It is a single digit out. I live in North Carolina. I’m freezing. This is unreal.
The first week of the New Year came, and is about to be gone, and I’m feeling a few things. I can’t believe 2018 is here. I can’t believe I have a 16-month-old. I can’t believe I’m someone’s parent. I haven’t made any New Years resolutions. Just plans for the new year. Here’s what we’ve got on deck so far for 2018.
Disney. We are going to Disney at the end of this month! I am fully aware that Liam probably won’t remember any of it, but my 4-year-old nephew will be into it, and to be perfectly honest, I will probably be into it. The parks are totally different, but while were down there, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t try to arrange a trip to Harry Potter World. I very honestly believe in the magic, and I have yet to receive my letter to Hogwarts, so I have to visit the registrar down there.
Rock n’ Roll DC. I ran my first postpartum half marathon in November, which I will recap shortly. (Spoiler, it was really fantastic.) I signed up for RnRin DC with a friend, and am now training(ish) for that race on March 10th. I say -ish because…
I’m running a 50k in April. I have had my eye on this particular race for a number of years, and after I got pregnant with my little nugget, I took a break from racing, and I definitely took a break from the thought of ultras. I got up the courage after doing some research with some trail running friends, and signed up for the North Face Endurance race in DC (technically in Virginia). We will see how it goes! I’m doing a modified marathon training plan, and planning to put in some extra trail miles instead of just road miles.
And that’s kind of all I have so far. We’re playing with the idea of Crater Lake this year, I’m loving my job still, but exploring within the organization, and just just like….learning stuff, as a wise Jenner once said.
Not strictly resolution-based…what are your plans in 2018?
This (last?) weekend went by entirely too fast. I could have extended it at least by one day, but that’s never really how things work, right?
So, many weeks ago, a friend of mine, Erin, decided that she wanted to run her first half-marathon. After discussing it in the group chat (my primary source of news and entertainment throughout the week), Erin and Liz decided that they would run the More/Shape Women’s Half Marathon in NYC. The rest of us decided to tag along, and make something of a weekend of it and spectate the race.
Really, the weekend started on Thursday evening. Because I knew I’d be in the airport for a good chunk of the day on Friday, I needed to put in some hours of work after my class on Thursday night, and I set about to do that. I sent emails and worked on May’s schedule into the night, slept for a few hour, and made it up for my 5:45am Pump class. From there, I ran home, showered, packed, and called an Uber to get me to the airport, where I proceeded to sleep through two flights. By the time I made it to Jersey and to the house in Sayreville, I was exhausted again, and napped on the couch until folks started arriving home from work. My aunt made us an amazing meal, and my cousin and I attempted to watch the first epi of Kimmy Schmidt before I completely passed out so hard, I had to keep myself from panicking when I didn’t realize where I was the next morning. I lazed around on Saturday, went to the park for a walk with my cousin, and got out the door for dinner with race friends in the city.
I friggin FORGOT how annoying it is to drive into the city, btws. A ride that was supposed to take me like 40 minutes, ended up taking well over an hour when I got stuck in traffic in the Holland tunnel. Blah. But we grabbed some italian, grabbed some ice cream from Big Gay Ice Cream, and headed to the hotel to hit the sack for our 5:45am wake up the next morning for the race. After heading to the start (and spotting Sara Bareilles and Padma Lakshmi), we saw the girls off for the start, around 6 miles, and then squatted at a Pain Quotedian and met a friend of mine from camp to meet the girls at the finish. We surprised Erin at dinner the night before with these shirts we had made, so we all wore them, and made sure we snapped pics.
We finished the day with some burgers, (a ridiculously hearty black bean for me), annd parted ways back at the hotel.
I did not leave without the parking garage losing my car and Andrew and Ryan having to find it. I did my best not to panic and remember that if they lost the car, there were really worse things in the world, and that it could totally end up being a funny story. Fortunately, we didn’t have to make it quite that far.
And now, I’m here sitting in the airport late, waiting for my last flight home, where I can shower and get into my own bed.
I understand that not everything can be black and white. And often, I’m guided by my gut. Some things feel really really right. And some things just feel really wrong.
One of the things I’ve never really been into has been race banditing, or running races that you haven’t paid for. And another is in a race where transfers or deferments aren’t allowed, I’ve always had this gut feeling that even if I didn’t like the rules, that rules were rules, and if I didn’t follow them, I would pay the consequences, whatever the association thought that they should be.
The Boston Marathon is one of those races. It’s super cool. Super sacred. I knew nothing of the race until a few years ago (2010ish), when a friend at camp who was into running was sporting a jacket from the race. To be 100% honest, I just liked the jacket, and when I asked about it, she told me about the race. So for a long time, I thought about that race only in terms of getting that jacket. And not for fashions’ sake, but for the sake of actually doing something that could “win” you that jacket.
Years later, 2 to be exact, I ran my first half.
A few months later, I ran my first full.
Etc, etc and so forth. [10 points to whomever it is that gets that King & I reference.]
Now that I am pregnant, and was never a super fast runner to begin with, I’m not sure if I will ever qualify, but if I do, I know it will be such a special experience. Which is why I was kind of scratching my head at the predicament that Gia Alvarez found herself in.
Gia Alvarez is a pretty popular running blogger. She’s accomplished a lot. Long story short, Gia qualified for Boston, and by the time the race rolled around, she was pregnant and unable to run the marathon. Boston is a non-transferrable race – not only is it one of the US’ holy grails of marathons, but the tragedies in 2013 make it highly improbable that you’re going to pull any funny business with the B.A.A. Nevertheless, Gia made the decision to allow a friend to run with her bib. The B.A.A. was tipped off (they have cameras at these biggies), noted it wasn’t her in the photograph, and she was banned for life from the event. (Another really, really big mistake she made was registering again with her FRIEND’S qualifying time, and not her own, after her friend re-qualified her at the race. Not good. I’m not sure if she noted this at all in her post. But that really might be the worst of what she did, if she didn’t re-qualify on her own.)
Interestingly enough, fresh off the news that she’d been banned, instead of taking full responsibility for her actions, she seemed to nearly (not quite fully) deflect – even going so far as to alternately title the post “it could happen to you.”
She broke the rules. Whether they’re dumb or not. (And I don’t think they’re dumb). And she was dealt consequences. Which were very clearly outlined from the beginning. Like – this wasn’t really a surprise. Sucks, but it’s not a surprise.
Gia, I think upon receiving some flak, wrote another post, an apology a few days later. I’m not here to drag her or come for her edges. The internet certainly had done its fair share of that. However, I wish, upon getting her disappointing news, that she had owned the mistake a little more – not come back to it when the internet pointed out what a crappy decision she’d made.
All that said, I really hope that if she really, really would like to run it again, that maybe she can appeal and demonstrate to the B.A.A. that she learned from her mistake (and doesn’t feel the need to point out that “I did what so many of us do.”
In the words of our mothers/aunties/parents nosy friends, “if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. If you feel you are struggling with depression or anxiety or any decisions as it relates to pharmacological treatments of these conditions, please seek professional medical help.
My pregnancy has lowered my tolerance for peoples’ bullshit entirely. Which is good I think.
On Saturday morning, someone in a group I’m a part of on Facebook, dedicated entirely to Trail and Ultra Running, posted this meme.
The post generated such a huge response that eventually, an admin took notice and removed the meme from the group, but not before a discussion carried on, lasting for hours and hours. The original poster popped in here and there and admitted he didn’t know much about antidepressants, but that he hadn’t meant offense. But it appeared the damage had been done – especially once a few folks mentioned that their particular conditions – PTSD and clinical depression – were managed well with both.
I love running. I have been doing some form of exercise seriously for the last (almost) 6 years or so, and I have been running for a good bit of that time, logging 3 full marathons, 8 or 9 half marathons, a few 5ks, and countless numbers of trails miles thanks to North Carolina’s really sweet trail system. Not really sure what else North Carolina has going for it as of last week, but we sure do have some nice trails. I’ll leave it at that.
I also have taken Celexa that entire time, until when I recently found out that I was pregnant. I ran, did yoga, Zumba-ed, lifted weights, swam, biked, and climbed, at least 5 days a week. It still wasn’t enough to completely lift the fog that sometimes literally clouded my vision and made it hard for me to put one foot in front of the other.
And many, many other folks share in my experience.
Here’s why. Trauma changes the very structure of your brain. Trauma can mean all sorts of things. It can mean something like military service. It can mean sexual molestation. It can mean abuse. It can mean childbirth. Sometimes, your brain structure is altered due to genetics as well.
So when one experiences trauma, your brain adapts. It switches from functioning like a typical brain to what I call a “war zone” brain. And you, being the incredibly resilient human being you are, cope in the best way you know how. Sometimes it manifests as profound anxiety, which can mean so many things. Sometimes it can manifest as a phobia, a seemingly irrational fear. Sometimes it manifests as depression or a depressive disorder. And while physical activity can and will help, for those of us suffering with an imbalance of neurotransmitters, there is virtually no amount of dead lifting that can help you to “outrun” a diagnoses disorder.
So when people post things like the meme above, I have a huge, huge problem. Here’s why.
It’s dismissive. People who are suffering with very real illnesses don’t need to be told that running on a trail will heal their illnesses. It’s just as ridiculous as telling someone suffering with any physical ailment – diabetes, a heart attack, hypertension – to treat it with trail running. Now running, or some form of physical activity is necessary to health and wellness, and can help to treat these, but is not a cure. In addition, telling someone their medication is “shit” is, in fact, shitty. As someone who is most certainly not this person’s doctor, it’s really not your business to tell someone being treated that their medication is shit.
What exactly do you know about depression/antidepressants? I happen to know a lot about the nuances of a lot of drugs. I am a social worker by education who happened to have suffered with depression myself. I have some insight. Many people do not. So if your only knowledge of pharmacological treatments is some article you read about school shootings back in 2001, it’s best you keep your ill-informed opinions to yourself.
Everyone is “running their own trail” so to speak. Perhaps you went through a divorce and experienced a bout of sadness (not the same as a clinical diagnosis, by the way). You ran, and now you feel better. Great! I sincerely congratulate you. But recognize that not everyone walks the same path. And your brief dance with sadness does not compare to someone struggling with any of the symptoms of a depressive disorder.
So before you share something like that meme, please think about the fact that there are some people who balance therapy, medications, and physical activity to strike as perfect of a balance as possible to put one foot in front of the other.
Things have been a little crazy at our house this week. We had a lot going on last weekend, holiday parties and such, and on Monday morning, we found out that Austin’s grandmother isn’t doing well. It’s worst for Austin’s mother, and we’re making plans to do some travel between Charlotte, Florence, and here over the next few weeks.
On Sunday, I was in a really weird mood, and after laying on the couch for a while, I decided to take myself for a really really short trail run so I could reset my horrible mood.
As I was running, and picking my feet up over roots and leaping over a teeny stream that ran through the trail, I glanced down at my watch and noted that the first mile had taken me over 11 minutes.
“Why are trail miles so slow,” I thought to myself.
There’s the obvious answer. Trail miles are more technical. You’re not running on a treadmill or down a greenway. There’s deer, tree roots, rocks, and branches. Falling during a trail run is not at all uncommon.
And then I looked up at the leaves falling from the trees.
Maybe trail running is so slow because you’re supposed to notice the thing around you.
Maybe trail running is this huge symbol for life.
It’s hard. It’s hard on your body. It can be hard on your mind. There is stuff in your way. Rocks, roots. A straight-up body of water. I’ve tripped and fallen down. Hard. But maybe that crap is all there to slow you down so that you can remember to look up and around and appreciate the things that don’t suck about the run.
Or maybe I’m a dumb dumb and just feeling really corny since Christmas is this week.
What is your favorite gift you’ll be giving this week?
I did a mean thing. I said a mean thing. I’m still processing why I felt it necessary to say something so nasty.
It sort of was a great reminder – what my friend pointed out to me – and the overwhelming response I received on the piece, of the rules you remember before you make a comment.
Is this true?
Is this kind?
Is this necessary?
Sometimes I say things because I think it will be hysterical, and humor is sort of my default setting because there isn’t a ton that I can be serious about. But I don’t realize how it comes off, or how truly negative and hurtful my words can be.
I appreciate yesterday’s yank back down to reality as a reminder that one, words mean things, and that two, we pick other people apart when we’re not 100% comfortable with ourselves. And in my effort to be better about this, I’m gonna have to not only stop even mentally tearing others down, but also, saying mean things about myself. It’s not doing anyone any good.
All that said, I can’t believe that we’re staring the weekend right in the face, and we’re barreling down on January of 2016.
Here are a few things I’m excited about this weekend:
I couldn’t find anyone to teach aerobics, toning, or step, back to back to back this weekend, so I’m going to eat a nice big healthy breakfast, and then take a crack at it. Bring on the terrible comment cards!
Stacey, a trainer at the gym, told me that I could have her old treadmill that she doesn’t use anymore. In addition to the activity I get outside of the house, it will be SO nice to hide out sometimes and just hop on the treadmill, even if it’s just for a walk while I listen to my podcasts. I DO need to be careful though, that I don’t become somewhat agoraphobic. My anxiety has been a little more active lately, and I don’t want this to be a way for me to hide out from all people all the time.
Napping with my husband. Sometimes, on Saturdays or Sundays, he will lay on one ratty end of the couch, and I will lay on the other, with our knees and feet all tangled in the middle. That’s always the highlight of my week, because we work so much, and we don’t always make a ton of time.
Running. Always a good time to check in and say hi to my body.
I’ve had quite a week. Quite a week.
What are you excited about for this weekend?
Oh yeah, as a bonus, here’s a picture I took of one of my instructors teaching his class.
How cool right?
As much as I damned whine sometimes, I am SO lucky. I write. I get to work out. I work in nonprofit. And I live in a zoo with my husband. I am thankful!
I had a friend run the New York Marathon last weekend. She did great, and with the app (which was awesome, btw), I was able to track her every step. As she approached 26, and I knew that she only had the .2 to go, I felt my heart start to beat faster and faster as I replayed scenes from the last bit of the Chicago Marathon in my head. When she finished, and her bubble disappeared from the tracker, I let out a sigh of relief – I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath – and shot her a quick text. She was done, and she’d done it well!
As I chatted with her about how good she’d felt that day, I really got excited about the prospect of possibly doing Chicago again in the fall of next year. As I was prepping for the race, I told myself that maybe I would hang the marathon shoes up, and run for enjoyment. Get back to doing more yoga, cycling, and more hanging out with my hubs. But there’s some part of me that’s dying for the experience of Chicago.
Blue skies. One of my dearest friends of 5 years. Food. Drinks. The Cubs winning things. Texts from friends as I made my way through the course. My husband telling me that I “look so good” 19 miles in. I find myself absolutely consumed with the idea of running through the streets of Chicago, high fiving folks, reading signs, and flopping down in the grass in the park after I run.
So, back it up to Friday. Friday, I went to work, and had to actually do stuff, but I was really really preoccupied with getting things together for the race. Did I have shoes, did I have shoes? Did I have a little something to carry water in? Had I glanced through the participant packet?
So Saturday, we woke up and it was cloudy and gloomy here. We packed, cleaned the house, and called an Uber to take us to the airport for our fight to Chicago. I’m not a great flier, so I passed some time on the plane when we were waiting to take off by making fun of how poorly designed the safety cards were.
I’m not 100% on who did this artwork, but NO REMOTE CONTROLLED CARS ALLOWED! Bummer, right?
Once we touched down, we took an Uber to the expo, where I was able to pick up my packet. I have to admit, even though I’m smiling in photos, I was not in the best mood. We sat in some traffic, and my anxiety was really starting to get to me. I’m incredibly social, but something about being that the expo was a lot for me. There was a lot of noise, a lot of people, and I found the expo a little confusing to navigate.
After the expo, and after we got a chance to get our bearings (we took a dumb pointless trip on the Metra, a stupid train that we had no business on), we hopped on the blue line to Logan, and met my friend, Lindsay, who let us stay with her.
First-off. Lindsay is amazing. We met at camp like 5 years ago, and were like, immediate besties. She has a cute place, a cute french bulldog, and allowed us to stay at her cute place FOR FREE. It was SO nice to sleep in a bed that wasn’t a hotel and spend time with friends.
So the night before the marathon, Lindsay took us to an AMAZING pizza place. And it wasn’t a regular pizza place, it was Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder. So the place featured a delicious salad with amazing dressing (my favorite was the poppyseed), a flat bread, and a pizza pot pie, none of which I could finish. We headed home, set clothes and an alarm out, and I was in bed by 11pm the night before the marathon.
The Day of.
The day of the Chicago Marathon, I didn’t sleep well. I don’t think you can before a race. I woke up a few times, for fear that I may have overslept, and finally ended up getting up a bit after 5. I’d laid my clothes out, and only needed to jump in the shower for a rinse. I put on some BB cream and some mascara, and headed out to Lindsay to our metro stop.
AND THEN REALIZED I FORGOT MY BIB IN OUR ROOM AT LINDSAY’S.
I need to take this second to apologize to my girlfriend, Linds, who went BACK to her house, grabbed my bib, and basically single-handedly saved the race.
So I have my bib now.
Austin and I rode to the start, and I started to feel myself getting a bit more anxious once we started walking toward my corral. The night before, I’d purchased a men’s shirt for like $4.99 from Walgreens, so I was somewhat warm(ish). I hung around with Austin long enough, and then got into the corral before they told us we couldn’t do it anymore.
By the time I got to the front line, nearly an hour after the race had started, it was about 8:18am, and the sun was up. I started with some music, and the first song I listened to was Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do”. I tried to take it all in. Even now, I don’t think I will ever forget the streets, the shade, the sun. About 4 miles in, I decided to ditch the shirt, and laid it neatly on the side of the road. 6 miles in, I had a Shot Blok with extra sodium, as the temperature started to climb to the mid-70s, and then the upper 70s really quickly.
I’d decided not to run with my GPS, so I was just keeping track of things really loosely by the folks around me, the 4:40 group, and keeping an eye on where I was at each hour. Because of how warm it was, and how quickly it warmed up, I refilled my little handheld often, and I chewed a lot of margarita-flavored Shot Bloks with extra sodium to avoid cramps, stomachaches, barfing, and pooping. Just keepin’ it real.
The first 13.1 miles flew by. The crowds were amazing, and I gave a lot of high fives, smiled a lot, and made it through my amazing playlist. After 13.1, I focused on 19, where I knew two things. One, that I’d made the Paul Ryan Finish, and two, that I’d get to see Austin. So I focused on making it to 19 in good time, while I refilled my bottle, grabbed vaseline, and generally, watched my speed as the temps climbed close to 80 degrees.
Mile 19 came, and a few tenths of a mile in, Austin waved me down.
My dear, sweet husband found a friend. Dawn was not super comfortable with public transit, so Austin and her rode all over Chicago together on an unlimited pass that I clearly was not using at the time. She was so sweet, she opened my Coke for me, and told me how pretty I looked when I got there. She wins.
Miles 20-26.2 sucked, but idk what to say about that because it’s gonna suck and it always will. It was really warm at that point, and I really focused on drinking and staying limber.
Mile 25.5, I was like ::side eye:: but I knew the end was nigh, and decided to chug along. The ONE thing I will say that made me sad, was that as we came to the end, the crowd was pushed further and further out for security reasons. By the end of the race, after we had climbed a small hill, there was no one but volunteers left, and it made me sad to think that two idiots had changed the entire game for everyone.
But I made it to the end, trotted through the finish, and took it all in!
Covered in salt, and sweaty, I made it through, and hiked another mile or so to catch my dear husband, who wasn’t allowed anywhere near the finish line (no one was).
BALLER. Do Chicago. Do it. It was amazing. I want to move there. Minus the freezing cold in the winter. Everything else. The food, everything. It all can stay.
Yesterday, the world of pop culture, my world was ROCKED by photos of Justin Bieber on vacation in Bora Bora.
Should I have been probably biting my nails to the quick in prep for Sunday’s marathon?
Yep, probably. But instead, my friend Mollie and I set about assaulting as many people has we could with photos of Justin Bieber *ahem* enjoying some time in Bora Bora, and gauging reaction. Reactions ranged from ::eyes looking emojii:: to “leave me alone!”
I’d say, all in all, my day was a success as far as that was concerned.
For dinner tonight, I was on my own since the Austin Samps was playing volleyball with some friends. I made a tofu steak and a teeny sweet potato. I bought the regular sweet taters, and not the ones you get at the farmer’s market. For some silly reason, these babies are grown smaller (and less soily) so it’s really like eating a little bite of baby potato. I only can eat half of the ones from the farmers market.
I got some more Qalo. Mostly because Austin’s ring was starting to get a little stretched, and I had my eye on the athletics collection. But I love this color. I’m hoping to partner with them on a post soon. Cross your fingers!
Jen posted these photos from the Headbands of Hope fashion show I did a few weeks back. In every pic, I look like I’m having the time of my life. ALSO, I look like my butt is huge. Whatevs. I squat a lot more than I have ever squatted in my life. I generally can say, eating differently, my chest, arms, and booty are much more beefy. I’m still shaped extraordinarily like my brother. Tall, long, and lanky. It comes from the Jonassaints. My brother’s brother used to have to bend down to get into doorways. But I’m definitely starting to pack more muscle onto my 5’8″ frame.
Ok. So time for a serious question. I will blow this up on social media.
I don’t think I’m listening to Spotify for most of Chicago on Sunday. Maybe for a first few miles, just because I struggle with anxiety during that “pre-race chatter” part of a race. BUT for those first few, I will take suggestions from some of you beloveds. I need something that makes me smile. Not something that was on my wedding playlist, because I’ve been known to cry (hard) when I’m being really physical (bawled during ‘Roar’ and ‘Run the World’ during a race because I appreciate what Queen Bey and Katy Cat have done for me and women). But, all that said.
What songs would you suggest for my marathon playlist?