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Breaking my Ego, Mending my Sole

2 Jan

Something I was extremely passionate about was taken away from me recently. Running was my life for the last two years. I had run two half-marathons last year, which unfortunately took a toll on my body. The doctor said “You may like running, but your body doesn’t.” That was hard to hear. After numerous doctor’s visits, MRIs, and x-rays, he told me that I had a severe case of tendinosis in my right foot and that it would be a long road to recovery.

When I found out that I had to stop running last year I knew I’d be able to run again, but I also knew that it would be long enough without running that I started to have a pity-party for myself. I did everything right with training – I didn’t pack on too many miles at once and followed the schedule, I ate healthy, and I cross-trained (not as much as I would have liked, but I did it). I liked running, but my body didn’t. That was so hard to grasp. I went to physical therapy, have worn a brace, and took steroids to alleviate the pain. More than two months later and I still have to rest and not run – doc’s orders.

Thanks to my uplifting friends, family and husband, and their encouraging words, I started to look on the positive side of things after a few weeks of no running. I focused on cycling, Jillian Michael’s DVDs (man, those are hard), and yoga. I spent time with my husband exercising, instead of running with my friends or solo. It’s still hard to believe that I can’t even run every once in awhile, but I’m slowly getting over my ego and trying to be more upbeat about my workout regime.

I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. I believe that not being able to run for a few months is giving me the opportunity to bond with my husband and to work on not only strengthening my body, but also my mind and soul.

I observed some people at the gym today. One had a diet coke on her bike, another was cycling barefoot, an older lady was reading a book while cycling at a slow pace, and several exercisers were glued to The View. As I was cycling at my max level without my heart jumping out of my chest, judging watching them, negative thoughts went through my head wondering why my feet couldn’t be hitting the pavement at this moment instead of being enslaved to the static bike. This is where I had to turn up my music and peddle faster. Even though these other people in the gym didn’t seem to be pushing themselves to the limit, I was going to give it my all. And I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and other people – maybe this was the other gym members’ way of getting off the couch and feeling good about themselves. Who am I to judge? I started off as a walker and I need to remember that. This injury is bringing me back to my roots and keeping me grounded.

Have you ever experienced something like this that was earth-shattering at the time, but then you realized why it happened in the end?

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Trick-or-Treating, Runner Style

1 Nov

The last time I went trick-or-treating was when I was in middle school, which was about 15 years ago (ugh, I feel old saying that!). I also haven’t handed out candy in about 10 years because of living in apartment complexes, and now living on a busy road. I feel nostalgic of the days that I used to dress up and go door-to-door, or see the little kids in the neighborhood come to our door in their best spooky or funny costumes. Last night on Halloween, I went on a great run after work. My Halloween run let me experience the decorated houses and celebration of this great American holiday. I saw people outside their houses putting up last-minute ghosts, graveyards and spiderwebs. Here’s a house that caught my eye, although I think I would have been too terrified to go up to this one as a kid.

Spooky, Decorated House on my Halloween Run

On this run, I also came across this old train track. It’s so picturesque, yet eerily desolate.

Railroad Crossing on my Halloween Run

My Halloween run was way more fun-spirited than my run on Sunday. It was freezing out on Sunday, even though I went midday. On top of the cold, no one was out on the road so it was deserted and everyone had their house decorated in a really creepy way. I don’t know what was scarier – the house with the big clown head dangling from it or all of the Mitt Romney signs. That will be my one political comment for the year. There was one house that had a fake person dressed as Jason laying against a haystack…or I think it wasn’t real, but I actually had to look back a couple of times to make sure it wasn’t moving! Not to mention, a black cat crossed my path at the end of this run. I’m usually not superstitious  but after all of these things adding up, the cat was a super bad omen. So, I was relieved when my solitary run on Halloween was enjoyable and child-like, opposed to it being like I was trapped in a horror movie.

When I finished my run, I went into the gym to stretch and the news-coverage of Superstorm Sandy was on the TV. I just want to say that my heart goes out to all of the victims of this crazy storm. The majority of my family lives in New York, and my poor cousin has had to work 16-hour shifts as an emergency worker at the electric company. She actually took the phone call of the guy who had the trampoline stuck in the wires, which is the picture that has now gone viral.

Trampoline Stuck in Wires from Superstorm Sandy

Luckily, most of my family kept power and no one was harmed, however the same can’t be said of strangers. I’ve been keeping these families in my thoughts, hoping for good things to come their way soon.

So, back to Halloween night. Since I don’t get trick-or-treaters and I don’t have kids, I dressed up my cat and dog (as seen in a previous post).

Punk rock Dali and Ali

Kitty Punk Rocker

Which I felt like was borderline animal cruelty until I saw this website of other people dressing up their pets in full costumes – one looks like they even spray-painted their animal?!

All-in-all, it was a great Halloween that turned out to be pretty healthy with my great run…AND I didn’t even eat any candy corn, which is surprising, right?

What did everyone do to celebrate Halloween this year?

I’m shouting from the rooftops: I finished my second half marathon!

24 Oct

Me and my friends being goofy on the morning of the Athens Half Marathon

Finishing my second half marathon (in the same year as my first, might I add) was no easy feat and I want to shout it from the rooftops! Luckily social media allows us to do that in an easier fashion now. “I’m going to post it on Facebook, tweet about it on Twitter and then blog about it afterwards,” which was my playful response to the random guy behind the camera when he asked if I was going to share the picture above on Facebook. He thought I was being sarcastic, but little did he know that this was exactly what I was going to do. So, here I am trying to write about this experience, but struggling to find the right words to capture the moment I had with my amazing friends. It’s hard to describe how much these friends have been motivating, captivating and inspiring while training for this half marathon and throughout the race. But, let me give it a shot.

Molly post-race in the center posing for the camera

Let’s start with Molly. She’s the one that I really blame for this whole running phenomenon of mine. We used to be work buddies and our friendship blossomed by bonding over deep conversations about Jillian Michaels, plank curls and then essentially running. Molly got me walking during our lunch breaks, and now without her presence in my office, my sneakers sit all alone under my desk, unused. When we used to go walking during work, I felt amazing. Not only did I have a clear head and feel great after these long walks, but I also was able to relieve a ton of stress by griping about whatever I was stupidly mad about that particular day. Then, Molly got into running. She asked me one day how I felt about running during lunch instead of walking. I had been a runner in high school and a little throughout college, but really hadn’t run in a long time or even thought about running. So, we started running together during lunch. And then on the weekends. And then I convinced her to sign up for this half marathon because if I could do a half, she sure as hell could do one. Molly has an amazing personal story that lies behind her being my main source of motivation over the past several years. Maybe I’ll get her to guest blog for me one of these days because I really think the running community, or anyone who likes a good inspirational story, should hear.

Emily after the first half marathon we did together

Then there’s Emily. This was also her second half marathon seeing as how she trained and ran with me for the Atlanta Publix Half through Team in Training. Emily is an impressive runner who makes 10 miles look effortless. I love running with her because she’s a certified counselor, so it’s like therapy and exercising all rolled into one. Emily also doesn’t take no for an answer, so if I complain about running up a hill, she’s encouraging me that I can do it. Not to mention, this running buddy of mine is also vegetarian so we share recipes and tips on what to eat while training. I think I can talk her into running a full marathon with me, but we shall see.

Lori running between the hedges in Sanford Stadium

Next up, Lori. Lori has more determination packed in her little body than anyone I’ve ever met. She just started running a few months before I convinced her to sign up for the half. Her first 5K was in the beginning of this year and with my endless talk about how she should run the half marathon with me, she caved and signed up. During our practice runs, Lori proved to herself that she could push through the miles and accomplish what she never thought was possible. She was crushing the hills that Molly and I had trained on for several years. Throughout training and on the day of the race, Lori was amazing. I felt like a proud Mama bear watching her finish this race. She can really do anything she puts her mind to, and finishing this half marathon strong (she was with me the whole way) just proves this about her.

Here’s a quick video of me and Lori running across the bridge at the stadium:

In a nutshell, those are the amazing girls I trained with over the past several months who were with me every step of the race.  Here’s a group shot of us running that the hubby got while watching the race:

The girls running together at the AthHalf

Oh right, you’re probably wondering who the guy is in the picture at the beginning of this blog with the short shorts and long legs. Well, that’s Dave. He also has impressed me and is a true motivation to many people around him. His fun, cheerful personality has always been infectious, and now he’s doing the same with running and working out.

In April of this year, Dave met up with the four of us girls at the end of a 5K called Run Before You Crawl. The name says it all – you run a 5K and then at 10 AM, you do a pub crawl through East Atlanta. Here’s a picture of the four of us at the first stop on the pub crawl:

The girls at Run Before You Crawl 5K

When Dave met up with us at the pub crawl, he said he would never be able to run 3 miles. He got into the whole boot camp craze a little while after that, and then the rest is history. This was his first half marathon and I’m going to admit I was super jealous of his time (under 2 hours). Now he’s registering for a full marathon in the spring – talk about being a runner to aspire to!

The group after the AthHalf with our medals

Now you can probably tell why it was so hard to put into words how inspirational each and every one of these friends have been during training and throughout the race. I also can’t leave out my helluva husband who made it to five different spots to cheer us on during the race. He continues to support me in all of my endeavors and I really couldn’t have finished 13.1 miles without him as my personal cheerleader. And, last but absolutely not least, my family has been incredible and has shown so much support with my training and running. I do have to give a special shout-out to my good ole Dad. OK, now I feel like I’m at an awards show and they’re queuing the music to get me off the stage. But seriously, my Dad has been somewhat of a coach to me – helping me with training for lacrosse in high school, all the way to currently teaching me different techniques with running. He has given me advice that has gotten me through some tough training runs.

And now I digress. The race itself was awesome, and I couldn’t have asked for a better course on a more gorgeous day with more amazingly awesome friends.Mad love to each and every one of you. And I’m out (mic drops to the ground).

Celebrating the life of Meredith Hope Emerson at Ella’s Run

10 Oct
To learn more about Right to Hike, please visit their website.

Confessions of a Runner

7 Oct

There is something I need to get off my chest today, so I’m stepping into the confessional. I’ve become a runner nerd.

What exactly is a runner nerd?, you might ask. To me, a runner nerd is one who absolutely loves the purity of running by itself. No headphones. No conversation. Just your feet hitting the pavement. I used to be like the girl in the picture above. I would sometimes cancel my run if I didn’t have my music. My, how things have changed over the past year! Music isn’t my crutch when I’m running anymore. I don’t have to have it when I’m running by myself. I think Team in Training helped me realize that I don’t need anything in my ears to get through 3 miles, 8 miles, or even 13.1 miles. I’ve gone on 6 mile runs before without a running buddy or music – not because I left my iPod at home or because it died on me, but because I wanted to. I’ll actually never forget when I signed up for my first half marathon through Team in Training – almost a year ago – and they told me it was highly discouraged to wear headphones while running with the team. I almost didn’t sign up because of that. That’s how hooked I was! I’m so glad I gave it a try because running for Team was one of the best experiences of my life.

I also have to confess something else. Last week, NPR was blaring out of my headphones on my run instead of the usual hip hop playlist from Rock My Run. While I was listening about the attacks on the US consulate, the Catholic bishop’s views on same-sex marriage, and the success of the Angry Birds’ song, I hit an all-time record on my Nike Plus watch. I ran my fastest mile, which isn’t fast compared to most people, but for me it was fantastic. Whether it was the slanderous talk about same-sex marriage that got me going or the constant depressing news about the war, I felt enraged and ran faster. I never thought I would be the type of runner that would listen to NPR – or nothing at all. I’ve told other runners who live by their music that they can run without it. Not too long ago, someone was running with me and she was absolutely shocked that she ran 4 miles without music. See, it can be done! If you’ve never done it, try it out – I promise it’s an incredible experience!

Wordless Wednesday: Running through Atlanta

3 Oct

 

Food for Thought

17 Sep

Over the past several years many people have shared their stories with me on how they used to be vegetarian, and my first question is always, “Why did you stop?” There is usually an array of answers, but a lot of it boils down to not getting enough vitamins, nutrients or, my personal favorite, protein.

I’ll never forget when my husband and I went to dinner at an all-vegetarian restaurant and our waitress was telling us how she used to be vegetarian. She said she decided to eat meat again because her doctor told her she needed it to get back into shape. I thought to myself, “That can’t be right.”  And then I just dismissed it, knowing that unfortunately not all doctors know what they’re talking about when it comes to diet.

I thought back on this moment when I read this article. This ultra-runner talks about his journey of being vegan and winning 100-mile races. Wow – just wow – on so many levels. He runs 100-mile races? He wins these races? And he’s vegan? That’s insane, right? But the guy obviously knows what he’s talking about considering he’s such an amazing athlete! I thoroughly enjoyed reading his story and wanted to share it so others could read it.

So, as I train for my second half-marathon, I will definitely keep this inspirational runner at the forefront of my mind when deciding what to eat.

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