Quick Pop Quiz

The truth is, I am in the mood to blog but my thoughts are such a mess.  Between Jessica passing away a week ago and my friend Will being so sick, I am just so over-emotional.  I took off today because I am having furniture delivered and I am looking very forward to a long afternoon workout.

 

For now, this.  Which I stole from Andrea.

 

1. FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?

The only fuel I use during runs is GU.  And it has to be TriBerry.  Nothing else has worked as well or as consistently.  For tri’s I use Bloks in transition, but still GU on the run.


2. Race Length: 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?

My favorite distance is 10 miles and I do not think there are near enough 10 mile races.  The only one close to me is the Broad Street Run which I haven’t ran since 2009.  The race has gotten so out of control, I cannot stand the thought of running it.  This year, they capped it at 40,000 people.  No thank you.

3. Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants or Other?

Depends on the weather, but I HATE running in pants.  I train in shorts but love racing in skirts.  So I guess skirts are my favorite 🙂

4. Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?

During a race, I might use Gatorade, but I mostly depend on water.  Post-run, I love chocolate milk!


5. Running Temperatures: HEAT or COLD?

I run much better in the cold.  So, as much as I hate it, I definitely have to say cold.


6. Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brooks, Asics or Other?
I ran in Brooks Adrenalines for 5 years.   Honestly, I never imagined I would run my marathon in anything but Brooks, but when the 11’s came out, I didn’t like them.  Switched to Saucony and haven’t looked back.
 
7. Pre-race meal: Oatmeal, Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?
English muffin with PB.  Always.  And sometimes a banana too.

8. Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or other? 

Generally speaking, Saturday is my only real rest day.  My full-time job is Monday through Friday.  I workout two-three nights a week and on Sundays.  I also waitress two-three nights a week and sometimes on Sunday.  The only day I never waitress is Saturday and I try not to work out that day either.   And anyone who thinks waitressing is not exercise, has never done it.  On average, I walk 4-6 miles a shift.  Not necessarily a work-out but definitely not a rest day!

 

9. Music: Have to have it or go without it? 

On the treadmill, definitely.  Running alone, never.  Racing, sometimes.

 

10. #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or other?

I love what running has brought into my life.  The fitness, the confidence, the people and the ability to do things I never imagined.  I have never regretted a single workout.  I have never regretted this journey.

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Three Things Monday

Not because I want to start a new trend, or bite off Three Things Thursday or any reason except it is Monday and I have three things I want to talk about.

1- Through my blogging absence, I kept in touch with a few people that I became friends with outside of blogging world.  Here’s the thing- when you stop blogging, you don’t disappear from life.  Just because  I wasn’t blogging, didn’t mean I wasn’t existing.  Thankfully, a few of my loyal readers (FRIENDS!) realized this and kept in touch.  It was a needed connection between myself and blogging through a really tough time in my life.  And I am very thankful to those who stuck around…and to those who are still here.

One of those people I kept in touch with is Kandi.  We talked a lot about running, injuries and life in general.  Even though most of our conversations were though G-Chat while we were at work, they were so helpful in my recovery.  Kandi was a listening ear when I needed one.  She never belittled what I was going through and when I was ready to get back into running she was super supportive.

Last Friday, I came home to a package in the mail.  A random act of kindness and a simple reminder that someone believed in me.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time.  This package was clearly sent before Jessica passed away but I needed it most when it arrived.  Perfect timing.  And I am so thankful for small gestures and great friendships.

necklace

2- I am too young to have friends dying.  And I am pissed off about it.  I lost my friend Jimmy at age 19.  Not a single day goes by without me thinking of him.  I will never get over the heartbreak of losing my first close friend.  My friend Mike died of a heart attack at age 25 (a heart attack at 25!!!) and although we hadn’t talked in a few years other than when we would bump into each other, I was still close with his sister and losing a friend still sucked.   And now Jessica has passed.  She had been sick her whole life; I have never known Jessica to not be sick.  I have always known that Jessica was going to die.  When she informed me that they were taking her off the transplant list because her body couldn’t handle the surgery…I knew what that meant.   The deaths of Jimmy and Mike were sudden.  The pain of losing them was so visceral because there was no chance to say good-bye.  When I left Jessica’s beef and beer in November, I was certain that was our good-bye.  I had hoped to see her again but by Christmas she just wasn’t up to visitors.  I knew I would never see her again.  I was naive enough to think that when the day came I would be prepared.  I wasn’t prepared.

Currently, I have two friends both battling stage 4 lung cancer.  Stage 4.  Ages 30 and 31 respectively.  One of those friends is in the ICU at Penn right now with a very uncertain future.  And I am pissed!  I mean, really…what the hell?!?!  It is too damn young.   This shouldn’t happen at any age, but definitely not at my age.   The sad part is, lung cancer gets VERY LITTLE support.  Every 2.5 minutes someone gets diagnosed with lung cancer.  There will be an estimated 160,000 lung cancer deaths in 2013.  It is a staggering number and more than the total for breast, colon, ovarian, melanoma, brain and leukemia combined.  Much of the reason why the funding is small and the advancements are little is because of the smoking stigma connected to the disease.  Now, I want to tell you this fact: Neither of my friends with Stage 4 Lung Cancer have every smoked a day in their life.  I could go on about this, but I found a great article that articulates it much better than I can.  You can find it here.  If you need a good cry and want to put a face to this disease, watch this video of my friend Will. (The video also features my friend Barb, fighting the same disease.)

3- I have to talk about something good too, because truthfully, not a whole lot feels good these days.  Perspective is everything and I am getting a major dose of it in this last week.  Focusing on my training has been my saving grace.  When I go to ballet class, I feel calm and relaxed.  When I run, I can beat out the emotions on the pavement or treadmill.  I can lose myself in the sweat and the tears of a good workout.  Thank God.

My official half-marathon training started.  I have been building a base for the last month with short runs…and following that 10% rule like it is my job!  In addition to training smart, I am eating smart.   Starting with the day after Christmas, I stopped eating bread and pasta.  And I stopped drinking.  With the exception of a bachelorette party and a few random glasses of wine, I have stuck to that plan.  I haven’t lost much weight but I feel SO MUCH BETTER and I LOOK better.  It is so easy to get caught up with the number on the scale that I forget sometimes it is more about how I look.  Between ballet and my training, I know I am getting back in shape.  My runs are still relatively short, even my “long” ones, but they all feel good.  And damn it feels good to feel good running again!

setbackcomeback

Racing in 2013

Last year, my race schedule was anything but a schedule.  The few races I did were mostly last minute decisions and I bagged quite a few of them last minute.  That doesn’t mean this year was without its highlights!

-I was 5th in the swim at the Life is Good Tri!

-My relay team took first place overall at the Belmar Tri!

-I finished the Philadelphia Half-Marathon with little training and was NOT injured!

With everything that 2012 was, I am glad it is over.  2013 has started off quite nicely in the fitness field.

-As a kid, and a teenager, I always wanted to take dance.  I never did but in December, at age 31, I began taking ballet classes. I love it!  It is an adult class and NO we do NOT wear tu-tu’s!  I am also doing Barre Fit and it has been amazing for toning up and getting fit.  I see such a difference!  I go two or three times a week and it is great.  Not only is it whipping me into shape but it is really helping with my core, balance and flexibility as well.

-In addition to the ballet and barre classes, I have been hitting the gym two times a week, no matter what!  Between two jobs, that can be difficult, but I know I want to get back to a fitter and healthier me this year.  One of the additional motivations to stick to this schedule, is that in March I will be heading to Mexico for a friends wedding and I need to be in bikini shape three months earlier than I am used to!

-I have been base building for my April half-marathon.  Short but quality runs, building back up my endurance and getting my legs back into gear!  The real training schedule starts this week.  I am really looking forward to nicer weather so that I can complete all my runs outside and only have to worry about the gym when I want to swim.

-I am continuing to see my Sports PT every other week or so for ART and Graston.  I use the foam roller every night and use a LAX ball for trigger point a few times a week.  I thought the foam roller was the enemy but as it turns out, the LAX ball is the devil!  It is worth it, though.  My very biggest goal of all, is to stay injury free!

-I am done doing triathlon.  Yup.  Done.  You know what…I really gave it a good try; I really wanted to like riding a bike.  But I just hate it.  I did four years of triathlons.  And I enjoyed it and I was good at it.  Except the biking.  And I don’t even want to be good at it, because I don’t even like it!  You know what I do like?  Running and swimming.  Relay tri’s are still going to very much be a part of my life.  And I am determined to find more Splash and Dash races so that I can still compete in both sports I enjoy.

I feel like for the first time in 5 years, I am doing everything right.  Looking back, I feel like something was always off.  There was never a time where everything was on point.  This year is going to be different; at least I am giving it my all to be that way.  Sticking to a strict training plan, increasing my core and flexibility, keeping my nutrition plan together and continuing ART and Graston to keep from getting injured.

So what is on the agenda for 2013?

Rutgers Half-Marathon

Spartan Race

Atlantic City Half-Marathon

Philadelphia Half or Full Marathon  (I’ll be deciding this for sure after the RU half.)

I am still looking for a May 10-miler and I know there are a few tri’s I will be swimming for as part of a relay and there is a possible 15k in the fall.  And of course some local 5k’s that will be week or day of decisions.  I am excited to be training and I am looking forward to racing, but the last thing I want to do is overwhelm myself.  I have to constantly remind myself that I am, in essence, starting over.  I don’t want to push too hard, or race too much or risk burn out or injury.

How is your 2013 shaping up?  Are you doing anything new this year?

2013 Resolutions

I don’t really like the idea of a resolution.  To me, we should be resolute about changing our lives whenever the need arises.  If I waited until January 1st every time I wanted to make a change, I have a feeling life would be very different.  So while I am calling these “resolutions” they are really things I have been working on or want to start working on this year.  They are more lifestyle changes, than simply goals I will achieve.

But in the spirit of the new year and tradition…I give you, my resolutions:

Read more. I love to read. Growing up, I was the only kid without a TV in my room.  My mom wanted to instill a love of reading in me and knew I would replace reading with watching TV.  And she was right, because when I did get a TV, my reading time went down.  In school, I studied English, so I was ALWAYS reading.  As an adult, I still love reading…books, magazines, newspapers, articles…anything.  I love learning so I tend to read autobiographies, biographies and historical books but I also love a good Jodi Picoult book.  My favorites of all time?  Go Ask Alice, Perks of Being a Wallflower (and I refuse to see the movie), My Sisters Keeper (movie not even close to as good), Nineteen Minutes and  Yes, I have a lot of favorites!

Complete one house project a month.  I still think houses should come with a landlord!  Keeping up with a three bedroom house alone can be daunting.  And I bought a fixer-upper.  Still lotsa fixin to do!  If I do one thing a month, even small, I will feel accomplished.  This month, I would like to take down my Christmas decorations.  Yes, they are still up and yes, it is a project!

Keep blogging. I didn’t realize how much I missed blogging because I wasn’t able to see how much I actually missed life in general.  Getting back to blogging (both reading and writing) has been great.  I remember now why I started this blog in the first place: to keep a journal of my progress and my journey.  The friends I have met along the way are a great bonus.  But truthfully, if no one ever read this again, I would still keep writing.

Pay it forward more.  It is as simple as leaving a note for someone.  Paying for a coffee for the guy behind you.  Just something that says, “not everyone in this world sucks” because sometimes it is hard to remember that there is so, so, much good behind all the bad we hear about and read about on a daily basis. 

Compliment 3 people a day. I love when I get a random compliment.  I have a feeling everyone does.

Live and let live.  I am not too proud to admit, this will not be easy for me.  I lose patience way too fast, not stopping to think about what might be going on in someone’s life before I get annoyed with them.  Examples: slow drivers, waiting in lines and screaming kids in stores/restaurants.  Recently, this guy came to speak at our school.  His message was simple and clear.  And I am trying every day to just live and let live.

Let go of past failures.   Likely, this will be hardest for me.  But I am working on it.

Take care of myself.   I gave up a lot when I was with R2.  I constantly felt bad for how much my training and second job took away from us time wise, that I didn’t do other things I would have liked because I would have felt even worse.  For so long, I did not put myself first.  And I still don’t at times.  I still have trouble saying no or carving out time for the things I need/want.  I need to think more about my mental and emotional health when making decisions.

Appreciate every day.  I used to write three things I was grateful for each week.  Now, I am writing down three things I am grateful for every day.  It is not always easy to come up with three things, but I am learning a greater appreciation for even the smallest things. 

Pay off my credit card debt.  This one is HUGE.  But totally doable as long as I keep picking up extra shifts waitressing and stick to my budget.  I have been in cc debt for 6 years and it doesn’t feel good.  And by general standards, I am actually considered to be in really good shape.  However, I hate having to spend so much money every month paying things off.  For the last six months (with exception of a few internet purchases) everything has been paid for with cash.  I am really proud of that and cannot wait until I have extra money every month to add to my mortgage principle instead of sending to credit card companies! 

What were some of your resolutions?

Why I Ran Philly in 2012

I had signed up for the race in April, thinking it would be a good motivation for me to start running again.  That was a joke.  I was barely running.  Signing up for a race only meant I was barely running AND out $65.  But then summer rolled around and I had some more time on my hands, so every few days I would go for a walk.  Then a jog now and then.  And then eventually, I just started running again.  But it wasn’t far and it DEFINITELY wasn’t fast.  And it wasn’t consistent.  By August, I was supposed to run the Wildwood Half-Marathon, but had only been running about 8-10 miles a WEEK at that point.  So, I bagged that race.  While I was down the shore, lamenting on my inability to get my shit together and just friggen run, I had a major awakening.  Major.

[BACK STORY:

I have a friend Jessica who I have known since high school.  We had some classes together but we really weren’t close until our senior year when we roomed together on a trip to England.  Although we hadn’t gotten close until then, everyone knew Jessica.  Jess was the girl with Cystic Fibrosis.  She was the one too sick to come to school for days at a time.  She was the one so sick over break our junior year, she spent weeks at CHOP and the class took a bus trip to visit her.  She was the one in England who had a lot more to pack than just clothes.  I remember being legit stunned at how much medication she needed on a daily basis.  But man, Jessica lived life.  She definitely didn’t let CF hold her back.   (For those who don’t know, CF is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.)

After high school we stayed in touch if we saw each other but it wasn’t until Facebook that we really reconnected.  The best part about getting back in touch was that I found out she was going to be getting a double lung transplant.  And thank God too, because by the time of her transplant, Jessica was a very, very sick girl.  Simple tasks like getting out of bed were simply too much.  The surgery was successful and life completely changed for Jess.  Yeah for new lungs!  By the time our 10 year high school reunion rolled around, Jessica was two months post surgery and looking and feeling fabulous.  The transplant worked!  After the reunion, we definitely got closer.  We talked often, usually emailing back and forth since we lived in different states.  And then came the bad news.  This past Spring after only 2.5 years with her new lungs, Jessica began to experience rejection symptoms.  And the report was not good.  Rejection.  Double rejection.  You see, a lung transplant does not cure CF because the defective gene that causes the disease is in all of the cells in the body, not just in the lungs.  While a transplant does give a person with CF a new set of lungs, the rest of the cells in the body still have the CF and may already be damaged by the disease.  And for Jessica, it was not a slow moving decline.  By the end of summer, doctors determined she was too sick to undergo another transplant. There would be no new lungs.

There…would…be…no…new…lungs.  I don’t have to tell you what that means for Jessica.

END BACK STORY]

So here I am at the shore that hot day in August.  And it just hits me like a ton of bricks.  I have lungs that want to breathe and legs that can run and I better get with the damn program.  Because there are too many Jessica’s out there.  Too many people who would love to run and can’t.  It was time to woman up and run.  I ran the very next day.  And the next weekend.  And slowly, I got began to feel it again.  How it feels to feel good running!  The training was brutal…and not near what it should have been, but come hell or high water I was running that race for Jessica.  And by running for Jessica, that is exactly what I mean.  I started up a page to raise money for The Lung Transplant Foundation (Jessica’s choice) and began telling her story.  She was my reason for running.  I would run for her.

Before I knew it, it was November.  I was far under-trained, my nutrition plan was laughable and I was really unsure of how this race would unfold.  But, I was going to finish.  Fittingly, the night before the race was a Beef and Beer for Jessica, an event I was NOT going to miss.  So it meant a late night…I mean, I wasn’t trained anyway, right!  It was a great night and I got to spend time with Jessica and it was totally worth it.  Between my mom and I, we also won six baskets- BONUS 🙂  While the reason we were there permeated through the night, spirits were high and it was exactly what I needed the night before the race.

I don’t need  to go into a detailed race report.  I’ll just say this:  the first 8 miles, I was having the race of my life.  Then my joke of a nutrition plan started its backfire on me, GU decided it did not in fact get along with my intestinal tract and my stomach interfered with my amazing race.  The last 5.1 miles were a brutal mix of walking, stopping and using way too many portal-pottys.  But nothing was going to keep me from that finish line.  I cried a lot…it was physically painful and emotional.  I just knew I could not stop.  And, many minutes later than I would have liked, I crossed the finish line.  For Jessica.

The first thing I did was email her to let her know I finished!  And she emailed me back to say she was proud of me.  She was proud of me!  She fights for every breath.  I am simply in awe of her spirit, grace and inner fight.

I wish there was more I could do than run a race and raise $1,950 for her foundation of choice.  But all I can do is share her story.  Make people aware of the importance of supporting foundations that are often overlooked.  Lung transplantation is a relatively rare procedure and this area receives little research support from National Institutes of Health or any disease-specific research foundation.  Currently, the Lung Transplant Foundation is researching treatments for chronic lung rejection, but there is no cure.  There. Is. No. Cure.  Jessica is still fighting.  But there are more bad days than good.  And, I know what that means. You know what it means.  She knows what it means.

england1999- Trip to London.  Jess and I are next to each other, front right.

jessica

Jessica and I at our reunion.

jess2Sign my mom made and had through the race!

jess1Ran with this on my back the entire race!

philly1#8 done!

I won’t make this part long.  Here is the link to the page http://www.gofundme.com/1a3cig

I am trying to raise a total of $3,000 in her name to the Lung Transplant Foundation.  I can’t let myself stop just because the race is over.  The race is over, but her fight isn’t and neither is mine.

Life Is Hard- My Most Honest Post Ever

I always pride myself on having an honest blog.  I am who I am and try not to waver from that on this blog.  That is why, when things really just got too hard, I stopped blogging.  I couldn’t be honest, at least not completely.  Oh, and I was broken.  Literally, physically, emotionally and mentally.

So, if you are still here…if you are still reading…park it, because this is going to be a long post.  But when it is all over, I know I will feel better and I know I’ll be ready to blog again.  It has taken over a full year, but I am finally finding my way back to me.  A better me.  Which makes everything I went through, worth it.  I wouldn’t want to go through it again, ever, but I can at least take comfort in knowing I have come out on the other side and I am okay.  Better than okay.

So you know the basics if you were a reader in the past…broken foot, broken heart, crazy roommate, etc…etc…ETC!

But what you may not know is this…I was jealous.  And generally speaking, I am not a jealous person.  But I was raging with jealousy.  That is the dead ugly truth.  Every blog post I read was about someone running, getting engaged or married, having a baby, losing weight, finishing a race and generally loving life.  Every damn post was so damn happy.  And I was so damn sad.  Angry, sad and seriously jealous.  I wanted to be running, getting engaged, losing weight and loving life.  (Notice, I did not say I wanted a baby!!!)  I couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t open my reader to all the happiness.  In some odd way, it only made me more sad and more angry.  Like everyone in the world was happy except for me.

Here was problem #1…I didn’t even know who “me” was anymore.  I was 30 years old and a lost little girl.  I had to give up a life I planned and find myself again.  I had to admit that I was the only one in a relationship working on said relationship.  I had to swallow the most bitter pill of all:  I loved someone who didn’t love me.  It is so easy when you are in a relationship to only see what you want to see.  To pretend the bad things aren’t there or that it will get better.  And damn, let me tell you…when it came to R2, I was wearing the rosiest of rose-colored glasses ever.  And I wish I could say that it all became clear to me after we broke up…but it didn’t.  And because of that, I spend the next 5 months or so holding onto something that wasn’t there.  Something that was never there.  The break-up, the break, the separation…everything was dramatic, difficult and painful.  And look, this is a not a public forum for me to bash him and I won’t do that.  But I will say this…it was not all sunshine and flowers and the damage my relationship with him did to me is going to take years to overcome.  I have been in therapy for months.  There was a time when I never would have admitted that publicly.  I didn’t think I “needed” help.  Well, turns out, this help was the best gift I could have given myself.  I have learned so much.  Of course these are lessons I wish I had learned before going through so much pain, but at least I have these lessons in my pocket now.  I’ll never be as blind as I once was.  With that said…as much as I blame him…I also blame myself.  No one forced me to put with it all.  No one forced me to keep going back when I knew I would only get hurt.  And trust me, forgiving him was much easier than forgiving myself.  Much.

Problem #2 was that my release for stress is to work out.  Broken foot=no working out.  I was stuck with my pain and had no way to deal with it.  And then, when I could run again, I just didn’t want to do it.  I was too far gone.  The hole was dug too deep.  And in the midst of all of this, I was moving out of my condo with my psycho roommate and looking for a place to live.  Thankfully, I was able to stay with my aunt until I found a house.  But I had to find a house.  It was all I could do to get out of bed.  I struggled to get through each day; work was actually comforting because at least I knew my mind would be busy.

Problem #3 was that even when good things happened, I couldn’t actually be happy.  I mean, I was happy, but I couldn’t celebrate it because everything was so overwhelmed by my feelings of loneliness and sadness.  Everything was a reminder that I was alone. It took everything I had in me to get ready for a night out.  I would be exhausted before I even arrived.  Even the biggest and best thing to happen to me, buying a house, served as a reminder that I was doing it alone.  I just couldn’t get out of the damn black hole.

Then something happened.

I started solving my problems.

I started letting go of the shit that made me sad, so that I could be happy.

First up, R2.  He had to go.  He was inhibiting my ability to be happy and I was letting him.  The process of letting go was not easy; even though he didn’t want to be with me, he didn’t let me go easily either.  (Let’s hear for making difficult situations more difficult!)  From the time I first walked away and tried to cut him off, until we finally stopped communicating on a regular basis was six months.  He still wanted to be friends.  My argument was that he wasn’t someone I wanted to be friends with or have in my life.  But I kept giving him chances to make it up to me, apologize…anything.  I wanted the time I had spent with him to be validated.  But it was just a sick cycle.  I would cut him off, he would fight me on it, we would fight, we would make up, and repeat.  And repeat.  EXHAUSTING!  Oh, and ridiculously unfair.  It wasn’t until a few months ago, that we were able to talk openly.  He finally apologized (sincerely) and I was able to really let him go.  Since then, no communication and none intended in the future either.

It is a funny thing when someone stops taking up so much space in your head.  I started having space again for other things.  I started remembering how much I loved to swim and run.   I ran the Philly Half-Marathon in November.  I barely trained and the race was brutal, but I did it.  And at some point, I knew I would run another race.  And another.  I started remembering how much I really loved be with my friends.  Taking road trips.  I appreciated my house and saw it from a completely different point of view…I was doing something on my own, that many people couldn’t do with two people.  Things in general just because more clean.  I am not always happy; this is a major work in progress.  Sometimes…ok, quite often, I still feel lonely.  But I am no longer feeling alone. And for the first time in a very long time, the good days are outweighing the bad days.

I have a job I love.  I have an amazing family.  My friends are awesome.  I own my own home.  I have four races planned for this year.

I am back.