Weekend Ramblings

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1. A few weeks ago, I went to my awesome friend Jen’s wedding. I took all sorts of pictures, and planned on doing a full blog post about it. That clearly never happened, but I wanted to at least share a little bit of it with you guys. It was so fun. It was the first wedding I’ve been to in my adult life where I didn’t have responsibilities like “bridesmaid” or “bride”. I just got to hang out with some of my favorite NYC guys, and rap Gangsta’s Paradise per my wedding tradition. It’s cute, I promise. I can do it at your wedding for no charge.

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2. After Jen’s wedding, we took a 24 hour trip to DC which was just not long enough. I haven’t been there since I was in elementary school, and there was so much I wanted to explore! I did get to see the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Holocaust Museum (best part–so beautiful and moving). I also ate, like, the best dinner of my life at Founding Farmers. If you’re ever in DC, GO THERE! You’re welcome.

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3. Speaking of elementary school (I mean, I did for a hot second), did I mention how at PF Chang’s I ran into my elementary school music teacher? And she remembered me. I have “one of those faces”, or that’s what people tell me. I’ve looked exactly the same for my entire life. The awkward part? I never remember anyone. Even if I know you, if I’m not expecting to see you, it will take me a good 5 minutes to register who you are. I know a lot of people, so this is often embarrassing. I also have the hardest time learning names (because I have, oh, a million students), and this leads to a constant feeling of worst-teacher-ever. It’s a good thing I’m funny.

4. I’m pretty sure my birthday party is tonight. This week, Steve created an event on facebook titles “Ariana’s Birthday” which I was not invited to. Except he didn’t make it a secret event, and it showed up on my news feed, so obviously I clicked on it. The Stacey texted me to let me know she was attending. I hope they still shout surprise when I get there, and I hope that Nicole makes the dessert. ;)

5. I really really really love birthdays. I’m sure this is a big surprise. But I feel a little weird about this birthday. Everyone just gave up a weekend to celebrate me running a marathon. I feel like I should give them a break. I mean, not that I will turn down positive attention, because we all know I love things to revolve around me, but I’m starting to feel like a jerk, and maybe I should spread some of the love around. Like, for my birthday, maybe I should have thrown a party for me friends to tell them how awesome they are! I guess it’s a little late for that. It’s a nice idea in theory, though.

6. My other favorite thing about February is that the Academy Awards are coming!!! I still need to see Argo and The Sessions, but then my list will be pretty complete. At least for the movies I actually care to see which does not include Django Unchained. I’m sorry I just have no interest. Lincoln is still my favorite for the year, but I’m also a huge fan of Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty. There are some fantastic performances in Flight and The Impossible. And I think Pitch Perfect was totally robbed of a best picture nom. I mean, don’t you  feel like it was the best movie of 2012???

7. I’ve updated my blogroll. Check out some awesome blogs for your reading enjoyment. The list is a little ridiculous, but the sad truth is it’s less than half of my reader. These are the ones I really love, and I think you will too.

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.

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 5

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I have so much to tell you. First of all, I’ve just discovered that my running mileage for 2012 is currently sitting at 925 miles. I’d secretly kind of had the goal of getting to 1,000, but I didn’t really put much thought into it, because honestly, I just didn’t think I would. I don’t do very well with a ton of mileage, so I just tried to follow my plan, and keep this little goal in the back of my mind….Until it got so close that I can taste it! Now I have to do it, right??? I mean, I don’t plan on being stupid and killing myself this close to the marathon if something hurts, but it definitely gives me a little added motivational push when I’ve been struggling a bit mentally.

Also, I *think* I’m getting closer to figuring out my fueling/stomach issues. It’s kind of a constant battle for me. Almost any food before a run can cause a lot of unpleasantness with no gallbladder, but I’m not a person who can do a long run on gu alone. I’ve always eaten Ezekiel bread with nut butter and sometimes a banana before a run since, like, forever. I never thought that was the culprit because back in the day it worked great, but I started to think about the fiber of the bread and the fat of the nut butter. My body can’t process fats as well now, and let’s just say I don’t think my body needs any added fiber in my life ever. So for my long run this week, I bought a white flour bagel and put pumpkin butter on top. My stomach felt the best it has felt in a loooooong time. I was so happy!!! I had to make one stop in the first mile, and then had no issues for 18 whole miles!! This is a big deal in my world, friends.

However, I still get hungry–like stomach growling hungry–and feel somewhat depleted around 15 miles even with fueling often. I’m not sure how to fix that other than maybe playing with my meal the night before and trying to bulk it up? I always make sure to eat a decent amount of carbs at dinner, but maybe I need more? If anyone has any brilliant advice on the subject, I’d love to hear it! Anyway, here’s how last week went down:

Monday: 5 mile run. I was having a realllll hard time getting motivated for this run, but I got out there, and of course as soon as I did, it felt great! I set my garmin to a screen where I couldn’t see my pace, and just cruised at what felt comfortable, which ended up averaging in at 9:40. That is not my usual “easy” pace. I was pretty stoked about it.

Tuesday: Off.

Wednesday: “Track” and strength training. At PT I ended up doing all sorts of crap–one legged dead lifts on the bosu ball, abs, triceps, this thing where I threw a ball at the wall…I was sore for like 3 days, and I felt like a total wimp, but at least I strength trained a little! That afternoon I met up with Stacey to do our scheduled track work out. We met up in the early afternoon, and it was about 72* which is perfect for a picnic, but it felt warm (at least to me) to run in. It wasn’t an easy run, but we still rocked it. We did a short warm up then 1 mile @ 9:03, 1200 @ 8:28, 800 @ 7:55, then 3×400 @ 7:16, 6:56, 6:43, then a short cool down. I kind of wanted to die, but in a good way?

Thursday: Off.

Friday: 18 mile run. You know, I kind of thought the long runs would be easier this time around. Turns out….they’re not. BUT I’m faster this time around. A lot faster. My last 18 mile run took me 3 hours and 8 minutes, and I shaved 7 minutes and 26 seconds per mile off of that this time around! This run was amazing, and hard, and fun all at the same time! Nicole and I both started out feeling a little rough. Her ankle was bugging her, and I woke up with a stabbing pain in my hip (I’ve had it before, and it’s not from running, and it always goes away so I wasn’t worried, just annoyed). We had to stop and stretch a few times in the first few miles, and we kinda decided to let it be what it was going to be, not stress, and enjoy the scenery.

Look at this house!!! We thought their decorations were so cool that we stopped to take pictures. Is it Halloween?? Is it Christmas??? Who knows, but it's awesome!

Look at this house!!! We thought their decorations were so cool that we stopped to take pictures. Is it Halloween?? Is it Christmas??? Who knows, but it’s awesome!

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"Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???"

“Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???”

"Don't worry Ari, I'll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!"

“Don’t worry Ari, I’ll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!”

We took a totally new route which took us through Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix and it was gorgeous, and a great way to change things up! Also, fall running is my nice.

IMG_20121214_165027 By the end, we had both totally surprised ourselves, and I ran my fastest long run of marathon training ever with an average pace of 10:02. Granted, we definitely took our share of breaks, so I don’t know how accurately that represents where I am pace wise, but it sure felt great to see such an awesome time! And then there was well earned chocolate milk/coffee with chocolate milk per usual.

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I was dreaming of you too, Dutch Bros…

Saturday: Off.

Sunday: 3 mile run. That 925 lit a fire, plus I figured 3 work outs this week wasn’t really great, so I ran to my mom’s house for dinner. 3 nice and easy miles averaging a 9:37 pace, and then there was food, so that was good.

Tell me something awesome. I don’t care what it is, or what subject it’s about. I would just like to hear awesome things. :)

Fiesta Bowl 5k Race Recap

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Okay friends, grab a cup of coffe, and settle in because this is a very long recap considering it was such a short race. ;)

Sunday morning I woke up bright and early at 5am, and quickly turned into my chipper race morning self. Every time I’m excited for a race I start dancing around the house singing “Good morning, good morning! It’s time to run ______! Good morning, good morning to you and you and you and you!” This girl has witnessed it first hand. I promise it’s cute, kind of.

By 5:45, Steve and I were out the door to meet everyone at Jason’s house, and by 6:15 we were on our way to the race to get registered. I’m a notoriously late registerer. Wow, I didn’t get the red squiggly line–apparently “registerer” is actually a word, and not just one I made up. Sweet. Okay, before I continue with what was an amazing race for me, here are a few gripes about the race itself

  • The volunteers seemed like they were given no information. We were told to stand in about 4 different looooong lines to register before finding the right place, and this table had no line. It was kind of annoying.
  • There was a total lack of information about the 5k. When I looked online, it said the race started at 7:30. Maybe I didn’t look in the right place–totally possible–but I saw nothing saying there were different start times, and all announcements were about the half marathon (which, I get it, is a bigger deal). I had to find out from an other runner what time my race actually started.
  • There weren’t nearly enough porta potties. I almost missed the start waiting in line on round 2 (yes, I go about every 5 minutes before a race).

Okay, back to the good. Complaining over. We rushed over to the start line and just barely made it in time. I told my friends I was going to try to find a good spot, and weaved in between the crowd to find a place near the front of the middle, if that makes sense. Actually, start lines freak me out when there are no corrals. WHERE DO I STAND???? IN THE BACK??? HOW SLOW AM I???? I have made the mistake of starting too far back before. I remember at the Iron Girl, Nicole looked to the side and saw a woman with white hair and a walker, and she was like “Really? You think we’re going to run her pace?” Suffice it to say, I have no idea where I fit in a starting line. I asked a lady next to me what her pace was, and she said she was aiming for 28-30 minutes, and that sounded like I was at least in the right ball park. I told her my goal was to break 27 minutes, and she said she was going to try to keep me in her sight lines. That made me feel cool! I don’t know how she did, but I hope she had an awesome race!

SIDEBAR: As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been having a lot of stomach issues when it comes to running. I used to only eat before long runs, but since marathon training got more intense, I started waking up really hungry in the morning, and so I’ve started eating a granola bar before I go, and a lot of times before a race, I’ll still have peanut butter toast, even if it’s a short race, since I’m usually up a couple of hours before hand. This time, I went on an empty stomach, and just took a gu 15 minutes before. It was the best my stomach has felt during a race in a long time. More on this in an other post…

Okay, back to the start. It was CROWDED. I’ve been trying to avoid weaving so that I don’t end up running extra miles, but there were some slooooowww people in front of me, and I knew I needed my own space to get in my groove, so I weaved around, and the next thing I knew, we were at a start line. I was so confused. So is THIS the start? Did I just run that last .14 miles fast for nothing??? Don’t judge me. I tried to start my watch over, but was too focused to actually think about how to do that, so I ended up hitting the lap reset. Turns out our original location was the start, and that had been the half marathon start. Very confusing for this little ol’ brain.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was actually capable of in this race. I just knew my PR was 27:16, and I wanted to break 27 minutes. I had pacing ideas that ended up getting thrown out almost immediately, while I tried to run what felt “fast” and “sustainable”. I feel like for me a 5k is kind of determined by how I feel at mile 1. Usually after the first mile, I’ve run a pace that I can only keep up for the one mile, I feel exhausted, and running 2 more sounds more impossible than running 10. This time, my watch beeped at mile 1, and I felt good. It wasn’t easy, but I felt good enough to make it my goal to negative split the next two.

0-.14 (cause my laps are wonky): 8:20

.14-1.14: 8:25

In mile 2 there were some small rolling hills. And by “hills” I mean what you would probably consider more like a speed bump, but it felt like a hill to me! I continued to feel strong even on the “uphills”–but okay I SWEAR it really did have some rollers!–and tried to let myself relax into the downhills. When my watch beeped off for mile 2, I was starting to feel pretty tired, but only a mile left! 1 mile always seems attainable!

Mile 2.14: 8:25–Not a negative split, but I always seem to positive split the crap out of 5ks and I was THRILLED to have 2 identically paced miles, especially since 8:25 was faster than I thought I’d be able to run this thing in.

The last mile was hard, as it always is in any race. I wanted to walk on the uphills. I wanted to slow down. I argued a lot in my brain about how I couldn’t keep it up, and my brain’s favorite argument “If you don’t take a walking break now, you’ll have nothing left for the finish.” This is a big fat dirty lie, and it gets me *almost* every time, but today I was like “Ummm F you, you dirty liar. I can, it’s just gonna hurt, and that’s okay.” I also think my lap reset mishap helped me here. Something about knowing that when I got to the end of mile 3, it would actually be the end of the race instead of the usual having .1-.2 left to go (which feels like an eternity at that point) helped me stay positive. I don’t know. My head responds well to mind games.

At the end of mile 3, I saw Steve waiting for me and I had a huge dopey grin on my face.I waved ridiculously, and pointed to my garmin to tell him “I’M GONNA MEET MY GOAL!!!!!”

Garmin stalking. Shocker. But at least both legs are off the ground! Note: The clock started when the half marathoners started 5 minutes before us.

“I’VE GOT THIS!!!!!”

Steve yelled at me to quit talking about how I was about to PR, and go freaking sprint to the end. I was reallllly tired at this point, and my “sprint” was pretty pathetic, but I did my best to finish strong.

Mile 3.14: 8:22 <–NEGATIVE SPLIT!!!!

The rest: 7:30

I couldn’t believe it. I’ve PRed a few times recently, but this was the first time in a looooong time that I had a goal and I really felt like I crushed it. 30 seconds may not seem like a big difference, but in a 5k, at least for me, it really is. My garmin had me at an average pace of 8:23 which is so far beyond what I thought I was capable of! As soon as I crossed the finish line, I wanted to puke (totally normal), but I grabbed some water, and quickly felt better, and I rushed back over to Steve to tell him my finish time!

Before I knew it, we saw Jason and Matt coming up pretty quickly.

I jumped in with them, and tried to say all the perfect motivational things Coach Susan says at the end of a race. Then I told them to sprint to the end, and they took me pretty seriously because before I knew it, I couldn’t keep up with those long legs, and I ducked off to the side. They ended up finishing in about 29 minutes which is a PR for Jason, and it was Matt’s very first race!! They did awesome!!

As soon as I ducked off, I went back to find Bethany. I jogged a little bit down the way and waited for her on the corner before where Steve and the boys were waiting. I jumped back in with her, and tried to be all motivational again, then we turned the last corner, and I told her to sprint to the finish. As soon as got got to the gates on the sidelines, I ducked out, and went back to see the guys.

GET IT GIRL!!

Umm, can we just talk about how GREAT you look????

Bethany finished in 37 minutes for a 2 minute 5k PR!! Rock star!

PRs for everyone!!!

As soon as we were done, we scooted out pretty quickly. We wanted to be able to grab breakfast, and it was my first day of tech rehearsal, so even though I wanted to see my teammates and friends that did the half marathon (and one in particular that crushed it with some ridiculous kind of 20 minute PR--WHAT??), we didn’t hang around.

In the car, I started trying to look up our chip times. When I found mine, I only really looked at the finish time, and jokingly complained about how it said 26:31, and I had been all excited about not just coming in under 27 minutes, but under 26:30. I’m silly like that. I looked up everyone else’s chip times, and went on with my morning. A couple hours later I was like “Hmmm, I wonder what my finish place is.” I always have kind of an unwritten goal to be in the top half. I know I’m not speedy, but I do want to be better than average. So I went back to look, and I was shocked and confused.

 

Okay, so either that’s a typo, or there were only, like, 2 people in my division, right?

Then I started crying. I asked Steve no less then 20 times “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN????” You see, I never expected to place in anything. I did one 5k where I came in 4th out of 12, and I remember feeling over the moon. It just didn’t seem possible to me. Then I went back and read about the awards–turns out I get one? My friend Michele placed 2nd in her age group, and GOT A MEDAL!!!! I mean, I have lots of race medals, but I never dreamed I would get one for coming in 2nd. I know 61 isn’t a HUGE division, but I never dreamed my times would be the slightest bit competitive. I think I’m still in shock.

I honestly can’t believe the way my life and my running has changed since Coach Susan came into my life. I know none of my recent PRs would have been possible without her wisdom, support, and guidance, and I just feel so unbelievably grateful.

In college, I did lots of vocal competitions, and never placed above honorable mention. It always seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I always fell short as a performer, and that sense of constant discouragement is what led me to change my focus to directing and choreography which I LOVE, and in a lot of ways love more than performing. I just can’t believe that I would ever place in anything. I remember telling my friend Diane when we worked together in Idaho that I had never won an award. Seriously. Never. At the end of the summer, she made me an IRT award, and it was so sweet. I still have it. I am not the person who wins or places in things. I am the person with that works really hard, and is noted for my work ethic, but always a step behind. Always seeming to just fall short.

I know for some people getting 2nd place in their division of a small, local race wouldn’t be totally life changing, but for me, it kinda is. It’s a day I will never forget, and something I will feel proud of for the rest of my life. It also taught me something else–I’ve been running for just over a year, and look how far I’ve come. There is nothing that is unattainable. With hard work, I can be a better, stronger runner than I ever dreamed of. I can also be a better stronger person. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for, so do me and yourself a favor:

Dream big.

 

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?

Nourish

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Sunday evening I went out with some of my awesome teammates to celebrate all of our training, and making it all the way to peak week! Well, we didn’t say exactly what it was that we were celebrating other than actually getting to hang out with each other, but those sound like awesome reasons to celebrate to me ;)

Jason, Wanda, Jaime, Tara, Lisa, Stacey, Moi. And after this lovely evening, I will be throwing out that shirt and NEVER wearing it again.

When we were trying to decide what to do/where to go, we all agreed that some awesome healthy food…and of course some wine. ;) Jaime and Tara eat gluten free, so I suggested Nourish. I first tried Nourish a couple of months ago with Nicole and Emily, and LOVED it! They have a menu filled with healthy options to fit every diet–gluten free, vegan, raw, paleo, you name it!

As soon as I mentioned their air fried sweet potatoes, my friends were all on board!

Heaven.

They have a special air frier that bakes the sweet potatoes at a very high temperature without the potatoes ever touching oil or butter! They do place some oil in the oven, and have a fan that they say infuses the “fries” with the flavor of the oil. They are perfectly crisp on the outside, while soft on the inside–so much better than the kind I make at home! It is kind of magical. The table split a bottle of pinot grigio and an order of the sweet potato fries to start.

I ordered the southwestern rice bowl which was ridiculously good! I don’t know how they get their brown rice to be so soft!!

We ended up spending over 2 hours chatting and talking about, well, running! :)

Jaime & Tara

Stacey & Jason

Lisa & my shiny red face

“Ari take a cute picture of me for my blog! And then out me for asking on the internet!” I believe I was successful on both accounts.

Training buddddddies!

What a fantastic night!! I’m so glad we all had the chance to hang out and do something fun with real clothes on, and eat food that isn’t gu!! Also, I haven’t stopped craving the delicious food from Nourish since we left, so I think an other trip very soon is in order!

 

Skull Valley Challenge

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Last weekend was a super special weekend! It was the first time Steve and I got to switch places, as I went to cheer him on for his first “race”. I call it a race, but it was untimed and they called it a “ride”. Well, he goes for a “ride” like, umm, every day so that doesn’t sound quite fancy enough for me. There was a starting line, and a finish line, so in my mind it was a race. Steve left for Prescott to get acclimated with the elevation on Wednesday. Remember how us Phoenix folk do with mile high elevation? I had to work, so I left with Jason on Saturday afternoon. On the way up, we decided to get married.

Sorry Steve. I know I’m supposed to be coming to see you, but Jason and I are in ring pop love.

We arrived just in time to head over to the bib pick up with the boys.

HE HAS A BIB!!!

Cycling besties. They’re in like, straight man friend love.

After bib pick up, we headed to The Raven Cafe for dinner.

Raven Cafe  is a super cute restaurant in downtown Prescott with a unique menu, coffee bar, and big beer and wine selection. Jason and I ordered a couple of beers to start.

Mine: Nut brown mmmmmm

Jason got this super intense Black Butte with a bunch of roman numerals after. It was DARK, and definitely a sipping beer, but we were both fans.

Look! It also comes in a fancy glass. Sorry bar tender lady, you’re on the blog, but it’s just your hand. Apparently I couldn’t wait until we sat down to start photographing. I’m a little impatient ;)

They have a really cool outdoor upstairs patio, and the weather was perfect, so we enjoyed dinner up there.

I’m a proud wife. And that lady in the background is apparently REAL freaked out by us taking a picture. CALM DOWN WOMAN!!!

I ordered a turkey sandwich that came with cranberry sauce, cream cheese, avocado and tomato–ohhhhh my gosh, it was so delicious! I got tortilla soup for my side which was also good, but the sandwich was definitely my favorite part!

After dinner, we went back to Dan’s and turned in early so the boys could get some sleep before the race ride. The next morning, Steve and Dan rode their bikes down to the start while Jason and I ran down to meet them.

Before we knew it, they were off, and I was pretty much the only person yelling and cheering like a crazy fool. Once they were out of site, Jason and I finished our run and ended out 3.5 miles at breakfast at The Sweet Potato Cafe. After breakfast we walked around, got coffee, and went back to work on a big obnoxious sign to hold at the finish.

Unfortunately, Steve didn’t end up having the best ride. The course was ridiculously tough and had about 4,000 ft of elevation gain over 54 miles. Around mile 37, the constant uphill just got to be too much, and he had to drop out. Bike races are serious business, man. If I get tired during a race, I just walk, but what do you do on your bike? You can’t walk it up the hill. I mean, I guess you can, but if you don’t do it all on the bike, does it really count? Anyway, he did the best he could at this point in his training, and I was still a proud lady! It just means next year he’s going to kill it!

Steve actually had a really great attitude about the whole thing. Of course he was disappointed, but he truly knew that he had done the best he could on that day. I really admire that about him. I spend a lot of time beating myself up and crying in the car after not performing the way I had hoped, and he just understood where he was that day, made some goals moving forward, and moved on. I absolutely feel like he still succeeded, and I feel beyond proud that he set out for such a challenging course on his first race ride!

How do you handle not living up to your expectations on race day? Ever done a bike race? What do you do if you can’t pedal up the stupid hill anymore?!?!?!

Refocusing

I have a confession. Normally, when I have a confession, I would then say something funny like “This summer I had a contest with my 2 awesome co-workers to see who could poop the most every day.” That’s true. Did happen. Was announced to all staff and students. We’re awesome like that. However, this may be slightly less gross for those of you who hate to talk about poop.

By the time I arrived back in Phoenix on Monday morning, I was feeling less than great about how my body looked, and physically I just felt off from not eating well. You see, I started the summer with the best of intentions. I was as careful as possible about what went into my body, tried to choose foods to fuel my training, as well as sustain me dancing for 6-7 hours a day. It was tough. The food was less than stellar, with choices for dinner sometimes being pizza, fried chicken, or the salad bar for the 6th night in a row. I bought lots of snacks to try to tide me over, which quickly transitioned into too much food too often, and way too many times thinking “Well, I ran this morning, and then danced ALL DAY. I can eat 2 desserts.” Also, there was a lot of justifying the mass quantity of vegan desserts I consumed as “healthy”. Two of my friends I spent the most time with are vegan, and we were so close to all sorts of vegan bakeries. The problem is, substituting earth balance or vegetable oil for butter and using refined carbs does not equal healthy. I know that. I get it. Mostly, I just wanted dessert.

All this being said, I was not shocked to get home, step on the scale (yeah….no scale = “I probably weigh the same. I’m dancing ALL THE TIME”), and discover that I had definitely gained weight. Not an obscene amount. Nothing any of you would probably notice. Roughly 5-6 lbs from where I generally maintain. So, no, 5-6 lbs is not a huge deal, but 2 more months of those habits, and an other 5-6 would be more lik 11-12, and you see where that leads. In no time at all, I could easily be right back where I started in 2008.

No.Thank.You.

Again, it’s not the end of the world, but I definitely feel motivated to make a change, and refocus. The truth is, if weight were merely determined by exercise, I would have a SMOKIN’ body by now. I love working out, and being active. I do it to be healthy, yes, but also because I genuinely enjoy all those cool endorphins. It’s like our bodies own cooler version of mood altering drugs. Thanks for that body! Food, on the other hand; food is tricky. I do genuinely enjoy eating good, healthy, nutritious meals that fuel my body. I really like healthy foods, and I don’t often crave things like cheeseburgers and french fries. However, part of the problem is that I do REALLY like food. I have a tough time with portion control (always have), and I also REALLY love dessert. Those of you that want to snack on potato chips: I don’t understand you. I want to snack on fro yo. Always and forever.

I’m trying to break the mentality of “I worked out this much, so I can eat this much”. It doesn’t really work like that. In fact, I feel like the more active I am, the MORE careful I need to be about my food choices. That may seem like an oxymoron, but the truth is when I significantly increase my activity, I am hungrier, and I do need to eat more, but that means more opportunities to choose less than awesome types of food, and overeat.

I’ve read a lot of blogs that said they gained weight training for their first marathon. I assured myself that wouldn’t be me, but when I started focusing more on my training, I made the decision to stop focusing on weight loss, even though the truth is, that is still the eventual goal for me. I let myself gradually slide back into eating habits that I haven’t seen in quite a while. Don’t get me wrong, I still ate moderately healthy, but not to the best I am capable of, and it shows. On the scale. In the way my body feels. It’s not “water weight”.

So, I’m refocusing. I went to TJ’s excited (although when am I not excited about grocery shopping?), and stocked up on tons of produce, and spent entirely too much time stalking ingredient lists. Steve was thrilled to sit there watching me label read for hours after our red eye, let me tell you. He’s a lucky man. It was nice for me though. I used to only look at calories, and I am actually trying to do just the opposite now. Sure, that cookie may have the same amount (or even less) of calories as a banana with almond butter, but it has no nutritional value, and an ingredient list a mile long. I promised myself I would give up the calorie counting, and other than checking it out just to be aware, I have. I check in to see if one thing may have significantly less than the alternative, but that’s it. This time, I looked at the ingredients, and the protein, fiber, and added sugars. I have a whole fridge full of awesomeness, and just yesterday I noticed a big change in the way my body felt, and my energy level.

It’s easy to forget how great healthy eating feels. Does that sound cliche enough? But, seriously, it does. It feels awesome, and I feel better about myself already, and that’s the part of this that really counts. And I have no doubt that I will fairly quickly get back to my normal weight, but until then, here are some pictures of me looking cute this summer to remind myself that I don’t look like I gained 50 lbs, even if, at moments, I kina feel that way.

Oh, nope. That’s definitely a demonstrative Poop Contest picture. Not a cute picture at all, actually. You’re so welcome friends. Now we’re out there for THE WORLD to see. Or my 6 readers. Either way.

Okay, there we are actually looking cute. This is Tali and Camille. They ran with me all summer, and then we did this pose. I love them, and this picture is my fav.

Okay, I feel better now. Something about those two (and the Poop Contest) never fails to lift my spirits. Onward.

NYC Marathon Training Week 4

Wait, that was week 4 already? I totally typed week 3, then realized that was wrong. Oy! Last week was really great. I felt really motivated, and I felt like my pace was starting to pick up a bit. I had the fastest long run I’ve had in a long time (ever?), and made a comeback to double digit runs after almost 2 months away. Success. Also, I raced and PRed. Here’s how it went down.

Monday: 4 miles. 9:36 average pace that felt easy, and awesome. One of those “I love life, I want to run forever and ever!!!!” type of runs.

Wednesday: 3.1 miles. 9:43 average pace. My body was tired. My mind was tired. My Legs were tired. My abs here are always tired. Abs 3-4x a day is simultaneously the best and worst part of my job. Anyway, I was doing too much the beginning of last week on too little sleep. Wasn’t taking excellent care of myself, and Wednesday I felt pretty much like crap, but running helped a little, and I forced myself to sleep that night for…

Thursday: 10.25 miles. 10:13 average pace. Negative splits. Last mile (okay, it WAS downhill, but I’m still excited!) in 8:31. Serious runners high. Also, great friends got my through. They’re awesome. Best way to train for a marathon? Make all of your friends run with you at all times. Also, people get all happy and get their own runners high and are super appreciative, and make you feel motivational or something. It’s cool. I like it.

Saturday: Actual rest. Holla.

Sunday: Be The One Run. Here’s my recap :)

Week 4 of training = success. Still riding the excited train.

Fundraising: My fundraising page is still sitting at $600. I haven’t been able to do as much work in that department here in Portland, but please don’t hesitate to check out my for sale page, or click over to make a donation. :)

 

CGST 2012 Weeks 2 + 3

Pam's Kitchen. Super yummy Caribbean food in Seattle.

Wow, it’s been a crazy, busy, awesome, fulfilling two weeks. Here’s a look in mostly photos:

Pam’s Kitchen. Super yummy Caribbean food in Seattle.

Jerk chicken sandwich from Pam’s Kitchen. Ahhhhhhmazing.

I visited Heather and Kara, and got not a single picture with Kara. Lame. We did go to Pike Place together though!

Original Starbucks!

Ridiculously amazing mushroom pizza from The Pine Box in Seattle.

Go here.

BFFFF!!!!!

Weekend off ladies! Tasha, Tali, me & Camille

Chocolate potato donuts. What??? @ Tasty & Son’s in Portland.

I baked!! These are so yummy–will definitely have to make them again when I’m home, and have the whole photography set up. Lemon, blueberry, chocolate covered ginger cookies. And vegan.

Something about me looking like a child, and Terra being old? Even though I’m 4 years older than her….

The camera game. My favorite past time.

Tali and I are so good at it. We win.

I don’t even know…

More time with my fav ladies.

I love her so much I’M GOING TO EAT HER!!!

2 weeks to go!

CGST 2012 Week 1

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So, perhaps you noticed that I’ve been a little quiet over here? It’s been the good kind of quiet. The my-life-is-loud-and-full-so-my-blog-is-quiet kind of quiet. My life up here is super busy, and filled with things that probably make no sense to the outside world, but here’s some highlights from my first week of grown up summer vacation at theatre camp.

I’ve enjoyed several delicious cappuccinos from the nearest local coffee shop.

I saw Brave with my favorite ladies.

I enjoyed my weekend off by getting pedis and coffee with my oldest camp friend Karisa. Karisa and I became friends my very first summer as a student in 2000!

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time at the McMeniman’s School down the street. It’s super cool–an old elementary school turned into a restaurant. They even have the “Detention Bar”. And cute water fountains. Terra drank from one.

On Sunday, Terra took Nicole and me out to her family’s cabin in Trout Lake. It was fun. I peed in an outhouse.

And enjoyed nature.

We dug meet out of the ground, and then we ate it. It.Was.Awesome.

We also played my favorite game. The Camera Game.

The rules: Move your face

and as fast

as possible.

Now I’m back to an other busy week. I guess the camera game will have to wait until the weekend ;) PS, this weekend I am going up to Seattle to visit 2 of my very favorite ladies! Cannot wait!!!

 

My Trip To Ashland

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What an amazing vacation! I don’t remember the last time I went away, and felt so relaxed–it was perfect, and exactly what I needed before I begin my summer work. Ashland was absolutely gorgeous.

Mandie showed me around the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

LOOK!!! Mandie’s name is on the sign!!! She’s basically famous.

I drank this awesome delicious blackberry beer. Aaaaaahhhmazing,

We went to a beautiful winery at the Applegate.

The second day, we met up with our friend Brittany who is also working up there, and took an other walk through Lithia Park. I can’t get over how amazing it is. If I lived here, I would be at the park every single day.

And I finally got to try the famous clover coffee from Starbucks.

The truth? It tasted the same as regular iced coffee to me. Maybe I need a more refined coffee palet ;)

The trip was absolutely perfect in every way, and seriously has me wanting to move to the Northwest! Now I’m busy busy up in Portland, but I have 2 exciting announcements!!

YESTERDAY I RAN!!!!! It only hurt a tiny bit, and for the last mile and a half, I didn’t stop to walk at all! I’m on my way back to training, and I had a serious runners high going!

My Vanilla Bean Cookie Butter Cup Cupcakes are featured on the RecipeNewZ facebook page! RecipeNewZ is a newer food photography site that’s really great, so you should go check them out and show them some love, since they have been so great to me.