The Day I Became a Marathoner

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Oh man…you guys, I don’t even know where to start. This was no where near the race I had been dreaming of, but in it’s own way, it was still the perfect race. FYI: This post is longer than long. Grab a mug o’ coffee, and settle in. :) pfchangs2013-282

Let’s back up a bit. Over a month ago, I woke up to a super tight feeling in my hip. It’s something I’ve felt before, and never from running (I think it has to do with sleeping position?), but I’ve never run with that feeling. I woke up to this feeling the day I had an 18 miler scheduled. It hurt for the first several miles, but eventually loosened itself up, and it was fine.

Then a week later, I woke up the morning after a 14 mile run with a horrible pain in my knee that was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I called Coach Susan, freaked out a bit, took a week off running, then came back to run a killer 21 miler that felt absolutely perfect. After that perfect run, I got sick, and didn’t run for an other week until I ran an 11 miler that left my knee back in pain. I took more time off, and tried to run my final “long” 8 mile run, but stopped after 5 because my knee hurt.

I thought that I was okay, that I was not in too much pain, and I was just being cautious. I took a week and a half off running before the marathon. I iced, rolled, stretched, went to PT, and I swore to myself those 10 days off running would cure everything. Then on Saturday morning I ran for 15 minutes with Nicole, and my knee hurt. It hurt while I ran, and it hurt all day afterwards. Regardless, I showed up at the starting line hopeful, and ready to achieve my 4:29:59 goal that I never announced publicly, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t reach it.

Nicole and I got to the start ridiculously early, and after over an hour of hanging out, we were on our way to the starting line where I saw Nacho. I screamed when I ran into him, cried a little, cried more during the national anthem, and then we were off. I kept telling Nicole I couldn’t believe we were running a marathon! Almost as soon as we’d taken off, I hear a man call out my name. I turned around and he said “I read your blog!” I about died. I was sosoSO excited! His name is Scott, and he ran Whiskey Row also. He saw my name on my shirt, said hello, and made my day! HI SCOTT!! I hope you had a great race!

Let me tell you, we had such AMAZING support! At mile 1, we saw Nacho, and he told us he’d be waiting for us at mile 9 (I think?), then around mile 3-4 we saw Emily and Lance, and Steve with my mom and Hank. I screamed when I saw my mom because I knew she was coming, but I didn’t know where she was going to be. They were screaming their faces off and taking pictures. I was still so happy here!

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"IT'S MY MOM!!!!!"

“IT’S MY MOM!!!!!”

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All of our long runs, we have been great at starting slow (usually 10:40ish), and gradually working our way down to around 9:30s, averaging around 10 min/miles. For 9 we were perfectly on track, regardless of the fact that my knee started hurting before the mile 1 marker, and that I had woken up with that same tightness in my hip. Our first mile clocked in at 10:30, and we were slowly getting faster, walking through all the water stations, and staying on target.

Mile 9 came in at 10:01, and then we stopped to use the porta potties, and I don’t know if it was the stop or what, but the pain in my knee got bad. Really bad. Like, every step was so painful, and I was starting to limp run. Luckily, we soon ran into Nacho. I was starting to take walking breaks really often, and I told him I was struggling. I tried to convince Nicole to go up ahead, but she insisted we were staying together. As much as I wanted her to go on and get the time I knew she was capable of, I was so relieved that she didn’t leave.

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This is the face of someone you want next to you during a marathon. How can you hate life when your with this freakish cheeriness????

"My name is Nicole, and I am the HAPPIEST RUNNER EVER!"

“My name is Nicole, and I am the HAPPIEST RUNNER EVER!”

I have never been in so much pain while running, and I was legitimately scared, and even started to wonder if this race was worth making an injury worse. I decided it was. There is no question that this was not the “smart” decision, but for me, it was the right choice. When Nacho saw how badly I was doing, he started to run with us. In his jeans. He ran with us for miles. Between miles 10-14, I was just in a bad mental place. I was in so much pain, and I was upset about being in so much pain, and I felt an intense amount of guilt for ruining Nicole’s race. She was staying positive, and trying to snap me out of it. At mile 14, I saw my dad, Hermano and Cindy, and I started crying, but shortly after I finally accepted the fact that I was injured, and I needed to stop waiting for the pain to go away, and focus on running the best I could on that day. pfchangs2013-169

Nacho stopped around mile 15, and told us he would see us on our way back (this was the only part of the course that had an out and back section). At the turn around at mile 16, we saw one of Nicole’s cheering sections, and before we knew it, we were on our way back down Indian School. Then, my stomach started bugging me, and around mile 17, we stopped for the bathroom again. We continued with run/walk/stretch over and over and over.

Just before mile 18, we saw Tim, and when he walked with us for a little while. He is such an inspiration, and he put a lot into perspective for me during this process. It was so nice that he walked with us for a while and encouraged me! He said this was the toughest part of the marathon, and that we were doing great. Soon after, we caught back up to Nacho, and he ran with us even MORE. He refused to let me get down, and kept saying “The Ari I know doesn’t give up”. At mile 19, I saw my dad, Hermano and Cindy again, and I knew that my big cheering section was coming up soon. Nacho continued to run with us up until mile 20.5 where he said goodbye, and said he would see us at the Mill Avenue bridge. I was so amazed, and overwhelmed by his support, and how he was there when I needed him.

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I have no idea when in the race this photo was taken, but I was ready for an other picture.

Just before mile 21, from almost 1/4 mile away, I heard my mother-in-law (I wish there was a cuter term than mother-in-law PS) shout my name. I started pushing with all of my might, and it was almost like a mirage. A HUGE group of friends and family with signs for days shouting “GO ARI AND NICOLE!” I hugged my adorable niece, cried more, and Jason came up beside me, and told me that I was doing great. Steve had told them that I was having a rough time, but they were all great about not asking if I was okay, and just staying positive. Lisa (who is pregnant as can be) and Bethany started running with us and chanting with their signs. It was unbelievable. I felt so incredibly loved, and I was so grateful that I had decided to keep running. I knew quitting wasn’t an option, and mostly because I knew I couldn’t disappoint everyone who had given so much for me to get here.

At this point, exhaustion crept in. I didn’t expect to feel so tired because I had been walking so often, but the pain in my knee had traveled up to my hip and basically my entire left leg had been feeling a mess regardless of stopping at a medic station for ibuprofen, and being handed a mysterious prescription pain pill at mile 19 (don’t try this at home, kids). Every time I tried to pick up my leg, it felt impossible, and all of the sudden it wasn’t just hard because my knee hurt, it was just hard. From this point on, Steve stayed right by us on his bike. He had been on and off throughout the course. Originally I told him I only wanted to see him a few times so I could focus on the race, but when I started struggling, he showed up more and more often, and I was so grateful.

At this point he stayed by our side offering encouraging words. He happened to be wearing a shirt that made him look like he was a medic and someone thanked him for his service! Cracked me up. We saw Nicole’s cheering squad at Mile 23, then Lisa and some other BTB members at mile 25, and Jaime right after. Nacho was waiting at the bridge, just like he promised, and he ran the rest of the way with us, even through the finish line. If you ask me, he deserved it. After 26 miles of pain, we had finally made it. Nicole and I grabbed hands, and ran through the finish line holding hands, just as we had set out to do.

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At first, it didn’t seem real. It wasn’t until I found Coach Susan that it started to sink in, and I started sobbing. I told her that my knee had hurt since the beginning and she hugged me, told me that I was a marathoner, and said “You ran your first marathon in 5 hours with an injury? That makes you a fucking badass. Excuse my language.” Then she told me she loved me, and that she really felt like it was her daughter who was out there. At some point in New York, we decided that I could be her daughter, so now she’s my running mom ;)

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There is so much about this experience that I still can’t even explain. Nicole stuck with me as we watched all of our time goals slip out of sight. Even at the end when the 5 hour pacer got out of our sight (that one hurt), and we watched our last time goal go by the wayside, she never left my side. After five hours and four minutes of running through pain, we became marathoners together, and I couldn’t have done it without her. It may not have been the race I dreamed of, but I experienced love and generosity that blew me away. I discovered a determination and dedication I didn’t know I possessed, and I finished.

I will say this: No matter how much pain I was in or how short my spurts of running were, I never gave up and stopped trying. Even when I could only run for a minute at a time before the pain got bad, I would run for a minute. I am still ridiculously happy, and proud to be a marathoner. I am proud that I pushed through something that would make so many people stop, and I’m proud that after 7 months, it finally became possible. Regardless of the physical pain, I managed to have one of the happiest days of my life, and I feel so undeserving of all of the kindness I have received. People told me that I am an inspiration, but it is the love and kindness I received from the people I love that I really find inspiring. Damn, I am lucky.

Thank you for all the support, and for all the love and comments along this journey. It has been incredible, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

Reasons To Be Grateful

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As my first marathon draws closer (ummm, somehow it became marathon week–YIKES!!), I am finding myself even more emotional than usual. If you know me, you know it’s hard to get more emotional than my natural everyday state, but I promise you it has happened. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes crying in the car because I felt so proud of what I’ve done. Not just the marathon, but every big goal I’ve set out to conquer, I feel like I have achieved. Not many people can say that, and I have a lot to be proud of.

With this pride comes so much gratitude. I’ve not achieved these things on my own, and beyond that, this experience and trip to New York City gives me so many reasons to be grateful. I’m totally overwhelmed by all of it, but I wanted to try to put some of it into words, so that when all I can think about is how badly my legs hurt, I will have a mental picture of why I’m lucky, why I should suck it up and run faster. ;)

  • I’m grateful I can run. Not everyone can. I see people every day who are physically less fortunate than me, and it breaks my heart that not everyone can experience the same joy, release, and freedom that I find in running. I could have a disability, or worse, I could not care enough about myself to make the choice to try. I’m grateful for the ability to run: mentally and physically.
  • I’m grateful for Susan LokenWhen I tell people about Susan, they either know exactly who she is, or are quickly impressed when I spew off her list of accomplishments that I’ve memorized through all my internet stalking. She has given me everything: my plan, tough love, an ear to listen, and most importantly, the belief that I can do this. The other day she told me that I’ve come a long way and shown a lot of improvement. She probably doesn’t know how much that meant to me, or how much I needed to hear it, but it made my month. I couldn’t have done this without her.
  • I’m grateful for my team. I’ve made so many great friendships through this process, and they have shown me tremendous support, love, and encouragement. There really is nothing like training with a team. I would highly suggest it for anyone training for their first marathon. I LOVE these guys!
  • I’m grateful for my parents. They are flying to New York to see me cross the finish line. My dad can’t afford it, but he insists on going to be there for me. My mom hates to fly, but her ticket is booked. Talk about support–flying across the country to watch your kid run a marathon. Yes, I’m still a kid. They are the best.
  • I’m grateful for my friends who are coming out to support me. Some of them live in New York, some of them live here, some of them live in the surrounding areas, but many of them are making special arrangements to be there for to share this moment with me. I will probably have my first marathon lined with some of my very favorites cheering my name. I don’t know what they heck I’ve done to deserve that, but I’ll take it!
  • I’m especially grateful I get to spend time with this friend. Mac is one of my best friends in the entire world. He lives across the country, and I see him more often than some of my friends that live in Arizona. Our friendship was just kind of meant to be, and so we make it work, and find ways to see each other. He is a life-long friend, and has been an undying source of support through this whole process. I cannot freaking wait to celebrate with him!!!
  • I’m grateful for the world’s most supportive husband. The other day we had an argument, and then “surprised” each other with coffee (at the same time), then he showed me he loved me by turning on every single light in the entire house because we always playfully bicker about the lights (I turn on all the lights, never turn them off, then he turns them all off). He is perfect, and I absolutely could not have done this without him.
  • I’m grateful for YOU PEOPLE. With the support of many of you, I have almost reached my goal of raising $5,000. So many people showed incredible generosity, and I am beyond grateful. I know those donations will be put to good use, and I cannot wait until I can attend an event to see kids reaping the benefits of our efforts!
  • I’m just grateful to be. To be alive. To be healthy. To be where I am today. I am beyond lucky. I wish everyone out there could feel a little bit of what it’s like to feel like you have it all. Just for a second. It feels amazing.
  • Oh, and I’m grateful for MARATHON TOES!!! Had to include that ;)
So tell me, what are you grateful for?

Look For The Silver Lining

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A week ago I wrote this totally rational, not at all dramatic post about how life as I knew it was over because there was no way I would be able to PR in Seattle, and possibly, not even be able to run it. It was truly one of my finer moments. Too bad I had the slight sense not to publish it ;)

That said, it hasn’t exactly been the best week for me. You may remember about 2 months ago, I had what I thought was the stomach flu. It totally messed up a long run and a race for me, and I even called in sick to work one day which never happens. After about a month and a half of not quite returning to normal, I finally went to the doctor to get everything checked out. I honestly expected that all of my tests would come back normal, and that I was just being overly sensitive, but when my doctor’s office called the same day of my ultrasound, I knew that something was probably wrong.

They told me I had gallstones, and needed to make an appointment with a surgeon to get my gallbladder removed. I was a little shocked, and more than a little frustrated that with all the effort I put into being healthy, I ended up needing surgery. The thing is, though, I get that some things are just out of our control, and my surgeon did tell me that this is something really common for people who have lost a significant amount of weight.

I met with the surgeon on Friday, and scheduled my surgery for the following Tuesday. They were great about getting me in, knowing that I would be leaving soon for 2 months. So this past Tuesday, I went in for my first surgery in about 20 years. I had my adenoids out when I was, like, 7. All I remember from that surgery is that the anesthesia made me really sick. Well, some things don’t change, but that was probably the worst of it.

The good news is, the surgery itself went very well. The doctor was done in an hour, and 3 hours later, I was released to go home. I woke up feeling much more pain than I anticipated, and I still am in a lot, but it’s surgery, and no matter how “easy” or “simple” laproscopic surgeries are these days, it’s still surgery, and it still hurts. I’m totally wiped out, and sleeping a lot, but luckily I have tons of family and friend support! Steve has been taking great care of me, and making me feel super loved.

 

He even found a Clementine balloon ;) Speaking of Clementine, the puppies have also been making sure I rest, and feel the love.

My phone has been kind of off the hook with family and friends wanting to see how I’m doing which is so appreciated. It’s really nice to know people care about how I’m doing. Today, Nicole even picked me up, and took me for a little excursion, and then I came home to these

Lisa, you sure know how to cheer me up!

You know you have great friends when they send you balloons because they live across the country and can’t see you in person! I have to say, as much as the situation sucks, and it does pretty much suck, the biggest silver lining is all the love and support I’ve received. Being sick isn’t soooooo bad when you have great people taking care of you and making you feel loved.

You know what else is kind of cool? These days, when you get surgery, they take pictures for you! I wanted to post some, but figured I’d spare you guys. What I can say is that these stones were ridiculous! Almost a dozen marble sized stones that have been giving me a rough time–I’m glad to say good bye to them! Peace out gallstones, you’re not welcome here anymore. In fact, who invited you in the first place? Not me. Coming in without an invitation…ummm rude. That’s okay, you’re gone now, and I am on the road to recovery. It feels like kind of a slow road right now, but that’s okay. I can be patient. No, that’s not a joke. I actually can be!

So that’s what’s been going on over here lately. Thanks again to everyone who has been super supportive, and made time to call/come by/etc the last couple of days. It means so much more than you realize!

Hoping I’m back to running and spinning ASAP!

Hermano’s 15th Birthday

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The only thing sure to make you feel older than getting older yourself, is seeing people you’ve known their entire lives get older! How is my brother 15?!?!?!

This is the face of a 15 year old. A 15 year old who needs a hair cut.

To celebrate, Hermano, Steve, my dad and I all went to Dave & Busters. My family is huge on games, and honestly we could mostly care less about tickets and prizes–we just want to play everything all day long! We started with the electronic jump rope.

Look at my dad's face. Priceless.

We also played air hockey.

I am serious about my air hockey. I do not like to lose.

Did that game where you try to get your ball into the “run” section and not the “move a micro inch” sections.

We spent the larger part of the afternoon there hanging out and having fun before coming back to my house for dessert. Today is Hermano’s actual birthday, but he is living it up in California with his mom and their fancy birthday trip. Thanks for the invite. Some brother you are ;)

I feel really lucky to have this guy in my life. There is something really cool about the sibling relationship when you have a wide age gap. Most of the time, I’d rather hang out with him than most people my age. Hermano is hilarious, smart (even when he pretends not to be), kind, and patient. Kinda the opposite of what you’d expect from a super talented, well liked teenager. I couldn’t be prouder of the young man (weird–I still think of him as a toddler) he’s become! Feliz cuplianos Hermano!!

Mac Visits: Day 2

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I hope you realize that if you ever want to come and visit me, a few things will happen.

  1. I will cook you lots and lots of food, most of which will be “Skinnified”.
  2. You will get dog hair all over you. The thing is, unless I vacuum every surface of my house 10x a day, followed by some good old lint rolling, Winston’s hair will win this battle, so I have just kind of learned to live with it. Things to consider before taking up an offer to hang on my couch/air mattress.
  3. You will get forced encouraged into workouts you probably never wanted to do have been dying to try! A few friends can attest to this.

Mac and I started our Thursday morning with spin class! I snuck him into the gym while rude girl wasn’t looking. Take that rude girl! HAH! Then we did some strength training (that’s twice in one week, friends!!), and went into class. I used to take Amanda’s Thursday class pretty regularly, but then I started taking Thursdays as a rest day and became pretty dedicated to Linda, you know my spin teacher bff that doesn’t even know my name, but I think she’s so cool! Well, I was surprised when a new teacher walked in and announced she’d be subbing.

This teacher, Jenna, was ridiculous! Awesome. but ridiculous. Imagine 80s workout video (ie: Suzanne Summers) meets spin class. She was overly enthusiastic, but it was cracking me up more than annoying me and her class kicked my butt! The only thing that bothered me was that she never told us where to be gear wise. She just kept saying things like “Bump it up!” “More gears!!” Well I realized pretty quickly, when I was at gear 24 (the highest the bike goes) and she was still telling people to add gears, that perhaps I wasn’t quite understanding what she meant. Part of my brain spent a lot of class stressing about how I couldn’t be sure if I was doing it right, but tried my best to just enjoy the class and not worry about being “right”. Easier said than done for this type A personality. I ended the class a sweaty mess, and I definitely felt like I got a great workout!

After class, we cleaned ourselves up then went to meet my dad and Hermano at Golf Land for some mini golf! I am so bad at mini golf, but I’ve always really loved it. Mac and I started talking in the parking lot about how neither of us are very good at mini golf, so we’re not as competitive as usual–we only like to actually put forth competitive effort with things we are skilled in, otherwise it can be embarrassing ;) I also mentioned how my dad and Hermano are both super competitive just like us, and within minutes of playing my dad was haggling me like the opposing team at a sports game!

The funniest part is that my dad is actually really good at mini golf, but he looks absolutely ridiculous! He gets in this deep squat and takes what feels like hours to make his turn. It was cracking me up, but apparently it worked because he won with a 45! I came in second, then Hermano, and Mac got an honorable 4th place :)

The dragon!! This hole used to scare the crap out of me as a kid!

I used to hate this one! Hermano took about 15 swings hitting it everyone except where it was supposed to go. Then I schooled him and got it on my first shot. ;)

Tick tock, tick tock.

Probably gloating his victory.

After mini golf, we grabbed some fro yo, then headed back to my place so Mac could watch the Kentucky game and I could get some work done. Then, I went out to rehearsal, and the rest of the night was pretty uneventful. We had an other super late night with a 10:30 bed time. Ummm yeah, we’re old. I should maybe be embarrassed, but I’m totally okay with it!

10 Years Later

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10 years ago, I had my first surprise birthday party. Up until that year, I had always been very involved in planning my birthday and making it exactly the way I wanted. A month or two before I turned 17, my friends and family began asking what I wanted to do, and to every one of them, I replied “nothing”.

Sixteen was a very hard year. Maybe the hardest of my entire life. I haven’t really talked about it on here, but shortly after I turned 16, my best friend took her own life. It was not something my 16 year old self was at all prepared to deal with or knew how to handle. Less than a year later, and exactly one month before I turned 17, an other close friend took his life as well. The last thing I was in the mood to do was celebrate. I agreed to a small dinner with my family and my two closest friends (Bethany and Jason–the two that are still my best friends ten years later) at my favorite restaurant–Avanti.

That evening I arrived at dinner, and my jaw almost hit the floor. An entire long table in our own private area filled with friends and family. I had never let the control of my special day go long enough to let anyone surprise me (just pretend to be surprised by that, okay? ;) ), but here when I least expected it and thought I didn’t want it, was everyone I loved in one place here to surprise me–and they did! I had absolutely no idea. I was overwhelmed. I realized in that moment, that even in sorrow and life’s most challenging times, there can be joy, and it is okay to let yourself feel happy, even when your current situation is, well, not.

I looked around the table and saw the effort that my dad had gone to make me feel happy again, and I looked at all of the support and people there who loved me. My friend Charity hadn’t been able to find a ride, so she called a cab to take her 20 miles to be there to celebrate my birthday. Where do friends like that even come from?!

When my dad started to ask about my birthday this year, I was honestly hesitant to go back to Avanti (where I have been every single birthday since then, with the exception of while I was at UI), because to be 100% honest, Italian food kind of stresses me out. Then he said “But it’s the 10 year anniversary of your special surprise party!” And I remembered that incredible night–I couldn’t resist.

This year, in the theme of keeping things small and being able to spend time with more individual, smaller groups, my Avanti dinner consisted of my dad, Hermano, Janie, my grandma, Steve and me. Steve, Hermano and I showed up to a table with balloons on top (including Tigger, and purple and green–my dad definitely remembers details of what people like). We sat down and ordered some drinks while waiting for my dad, grandma and Janie to arrive.

One of my favorite things about Avanti is that they always encourage Hermano to play their piano!

They have a professional that they hire to play on the weekends, but both him and the manager are always asking Hermano to play and making comments about his improvements! Sometimes, I can even be convinced to sing with him. Today, after the rest of the family arrived, we decided to do Coldplay’s Fix You together. By the time we got near the end, all of the memories of my birthday 10 years ago, as well as the friends I was missing flooded back and I started to feel a little emotional–not necessarily in a bad way, I was just caught a little off guard.

I will never forget what my friends and family did for me that year, but it doesn’t always feel quite so fresh, and it was a wonderful reminder of how lucky I am, and how much I have to be thankful for.

This year started out a little bit stressful, but it got better really quickly. Of course, Hermano making fun of our dad helped get me out of the cranky mood I started in.

If you don't know my dad, this will make absolutely no sense. Sorry. If you, do...it's funny, yes?

After hours and hours of waiting pretty soon, my dad, grandma and Janie arrived.

I had no idea what I wanted to order. I wanted pasta, but I figured I needed protein and blah blah blah. I don’t even remember the last time I ordered pasta at a restaurant, but I did. Avanti has the BEST gnocchi. Seriously, they melt in your mouth! I ended up ordering a half order of gnocchi in rosa sauce and a side of roasted veggies in spicy red sauce topped with gorgonzola cheese. Everything was amazing,

I have two plates. I like to have more than one of things :)

I couldn’t finish my pasta because I knew I had to save room for dessert!

For as long as I can remember, my dad has given me the same birthday cake. He asked me years ago what kind of cake I wanted and I replied “Marble cheesecake with an oreo crust.” I am a girl who knows what I like. It is out of this world and it’s been my annual cake ever since.

"I wish...."

You wanna know what’s in that delicious martini glass? White chocolate mint martini. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

After we ate, I opened presents–can you believe I am still getting presents?!

Thanks dad!

YAY!! Compression socks! Thanks Janie!

After presents, we had some fun were completely ridiculous with the balloon clip. We’re really mature in my family.

Yup, that's what I get forever and ever. Excellent choice, self.

Balloon clips are dangerous. They should come with a warning.

Example 2.

My favorite.

It definitely would not have felt right this year without our annual dinner, and I am so grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had this year to spend time with people close to me. Thanks dad for always making me feel super special this time of year! I am a lucky girl!

 

 

 

Birthday Celebration Part 1

Super, awesome, amazing birthday present!!!

Hi friends. Guess what? I’m officially getting old. As of Monday, I have joined the late 20s club. Waaahhhh. Good thing I have awesome people in my life who make getting old fun ;) But seriously, I LOVE birthdays! They are a huge deal in my family, and every year I look forward to it and drag on the celebrations as long as possible. This year my celebration began on Saturday….with a BIKE!!!!!

Super, awesome, amazing birthday present!!!

I’d been really wanting one ever since Steve got his, so Steve, Bethany, Jason and Nacho all chipped in and got me one for my birthday!!!

"Look!! I have a bike!!!"

But let me tell you, the last time I had actually been on a bike was probably at least 15 years ago, so I was a little scared. I tested out a couple in their parking lot, and didn’t die–a good sign! This one felt significantly better, and I liked that I could feel the road underneath me, so I went with it. Within an hour, Steve and I were on our bikes, taking our first ride to my mom’s house. I was super nervous and yelled at him multiple times, but I guess because he was being nice for my birthday, he just kept being nice, and was the perfect teacher!

We made it safely to my mom’s where she was hosting a family birthday dinner.

That's my family. We like dinner.

I ♥ mi Hermano!

Even when he tries to eat my head

It's true, my dad does have a very....interesting...fashion sense ;)

Then it was time for more presents!! YAY!! I LOVE presents…not just for the reasons you would think, but I love seeing what people choose to give me. So often, I receive these incredible and thoughtful gifts and they always mean the world to me. Anyone can go out and buy a present, but the people in my life do it with thought and care, and that’s the part that really means a lot to me!

My mom says this book is basically 50/50, but with young people. I can't wait to read it!

COOKIE RECIPES!!!!

After all the present opening, it was time for dessert!! I knew I was getting a cake the next day and an other one later this week (yeah, healthy living, blah blah blah, CAKE!), so I suggested we all go out for gelato instead of having more cake. Ice cream is my favorite anyway. We went to Gelato 64 and I had a super delicious birthday treat!

Yummmm

It was so wonderful to spend some time with the family and celebrate with the people responsible for my being alive in the first place! Special thanks to my mama for hosting such a fabulous and amazing night!!!

 

Clementine’s First Birthday

Is it silly to feel happy that your kids get along so well when your kids have fur? Whatever, it totally warms my heart!

Can you believe it??? Our little Clementine turned 1 yesterday! It seems like just yesterday that Amelia announced on facebook that her family would be giving away mini dachshunds. We got her when she was just 8 weeks old and could hardly walk around the house, and now she is practically a grown up. That little wiener brings so much joy to our home and I honestly don’t know how we ever got along without her. Winston is so much happier too! He was really jealous when she first arrived, but now he LOVES having a playmate and an other puppy to snuggle with.

Is it silly to feel happy that your kids get along so well when your kids have fur? Whatever, it totally warms my heart!

Clemmie’s day started out with a birthday treat.

"Mom!!!! You said treat, you said treat!!! Where is it?!?!" Also, I think in a contest for longest tail, Clementine would win. Look at that thing!

"Yum"

Or two…

"I shake."

And a nice walk.

"Brother!!! Wait for me! It's not fair, I have really short legs."

"If I ruled the walks, they would be fast and no one would tell me not to bark at the big dogs. I can take them, just you wait and see!"

To really get the most out of her special day, Clementine did what she loves most: lots of digging, barking at strangers, playing with her brother, searching for food crumbs, and taking every single one of her toys outside to play with.

Happy birthday to my favorite girl puppy! The most annoying, stubborn and difficult to train dog possibly on Earth, but also one of the sweetest, most fun and loving dogs I have ever met. I love you Clemmie Boo!!!

The Day After

I don't know why, but dogs sticking their heads out of car windows always makes me smile, and never stops being cute.

Oh my gosh, I still cannot get over what a whirlwind Sunday was, and the amazing kindness and support I felt from family, friends, and readers (oh my gosh it makes me feel like a real, legit blogger to say “readers”–sometimes I can’t believe anyone out there actually reads my little old blog :) ). Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart to everyone for recognizing my accomplishment, and making me feel so deserving of all of the celebrating that ensued!

By the time I got home Sunday evening, it was as if everything caught up with me all at once. That sickness I’d been fighting off, the toll 13 miles had taken on my legs, and the realization that this huge thing I had been focused on and training for was over. I crashed…hard. I hardly slept because I felt so sick and then woke up feeling fever-y and achy from head to toe. Not fun. I was determined to try to have a good day, because I had the day off, and honestly, I wanted to celebrate more! We had plans to meet Hank, Charlie and Hermano for breakfast, and so Hank kindly picked us all up and we headed to La Grande Orange.

On the way, there was this cuteness.

I don't know why, but dogs sticking their heads out of car windows always makes me smile, and never stops being cute. That little guy is having his day made right there!

I had heard of La Grande Orange, but never been there until I had a meeting there last week. Unfortunately, I had eaten at home before I left that time and as soon as I got there I regretted it! Not only was the place packed with cool nick knacks to buy, but every single thing coming from the kitchen looked delicious! They have breakfast, lunch sandwiches and salads, and even an attached pizza section! I did make sure to try something from their coffee station, and that’s when I was hooked. Sugar free almond soy latte. The best coffee I have had. In my life. Ever. You better believe that I made sure to order it again this time!

I got too excited and drank too much of it before this picture (I couldn't help myself), but it isn't just delicious, it's like a work of art! They make pretty leaves and designs in the foam which is perfectly steamed and thick, not bubbly!

The croque madame. It was delicious, but honestly, I probably would have actually enjoyed the oatrmeal I almost got even more. I just really like sweet breakfast!

The commuter sandwich. I kinda also wish I would have ordered this. Those english muffins look ridiculous!

Steve never orders breakfast food. He's so weird. But I must say, this sandwich was delicious!

After we ate, I convinced the boys to order from the coffee bar, and I’m pretty sure they fell as much in love with it as I did! It’s a good thing this place is a 20 minute drive, because not only was my latte almost $5, but a latte is also like 4x the calories on my nice little drip coffees topped with steamed soy at The Bux.

I felt bad, but after breakfast, all I wanted to do was go home and lay on the couch. I felt terrible, and I was more than a little grumpy about it. Poor Steve. Seriously, poor, poor, Steve–why does he put up with me?! I was in rare form for most of the afternoon. Crabby, complaining, and literally whining like a 3 year old that he couldn’t magically make me feel better and announcing that not making me better made him annoying. In case you haven’t at this point decided that I’m a lunatic and stopped reading my blog forever, let me openly admit that I don’t do sick well. Sick combined + sore + a little sad = I suck. I’m not proud of the fact that I am sometimes an a hole, but I aim for 99% a hole free behavior, and at least some of the time ;)

In an attempt to cure my sickness (or at least the mental part), Steve hung up my now 2 (!) race medals on either side of my new race bib holder that was an AMAZING holiday present from Hermano! Seriously. he totally rocked the present giving this year!

Now every single that comes into my home can see what I've done!! Not that I like to brag about myself or anything...

My first medal

My favorite (so far!) medal

I remember telling a friend of mine that I had never won anything before. So many people win awards in school, or lots of my friends have won voice competitions, or AriZoni awards, but not me. At the end of that summer, my friend Diane made me an award for being awesome at my job. It was one of the most sweet and thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me. That was in August of ’09 and you better believe I still have that baby! But now I have 2 medals for things that I accomplished on my very own. Sure, I didn’t win in the literal sense of the word (my sister in law asked if I won and I thought it was super cute :) ), but I did win in a figurative sense. I won the accomplishment, the satisfaction, the happiness, and the gains that have come in my life because of running. I’ve met new friends, been reunited with old friends, gained confidence, and found a healthy outlet for my hyper-focused brain, all while discovering that I am capable of more than I ever knew. Maybe some day race medals won’t be a huge deal to me, but right now, they actually mean a whole lot in this little world I live in :)

 
La Grande Orange Grocery on Urbanspoon

Celebrations and Such

Team lava--these ladies totally rocked their relay! I am so proud of them and their awesome times and PRs!!!

How do you celebrate running your first half marathon? Well, with lots and lots of food and beer, obviously. ;) After the race, we headed over to Chompies for brunch. I figured I should celebrate with my people, you know. Actually, it was just one of the few breakfast places close to home with a full bar, and I LOVE their food! I enjoyed a fantastic celebratory brunch with my dad, Hermano, Hank, Charlie, my mom, Steve, Kara, Mona, Nicole, Carolyn and Lance. It was after noon by the time we got seated and breakfast had been at 5:30, so most of us were ready for some food! Although, my stomach never felt quite right yesterday and while I usually feel ravenous the day after a long run, I just felt kind of blech and not even that into food all day long which was a total bummer! Regardless, the company was fab and I was just happy to be out celebrating!

Team lava--these ladies totally rocked their relay! I am so proud of them and their awesome times and PRs!!!

Kara didn't even know she got a medal when she signed up--she was totally stoked about this added bonus!

I totally planned on ordering a celebratory glass of champagne, but ended up sticking with water, eating a whole wheat blueberry pancake with an egg and turkey sausage. No pictures of the food, but it was delicious as always. After we ate, Steve took some awesome post race photos for us!

Singles of everyone

Nicole

Carolyn

Kara

Obviously, I take my post race photos very seriously.

And lots of pictures of people together. I’m so descriptive.

Team lava!

Not very fast (except, you were), but pretty damn hot

Blog friends, turned super amazing real life friends!

Running buddies!!!

Hermano e Hermana

+ el padre

We went home after breakfast for some much needed relaxation, but before we knew it, it was time for food celebration part 2 at The Yard House! There must have been about 20 of us that got together to celebrate the run and drink delicious beer!

A yard of delicious dark, sweet beer!

Don't worry, I didn't drink both of those myself. Kara and I split them, although the second one was more like 80% her, 20% me. I was just ready for bed haha.

There is no doubt that January 15 2012 will go down as one of the happiest days in my life! It doesn’t get much better than big accomplishments and big celebration!

 

 

 

 

RnR AZ 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

"Even though it is the butt crack of dawn and the sun is not up, I am really excited to run this half marathon!"

Honestly, it’s hard to even know where to begin. Yesterday feels kind of like a blur. I got into bed the night before at about 10:00, finally kind of fell asleep after about 45 minutes, and then proceeded to wake up about every hour until my first alarm went off at 4:40 am. I had a “take your pill” alarm and a “yo b, get yo booty outta bed and run this half marathon” alarm, but I knew after the first one went off, there was no way I was falling back asleep, so I got up and started getting ready. I still felt about the same sick level as I had Friday and Saturday, but was grateful not to feel worse and knew that it would be annoying, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t push through.

Kara and Mona arrived at about 5:40, Kara and I drank some iced via (which was delicious and did everything I wanted it too—HOORAY! Why have I NOT been drinking coffee before my long runs until now???) and ate our pre-run breakfast of Ezekiel bread with sunflower butter and banana.

Just like what every other blogger out there eats. So yummy and almost always sits well and fuels well!

Then, we took some pictures and were on our way!

“Even though it is the butt crack of dawn and the sun is not up, I am really excited to run this half marathon!”

“We’re ready!!!!” Mona is sleepy. Good friends wake up at 5am to watch you cross the finish line :)

We got to the start/finish area of the race (loop course) pretty quickly and were amazed that traffic really wasn’t bad and we found parking immediately. After a quick stop at the porta potties, we made our way to the starting line just as they were setting up the corrals.

As soon as I saw this, I got a little emotional. I couldn’t believe after 3 1.2 months of training, this was finally it,

Pretty soon after we got there, we met up with Nicole and Carolyn.

Of course we had to take an action shot. You know, just getting warmed up ;) Ok friends, my face is flat out ridiculous–feel free to laugh at me!

Steve took a picture of my shoe with my time chip. I don’t know why.

Pretty soon, it was time to start heading to our corrals. I handed my sweat shirt off to Mona and Steve, wished Nicole and Carolyn good luck and set out to find lucky number 13. Steve headed over to the starting line and caught the first people to take off.

That guy in front was the frst to start and the first to finish in a ridiculous time of 1:02. Holy amazing.

He also got pictures of the dragon. You know the one that I passed later on in the race ;)

And he caught Nicole too. Of course, she had made a friend in her corral and was talking her ear off haha.

Go team lava, go!!!

We had to wait quite a while (almost half an hour) before finally starting due to delays with the light rail and just being back in such a high corral. I was so antsy! I kept saying to Kara “I want it to be my turn!!!” like a 5 year old. Finally, we were off and running through Mill Ave. It was a pretty neat area to start out, and I was really grateful for some new scenery. We saw Steve and Mona pretty quickly. Steve took a lot of pictures of me and I learned the lesson that I should never put my arms in the air for these pictures because I look about 40 lbs heavier than I am in most of them, but I figured I had to post one, so I picked the least unflattering of the bunch haha.

Awesome arm pit sweat and everything. Running is the most attractive sport ever.

From there, Kara and I just kept on truckin’. I was super annoyed by my ipod because I had spent all of this time putting my perfect playlist in the perfect order, but I couldn’t get the stupid thing not to shuffle. I messed with it for a while, and then just decided it was okay and I still liked all of my music, so it was fine. The day before at the expo, Kara and I had picked up these temporary tattoos that have your goal time on the bottom and where you need to be at each mile to reach that. They didn’t have a 2:20, so we grabbed the 2:15.

This was so unbelievably helpful. We took the first mile as a warm up at 10:24, and then every mile after was under the 10:18 needed to finish sub 2:15. I had told Kara she was in charge of making sure we started out slow, but honestly we were both too excited and I know that I was feeling really great, and so we didn’t go out speeding, but we went out with the intention of following the tattoos. We ran through Tempe, and pretty quickly got into Scottsdale. I was so excited that we had made it into a different city! My dad and Hermano were supposed to be in Scottsdale–my dad was all nostalgic about meeting me right in front of where my high school used to be–so I looked for them, but never ended up seeing them. I was a little bummed because I thought maybe I had just not seen them, but figured they’d understand and I’d see them at the finish. Turns out they had some directional confusion haha.

Before I knew it, we had reached the 10K mark and I still felt like we were passing people left and right! I love passing people. Is that bad? I definitely felt like the motivation to get in front of people pushed me to go faster. Just after the 10K mark, I took my first Gu. Not long after that, Kara and I lost each other. This race was packed from start to finish (my only maybe not so favorite thing about it) and I thought she was right behind me, but I turned around and she was gone. I kind of started to panic, and didn’t know what to do. Do I wait? Do I keep going? I slowed down a bit, but eventually I just went for it. I knew I’d see her at the finish and I was so grateful for being able to run the first half side by side, but I knew I just needed to focus on my goal at this point.

Right around this time, I saw a man in pink compression socks running the entire race backwards. I also so him run into a gate. It was pretty entertaining and took my mind off how quickly I was starting to feel tired. By the time I got to mile 8 marker, I was no longer feeling like I could run forever, and I started to wish for the finish line. It’s funny that the tattoo says “lucky mile 9″ because mile 9 was my least favorite of the entire race! I had to start taking walking breaks, I was exhausted and I just wanted to be done. I really hoped I wouldn’t have to walk during this race, but I got 8 miles without walking (except for water and Gatorade), and I knew I needed to take breaks if I was going to make it to the end. I was still right on track with my time goal though, so I just kept pushing and running hard so that my walking breaks didn’t kill my time.

Once I got to mile 10, it started to get real. I was going to finish this race. I was going to complete my first half marathon. I was exhausted, my feet hurt, and I wanted to lay down on the side of the road, but I was going to make it. Most of the end was even downhill!! Excellent choice, map people. Seriously, thank you. I took my second Gu and tried to soak up the energy from the crowd. One thing I will say, is there was so much crowd support! I don;t think I went through a single section where there weren’t people on the side lines cheering, and several people called me out by name which was awesome! Having a shirt with my name on it was more than worth it for that extra support!

Finally, I realized I was crossing the bridge back to the finish line. I saw the building I had pointed out to Kara when we arrived and said “When we see that, we’ll know we’re almost to the finish line!” and that’s when the emotions started, but even more than the emotional idea of finishing, I was so focused on my goal. I knew I had to keep pushing if I wanted to make this new goal of sub 2:15 (I’m so glad there was no 2:20 tattoo!!!!). I was meticulously checking my Garmin, and I knew it was possible, but I had to focus. Just before I got the mile 13 mark, Defying Gravity came on my ipod and I started to cry a little. “I’m through accepting limits cause someone says they’re so. Some things I cannot change, but ’til I try I’ll never know.” Seriously, it’s like the musical theatre kid’s anthem and the words are so fitting.

I crossed the finish line, stopped my Garmin and realized that now Proud Mary was playing and even with my stupid ipod shennanigans, I finished to it after all. And then I cried more, and took my medal and just kept walking, overcome with emotion. I took my phone out of my spibelt and it was ringing! I answered the phone and Bethany asked where I was and I said “I’M AT THE FINISH LINE!!!! I DID IT!!!!” She told me how proud of me she was. I can’t think of a better person to talk to right away than my best friend who has been there through the last 13 years of my life, has seen me at my very worst and understands just how far I’ve come.

Once I got off the phone with Bethany, it didn’t stop ringing! Hermano and my dad were trying to find me, then I had to meet up with Team Lava and Steve was at the finish line still trying to get pictures of Kara. I found myself a little area, sat down and just tried to stretch a little and soak it all in. Before I knew it Kara was right in front of me! I was so happy to see her!! I honestly don’t know if I could have done all of this without her.

Steve got some more super attractive photos of me just before the finish. Haha, it was like a series of unfortunate pictures, but here we go :)

I actually don’t hate this one!

That face! Hahahaha. “GET ME TO THE FINISH LINE!!!!!’

And he got one of Carolyn crossing too!

Whooo! Go team lava!

Okay, now the part you’ve all been waiting for (unless you’re my friend on facebook or follow me on twitter)….

OFFICIAL CHIP TIME: 2:13:58!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5K–31:47

10K–1:03:09

10 mile–1:42:18

Average pace–10:14

Although, according to my little garmin

My least favorite part of racing is when my Garmin tells me I’ve finished the distance, yet I’m not across the finish line!

My average pace was 10:07 ;) I like the sound of that much better!

Regardless, my goal was sub 2:20, and I beat it by 6 freaking minutes!!!!!! I had signed up for updates to go to some friends and family so they would know where I was in the course. Steve told me that when he got the final message that said 2:13:58 he even got a little emotional knowing I had beat my goal.

After I graduated college and got married, I thought all of my major life events were behind me at 26 years old. I felt like I already had my big moments, and there was a sense of sadness that came with that after our wedding. I’ll be honest, I am a person that thrives on making others proud and feeling supported by the important people in my life, and of course they always support me, but there are moments in life where you realize just how amazing your life and the people in it are.

Almost exactly 4 years ago, I reached my breaking point. Something shifted in my mind and I wish I could explain how it happened or why or pass that shift on to others I know who are struggling with the same issues I was and continue to struggle with. I knew I wanted to change, and I loved the feeling I got every time someone said “Wow, you’ve lost so much weight!” I knew I wanted needed to lose weight for my own health and well being. I never expected any of this. My waiver for the race had a spot at the bottom that said “signature of athlete” I looked at my friends and said “Who am I going to find to sign this? I need an athlete.” Me? An athlete? A runner? ME?!

I spent so many years of my life believing I couldn’t do things, believing I wasn’t good enough to perform, to run, to have friends, to be likable. So many years spent telling myself every reason why I couldn’t do things and living in too much fear to take risks and try. More than anything, I want every single person out there to know that you can do anything. And it is so freaking worth it to do the things that matter to you, that make you feel proud. Nothing worth accomplishing is easy, but good lord is it rewarding. In 3.5 months, I went from barely being able to run 3 miles, to running a half freaking marathon–A HALF MARATHON!!!!

The only time I can remember feeling this proud of myself is after I did my senior recital, but the best part is, this isn’t the last time I will feel this way. This is just the beginning of accomplishing new things, proving to myself that I am strong and capable, and crossing finish lines both literal and figurative.

Lastly, in the longest blog post ever. I want to say thank you to everyone for the amazing support I received during this process. All of the texts, comments on facebook, phone calls, and especially to Steve, Bethany, my dad, Hermano, and Mona for showing up at the race to support me, Nicole and Carolyn for making the whole experience amazing and all of your kind motivating words, and most especially Kara–you’re friendship has changed my life and I am so grateful to have you as my friend! I don’t know how I scored the most amazing people on the planet to all be my friends, but seriously every single congratulatory message I got meant so much to me and I am beyond grateful. I don’t know what I did to deserve all of you, but I do know that I am beyond grateful.

Perfect Sunday

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What a perfect Sunday. I don’t remember the last time Steve and I both had the day off with no pressing plans. It was amazing. After I got back from spin, we hung out for a little bit before heading out to the dog park. It’s funny, Winston and Clementine always get so excited to go to the park, but then we get there and Clementine is terrified and Winston doesn’t leave our side. Actually, sometimes if dogs get too close and Winston feels threatened, he started to get a little aggressive and it really worries us :( Does anyone have any good advice for a dog that doesn’t always do well with other dogs? We really want him to be social! He did play a little bit though today.

Winston really just loves to run. If you run, he will chase you. He takes after his mama ;)

The two of us ran around the park a little bit together.

Check that out! Steve actually caught my feet mid air!

Clementine on the other hand is so boring at the dog park. She just hides. There were some dogs on the other side of the fence that seemed a little safer :)

After the dog park, we decided to invite my mom, Hank and Charlie over for dinner to thank them for watching Clemmie while we were on vacation. I had tons of fun cooking.

Thanks for the awesome gift, mom! I will wear these babies any chance I get!

I had the “I played with my food and now my hands are a hot mess” thing going on which, apprently, was horrifying.

Meatloaves. Yes, plural. They were delicious. Recipes coming soon!

Happy Sunday, friends :D