Love and running

 

Somewhere along the way of this very long hot summer, I lost my love of running. It shouldn't surprise me considering the loss of my husband and the physical and emotional affects of that but I was scared it was gone for good. Plowing through 20+ miles while randomly bursting into tears sucked but it sucked with my tribe by my side and I made it through.

I was worried about running New York - Not gonna lie. I ran/survived all long runs but never did 22. I did some of my weekly runs but nowhere near what i did for my first marathon. My teammates were setting big goals and I was just hoping I could even finish.

About a week before the race my coach Amy (yes THAT Amy Begley - former olympian and MY friend!!) announced to the team she was dropping out of the elites and running the race with me. I've never been so humbled and there will never be enough words to thank her for that gift that I didn't even know I needed.

It's been impossible sum up that race and this is what I've come up with

Never once during my running tour of NYC did I ever question anything. None of the usual 'Why do people do this shit' or 'this is stupid' or 'are we there yet'. NYC marathon is the answer to that question. THAT RACE is why people do this shit.

I think my first comment to Amy was "we are 1 mile in to Brooklyn and I want to live here". 26.2 miles and 5 hours 44 minutes and 32 seconds later I fell in love with it again.

To be honest,  It could have been the fact that I had an elite athlete with me catering to my every need - making up my Nuun bottles and feeding me gluten free pretzels and calming me down when I almost got killed by kids running into the course or when I saw someone have to go in an ambulance. Amy could have finished in under 3 hours but she chose to be by my side for almost twice as long as it would have taken her. Incredible huh?

It's been a hard week emotionally and physically but I ran all my runs and loved them all - including a 5k where I cried the ENTIRE way - now THAT should be an olympic sport lol.

Tears, Trifle, Thanks and Thirteen Point One.

Wow. So I've pretty much been doing nothing but watching myself on the TODAY show, working, running and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. Did I miss anything? :)

The comedown from the NYC trip of a lifetime/dream come true was way harder than expected and suddenly it was the holidays - which we will get to in a minute. Somehow, due to coaching and people being in and out due to injuries, I ended up being the rabbit for my 12 minute half marathon training group who were running 13 miles On Saturday. That means I've done a full and 2 half marathons in one month. It's been absolutely necessary for my sanity however.

I've been okay as long as I keep moving. The minute I stand still is when it gets hard. I was making my thanksgiving trifle and tears were falling into the vanilla pudding as I stood and stirred it. It has to be constantly stirred so I had no choice but to stand and stir and deal.

I was just plain old mad Thanksgiving eve. My best friend and my biggest helper wasn't there. I had to get the kitchen aid mixer out of the basement and take out the recycling and feed the dogs and put all the stuff in the car and the endless list of crap that needed to be done. I had a sink full of dishes and no one to clean them so I just left them and went to the bar. That worked for a bit but then I had to run a half marathon really early with a bit of a hangover!


The Thanksgiving half is one of my favorites (it was my first half!) but this year was extra special since a few of my favorite trainees were becoming first time half marathoners. We have a tradition of staying and tailgating until the last person finishes. I can't think of a better way to spend my thanksgiving morning than that. Of course it's also a great 1,300 extra calories I can consume - specifically beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes and LOTS of champagne. I had dinner with my friends and neighbors and it ending up being a great day.


Friday? not so much.

It's the regular days that I think about Ali the most. We would have had a lazy morning and then eventually wandered to the bar and then probably got a pizza and watched a movie. Instead I paced around the house sort of working but not really doing anything. Just lost. The down time is something I'm just going to have to suffer through because there's not an immediate solution other than finding my new normal. I can't fill the emptiness with food. I can't run ALL the time nor can I drink all the time. There has to be a balance of that somehow.


Saturday I ran and ran and ran. On my own with music (Hamilton!!) but no watch. I had no idea how far I was going or fast but it felt awesome and it was a beautiful day. Training is over through the holidays but I still have plenty of races on the calendar in December.


Sunday I went to the top of Kennesaw mountain with my besties and did my first real attempt at a trail run (truthfully it was mostly power hiking rather than running but I did manage to run some!) I have a trail half marathon coming up in January and it was REALLY hard but we were with seasoned trail runner so I learned a lot had a great time.

This was a super long way of saying that in a year where it's sometimes been a challenge for me to be thankful, I'm thankful that my body has let me continue to be a marathoner and that I'm constantly lifted up by my friends and family.

I have so much to say and I'm still writing my book - in fact this post was getting so long I had to break it into 2 so stay tuned for some more stuff in the next few days. Writing is really helping me process all of the ups and downs - I'm used to writing mostly about the ups but sharing the downs has been cathartic for me. Thanks for reading if you've made it this far! :)

 

Just eat the fu#*ing english muffin

It's been a long LONG time since I've posted and I've been putting it off for months now but the time has come to write about the day that everything changed.

On July 25th, I woke to a phone call at 6:30 am from a random person telling me my husband had been in a bicycle accident. As I got dressed in a haze I packed my laptop thinking it would probably be a long day in the ER but everything would be fine. I kept saying "please be okay. Please be okay." Over and over. When I got to the desk they sent me through a door and that's when I saw the ER full of people and 2 people on top of him doing CPR. I knew right away that it had been over an hour and I just collapsed into the arms of the doctor.

There was no accident. He just died of a heart attack right then and there on his bicycle on his way to work. Just like that the love of my life was gone forever at 51 years old and suddenly I'm a 46 year old widow. I can't even believe this is my life.

In the weeks leading up to this, I was experimenting with the whole 30 diet after gaining 15 pounds training for my first marathon.  It was SO hard. My brain missed dairy and alcohol the most. My body missed grains. My heart missed having fun and being social. Whole 30 is not recommended during training or intense physical activity but at this point I was "only" doing 10 mile runs at that point ramping up to my 2nd marathon. On July 23rd, after that 10 mile run, I finished in cold sweats and saw black spots and headed to the nearest breakfast restaurant to say goodbye to the whole 30 and eat an english muffin.

When I got home I broke the rules again and jumped on the scale and was delighted to have lost 15 pounds in the 17 days I made it on the program. Of course in my brain that means "let's celebrate and and have fun and drink all weekend now wooohooo!!"

I had A LOT of fun and A LOT to drink that day. So much so that we woke up the next morning in the guest room to my 5:30 alarm. I was confused but got up as I remembered I was supposed to go on a sunrise hike. He asked where I was going and I said "hiking stone mountain!" He said "You're crazy!" I said "I know!" and I kissed him and walked out the door. That morning while I was out hiking, he completed a huge personal challenge of his own which was 10,000 miles on his new bike on map my ride.

Later that day we spent the afternoon in our local pub laughing about the night before and how we ended up in the guest room ;). It was SUCH a fun weekend. More fun that people should be having as I would say about some of our weekends together.

The next morning he left for work and never came back. I'm sure he kissed me. In fact I know he did but I don't remember. What I am thankful for is that I ate the english muffin which led to a weekend of fun which was to be our last.

To me the moral of the story is about balance. Something I'm always seeking. I was obsessed with my weight gain and took a drastic measure to change it but lost myself in the battle once again. Health and maintaining my weight loss is important. Happiness, love and fun are important too.

People ask how I'm doing and I say okay but really I'm not sure. I'm still going to run the NYC marathon which is a former fat girls dream come true. In 2010 I wrote about doing it one day for Al Roker but now I'm doing it for Ali too. He was supposed to have come with me on this trip in 28 days.

Stay strong, hug your loved ones and find the balance. You just never know. You will always be the love of my life Alistair Tait.

26.2 - The finish line

Why yes it HAS been forever since I posted (yet again). I guess I was busy becoming a MARATHONER! :)

What's funny is that I wasn't inspired to post about it immediately. I had every intention of writing about it the day after but I was still so high from it that I could barely form a sentence. I'm also glad I took the time to reflect on the whole experience and really figure out what it meant to me. Finding the answer to that question I asked myself quite alot during training and the race..."why do people do this shit??!!??!!"

What can I say about it except that it was "all the things". It was rainy and cold and then it was sunny and hot. It was awesome and it was awful. It was the best and the worst. And it was still the second best day of my life ever (after my wedding of course!) 

My body was drained but my heart was so full. Full from the love and camaraderie of TWENTY PLUS people from the Atlanta Track Club that made the trip for this race. From the support of my incredible friends who trained with me and waited for me to finish really really really long runs and then help me celebrate. From the love of my husband who kissed me goodbye every morning at 4:45 and always believed in me. From the non-stop messages, gifts and cards from friends and family across the world. From the pride I felt in myself from completing 18 weeks of marathon training (which IMO is actually harder than a marathon). From the JOYFUL distraction of my friend who couldn't run but instead rode his bike with us, took pictures, and kept us updated on our other runners (nothing like having your own personal bike support!). From the support of my amazing friend (and former fat guy) who ran his own marathon then ran back to run us in. And most of all (and this one makes me cry) crossing the finish line with the four incredible women that were with me for the whole thing.



For added inspiration my friend on the right has lost more than 170 pounds and it was also her first marathon.  All these other badasses are pros :)

That's what got me through. That "heart full of goodness" was even more of an accomplishment to me than 26.2 miles or crossing the finish "swine" 5 hours and 42 minutes later.

I've found myself a little "lost" since the race. Suddenly it was all over and kind of back to reality.  I took a week off running and then I had to have boob surgery again (nothing serious) which turned into a few weeks of not working out. Time off for me is promblematic.

I mean seriously I just ran a marathon and right away I'm worried about what the next big goal is?
I didn't realize just how much I rely on exercise and running to fight the boredom-depression-eating cycle I'm famous for.

Which brings me to the inspiration for this post. I'm finally back at yoga which is ESSENTIAL for my body and my brain. I gave up way too much of it for running during training and I'm finally back in my regular practice 3ish days a week. I felt immediately better after the first week and already the second week has me inspired enough to write!

Sometimes it's not the start/ beginning or the ending of something that's the hardest. It's the practice of maintaining it that's the challenge. - most amazing yoga teacher @wellnesswithjenn

I've been struggling with maintenance. I gained 10 pounds during marathon training which is somewhat normal but it terrifies me. Yes my body held on to it to fuel me for 6 hours of running, yes I gained some muscle and yes I ate ALL the carbs. And the sugar. And all the foods. And about 700 gallons of mimosas. So that part is on me and it's the part the surgery does NOT fix. Luckily I've learned a lot and know what I need to do. 

So now what IS next? Next is the New York City Marathon. Next is a new and improved blog/website and a then a book. (For real!) Next is losing this 10 pounds. There I said it and now it's out there in the universe. And I will of course be blogging about all these things along the way! I will make an official announcement when the new site is live so it's not buried in the bottom of this post (in which case thank you for still reading!) Stay tuned!

that .2 is long.....





Full on Crazy!!

Hi everyone! Long time no update. Hoping there are some people that are still reading this! :)

SO much has happened since my last update so I thought I'd just share some pics...
I ran a half marathon in Edinburgh, Scotland - My first international half!

Frozen at the finish in Musselburgh. 25 mph winds and 40ish degrees. In MAY!!!

After that my favorite race of the year the Peachtree Road Race. The biggest 10k in the world. Pouring rain but SO exciting this year because I would know at the finish if my shirt design won........

It won! 60,000+ shirts were printed with MY DESIGN!


The finisher shirt is a huge deal so there was lots of paparazzi (LOL)...
...and drinking combined with yoga (do not try this at home or on shopping center sidewalks)
Speaking of yoga, it's still one of THE MOST important things in my life. I think it's hilarious when people say "You're so lucky you can do those 'advanced' poses. Well luck has nothing to do with it. Almost 5 years of constant practice. Even when I was 250 pounds. I've been working for 2 months on the handstand!
You just can't beat a good 'crow'.
That's me in the front row in the middle working on my 'Eka Pada' (borrowed from Instagram from my amazing teacher @wellnesswithjenn) We have Cobra Camp every Tuesday and Thursday at 6am and I'm HOOKED!

I'm was also made the pace team captain for the 10 minute milers for this session of fall half marathon training. I'm 10:30-11 min mile usually and I've had to significantly "up my game" to keep the group on pace.
These ladies are in my pace group and they are WARRIORS. Over 500 pounds lost between the 5 of us. It's almost hard to believe!!







Thanks to the Track Club and yoga, I'm now a morning work out person. I run with these other fools at 5:45 every Wednesday morning to get our interval/speed training in. It's so hard to get up but we are done before sunrise and that is one of the greatest feelings in the world!

What's next you say? I've been wondering that for a while. My goal for this year was not to have a goal and just enjoy my new life for a while but this year is coming to an end (FAST) and I have definitely chosen a big one.
That's right! 26.2 is in my future. I'm TRULY only planning on doing this one time because I want to keep running until I'm really old but I just HAVE to do it once. There are people out there that don't think I should do this but I have everything in place I need to be successful. I have an incredible support system, the greatest running friends on earth and a real Olympian for a coach who will make sure I'm trained and (God willing) injury free.

It's going to be an interesting experiment with nutrition for this. I've gained about 10 pounds which is something that doesn't seem fair at all but happens during distance running training for a lot of people. I require more carbs and can justify more carbs because of running but as a full on addict, I can lose control pretty quick. The honeymoon is over with the sleeve. It's all me now and the struggle is VERY real. Today I tried steel cut oats before speed training and I could really feel the energy from that. I'm going to keep track of how different foods work for energy during running and appetite after. Evening is the worst for me - after dinner and before bed is a dangerous time. I keep telling myself I'll just drink tea and it won't happen. LOL. Right.

So, now I'm officially in training for a marathon! I will continue to coach my half marathon training up until our race on Thanksgiving and then after that start increasing my mileage per my training plan. I've never run farther than 13.1. Here's to new miles!!!  I'll keep you posted!!

13.1 v6

Hello from the land of the runners high! I'm still celebrating 2 half marathons in 7 days! Woot!! I even did speed work and a 5k course run in between!

As you can see the weather was VERY different. 85 and sunny in Sarasota to 50 and raining in Atlanta. Luckily I ran with a great friend and fellow coach and we had a blast despite the weather. There was something extremely magical about running down the middle of the usually crowded streets of my city in the rain.



Another challenge conquered. It's the best feeling in the world!!!!!

What surprises me is how good my body feels after all of that running. 36 miles in 7 days and it was almost easy ?!?! I think I've found a really good balance of running, strength training, yoga and massage. I'm desperate to work a spin class into the mix but the logistics are driving me nuts so I just decided I'm going to pick a class and go tomorrow. I'm going to have to "date around" before I can commit :)

Trying to update here more often so stay tuned!

13.1 v5

Hi everyone! I'm freshly back from my FIFTH half marathon and I must have desperately needed some sun and a good race because I feel amazing!!

I drove down on Friday and came back on Monday so it was a quick trip but it couldn't have been much better. Traveling for a race can be stressful for me but it was so nice to just grab a few things and hit the road. I didn't need 6 layers or a jacket or neckwarmer or hat or gloves or any of that crap!!

The race was Sunday so I got to spend the whole morning on Saturday with my sister out in the bay stand-up paddle boarding. That is one of those things that as a fat girl could have NEVER imagined doing and now I do it every chance I get! Saturday night I ate dinner by myself then unashamedly walked down the street eating ice cream. Another former fat girl victory!! Sometimes it's the big things, sometimes it's the little things.

The race was early and sunrise was gorgeous.

I promised myself I wasn't going to try to break any records overdo it so I kept my comfortable 10:15 pace most of the way - I got a little fast when a good song came on but I paid attention and dialed it back a little. I'm glad I did because miles 11 and 12 were really hot and really hard. That's when the brain has to take over and try to get those little legs to make it the rest of the way. It was 85 degrees at the finish!!
Finishing was awesome with friends and family waiting - usually my races are too big for anyone to get near the finish line but this time I saw and heard everyone cheering!
  



I got to spend the rest of day doing what I love.....boating with my friends and eating oysters!
 

That same day, I got to announce to everyone that my design for the Peachtree Road Race t-shirt was picked for the final five! For those of you that don't know, it's the worlds largest 10k and there are over 60,000 shirts printed. It would be a HUGE honor for me to win this and I encourage you to vote for your favorite (hopefully mine!!!) You can vote every day for the next month! http://www.ajc.com/2015-ajc-peachtree-tshirt/ or click on the banner on the side bar.


Believe it or not my next half marathon is THIS SUNDAY. 2 half marathons in 7 days. I'm also coaching this week and doing a course run for the women's 5k so it's going to be a week full of running. I'm so incredibly grateful for my new life and all that my new love for running is teaching me about myself!

Have a happy, healthy week everyone!


No turning back AKA #thestruggleisreal

Hi All and happy March!

I like to post every once in a while about  struggles that come up just so no one thinks it's rainbows and unicorns all the time in my world :) This $#!+ is hard sometimes.

I had a 10k to run this morning after staying up until after midnight to finish a project and luckily I got dressed BEFORE checking the weather. As soon as I opened the back door to let the dogs out - what a surprise it's barely above freezing and raining - JUST LIKE IT HAS BEEN ALL FREAKING WINTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think about going back to bed but that "I'm already dressed" thing comes in very handy here.

I had some extra time since It was pouring rain (still) so I sat in my car until THE VERY LAST minute that I could and still make the start of this race. I was half a mile from the start, already soaked and my stupid brain was trying to talk me out of it the WHOLE WAY.  I even turned around at one point to head back to the car.

These are the times when decisions matter.

When I saw Deena Kastor (2004 Bronze medalist in Athens for the women's marathon) speak at our Track Club social this year, she talked about the importance of taking every single decision seriously and that has resonated with me ever since. They might not seem like important decisions at that time, but they all matter and it adds up.
Thank you for the inspiration Deena!
I decided to run to the start which was the only way to stay warm. The first 3 miles were easy and the second three miles were ALL hills - stupid brain was at it again - wanting to walk the hills. I was arguing back at my brain "You've got this. You are a hill master.  Lean forward. Shorten your stride. Arms up. Chest up. Breathe deep." That helped but what REALLY worked was pretending the ponytail posse was behind me and I had to lead them up that hill because that's what I do. So, ponytails, thank you so much for being with me on my run even though you weren't and I had NOBODY to share snack time with. Airplane arms were also done. All by myself.

There was a small miracle at mile 4. As I rounded the corner, there stood my trainer who was taking her kids to Sunday School.  Just totally random. She looked gorgeous and I was soaking wet but I have to say I was super proud to look like crap and be running in the rain. She is SUCH a huge part of my success. I could have hugged her if I wasn't so gross and muddy and sweaty :)

It was a GREAT race and  I'm really glad I did it. Even more so, I fought those demons and made a whole string of good decisions which led to a whole day of feeling accomplished...and fast :)


Oh and then I ate half a Krispy Kreme and gave the rest to a squirrel.

Have a great week everyone! Here's to good decision making!