week off from running, then gently try again. If it still hurts, then we can try physical therapy. Hopefully, the resting will work and I can get back on the road soon!

If I had to hurt my knee and take a week off, I’m glad I’m off on a week with terrible weather. It snowed Monday and has rained Tuesday and today. There is a chance of snow on Saturday, the day we are meeting up to attempt a ten-mile run.

So I am terrible at balancing a healthy diet. I tend to follow “all or nothing” extremes. My thyroid does not make this easier. This weekend was proof of this. Mike and I had a date night. We ate pizza and had a beer at the local place walking distance to our house. I indulged on Easter. Monday, I was up six pounds in a week. I’d like to think most of it is just bloating from sodium. However, it is so frustrating that I can inflate so quickly. Yes, I indulged, but I wasn’t over the top. If I am really on point, it will take two weeks to get rid of it. It is really discouraging not to just throw in the towel and admit defeat, but I need my body to be strong to accomplish my goals.

Because of these moments, I am aware that I am obsessed with the scale. On one of my Facebook running groups, someone suggested not stepping on the scale during the month of April. In a rare moment of punny brillance, I suggested calling it “noweightilmay.” So, I am going to avoid getting on the scale not just during April, but until after the half-marathon, deciding to focus on how my body feels and how my jeans fit rather than the number on the scale (that I currently step on several times daily). I am curious to see how eliminating the pressure of seeing a certain number on the scale affects me.  Obviously, I am hoping the scale goes down a few pounds, but I will just as happy if I can adjust my mindset.

Almost a “Real Runner”

During the past week, I’ve had a few things occur that make me feel as though I am making the transition to “real runner:”

I needed a calorie boost while running!

During last week’s ten-mile adventure, my sugar dropped about mile seven. I happened to put a pouch of Justin’s Almond Butter in my running belt. Good thing I did; I needed it! As I picked at it, I felt like a real runner. Mike joked that I was taking nothing more than Nutella shots while exercising. Shush! I was refueling!

 

 

My favorite running pants are discontinued

I love Athleta pants! After trying several pairs, my loyalty fell towards their Relay 2.0. I love the pants because of their multiple pockets. Anyone who knows me knows my unhealthy love of pockets. The Relay 2.0 have the back zipper pocket and two front pockets that are big enough to hold my phone. Hands-free running! I visited the store Sunday to purchase another pair only to discover the Relay 2.0 are being replaced with the Up for Anything pants, which do not have the back zipper pocket. I was able to find a pair of my beloved pants on eBay. While I was sad that Athleta discontinued my favorite running pants, my sadness associated with this made me feel like a “real runner.”

I have my first real injury

 

Oh, Providence Bagels, how I love you so!

 

I have known for years that I have a touch of arthritis in my knees.  I am careful to stretch before and after running. I take two yoga classes and at least one weights class weekly.  When my legs hurt after running, I alternate applying ice and heat. I know I am doing everything that I am supposed to, yet the pain remains. I have an appointment with my doctor next week. Hopefully, it is something simple that a few PT and chiropractor sessions can fix. This wish is mostly because I love running but also because I enjoy eating like someone who runs fifteen miles weekly.

I genuinely look forward to my long runs

I’ve always enjoyed working out, especially in group classes.  I like the camaraderie and friendly sense of competition, even if it is just with myself. (“She’s using that weight; I can, too.”) The thought of not going out this weekend makes me sad. I am hoping my knee cooperates. Like most people, my days are pretty busy; I love getting lost in my thoughts or a good audiobook and letting the miles go by.

I have an awesome running group!

Running can be a pretty lonely sport. I’m glad that I am a part of something bigger than me.  I have someone cheering me on, encouraging me, and reminding me that it’s not always difficult. We laugh and cry and celebrate together. They push me out of comfort zone. And that, my friends, is where the magic happens.

Six Weeks to Go and Double Digit Runs

I need to start by bragging that this past week was a week filled with PRs!!!  During Monday’s strength class, I PRed my deadlift: 210×3! Yes, it was only by five pounds, but a PR is a PR! Tuesday, I ran with Banjo after school. His energy is contagious! We ran 2.11 miles in 23:52, coming in at an 11:20 pace. My second mile was 10:57, my fasted yet! I’d love to sometime run a ten-minute mile; this is a start!

Last week, I was able to get out for three short runs and one long training run. The plan called for a nine-mile run, but I was excited to break double digits and went for ten. Two miles in, I stopped to tie my shoe, pausing my FitBit but reminding myself that there will be no pause buttons during the actual race. I resumed my run, making good time. A few minutes later, I began to wonder why I hadn’t heard the “three miles” announcement from my FitBit interrupt my audiobook. Turns out I didn’t hit the “resume” button hard enough and ran a third of a mile paused. Even with my pause, I was determined to make it to ten miles. So my ten-mile run was really 10.3 miles. Mentally, this run was not as bad as last week’s run. I’m proud that I was able to reach the next goal.

That being said, my left knee started to hurt about mile seven. I’ve known of arthritis in that knee for five years now and use it as another reason to keep active. I had attended a morning yoga class as well as a conditioning class before the run; I knew I had warmed up plenty before the run.  I iced it twice yesterday and went to Rhode Runner to purchase a knee brace. I wore it around the house yesterday and on our walk with Banjo. The first run with it is tonight. Let’s hope it helps! My thought has always been to as much as I can to help before heading to the doctor.  If I do more stretching, icing, and Advil and it still bothers me, then I will head to see the doctor.

Also during mile seven, my sugar dropped. I’ve read a little bit about gels and, honestly, I feel like they are beyond where I am right now. I don’t drink caffeine so I am hesitant to try them. When Stop and Shop and Justin’s Almond Butter packets on sale a few weeks ago, I bought three to keep in my car in case I ever needed a quick boost. Something told me to grab one before heading out Saturday. Good thing I did; it saved me when I felt myself getting woozy! While taking little bits of it during my run, I felt like a “real runner!”

 

 

It doesn’t seem real that this half-marathon is only six weeks away. Since it is the day after Liam’s first communion, the next few weeks will fly by! I have another half scheduled for October so I know I have to keep up with training. I am really wondering what comes after this. I’ve spent so much time working towards this that I am wondering what life will be like the following weekend when I don’t “have” to go out and run for two hours on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks to training, I have been enjoying the benefits of having a lot more freedom in my diet. Last week, I ate a Providence Bagel Thursday morning and stopped at Knead Donuts yesterday (after buying the knee brace at Rhode Runner). I still managed to lose weight this week. I could imagine how toned I would be if I really was disciplined in my diet and continued to work out this much, but that just seems silly because I love food and have finally found a good balance instead of being “all or nothing” when it comes to dieting.) Yesterday, I had eggs and turkey sausage for breakfast, yogurt for lunch, and an old-fashioned sour cream donut for dinner.  It’s all about balance, and I am finally managing to do that.

This Saturday, I will complete another ten-mile run, this time with friends. I am actually looking forward to. Five weeks later, we will finish a half-marathon, many of us for the first time.  I am eternally grateful to the people who inspire me to become stronger, to push myself in ways I never considered possible!

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Last night, I went to Lippett Park for the next round of Beginning Runner’s Group. Exactly a year ago, many of us were meeting for the first time. We were nervous and timid. This time, hugs and laughter filled the air.  Last night, we were the ones assuring nervous first timers that than can absolutely do this, that they will be able to run a 5k in June. All of the things that seemed unsure or impossible a year ago are part of my everyday life. I can run a few miles without stopping.  I can run (interval) seven miles… in a row!  I can set goals and know I will achieve them.

I love the support BRG provides. Without that support, I never would have been able to become a “real runner.” The thought of training for a half marathon would be as unfathomable as trying to hitchhike to the moon.  Running has taught me that I can set goals, work towards them, and achieve them.

Running has taught me to appreciate what my body can do. Every Saturday morning, I track my measurements. While I have only lost five pounds during my year of running, I’ve lost ten inches.  My feelings about food have changed dramatically; I no longer look at food as a reward or exercise as a punishment. For the first time in my life, I think I have managed that healthy, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing attitude towards food. While I would like to lose another ten pounds, my focus lies more in changing what my body can do rather than what it looks like.

Running has taught me that positive friends make all the difference. I’ve written about my awesome groups several times. I would never have the confidence to attempt a lot of my favorite memories from the past year if it weren’t for the encouragement of the people around me. I’ve stepped out my comfort zone countless times this year. I would never have done so without people cheering me on, keeping me accountable, and filling the training with laughs and conversation.

Running had taught me the importance of not just setting goals, but also being vocal about them. For years, I dreamed of being a runner. I was able to make that happen. When I signed up for the half marathon, I didn’t really tell people, still questioning my ability. Mike proudly started bringing it up in conversation with friends, “Tell ________ what you’re training to do.” Nervously telling people makes me more determined to reach this goal.  I publically set my goals at the gym, writing them down for all to see. While talking about training last night, conversation leaned more towards how excited we were to crush this goal than how worried we were about running thirteen miles.  Setting goals keeps me motivated and accountable.

By this time next year, I will have completed two half marathons. If they go well, I am going to throw my name into the New York City Marathon lottery, letting chance decide whether or not a marathon is in my cards. At this point, I would love to be able to tell my grandkids that I ran a marathon. I would love to be able to cross that goal off the bucket list. If it doesn’t happen, I will not beat myself up over it. I am too proud of what I can do to get hung up on where I haven’t made achieved (yet).

 

What I Should Have Said Two Weeks Ago

Two weeks ago, my friend’s mom passed away after a long illness. We were very close in college, grew apart after graduating, and recently reconnected. I was unable to attend the wake and have been rattling words inside my head, trying to think of the right thing to say to help ease the pain. This is a sampling of the randomness:

There is nothing I can say that will help you feel better. However, knowing that you are not alone in your grief is comforting. Sometimes, people will tell you that your mom is no longer suffering. That doesn’t make you feel much better; you wish you still had your mom here and that is okay.  It is your grief, no one can tell you how to handle it. Other times, people are afraid of saying the wrong this and say nothing. If I’ve learned anything, saying something, acknowledging the pain, is always helpful.

Grief is going to hit you out of nowhere when you least expect it. This isn’t like a cold that you can nurse better in a week or so and go on with your life. Years later, something great/sad/silly/amazing will happen and you’ll think about telling your mom, only to have the sinking realization that you can’t. When my mom was in the nursing home, I used to call my mom every afternoon when I was getting on the highway after work. Eight years later, I still take different backroads to get to the highway, simply to avoid the reminder that I can no longer call my mom and tell her about my day. While spending Thanksgiving with my in-laws, I always think of my mom’s burnt dinner rolls, look at my mother-in-law’s perfectly cooked rolls, and tear up that I will never be able to make hockey puck roll jokes with my mom ever again.  You will be able to resume day to day normalcy, but grief will come out of nowhere and hit you when you are not thinking about it.

For a long time after she’s gone, you’re going to remember your mom as perfect. It is okay to also recognize her flaws. I tell Liam about his Nana, who fought so hard to stay alive long enough to meet him, keeping to myself how angry I was when she told everyone I was pregnant long before I was ready to share my news.  Freshly remembering the pain of discovering I was pregnant only to have it go away, I didn’t want to jinx myself or have to explain to people I was no longer pregnant if that happened again. My mom couldn’t help herself, sharing the good news with everyone she could. As time passes, things that used to drive you bonkers about your mom will become nothing more than entertaining quirks.

Signs are going to come when you expect them least and need them most. Don’t question how or why they happened. Appreciate the signs that a loved one is still watching over you.

I keep putting together these words, hoping for the courage to write them on a card and send them. I don’t want to appear like I am an expert on your grief. Your grief is different than mine, which is why there is not one magic formula for recovery. Knowing that you are not alone makes all the difference.