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.

It’s Marathon Day

After 7 months, 2 training cycles, $5,000 in fundraising, and countless freak outs, today I will become a marathoner. Today I will achieve what I told so many people I could never do. I can’t wait to soak up every second of this once in a lifetime experience, and while I am out kicking those 26.2 miles in the ass, I wanted to say thank you. I truly believe that if I had never started this blog, I wouldn’t be running this marathon.

Starting Ari’s Menu gave me the courage, and the motivation to run my first half marathon, which sparked the want need to run my first marathon. Throughout my journey, you guys have given me words of wisdom, celebrated my accomplishments, supported me when I doubted myself, and been there through the hard times. I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for making me better, for reading about my journey, and for all of the comments, love, and support.

The next time I post, I will be a marathoner!

PS: Make sure to head over to Nicole’s blog and send her some love–it’s her first marathon too, and she is my rock!

Marathon Inspiration

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Happy 3 Days til Marathon Day of Marathon Week. Yes, every day this week is it’s own holiday. So let’s get with the festivities, and get ourselves all amped up, and inspired to run further than most people like to drive, shall we?

What inspires you?

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I took this picture in DC last weekend. It has no relevance, but I thought it was a pretty backdrop to put quotes on, and that sunshine is symbolic, or something…

When times get tough, as they always do, there are two three things I always tell myself.

1. If it was easy everyone would do it. I am a competitive person. The fact that I have the ability, the drive, and the motivation to push myself in a way that such a small percentage of the population will achieve gives me pride, and fuels the my fire and drive to push through the pain.

2. I can do anything. This is something Ari 2 years ago would have never believed that statement, but it is probably the biggest thing running has taught me. I may not be able to do everything today (BUT WHYYYYY NOT?????), but if I put my mind to it, there is nothing I can’t do. I can do anything.

3. Everything is easier with ruffles on your ass. It’s the truth, and it makes me laugh when I want to cry because my legs hurt.

I am usually able to be my own inspiration in the moment, but I find so much inspiration in reading other people’s stories and journeys. In fact, it was reading the first marathon recap of one specific blogger that inspired me to run a marathon in the first place. I’ve spent the week reading lots of race recaps, especially first marathon recaps, RnR AZ recaps, and pretty much anything written by runners who share my…um, emotionalness. I wanted to share with you guys a few of my favorites in hope that you will find them as motivating and inspiring as I have.

First time marathons:

Ali’s Hamptons Marathon Recap. No matter how many times I read this (and there have been a kind of embarrassing amount), I still cry every single time, and I think “That is what I want my marathon to be.”

Jaime’s Goofy Challenge Recap. The first Team Chances get together, I walked in incredibly nervous and not knowing a soul. I sat down at Jaime’s table, and the rest is history. We clicked right away, and she quickly became one of my closest teammates in this process. Four days ago she not only ran her first marathon, but she ran it the day after running a half marathon in 80* temperatures with Florida humidity. She powered through the toughest first marathon circumstances I can imagine, and powered through! It doesn’t get much more inspirational than this.

Tina’s RnR AZ Marathon Recap. Carrots N Cake was the first blog I started reading. It was the blog that made me want to blog, and RnR AZ was her first marathon. I had read the recap once before, but I went back and read it this week, and it’s definitely a good one.

Theodora’s Chicago Marathon Recap. There’s something about going from being significantly overweight to running a marathon that I feel like you can’t quite understand unless you’ve been there. I can’t quite describe the feeling (yet), but Theodora does a pretty amazing job, and of all of the recaps I’ve read, this one probably resonates the most.

Tina’s Cleveland Marathon Recap. You never really know what can happen on race day, and sometimes things are harder than you ever expected due to circumstances that are beyond your control, but Tina pushed through all of it, and her recap really shows how a race that seems frustrating in the moment is so rewarding in the end. I also love what she says at the very end.

Jamie’s Wineglass Marathon Recap. I know it didn’t end the way she wanted it to, but this is an other good one that reminds me to not give up no matter what, and even in the toughest circumstances, the most important thing is just to finish.

Other inspiring marathon recaps:

Emily’s Eugene Marathon Recap. One day, I would just like to run a 5k at her marathon pace.

Ali’s Manchester City Marathon Recap. How is even her second marathon so freaking inspirational?!

Theodora’s NYCM Recap. I like this one even better than her first one. An other recap that makes me cry every single time.

Sarah’s Eugene Marathon Recap. Let’s just say between this and Emily’s, Eugene is on my race bucket list.

Laura’s Houston Marathon Recap. I love this girl, and she killed it last weekend with some crazy weather conditions!

Other good racing reads:

When my running bestie broke 2 hours in her half marathon.

Caitlin’s first post pardum triathlon.

My girl Stacey’s 19 minute half marathon PR.

Clarinda’s Really Big Half Marathon recap.

 

Have a first marathon recap, or an inspiring race recap you want to share? Link it up! Keep it coming! I’ve been reading these and crying for 2 days, and I’m no where near ready to stop!

 

RnR AZ One Week To Go

FYI: This post has nothing to do with any work outs of training runs I’ve done over the last week. It’s time for me to focus on the mental aspects of the marathon, so here’s a peak into my brain. It’s a hot mess in there, but you get used to it ;)

Can anyone ever confidently say “Oh, I’m TOTALLY ready to run my first marathon!” I’m pretty sure that feeling doesn’t exist, and I’m 100% certain that with how neurotic I am, I would never utter words anywhere close to that. I will say, however, that I’m not worried about whether I “trained well enough” or “did enough”. I am as ready as I could possibly get at this point in my life, and regardless of what happens on January 20th, I have so much to be proud of.

On the flight to NYC, I began a post about things I learned while training for a marathon. I planned to finish it when I got in, and have it go up the day of the race. Well, let’s just say that emotional Post Race Cancelation Ari stepped in, and it’s not even in the data base anymore. If I had one regret over my training cycle, it’s that after the New York Marathon was canceled, a little bit of my spark faded. I didn’t really lose motivation or drive, but the awe and appreciation for my body that came with conquering these new distances faded as I became more focused on the idea that this extended training cycle needed to make me faster, and less focused on the heart of the matter—why I signed up for a marathon in the first place.

I haven’t gone into too much detail on here, although I have gently alluded to the fact that when I first started running, I was in a very bad place with food and body image. I was trapped in a negative cycle, and I honestly didn’t see a light at the end, and I could not bring myself to believe I would be able to lead a different kind of life. Then I discovered running, and I rekindled my passion to be better—the reason I began my healthy living journey in the first place. I began to focus my success on my physical accomplishments, and I found what I had been searching for: freedom.

I am not running this marathon to break any records, and despite the fact that I am document every last second of my training on pretty much every facet of social media, I’m not doing this so you will think I’ve done something special. I am running this marathon to celebrate a point in my journey. A journey that began when I was 9 years old and realized my body was “different”. I originally thought that deciding to tackle a marathon would be the celebration of my weight loss journey, but what I’ve realized is that it is the celebration of something so much bigger.

So no…I’m not “totally ready to run my first marathon”, but I am ready to have a once in a lifetime experience with one of my best friends. And I’m even starting to believe that it might actually happen this time. I haven’t asked Steve if they’re going to cancel it in a solid 72 hours which I would definitely consider progress. ;)

And because this post obviously isn’t long and wordy enough, here are some things I’ve learned while training for my first marathon:

  • I’m stronger than I think.
  • Dinosaurs are hilarious.
  • It’s not easy to find people that you actually enjoy being alone with for 4 hours every week, so if you find someone who clicks perfectly, enjoy it and appreciate the hell out of them (I DO!).
    "Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???""Don't worry Ari, I'll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!"
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  • I am an individual, and my training plan will probably never fit 100% perfectly into my life, and the challenges that each cycle will bring. All I can do is my best, and it won’t kill me to choose drinking wine with friends once in my life over “feeling great” on my stupid recovery run. I was definitely better about this the second time, but the first time around, I had absolutely no social life, and I don’t think my husband/family/friends appreciated me kicking them to the curb. It’s not the nicest way to treat the people I love. I swear there is a way to find balance, but it’s different for everyone, and that’s okay.
  • Comparing myself to others never ends well. And it’s stupid, and kind of rude. It’s best to avoid it at all costs.
  • Coach Susan knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Also, I think my people-pleasing personality is hooked on this whole having a coach business. I had no idea what I was missing, but now I don’t want to go back (and let’s be honest….I probably won’t. Coach Susan > Lululemon running skirts).

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    Although running skirts are pretty awesome…

  • I enjoy running without music. This was the surprise of the century, but I didn’t use my ipod for a single long run the second time around. I do plan on having it on backup for the marathon if I need some extra motivation though.
  • Running should be fun. Last time I checked, this was not my career, and I wasn’t planning to win PF Chang’s. I know, I know, you’re shocked by this revelation. Fun doesn’t mean easy. In my sick and twisted world, “fun” means giving everything I have inside me, laughing with Nicole, enjoying the cheers, and celebrating the success of running a marathon no matter what happens. I plan to have so much freaking fun.
"I'VE GOT THIS!!!!!"

This is what fun running looks like.

Alright friends, now is the time—give me pre-race words of wisdom! Tell me your motivational mantras, what you’ve learned (not necessarily from running, but it could be what you learned in math class), and any other gems of positivity you want to share! 

 

**PS: I am putting together a post this week linking up first time marathon recaps, RnR AZ recaps, and any really inspirational running recaps I come across, because I plan on doing a lot of reading to get motivated. If you have a post, email me the link to ari@arismenu.com if you’d like to be included!**

RnR AZ 2 Weeks to Go

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Hey, remember how I used to actually talk about my marathon training? Those were the good ol’ days. Then I just stopped for 3 weeks. Well, I haven’t been writing because there hasn’t been too much to report, other than working really hard to fight off injury and sickness. I could feel really down in the dumps about it, and decide that my training has been ruined forever (that’s pretty typical over in these parts), but actually, I’ll take it now rather than at the starting line. And I haven’t missed a single long run, so I’m honestly not that  worried. I mean, I’m a nervous wreck, but I’m no more nervous than if I had done every run exactly as planned. I’ve been training for 7 months. I can run this marathon. Umm, I just accidentally typed “marathong” which I’m guessing is something completely different. Moving on…

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve probably run 6 times. Right when I decided I wanted to push to make it to 1,000 miles for 2012, I woke up the day after a 14 mile run with a scary knee pain I had never felt before. There was definitely some freaking out, and crazy texts and calls to Coach Susan, my nurse friend Laurel, and anyone else who would listen. Susan told me to take at least 3 days off, and said most injuries can be prevented if you just listen to your body and take time off immediately. I’m not usually very good at that, but as I told EVERYONE about a million times, I can’t not run another marathon. So I listened. I took an entire week off running (WHO AM I??), went to the gym and lifted weights one of the days (more shocking news), and did a 55 mile bike ride on Christmas which was awesome except for the fact that I am pretty sure I need a different seat, like, yesterday. It was pretty painful in all the wrong ways, but I was happy to be doing something “endurancy” and “athletic”.

After my week hiatus, I came back and ran the best freaking 21 miles of my life.

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READY TO RUN!!!

Actually, I’d never run 21 miles before, so I have nothing to compare it to, except for the fact that I did it in less time than it took me to run 20.5 the last time, so that’s a good sign. I actually still can’t get over how much better I felt this time. The last time, after mile 18, it seriously felt like there was glass inside my joints, and every step felt like I was just going to break. It was so incredibly difficult, but this time, I just felt…right. I mean, it was ridiculously tough, but more in an “I’m exhausted, where is the ‘finish line’???” type of way than a “Are you sure there are not shards of glass in my ankles?” type of way. I finally got to run the route I had planned out the first time with Nicole, and she kept me so positive in the middle miles (around 15-17) where I was struggling. By the end we were so pumped that we ran the final mile in something ridiculous like 8:30. I really doubt that will be happening at mile 26, but even after we were finished, I felt energized and I couldn’t believe how great it went.

The next day, I got sick. So then I took more time off, then I ran again and my knee kinda hurt, blah blah blah. Sooooo, I’m just trying to embrace the taper. I felt an injury come on during taper last time, and Susan told me that it really wouldn’t hurt me to take it easier during that time, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been training for 7 months, and never missed a long run. My body knows what to do. Sorry, I have to keep reminding myself as well.

So, there you have it friends. Two weeks to go, and I’m feeling the taper craziness in full force, but I know that by this time on January 20th, it will all be worth it. I will finally  be able to call myself a marathoner, and more importantly, I will be able to rewrite my thank you notes (I wrote them after NY, but I hated how pessimistic they sounded, so I decided to wait until after the journey was complete and I could thank everyone who donated for helping me to become a marathoner), and I will be able to feel the reward of crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles. I can’t freakin’ wait.

 

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 1

Or actual marathon training week 22? No, definitely starting fresh, otherwise that will make a girl go crazy. It truly does feel like a whole new training cycle. The runs are longer and more challenging (YAY!!!), I’m training more with Nicole since the plan was always for us to train for this race together after NYC, and I have a new much more relaxed attitude about training. This week, I did something crazy and took 3 rest days, and didn’t feel the tiniest bit bad about it. After Shun the Sun, I was super sore and my body needed some extra rest, so I listened. Don’t worry, I’ll probably be back to my crazy self too, but right now I’m enjoying the break from needing to “perfect” in my training. I’ve already completed a full training cycle, and I did that pretty darn well, so I have much more confidence going into this round.

Part of the reason I felt (and honestly, I still have my moments) so devastated in New York is because I made training my entire life. While it’s great to be passionate and devoted to something you commit to, it’s not great to suck at the rest of your life, and feel empty when that thing doesn’t work out. I can’t blow everything off (including my sanity) for an other 2.5 months, so I’ve gotta change my mental game, and ya know what? The world didn’t and, and I still got all of my important runs in. Funny how that works. So here’s a look at how it all went down.

Monday: Rest. I was originally supposed to do Tuesday’s run today, but I woke up on Sunday ridiculously sore, and realized I had put a lot into my half the day before, and my body just needed a little extra rest.

Tuesday: 8 mile run. This run was AWESOME! I was so glad I took the extra day because even though I still felt a little sore and tight on Tuesday, I met up with Nicole and had the most rejuvenating run! I’d been having a hard time getting my head back in the whole marathon training game, but this totally got my there! The plan called for 3 miles easy, then 1 mile at marathon pace, 1/2 marathon pace, and 1ok pace, then 1 mile cool down. Our paces were spot on with mile 6 @ 8:58 and mile 7 @ 8:19! We finished with an average pace of 9:48. Not too shabby.

Wednesday: 4.4 mile run. We had hill repeats on the schedule, and there was no way that was happening for me, but I met up with Ashley, and did the speed workout Coach Susan usually has us do the week following a race: 10 x 1min alternating hard and easy, which for me that day translated to run fast for a minute, then walk slower than ever before for the next, but that’s okay because my fast intervals were faster than ever! Even with 10 min of walking, we covered 2.04 miles in the 20 minutes. At the beginning a had a few intervals in the low 7’s, but after that all my paces read 6:xx with the last one at 6:18! I know it’s only a minute, but a minute is longer than you would think, and that is significantly faster than the last time I did this! I was really happy!

Thursday: Rest. AKA cookie baking. That’s what rest days are for, right?

Friday: 16.1 mile run. I’m not gonna lie, this run was tough. On daily mile I said I felt “great”, but maybe I just felt happy that it was over? No, it actually was really good, but also really hard. I ran with Nicole and we were definitely pushing the pace at the end, but we talked the entire time, and I never once even thought about turning on my music! We sang to each other and had the first official meeting of GSA (Garmin Stalkers Anonymous). I even developed our serenity prayer. You do weird things when you run for 2 hours and 44 minutes. Although Nicole ran slightly less than that because we met up a little over a mile in, and that crazy girl ran her first mile in 8 minutes. I ended up with an average pace of 10:11 which is my fastest pace for a long training run over 10 miles ever. No wonder I was so sore the next day… ;)

Saturday: Rest. Necessary.

Sunday: 9 mile run. Since we long ran on Friday, we did our medium run Sunday to avoid a 4:30am Monday wake up call. It was great–no rush and a really relaxed run, which I definitely needed. We had 3 miles easy, 2 @ marathon pace, 1 easy, 2 @ marathon pace, 1 cool down. My legs were tired (when are they NOT tired during marathon training though?), but 9 miles felt strangely easy! At first it was hard to zone in on marathon pace–we were too fast, then too slow, then too fast, blah blah blah, but actually once we relaxed, stopped stalking our garmins (more GSA meetings…) and just started chatting, we gravitated towards goal pace really naturally, and it felt pretty good. I think that’s a good sign, yes?

Totals for the week:

Running: 37.55 miles
Cross training: Fail
Puppy walks: 2.
 Do those count? Let’s pretend since I have nothing else that is not running to show for my week ;) 

So I’m back in love with marathon training, failing at cross training, and currently accepting new members into Garmin Stalkers Anonymous. How’s your training going?

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.

Carbo Loading Cooking Fail

"Welcome to my house. I will obviously cook you delicious food. I write a blog about food and recipes so I promise I know how to cook!"

After a long afternoon at the race expo, I invited Kara, Nicole and Carolyn over for a pre race carbolicious dinner. Or so I thought. You see, I’m not actually a real cook. I make simple food. I can make delicious healthier versions of most staple dishes. I can get creative and even create recipes with desserts, but there are some things I should not cook. Apparently, gnocchi is one of them. First of all, delicate foods that require a soft touch and attention to detail are not my thing, but the recipe looked easy enough to I told them I would make sweet potato gnocchi.

"Welcome to my house. I will obviously cook you delicious food. I write a blog about food and recipes so I promise I know how to cook!"

Confession, I was super nervous to cook for Nicole anyway. Have you checked out her blog?! She is AMAZING! Her food is ridiculous and beautiful and she could seriously have her own bakery if she wanted! Me? I just got into cooking because I wanted to eat cheese burgers, but not be fat :) Obviously, it wasn’t long before I got down on my knees and begged asked her nicely for a hand.

"Oh good job Nicole, you just cook dinner and I will pose for pictures and pretend like I made it."

I should have known the recipe was fishy when I got the 3 lbs of sweet potatoes it called for, but then had to measure out 3.5 cups and was left with more than twice as much leftover sweet potato puree! Good thing sweet potatoes are pretty much tied with cilantro for my favorite food!

We did have fun with the whole process of getting the gnocchis in the water.

First, transfered the dough to a bag without spilling it all on the floor. This was my biggest success of the night.

This was the fun part. Minus the 3rd degree burns from the splashing boiling water. Sorry about that Nicole. You are welcome to be my guest any time.

Obviously I couldn't leave all the dangerous gnocchi dropping to her. That's just rude. Don't worry mom, I wore long sleeves!

At one point it even appeared that dinner might be awesome.

Not too bad yet, right?

But then it turned into something more like sweet potato mush. Nicole tried to save the dish, but it was a goner.

"Can I PLEASE just mush it all together?!?!?!"

Nicole was very anti mush, but finally when I proved that the dish was beyond real salvation, she caved.

Mush.

Luckily, Steve grilled some seriously amazing chicken, and I didn’t have a total evening of failure.

Asparugus sprayed with olive oil + s&p baked at 400 for 20 minutes. A winner every time. Thanks for that, Heath!

And then there was this baby that I can’t wait to break into today!

Double chocolate peanut butter cheesecake brownies. I had to make Kara and myself a congratulations treat!

Luckily, the company was top notch and they all ate my weird sweet potato mush without complaint. Good friends, I tell ya. After dinner, we all called it a night pretty early because we all had early morning (4:40 for me!) wake up calls. I spent the next few minutes laying out everything I would need for the next morning.

Clothes, new sparkly green headband made by Nicole (LOVE IT!!!), spibelt, Gu, head phones, chapstick. Garmin and ipod were charging, and bib was in the car. Whoot.

Ready to not sleep :)

RnR AZ Race Expo

LOOK!!!! It's like Disneyland!!! Actually, Peanuts characters would be Knott's Berry Farm, but it's like a THEME PARK where kids (of age and heart) can get their picture taken with the REAL CHARACTERS! Don't crush my dreams,

Well, it is going to take me so much more than just one post to cover the entire experience of this weekend. It all seems like a blur, but I will give you a tiny spoiler, and say that I am a very very happy girl today :D

Yesterday, Steve, Kara, Nicole, Carolyn and I met up to go to the race expo, and let me tell you, I was amazed!!! I mean, this is only my 4th race and it really is my first big one, but I just couldn’t believe how much there was. We ended up staying for over 3 hours! There were even real life cartoon characters!

LOOK!!!! It's like Disneyland!!! Actually, Peanuts characters would be Knott's Berry Farm, but it's like a THEME PARK where kids (of age and heart) can get their picture taken with the REAL CHARACTERS! Don't crush my dreams,

As soon as we walked in, I was totally pumped! I mean, even before I saw all the free stuff. I was getting ready to run the first big race of my life with my 3 favorite running ladies!

Kara, Me, Nicole, and Carolyn

My favorite--the real life, totally running (at like 7 min pace obviously) action shot. Can't you just feel our speediness?

We got in, got our bibs and Nicole and Carolyn got their super awesome relay drumsticks! I would love to do a relay if I get a drumstick!

Fancy.

They even had some of the medals displayed–it just made it all so real.

Mine looks like this, only blue and it says 13.1, not 26.2. Maybe next year mine will look like this???? ;)

Then, the most amazing thing happened! I found out via facebook a few days ago that my friend Becky was running the race too. Let me tell you a little bit about Becky, because she is honestly one of the kindest, most incredible and inspiring people I have ever met. She was my ballet teacher in high school and at a time where I often felt really low and badly about myself, she was a constant source of inspiration. I don’t know if she realizes just how much she has meant to me, but she is one of those people who has left a really big mark on my life. Anyway, she lives in Tucson and I haven’t seen her in years, and it was looking like I wouldn’t even be able to see her at the expo, but then I heard someone call out my name and there she was!

This is Becky. She is one of those people that is ridiculously pretty and talented, but so nice so you can't even hate her!

We didn’t get to chat for too long, but it was so amazing to get to see her even briefly and I’m sure she rocked it today!!! We’ve gotta plan ahead for the next one and run it together! :)

Next we made our way through all of the running gear and bee lined to all of the free sample stations (obviously). We even saw the dragon!

Apparently, it's the year of the drago. 8 people dressed as the dragon and ran the race. I passed them. Take that, dragon! HiiiYA!

There were also lots of other RnR medals to drool over and even the possibility to sign up for some races! I *almost* signed up for the Disneyland half marathon in September. I picked up the pen, but then decided I needed to make sure my honeymoon plans were in place and it wouldn’t conflict first, but as long as I can do it, you better believe I am there. Chase, you in??? I’ll be on your turf!

Nicole even got a chance to see the medal she’ll be getting when she does her Disney World half next month!

Nicole, I cannot wait for you to PR and get that beautiful Tinker Bell medal around your neck! You are gonna rock it!!!!

Finally, we made our way through the entire thing just in time as it was closing! Holy stuff—I could have emptied my bank account in there. The only thing I ended up buying was a 13.1 sticker for my car. I can’t wait to put that baby on today!!!!

More to come, friends!