Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all enjoy a day filled with gratitude, laughter and joy with your family and friends!

I am thankful for so many things, but on this day of giving thanks I am especially thankful for my family. It only three years ago that I spent the holiday season feeling left out of the festivities as I went through the beginning steps of my divorce. It feels like that happened forever ago in some ways. It was no secret that my family struggled with my choices and for a while we were not on good terms for nearly a year. That would have been difficult any time of the year but it was especially challenging during the holiday season. Thankfully, we have all moved past that and I feel like our relationships are stronger than they were before. I think we have all grown and learned from those difficult months. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for that. I am looking forward to visiting with my extended family tomorrow and a smaller celebration with immediate family this weekend. I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that time goes by faster every year and it’s the memories and moments we share with our loved ones that matter the most. Holding a grudge won’t get you anywhere and I’m glad I’ve been able to let go of the past and focus on and enjoy the present.

Since today is my birthday, I am going to say that I am also thankful to have been blessed with so many amazing memories in my 26th year. I am planning on doing a post about 26 next week so I won’t say too much just yet other than I can’t wait to see what 27 has in store!

thankful

Hello, hello! I can’t believe we are in Thanksgiving mode already! Where has this year gone?! This is usually one of my favorite weeks of the year as Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and my birthday falls in the holiday week most years.

This is what I’ve got planned over the next week:

  • Dinner and drinks out on Wednesday night with my siblings to celebrate my birthday
  • Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning (also my 27th birthday) followed by Thanksgiving brunch with Pete’s parents and grandma.
  • Potluck style Thanksgiving dinner with my mom’s maternal side of the family. There can be between 40-60 people on any given year, so everyone brings a dish to share.
  • Thanksgiving night tradition of watching Miracle on 34th Street by the fire at my parents, with hot chocolate and popcorn.
  • Dinner and drinks out with Pete’s best friend who lives in  Boston on Friday night. He comes home every year for Thanksgiving so this has become a Black Friday tradition. {Speaking of there will be no Black Friday shopping for this girl! I’d rather stick needles in my eyes thankyouverymuch}
  • Small Business Saturday shopping with my mom on Saturday morning. I love supporting local businesses!
  • Thanksgiving dinner / birthday dinner on Saturday night with my immediate family + some extended family at my parents.

Phew! That’s a lot to cram into a couple days. I’m responsible for making some food for these events so here is my plan for that:

  • Thanksgiving morning brunch – Oh She Glows Cookbook Baked Apple-Pear Oatmeal. I will share this recipe sometime next week. I’ve made it before and it is delicious!
  • Thanksgiving dinner (Saturday) – Brussels sprouts of some sort. I’m thinking I’m going to go the cranberry/pecan route but I’ve also considered doing some kind of bacon with them – we will see!
  • Thanksgiving dinner (Saturday) – roasted root veggies (definitely will include carrots, parsnips, beets and sweet potato). I haven’t settled on a recipe yet.
  • Thanksgiving dinner (Saturday) – box mix GF stuffing. I knew I’d already be making a few recipes for Saturday so I went the easy route and bought a couple boxes of Glutino brand stuffing. I may make both boxes as my aunt is also GF so she could eat this with me on Thanksgiving day in addition to Saturday’s festivities.
  • Thanksgiving dessert (Saturday) –  I’m not definitely making a dessert (my mom ordered me GF cupcakes) but if I have time I’m going to attempt a GF pie crust made from coconut and almonds so I can have some pumpkin pie (my favorite Thanksgiving dessert). Hopefully I have time on Friday to experiment.

Eating at family events has become pretty difficult for me with my gluten allergy. Now that I am eating meat again I do have a wider range of foods I can eat. {I still haven’t talked about why I went back to eating meat – must do soon!} But still, I have to pass on my great aunt’s famous mac & cheese and my grandma’s to-die-for apple pie. I certainly will not die if I ingest gluten so I may decide to have some apple pie – who knows how many more years I’ll have the option?

What are your plans for the holiday weekend? Are you making any dishes and if so, what are you making? What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? Mine is Miracle on 34th Street and busting out Christmas decorations on Friday!

This week I am thankful for running. You had to know that was coming, right? The last year or so has been filled with so many incredible race memories, starting with my first half marathon in Disney World and ending with my first full marathon in my home state. It’s been a wild ride. I’m thankful for the ability to run first and foremost, but I am also thankful for all of the ways running has enriched my life.

Middletown Half Marathon

Middletown Half Marathon

Running has given me:

  • self respect
  • confidence
  • determination
  • pride

These are all things I have struggled with in the past. I never thought I could run a mile, never mind 26.2. I’ve learned that I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ve learned to respect myself and my pace. Sometimes it takes me a while to remember this one but I’m getting better. I am a work in progress and it would be unrealistic to think I could run an 8 minute mile. I don’t have natural talent; I have to work at this. I’ve learned to be proud of myself and all that I’ve accomplished. In addition to gaining those things, I’ve also gained an outlet for when I’m mad, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, you name it. Running is ME time. Participating in races has become a fun (albeit expensive) hobby and I look forward to the 2015 race season.

I don’t take the ability to run for granted. The first year of this running journey was plagued with awful shin splints. It was so frustrating to want to run and not be able to. I try to be conscious of how lucky I am that my body is healthy enough to allow me to run long distances. I pretty much trained consistently for long distance from July 2013 – October 2014. That is a lot of running and a lot of miles! I’m taking it easy over the next couple months so my body has a chance to rest as I want to have another healthy year next year.

I can’t imagine my life without running. It’s become such a huge part of who I am. I am thankful every day that I decided to give the Couch to 5k program a try on January 7, 2012. It’s changed my life in so many ways.

What are you thankful for this week? How has discovering a new hobby changed your life?

 

Toady is the first day of my first Shred! I read rave reviews from both Lisa and Amber and finally decided to take the plunge and sign up. I have really taken it easy on the workout front since my marathon last month so I am looking forward to jumping back in. The timing of this Shred works perfectly as it is the running off-season and a great time for me to focus on building strength. I’m going to follow Bobbi’s intermediate 10k plan and get back into running after my month-long hiatus. My loose workout plan is to do the Shred workouts on Mon/Wed/Fri along with cardio at the gym, follow her running plan on Tues/Thurs/Sat along with at-home yoga, and I’m also planning on doing the Squat/Ab challenge too! I’m not following the meal plan exactly but I am going to aim for mostly clean eats over the next six weeks, focusing on reducing the amount of sugar I eat.

I have been struggling with body image and all that fun stuff lately. I gained about 10 lbs after Pete and I started dating, plus another 5-10ish during marathon training. My clothes feel tight. I feel heavy. I’ve been eating too much sugar. I want to be where I was when I started dating Pete but I don’t know if that will be possible. Back then I was religiously going to the gym and serious about strength training. I worked out 6 days a week for 90 minutes between my running, cross training and lifting. I never went out to eat or snacked in between meals. Lately my motivation to workout has been wavering, partly because it is the off-season and partly because I have nothing on my calendar to look forward to. No races and no vacations motivating me to look my best. Pete eats more than I do which has led to some overeating on my part and more snacking that I was used to. We go out to eat more often than I did when it was just me. I’m also getting older and I feel like my metabolism is slowing down. All of those things combined = I need to be more careful about what I put into my body. I also need to get back into a consistent workout routine. All of these factors are why I signed up for the Shred.

Life has settled down considerably in the last couple weeks. We are settled in our new home. Marathon training is over. I actually have my weekends back! I know it’s about to get busy again with the holidays but I want to make the time to focus on myself and my health. I  always feel better when I get up early, get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat clean food and workout every day. It’s not rocket science but for some reason I struggle to do all of these things every day. I don’t skip brushing my teeth or taking a shower (ok, maybe I do once in a blue moon) so why would I skip all of those things that keep me healthy and feeling good? I shouldn’t.

Yesterday I sat down with all of the information I received with the Shred, planned out my breakfasts, lunches and dinners and filled in the workout calendar with all of my notes. I didn’t do any meal prep (lazy Sunday for the win!) but I did a huge grocery haul at Whole Foods and feel really prepared for the week ahead. I’m alternating oatmeal with eggs & sweet potato for breakfast and alternating a couple of Bobbi’s lunch suggestions (chicken & salsa wraps, tuna salads, etc.) to keep it easy and simple. I don’t mind eating the same things day after day so that saves me time and money. I picked out a few recipes from my go-to cookbooks (Oh She Glows and Clean Start and Runner’s World Cookbook) for dinner this week, and we will be going to Plan B Burger Bar with friends on Friday night, but I can order my meal bun-less with a veggie side. Mentally preparing for eating out helps me to remember my goals and stick to them. I got myself out of bed at 5am this morning and made my way to the gym for 30 minutes on the elliptical and I’ll do the first Shred workout tonight when I get home, so I’m off to a good start.

My goals over the next six weeks? 1. Get back into the routine of meal planning and prepping. 2. Cut back on the added sugar I eat, but allow myself to enjoy holiday treats in moderation (my gluten allergy will probably help – this is my first holiday season knowing I have the allergy). 3. Stick to the shred workouts (minus the cardio days when I will be running). 4. Feel my best going into 2015.

I will probably need some help sticking to this and staying accountable so I will probably check in a few times between now and the end of the year.

What are you doing to stay healthy this holiday season? What do you do to stay healthy during the all-too-tempting holiday season?

This is the time of year when we focus on being grateful for what we have. I wish we could remember that feeling all year long because the truth is, we have a lot to be thankful all the time, not just in November and December. Still, it’s nice to take a few moments and appreciate all the things we are blessed with.

Bumpie❤

Today I am thankful for my grandfather. He is the only grandfather I’ve ever known. (My dad’s father was not a part of our lives and passed away when I was in 3rd grade). We call him Bumpie as the Swedish word for grandpa is ‘bumpa’ and I somehow turned that into Bumpie when I learned to talk. My grandparents were always very involved in our lives as they live a couple miles down the road. We spent most Friday nights sleeping over their house and in the morning Bumpie would make me the best scrambled eggs. I inherited my love of cats from him; even today he still cuts out cute photos of adoptable cats from the newspaper to give me. They accompanied us on all of our family vacations – Cape Cod, New Hampshire, and Disney World. He is the most patient man I know and only ever raised his voice with us once in my life (we deserved it – we were behaving terribly). He is a simple man. All he needs to be happy is a cat in his lap and a beer in his hand. He is the jokester of the family – once he brought a can of beer to church, hidden in his shirt pocket. He’s passed down a love of family heritage to us; his father came to America from Sweden, leaving several brothers and sisters behind in the old country, and we have been fortunate enough to meet many of them and connect with others through Facebook and email. He is the only family member who never wavered and constantly supported me when I went through my divorce. “You have to be happy,” is what he would say to me.

My grandpa is a ham🙂

I kept quiet about it in this space, but for the last several weeks he’s been undergoing testing to determine if a mass on his kidney was cancerous. Due to the size of the mass (it’s half the size of his kidney) the doctor said it was most likely cancer. A CAT scan showed that it was contained to the kidney and had not spread, which was good news. If it was cancer, he would not be a candidate for chemo because of his age and general health (he had a stroke two years ago and subsequent surgeries that included a triple bypass). His options would be to do nothing or to remove the kidney, but his doctors would have to clear him for that before he could make the decision for himself whether or not he wanted to remove it. Last week he underwent a biopsy to test the mass. I’ve been a ball of anxiety waiting (not so patiently) for the results.

Celebrating my grandparents 55th anniversary on 10/24

Yesterday morning my mom called me at work to tell me the biopsy results were back. It is benign! I completely lost it at work when my she told me. I’ve been preparing for the worst – even the doctor was sure it would be cancer. I am so thankful that it is not. As of right now, he doesn’t have to do anything. In six month he will go back for some testing. I am relieved that we don’t have to face some tough decisions this time of year, or any time of year for that matter! This guy means the world to me. I am thankful I was blessed to have him as my grandpa and I am thankful that he does not have cancer!

What are you thankful for today?

I cannot believe we are almost halfway through November. It really does feel like time goes by faster and faster every year. I don’t know about you, but this is one of my favorite times of the year even though it means my least favorite time of year is right around the corner (January – March and the endless cold snowy weather that isn’t as exciting after New Year’s is over). I love the holidays – planning out what I’m going to contribute to Thanksgiving, helping my dad direct the Christmas pageant at church, shopping for gifts, listening to Christmas music, the list goes on. Since my life seems to get busier with each passing month (I think I need to just accept that this is part of being a real adult, ha!) I thought I’d come up with a list of things I want to make sure I do to savor the season because it will be over in the link of an eye.

1. Make two recipes for Thanksgiving – one for brunch with Pete’s parents and one dessert with my family.

2. Run 2 holiday 5ks. Right now I’m planning on a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and a New Year’s Day 5k.

3. Drive around town and look at Christmas lights – with hot chocolate, of course!

4. Visit Hubbard Park to see the light display.

5. Make Christmas cookies for the guys at work and for Pete’s department.

6. Send Christmas cards (if you’d like one, let me know!)

7. Decorate a real Christmas tree in our new home.

8. Donate to the food pantry in town.

9. Attend the Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve services at church.

10. Decorate the house – inside and out!

11. Do a blog series about things I am thankful for (1 post per week through the end of the year).

12. Carve out time to watch a few Christmas movies on TV.

13. Make a new dish for the annual Swedish Smorgasbord on Christmas Eve.

What do you want to make sure you do this holiday season?

… or 26.54 if you want to be specific!

I think I am finally ready to share some of my post-marathon thoughts. What a crazy journey this has been.

I was never athletic. I most certainly was never a runner. I was the last person picked in gym class. I dreaded the yearly physical fitness testing that the state required – sit ups, sit and reach, push ups and the mile. I had serious anxiety about gym class when I was in middle school and high school and when I developed an eating disorder in my sophomore year it got even worse. I used to wish I was on the cross country team and I would come up with plans in my head to run a mile before school every day – plans that I never once followed through on. Even at the height of my eating disorder when I was exercising for 2-3 hours a day I never, ever ran. Not outside, not on the treadmill. I was not a runner.

When I began the process of getting divorced at the end of 2011 I lost a lot of weight. Some of it was stress related but I did intentionally restrict my calories quite a bit – not to the point of starving myself but enough to cause pretty rapid weight loss. I also started seeing a therapist around this time, at first to help me deal with the divorce, but after just a few sessions I came to the realization that I never really dealt with the emotional and mental struggles of my eating disorder. I was starting to slip back with the physical aspects too, limiting myself to 800-1000 calories a day. It was my way of dealing with the immense amount of stress and pressure I was feeling from my family surrounding the divorce. I knew I needed to come up with a way to deal with the stress in a healthier way. I felt like a huge failure. I am a type A perfectionist and getting divorced at 24 years old was making me feel like a quitter – and it didn’t help that I was hearing from many family members that I was a quitter and should have tried harder to make the marriage work.

So I decided to set out for something that always seemed unattainable – I was going to start running. I set my sights on the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January 2013 – a lofty goal looking back now. I joined the new gym that had just opening in town and did my first couch to 5k run on January 7, 2012. My mom thought I was going to spiral out of control with a gym membership but I worked with my therapist and increased my calorie intake. I knew if I wanted to run I needed to eat. Maybe this wouldn’t have worked for other people in my situation – adding exercise can be a thin line to walk, but it worked so well for me. I took my running so seriously and made sure to always eat – it actually helped me be OK with eating more calories.

I remember the day I ran 1 mile without stopping. It felt like such a feat. I ran 5 miles for the first time on Saint Patrick’s Day. Every day felt like an accomplishment. I incorporated other forms of cardio and weight lifting to balance out my running and I felt better than I’d ever felt in my life. In the spring I knew I needed to get myself outside but I was so nervous to leave the safety of my treadmill. I had no running watch so I carried my old flip phone and mapped out where mile markers would be along my route and used the timer on my phone to measure my pace. Running outside was hard. I struggled with pacing and with my breathing. I feel very self conscious. It was hard but I stuck with it. I developed shin splints that broke my heart – looking back it was probably due to overtraining and not enough stretching. I went to physical therapy but they continued to plague me for the rest of that year. Despite that I kept running, completing my first 5k in July. It was really hot and humid and the course was incredibly hilly – I think today it would still be a challenging course for me. I was disappointed with my finish time but also proud that I ran a 5k. My dad was so proud that he took a photo of me in my race t-shirt later that day and posted it to his Facebook page.

Scottish Rite 5k

My first 5k!

I ran another 5k in August and improved my time. I was still signed up for the WDW Half in January but decided to defer it due to my shin splints. I took it easy over the winter and when I jumped back into training in the spring my shins were pretty much healed. I ran a few 5ks and started training for my first half marathon in November. That training was so much fun. I never skipped a run and stuck to my plan. I was so excited and proud to run each new distance. I almost got teary the day I ran 6 miles for the first time. I was so excited to run my first half marathon. That race went horribly and I was so much slower than I had anticipated but it was still my first half marathon and I got to run it in my favorite place in the world! Crossing the finish line was a super emotional experience for me. I proudly wore that medal around the parks for the entire week we were there!

I didn’t really take a break from training over that next winter as I wanted to redeem myself with an early spring half. I trained through snow, sleet and freezing temperatures and took over 20 minutes off my finish time at my second half in March. Two weeks later I ran my third half, a spur of the moment decision because it was taking place 2 miles from my apartment and the medal featured the bridge I run over all the time. I didn’t worry about my time and just enjoyed the race. I was amazed that I ran two half marathons two weeks apart! From there, training didn’t really slow down – I’d registered for another half in June. While I was training for that half, the Hartford Marathon Foundation announced their new title sponsor, Northeast Utilities. I work for a subcontractor for NU so I was excited that it was a company I’m very familiar with. I signed up that same day, May 14. I went on a four mile run that night and got emotional thinking about how far I’d come. I wasn’t sure yet how on earth I was going to complete 26.2 miles but I knew I was going to try my hardest.

The June half brought another PR. I had a week to recover from that before I started training for the full. I was nervous about the intensity of the plan, unsure how I would complete 8 mile runs mid-week. I ended up reducing some of the runs and neglected to do any speed work after the first couple weeks of training. My life got a lot more hectic as Pete and I made the decision that he would move in with me, rent out his condo and all that fun stuff. We added packing, moving and home improvements to our weekly to-do lists so training had to be toned down a bit. Around the same time my grandmother moved into assisted living and we had an opportunity to move into her home so my dad could insure it. Training for the marathon took a major back seat and while I completed most of my runs, I worried that I wasn’t doing enough to prepare.

Training for 26.2 is a totally different ballgame than training for 13.1 It takes a lot more time and a lot more motivation, both of which I lacked with everything else I had going on. The long runs are a huge mental challenge. I didn’t run my last 3 long runs of 14, 12 and 10 miles. My mid-week runs dropped to 3-4 miles for the second half of training. On paper, I was very unprepared for the race.  Maybe that is why I was slower on race day than my long runs predicted. I set my goals to finish with a loose idea of where I hoped to finish in the back of my mind.

Race day arrived with lots of rain and colder-than-predicted temperatures. It was the worst possible weather for race day. Somehow I was pretty relaxed about it because really, what could I do about the weather? You already know all about how the race went. It’s taken a while for everything to sink in.

I ran a marathon.

 

I never in a million years thought I would be able to make that statement. I may not have finished under 5 hours like I’d hoped, but I sure as hell finished that race. I ran for 5 hours and 13 minutes and lived to tell about it. I finished strong, too. My last two splits were the fastest ones I ran all day. I ran through that finish chute with a smile on my face wildly waving to my parents. I ran the second half of the race with no fuel other than sips of water and some flat soda at the end and I avoided the wall despite not taking in any calories after mile 14! I ran for ten miles with unbelievable nausea. I ran in horrible, cold, rainy weather, the worst weather I’ve ever had to run in, and I ran in that weather for longer than I’ve ever run before.

When I think about running that marathon and all the cards stacked against me before and during the race, and the fact that I finished, it directly correlates to the hardest obstacles in my life. Eight years ago I was in the hospital receiving treatment for my eating disorder. Three years ago my life was falling apart and I was in the middle of a divorce. I felt like a failure and a quitter. Running became my therapy and it pulled me away from falling back into old habits of restricting to deal with things I didn’t want to face. While I constantly wish I could run faster, when I think about everything I’ve overcome to get to this point I can’t help but be so proud of myself. I used to be so terrified of a mile and now I know I can run 26 of them back to back in awful conditions.

It was less than a year ago when I ran my first half marathon. In the year since, I’ve run a total of five half marathons, a 20k and a full marathon. That’s a lot of long distance running for one year! Since I started this running journey I’ve run nine 5ks, two 5k+ races, two 5 milers, two 10ks, one 10 miler, one 20k, five half marathons and one full marathon for a total of 23 races. Not too shabby! I’ve proved to myself I can do hard things: I can survive an eating disorder, I can survive divorce, I can survive a marathon. I can survive anything. I can’t wait to train for another marathon one day. Maybe it will be next year, maybe it will be a couple years from now. I can’t predict the future but I know this much: I will be running another full one day.

I still don’t view myself as a runner. I wonder when it will sink in that I am, in fact, a runner. In many ways, I don’t feel like I ran a marathon, mostly because part of me believed for so long that I never would be capable of that distance. The NU Hartford Marathon changed my life. I left it all out on the race course, gave it everything I had. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but also the most rewarding. I think my feelings on running my first full marathon can be summed up with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite people:

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Walt Disney

thankful

Feeling… relieved that Pete has gotten a tenant to rent his condo. He originally listed it for sale over a year ago. After six months with no offers we decided to list it as a rental. We updated the bathroom and replaced all of the carpets and put a fresh coat of paint up. For three months it sat on the rental market and we’ve lowered the price considerably, so now the rent will only cover his mortgage, not the condo association fee, but it’s better than nothing!

Thinking…about all the renovation projects I want to do. First up is the full bathroom! I am not sure yet if we are going to wait until we close on the house (six months from now) or if we’ll start making improvements earlier than that.

Reading… I’m kind of in between books right now. I started one over the weekend but I really have no desire to pick it back up yet.

Watching… lots of HGTV! I did not have cable for the three years I lived in my apartment. Pete is a huge sports fan so we upgraded to DirecTV when we moved into the house. I’m also loving having TLC and Hallmark – just in time for sappy holiday movies!

Anticipating… the holiday season. I love this time of year. My birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year which is not my favorite but it will be fun to see all of my family members on my birthday. I’ll also get to run a 5k on my birthday which will be fun. My parents usually direct the Christmas pageant at my church so I’m looking forward to helping out with that again along with all of the other fun Christmas related activities that happen this time of year.

Listening to… Fleetwood Mac. I saw them perform on November 1st. I actually saw them last year but it was wicked cool to see the whole band together. Christine McVie re-joined the band this year so it was basically a dream come true to see them all together. Her song “Everywhere” was number one the day I was born so it was so special to see that live.

Planning…my race schedule for next year! I am pretty sure I want to give the Hartford Marathon one more shot but I also want to shoot for a half marathon PR. We kept saying all this year that we wanted to spend next year doing shorter races that don’t require as much training but now that I’ve run one marathon I want to do it again!

Sad… I have a few family members going through two really tough things. I’m sad for them that they are going through this and sad for me as I try to accept that things will be different and not the way I want them to be going forward.

truth

Trying…to figure out how to keep Simba occupied in the middle of the night. He wakes us up every night between 2-4 in the morning meowing and getting into things in our room. I think he is bored and wants to play. I normally end up shutting the door when he gets going but I don’t like doing that as Nala likes to sleep with us and it’s not fair to shut her in (where she has no access to food/water/litter box) or out of the room. I’ve tried making sure their food bowls are full just in case he was doing it out of hunger (another thing I don’t want to continue doing as Marley is overweight and I don’t want him to have access to food all night).

Realizing… that things always have a way of working out in the end.

Wanting… a new laptop. Since Simba chewed my battery cord I’ve been thinking about just getting a new laptop on Cyber Monday rather than paying for a new battery.

Grateful… for so many things. I’m grateful that I have a warm home, enough money to pay my bills, plenty of food to eat, a stockpile of books to read this winter, four warm and fuzzy kitties to snuggle with, a boyfriend who supports me no matter what, and a family that I love more than anything. All too often I forget how blessed I am to live this life of mine.

Loving… all of the apple baking I’ve been doing! I made applesauce from scratch over the weekend along with an apple/maple oatmeal bake that we have been having for breakfast this week. Applesauce is so easy to make (once you get past peeling the apples) and tastes infinitely better than the stuff sold in stores!

What are you thinking, reading and loving these days?

I feel like it has been ages since I’ve written a proper blog post. Luckily life is slowing down a bit and I’m trying to get back into my normal routines. I’ve totally fallen off the monthly goal bandwagon but it’s not too late to hop back on! This was one of my 2014 resolutions so even though I didn’t set goals in October or take my September goals seriously, there are still two more months to go before the year ends so I can finish out the year strong.

In November I want to:

1. Meal plan.
2. Drink more water.
3. Read 3 books.
4. Create and stick to a workout plan.

Meal planning has been nonexistent for the last couple months. If I don’t meal plan, I don’t eat well and have no motivation to cook. Pete cooks dinner more often than I do, but I do the bulk of the grocery shopping so meal planning is really helpful for both of us.

Drinking water basically flew out the window after the marathon was over. I got a really nice water bottle at the marathon that fits 28 ounces of water. My goal is to fill that up and drink one during the work day, in addition to 12 ounces with each meal.

Reading has also taken a backseat over the last couple months. I only read one book in October and it was super short. I’d like to read 3 books this month. It definitely helps me relax and I think I sleep better when I spend 20-30 minutes reading rather than scrolling through my phone right before going to bed.

Working out is always a challenge when I don’t have a goal to work towards. I’m planning on running a half marathon in April of 2015 but won’t need to start training for that until the end of January so I’m kind of in a weird place right now. I’ve got a couple holiday 5ks planned but other than that I have nothing on my calendar. I’d like to spend this off-season working on losing the weight I’ve gained and building strength. I know it’s important to take it easy for a couple months but I really wish there were more distance races in my area over the winter months. I want to create some kind of plan and stick with it over the next few weeks – maybe I’ll motivate myself with some kind of reward at the end of the month?

So there are my goals for November. Should be easy enough now that I don’t have a massive race to train for and a house to move into : ) Speaking of, we are loving being in the house finally! I am hoping to do a tour of the house soon, especially because we have updates we want to do in virtually every room so it will be fun to have a record of all the transformations. We have a huge living room, three bedrooms, 1 full bath, 1 half bath with the laundry, a good size dining room and an extra room that could be another bedroom or an office. Right now it’s the cat’s room. There is also a huge basement that we want to finish, right now we are using it to store boxes that are not unpacked and some extra furniture. When we finish it off Pete and my dad have plans to build a brew room for their beer brewing hobby. Should be fun! The yard needs a lot of work. My grandmother was an avid gardener but over the last few years she couldn’t keep up with it so there is a lot of overgrowth for us to deal with. There’s a nice deck off the dining room that we want to expand on and eventually put in a hot tub. The first renovation we want to do is the full bathroom. My dad told us the tub has not been done since the 1970s so that’s first on our list! Luckily my dad can do almost every renovation we want, so that will save us a lot of money and we’ll be able to learn from him.

Stripping wallpaper - day one of four!

Stripping wallpaper – day one of four!

I mentioned in my last post that we  have acquired another kitty. My grandma had two that she tried to bring with her to the assisted living facility but it wasn’t working out. My aunt took one of them and I took the other. Simba is from the same litter as my parents cat Mia which is fun. They have similar mannerisms and personalities and even though their facial features are pretty identical. Simba will turn two in March so he’s still got quite a bit of energy and playfulness in him. He doesn’t always understand that Milo and Marley don’t want to play ALL THE TIME. Nala has been a good friend for him since she tends to be more active than the boys, but even she doesn’t want to play as often as Simba does. It’s been fun to see Simba back in his house – he really came out of his shell once we moved him back there; he’s like a different cat. Simba has a chewing fetish which has been an expensive struggle for us. We bought 100 feet of this PVC cord to cover all of our electronics with. It seems to be working so far but we have to be really careful about leaving cords out as he seems to have a sixth sense for them. He has some burn marks on his gums which is probably from chewing cords that were plugged in at my grandmas – I can’t understand why he wouldn’t stop after having that happen to him! Hopefully we rid him of this bad habit soon. Other than that, he’s been a great addition to our family and I am secretly excited to have a Simba to go with my Nala.

Simba and Nala, my Lion King kitties!

Simba and Nala, my Lion King kitties!

Speaking of Nala, I’ve entered her in a contest with my local cat rescue group. If she wins she will be on the cover of their 2015 calendar! Vote for her here!

Official Race Photo!

Official Race Photo – running towards the finish line!

And just like that we are at the end of October! I feel like time has flown by this month. It’s been nearly three weeks since I became a marathoner. In that time I’ve done zero workouts but I am fully moved into our new house so while it’s been incredibly hectic, it’s also been a very productive few weeks. I’ve been wanting to write my marathon recap but a certain little kitty has chewed through my laptop cord so I have been without a computer. I don’t think I’ve even been able to share that I inherited my grandma’s cat – he’s a littermate to my parent’s cat Mia, so he’s about a year and a half old and quite energetic! In addition to chewing my laptop cord he’s also chewed through my iPhone charger, a cable wire and my brother’s iPhone charger and laptop cord. So needless to say, in addition to being super busy packing, moving and unpacking, getting on my computer to write has been a bit of a challenge.

I am a marathoner!!!

I am a marathoner!!!

I cannot believe it’s been nearly three weeks since the NU Hartford Marathon. I was pretty nervous the week leading up to the race but surprisingly calm the night before and the morning of the race. I left work early the day before so we could check out the expo and that helped to pump me up a little bit. Downtown Hartford was decked out with Hartford Marathon signs and that was awesome to see. Pete and I each got long sleeved HMF pullovers as a Christmas gift to each other. They say “Run Hartford 26.2” on them which is cool. We were not thrilled with the finisher’s shirts this year so we decided to buy something to celebrate the occasion. I have to say I was a bit nervous about buying these before officially running 26.2 – this becomes important later on! We got some freebies at the expo as we were walking around. My favorite was an organic, GMO-free, gluten-free, soy-free protein shake from Organic Valley. We stopped to chat with the two girls running the booth for  a bit and they ended up giving us a few bottles to take home! Super fun. We also got a nifty key holder that attaches to your shoe which is nice for the days when I don’t feel like wearing my SPIbelt.

After leaving the expo we went home, ate dinner and called it an early night. We stopped quickly at my parents so my mom and dad could each write out a quote on my forearm for me to glance at during the tougher moments of the race. Later on I was so glad I had them do that. I’d laid out my clothes the day before along with my fuel for the race, my CamelBak, water bottle, and good luck charm (I’ve carried it during every race since my first half marathon last year). Knowing I was all ready to go helped me relax and actually fall right to sleep. I’ve had issues in the past with being up all night prior to a race but like I said, I was feeling super calm about everything, despite the horrible weather predictions. So odd! I still don’t understand it.

Since the race was only 20 minutes away we didn’t have to get up that early. The race started at 8am, so we were up at 5-5:30 with the goal to leave by 6:30. As always I was running a bit late and we left 15 minutes later than planned but it worked out fine because of the weather. I wouldn’t have wanted to hang around for a long time in the rain. We parked and made it over to the bathrooms with just barely enough time. My parents, sister and aunt found us while we were waiting in line. I felt so bad for them – it sucked that it was raining for us runners but I think standing around in the rain for our spectators was probably worse. I gave everyone hugs and they wished us luck and said they would be somewhere between miles 4-6. One thing I did regret about arriving later than normal is that the port-a-potty was out of toilet paper. I usually remember to bring some just in case but I didn’t this day. Ugh. Luckily I was wearing a trash bag over my clothes to stay dry as long as possible so I ripped that up a little…things I never thought I’d do! Being a runner has definitely forced me to get creative! After that we were literally running to the starting line a couple blocks away and missed the National Anthem and all that stuff, but like I said, it was pouring rain and freezing cold so it worked in the sense that I wasn’t sitting around thinking about running for 5+ hours in the cold rain. I didn’t get ANY pictures before the race! I’m kind of bummed about that but it was too much trouble to get my phone out and I was trying to keep my phone dry. I broke a cardinal running rule and wore something new on race day – a baseball hat. With the heavy rain I really wanted to keep the water out of my eyes so I wore my Disney Vacation Club hat. It ended up not bothering me at all so that was good.

I was so pumped up as we were running over to the starting line. The three guys I was running with…not so much! It was funny because I am usually the one grumbling “why are we doing this???” before a race. The announcer kept saying “who is running their first marathon?!” which got me so excited. I mean, you only run your first marathon once, right? I was so excited to get going and so proud of myself for being at the starting line of a marathon. Me! The non-athlete! Running a marathon! It was an awesome feeling.

My running crew :)

My running crew🙂

The full and half started together and stuck together for about a mile or so. I ran with Pete, his friend Ant and Ant’s uncle Pat. Pete is the fastest while the rest of us run similar paces. Pete stuck with us for 1/2 – 3/4 of a mile before he took off. It was weird knowing he would be ahead of us, even though this is how we typically run races together. I was almost worried about him even though I knew he’d be fine. I was feeling really good at the start of the race but we kept our pace slower than normal to save our legs for the second half. We made it our goal to stay in the 11 minute range and I glanced down at my watch every so often to keep an eye on pace. The weather definitely sucked. The air temperature was about 20 degrees colder than the forecast predicted so I was very underdressed. I kept my throw away long sleeve shirt on at the start and wore it for a few miles. I would have kept it on the whole time but the rain made it feel so heavy so it started to annoy me. I really liked the first half of the course. We started in front of the state capitol, out through a park along the Connecticut River, back into the city before heading out of the city for a looooong out and back. The first ten miles were a lot of fun. I loved running along the riverfront park – it would have been even better if the sun was out! Since we were keeping a nice slow pace it was easy to chat with each other and the runners around us. There weren’t really any major hills – a couple small ones but it’s New England and virtually impossible to find a race that is totally flat. I started fueling right around mile 4 with a couple Honey Stinger gels and took 2 more every 2 miles until the halfway point. I also alternated Gatorade and water at every aid station – they were pretty much in between each mile marker. I love when races do that rather than put them at each mile marker – it gives you something to look forward to every half mile or so. The volunteers at the aid stations and various points along the course were awesome. There weren’t as many spectators as I’d expected, likely due to the rain, so the volunteers really made a huge difference for me especially during the long, boring out and back portion of the race.

 Mile 1: 11:18   Mile 2:   11:06  Mile 3: 11:29    Mile 4: 11:27    Mile 5: 11:05

I saw my family around mile 5. I handed off my wet shirt to my mom right away but I didn’t really stop to chat. My dad had this huge red horn that belongs to my brother and I could hear him blowing it for a good quarter mile which made me laugh. With the out and back part of the course, I knew I wouldn’t see my family again until the finish but I had Pete’s parents waiting for us around the halfway point which gave me something to look forward to. After passing my parents we headed onto the Founder’s Bridge to head out of the city – I knew the next time I ran on the bridge I’d be a mile from the finish!

 Mile 6: 11:01    Mile 7: 11:08   Mile 8: 11:11    Mile 9: 11:31   Mile 10: 11:23

We ran through some residential neighborhoods in East Hartford before starting the out and back into South Windsor at mile 10. (Side note: it seemed crazy to me that I was running in 3 different towns!) We had to run 7 miles out and 7 miles back. If it hadn’t been raining this would have been a really nice run because it takes you down Main St where there are gorgeous old homes and really pretty fall foliage. Plus this section of the race was very flat which was a bonus! I started to have some stomach issues halfway through mile 11 that plagued me for the rest of the race. At mile 12 I stopped to use the bathroom hoping it would put an end to the cramping. It did stop the cramping but then I felt depleted and really low on energy. At the halfway point we walked for the first time (other than through aid stations to drink water). We fueled and hydrated while we walked and commiserated over how this was starting to feel hard. It was tough to start running again, and when I did I started to feel really nauseous. I do not handle nausea well at all and often pass out when it gets bad. (I have a condition where I pass out very easily – I know my triggers: extreme pain and nausea are the two biggest ones). I got very quiet at this point (up until this point we had been chatty the entire time) and the race became a huge mental battle. I also started to feel so cold around this point. It was still raining, too, but I am not sure if it was the rain or the nausea that made me shiver. It rained all that way through the end of mile 24.

Mile 11: 11:25   Mile 12: 11:05   Mile 13: 12:14   (bathroom break!) Mile 14: 11:41 (and so begins the nausea…)

Moments after my finish - hugging my favorite guy!

Moments after my finish – hugging my favorite guy!

I was nervous about the nausea causing me to pass out – I’d never, ever experienced this while running before. Stomach cramps and having to go to the bathroom? Yes. Feeling like I was going to vomit for ten continuous miles? Never. It was awful. I stopped taking in Gatorade because I thought since it wasn’t hot and sunny, maybe I took in more sugar than I needed to, causing the nausea? I also stopped taking in fuel because I was so nervous that anything other than water would make it worse. I saw Pete’s parents at mile 14 and tried to put on a brave face but I’m told that I looked awful. Not surprised, I felt pretty dang awful. I was mad because my legs still felt good. It was so frustrating. I held on a little bit longer knowing I would soon see Pete after he hit the turnaround point. A spectator yelled out to me “Yay DVC! Cool!” referring to my Disney Vacation Club hat – that was pretty fun! I kept walking through the aid stations but walked slower than normal and a little bit longer than I had been. Around mile 15 Ant went off ahead of us – I was proud that we stuck together for 15 miles! His uncle and I stayed together the entire rest of the race – I was so thankful to have someone with me when the miles got ugly later on.

Mile 15: 11:46    Mile 16: 11:51    Mile 17: 13:06   Mile 18: 12:51

I saw Pete about a half mile later. He looked awesome! All smiles! I could barely muster a smile for him. He later said he knew I was struggling just based on my expression. I was so happy for him in that moment but I also felt a lot of jealousy that a.) he was so far ahead of me (even though I knew he would be) and b.) that he felt and looked so much better than I did. Shortly after I saw Pete I started walking for 1-2 minutes at every aid station. I felt so awful. Pat and I talked each other into running again at the end of every walk break. It was around this point that I knew I wouldn’t make my 5 hour goal, let alone my 4:45 goal. I told myself I just needed to finish – that’s all that really matters, right? I started to focus on the turnaround point – mile 17. It would feel like I was headed back into the city, which I was, and I’d start running by people who were slower than me. It was tough to see so many fast runners on the opposite side of the road for 7 miles. It’s no secret that I am embarrassed about my lack of speed during many races. I am so competitive with myself and with people that I have no business competing with and I often forget that finishing is the main goal. Anyway, it was a confidence booster for me to not only see that I am in fact faster than some people and also to see that there were people in much worse shape than me who were not giving up. My legs started to feel the normal long-run soreness but nothing hurt to the point where my legs felt like they couldn’t keep going – just my stomach!

Mile 19: 13:05   Mile 20: 12:47    Mile 21: 12:52    Mile 22: 11:37

I started seeing warning signs about the vans that would pick up runners after X:XX time. Even though I knew I would make it under 6 hours with no problem it still freaked me out. I was so tempted to stop at every aid station and ask to be picked up. I contemplated making myself throw up on the side of the road. Honestly, I think I would have felt so much better. I kept gurgling/burping so maybe I had swallowed a bunch of air? I’m not used to talking so much during my runs? All these thoughts ran through my head trying to explain the nausea but I guess I will never know what caused it.  At mile 19 I had a talk with myself. I spent $60 on that “Run 26.2” pullover. If I stopped I would never be able to wear it. I am a major cheap skate and hate to waste money so this motivated me for a little while. I spent a lot of time staring at my forearm and the words my parents wrote for me. From mom: “When your legs get tired, run with your heart.” I changed out legs for stomach, ha! From dad: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Those words helped me hang on.

Mile 23: 12:56   Mile 24: 12:20   Mile 25: 11:21   Mile 26: 10:49    Last .54!: 9:30

With my dad in the Mile 27 Beer Garden!

With my dad in the Mile 27 Beer Garden!

At mile 20 I knew I would finish and my attitude improved dramatically and my walk breaks decreased in length. “We only have a 10k left,” we kept repeating to each other. It was surreal after mile 20 because I’d never run further than that. I felt like I’d accomplished something major just by getting to the 21 mile marker. At that point I knew I was only a mile away from The Candy Stand at mile 22 where volunteers would be handing out candy (no thanks) and flat soda – I could not wait for that. I took two cups and sipped it slowly while I walked. I’d never tasted anything so good before and I am not a soda person. It wasn’t totally flat which I was thankful for as it helped me to gurgle up some more air and by mile 24 my nausea was gone. Thank goodness! The rain also stopped at mile 24 so I felt like a million bucks. Sure, my legs hurt pretty badly (my legs felt great until I got to 20 miles) and I was still cold, wet and exhausted but I knew I was almost done. We were headed back into Hartford and the crowds got a little better.

At mile 25 we were running on the Founder’s Bridge and cars on the other side of the bridge were beeping and cheering, plus there were tons of people lined up on our side cheering. It was awesome… one of my favorite race moments. I’d read that this was the hardest part of the race because the bridge is uphill but nothing was stopping me at that point. I ran the whole freaking bridge with a smile on my face. Being in the heart of the city was incredible – such a major difference from the quiet residential streets of the out and back. Spectators make a world of difference for me. As we got closer to Bushnell Park and the Capitol area spectators and runners who’d finished would yell out how much was left which I actually like. I ended up running 1/3 mile longer than 26.2 because of weaving so I couldn’t tell based on my watch exactly what was left.

I was about a half mile from the finish when I saw my aunt and my sister. I kept it together the entire race until I saw them – I totally lost it! My aunt was yelling “you’re doing it! Don’t stop, you’re almost at the finish!” and the tears started. I couldn’t even say anything to them – I just smiled through the tears and high fived both of them. Seeing them meant so much to me – I was not expecting them to be there at all. My aunt suggested they wait for me there and my parents stayed at the finish line and I’m so, so glad she had that idea. It gave me such a huge surge of energy to get through the finish. I rounded a couple more corners and finally could see the finishers chute, which was lined with beautiful autumn mums. I spotted Pete on the right side of the chute and waved like a mad person at him. He pointed to my left where my parents were and I got to see them too! It was incredible. I don’t even have words to describe it. I was so thankful I got to see each of my family members at the end. I was fighting back tears as I sprinted to the finish line, and heard the announcer say my name as I officially became a marathoner. Surreal. I couldn’t believe I did it. I finished in 5:13:46 and given the horrid weather and massive amounts of nausea for almost half of the race I am thankful just to have finished.

Marathon Finishers!

Marathon Finishers!

Pat and I tried to figure out where to go. We were handed heat wraps right away – oh, I loved that heat wrap! We were lead around a corner to get our medals and then two seconds later my aunt and sister walked over and the hugs started! Soon after my parents and Pete found us. Hugs all around! I was so happy I was practically in tears again. I was almost delirious –  I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the finisher’s chute so I was hugging everyone over the fence. I wasn’t hungry at all but knew I needed to eat (and poor Pete had been done for almost 45 minutes by the time I finished – he was starving) so we made our way to the food tent. I couldn’t eat a lot of the post race food but luckily they had GF granola bars, bananas and more of the protein shakes that I had at the expo, which was plenty for me as I never have an appetite after running. Pete got to enjoy grilled cheese and hot soup! Yum.

My legs were definitely tight and sore once I stopped running. I remember asking if I could walk around because standing still hurt my legs. We decided to get beers at the mile 27 beer garden but headed home soon after. I was so cold and dreaming of a hot shower! The walk to the car felt never-ending but I was glad to be moving. It’s funny how quickly your body shuts down – just an hour before I was running and on the trek back to the car I felt like I could barely walk! My sister drove us home, thank goodness. We didn’t think ahead about how neither of us would feel like driving after the race. I tried to nap that afternoon but was too wired. I felt so cold for a good 24 hours after the race ended – I’m  not sure if that’s a result of the cold rainy weather or the longer distance? It’s never happened to me before. I also came down with a nasty cold the week after the marathon – I did read that your immune system is a bit suppressed following marathon races but I am sure running in the rain for 5 hours didn’t help! It took five whole days to move normally again. That first day my shins and ankles hurt a lot but for 4 days after, my quads bothered me more than anything. My arms actually felt sore for a couple days because I was hauling myself up the stairs using my arms, ha! I got my first black toenail during the marathon! I also had some of the worst chafing ever on the underside of my left boob. It was very strange. I almost ended up going to the doctor because it looked infected a couple days post-race but luckily it cleared up on it’s own. I have a lovely scar there now.

My sister braved the elements to watch us run!

My sister braved the elements to watch us run!

Today marks three weeks since the race and I went back to the gym for the first time this morning. The first week I used the “I just ran a marathon” excuse, the second week I was sick with that cold and the third week I was moving so that counts a little, yes? Yes. ! I feel like there is more to say about achieving this goal, but this post is already ready crazy long. I’ll be back with a post on my post-race thoughts soon!

Official stats:
26.2 miles in 5:13:46; 11:59 pace; 2183/2419 overall; 951/1070 female; 139/156 females 25-29.

Garmin stats:
26.54 miles in 5:11:46; 11:45 pace.

Hi, I'm Emilie. I'm a 26 year old cat lady that loves to run, eat dark chocolate and read books. In this space I talk a lot about my races, my cats and food because, well, who doesn't love to talk about food? Thanks for stopping by!

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30 weeks! I can't believe we are here already. No matter how much I sleep I'm always exhausted. Rolling over/getting out of bed is a joke and Pete is officially helping me with shoes that don't slip on. Sciatica pain is back (only on one side 🙌🏻) and I've started to accept that I am going to feel like a walrus until Noah is born. Pregnancy is not my cup of tea BUT! Feeling him roll around and kick and respond to our voices is the most magical thing in the world and I will gladly deal with all of the annoying and painful stuff in exchange for those movements. We have a c-section date scheduled and are counting down the days until we meet our little boy. Noah, mama loves you more than all the stars in the sky and all the fish in the sea. Keep growing little man! 💙👶🏼💙 My sweet sidekick. 💕 There are three types of friends in life: friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime. So thankful for a night with my 'lifetime friends' celebrating the newest Mr & Mrs! 💍 How lucky are we to have had the last 20+ years together?! Here's to 20 more! 💕 I used to come home from Barnes and Noble with 3+ books for myself. Now I come home with cat books for Noah to read 🐱📚 We signed him up for the kids reward program and he's already halfway to his first $5 gift card! 💕👶🏼
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