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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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A race gone wrong.

I hated writing this post. Every single word of it. I love the weeks when I tell you how I’m rocking and rolling, PRing and feeling on top of the world. I hate the weeks when I have to be real and honest and raw, when I have to admit defeat.

When we decided to trade in our Labor Day Triathlon for a weekend of fun and relaxation I came home and immediately signed up for this one. I couldn’t let the summer pass by without doing at least one tri and I knew that if I actually registered it would force me to follow through with it. So despite all the chaos of the wedding I managed to squeeze in a decent amount of swims, bricks, and finally learned how to ride a road bike.

Race morning was a bit hectic – we arrived late, had a hard time finding parking, hurried to pick up our packets and set up our transition areas. I felt scattered from the start. And then I began to notice that very few people were without a wet suit, and I started getting really nervous about the swim. I knew it was my strongest leg, but I couldn’t help but imagine myself as a frozen iceberg in the middle of the pond. Despite the recent warm weather it is September in New England after all. As someone sang the national anthem I went in up to my ankles and it was exactly what I thought it would be: brrr. I told myself it would just help me swim faster.

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What happened next is both a blur and yet very clear in my head. Our wave was called, the airhorn sounded, and everyone bounced into the water. I walked in up to my chest and then dove under. Almost instantly my body felt stiff, my lungs felt like they had been sucked right into my heart. I jerked my head out of the water, and tried to calm down and swim. I couldn’t catch my breath, I felt like I was weighed to the ground. Barely a minute into the swim I yelled to my buddy “I can’t do this” and turned around.

Climbing out of the water to a beach full of people staring at me was one of the most mortifying moments of my life. I was barely in the sand before my husband was there wrapping his arms around me and I of course responded in the only way I know how, by bursting into hysterical tears. My heart ached from embarrassment, from panic, and with the realization that I had just blown the entire day in seconds. I have never felt like such a failure.

My immediate instinct was to flee – leave all my gear in the transition area, ditch my buddy, and get away from that park and all those people who had just witnessed my disaster. Once my husband had calmed my hysterics he convinced me that we should stay to cheer on my friend, and then suggested I ask the race volunteers if I could jump in with her for the bike and the run. The sweet woman I shuffled up to told me that she had seen me get out of the water and that she felt terrible for me, and that I could keep my chip on and keep going.

I headed back into the transition area, dreading the disappointed look I would get from my buddy when she returned from the swim. To my surprise she asked if I was okay, and then reminded me that sometimes you have to make smart calls. Knowing that she wasn’t mad made the blow a little softer and I threw on my clothes, took my bike off the rack, and we headed out.

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The combination of anger at myself and knowing that I couldn’t mess up any more made me ride faster, push harder, and run stronger. I didn’t dare complain and I knew I couldn’t stop so I gave it everything I had. I rode further and faster than ever before, and my run splits were better than any triathlon or brick I’ve ever done. It’s a shame that I didn’t finish the swim because I could have had a really decent time and walked away glowing.

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Instead we crossed the finish line, and I was handed a medal that I knew didn’t belong to me. I smiled for pictures, but I was cringing on the inside. I kept my fingers crossed that no one would recognize me and yell at me for continuing on. I got home and immediately threw away the swim cap, ferociously scrubbed the sharpie tattoo on my arm. I just wanted it all to go away.

FullSizeRender (1)It’s been a few days and I’ve been retelling the story by cracking jokes, because it’s a lot less awkward to laugh than it is to spill warm tears. But that doesn’t mean I’m not upset, not embarrassed, not disappointed in myself. I’m scared that the memory of my panic in the water will affect me in the future, will surface again the next time I face the open water. It’s my first real black mark.

I know I’ve got to pull myself together, got to tuck away my lessons learned, got to get back out there. And I will at some point. I’m just not done sulking yet.

What motivates you?

“What motivates you?” It’s a question that I’ve been asked quite a few times over the last few years. People are always curious as to what made me wake up and decide I wanted to lose the weight, change my lifestyle, and become one of those crazy runner people. And I’m realizing lately, it’s a question that doesn’t hurt to ask yourself every now and then.

The week leading up to the wedding happened to also be a pretty high mileage week for me- with a sprint tri just two weeks after the big day and a half marathon the week after I had a long run, some bricks, and some pool time to get in. No problem. With the week off from work I figured I would pencil them in as a break from table assignments and sign painting.

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Except that when the time came for my workouts I kicked, screamed, whined, half assed, and even ditched some of them completely. What I thought would be a welcome distraction was just another to-do… that I didn’t want anything “to-do” with. I got the bare minimum accomplished and told myself that once the wedding was over I would be back to normal.

Until the workouts after the big day felt just the same as the week before. I got really good at talking myself out of getting out the door and staying on the couch. I’d kick myself after, but that didn’t stop me from not getting it done or not trying as hard as I could have. And every time I complained about not wanting to go for a run that same question was always asked of me “Why are you doing this?”

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Obviously I can’t use the “white dress” excuse anymore – but we all know by now it was always more than that. So what is it? What makes me want to get up on a Saturday morning and run 10 miles alone? Why do I come home from work, change, and head out on the bike? What motivates me to sign up for races, to run new distances, to challenge myself? While I know there’s an answer inside of me, at this very moment I don’t have a clear view of it. I’m just so tired.

I’ve been running long enough now to recognize a burnout coming. And after a summer of wedding planning, training, Run Club, and the rest of my life- it’s no surprise I’m tired. So I’m pulling myself together and rallying through the next two weeks, because that’s what a true bad ass would do. And then I’m ready for a well deserved break when I can sit back and remember all those reasons I love what I do…. from the comfort of my couch.

A whole new age group.

My birthday is always a bittersweet day because I consider  it the last hurrah of summer. I know that right behind it are cool mornings, earlier sunsets and pumpkin everything. This year my birthday symbolizes even more changes: the last few days as a “single” woman, a brand new age group for races, a whole new decade in my life. That’s right – today I turn 30.

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I know that a lot of people freak out over the jump from your twenties to your thirties but I actually feel ready for it. I look back at who I was when I turned 20 versus who I am today and all that happened in between – and I am astounded. In my twenties I graduated from college, I went through the growing pains of independence and becoming an adult. I got a little too drunk with my friends, I spent a little too much money on cover charges and bar tabs. I bought my own car. I moved through jobs and career ladders, eventually stumbling into an organization I wake up excited to start my day at. I fell in love, and eventually realized it was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I watched as my friends fell in love, watched as our circle moved from dance floors to kitchen tables in new homes. I discovered fitness, health, happiness, confidence. I became a runner. I ran my first 5K, dozens more road races, my first triathlon, THREE half marathons. Despite the ups and downs of the last ten years I will never look back at my twenties with regret.

Oh to be 22 again.

Oh to be 22 again.

So bring on the thirties. Bring on married life and all the love, happiness, and hard shit that comes with a new last name and a wedding band. Bring on real adulthood – mortgage payments, home improvement, and children (that statement is officially petrifying). Bring on more kitchen table parties, for that means our circle of friends is growing older together. Bring on even crazier fitness goals – the ones that make your eyes glisten because you never imagined that they would ever happen to you. Bring on proving that I can get even faster, even stronger, even more confident as I get older.

Never in my life did I think my bachelorette party would involve a road race.

Never in my life did I think my bachelorette party would involve a road race.

30, I’m ready for you.

What does 1/3 of a Half Ironman equal?

This little old journey of mine has been made up of hundreds of moments. Some of them good, some of them bad, all of them teaching me invaluable lessons along the way. Timberman this past weekend was no exception. I think it’s safe to say I felt almost every emotion possible in a 12 hour span.

Race day started far beyond bright and early, with a wake up of 4am. I put on the clothes I had laid out the night before, checked my backpack one last time, and we headed out into the dark. Because I knew there was practically half a day before I would have to run I was nervous, but more nervous for my buddy (who was doing the full 70.3) than I was for myself. I was preoccupied for the first few hours as I watched people set up their transition areas, adjusted wetsuits, and hugged my friends goodbye as they made their way to the start. Every time I heard the air horn send a wave into the water my stomach did a flip. That sound meant the day had officially begun.

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I cheered as the swimmers crawled back to shore and made their way to transition. The cyclist in our relay team headed out and I said goodbye to my friend as she took off on her bike. That’s when I realized how many hours I had to kill. And that I was alone. And that’s when the panic set in.

I wrapped my legs up in a sweatshirt (Wish I had thought to put comfy sweats over my running shorts) and curled into a ball at a picnic table. I glanced at my watch and couldn’t believe how slow time was moving. I felt my breathing get more and more panicked as I tried to envision 13.1 miles. And then in true half ass fashion, I put my head down and started to cry. I wanted it to be over, I wanted my fiancee there, I wanted my comfort beside me telling me I could do it. I wanted anything but to be sitting alone at that table staring at a war-zone transition area.

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Luckily before I became an all out disaster our relay swimmer found me and snapped me out of it. We spent some time watching the elite athletes and then found a shady spot near the relay corral to wait for the bike to come in. Bless her soul for allowing me to ramble on about stupid things to calm my nerves. With no exact way of knowing how soon I could start running I paced in the corral until it was time. We exchanged the chip, high- fived each other, and I took a deep breath as I headed out. Show time.

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Originally I thought that the “double loop, out and back” course would mess with my head, but I ended up appreciating it. In my mind breaking the race up into 4 5Ks seemed manageable so I forced myself to only think about one leg at a time. I took in the scenery (the spectators and signs were awesome!), kept my pace steady, and even made a friend for a while. Towards the end of the first leg I heard someone yell my name and looked up to see my buddy on her bike across the street. I smiled and felt a little piece of the alone-ness melt away.

I proudly stomped on the timing mat as I ran around the first loop. 1 down, 3 to go. On the way back I timed my water/beans perfectly, and was even able to take them down without having to stop running for the first time in my life. I’m sure the water stop volunteer appreciated my jig as I ran by. Shortly before the halfway point I heard my name again and looked up to see my buddy smiling as she ran towards me. As always, she yelled exactly what I needed to hear and I made myself run a little taller. If she could swim 1.2 miles, bike 56, be in the middle of a half marathon and STILL have the energy to yell at me – I could do this. She is my all star, always.

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The turn around was the worst. All of the runners made their way down the same grassy path, with crowds on either side and the music blasting. A woman stood in the middle directing traffic: finishers to the left, 2nd lap runners to the right. I growled at her as I ran by, but tried to remind myself that the faster I ran the faster I would be there too.

5K #3 was tough. Limbs started to get heavy and tired and the realization that I was only half way done set in. The mind games rolled around my head until I crossed the timing mat again. One lap to go and I would be done. Time to dig in. Time to prove myself.

I was slow but determined those last few miles. No matter how much I wanted to stop I reminded myself how close I was, I visualized the finish line. I started going through the list of things in my head that I said I’d never be able to do- and have done. I passed my buddy one last time and as we slapped hands she yelled “GO GET THAT MEDAL!”. I smiled as I felt the tears come on again. But this time, they were warm and happy.

As I rounded the last few bends I started to hear the music again, noticed the crowd getting thicker. My smile grew bigger and bigger and as I passed the woman directing traffic I yelled “STAYING TO THE LEFT!”. She just laughed. I heard people cheering. I heard my name being yelled by my friends parents. I passed by the other two members of my relay team who were jumping up and down and cheering. I don’t think my smile could have gotten any bigger. My face actually hurt more than my legs as I crossed the finish line.

 

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With my medal around my neck and a bottle of water in my hand I stopped, despite the crowd still around me. I only noticed two people in that park: the girl I used to be and the girl who had just finished a half marathon of a Half Ironman. The thing that seemed impossible was over. And I had done it. All on my own. I smiled, I laughed, I cried big, fat, happy tears. I was just so proud.

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Despite my “speedy” long runs the last few weeks sadly I didn’t pull off an impressive PR on Sunday. I am still a very slow half marathoner. But I am starting to understand distance running. I am starting to learn what it means to dig deep and push yourself to the finish line. Starting to learn that your legs can out run your mind. Starting to believe in myself. And you know what? All of those things are worth far more than any PR.

Seeing the same lake through a new set of eyes.

We all know I’m a sucker for anniversaries and memories. In fact a good chunk of this blog has been about remembering and celebrating particular milestones. So it goes without saying that this summer there was one huge milestone I couldn’t let pass by… Iron Girl. For the entire week I reminisced over those sleepless nights, the countdown, how my dining room table was a packing station, and those terrifying butterflies that wouldn’t disappear.

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I mentioned before that I wasn’t able to participate this year due to another special event that weekend. I was content with sitting it out because I knew that it would never compare to what I experienced last year. However I still had friends who were participating, and so I knew that I needed to head out there to support them as they had done for me.

Driving to Central Massachusetts in the early hours of the morning was eerily familiar of exactly one year earlier. I watched the sun peak up from behind the hills and remembered the ride to the race site, remembered pinching my arm to prevent myself from throwing up in the car. I ended up having to park my car in a satelite lot so I brought my bike so I could make it to my friends in time (former fat kid flashback: who ever thought I would think of THAT?). I took a left turn in to the lake, passed under the landmark underpass, and my body was instantly covered with goosebumps. Suddenly it felt weird being there. Suddenly I wish I had stayed home and just slept in.

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I found my friends and hugged them tightly as I wished them good luck. And then I stood and watched them make their way to the chute, digging my feet in the sand to prevent myself from running to join them. I found a good spot to spectate and stared out at the lake that had once terrified me. I thought about how much I’ve changed since the day I stood in that water, how much I’ve grown since then. I watched as wave after wave was called.I wondered how many of those girls were doing their first race. I wondered how many of them were as nervous as I had been. I hoped they too had someone with them to calm them down.

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As the morning went on I quickly forgot about myself. I got so caught up in making sure that I caught my friends at each point in the race, made sure I got pictures as they headed in and out of transition, cheered as they made their way to the final finish. I watched as athlete after athlete crossed the finish line: sometimes in a zone by themselves and sometimes with a friend by their side. I smiled inside when I saw groups of three cross together. I imagined those girls who were so scared at the swim, now beaming as they made their way under the banner. I knew exactly what they were feeling.

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At the end of the day I was glad I was there to spectate and to see my team cross the finish line. As tired as I was it felt good to be a part of it in a totally different way. While my friends packed up their transition areas before we headed to breakfast I walked back over to the lake to grab my bike. I stood and looked out at the water, back in it’s calm state. I stood for a moment and said out loud “I’ll see you next year”. I’m not completely confident in that statement. Maybe Iron Girl was something I only needed to experience once. Maybe that was my gateway into bigger and better things. Maybe I left that lake the first time forever changed.

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A full summer ahead.

As I’ve learned over the last year or so, part of what makes me a runner is my thirst for a new goal. No matter how much I declare I hate running in the thick of the miserable, it doesn’t take long before I want to find something new to work towards. So once I had worked out all my angries and lessons learned it was time to plan what to do with my summer. My hip is finally at a place where it doesn’t hurt more than it does, and I’m ready to work on getting back some “speed”. My break plus an injury really derailed any and all progress I had made from my fat days. It makes me want to cry when I think about my 26:41 5K PR (which I understand isn’t breathtaking but to me that was FAST guys!) and how now I’m applauding a pace that’s anything under a 10 minute mile. I keep telling myself that I’ll get back there- it’s just going to take some time and some hard work.

Getting there.

Take that- 10 minute miles!

It’s crazy to think that a year ago I was deeply consumed in triathlon training (and nightmares when I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic). Unfortunately I can’t do Iron Girl this year, but I’m almost okay with it because I know that it would never compare to what I experienced last year. I’m happy with those memories for now. And while I’m not spending a large amount of my summer swimming, biking, and running I have the sprint I did last Labor Day Weekend to look forward too – hopefully faster & better this time around.

Still, still, still... the best day ever.

Still, still, still… the best day ever.

On the topic of triathlons there’s a new twist to my summer… a Half Ironman!

KIDDING.

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What does 1/3 of a Half Ironman equal?

Well, kinda. I’m doing the run portion of a relay team… in other words, another half marathon! I’m excited because I really want to try the whole thing next summer (did I really just type that so nonchalantly? WHO AM I?) so it’s a good way for me to see what it’s like. I’m nervous at the same time. This is the first big race I have to do on my own and also without my cheerleader fiancee waiting for me every few miles. It’s going to be me and only me pushing myself for 13.1 miles. I want this to be the race where I defeat my fears and doubts and crazies. I want to prove that I CAN do it. If nothing else I’m banking on the fact that a DNF would let the rest of my team down- so hopefully that will keep me going.

If you weren’t getting tired from following my calendar … let me throw another half marathon in there.This one isn’t until October, but I’m using it as a redemption race for Chilly and Heartbreak – and I want to PR the pants off that baby.

And there you have it. A triathlon, 2 half marathons, a few other road races thrown in… oh and remember that I’m getting married in 2.5 months? Let’s just say I like to stay busy!

Because every day is a holiday to me.

The details of those first few steps are so vividly engrained in my brain. I remember waking up, wondering what would ever posess me to set an alarm on a Saturday morning. I remember lacing up my sneakers, the only pair I owned that I had gotten on sale at Kohl’s with my mom. I remember fumbling to tuck my key into my capris as I made my way to the stretch of sidewalk, checking to see if anyone was awake yet to judge me. It was already so sunny and warm. I remember telling myself “just get to that light pole- you can make it that far.”

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And then I was off, awkwardly bobbing as I kept my eyes on the nearing light pole. Once I reached it I stopped- gasping for air. Step one: check. I jogged to the next one. Walked for a bit. Jogged to the next one. As I ran I adjusted my capris, rolled up the sleeves of my cotton t-shirt, tried to figure out what to do with my arms. When it seemed like I had gone far enough I turned around and repeated the process back to my car. I wiped the sweat from my face and tried to get my breathing back to a normal pattern. I gave myself a mental high five and promised the beach I would be back the next day. I wasn’t sure how, but this time I was going to stick with it.

I’m still not sure what kept me going day after day that summer on the beach. Those first steps SUCKED. I couldn’t figure out how to breathe and run at the same time. My shins hurt. The sidewalk on the beach had no shade and it was HOT AS BALLS. But somehow, for some unknown reason, I kept going. I downloaded the Couch to 5K App on my phone and dutifly followed the prompts. I did a little victory dance every time I heard “Activity Complete” in my headphones.

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As my weight dropped it got a little easier. I figured out what to do with my arms. I learned how to breathe without feeling like someone was jabbing my side with a pitchfork. I made it past 3 light poles, 5 light poles… a full mile.

I signed up for my first 5K. It took three races before I was able to run the full 3 miles without stopping. But I was hooked. As much as I wanted every race to be over half a mile in, there was something addicting about pinning on that paper bib, about linining up with all those other runners, about crossing over that finish line. I was so proud of those bibs that I tacked them up on the fridge after every race. I was enchanted in a way I had never been enchanted before.

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I went on to run a 5 Miler, a 10K, a half marathon. I became a triathlete. Each challenge more difficult than the last, but with an even sweeter feeling once I crossed the finish line. I discovered that insatiable thirst for wanting to see if you could push yourself just a little harder and just a little further. I traded in my crappy Kohl’s sneakers for a real pair of running shoes, for spandex pants, for tank tops when I got braver. I got a running hat, a GPS watch, a log book. I started running for so long that I needed to fuel half way through. I actually caught myself saying “what’s 3 more miles?” more than a handful of times.

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Today is declared a national day to celebrate running but let’s face it- every day is National Running Day for me. I celebrate it with my overstuffed drawer of race shirts, with my 13.1 sticker on my car, with the bracelets on my arm that remind me where I’ve been and where I’m going. There’s not a person in my circle of friends and family that probably doesn’t think of running after they hear my name, and that’s fine by me. I’m perfectly okay soaking up too much of a good thing for the time being.

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I wasn’t born to run. Nor am I naturally talented. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have zero talent when it comes to running. No one will ever look at me and think “That girl’s got speed”. I’m never going to win first place for my age group. I’m never going to have perfect form. But I like to think that what I lack in talent I make up for in heart and determination. As hard as running is for me there’s something about that feeling afterwards. Something that makes me want to get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

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My celebration today begins at 5:15am where I get to go to the job I love, and help others use running to move themselves forward in life. And I will end it at the track with the sun setting behind me as I coach a group of women through their first days of running. At some point I will go for my own run, where I will head down to the beach. I will run on the same sidewalk that saw me through those first painful jogs, through my interval training, and is now often a water stop for my long runs. I will celebrate National Running Day all day today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. (And then maybe I’ll take a rest day 😉 )

Happy National Running Day!

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The Evolution of Purple

My life of fitness wouldn’t be complete without Purple. “Purple” is the backpack which I use to lug all of my “new life” necessities around. Why we continue to give items random, unoriginal names is beyond me. Why they stick is even further beyond my comprehension.

Purple’s original purpose was never fitness. I bought it a few years ago for an event that I needed to carry around a lot of stuff. It was one of those “run into TJ Maxx at the last minute and pick up whatever’s cheapest” kind of situations. Once the event was over I squished it in the back of my closet and figured it would be good to keep around for another situation like that. Cue the “If only I knew”.

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THIS girl and THIS backpack in a triathlon? NO way.

As I’ve told many times by now, I picked up running in the summer. I had one pair of shoes. I wore the same pants and tank tops that I work for my personal training sessions or bootcamp. And that was it. I remember when it finally started getting too cold for capris and I bought my first pair of running tights. I bought some zip ups and even a fancy ear warmer. Suddenly I had options depending on the weather. When I started adding in a run after bootcamp I realized I would need to bring a wardrobe change… and out came that dusty backpack. I figured “It will work for now”.

As I slowly began to dabble in new fitness adventures I found myself acquiring more and more gear.  Bathing suit, swim caps (got to have more than one handy!), goggles, helmet, deodorant. Training for a triathlon suddenly required so much “stuff” – and all the time. When I went on a camping trip this summer I knew I was going to have a few workouts to get done. Panicked that I would forget something I needed I simply zipped Purple up and took it all with me.

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Tri training in the wilderness? Check!

Aside from all this multi sport training my runs started getting longer and more complicated. In the summer months I gave in and got myself one of those “runner hats”. I found myself stashing Purple with bandaids for blisters. Kenyan Beans for long runs. Body Glide, sunblock, Nuun tablets, hair elastics.. you name it, and I keep it in there. When the weather got colder I added several different sets of gloves, hats and ear warmers. And when I decided to throw yoga into my repertoire? In went my new grippy socks. Not to mention the assortment of race bibs, pamphlets and handfuls of safety pins shoved in there constantly.

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A page from “I Spy”?… or the contents of my backpack?

Purple isn’t great for organization. For as often as I find myself neatly re-organizing things, a week later its chaos again. There have been far too many times where the entire contents of my backpack have almost tumbled into the pool because I didn’t zip it up all the way. Often I find myself looking online at new bags. I’ve added the same swanky triathlon bag to an online shopping cart at least 4 times now. But then I close my browser. Something inside of me just isn’t ready to move on yet.

Call me a sappy sentimental (Because we all know I am) but I feel like Purple and I have gone through so much together that it’s hard to just throw her away. She sits stuffed in a corner every Saturday morning during bootcamp. She’s thrown on the floor of the pool locker room day after day. She sat under the bike rack while I finished my first triathlon. She waited patiently in the car while I ran my first 13.1. When I bought her, I had no idea I had no idea what I’d end up needing her for. And when I started this journey, I had no idea where I would end up going either.

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Ready to tri… together.

For all the fancy triathlon and gym bags out there- Purple is original, she’s organic. She’s trying to pass for something she wasn’t necessarily built for – just like me. So for the time being I’ll stick to my simple purple backpack. The one that smells like running socks no matter how many times I wash it. The one that has become a black hole to my cell phone one too many times. The one who’s faking it till she makes it. She’s evolving. We both are. We owe it to each other. 🙂

 

Seeing the glass half full.

I feel as though I owe my readers (Readers? Am I even cool enough to throw around that lingo? Does my cat count as a reader?) an apology. Maybe even a pat on the back. And a “thanks for sticking around”. Looking back through my last few posts I realize I’ve become quite the Debby Downer/Negative Nancy over here. Between the burn out of winter training and then this break I’ve had the whiny-ness of a toddler before nap time. And while it’s been a challenge and a new experience I’m also finding a lot of positives to it.

A rekindled romance.
I may have kicked off my running shoes for the last few weeks but that doesn’t mean I’ve become a slug on the couch. I vowed to stay as active as possible by increasing my other workouts.  And because of that bootcamp and I were able to fall in love again. I realized that for the last few months I’ve been showing up because I felt like I had to and just sort of going through the motions. But with my mind off of miles I’ve been able to focus more on to how strong my body is getting, how many more push ups I can do, and finding new ways to challenge myself. It’s been a good reminder that you get out of something what you put into it. Burpees are a love/hate relationship for everyone but even we’re in a good place right now 🙂

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You know it was a good workout when you leave part of your shirt on the floor in the form of a sweat stain!

Here fishy, fishy.
With the decision to step back from track workouts and long runs I looked for something else to focus my energy on… swimming a full mile. I’ve kept up with my swimming throughout the fall and winter, but always stop at a half mile. The night after I decided to call it quits for a bit I had a boatload of pent up frustration and hit the pool. I strapped on my watch and told myself that I would see how far I could make it past the half mile mark. I made it to .75 and thought “Why not keep going?” and just like that… BOOM. Full mile the first night I tried. I felt that “look what you just pushed yourself to do!” feeling start to seep into my wrinkly fingers and spread right up into my proud little heart. I pulled myself out of the pool beaming. What to know what happened next? I did it again. And again. AND AGAIN. In fact, I’ve swam almost 9 miles in my time off. The bad ass is still in there.

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first mile on the watch and it feels so good.

It blows my mind to think that just a year ago I was struggling through my triathlon swim class. The fact that I was going to have to swim a half mile across a lake in July kept me awake for so many nights. These days I know I’ll sleep soundly after a night at the pool and I’m pretty confident that swimming will be the strongest leg of the triathlon for me this summer. Who ever would have thought I’d be saying that?

Food for thought.
One of my deepest, darkest fears (And biggest hesitation in taking a break) was that of course… that I would gain weight back. This forced me to admit that while training to run long distances I had gotten into the habit of justifying what I was eating with what I was running (“Oh you’re running 8 miles tomorrow? Eat that cheeseburger AND french fries girlfriend!”). That’s not to say I’ve become a nutrition disaster, but I felt like I was able to get away with more. In my mind if I wasn’t gaining weight no harm done… right? WRONG KATHLEEN, WRONG! Clearly this is not a healthy mentality. This break has given me a chance to re-visit how I’m eating and fueling. That’s not to say you shouldn’t allow yourself indulgence every now and then, but mac & cheese ain’t gonna make that track workout any easier. Part of me wonders how much my nutrition correlates to how much training broke me down.  But while there’s nothing I can do to go back and change the past I can admit my faults- and work harder on it the next time. I’m curious to see if there’s a difference in how I feel training.

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lunch & snacks done right!

I guess when all’s said and done this break hasn’t been the worst thing to happen to me. A few new achievements, some valuable lessons learned and at the end of the day… I’m itching to get back out there. 🙂