2016 :: The Pursuit of Happiness

To say I’m happy to have 2015 in the rearview mirror would be the understatement of the century. I’ve never been one to wish a year would end, but after so many consecutive good ones I suppose it was inevitable. The latter half of the year was better than the former but still felt myself anxious for the moment the calendar would flip over to 2016.

There are few people I’d book a flight across the country for on two days’ notice and this girl is one of them. On Tuesday night we researched the shit out of flights and eventually I booked myself a flight to Florida for New Years Eve afternoon. It was a bit risky arriving at 9:30pm but even after an hour-long baggage delay we still made it back to the party with plenty of time before the ball drop.

NYE

New Years Day was spent the way it should be: on the couch in pajamas. I’ve never enjoyed sweatpants so much as I did that day – and mimosas, many mimosas were had. Eventually we did get our shit together and put on real clothes for a delicious dinner at KASA. I’d show you photos of the million dishes we ordered but they’re currently being held hostage by my microSD card which I currently can’t find the adapter for. #firstworldproblems

Saturday we managed to convince ourselves [around noon, mind you] to go for a five-mile run. It didn’t feel like the right decision at the time but afterwards it was nice knowing we had done something productive other than put a dent in Paula + Fabian’s liquor cabinet. There was more lounging [YES!] and then made ourselves presentable [why is this always a struggle?] for an evening of German food. Despite my love for all things food-related, I had never had an authentic German meal. Willow Tree did not disappoint – except for those pseudo-Jager shots, could have done without those. But, when in Rome Germany…

Saturday Night

On our way home I suggested we swing into this country bar, The Barn, for “just one drink”. I’m sure you can imagine how that went. Despite me being the only country fan in the group, we somehow stayed many hours and spent a sizeable portion of that time on the dance floor. Or maybe that was just me. The world will never know.

so many rhinestones

I’m super happy I talked myself into making in impractical decision and kicked off the new year in Florida. Hopefully this will set the tone for the rest of 2016 and if all goes well, I’ll be making it an annual trip. Paula – please book my room accordingly.

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Last weekend I ran my first race since… the Houston Marathon? Which I still haven’t recapped, but maybe someday. And I did run Ragnar Vegas in December but that was more of a team event than a solo one. It was fantastic to finally pin on a bib again and run my ass off. I haven’t really felt like racing since 2012; every time I hit the starting line it was underwhelming and the idea of running hard was just something I did because I had been doing it for several years prior. Running had lost its luster for me.

But Sunday was different. I had no plan to PR since I’m not quite in PR-shape yet [but getting there]. My only goal was to push the pace a little and see where I am at fitness-wise. It ended up being a pretty solid progression run, starting in the upper 10s and finishing just below 9. I was passing people the entire time and despite the pace being a little faster than I’m used to, I didn’t slow down or ever consider taking a walk break. Like I said, no PR here, but it was the fastest 10K I’ve run in five years. And that’s something I’m really proud of. Hopefully this is a sign of great things to come on the running front considering I have four half marathons coming up in the next three months. Never said I was the brightest crayon in the box.

Rogue 10k

So maybe 2015 was a total shitshow of a year. And maybe it’s one I’d sooner like to forget. But it was filled with a lot of lessons learned and a lot of growing up. A lot of learning what I want out of life and what I don’t. I think it’s primed me for a stellar [knock on wood] 2016 and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the months ahead.

Things I’m Loving Lately

Lately I really like lists [you should see my color-coded to-do list] and I’ve been pretty lazy about taking photos. So here’s a lovely list of things I’m loving lately without any photos. You’ve been warned. But at least I bolded the items, so you can pick and choose what you want to read. What can I say, I’m a giver.

Orangetheory Fitness – I’ve never been a huge fan of group exercise classes. Most of my experience is based on classes offered at my current gym, like Body Pump + RPM, where you have to sign up 30 minutes beforehand. There’s a very slim chance of me making it to the gym 30 minutes prior to a class, especially if it’s in the morning where I value sleep or after work when I don’t have a set “end time” to my day. The classes always felt overcrowded and the clientele was clique-y. Not really my thing. Needless to say, I never went out of my way to get there. Lora had been posting a lot about supplementing her running routine with Orangetheory Fitness so I reached out to pick her brain about the pros/cons. She sold me on it immediately and only a few days later I took advantage of their free class offer. I was HOOKED. Sixty minutes have never flown by so fast. I’ve been a member for three weeks now and each class is completely different. It forces me to do strength training but also lets me run – ahem, sprint – during the hour as well. Sprinting at a 15% incline is absolutely miserable but I’ve seen a ton of improvement in daily runs since incorporating OTF into my workout schedule. Your heart rate [as well as everyone else’s] is up on a giant screen for you to check periodically and make sure you’re pushing yourself enough. Every night walking out of there I want to die from feeling destroyed, but by the time I get home I’m pumped for the next class. You have to sign up for classes in advance and it forces me to leave work at a reasonable hour [this is subjective … I go to the 8pm class, so you do the math] to be able to attend. If you don’t cancel a class with enough notice, you’re charged for the class anyway. This is key in keeping me accountable. I have an Elite Membership which is 8 classes per month, however I want to use them. I’ve been doing Tuesday / Thursday classes religiously and it works great with my schedule. Worth every damn penny.

 

Heart Rate Training – Not going to lie, I’ve always been a slave to the Garmin. For some reason pace is super important to me and as much as I try that whole “running on feel” thing – it doesn’t happen. But once I started focusing on my heart rate in Orangetheory, I realized it would probably be in my best interest to use this on daily runs. I set up my Garmin to only show HR and I begrudgingly wear that damn strap every time I lace up my running shoes. I’ve noticed my pace drop now that I’m more aware of how hard I’m working. This is completely different than staring at my watch and either cursing my slow pace or talking myself out of a faster one. This takes the guessing game out of everything pace-related. I’m a big fan.

 

Saucony Running Shoes – It would be impossible to count on both hands the number of running shoes I’ve been through over the past few years. From Asics to Mizunos to Brooks to New Balance to Skechers, I’ve had [multiple] pairs of each. In 2014 I finally tried the Saucony Guide 7 and they were everything I needed in a running shoe. I added my trusted green SuperFeet inserts and they were perfect. PERFECT. The lower drop helped me adjust my running form and quit the dreaded heel-strike. When I needed a pair of shoes for trail running, I went to the Saucony Peregrine. When I needed a pair of shoes with a little more cushion for long runs, I went to the Saucony ISO Triumph. When I needed a pair of shoes light enough for sprints + strength training in OTF, I went to the Saucony Mirage. Seeing a pattern here?

 

Non-Running Shoes – For some reason, I’ve been really into shoes over the past few months. This could probably be attributed to the number of fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram, specifically Emily Ann Gemma. It’s likely I’ll never be able to afford a majority of the items she owns but the shoes? I can afford the shoes. My current favorite pair is the Steve Madden Keenia, an obnoxiously tall wedge which increases my height by five inches and are surprisingly comfortable. I wore them out for a night of gallivanting around the streets of downtown Austin and for once in my life didn’t feel like throwing them in the garbage by the time 2am rolled around. These come in a close second – they pretty much go with everything. I won’t link the rest of the pairs because… coughcoughjessicasimpsonclaudettecoughcough … the sheer amount of recent additions to my closet is borderline embarrassing. Just know they are ALL fabulous.

 

And most importantly, my friends + family – the last few months have been rough, to say the least. Some have likely heard the same stories time and time again [Mayra, I’m looking at you] but I appreciate everyone’s love and support as I navigate this bullshit disguised as “life”. No one has asked for too many details, judged too hard, or tried to push their own individual thoughts on me. They’ve let me vent and deal with things on my own terms. I’ve conquered many situations and fell apart at just as many, but with the support of those around me I’ve made it through in one piece. This whole damn situation is terrible, but I’ll be okay. Not right now, not tomorrow, and probably not next month – but eventually. It’ll happen. I just need to figure out what’s most important to me and prioritize things according to how they’ll affect my overall well-being moving forward. I am a strong believer in karma and have been focusing on paying it forward with random acts of kindness over the past several months. I try to focus on those who have reached out and contributed to help make me feel whole again. Things would be a lot worse if I shut the rest of the world out and pretended like everything was a-ok, so as much as I hate to break down – it’s good for me. I hate talking about feelings as much as the next person, but I forced myself to do it. I knew I had to be open with what I was dealing with and the most important people came out to give me a shoulder to lean on when I needed it. And I can’t thank them enough for that.

Thursday Things

Every month when I fork over my hosting fees to BlueHost I think “I should probably blog” … and then I don’t. There are half a dozen drafts in WLW but once I get about a paragraph in I lose interest in my own story. I’m sparing you those boring posts. But maybe I owe my five readers an update? I think it’s time.

1. Let’s start with the bad news, shall we? I’m deferring my Marine Corps Marathon entry to 2016. I alluded to this in my last post, but the decision ultimately had nothing to do with those circumstances. My work schedule, lack of making running a priority, and summer in Austin made training pretty damn tough. I really wanted to stick it out but my end-game from the beginning was for the next marathon to be a determined journey to a long overdue PR. Unfortunately the cards didn’t fall in my favor and as much as I believe I could somewhat piece together a plan which would get me to the finish line of a “fun” marathon, that’s not what I had in mind. So I’m cutting my losses and looking for an alternative at the beginning of 2016. Preliminary front runner is LA Marathon in February because (1) I’ve never been to LA (2) it’s a point-to-point race and I really like those (3) I’ve never run a race in California. I’m open to suggestions though, anywhere from December 2015 through March 2016. Please, suggest away.

2. 2014 was the year of relays. And that might even be an understatement. But it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t run at least one this year, so yesterday I committed to Ragnar Relay Las Vegas in November. This lessened the blow a little bit of losing Marine Corps and once Jenny confirmed she was also in for another weekend of debauchery, it made me feel 100x better. I’m pretty stoked for a mini Hood to Coast ReNUUNion. Can’t believe it’s been an entire year since we conquered Mt. Hood to Seaside together but excited for the opportunity to be reunited with many of my fantastic teammates.

3. Can someone please help me enjoy decorating? Since moving into my own place in May I’ve made an effort on a handful of occasions to buy artwork, throw pillows – basically anything which will turn my apartment into more of a home. Usually after a couple stores and hours of scouring Pinterest I give up on everything and decide maybe the pillows that came with my new mini-sectional are enough. I’ve never been big into shopping and apparently even the need to furnish an apartment won’t sway me otherwise. Currently accepting applications for a personal shopper. Please apply within.

4. I decided to forego cable in favor of more affordable options like Hulu, Netflix [thanks, Germain!] and Sling TV. I’ve been revisiting old shows like One Tree Hill, most seasons of Real Housewives of Orange County [please don’t judge] and most recently Gossip Girl. And since I’ve already watched Gossip Girl through the end, I’m still not convinced the person who was revealed to be GG actually makes sense given certain things posted on the website. I know it’s just a TV show … but it doesn’t seem feasible. These thoughts won’t keep me up at night.

5. The first half of the year wasn’t my favorite and I’ve been making my best effort to plan exciting things in the future to look forward to. There’s only so much Netflix a girl can endure on nights + weekends [see #5] before becoming incredibly stir crazy. My airline miles have been piling up, begging to be cashed in. So I started doing just that: booking getaways for almost every remaining month in 2015. Why the hell not? Two weekends ago I took in a Red Sox game in Houston and enjoyed a night on a sailboat in Kemah. Last weekend I spent a few days with one of my best friends in Florida, which despite the torrential downpour from the moment my plane touched down in Tampa until I left two days later, was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. At the end of August I’ll be heading back to Florida [twice in one month? yep] to visit this girl. It’s been almost two years since the last time I saw her and honestly – that’s way too long. She even put together an itinerary for me – that’s love, people. I love me a great itinerary. It’s the little things.

That’s all for now, kids. Maybe I’ll make an appearance more often than every 3 months, maybe I won’t. Only time will tell.    

End of We

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There’s a good reason for my several month absence. Brad and I split up. I’m not going to divulge details [a majority of you who read here have already played therapist to me – THANK YOU! – so you know the history] but it was… not terrible. Okay, yeah it definitely is painful for the both of us. It wasn’t mutual but I understand where he is coming from and at this point in my life I cannot give him the things he wants. Fine, one detail – a family. You know my stance on that.

It surprises most people to learn I don’t hate him. Sure, it’s tough to wrap my head around the fact I moved all of my shit to Austin to be with him 6 years ago, but things could be much worse. We still talk regularly, most of the time civilly [depending on my wine intake] and the end game is to continue what we’ve always been for the past 10 years – best friends. There was a brief hiatus while we were living in different states and dating other people. We caught up frequently via text or on the phone, swapping dating stories and just getting up to speed on each others’ lives in general. I want to be there again. It will take awhile for us to get there, but we’re working on it. The transition is pretty damn hard – no sugar coating that. Coming home to an empty apartment every day without a significant other or two human-sized dogs to greet you makes the new home feel empty. When it’s everything you’ve known for so long, it’s difficult to just wipe the slate clean and start over.

So over the past few months I’ve been getting out more. Reconnecting with friends I had fallen out of touch with. Accepting happy hour invitations I would have otherwise turned down. Dining at new restaurants I’d been dying to visit. I’ve been trying to touch all of the corners of Austin that Brad and I hadn’t encountered. Because when I go somewhere we used to frequent often, it sucks. Too many memories, too many good times, too many “what once was” moments. Do you know how many of those there are when you move to a new city and spend a majority of your time with your significant other? Good lord. Please don’t make me count. I bought tickets to two different concerts, one ticket for each. I’m not going to stop doing things I love because someone who used to be a part of it won’t be there anymore. I have to keep moving forward – or do my damn best to try. I’ll eventually figure it out, even it feels impossible right now.

We separated at the beginning of March and last weekend I moved all of my one million things into an apartment. Turns out those ‘one million things’ didn’t exactly fill up the space as I had envisioned them to. Thankfully I have a couch being delivered to me on Wednesday and I can stop spending my weekends curled up in bed because it’s the only place to lay down and get comfortable. I’m not even going to touch on how much I loathe AT&T right now after they missed three [yes, THREE] of my installation dates and forced me to contract for Internet with the devil – Time Warner. Shortly we’ll see just how much I regret that decision. But at least there will be Internet, something I will have gone without for two weeks. First world problems, indeed.

In the meantime I’m just trying to keep my shit together and stay busy. Work is kicking my ass more than usual and doesn’t look like it’ll be letting up until at least mid-August so at least I have something to keep me busy. I spent all of Sunday and Monday of this past weekend working, if that’s any indication of how ‘busy’ I actually am. I know some people hate that word. I kinda do too. But I’m thankful to have a job that challenges me and gives me a distraction when I’m housebound due to tornado sirens and ridiculous flooding. Seriously Texas, WTF is going on?

And because I don’t think I’ve mentioned this anywhere but on Twitter – I signed up for another marathon! Can’t say I’ve been running my ass off over these past few months but with the beginning of training looming on the horizon it’s time to get back to it. In October I’ll be running Marine Corps Marathon for the second time and spending the weekend with my Internet-turned-IRL friend Amy. After getting in through the lottery I went back and forth a billion times on whether or not I should actually run it. It was my first marathon, Brad was there, my family was there … a lot of happy memories. I just don’t want to get stuck in the “well last time, XYZ happened” or end up getting depressed when I get to mile 22 and Brad isn’t there to jump in with me to keep me company. In the end though, I think marathon training [as much as it is going to absolutely SUCK this summer] will be a good outlet for me to blow off some steam and keep my mind off of things. But if I end up deferring my entry to 2016, you’ll know why. Just sayin’.

And not that you asked [but if you were curious] – no, I am not dating, nor do I have plans to. I’ve heard painfully awful dating stories from friends about randoms they met on Match or OK Cupid. And I watch wayyyy too many episodes of Criminal Minds and CSI to know I’d prefer not to end up as a plotline for their show. There isn’t an ounce of my being that’s interested in dating right now and I anticipate it staying that way for quite awhile.

It’s time for the beginning of ME.

It’s a Choice, Not an Obligation

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for quite some time and floating around in my brain even longer. It’s hard to write about certain topics without feeling like you’re going to ruffle feathers or have people jump down your throat. I’m certain it won’t stop the questions from coming, but at least it’ll let me vent a bit about why the answers are the way they are. 

In the 5th grade I turned to my best friend and declared I wasn’t going to get married or have children. She laughed at me but I was quick to assure her how serious I was. And everyone else when I told them. “You’ll change your mind when you get older,” they said.

But I knew I wouldn’t. 

The idea originated while thinking about my future. Yes, I’m well aware it was a little early in life to start thinking about my future. If I were to work and focus on my career, would I want my child to grow up in daycare? I would miss their childhood. That wasn’t something I was willing to do. And I wouldn’t ask my significant other to give up their career to stay home with our child. It wouldn’t be fair, in my opinion. Since I wanted to be in an equal relationship and wasn’t willing to let my child grow up with a nanny or in daycare, it was clear having children was something that wouldn’t work for me. Let me reiterate – for ME. Not for everyone.

Most people would read that paragraph and immediately call me selfish. And rightfully so. I mean, the audacity I must have to want a job to pay bills and support myself. I’ve always been an independent person, sometimes even working 2 or 3 jobs to ensure everything would be paid. I need financial security. I couldn’t imagine not working because what if, God forbid, my significant other & I were to split up? After years of unemployment I’d be thrown out into the job force expecting to find a job in a world full of much more qualified people. I cannot [and will not] rely on someone else to pay my bills for me while I am physically capable of doing it myself.

I’m not a normal girl. I don’t have the biological clock that supposedly ticks inside of you, driving you to procreate “before time runs out”. The countless baby photos strewn all over my Facebook and Instagram feeds don’t make me fall all over myself or cause my ovaries to ache. Side note: what does that even mean, to have your ovaries ache when you look at a baby photo? I don’t have a perfectly curated Pinterest page chronicling my dream wedding or wonder how Brad will propose someday.

Although it’s changed somewhat over the years, society leads you to believe natural life progression for a woman is marriage –> baby –> house. Apparently all you need are those three things and you have life figured out. People are always asking when Brad is going to “make me an honest woman” and if children are in our future. The shocked face and silence after responding with ‘maybe never’ and ‘no’ sometimes causes me to wonder if I’m making some kind of mistake.

But then I remember I’m not.

Brad and I both work hard to be equal partners in our relationship. We fight less than most married couples I know because we actually talk about our problems rather than sweeping them under the rug and pretending they don’t exist.  We bust our asses at work day in and day out. There is no “his paycheck” or “my paycheck” because the money is ours. Neither of us are interested in having children, so we’re not having them. I still can’t comprehend why this concept is so hard for people to understand. We’re doing what we want and because it’s our lives, these are decisions we have to live with for the rest of our lives. And if being a dual income household with no kids is something which makes us happy, why isn’t that acceptable?

We may be unconventional in buying a house first and not being interested in a wedding or having children. When you’re in a relationship, you have to work hard to keep it together because it’s much easier to walk away from than it is to walk away from a marriage. It’s a choice, not an obligation. 

You don’t need to be married to reap the benefits of marriage. I think we’re doing just fine the way things are. As I’ve always said when people ask why we just don’t get married already…

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Tuesday Things

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1. My work-life balance is struggling. Our annual audit begins each year in March but doesn’t really kick into high gear until the end of April and carries through the month of May. May is also one of our busiest months on the revenue side. For the past several years I’ve made the stupid mistake of taking vacations the first week of May: New Jersey Marathon, Long Branch Half Marathon, Ragnar Relay Cape Cod. No matter how well I plan for the time off, I’m inevitably buried for the remainder of the month. The third week in May is always our annual user conference, so basically as soon as I have a handle on my to-do list I have to somewhat abandon it again for four days. I try to stay caught up on emails between sessions but it can be overwhelming. This was my 5th year working the conference and for the first time I actually came back to the office to get work done. It definitely helped me stay on track but there were still items that didn’t get done and ended up coming home with me last weekend. No idea why I keep doing this to myself year after year, but I want to declare right now that MAY 2015 WILL BE A VACATION-FREE ZONE. It has to be. I miss my sanity.

2. I was chosen as an ambassador for the Houston Marathon!  I was blown away in January by the organization of the race, the number of spectators on the course and how great the course actually was. The weather was pure perfection [this is a variable, I know] and despite having a miserable race performance-wise, I knew this wouldn’t be my last time in Houston. As an ambassador, this also means I will be running the Houston Marathon. After quite a lengthy hiatus, I’ll be making my grand return to the marathon distance in January 2015. And possibly the most exciting part of all? Training doesn’t start until September. So while I may be slightly jealous of everyone running Chicago and NYC this fall, I won’t have to do any sauna-running at 4am this summer.

COME RUN HOUSTON WITH ME! Early registration for my fast friends [sub-4 full marathon or sub 1:52 half marathon] closes on May 29th. The lottery opens up on June 4th and will run through June 19th , with results announced on June 23rd.

Houston Marathon Registration

3. In August I’ll be running Hood to Coast with Nuun. After several years of trying to make it on the team and now finally securing a spot, it still doesn’t seem real. Airfare has been purchased and 3 months from today (!!) I’ll be heading out to Seattle. After running Ragnar Cape Cod last weekend I feel less nervous and much more excited for HTC. I have a loose training plan sketched out for the next few months but probably will push the kickoff to the 26th. My shin & knee are now more of a dull pain, but I don’t want to rush into it just because the plan was supposed to start this week. Once it’s underway I’ll talk a bit more about the training. HTC_logo4. RedFest starts on Friday and we FINALLY won tickets. I’m not even sure how many different contests we were entered in to win tickets to this festival. Eventually we came across a voting-based contest, which allowed us to plaster the link all over social media. All of the begging [so annoying, I know] paid off when we scored 3-day VIP passes! To be honest I’m a little nervous because there is little to no information about the event on their website. They finally uploaded a map and schedule over the weekend, but there is nothing about what time the gates open or what activities are included with the ticket. I emailed them two weeks ago to find out and apparently they were “still in the process of figuring that out”. Two weeks out from the event. In any case, we’ll be drinking and eating for free all weekend while listening to country music. I highly doubt we won’t have a good time.

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5. We’re going to Europe! Unfortunately, the trip is 18 months away. After we unexpectedly had cancel our Mexico trip [which coincidentally freed me up to run HTC…] Brad was on a mission to find us a replacement vacation. One of his suggestions was a European cruise. I was hesitant initially because while our all-inclusive resort in Mexico was fairly pricey for 7 days, the airfare to Cancun was about $350 per person. A trip to Europe requires a ridiculously expensive [and ridiculously long] flight and the total cost of the trip was almost twice as much as Mexico. There was no possible way we could go anytime soon, so we pushed the date out to Fall 2015.

Cannes, France

It’s hard for me to get excited about it because it’s really far away and there’s definitely potential for a wrench to be thrown in our plans. But this didn’t stop me from ordering a couple books on Mediterranean cruise ports. On the agenda: Barcelona, Cannes, Rome, Naples, Palma Majorca, and Florence/Pisa. I’ve already been researching hotels and we’re in the process of learning Spanish. The plan is to be pretty damn fluent en Español by the time we leave. We’ll be spending an extra day before/after the cruise in Barcelona so if you’ve been there [or any of the ports we’re exploring] please tell me EVERYTHING.

Evolution of a Writer

photo of laptop and notebook 
Writing is something I’ve been passionate about since grade school. Several summers were spent as a member of a Young Authors Club at the local library, which resulted in a published book. High school was filled with AP English classes and writing for the school newspaper. I knew initially it would be tough to earn a solid living as a writer if I pursued a journalism degree in college. While money shouldn’t have been something to sway my decision on a major, I was paying out-of-state tuition and an entry level writing gig post-college wasn’t going to help me pay off those student loans. Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo currently own me. So I went into finance. But the English classes were still my favorite and my secret power was being able to crank out 20-page papers in less than 4 hours on zero sleep.

After moving to Texas and securing a full-time job, an opportunity to write for an online publication came along. While it was awesome to make a small income on the side doing something I enjoyed, the company I was writing for wasn’t my favorite. I struggled with it for awhile but in the end decided writing for myself for free was more desirable than the money I’d make writing for someone else about content which didn’t interest me.

A week after crossing the finish line of my first half marathon I created an account on WordPress and became co-author of the blog We Run For Wine. It has been 3 1/2 years since I published my first post and it’s pretty amazing how far I’ve come since that day. My Google Reader (remember when that was still a thing?) was filled with healthy living blogs and a handful of running ones. I was under the impression I should be posting as much as possible, no matter the length or quality. Some people even posted 2, 3 times per day. Back in December while transitioning Melissa Runs (Phase 2 of Blog Life) over to So These Are My Thirties (Phase 3 – and hopefully the last), I was pretty embarrassed by the content in the early days. The quantity was clearly there, but the quality? Not so much. It took awhile to get the hang of this whole blogging thing.

Over the years the way I wrote and the blogs I read changed quite a bit. HLBs were left behind and replaced by inspiring runners, both fast and back of the pack. Race recaps and track workouts were more interesting to me than repetitive photos of overnight oats and veggie burgers. It turns out runners are more honest and transparent than any HLB I’ve ever read. A picture perfect online presence is pretty easy to maintain but let’s be honest: no one’s life is perfect. My favorite writers are the ones who hit the tough subjects, smack you in the face with a dose of reality, and speak from the heart. I want to hear about this impossible tempo run that almost broke you and how you powered through it to nail splits you didn’t think were possible.

One of my goals in 2012 was to post more consistently, but in the back half of the year I had done quite the opposite. While one might classify this as a ‘fail’ in the resolution department, I’d have to disagree. I appreciated the direction my writing was headed and embraced “writing for a reason” in 2013. An identity crisis mid-year had me yearning for a change. An overhaul of my Google Reader Feedly resulted in the addition of several lifestyle blogs and the push I needed to leave ‘Melissa Runs’ behind. I wanted to share more of my personal life and a fresh new blog was the perfect way to do it. In hindsight I wished I had done it sooner.

I’ve been awarded some pretty fantastic opportunities through this blog and not once have I wished I was still writing for the online publication with a side income. There aren’t any advertisements on STAMT and I fully intend to keep it that way. It’s not about the money for me. It’s not about the page views or the clicks, the sponsored posts or blogging for a living. It’s about the writing. It’s about the people I wouldn’t have otherwise met without this small space of mine on the internet. It’s about the doors which never would have opened – or I would have never even thought to approach – along the way.

Whether you’ve been around since the beginning, somewhere in the middle, or just happened to end up here today: thank you. Writing is incredibly important to me and I’m glad you’ve decided to come along for the ride.

What are your favorite topics to read about? What would you like to see more (or less) of on So These Are My Thirties?

I Need to Ask You a Huge Favor

It’s no secret we’re HUGE country music fans and try to make it to as many concerts in Austin as possible. Jeff Foxworthy [yes, you read that correctly] recently announced a new festival to be held out at the Circuit of the Americas: RedFest. It’s a redneck festival 3 days of live music, comedy, reality stars, and outdoor events during the last weekend in May. The music lineup is killer: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, Justin Moore, Kip Moore, Kellie Pickler, Easton Corbin, Craig Morgan, Big & Rich, Love & Theft, Parmalee – and that’s not even all of the acts!

We REALLY would love tickets to the festival, so I entered us into Kase101’s Cutest Couple contest. I normally wouldn’t do this sort of thing, but for a 3-day festival full of country music in Austin? I think it would be wrong NOT to enter.

KASE 101 Cutest Couple

So here’s where that favor comes in. If you’re logged into Facebook on your current computer and have 30 seconds to spare, I would be forever grateful if you headed over to our entry and commented on the photo, letting KASE101 know that we should definitely win a set of tickets. Not sure why, but if you click on the link from your phone it will take you to the first photo in the set, rather than our photo. We’re entry #135, if you don’t mind clicking through. Otherwise, desktop voting is the easiest! It would be much easier if you could just click ‘vote’ and be done with it, but I guess they’re trying to weed out cheaters? I did find quite a few couples that commented on their own photos – not sure if those votes count, but it seems somewhat unfair. But if they do count, BRB I need to go vote for myself…

Anyway, we’d love it if you could click on this link and leave a quick comment under our photo before 11:59PM tonight, March 20th. The fact I even entered us in a Cutest Couple contest is slightly embarrassing, but it goes to show you just how much I want to attend this festival! The comment could be something as simple as “Melissa & Brad love country music so much, tickets to RedFest would be perfect for them!” or “I vote for Melissa & Brad” .. that’s it. 30 seconds & I’ll love you forever. THANK YOU!!

 

Small Things That Warrant a Big WTF

If there’s a chance your super-sensitive feathers may get ruffled, I recommend skipping this post. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Obviously I’m feeling a little feisty today and it’s compounded by the fact that Google Hangouts is down and I have no one to talk to.

Only 2 registers open during the after-work rush at Target. I thought eventually they’d come to their senses and staff a little better, but I’ve pretty much given up hope on that. There’s always that one employee pacing around with the walkie talkie directing people into lines. No, I don’t want to be behind the lady with a decently full cart and three kids using the conveyor belt as a rock climbing wall. I want to be behind guy with a bottle of wine and wheel of cheese. Not just because I approve of his shopping choices, but because that line will move MUCH faster. Hey Mr. Walkie Talkie Man – how about YOU get behind a register and ring me up?

People who don’t drive the speed limit. In the great state of Texas, many of our roads are 70 or 75mph. We even have the fastest highway in the United States at 85mph. Considering a majority of these highways are toll roads, it irritates the hell out of me when I get behind someone doing 55 or 60. If you’re interested in driving that slow, save a few bucks by taking the access roads and leave the highway clear for the rest of us. I spend almost 3 hours and $5 a day in tolls to drive 75mph. I’m Ricky Bobby: I wanna go fast.

Sub-par music recommendations. Every so often my running playlist needs updating and I poll the masses via Twitter/Facebook for suggestions. The responses are usually found in the top 10 downloads on iTunes or that damn OneRepublic song every Top 40 radio station out there is playing the crap out. The iTunes Top 200 list is my first stop when searching for new music, so recommending “Timber” or “Dark Horse” just isn’t helpful. I’m looking for (and always specify this) lesser known favorites, like a song from an album you just purchased that likely won’t ever make it to the radio. Maybe it’s just me but if these will be on a playlist for months to come, the last songs I want are the ones the radio is going to beat to death. And since we’re on the subject, what’s your current favorite song that I’ve probably never heard of?

The perpetually empty coffee carafe at the office. I want to put a hidden camera in our kitchen to catch people in the act as they go to pour themselves a cup of coffee, realize the carafe is empty and then leave the kitchen. It’s nine freaking thirty, brew another damn pot! This girl loves her caffeine and what she does NOT love is heading in for a refill only to be faced with an empty sputtering carafe. Every time my palm presses down on that top lever I feel like I’m playing Clue Boom on Hollywood Game Night.

People who insist on entering the elevator before others exit. When did this become okay? No, I do not want you plowing into me while I’m juggling my coffee and laptop. The elevator isn’t going to leave without you, so I really don’t understand what the rush is. Step aside, bitches!

Boycotting all airlines because MH370 is missing. Don’t get me wrong, this is a tragic (and truly bizarre – where the hell is that damn plane?) event and my thoughts are with the families of those 239 individuals onboard. I cannot even begin to imagine what they’re going through. But do you know how many international flights have taken off and landed since March 7th? Hundreds. Thousands even. Saying you’re not getting on a flight because of this isolated incident is ridiculous. You should probably also avoid roller coasters, cruise ships, bicycles, trains (I mean, have you seen either of these Denzel movies?) and never get behind the wheel of a car again. You will probably need to live in a bubble for the rest of your life.

The WP plugin that tweets out links to archived posts. I get the idea: you’re looking to increase site traffic and get new eyes on older posts. But when your Weekly Workout Recap from October 2011 or a giveaway marked ‘CLOSED’ pops up in my Twitter feed, it’s confusing. And to be honest, kind of annoying. Buffer is a much better tool and you have 100% control over the content shared, as well as when it’s being shared.

Your turn: what’s making you say WTF on this fine Monday?

The Battle of Need vs Want

One of my tactics lately on miscellaneous purchases is to make myself wait. If I can hold out for 30 days and the urge to own the item is still pretty strong, then I’ll pull the trigger. This is really hard when you come across something that’s on sale for much cheaper than normal and you’ve somewhat convinced yourself that you “need” it. For example, a pair of $150 heels I’ve been eyeing for several months recently dropped to $90. Great price – I have to buy them, right? Rather than jumping on the deal, I still held back from making the purchase. After two weeks I realized that money would be better spent elsewhere. Like on running shoes a new laptop battery.

Exercising restraint for a few weeks is difficult but I’ve found that 9 times out of 10 the thing I once needed should have actually been classified as a want.

you can't always get what you wantIn February I was caught up in the excitement for the impending lottery openings of a few bigger fall marathons like NYCM and Marine Corps. Reading blogs and being active on Twitter sometimes causes major race envy and this was a standard case. I needed to run a fall marathon! Houston in January 2015 seemed incredibly far away and I wanted to get back to the full marathon distance sooner than that, which had me crunching numbers and scrutinizing my budget looking for a way to finagle a trip to NYC in the fall. I realized if I was diligent about putting every extra dollar aside, I could run the race.

Marine Corps Marathon

 But after taking a step back for a few weeks, I don’t think I really want to. There’s underlying anxiety about being able to finance the trip. The thought of eliminating concerts, dinners out, and any semblance of a social life for the next 8 months in exchange for one ridiculously expensive weekend in NYC just isn’t that appealing. Running NYCM in 2014 is certainly a want, not a need.

Houston Half Marathon Medal

The race I have my heart set on is Houston. It was on the half marathon course earlier this year where the urge to run 26.2 returned. I’m determined and ready to make my comeback. So Houston is where that comeback needs to be! None of my race times are fast enough to qualify for guaranteed entry so I’ll be entering through the lottery once again. And if I don’t get in, there’s always the possibility of running for a charity. But I’ll cross that road when I come to it.

So that’s that. I NEED to run Houston. [and Houston NEEDS to let me in!]

What’s your current “need vs want” battle?