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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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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.

Short & Sweet

I still can’t believe I’m married. It’s been 4 days and I constantly catch myself saying “Did that really happen? Is it really over?” Just as everyone told me all those years, months, weeks and days that went into planning disappeared with the blink of an eye.

Luckily those same people told me take moments in the day to just let it all sink in, and I’m so glad I did. I did it as I watched the sun rise over the ocean on my morning shake out run. I did it as I stood back in a big, bright kitchen, as I watched some of the most important women in my life curl hair, pour mimosas and laugh. I did it as I stood in an open doorway, pacing between checking for the limo and looking in the mirror because I just couldn’t believe what was staring back at me. I did it as I sat in silence in the empty limo, staring out the window as familiar faces made their way to rows of white chairs. I did it as I took my first steps down the grassy path, clutching the crook of my father’s arm. I did it as I watched my husband shakily slip a band onto my finger, as he spun me on the dance floor for our first dance, and as I watched my parents trade off dance partners with my new brother and sister-in-law. I don’t think a tent has ever felt as much love and happiness as that tent did that night. I’ve certainly never.

And so this week, I’m going to leave my words at that – and let a few pictures do the talking, for they say it best. I’ll be back next week with my usual ramblings but today, I’m going to spend some more time in this wave of happiness. 🙂

 

PS. Thanks to the friends/family for capturing these shots. If you want to see more (I mean, how could you not? 😉 ) check out our photographer, Rebecca Deaton’s blog post.

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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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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!

Runner gams & thunder thighs… oh my!

I try to keep my thoughts on body image out of my posts as much as possible. It’s an uncomfortable subject and it’s bad enough that I’m sharing my life weekly with complete strangers- let alone how I feel on a topic as awkward and personal as this one. As much as we all want to stand on our soapbox and demand that we love our bodies for what they look like, the truth is that I’m sure most of us go right home and instead stand in front of the mirror and criticize. Who doesn’t constantly play out that scene from Mean Girls in their bedroom?

Anyway, it’s been on my mind a lot lately.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been immersing myself in so many fitness blogs and running magazines. I feel like all I see are images of women wearing a sports bra and gym shorts, with their hair pulled back in a sleek ponytail showing off their flat stomach and thin legs. I’d give anything to look like them when I’m working out. Too bad I look anything but. 

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Just in case you thought I dyed my hair blonde don’t worry- that’s NOT me.

It also may be front of mind due to a recent trip to try on a certain white dress for a certain upcoming major life event. On the ride there my mom and I joked about how the dress would be falling off since I had been measured for it last spring. I envisioned it sliding over me, hugging me in all the right places, and all my hard work for the past year and a half showing for itself in the floor length mirror. As the consultant began to dress me I closed my eyes, lifted my arms over my head, and waited to feel perfection. What I felt was… tugging. I opened my eyes to see the dress stuck around the middle of my body. I turned red with embarrassment. For a girl who weighs herself daily, I was in shock.  “I haven’t gained weight. I know I haven’t gained weight. There’s NO WAY I’ve gained weight” I said as she tugged and pulled. The consultant agreed to take my measurements again, perhaps the dress had been ordered wrong. I nervously paced around the room waiting for the comparison. She came back to confirm that yes I had been measured correctly the first time and… have I been running by any chance? Turns out all this training, running, triathlon-ing, and general badass-ing I’ve been doing has created some serious muscle in my dear old thunder thighs. I wanted to scream. I was mortified that this was happening. I felt cheated. I’ve been doing the “right” thing all this time-how could it be affecting me in the total wrong way?

As we waited for a seamstress to come in to assess the situation I began to draft a text in my head to my trainer telling her to stop my half marathon training plan. I imagined a summer next year without swimming, biking, or running. I tried to think of how I could keep the weight off without building any additional muscle. I cursed every squat I’ve ever done.

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Damn you legs!

The first words out of the seamstress’s mouth when she walked in the room were “ I can spot the body of a runner right away!” And suddenly the defeat and embarrassment I felt began to melt away. Suddenly I felt a little bit of pride. I’ve waited for so long to hear those words. I sweated through 60 miserable pounds of fat to hear those words. I have worked SO damn hard to hear those words. I’ve earned every muscle and curve on my body, even if they come with some imperfections.

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My thoughts on T-Day weren’t “OMG I’m standing in a crowd of people in a two piece bathing suit.” They were more like “OMG how am I going to not drown and purely rock this triathlon”.

It’s so easy to get caught up on what the ideal body is supposed to look like, to confuse the difference between “healthy” and “skinny”. It’s also pretty easy to assume that once someone loses weight that person should automatically be eliminated from playing the “I hate my legs/thighs/arms/stomach” game. But the truth is that as hard as it is to lose the weight, it’s just as hard to fully accept the “un-perfect-perfect” body. I still look at my friends who wear cute little running shorts with envy. I still people watch and think “That girl is so perfect and I bet she doesn’t work half as hard as I do”. But you know what? I bet that same girl looks at someone else and thinks the same thing.

And while it’s disappointing that my legs will never be mistaken for hot dogs, I’d rather that than have rolls on my body in pictures.  I’ve worked incredibly hard for these legs and for what I put them through on a daily basis- I guess they’re not so bad after all. I’m still learning to accept my body more for what it does than how it appears to me in a mirror. I’m so incredibly lucky to have the supports that I do to help me see that being strong and healthy doesn’t have a specific shape, and it doesn’t mean you have to fit into a certain pant size. They constantly remind me of the more important ways to measure these things.

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Being healthy. Being a badass.

In case you’re wondering how the rest of that day turned out- the seamstress’s exact words to me were “Don’t ever stop running” (As luck would have it she is also a runner and knew where I was coming from). So the good news is that half marathon training can continue. And we’re going to start my alterations early. Let’s cross out fingers that my dress and those damn thunder thighs find a way to coexist peacefully. 🙂

“Good Things Come In Threes”

In any kind of life changing journey, whether or not it involves weight loss, there are always high points, low points, and just plain old boring points. It’s not that things have been bad lately but sometimes you just need a little something to keep you moving along, you know?

My new best friend.

My new best friend.

Now that I’m in the early stages of preparing for this triathlon my workout schedule has become pretty intense, especially for the girl who a year ago was doing zero point zero hours of exercise. Right now my week consists of 4 days of bootcamp, 3 days of running, and now in addition to my swim class I am getting in an extra night at the pool for more practice. By Saturday afternoon- I am beyond exhausted. I never leave the house anymore without my trusty purple backpack as it literally contains all of my “new life” essentials: swim cap, goggles, running gloves, flip flops, extra layers, clementines. And “Rest Days”? They are golden.

I have found that whenever I’ve needed a little “push” in this journey, something has happened to light my spark again. You can call it karma, or you can call me crazy. But either way, it happened this week: in three fantastic ways.

It’s been about 2 months since I finished up my 12 week  blogging adventure through the studio and attempted to continue on my own so it was about time for some measurements. And the numbers showed that not only can I do this on my own, I AM doing it. Inches continue to disappear from my body, and I lost another 3.2% in body fat, which is pretty impressive considering that throughout the 12 week program I lost 3.3%. This leads to the most exciting news to me: I am officially moving from what I like to refer to as the “fat kid” body fat scale to the get this: “athlete” scale. ME… an ATHLETE? Hold the phones people!

Who would of thought this girl could ever be considered an athlete?

Who would of thought this girl could ever be considered an athlete?

On Sunday my athletic self ran my monthly race. After February’s 5K was cancelled due to a snowstorm I have been itching for March. Literally counting down the days. While I was really hoping for a PR, unfortunately my time was 7 seconds slower than my best race (Which at 27:50 still seems like the miracle of a lifetime). And apparently this course was a full 3.1 miles, versus 2.9 in January so when it all comes down to it- yeah, I was faster. But what’s even more important than my time? How much I LOVED every second of it. How happy I was out there: listening to my music, in my groove, doing something that once seemed so unnatural to me. So you know what? I’ll take those seven seconds.

“Good thing” #3 came on the same day. Ironically I had booked a wedding dress appointment for the afternoon. (I mean if you don’t feel skinny after running a 5K when will you, right?) Back in September my mom and I had casually ventured into a bridal shop and it was a DISASTER. The girl pretty much threw me into a fitting room with some dresses and left me to my own defenses. While I had already lost 40 pounds by then, I didn’t fit into any of them and I left barely holding in the tears.

Hello, finish line!

Hello, finish line!

Now down 60 pounds and coming off my runner’s high, I bravely hit the dressing room once again. And somehow, somewhere – the stars aligned for me. I had a fantastic consultant who listened to what I wanted, I had the support of my mom and one of my best friends and I am so excited to say that I found my wedding dress. Obviously I know that my body has gone through a lot of changes over the past couple months but it took standing on a pedestal in a white gown to REALLY see what I have accomplished. As I turned around and stared in the mirror I was in awe. I didn’t recognize the girl staring back at me. Suddenly every push-up, mile, log in My Fitness Pal, ounce of sweat- it was so clear as to just how worth it they are. There really is a method to all this madness. While I can’t post any pictures or give away any details for obvious reasons- I will tell you that I haven’t stopped smiling… or looking at the pictures. It’s just that amazing. As it turns out, good things happen to those who work really hard for it and sometimes… they even come in threes 🙂