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Endings & Beginnings.

My first “Blog Day” fell on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012. I sat at my desk at work, manically refreshing my web browser until suddenly, there it was. I held my breath, cringing at my name, at that god awful picture of myself in a coral sundress resembling a muumuu. I started to imagine all the ex-boyfriends, ex-best friends, family friends, co-workers who could be reading what suddenly felt far too personal to be sharing out loud. Too late.

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And before I could fire off the text saying that I changed my mind about this whole ordeal, people responded. Old friends.(Soon to be) new friends. Family members. High school classmates. Saying they were proud of me, they were inspired by me, that they too felt these things. And although it was sometimes downright embarrassing to lay it all out there, it was these encouraging words that helped me continue to share my story.

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Once my Rockstar journey wrapped up I moved my musings to this little site. My space to write, vent, share goals, fears, accomplishments. I’ve always felt like I was just talking to you, my friend, instead of posting off into the wide open interwebs. And because I love routine, I continued to write my weekly post for the next 119 Wednesdays (give or take a few schedule changes).

Last week was the first week there was no Blog Day.

I had been thinking about it for a while, going back and forth on how long I would continue this. The decision didn’t come easily. Running is my outlet. Writing is too. Together they have helped me on this long, hard, absolutely incredible journey of self discovery. I never started blogging to become famous, or because I wanted it to become my career (Sponsored posts and giveaways just aren’t my cup of tea). I wrote with two purposes.

In a world where thigh gaps are given more praise than powerful quads and wedding dresses are sized to make us feel like bridal hippopotamuses, I wanted to put it all out there. I wanted to tell the girls who are sausaged into their size 14 jeans that I’ve been there, that I know what it’s like to feel trapped in a body you don’t want. That some days you tell yourself you’re going to start skipping lunch to lose weight, only to end up eating everything in sight at 9pm. That I’ve cried in front of a mirror and a pile of clothes that just don’t fit. I wanted to tell anyone who’s ever felt these feelings that it’s okay to ask for help. To want to live a healthier life, even if it currently seems impossible. That teaching yourself to run is hands down the shittiest and most empowering experience of your life. That finding people who love, encourage, and support you can open you up to a world you never thought possible. That learning to love your body for what it can do instead of how it compares to others is a breath of fresh air you’ve just never felt before.

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Ever since I dove into this adventure (come on now- I’m a swimmer and we all know I love a good analogy) I’ve had so many supports to keep me afloat. Nutrition, personal training sessions, triathlon swim classes… my version of Swimmies and Noodles. And while I’ll never stop appreciating the support they’ve provided- I’ve known when it was time to try and swim a few strokes on my own. In a way, this blog has been another form of support. In the beginning I needed it to keep me on track, to keep me from chickening out on these big scary goals. I don’t know that I need that anymore. This little slice of the internet has become my very own virtual scrapbook. Anytime I’m in doubt, anytime I feel like I can’t do something, I have all of these experiences to go back to. I can go back to what it was like the day I lost 50 pounds. What running 3 miles without stopping felt like. The unbelievable experience of my first triathlon. The mental struggle of my first half marathon. The fact that I ran the BOSTON F’ING MARATHON. All of those accomplishments live here, along with the feelings, bad days, and hard work that went into them. And just like all the other supports I’ve had along the way, I know that in the off chance I start to panic and sink on my own, I can reach right back out for help.

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So maybe this isn’t a goodbye, maybe it’s just a see you later. Maybe after a few weeks without Wednesday morning posts I will realize that I miss my little piece of the world. And because I don’t want to say goodbye and I love a good quote- I want to end today’s post with one of my favorites.  I found it on a card at the end of my Rockstar sessions and it so appropriately fit that time in my life. It does again now.

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That is the beginning” – Louis L’Amour

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Three.

Dear Half Ass,

The last of the gray snow piles are melting. The days are getting longer, the birds are once again becoming a familiar background noise. Around you everyone’s minds are turning to baseball season, flip flop weather, garden planning. And while these things are on your mind too there’s something else that these chilly spring evenings remind you of. Something even better.

It’s now been three years. Three years since that night you sucked in your breath (and your gut), wiped your sweaty palms, and walked through that door. Three years since you finally admitted that you wanted help, to change, a different lifestyle. In some way the memories of those days seem blurry- it’s hard to imagine life without sweat, burpees, long runs and sore muscles. But sometimes you remember every single detail of how truly hard those days were.

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It’s been an incredible journey to watch – highs and lows, weight losses and gains. Training cycles, My Fitness Pal, bedtime stories, egg muffins.  I sat back and winced as you struggled through your first mile, watched your face beam as you ran a 5K without stopping, saw you cross the finish line of your first half marathon. I saw you learn how to swim, become a triathlete. Watched your strength and confidence change as your body did. I saw the satisfaction in your face when your jeans slid down your waist, caught you discovering muscles in places you never knew existed. I cheered at the finish line as you cruised into PRs, and comforted you as you learned that not every race goes as planned. I watched you form the most incredible bonds with people you never expected to have anything in common with. At first you were nervous to trust them but you quickly learned how much they cared about you, how much they just want to see you succeed.

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It’s hard to believe that three years ago you stood in Kenmore Square, in your tight fitting size 14 shorts, wondering why anyone in their right mind would ever run 26.2 miles … FOR FUN. It’s even harder to believe that in just 16 days you will join thousands of other athletes (which by the way, you are now too!) at the start line in Hopkinton. You will stand there knowing that you have trained just as long and just as hard as everyone else to run the greatest race in the world. You have changed your body, your lifestyle, your mind, all for this. You will make that epic trek from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. And when you cross that finish line you will have proved that you truly can do anything if you set your mind to it.

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People like to joke about how you continue to celebrate this day, but you and I both know how important it is to you. Important that you celebrate, that you remember the journey it took to get to this place, and that it doesn’t stop here. I know I’m quick to judge you – to nag you that you run too slow or that your thighs are too big – but the truth is that I couldn’t be more proud of you. I don’t tell you that nearly enough.

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The sky is the limit girlfriend. Happy Anniversary.

XOXO,

Bad Ass

Year One | Year Two

That white dress

Three days.

In just three days I will put on the white dress I knew was mine from the minute I saw it. In three days I will walk down the grassy aisle, stand in front of my closest friends and family and declare my love for the boy I met eleven years ago this month. It still doesn’t feel real to me.

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Babies (and just friends) in 2003.

 

One would think it should have sunk in by now, since we’ve literally had the longest engagement in history (Ok maybe not the longest – but over two and a half years is a pretty long time). There were many factors in our endless engagement, some of which didn’t surface until after our decision, confirming my belief once again that everything happens for a reason. But the biggest factor was the girl I was on that bitterly cold February night.

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One of the few pictures of us I have from the months around our engagement.

I can make the joke now that he didn’t “slip the ring on” – because it was incredibly tight on my pudgy little finger. In the days after we got engaged I would take my ring off and assess the imprint it had left on my skin, the same way my jeans did. And I think that’s when the panic really set in. I couldn’t imagine myself in a white gown. I couldn’t think about standing in front of my closest friends and family, looking the way I did at that moment. The road from Point A to Point B was impossible.

We all know well by now that I did make it from Point A to Point B. And I couldn’t have made it there without this incredible guy by my side the entire journey. When I came home and told him that I had found a local studio that I thought would be the answer to all my problems his response was “Call them up!”. When I cried the first week because I was hungry and too sore to move he carefully portioned out my dinner for me, brought it to the table, and told me he was proud of me. He would leave water bottles in the freezer for when I got home from bootcamp that first summer. He celebrated every pound lost with me, and he reminded me of how far I had come whenever I got frustrated. He came to cheer me on at my first race, and has rarely missed one since. When I finished my first double digit run I crawled into the house to a card and a box of Lush bath supplies because he was so proud of me for sticking with it. I smile when I catch him talking about me to someone because even though he doesn’t know a thing about running, I can hear in his voice just how proud he is.

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My biggest cheerleader, always.

Sometimes I feel incredibly selfish for the amount of time I absorb in working out, training, running, racing. I feel guilty that I go to bed early on Friday nights because I have a long run on Saturday. I feel bad that sometimes I’m too tired and sore to do anything besides lay on the couch. But I know that at the end of the day I’m not just doing this for me. I’m doing this for us, for our future. Someday I want to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. I’m doing this because someday I want to be that mom whose kids are used to Saturday mornings in their jammies in the running stroller. I’m doing this because I want to show my children what it means to be strong, to face challenges, and to take care of your body. I want to grow old with the love of my life in the best way possible.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to put on that gorgeous white gown on Saturday. I know how much sweat, how many tears, how many miles and inches and pounds I have fought through to get to that dress. But the truth is- I’m more excited for what comes after that white dress. Excited for this new adventure together, excited to see what comes next.  Andy has never seen me for anything other than the person he loves, even my worst times. But a relationship is that much stronger when you learn how to love yourself just as much.

And so in just three days I will begin both the shortest- and longest race of my life. A race that isn’t about how fast I get to the finish line, but enjoying it for as long as I possibly can. But just like everything else these days, it’s just right, left, right. 🙂

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The girl from the past.

I could tell you one of two stories today. The first story would be about the girl who’s back in action after an injury, training for her half marathon and everything is going smoothly. And while that’s happening there’s a more important story to tell. This one is about the girl who’s well… struggling a bit. And since I’ve kept this blog going with the intention of always being honest and using it as a tool to hold myself accountable- I will stick to the latter story.

For the last few months I’ve been coasting. I thought I had this whole maintence thing down. I thought I was invincible. And as a result… I got a bit careless. A few too many fro-yo dates. A couple extra nights where I drank at dinner. The old “I just ran 5 miles so I can eat everything in sight” mentality. Invincibility disolved when the scale recently started showing a slightly higher number than I’m used to a little too frequently. Not enough to make a difference… but enough to make a difference.

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I of course went into panic mode. I stood in front of the mirror and tried to pinpoint the culprit spots on my body. My brain immediately transformed what I was looking at in front of me to “that girl” from days gone by. I felt my stomach jump up into my throat. And while I tried to blame it on a million different life factors that I have going on at the moment, in my heart I knew the underlying factor.

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This is where I want to hang my head in shame and disappointment. I’m the rockstar, the success story – I shouldn’t be backtracking here. I’m supposed to be thriving, running away from that girl of the past, not letting her creep back in. And as if admitting it to myself isn’t hard enough- the fact that I openly tell my story to the entire world (well, whoever actually reads this little blog) is even more mortifying. Nothing like airing your dirty laundry smack in the middle of the interwebs.

I had two choices. I could deny that this was happening… or I could confront it. I’ve been down that first road before. I remember watching the scale climb higher and higher and pretending I didn’t notice… until it got to the point where I was crying for help. So I did what I knew I had to do. I admitted my setback. I asked for help. I clung to my lifeline.

Ironically just a short while ago I actually saw the girl of the past, in the form of another person. At first glance I was annoyed by her. And then I remembered what that felt like. I remembered that frustrating feeling of being trapped in a body. I remember what it felt like to not be able to do a sit-up, to steam in envy over someone who could run more than from one light pole to the next. It was a very real life reminder of where I’ve come from and what I sometimes take for granted now as the years and months go by. And more importantly- it was a reminder that I am not invincible. I don’t get to move on and pretend the past never happened. This is a part of my story, and my life, forever.

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So I’m going to pick my head back up. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and start fresh. I’m going to put one foot in front of the other. And while I’m disappointed in my small setback, I’m proud of myself for recognizing it. I’m proud of myself for admitting it. I’m proud of myself for blogging about it. And I’m proud of myself for promising that I will keep moving forward- I’ve worked too damn hard to ever see that girl in the mirror again.

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Just keeping it real here kids.

My Happily-Ever-After

“You can be anywhere when your life begins.
You meet the right person and anything is possible.”
– Crazy/Beautiful

I’ve never been one who can recite dialogues or sputter off movie quotes so it amazes me that a line from a teenage movie has stuck in my head for so long. And when I think back to April 4th, 2012 it immediately comes back to mind. Clearly on that chilly spring night, a part of my life was just beginning.
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A year ago today I sat here and told you how I had just climbed my own personal Mount Everest. I had accomplished what was at one point in my mind was the un-thinkable. The evidence could be seen in my face, in my body, in my clothes, in my smile. I had fought a battle, and I had won. I thought I had it all figured out, that from here on out it was all downhill.

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And now here I am, a second year gone by. To the eye it appears that not much has changed. In fact- I’ll confess that I haven’t budged out of the same 5 pound weight range for the last 365 days. And while you might consider that a disappointment the truth is it is an even greater victory to celebrate. Losing weight is one thing. Maintaining it is a whole new ballgame. It means this isn’t just a phase anymore. This is my life.

For several months I would wake up in a panic that I would look in the mirror and my old body would be back. That this was just all a big dream. After a year of maintenance I now know… this IS my body. I get to keep it. I get to use it to do all of these amazing things I never dreamed I would be doing. All it asks in return is that I take care of it.
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Success in year two can’t be measured in simply pounds or inches. It’s measured in new experiences, in accomplishments. In 10Ks, half marathons, triathlons. It can be seen in my confidence, in my personality, in my happiness.

Maybe some day I’ll stop remembering April 4th. I’ll forget what I was wearing and how nervous I was. Maybe someday it will just be another day out of the year. It’s already getting hard to distinguish between what happened in year one and year two. It’s already difficult to remember what I did before I spent my days running, swimming, downward-dogging. The girl in the “before pictures” is becoming more and more of a distant memory, like someone stuck Kathleen in a fat suit. And while at some point I imagine this will all just be another chapter in the story of my life, for now I will remember. I will remember all those details, and all those milestones. I will celebrate happiness, strength, confidence. I will smile at the fact that on the night of April 4th I had no idea what was in store for me.

My story isn’t a “happily-ever-after”. It’s a “happily-as-you’re-gonna-work-for-it”. It’s not a story of magic tricks but of hard work, and not giving up. My fairy godmother didn’t cast any spells- she simply believes in me. She pushes me, and challenges me, she inspires me to keep going. My story is full of ups and downs, of challenges and successes. Tears of frustration and of pride. And the best part is? It doesn’t end here. My story has still just begun.

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Birthday lessons.

Today marks the first birthday of the Half Ass Bad Ass (The blog, not the person). I can’t believe I’m still here, a year later. In the beginning I gave this thing a lifespan of 4 months before I got bored, or ran out of things to say. But here I am today, 52 Wednesdays later, still rambling 🙂

More impressive than 52 blog posts is that this means I’ve survived a year “on my own”. I say that very loosely as I’ve had all the continued support, love, and guidance I could ask for.  But most of you know that I started this blog as I wrapped up my incredible 12 weeks as a Rockstar, and so this was a place for me to document life and hold myself accountable as I re-entered “the real world” as this smaller, healthier version of myself. The last 52 weeks have been about me… living life as I now know it.

In trying to figure out how to eloquently put together my thoughts about this last year I was reminded of the lessons I’ve been learning. Many of them I have yet to achieve, but they are things I am working on. I hear them constantly and I know that at some point, they will all click. So to celebrate the last 12 months of my life, here are my 12 biggest lessons:

1. For as many times as you say “I’ll never ______”-  chances are you’re gonna try it. And you’ll probably up liking it. If for some reason you don’t hey, at least you have a reason. For all the bitching I did about yoga … it is now one of my favorite parts of the week. Seafood and I, on the other hand, will probably never have a loving relationship. New things are scary. Challenges are scary. The unknown is ABSOLUTELY PETRIFYING. But I’m learning that the scarier the challenge, the greater the reward is. The only regret I’ve had so far? That I didn’t try these things sooner.
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2. You can’t always measure success by a number on the scale. There are SO many other amazing ways to measure progress:  When push-ups no longer require your knees, fitting into a dress you haven’t worn in 3 years,  when you run a mile further than you did last week. The most important measure of success? It’s how you feel. When you wake up every day comfortable in your skin, feeling confident, feeling strong… well there’s just no number that speaks louder than that.

3. DO NOT try anything new on race day. On that same note, don’t show up at a race barely fueled and expect to feel good at the finish line (if you even make it there).

4. Food is not the enemy. Food is part of life, food is what makes you strong. You should never beat yourself up over a meal. Life is too short to not enjoy a donut with your buddy every now and then.

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5. Trust your training. Trust your body. Trust all the hard work you’ve put in. Trust those who believe in you. And most importantly- trust yourself that you can do it. Because without that last part, none of those other statements matter.

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6. Find your balance, whatever that may be. It’s easy to get caught up in training, paces, numbers and goals. Take a step back and breathe when it gets overwhelming. Focus on something else. When you start letting it consume you is when it stops being fun.

7. Bad runs happen. Bad races happen too. You get the car ride home to sulk and then it’s time to pull yourself together, wipe your tears, and pick a new goal to work towards.

8. Respect your body- both with what you do to it and how you speak of it. Fuel it properly, listen when it is giving you signs that you need a rest. Get massages. Stretch. And when you stand in front of the mirror, stop picking apart your imperfections. Those thighs and legs that you think are big and bulky? Think about the miles of abuse they put up with.  For all the shit they take, they deserve a little praise every now and then. Those stretch marks that seem like they stick out? They are the battle scars of a fight you (and your health) won. Be proud of your journey.

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9. The only person you should be competing against is yourself. When you spend all your time worrying about who is running faster and further you have no energy left to focus on your own goals.

10. There is no set time that passes, or one qualifying act that deems you “a real runner”. When lacing up your shoes fills you with a happiness words can’t describe, when you feel the burning desire to become better… you are a real runner.  When a run kicks your ass to the curb, but you get up the next day and try again… you are a real runner. Don’t ever say it with a ? at the end, with hesitation. Say it boldly, say it proudly, hold your head up high … “I am a runner.”

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11. In yoga we’re often told to find something in the room to keep us steady. This goes for life outside of yoga class as well. Find that something or someone that steadies you. Keeps you focused. Is there to lean on when you start to feel wobbly.

12. Remember the reason behind why you do this, why it’s important to you. Take a minute every day and remind yourself why you’re inspired, what it is that lights that fire in your soul. What better version of yourself to be than the best one possible? 🙂

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A balancing act.

If you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all.

We’ve heard this saying over and over again our entire lives. As much as I try to practice it let’s be honest- I’m a girl, and sometimes I can be a total bitch. So what happens when you write a weekly personal blog and quite frankly, don’t have anything nice to say? What happens when things get personal, and you realize you’re writing to an unknown audience (Or even worse, people you know!)? Do you just skip a blog day? Post an empty page? Or do you make up some sunshine-and-happiness-bs, post an inspirational quote, and pretend like you’re fine?

Ever since my first post I’ve tried to write in the confines of “keeping it nice”. I never want this to be a space of doom and gloom, whining, and looking for sympathy. But at the same time- I made a promise to myself that I’d always keep it real. I’m not going to tell you how glorious I feel if in reality I just want to crawl in bed and eat my weight in mac ‘n cheese. Trust me- you’ll know.

So I’m getting personal here. Spilling my deep dark thoughts. I’ve been feeling pretty half ass lately. Definitely not working to my full potential. My workouts have been off, but with reason: I’ve been sick (yes, the same god damn cold that I’ve had since Christmas Eve), my shins had been really inflamed, and the Polar Vortex struck earth. All logical reasons as to why I haven’t been able to do what I normally do. But in my head, they sound like a bunch of excuses. And excuses landed me where I was two years ago. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard that I’m never going to get better unless I slow down, or that I need to let my shins recover, or that I just need to take a rest day. But in my twisted head, rest days are a sign of weakness. In my mind a day off is going to spiral into the Kathleen who used to go to the gym on Monday, take Tuesday off, and by Wednesday was back at square one. I can’t stop, won’t stop, because quite simply I’m terrified of what will happen when I do.

So while I pushed through the sickness, and the shin pain, and the freezing cold, I could see the spiral happening. When I quit my swim workout in frustration that I couldn’t even make it a half mile without a break, I knew something was wrong. And when what was supposed to be a 4 mile tempo run put me into crying hysterics, the red flag came up. This isn’t okay, this isn’t normal. But what do you do when the thing that you love and is your de-stresser in life.. is stressing you out?

I headed to yoga Sunday morning hoping to quiet my mind and soothe my tired body. But I found myself fumbling through warrior pose, and that quiet time at the end when you’re supposed to lie all still and relaxed? I am surprised the entire room couldn’t hear my thoughts.

For the past year and a half I’ve been on a whirlwind of a journey, there’s no denying it. My body is different, my mindset is different, even my soul feels different. Before I even finish one goal I’m thinking about the next. It’s no wonder I’m exhausted. I’m sure the trained professionals and those who read my blog but can’t stand me (I know you’re out there…I’m a bitch too remember?) have been waiting for the inevitable crash.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’m still new to this world. Still testing my little runner legs. There’s so much out there I want to learn, and do, and prove to myself and I’ll get there eventually. But I need to find my way, find my balance.

So here’s to a new week. Clear(er) lungs. Shins that are frozen not from the Polar Vortex, but from the ice massages I’ve been faithfully giving myself. Here’s to taking it one step at a time. To listening to my body when it needs a break. To trusting those who know best. Here’s to finding my balance so that this world I’ve discovered lasts me a lifetime.

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Since you been gone…

Dear 52 pounds,

It’s been exactly a year since we last saw each other. And I have to be honest.. I haven’t missed you. Well, that’s kind of a lie. When it’s $&!-ing freezing cold out like this I joke that I want my fat back. But in reality I hope I never see you again.

NYE 2012

NYE 2012

And although another 13ish of your little friends eventually joined you, it was our initial breakup that freed me. Gave me my groove back. Made me into the person I am today. It was incredibly hard work, but saying goodbye to you was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  I hate to be the one to tell you this but our breakup? Best thing that ever happened to me.

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If you’ve been following my blog up in fat heaven (Where you disappeared to is still one of life’s great mysteries) you already know that I’ve been pretty busy since our breakup. I haven’t had much time to grieve your loss. Busy doing things like trying to see how fast I can swim half a mile, running half marathons, doing push ups, conquering hills on a bike, learning how to box, and getting my namaste on. And that’s just the beginning of the great things I have planned. You see- I’m learning that when you were in my life I spent a lot of time sitting around and wishing I could do things. And now? I go out and I do them. I try new things, even if they scare me shitless. I push myself. I eat to fuel my body. I sweat. I learn. I set big goals.

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After we broke up I changed my name from “Fat Kid” to “Athlete”. Runner. Triathlete. Half Marathoner. Don’t all those titles sound so much better to you? I sure think so.

Since you’ve been gone you’ve missed some pretty incredible moments. Like the day I couldn’t stop staring at the girl in the wedding dress in the full length mirror. Or what it felt like the day I tried to lift all the weight I had lost. The amazing mess of hugs and tears when I realized I had just finished something I never thought I could do. When my feet crossed the finish line of my first half marathon. When I found myself in a store saying out loud “How is there every size of running tights except small?“. Yup, all these things really, truly happened.

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Last year on New Year’s Eve I didn’t come up with any resolutions. I simply had a goal of not seeing you return, and to keep doing what I had been doing. It’s one thing to lose over 50 pounds but to keep it off for an entire year? Well that right there deserves a party hat and noisemakers for sure. And to ring in this new year? Keep setting new goals, keep registering for races. Keep swimming. Keep running, keep running, keep running. Keep surprising myself. Keep trying new things. Keep learning, keep growing, keep changing. Keep being proud. Keep being awesome.

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Love,
Kathleen (the Athlete/Triathlete/Half Marathoner/Rockstar/Bad Ass)

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Being Thankful.

You’d have to be living under a rock to not notice the daily “Today I am thankful for” posts going around on the internet. And while I didn’t make it a point to join in on the daily acknowledgments, it does seem appropriate on the day before Thanksgiving to list some of the things that I am eternally grateful for. I hope this post doesn’t come off in a “Look how perfect my life is” way because it’s not- I promise you. I have just as many bad days and shitty moments as the next person… but I also have had a lot of wonderful things in my life that deserve recognition.

I am thankful for my family- both the one that I was born into and the one that I am marrying into. I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such a strong and loving group of individuals. They are at my side for every crazy new direction I take and with that are there to either celebrate alongside me or pick me back up when I fall.

I am so thankful for this guy.

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Almost every picture of me running on this blog was taken by him standing patiently at a finish line. Frigid temperatures, blazing sun… he is always there to cheer me on and to tell me how proud he is of me. He doesn’t get the madness behind why I run, but he gets that it makes me so happy. Tomorrow he will run his first 5K not because he loves running, but because he loves me.

I am thankful for my friends, who know all of my imperfections and yet choose to love me anyways. For the ones who I don’t have to clean my house for, the ones I can call for anything, the ones who I giggle with over things no one else would ever find funny. For old friends who have known me through the good times and the bad, and new ones who have jumped in alongside me in my journey almost seamlessly.

I’m thankful for finding a place that gave me the push and the support to make changes in myself that I was to afraid to make on my own. For walls that have seen sweat, tears, and pounds disappear, only to be replaced by confidence, strength and happiness. A place that will forever be my favorite place to be.

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I’m thankful for my job, for finding a career that combines two things that I am so passionate about. My work is hard, but I go to bed at night exhausted in the best way possible, and wake up the next morning anxious to dive right back in.

I’m thankful for kale, chocolate chip cookie dough and everything in between. For ice cream with sprinkles before races. For balance. For a life where food isn’t an enemy. Oh and pancakes! I am so, so thankful for pancakes.

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I’m thankful for my “You’ve got this” and “I knew you could do it”. But I’m even more thankful for “I know you can do better than this”. That’s what motivates me to keep trying, keep pushing myself, to never settle. It keeps me going because I never want to stop making you proud.

I’m thankful for bags to Goodwill, for they symbolize a part of my life that has gone out the door, hopefully to never return again.

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I’m thankful for race bibs and spandex running tights. For foam rollers and PRs. For a never ending supply of safety pins. I’m thankful for swim dates and bagel picnics after group runs. I will never stop being thankful for getting to be a part of this crazy, awesome world. For being accepted right into it, no questions asked. For the people who are ready and willing to teach me. For finally finding my place.

I’m thankful for this blog and for rediscovering my love for writing. For a space that I can use to hold myself accountable, share my feelings, and not feel like I’m being judged. For people who have followed my journey, cheered me on, become part of my story.

I’m thankful for lungs that burn and for muscles that ache the morning after a hard workout. I’m thankful for the way my heart swells with pride after crossing a finish line. And most importantly, I’m thankful for strong legs to run with. I haven’t gone for a run since April 15th and not thought about how lucky I am to have legs to run with. And I promise to never stop being thankful for that- no matter what season it is.

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A Year of Blog Days

It may seem to many of you that lately I have a never ending list of “anniversaries”. And while it may seem over the top (and sometimes annoying) the truth is that each and every one of them is very important to me. They celebrate a year of good things, of better decisions, of personal accomplishments. And today, I celebrate a full year of blog days.

That’s right, for 52 Wednesdays I have been sharing the struggles, accomplishments, highs and lows of this crazy journey that I’ve been on. For anyone not familiar with how I got here, “Blog Day” was the invention of my beloved training studio. The concept was that I would spend 12 weeks using their fitness and nutrition services and in exchange would document my experiences in a weekly blog.

When I was first approached about participating in this program I was immediately taken back. I had been doing my thing relatively quietly throughout the summer. I was smaller, getting stronger, and feeling happier- but I didn’t talk much about my experiences except to my immediate friends and family. To share my story with complete strangers? Document everything I put in my mouth and how I felt about it? To open myself up and share my struggles and fears? Well that just seemed absolutely terrifying.

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That first painful summer of “learning how to be a runner”

But then I began to think about it more. It was obvious to everyone (except me who had been trying to deny it) that I had gained weight, and it was now obvious that I had lost a decent amount. And internally, I was incredibly proud of how far I had come. So why hide that? As I have learned as I mature- the feeling of just letting the truth be told can be incredibly freeing. And although the idea of putting my story out there felt scary and made me shaky- the realization that I had someone backing me up made it seem more doable. There was someone who believed in me. Someone who saw what I was capable of before I could see it for myself. Someone who was willing to take a chance on me. Someone who was willing to stick by me for both the good and bad parts. And as hesitant as I felt I eventually said “Ok I’ll do it”. If only I knew how many more times I would say “Ok I’ll do it” as a result of this.

I still remember the day my first post went live. I sat at my computer trying to control my jittery nerves, refreshing my browser over and over again. And all of a sudden there I was. I began to re-read the post I had already read a hundred times wincing at what I had written. Suddenly it seemed too personal, too emotional, way too embarrassing. And that picture of me I decided to use? GAH! What was I thinking?!

kathleenAnd while I waited for judgment and criticism the response I got was anything but. I was moved to tears by the instantaneous support and love. Suddenly people who I hadn’t even spoken to recently were congratulating me and telling me how I was inspiring them to make changes in their lives. It was the most incredible feeling. And with that first blog day the band-aid was ripped off, I was ready to dive in and get to work.

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The next 12 weeks were a fabulous blur. With everything I was dealing with exposed and the constant support of friends, family, and complete strangers I felt inspired to push myself even further and harder. My life changed more in those 12 weeks than it had in the last 12 months of my life. And by the end I felt like this incredible new person. Stronger, more confident, happier, healthier. Ready to face whatever challenges came my way. And since I contributed these changes to the influence of blog day I decided that I would continue documenting my story on my own. And here we are today.

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this blog up, I guess at some point even I will get sick of my “Wee, look at me!” attitude. I never started it to become famous, or to make people think I am this amazing person. I am nothing more than an ordinary girl, who was given an incredible opportunity by someone who had faith in me. This blog has been a way for me to keep myself in check and to keep myself moving forward. I often go back and read the posts from those first 12 weeks because sometimes it’s hard to remember that girl from a year ago. The challenges and crises I dealt with then are a worlds difference from what I worry about now (like how to fuel myself for a 12 mile run?)
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For as much as I have said how grateful I am for blog day, I will never find the words to fully describe what it has done for me. Without blog day I never would have become a runner. I wouldn’t have gone from feeling like a chubby girl to an athlete. I never would have become a triathlete and I certainly wouldn’t be putting on the bib for my first half marathon in a few days. I wouldn’t be close to the confident and happy girl that I am today. And until that feeling goes away, blog day will continue 🙂

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