Is anyone else as skeeved out by this warm weather as I am?
I know things are sort of varying if you’re reading in the US. It’s hot as balls – literal balls – here in North Carolina, and yesterday, when I went for a run and did a little bit of speed work, I was dripping, summer-style, in my eyes and in my mouth.
So Austin and I have been making horrible jokes about how the high is going to be 120 degrees every day this summer, all the while feeling really nervous about global warming.
I’ve also heard that this is maybe like an El Nino type thing, and we could be fine. But all I’m saying is that I’m not trying to live through hellpocolypse ’16. So please, mother nature, if you can hear me, I just want you to know that I drinking out of non-disposable bottles and I recycle. So give me some good points for that, pretty please?
So, we’ve had a sort of eventful last week or so. In addition to work being busy (as usual), Austin’s grandmother passed leading up to Christmas, and the week was full of a lot of phone calls, a day off work, and a lot of busy things with family. We are at peace with her death. She lived a really long life. I enjoyed writing her letters, and actually, the Saturday before she fell ill (this is literal hours) we got a card from her. She rocks.
So instead of heading down to Charlotte or Mint Hill for the holiday, we laid really low, and on Christmas Eve, we went to Irregardless Café for some vegan dinner.
I almost ordered something different, but I went with my standby, the vegan shepard’s pie. We drove around, and settled in and listened to a little bit of this week’s episode of Serial. Which, by the way, if anyone would like to discuss Serial, I really would love your insight. All I will say, so I don’t spoil it, is that Bowe’s logic is seriously screwy.
The night before Christmas, we watched A Christmas Story, and listened to my neighbors music. They’re big reggae fans evidently.
Christmas Day, I woke up super early, and throughout the night, my neighbors continued playing their music. They’re old hippies and really sweet though, so I can’t quite bring myself to go over there and crush their spirits.
Austin and I finally dragged ourselves out of bed, and managed to go for a long walk. I made some dinner – salads to counter our nonstop holiday eating, and we walked again.
The next day, the day after Christmas Austin and I sort of split up. He worked on the yard, and I went to Starbucks, and then took myself on a gorgeous run near our old condo. I love that area because it’s always sidewalked, and I get to go house shopping in an area where it would not be financially advisable to buy.
It was warm enough for no shirt, so I continued the workout in the driveway, until I decided to finally clean my car.
And THAT was Christmas ’15.
How was your Christmas ’15. Was Santa good to you?
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 have been really struggling with my body this week. Which seems silly. My body is capable of amazing things. I’ve run marathons. I teach multiple classes a week, sometimes multiple classes a day. Sometimes, I look in the mirror in the morning, and see something awesome. And yet, this week, when Aunt Flo decided to visit a few days early, and I put on a teeny bit of weight after what I felt was an amazing week at the gym, everything went to hell, and I became uncomfortably aware of how much physical space I was taking up.
I found the responses to last week’s post really interesting. IRL, as well as online, I heard a lot from you guys (which I love). However, the most intriguing responses came from the folks who’d shared on it in an online Trail and Ultra Running group I’ve been a part of. Many folks commended my friend for calling me out, as they should have. A few folks commended me for admitting what an asshole I’d been. And more than most admitted to feeling poorly about their own bodies. Some admitted to doing what I’d done, turning the things they felt were negative about themselves into rules that dictate what others should wear, and how they should wear it.
What’s so interesting about this group is that these folks are capable, strong humans. Some of them truly do look like models. Some look like fitness models. Some are overweight. Some don’t look like “typical” runner. Some do. However, their running and their capabilities are in no way defined by their looks. So why all the angst as it relates to our bodies, especially considering the fact that at the very least, in that group especially, our bodies are capable of running endless miles on rugged terrain?
When did we get so aware of our bodies, and what they should look like?
For me, I remember being 120 lbs as a freshman in high school. I struggled with my looks, the way I’m sure all 14-year-olds did. I was sitting in a civics, and I looked down. I was wearing a fitted top, and noticed the part of my tummy that was hanging over the edge of my jeans. I pinched it. I pinched it again. To this day when I’m feeling anxious or particularly down, I will look down, grab that little roll, and pinch. No matter how small or how round it’s gotten.
I’m not sure how I learned that behavior, or what drew me to became aware of this part of my body. However, at 13 or 14, I knew that there was something “wrong” with it. And, as I talked about last week, the things I find “wrong” with myself, I look for in others.
All of that said, I do identify with the fact that not everything I’m thinking is logical or right. I recently ran a marathon. I have incredible physical strength. I just completed a grueling vinyasa sculpt class with minimal nausea. I should have incredible gratitude for my body, these limbs, these muscles that get me from more than point A to point B. But, my first instinct, my first learned behavior is to be critical of the physical manifestation of who I am.
At what point did you become aware of your body? What does your body mean to you?
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.
If you’re squeamish about periods and stuff, grow up um, perhaps skip to the end and I will put a picture of a cat in a cup so you don’t have to think about menses.
But for you ladies that are active and have a period, let’s chat the shedding of your uterine lining.
So, I was on the Mirena for a long, long time, and didn’t have a period. When I got into discussions with other women about it, a lot of folks were really quick to let me know that they felt that there was no way that this could be healthy, which I internally rolled my eyes out. I run like a million miles a day, eat rabbit food, and drink kombucha. I’ll take no period, and hope I work out enough to offset the risk. That they claim there is none of, but whatevs.
So after 5 years on the Mirena, the clock had run out, and I got the Mirena removed. It came out about a million times easier than the insertion, and it came out without incident. I had a little spotting, and then, a few weeks later, I had my first period in nearly half a decade. It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t pretty, and I found myself buying a fairly expensive collection of tampons, some scented, for the first time since camp.
I tried something similar to the Diva Cup some years ago, called Instead, with a lot of issue. My friend Melanie suggested that I try that Diva Cup, as she had been practicing with it in prep for international travel, and tampons aren’t super easy to purchase OR store overseas.
I googled it, and got one from the Harris Teeter, and waited for my next period.
It took like 3 full cycles, and a lot of googling for me to figure out. But I think I’m a fan of the Diva Cup!
A few women I’ve told about it have been really skeptical, almost to the point of disgust as it pertains to a menstrual cup. And then this somewhat ignorant article started circulating, and I realized that I needed to set the record straight regarding menstrual cups.
What are they?
They’re pictured above. Instead of using a pad or a tampon, that absorbs blood, the idea is that the cup collects blood to be disposed of later.
For me, the menstrual cup was a good option because of a really heavy flow. I had this issue as a teen, and it reappeared when I got my period again after Mirena. My period is really heavy. I’ve combated it with exercise and anti-inflammatories, but I was having a really hard time keeping a tampon in for longer than like 2 or 3 hours. The Diva holds a bit more than the tampon does, and if you get it in correctly, you don’t get that terrible string leak that has ruined most of my good undies. They also hold up well with and during exercise, and my tampons just weren’t doing that.
For one, you need to be completely comfortable with your vagina. If you’re not, and you’re grossed out by it, that’s something that needs to change, or you’re in for a really rude awakening. Vaginas are capable of a lot. It’s not something to be weirded out by or ashamed of. For me, that wasn’t hard to get past, but I read that some women are just grossed out by that.
Once you’re passed the vagina bit, you’re looking at this cup, and you’re not sure what to do with it. You can read the instructions, but that’s just not fun. Look at a few blogs, look at YouTube, and you will be just fine.
For me, without getting too graphic, I had to relax, like super relax, and sitting with my bum on the floor of my shower seemed to be the easiest and most comfortable.
Getting it out proved to be another area of learning for me. You don’t just yank it out. There is a little bit of wiggle involved.
And finally, the disposal of the thing is best done at home (in my experience). It gives you a chance to remove, wash, and reinsert with little problem. Of course, you can’t always be at home, and that’s been my largest struggle to date. But it’s doable, and to me, I feel a little bit better now that I’m not spending tons of money on scented “sport” tampons, and I don’t feel gross and leaky all the time.
As an active woman who has struggled with a heavy period, I really needed a change. Doing the Mirena again wasn’t really something I was super interested in – though we’re not super trying for kids, I want my body to do its own thing for a time, and go through it’s natural monthly cycle, which I’d love to talk about more in another post.
Hear me loud and clear. I will never be one of those people who will post repetitive articles about how birth control is the downfall of humanity and blah blah – it did a lot of good for me, but now is not its time for me.
With that, comes my period, and for me, the Diva has been the most sustainable, least messy, and most collective option that there is out there. If you’re skeptical, but looking for a way to manage each month I would really encourage you to check out Diva.
I feel like…there are just not enough hours in the day. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. In fact, I know I’m not, because my mom tells me all the time that she needs more time to do stuff. And I’m 100%, completely in agreement.
Anyhoo, moving right along. My weekend.
So, the weekend started off furiously. Because of a little hiccup at work, I had to pull together a Zumba/Cardio Dance party within a matter of like 5 days. and surprisingly, it came off without a single hitch.
So Friday at 6:30, we started, and danced literally for like two hours nonstop. Surprisingly, coming off the heels of Chicago, I felt really good, and someone from the class even remarked they were surprised I was moving so well. They clearly have not seen my thighs, which, as of 10/19/15, have not fully regained all the skin that used to be on them. Dang chub rub!
So, bright and early on the next morning, I headed down to Elon to start homecoming. I’d skipped the step show the night before, which was probably for the best. Not because I hate step shows, but because that’s a lot of drinking on a Friday night of me. My first official Elon Homecoming event was an inaugural 5k through campus to show off some newer construction. Of COURSE I ran it, and at the finish line, I made some friends in a young couple, one of whom had attended Elon. We hit it off, and I somehow made friends enough that we were able to go freshen up in their hotel room (after we got all sweaty), hit the Food Lion and made it back in plenty of time to start tailgating. We heated up the grill, drank beers, and traipsed all over campus, eventually making it over to the Elon Black Alumni Networks’ tent for food, the Black Cultural Society tent where folks seemed to be hanging out, and eventually, Twisted Measure’s tent, where we had more beers and food. We hung out there until campus security had us wrap it up, and then we walked over to the Twisted Measure house, where we carved pumpkins, I took a nap, and we danced for a good portion of the night, with small breaks to visit others at different houses or parties.
Sunday, after something of a late start, I took some time for myself, without the noise and hustle and bustle of seeing tons of people you haven’t seen in forever, and walked around campus by myself. I went to the campus store, to an old sandwich shop I spent a lot of time in in school, and drove through town before winding my way back to Raleigh.
I know it sounds corny, but there is just something so special about seeing folks who knew you when you were a baby. Some of us are married now. Some of us have fancy jobs. Some of us have kids. And it’s so cool to see someone that knew you as a baby, see you when you’re just a little bit more sure and confident.
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?