Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

This year has undoubtedly been the best year of my life. Among all the incredible things that happened, I got to see my baby sister and quite a few wonderful friends get married, we welcomed a new niece into the world, my best friend moved home, and I was able to stand in front of (almost) all of my closest family and friends and declare my intentions to spend the rest of my life with my amazing husband.

It’s going to be hard to top this year.

That’s not to say there weren’t some negatives because there were, and there will continue to be. Such is life.

However, I am determined to keep the good, the happy, the positives rolling in 2015. As you are aware (or at least should be if you’ve been around these parts at all over the last few years), I am a sucker for challenges. While work is generally a constant source of stress and frustration for me, this year I have learned/been reminded time and time again that when I am pushed out of my comfort zone, when I am CHALLENGED to focus on something other than my current dilemma, I thrive. I grow and change for the better.

It’s very easy to say, “Yes, this year/week/month I’m going to PUSH myself.” I’ve done it. Time and again. And time and again I’ve relaxed back into a routine, back into the depths of my oh-so-comfortable couch, and said, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

That’s the thing about New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow is actually the beginning of a whole new year. I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I always figure if you want to change something, do it now, not when January rolls around. However, January is right here. On top of that, I’ve got some partners in crime who somehow knew/could tell or have flat out been told that I need a good, solid kick in the pants to make some of the changes I’ve been talking about since far too long ago.

Therefore, 2015 has been dubbed the year of the challenge.

First, my dearest aunt Melissa invited me (and a bunch of family, which is always motivating) to a healthy living challenge. Eight weeks long. Plenty long enough to make some better habits (veggies, get in my face). I don’t have any intention of winning this challenge, as my daily afternoon hot chocolate is sometimes the only thing that keeps me from freezing into a solid block of ice at my desk, but the family element, the extra motivation, that is what I’m counting on to push me out the door when I’d rather take a nap.

Second, in continuing to focus on the positives when things get a little rocky, I’m going to participate in a challenge similar to my Instagram 100 Days of Happy. That was a challenge that I was sad to see end, and honestly, I should have just continued it. This year, Katie (my wonderful friend Heather’s sister) is spearheading a small change challenge. The purpose is to focus on small, easy changes on a daily basis to bring more light and happiness to your life.

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Seem like something you’d like to do too? Head over to this page right here to sign up. This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I first heard about it. I’m excited for another reason to focus daily on something to make my life better or to just put more smiles on my face.

And last. The big one. Oh my goodness. This one is something I unequivocally blame Ange for. Phew. Guys, this year Ange and I are going to run for a combined 2,015 miles. Which means I’ve signed up, literally put money where my mouth is, to run over 1000 miles by the end of 2015.

I just….whew, I have a lot of FEELINGS about all of this. Especially given just how many miles I’m looking at running starting tomorrow when I’ve run approximately five times since my last half marathon in October.

ESPECIALLY when today’s run was cut short because HOLYCRAPIT’SCOLDOUTSIDE. I suppose not knowing that it was only 18F/-8C was a good thing or I may not have had the wherewithal to walk out the front door.

The thing is, I’ve got reasons to believe I’ll not only meet this challenge, but surpass it. Well, reason.

I’d considered not posting anything about it, but you know, screw it.

I’m running a marathon this year. And I’m terrified and elated and worried sick and intimidated and excited and in equal parts want to vomit and giggle. I know I swore up and down that my Disney race would be my only full. It was, for many reasons that I’ll not expound on here, a miserable experience, and then, for many reasons that I’ll also not expound on here, I decided to do another.

So I’m trying again.

And this. This I believe will be my biggest challenge of all. Physically, mentally, emotionally, this will be my biggest challenge. There will be plenty of other races, I’m sure (of course I am, as I’m already signed up for others), but this one is the big one.

Woah, this got rambly. Let me explain! No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

1. CHALLENGES!
2. Healthy Living in 2015! More veggies! Fewer sweets!
3. Instagram and small changes! (Go sign up!!)
4. 2,015 (well, 1007.5) miles in 2015!
5. Marathon!

No matter what happens, 2015 is going to be a great year. I’m DETERMINED to make it a great year.

Happy New Year, my friends!

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Back to What You Know

Five days ago I ran my fourth half marathon of the year. In this space, I’ve only spoken about one of them.

There are a lot of reasons I have kept quiet about them, and many of them really have nothing to do with running. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind year, to say the least (hey guys, I’m married!), yet being busy was only part of it.

This was the year where I had to decide what the definition of “abject failure” was when it comes to running and where my line in the sand was. Talking about it (here, anyway….sorry, select friends who did have to hear about it) made it worse.

This was the year that I hit my breaking point. This was the year that I felt absolutely like a running failure, like I had no business even calling myself a runner. This was the year where 75% of my half marathons were the catalyst to second-guessing myself and physical pain. This was the year where 50% of my half marathons were finish lines I crossed with nothing but tears in my eyes and disdain for the sport in my head.

This was the year I ran my slowest half marathon ever as well as the worst race of my life, which incidentally were not the same races.

This was the year that if I hadn’t already been signed up for a fall half marathon, I’d have quit half marathons after April’s race.

And then there was Sunday. Perfectly temperatured, adequately fueled (guess who finally found a Gu flavor that doesn’t make her want to hurl?! Bless you, salted watermelon). It was a really good race, even if it wasn’t what I set out to do.

You know, maybe running isn’t so bad.

If this feels a bit disjointed, trust me, it’s far more eloquent than what’s been in my head.

This is why runners are insane. Because once you are a runner, you don’t just stop being one because you’ve had a rough year (or years, as the case may be). What do you do? You sign up for another race. And another one. And another. And you keep setting goals and learn how to bounce back if you don’t meet them.

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You find training plans that work for you and running partners who you adore and you go out there on race day with nerves in the pit of your belly just like you had on the morning of that very first race. You make a decision to rededicate yourself to the sport more often than you buy new running shoes, which may or may not be a good thing.

It sounds cheesy, but you keep going and keep working and keep racing because deep down (sometimes so deep down you don’t believe it’s there) you love it.

Running is hard. It’s stupid and it’s challenging and it’s beautiful and it’s inspiring and it’s all of these millions of different things to each different runner, which makes it perfect. My running is not your running or Ange’s running or my mom’s running or anyone else’s running.

And that’s why I can’t quit. I can’t walk away from something so delightfully and explicitly MINE.

Because I am a runner. Because I will always be a runner.

Happy

Oh my goodness. You know how sometimes after coming home from a long weekend you can end up with a vacation hangover? That feeling where you’d so much rather be where you left, like you can’t even stay awake because you played so hard?

This trip left me with a happy hangover.

Seriously. Best. Weekend. Ever.

I could give you a whole run-down recap of the thing, but I know Ange is currently writing a race recap that will span TWO POSTS. I’ll just reblog those. 🙂

Real quickly, though, the 10k was MUGGY. Oh man. My gills had dried up from last summer (thanks a lot, winter), so I could barely breathe. Five of us stopped right at the mile 6 mark so that we could wait for our friend Lo, who was running her very first 10k. The look on her face when she rounded that corner nearly made me cry! So we finished the race running in a pack around her (pretty sure she crossed the finish line before us), and what made it better was the number of people around us who started cheering for her too. Have you ever finished a race with tears in your eyes? I have. It was incredible.

The half marathon was the slowest half marathon I’ve ever run (by an HOUR…and that’s counting the first half of the full last year). It was also the most fun half marathon I’ve ever run. SO. MANY. PICTURES. Not even kidding, we waited in line for over 15 minutes for the picture with Mickey and Minnie.

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And? It was worth every single second.

I know that I didn’t ever put up a mile 19 dedication, but I’m ok with that. The last mile was a combination of exhaustion and sweat and a bit of pain and a whole lot of happiness.

But for simplicity’s sake, I’ll dedicate it to Pop Chips, which I knew were waiting for me at the finish line.

The rest of the time spent with five absolutely INCREDIBLE women before, during, and after these races made the whole weekend that much more special. I just….whew! I don’t really have words for how amazing they made this weekend.

There are already plans in the works for future races and trips, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

And of course, then there’s this.

http://24hoursofhappy.com/

Stay happy, my friends.

Over and Over

Two months ago I said I wanted to write more. And here we are. Hashtag goal fail. Hashtag silent blog.

Oops.

I had this whole post somewhat written about running and failure and training and not having motivation, but you’ve heard that story before. Actually, over the last year, I’ve told that story far too many times.

You know what’s motivating?

I get to to this again.

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In just a few short months I’ll be heading back up to Madison and embarking on another round of Ragnar Chicago.

It’s kind of difficult to put into words the full range of emotions I have about Ragnar. Rereading what I wrote about the last round, I can still remember how nauseating the heat was, how the dehydration hit like a mack truck two days after the race, how I limped more than walked normally in the week following. However, I also remember the sense of accomplishment and of teamwork. I remember how twelve people came together, most of us knowing only one or two others in the team (which is exactly how this year will be….I know two of the guys on the team, and that’s it), and spent the time laughing and having fun like we’d known each other for ages.

I love Ragnar. I would do one every year if I could. I am SO excited to have this to look forward to.

But first comes Disney. First comes the Glass Slipper Challenge, and the already-had conversation about taking our time goal down a notch as training over the winter, for a myriad of reasons, has gone, well, let’s just say it hasn’t gone so well.

More races are coming. More miles and blisters and sweat drops (or sheets) and tan lines. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

 

Unrelated, good luck getting this song out of your head:

She’s Going the Distance

The thing about birthdays, as I’ve said before, is that they give you bench marks on life. For example, twenty-two was a wonderful year, full of graduating and getting a job and buying a car and moving to St Louis.

Other years have had some absolute highs, 27 coming in very close to the top of the list. But nothing will compare to 29.

This year is going to be a phenomenal year.

A couple of weeks ago at work, I submitted the goals that I am working towards for this fiscal year. This was right around the time that Angela was posting her October goals wrap-up and listing her November goals (let’s be honest, we aren’t the Type A A-Team in our Disney races for nothing). In our emails surrounding both of her posts, we talked a lot about goals. Running goals, life goals, wedding goals (on my part), etc.

I’m not one to set New Year’s Resolutions. It seems to me that if you want to improve yourself, the time to start is now, not in a few months at some arbitrary point in the winter. Yet somehow, my birthday benchmarks always make me take note of some goals I’d made without consciously considering them.

I suppose this year is a combination of goals and a “pre-30 Bucket List.” And what better way to hold yourself accountable than writing them out for the entire interwebs to see.

So. My goals for 29 years old/pre-30 bucket list.

1. Get through the wedding under budget. Wedding world is expensive. When we first started talking budget, we had a figure in mind that was almost immediately blown out of the water when we started looking at what we WANTED to do. When we found a place that would do everything and more that we were looking for, we bumped our budget up a little bit more. And then we sat down and had probably the most intense, down-to-the-penny type conversation I’ve ever had with another person. That figure (which is honestly nearly double what we originally set) is what I’d like to spend less than. Really. Granted, after going almost $300 over budget on my dress this past Saturday, it probably won’t be easy, but I think we can do it.

2. Find a pair of jeans that actually fits me. It’s interesting, this whole taking measurements for dresses thing. The size chart made me both chuckle and sigh, as my bust and waist size had me between two sizes, yet my hips had me between two different sizes that were a couple sizes bigger than the bust/waist sizes. Yay for being pear shaped. Later that day, I did actually find a pair of skinny jeans that mostly fit, yet I still spent part of the evening pulling them up. I want a pair of jeans that fits, that doesn’t have the gap in the back, that I won’t spend a full day pulling back up to where they belong.

3. Run a half marathon in under two hours. Over the last year or so, my focus has shifted away from running (clearly). I want to put it back. It is invigorating to run. I have missed it. And setting this goal (that is entirely doable, by the way) gives me something to focus on. Once the marathon was over, any and all focus on timed events went straight out the window. See: Tough Mudder, where the goal was to just finish the damn thing. Yesterday Danielle at T-Rex Runner posted about her absolutely incredible PR. I don’t even know her and was damn near cheering in my seat reading about it. A PR is satisfying on levels that are hard to describe. I never started running to race people. I actually hate racing people. But racing against my past self? That’s something I can get behind. I will cheer on ANYONE who’s going for  PR, and I’m still cheering for Danielle. My goal is to be able to cheer for myself come February, and as a pipe dream, again in April.

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4. Run. In races and new events. For fun. For health. Just run. I feel like I’m well on my way here, as I’ve already scheduled a few new races coming up. I’ve got a 10k on Thanksgiving, a 15k in December, obviously my Glass Slipper Challenge in February, and I’ve signed up for a half marathon in April as well. And then? Then I shall do Ragnar Chicago again. I lovelovelove Ragnar, and reading Janae’s updates on Ragnar Vegas gave me some SERIOUS running jealousy. I suppose it was just really good timing then that last week I got an email about joining another Ragnar Chicago team. I am so excited!!

5. Be healthier. I was going to go into more detail here, but I won’t for a whole lot of reasons. Suffice it to say, I have health and fitness related goals that I’ll be working on this year, I just won’t be listing them out for the whole wide world.

6. Write more. This is one that I won’t put many specifications around. However, I do know that I like writing. I would like to do more of it. Whether or not it’s in this space remains to be seen.

7. Stay happy. The last year has been the happiest of my life. Things are in such a remarkably good place, and I would like to keep it that way. There are some big things and some not so big things to look forward to, but every single day I want to be happy. I want to take a few minutes every day to appreciate the things around me and what I’ve been blessed to have. I want to remember that though there could be rough times ahead that life is awesome.

8. Win a fantasy football championship. We’ll just have to see how this one goes.

Don’t Stop, Get It, Get It

So this happened.

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Saturday my team, Barry Jive and the Uptown Five, finished this course at Tough Mudder St Louis.

Today I hurt. All over. Abs, hips, quads. Even my triceps, which I learned when I brushed my teeth.

And? It was all so very worth it.

As much as I’d been worried about this race, given that it was an entirely unknown entity, PLUS the fact that I hadn’t really trained for it, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I’d expected. Our whole team finished. Our whole team completed every obstacle.

There were some injuries, lots of scrapes, more bruises than we’re able to count, and mud in probably every single spot and more it could get.

This was awesome.

Our wave started at 1020am.

Such clean shoes!

Such clean shoes!

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No quit in here

We had to get ourselves over a wall just to get to the starting line.

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The first obstacle we got to was called the Kiss of Mud.

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We were the lucky ones who DIDN’T have a fire hose on us during this obstacle. Apparently later in the day they added water, since the mud was drying out, while Mudders were in there. Bullet dodged.

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This is my aunt Melissa. She’s awesome.

Our next obstacle was a mystery obstacle, which involved climbing over a mud hill and jumping over fire into a pit, and then pulling ourselves out with a cargo net.

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Once we were all nice and soaked, they sent us to the Glory Blades, where we had to get over two slanted walls to get over and the slide down the other side. Hey, teamwork, you come in handy!!

And then. Arctic Enema. I swear Tough Mudder was trying to mess with our heads as we ran for probably a mile with the side of the truck screaming “ARCTIC ENEMA” at us. We knew what was coming, and seriously, the anticipation didn’t help.

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Blissful ignorance

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The many facial expressions in this one make me laugh

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Couldn’t really feel my face here

We ran around a quick corner and were quickly introduced to the Mud Mile.

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Going head first

Will cause this

Will cause this

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Then it was off to the Lumberjacked obstacle. It’s surprisingly uneasy to get over giant logs when covered in water and mud.

Stuck. Couldn't swing my legs up to pull myself over.

Stuck. Couldn’t swing my legs up to pull myself over.

Then they sent us off to the King of the Hill, which was a tower of giant haystacks we had to get over. I think we can safely attribute most of the tiny scrapes on our legs from the hay.

Running up to the next obstacle, the Electric Eel, was more intimidating than going to the Arctic Enema. From about 100 meters away, all we could really hear were these screams of (what sounded like) sheer agony. Once we got there, we were accosted by the nearly continuous *pops* of electricity zapping the people in the event.

Right as I got into the beginning of the obstacle, they started pouring more water into it. Directly into my face, which successfully made me jump straight into the wires. I got hit a couple more times, once directly on my head which made me clench my teeth really hard. It was an entirely disorienting, and completely unlikable experience.357363

Apparently my way "looked safer"

Apparently my way “looked safer”

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Following that, we ran a bunch and completed four more obstacles. I wish we had photographic evidence of my friend Kyle trying to carry GCB during the Warrior Carry.

Trench Warfare

Trench Warfare

Carry Your Wood

Carry Your Wood

Walk the Plank

Walk the Plank

We got stopped for a while before we hit Mud Mile #2, but it was pretty worth it. This mud was awesome.

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Over the Funky Monkey and through the Cage Crawl took us to the Berlin Walls.

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Then? Everest.

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This is my second try. First try I just missed.

Climbing down from Everest we were looking straight down the chute to Electroshock Therapy. As of now, I don’t have pictures for it. All I know is that I was stupidly lucky to miss every single wire. My teammates weren’t as lucky, and some ended up nearly face-planting in the mud.

All that was left to do was get our head bands and our beers and breathe a sigh of relief.

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500

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The end.

Hey Baby, I Think I Wanna Marry You

So this happened.

IMG_0084The story!

Friday morning, I was woken up at 450am (ick). I was really confused because Adam was waking me up, and I was kind of worried that I was sleeping through my alarm. Then I noticed that it was the four o’clock hour, not the five o’clock, and I was confused. Adam goes, “How much do you trust me?” which is not something to say to a not-quite-awake person. I, in my ever so eloquent state, mumbled, “Um, a lot?” So he told me to put my glasses on and handed me two half sheets of paper.

It took me a second to realize that it was a boarding pass. Then I registered that it said LaGuardia. Then I registered that my name was on it. AND THEN I registered that the date was for that day.

And then I flipped a little bit.

I asked about whether I needed to call into work. He told me it was taken care of. I reminded him of plans I’d had with April and Ali for the weekend. He told me they were fake plans, and that it was taken care of. He told me that I had one hour to pack and get ready (he did apologize profusely for me having to pack, but he wasn’t sure what I’d want, etc).

So I packed. Kind of. It took me a bit to figure out what I needed to take since all he would tell me is that I needed walking shoes, comfortable stuff for walking, and then something a little fancier for Saturday night. Do you know how difficult it is to pack multiple options into a tiny carry-on bag? Difficult. Mostly because of the shoes.

Anyway, as we drove off to the airport he played two songs for me. Sinatra’s New York and Jay-Z/Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind. I started teasing him about missing opportunities. Where was “Uptown Girl”? Where was “New York State of Mind”? Heh. As we were driving, I googled which baseball team was home because I know him, and obviously we were going to a game since I’d never been to either stadium.

After getting through security, he told me he had a surprise for me and handed me a little bag, out of which I pulled a fancy new camera. He said, “We are NOT taking just cell phone pictures while we’re in New York.” And then he handed me an envelope containing tickets to both a Yankees game (see?) and Matilda on Broadway.

People keep asking me if I had any idea this would be coming, but because he pulled out the tickets immediately, I really didn’t. I figured it was just a fun surprise since I’m trying to get to all the stadiums and have always wanted to go to NYC.

When we got there, we took our bags to the hotel and headed off to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

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He said he wanted to take me to a pizza place that came very highly recommended. As we were walking across the bridge, he was telling me how there were a ton of locks locked on the bridge, as people would write/engrave names/dates/etc on them and then leave them on the bridge. I thought this idea was awesome and was really bummed I didn’t know since I had an unused lock at home.
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Here’s where I have to interject that in hind sight, I was incredibly blind to just about everything once I figured out we were going to NYC, but during everything, I was just happy to be there.

We ate at this place called Grimaldi’s (omg, YUM), and after we finished off a large pizza (yep) we took a walk down to the Brooklyn Bridge Park. We were just kind of walking along, and I sat down to just look at Manhattan, as I was still marveling that I was there in the first place.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye, and figuring he was getting up so we could keep walking I started to grab my stuff, but then froze as he was on one knee in front of me. My jaw just dropped as he slid the ring on my finger and asked me to marry him. I don’t even think I fully was able to choke out “of course I will” before I was crying and kissing him all at once. He told me later that he had been looking for a somewhat secluded area so it could be a private thing between the two of us, and for NYC he did ok. There were, though, six people who were walking behind us who started clapping and cheering for us, which I was surprisingly ok with.

We started walking back to the bridge to cross back over into Manhattan, and we hadn’t gotten more than 20 feet when he told me there was just one more thing and handed me a hunk of tissue paper, which contained the lock in the very first picture of this post. And then I cried again.

Shortly after, we stopped so I could call my family, and then we took a deep breath, knowing our phones were about to die, and put the picture on facebook and twitter.

And then our phones exploded.

We talked to his mom for a little bit as we walked back to the bridge, and then shoved the phones into bags and pockets to give us time to find a place to put the lock.

As we walked by one place, we realized that there weren’t too many locks and that we’d be able to get ours on pretty easily. It took us just a moment, but THEN we realized that the light post we were standing next to looked directly down at the bench where he proposed. So there we left it.

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And there we will go back to find it over the years. I will never see the Brooklyn Bridge, whether in pictures or TV/movies or in person without feeling very fluttery in my stomach, remembering the absolute apex of happiness in my life so far.