Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

Happy day-before-Thanksgiving!

While I try to be grateful every day of the year, tomorrow is the official day that we celebrate all we have to be thankful for in our lives. I feel like this holiday couldn't come at a better time in my life.

These last six months have been full of changes; changes that are positive but still have caused some stress. Matthew and I are planning a wedding, I started a new full-time job and a new part-time job, I've been training for several half marathons with intermittent injuries and I've been trying to maintain and/or lose weight. To be honest, it's been a bit of a struggle. My old routine was great and allowed me to lose 50 pounds. Eventually, I'll find the right rhythm and I'll feel more in control of my life.  Eventually :-)

There's a saying I have in my office that I reflect on when feeling especially overwhelmed: "If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back." So true, right?

My problems aren't even really problems. Yeah, I might get stressed out and frustrated and overwhelmed sometimes, but I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. In honor of tomorrow's holiday, I've gathered up a short list of some of the reasons I have to be thankful this year, listed in no particular order:

I am so grateful that I have a job that allows me to make an impact on students' lives while working alongside some really amazing and wonderful people

Healthy, non-fractured feet, that allow me to run for miles and miles.

Family, and friends who are more like family, that I can always depend on.

Weight Watchers: a program (and job!) that helps me
make better choices and helps me reach my goals.

Meeting blog readers in person is such a cool experience! This blog has helped me meet
so many inspirational people: (clockwise from left) Elana, Liz, Cecilia.

This sweet boy brings so much joy into my life. I am thankful for our pup, Koda.

These people need no introduction. Our running ohana make me grateful every day.

This man, whom I get to call my husband, in just a few months. Words will never express
my gratitude for his love, commitment, and dedication to me and our family. He's simply the greatest man I know.

I have a lot of reasons to be thankful. What about you? What are you thankful for this year?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Race Recap & Review: Akron Marathon Relay

In February 2014, I got an email from a few friends (that I'd just met at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend) asking me if I wanted to be the fifth member of their marathon relay team for the Akron Marathon. Of course I said yes- that was the beginning of our running ohana; the group of running friends that have become family. We met on twitter and now meet a few times a year at races across the country.

Sadly, I didn't get to run in Akron 2014 because of my stress fracture. I went along for the weekend and cheered on my friends, vowing to return in 2015 and run the blue line with two, unbroken feet. 

This year, I would get my chance. 

Matthew and I signed up for the half (on 9/26) almost nine months ago. At some point, Chelsea invited me to run the first leg of the relay with her team. The plan was to run my relay leg (5.8 miles), hand off to Chelsea, remove my relay bib, and continue on to finish the half. 

Coach Jeff, Steff, her husband Joe, Lauren, her husband Mark, Nathan, Lauren H., Natalie, her husband Jimmy, and a bunch of Coach Jeff's "old guy running group" friends all planned on making the trip out to Akron, OH. Lauren and Mark ended up not coming out and we definitely missed them!

We all arrived in Akron on Friday afternoon and visited the expo. While this is a small expo, they did have some nice stuff. The hotel we stayed at was just a few blocks from the convention center (expo) and start/finish line so we were able to go back and forth all day.

Nathan, Coach Jeff, Me, and Matthew

This race offers a pasta dinner at the expo on Friday night and we all decided to go that route for our pre-race carb load. It was $20 per person and included pasta, salad, vegetables, and cheesecake. I think we'd definitely do this again- it was quick, easy, and tasty!

My right foot had been rocking all damn day. I'd had an x-ray the week before but no MRI so I was trying to take it easy as I was still suspecting a stress fracture. After the pasta dinner, I laid out my clothes for the race the next morning, keeping my fingers crossed that my foot would behave and let me finish the half marathon the next day. 

The crew.

Did I mention that Natalie was 7.5 months pregnant?!

Race morning. I got up and get dressed. Matthew got up... and immediately went back to bed, feeling super sick. He was feeling awful and running a fever- definitely not in any running condition. Heartbroken, he headed back to bed, reluctantly agreeing to skip the race due to illness. 

My foot was already bothering me but I met up with our ohana in the lobby of the hotel. Together, we walked up to the race start and got situated in the corrals. Steff was gunning for a PR so she started at the front of A. The others made their way to the relay stations or other corrals. Coach Jeff, Natalie, Jimmy, and I agreed that we would start together and hopefully stay together the whole race. And of course, no babies would be born on the course! :-)

We look pretty good for 7 am!

Our group of four started slow and steady. We did three minutes running, one minute walking. We chatted and ran and walked and laughed and the miles flew by. However, my foot kept hurting. It was a dull ache right in the area of my stress fracture. Soon enough, I saw the first relay exchange. I had been debating off and on the entire race of continuing to complete the half or to just cut out at the relay exchange. 

Hands up if you love running with friends!

I made the incredibly tough decision to stop. I handed off to Chelsea and watched her, Coach Jeff, Natalie, and Jimmy keep running. I stood there watching them and sobbing. I considered jumping back into the race for probably 10 minutes after they ran past me. I stood there at the relay exchange feeling super sorry for myself and blubbering on and on about my failure. 

After trying to call Matthew (he was still sleeping), I called my Dad and sobbed to him for a while. I knew this was the smart decision. Anytime there's pain, you should back off. But it still felt like utter and complete failure. I walked back to the hotel to check on Matthew. Luckily, he'd been able to get some sleep and was slowly starting to feel better. 

A very quick shower later, I went out to the finish area to get my post-race snacks: pizza, beer, chocolate milk, chips, etc. They had quite an awesome spread! I met up with Steff, Nathan, and Chelsea and we chatted for a while. 

Then we went back out on the course to cheer for the finishers, including looking for Coach Jeff, Natalie and Jimmy. 

Jimmy and Natalie trucking along towards the finish.

I ran/walked with Natalie and Jimmy until just before they entered the stadium and the final little section of the race. Coach Jeff had gone back on the course to run in one of his friends completing the full marathon. We got back into the finisher's area in just enough time to see Joe (Steff's husband) finish the marathon relay. 

All smiles for Joe at the end of the blue line.

Captain Chelsea's a popular gal with all that beer ;-)

Akron Marathon Relay Team 2015

While I'm disappointed I wasn't able to run the half marathon course, I did feel some sense of redemption by getting to run the first leg of the marathon- what I should have ran in 2014. 2014 was the year of the DNS- Did Not Start. 2015 brought my first DNF- Did Not Finish. At some point in every runner's career, a DNS or DNF will happen. This was mine. Looking back and knowing what I know now (that my foot is fine) makes it hard to not beat myself up about not finishing the half. But, I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time; I can't ask myself for anything better than that.

I can't say enough great things about the city of Akron or this race. Well-organized from the expo to the starting corrals to the finish line party. The shirts, medals, and post-race food were all really high quality and made the whole experience feel very runner-focused. In short, this is an awesome race and I hope we keep doing this one every year. 

#runakron fans

Have you ever had a DNS or a DNF? How do you cope with the negative feelings it brings?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Accountability Monday: November 9, 2015

Good evening, my friends!

In just a few days, Matthew and I are headed out west to run the Rock and Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon and we are so excited! I've wanted to run this one for quite a while and there will be a whole bunch of fun west coast runners/bloggers there that I'm hoping we run in to. There will probably be tons of selfies and Elviselfies (?) on my instagram this weekend so make sure we're following each other!

Wednesday- 2.54 miles with Jen from All Four Love Blog, 11:50 pace
Sunday- 2.65 miles with Matthew, 11:19 pace
Monday- Kenpo workout (60 minutes), original P90X

Yup, that's right. Matthew and I are attempting the original, 2008 P90X workout series. My dad gave this to us a few weeks ago and tonight we did our first complete workout. I tried it on my own (a bit unsuccessfully) last week. I don't think we'll follow this plan to the letter (doing a workout each day) but I think we'll definitely use it a few times a week when we're not running. I would like to drop some weight before the wedding/honeymoon and this seems like a good way to shake things up!

Sweaty selfies in front of the Christmas tree.

Food Find:
This week at my Weight Watchers meeting, I picked up a new product, a graze snack box. This snack box is currently available as a snack subscription service online (so fancy!) and apparently at Weight Watchers locations. It came with four individual snacks. So far, I've only had the "Garden of England" consisting of dried apples, currants, and mini-strawberries. It was pretty tasty! And the points plus value is written on the box for each snack so there's nothing to figure out.

I don't know if I'd ever get the subscription service, but I think I'd definitely purchase this product on its own. I have the remaining snacks in my desk at work for a snack emergency :-)

Snacks for days. 

147 as of 11/5/15.
No change from last week.

Non-Scale Victory:
This weekend, I attended a turkey dinner at a local church and I didn't take any food that I didn't want. For example, I didn't have a roll, mashed potatoes, or corn simply because I don't care for them very much. Usually in a situation like this, I take a little bit of everything even if I don't particularly want it. I can't tell you why; it's just something that I have always done. But, to be able to not take ALL the food that is available to me is a HUGE victory. My willpower is growing much stronger :-)

That's all for now, friends! Have a great week!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Accountability Monday: November 2, 2015

Welcome to November!

Yesterday marked the beginning of my favorite time of the year. We spent yesterday afternoon decorating our house and are ready for Christmas! There is just something about the winter holiday season that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy :-)

Christmas last year with our pup!

Wednesday- 25 minutes of the original P90X Plyometrics DVD. Holy crap.
Saturday- Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon, 2:39:23, 12:10 pace.

My dad gave Matthew and I his original P90X DVDs a few weeks ago and I decided that I'd try the Plyometrics one this week. Holy. Freaking. Crap. The whole thing was about 60 minutes and I think I made it through about 25. It was way harder than I thought it would be. And my legs and butt are STILL sore. I definitely want to try it again this week and hopefully make it though one entire workout.

Food Find:
We did A LOT of eating out this week/weekend so I got nothing for ya here. :-)

147- same as last week. I weigh in again on Wednesday or Thursday.

Non-Scale Victory:
Running in Philadelphia this weekend made me reminisce about the last time I ran this race, in the fall of 2012. It was my second half marathon ever and I was woefully under-trained. There is a part on the course, around mile 11.5- 13, where you are running up a slight inline and the sun is just beating down on you. Two years ago, this was such a difficult part for me- I remember crying and thinking I'd never finish the race. I ended up finishing in 2:48 and some change and vowing to train better for the next one.

Yesterday, we finished in 2:39:23 and I felt great directly after the race and felt even better the next day. I still ran under-trained this year but the difference in how I felt is immeasurable. All of the small changes that I've made in the last three years (fueling better, adding strength training, treating myself with kindness) have paid dividends in how I feel on race day and beyond. Feeling good physically and mentally is the ultimate non-scale victory.

I love seeing the transformation in my smile :-)

How was your week? What's your favorite fall/winter holiday?