Happy Boston Marathon Day!

boston-finish

When I was 17, my family took a trip to Boston.  It was one of the best trips.  My parents were awesome enough to let me bring a friend which made everything that much better.  We did the touristy stuff like Ride the Ducks and visiting the Cheers bar but we also saw the Titanic expo while we were there and best of all…we went to Fenway.  My Mom, Dad and I are all HUGE baseball fans.  Of course the Phillies come first in our heart but a close second would be the Red Sox.  My Dad had always wanted to go to Fenway and of course I loved the idea of visiting a new ball park.  In addition to seeing the game, we took the tour.  It was then, in 1998 that I fell in love with Boston.

It would be 12 more years until I would get back.

The first Boston Marathon I watched on TV was in 2008.  At the time, I was training for my first 5k.   I was home sick from work that day (truthfully) and it was the first race I ever watched on TV.  I thought these people were nuts.  Pretty sure I thought to myself more than a few times, “I’ll never do that” during the course of watching the race.  At the same time, there is something so inspirational about watching such a historic race be run by people who have trained through blood, sweat and tears to get there.

In April of 2011, my mom and I flew into Boston for the marathon weekend.  A bunch of my blogging friends were either running the marathon or like me, running the 5k.  In addition to the blogger meet-ups and racing, we were able to spend some time with one of my mom’s friends who lives right outside of Boston.  Spending time back in the city and seeing new places, made me fall in love all over again.  The weekend was a whirlwind, but it was so much fun to run the 5k, cross the line and then of course watch the marathon on Monday.  My mom and I sat just past mile 17 in the Newton Hills.  It was a great space; people weren’t hating their lives yet but you could see them pushing hard!  And I was so close to the elites when they went by.  It was awesome.

Watching the race this year is not a problem.  A-my boss is from Boston and B-my boss is a runner (ran Boston twice in the 70’s).  I asked him if it was okay to live stream it and he said, “Well, I can’t tell you no if I’ll be doing the same thing!”  So while it would be a whole lot more fun to be AT the race, I am excited I’ll get to watch it once again.

Do you have personal memories of Boston?  Where will you be watching from today?

Authentic Blogging- Who Do You Blog For?

Before I even begin, the answer to this question is obvious.  I blog for me.  I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to do this for myself.  This blog started as a way to journal my experiences as I went from party girl to triathlon girl to runner girl.  If you have been a reader from the start, you know triathlon wasn’t something I intended to do past the first race.  And I certainly never (ever ever ever) thought I would become a runner.  So yes, I blog for myself first.

But I also blog for you.

Who are you?  Well, I know some of you have been here for a very long time.  Some of you, I knew before my blog.  Some I have met through blogging.  I have stayed in some of your homes and I have raced races with a few of you.  Some of you come only when I have a give-a-way (which is almost never) and some of you are brand new.  Some comment once in a while and some on almost every post.  I write for all of you.  For whatever reason you come here- because you relate to me, need swimming advice, think I am funny, because you want to know how my latest race went or because you know me in real life.  I write for all of you.

Being an authentic blogger is tough.  This is one of the issues I have struggled with most in my own writing.  Not that I feel as though I am not authentic, because I truly believe I am very real.  It is more like the struggle to make sure my blogging is personal, relevant and real all at the same time.  I don’t want to blog about the same things all the time or post a list post simply because I am not sure what I have to say on a certain day.  I want every post to really mean something.  There was a time when I did not come first in my blogging and it was obvious.  And I had to stop.  Having been back writing again, I feel really good.  Yet, I still have days where I struggle with “where do I want to go with this post” or “has this been done too many times already” or “will this matter when I look back on it” when I am thinking about my topics.

When I first started blogging, I had been reading Healthy Living blogs for about a year.  They weren’t nearly all the rage they are these days, but then again, neither were running blogs.  In fact, it was hard to find a good running blog.  The ones I was finding were written by people who were “real” runners and I was just trying not to fall off the treadmill for a mile straight.  One of the main reasons I started a blog was because I wanted to find other people like me.  I have always been a writer but I was so new to triathlon and running.  I figured I would keep a blog as a journal and if I were lucky, I would find other people doing the same thing.  Little by little people did start reading…caring…asking…about me.  It was surreal.  And I loved it.

Gradually, I formed friendships, participated in blog meet-ups and even ran this race with one of the very first people I ever communicated with through blogging.  I really loved blogging.  Then something changed.  With the blog world, with me…in general, I guess.  Running blogs got really big.  Healthy Living blogs had already blown up and now running blogs were too.  Suddenly, some of the blogs I had been reading for years became immersed in ads, give-a-ways and shilling products.  I felt left out and so for a while, I tried harder.  Even though some of the posts that were written during that time are some of my favorites, I am not proud of myself for trying to be someone I am not.  Often I was posting because I felt like I had to, not because I wanted to.  I was not always authentically blogging.

When I stopped blogging (I truly believed I would never blog again) it was because I needed to remove myself from feeling like I couldn’t keep up.  With how much I had going on in my life at that time, I just needed to back away.  When I decided to come back to blogging, I knew I would do it only if I could go back to how it was in the beginning.  Blogging for me first, then for my audience.  These days, most of my old readers don’t follow me.  That’s ok.  I know the ones that do and have been with me for so long are my friends and I am welcoming new readers every day.  I would rather have 10 solid readers who respect what my blog and come here for the right reasons than have to keep up with trends to keep hundreds of readers.

Here is what you will always get on my blog: Real Jillian.  A middle of the pack runner that knows her place in the world.  A regular girl who lives a pretty regular life and likes to document it in this blog.  Reviews only when it is a product I use, like and believe in and a possible give-a-way now and then.

Here is what you will never get on my blog:  product shilling, a boatload of ads, 35 rules to enter a give-a-way or in your face requests to follow me, re-tweet my posts or subscribe to my blog.

You come here for a reason.  If you didn’t like what you read, you wouldn’t.  I know from my stats that this blog gets quite a bit of traffic and people are reading.  I would rather have 5 genuine comments than 200 insincere ones.  I feel like if my blog was full of ads paying me to blog, my posts would become less authentic.  I would be blogging for traffic and not for me.  I would be forced to recommend, through ads and posts, products I don’t use or like.  I like my free not-so-big blog and I love the places blogging has taken me and the people I have met.   The blog is evolving but I am going to remain true to who I am.  Always.  That is my promise to myself and my readers.  The blog isn’t perfect, but it is mine.

What does authentic blogging mean to you?  Who do you blog for?

Solid Reminders For Running In The Heat

With the spring weather in full effect (yeah!) over here in New Jersey, I am back to being excited about running outside!  I am kind-of a baby when it comes to winter running and usually relegate myself to the treadmill because it is either A- too dark or B- too cold.  I wake up in the dark, drive home from work in the dark…I miss my Vitamin D in the winter!

Over the past weekend I began going through my clothes to start the changeover from winter to summer.  The same goes for my running gear.  Each year, as I do this, I am reminded of some solid tips for running in the heat.  If you google “summer running tips” you’ll get a million hits.  This is not new information.  I am not giving away any secrets.  However, everyone can benefit from a reminder now and then.  So let me be the millionth and one hit when you google for tips!

Here are my top 5:

1. Check the heat index:

It really isn’t enough to just check the weather.  The Heat Index tells you what the temperature feels likes when combining the air temperature and the relative humidity.  If the air quality index is code orange and you have upper respiratory problems, you may not want to run. If it’s a code red, it’s not suitable for anyone to run.  The temperature alone is not enough information.  For example, you may think it is okay to run in 84 degrees but if the relative humidity is 90% then you are dealing with 98 degrees.  No thanks!

A good way to avoid high temperatures and high heat index’s is to run early before the sun is out or after 6pm.

2. Wear Sunscreen

Please, please, please wear sunscreen.  I am amazed by runners (any outside athlete for that matter) who skip this part.  Research shows that runners have a higher rate of skin cancer than non-runners.  Makes sense given that runners are outside more during the summer months and wearing less clothes than the average person.  In addition, remember to protect your lips from the sun too.

3. Drink, drink, drink

Don’t wait until you are running to begin drinking.  Get those fluids in starting before you run.  Make sure you have enough fluids on your run.  Either carry a bottle, wear a hydration belt or make sure your route includes water fountains or other options for drinking.  In addition to water, if you are out there for more than 30-45 minutes you need to start supplementing with electrolytes.  The hotter it is, the more you sweat and you need to replace the vital electrolytes.

4. Dress the part

Technical clothes (I seriously cringe when I see runners in cotton!), light colors, wiking socks, a visor (hats serve to keep heat in and are great for winter, but not for summer unless they are a light technical hat) and sunglasses (with UV protections) will all help aid with keeping cool and safe in the heat.   I love Nike Dri-Fit clothes in the summer and C9 from Target is fabulous.  I live by Balega hidden comfort socks but there are a variety of great light wiking socks on the market.  In the photo above, I am wearing tank and shorts both by C9, balega hidden cool socks, my Team Triumph visor and Foster Grant Ironman UV protected sunglasses.

5. Be smart & safe.

This tip is for year round.  The best tip for running ever, no matter what season, is to run safe and smart.

  • Invest in a road ID– Get one. Now. Do it.
  • Bring your phone-  if you end up stranded, hurt or in any way in need of someone, this is your lifesaver.
  • Change up your routes- Not only does it make running more fun but makes you less predictable.
  • Ditch the music- If you MUST wear an IPod, run with one ear bud out.  I really like running with music, but always keep my ear closest to the road open.
  • Keep your eyes open- You might see the car but there is no guarantee the car sees you.  Assume every driver is distracted and pay close attention especially when running on the shoulder (always against the flow of traffic) and at intersections.  When crossing a street, make eye contact with the driver.
  • Run in populated areas- Chances are if it is populated with runners it is safe.  And if you get hurt or have an emergency there will be people around to help.
  • Be visible- Wear bright colors and if you are running at night wear reflective clothing, tape or lights.
  • Trust your gut- If someone looks shady, they might be; if a street looks scary, it could be; if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Have tips to add?  Please do!

Learning To Stop Apologizing

I have a habit of apologizing.  I apologize a lot.  About everything.  Well, not so much anymore, but its been a long road of learning.

My propensity to apologize over everything was pointed out to me by a friend a little over a year and a half ago.  “You start a lot of sentences with ‘I’m sorry’ and often apologize for things that don’t necessarily require an apology.”   Truth.

I am an insanely honest person.  I have no trouble telling it like it is or giving my opinion when asked.  I hardly ever start a sentence with “I’m sorry but…” because A- “but” negates the “I’m sorry” and B- I am usually not sorry for my opinion.  I do however seem to be sorry for everything I personally feel that has to do with myself, personally.  For example, I say “I’m sorry” instead of “excuse me” all the time.  If I am coming out of a door while someone is trying to get in, I’ll say “Oh, I’m sorry” even though I have nothing to be sorry about and really I just needed to say excuse me.  Apologizing when I should be saying excuse me is like apologizing for being in a certain space.  What?  Exactly.  And it’s a funny thing; if someone doesn’t like my opinion, especially if they asked me specifically for this opinion, I don’t care.  But if I think a complete stranger hates me because we both want to use the door at the same time, I get all concerned.   I know the latter situation says more about them than it does me and that is exactly why I am working on these issues.    Sometimes, I have actually found myself apologizing for apologizing.

Thank God for therapy!

I had long forgotten that conversation with my friend until a conversation I was having with my therapist about positive changes I have recently made.  She noted that I have mostly stopped apologizing for every feeling I have and for every situation I am in.  She said that when I first started seeing her I would begin most sentences with “I’m sorry that…” and it almost always had to do with how I felt about a particular situation. (Note: particular situation=R2 for about six months!)  This happened all the time during my marathon training.  I was always apologizing to R2 because I didn’t order a drink or have dessert or stay up late.   By by making time for my training and specifically my long runs, I felt like I was letting him down.  It was in the weeks leading up to my race that my friend made her comment about my constant apologizing.  I wasn’t drinking leading up to the race and we were out to dinner.  I apologized to her for not ordering a drink.  She asked why I was sorry and I didn’t have an answer.  I was just so accustomed to apologizing for everything that I was at the point of apologizing out of habit.  I did not need to apologize because I didn’t want dessert.  Or because I couldn’t stay out late due to an early morning run.

Unfortunately, unlearning something is much easier than learning.  Apologizing became a habit; I was already an over-apologizer and my relationship with R2 just exacerbated it.  I have learned through talking it out that often my apologizing is a way of looking for validation.  For someone to say “it’s okay.”  I know now, I really wanted (read:needed) to hear “its okay” and sometimes the only way I got that was to apologize.  I know now, I do not need to be validated.  At least not in that way.

Apologies are now saved for times when I have to act with class and maturity and truly express regret.   If I come out of the door the same time someone is going in…well, that is just happenstance.  Definitely not something I regret or have to feel sorry about.  And when I WANTED to go to bed early, get up early or skip dessert even though R2 didn’t like it, I shouldn’t have been made to feel bad about it.  Yet, I apologized because R2 made me feel selfish for making these decisions.   I know there is a big difference between being selfish and just making different choices.

I am happy to say that I am not apologizing for nothing as much these days.  Probably because I don’t hang out with or date people that make me feel bad for living and not having to apologize for my choices has translated into not having to apologize for everything I do.  To see if my therapist and I were right, I asked my friend what she thought about my change.  We had dinner last night and I straight up asked her if she noticed a difference.  Her response:  “Definitely!”  She even noted when we headed to the bar and myself and another person were headed for the same seat…aha!…we bumped accidentally and I said, “excuse me” instead of “I’m sorry.”

Like everything else, it is a work in progress…but it is still progress!

I worked for a long time on this post and it still seems scattered to me.  Sometimes I have so much to say about something that I end up all over the place with it.  I would apologize for that, but then I would just be defeating the whole purpose of the post.  Instead, I’ll just post it and let it be 🙂

March Is Over! And Mexico!

I feel like I say this every month, but I CANNOT BELIEVE MARCH IS OVER!

March was actually a really fun month.  I had a TWO WEEK spring break, went to Mexico and had a four day weekend over Easter.  Working in a private school has definite perks!  In addition to all that fun, I had a few really good long runs that are preparing me well for my half-marathon coming up in April.  Oh, and the weather is soon going to be in the 70’s and really…how can you not love that?!?!?!

Running- Longs runs are good.  One more this weekend and then race time in two weeks.  I am really excited for this race.  My initial plan was to definitely go for a PR but I don’t know if I am ready.  Based on Sunday’s long run, I could come close.  It will really depend on those last few miles.  After Philly, when I was on target to crush my PR only to be bogged down by GI issues, I don’t want to get my hopes up for anything.  The extended weather report says 72, I have a cute outfit, it’s at the University I went to and loads of my friends will also be racing.  Those are all reasons to be excited that have nothing to do with time.  We shall see what happens when I cross the line!

Ballet/Barre-  This is still my favorite workout but I am definitely doing a lot more barre than I am ballet.  For one, it just fits in my schedule better but I also like the combination of ballet work with cardio and other strength moves.  It is the best workout I get for sure!  However, until the half is over, I am taking a break with this because it is really stressful on the legs and I do not want to over-do it.  Once the race is over, I’ll be picking this up much more…especially once school is out and I can go in the mornings.  I cannot wait for that!

Nutrition- I did so well up until Mexico.  Then it was a lot of alcohol and ridiculous amounts of food!  I look so bloated in the photos from the drinking, but seriously…worth it.  Once I got home, I got right back on track.  I feel pretty good although the real test will be race day.  I have been once again consistently training with GU so I hope that helps.  I really think that was the problem in Philly.  My training sucked and I didn’t rely on one product for nutrition.  On race day my body rejected it completely.  Now, I am back to training with GU and hoping it makes the difference.

Sleep- I am happy to report that while I was super busy over break, I did take lots of naps!  This past weekend I made zero plans on Saturday and pretty much slept all day.  I know I will never catch up, but sometimes a true lazy-do-nothing-day is exactly what I need!

Other Life Events-

Mexico was AMAZING!  The resort was just so-so but being there with so many of my friends and such a group of awesome people made for a fantastic trip.  We flew out super early and we were there and on the beach by 10am.  Of course the drinks started flowing right away and the sun was out in full effect!  It was perfection!  I spent all day Thursday and Friday, switching from the beach to the pool, hanging out in the sun and enjoying adult beverages with some of my favorite people.  Saturday was the wedding and we had perfect weather.  There was a ridiculous amount of dancing which I loved and I was so sad when the night ended.  My flight out Sunday was a little later so I got in a few hours of sun before I had to say good-bye.  Before I knew it, the trip was over.  It was definitely a great time even if it was really short!

How about some photos?

Mexico 018 Mexico 028 Mexico 033 Mexico 038

1 2 3 Mexico 061

And I’ll leave you with this gem…my best white girl dance moves in action!

4

What was the best thing that happened to you in March?

13 Life Lessons I Have Learned

(Back from Mexico- it was AMAZING!  I’ll be posting photos later this week.)

I write a lot of these posts.  Not sure if they belong on a fitness/health/running blog but this year I decided this is also a life blog.  And on my life blog, the lessons belong!   The first lesson on this list is a lesson I only learned this year, unfortunately.  Had I learned it earlier I may have saved myself a lot of grief.   Anyway, on the plane ride home I started thinking about this very notion and it got me thinking about how many lessons we learn, or re-learn, every day.  For example, I had to learn number three way too early in life and have been reminded far too many times.  I am still working on number six and I often have to remind myself of nine and eleven.  When I was in my teen’s, I thought I would have it all figured out in my 20’s; in my 20’s, I thought I would have it all figured out in my 30’s.  I am so not naive enough to think now that I’ll have it all figured out in my 40’s or 50’s…or ever.  Why?  Well, see number thirteen!

1. No reason to stay is a good reason to go.

2. If you really want something, you’ll make time for it.

3. Life can be taken in a matter of moments.

4. Reading is fundamental. 

5. Invest in your health.

6. You are allowed to say no.  You can also change your mind.

7. A gut feeling is not just a euphemism.

8. There is something really special about a handwritten note.

9. Sometimes, not getting what you want can be a blessing.

10. Rest days are important.

11. You cannot avoid tough decisions.

12. Money is better spent on experiences rather than possessions.

13. No one has it all figured out.  No one.

I would love to hear some of your life lessons!

Shamrock Weekend

This past weekend a few of my friends and I traveled down to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Half Marathon and Marathon weekend.  It fell right on Saint Patrick’s Day which made it that much cooler.  I have gone down to this race three times and it is always a good time.  Even this year, in the very cold, we had a great time.  We drove down Friday night which was great.  We were able to relax Saturday morning before heading the expo.  We had talked about watching the 8k but it was really cold.  And it was so much easier to watch from our hotel room.  You could see the finish from our balcony!

After the expo, we had a late lunch and then headed back to relax before an early bedtime.  This was my friend Lisa’s first full marathon so we made sure she got plenty of rest!  The first alarm went off for my friends Victoria and Stephanie who were doing the half-marathon.  I stayed back with Lisa, so we could walk down to the marathon together.  (I am racing a half in April, so I decided against this race.)  We walked down and met up with my friend Stephanie’s husband Josh before Lisa had to get into her corral.  Once she did, Josh and I headed to the half-marathon finish without about 8 minutes to spare before Victoria crossed the line (1:44’ish- she is awesome!).  I went with Victoria back to the hotel so we could prepare to see Lisa at Mile 12.  Lisa was sending updates so we would be able to run down from the hotel as she passed by.  Shortly before we left Stephanie and Josh came back, which was great; this way, all of us would be there to cheer her on!  As she ran by, she looked happy and strong.  After we saw her we headed back up to the room and I went out for my own run.  I had 7 miles of my own to do and totally wimped out and got on the treadmill.  By the time I was done it was time to shower and get ready to meet Lisa at the finish.

The finish energy was great and we had an awesome spot about 500 feet away with no one blocking our view.  After Lisa crossed the line (4:51!) we headed to the post-race party for a celebratory beer before getting to the hotel and packing up to drive home.

It was a super fast weekend but we had a blast.  And it got me really pumped for the April half-marathon!

sham1

Expo- Lisa and I look so small!sham2

Pre-race!

sham4Post-race!!!

This week, I leave for Mexico.  One of my best friends is getting married and I am one of her bridesmaids.  Currently the weather in New Jersey is 50 and rainy.  In Mexico it is 90 and sunny!  We leave super-duper ridiculously early (think 3am early!) on Thursday morning and I come home Sunday night.  While I am there, I do have to get a run in, but other than that but plans are to relax, relax and relax.  I also plan to take full advantage of my all-inclusive status 🙂

I will definitely post photos when I get back, but until then…happy swimming, biking and running!