2017 Race Plans + Goals

After a lackluster 2015 where I only pinned a bib on twice, 2016 was a complete 180 with sixteen total races. After hiring a running coach in May, I unearthed some speed inside of me which never existed before. I attribute that to either [1] never really pushing hard enough to see it or [2] the sixty pounds I lost over the past year. In any case, it lit a fire beneath me to get fast and race more seriously.


2017 will be the year I PR in every distance. Aggressive? Sure is. But completely doable if I stay focused and committed to my training.

5K — 27:xx

**Vern’s No Frills 5k

10K — 59:xx
** Boneshaker Pace Bend 10k
** Cap 10k

10m — 1:40:xx
** Austin 10/20

13.1 — 2:09:xx
** Spring Half – TBD

26.2 — 4:xx:xx
** Grandma’s Marathon
** Fall Marathon – TBD

The goal which terrifies me the most is the marathon. My current “PR” [I use this term loosely considering the training cycle was a complete bust] is 6:05 and I’m confident a finish time between 5:05 and 5:20 is pretty reasonable for my next 26.2. However! 2017 is not about being reasonable. I want a sub-5 marathon. And I want it BAD. So that will be happening this year, 100%.

And then something else…

Lora and I have this thing where we talk each other into races. It usually doesn’t take much convincing but if one of us has an idea? The other is pretty much “in” almost immediately. At happy hour one night in Austin [before we headed to DC for Marine Corps together] I mentioned I was running Rock n Roll Las Vegas in November and she should come. And she did. In October she asked me to help talk her out of running Grandma’s Marathon in June. I’m still not sure how it happened, but now we’re registered for the Great Grandma’s Challenge: a 5k on Friday night and a marathon the following day.

More recently she was talking about running the Golden Ultra, a 3-day stage trail race in Golden, BC. As someone who doesn’t particularly love trails or hills, this didn’t seem incredibly appealing to me. Once I looked at photos of the course and her declaring “YOU SHOULD COME!” I felt my opinion begin to change.

So in September we will be taking on those beautiful trails. And most likely questioning our sanity [and friendship] along the way.

Comfort zone = being left behind in 2017.

 

Cheers to 33

I’ve never been one to care too much about my birthday. It went uncelebrated for many years and it didn’t bother me in the least. But this weekend was the complete opposite. There was a lot of a celebrating and it was pretty damn excellent.

My best friend since first grade from New Jersey flew in on Friday afternoon for a weekend filled with a lot of shenanigans and a little bit of running.  We headed to Mia Italian Tapas for dinner with one of my old coworkers. We learned fried manchego > fried mozzarella, short ribs should not be tapas, and the bacon + fig + gorgonzola combination on a pizza is something which should be consumed regularly.

Afterwards we made our way to nearly every venue on Rock Rose: Dogwood, 77, Rose Room, and ended at Kung Fu where we spent the rest of the evening. I had grand plans of playing life-sized Jenga, Skeeball, or Connect Four, but unfortunately the bar was slammed. We struggled to make it until midnight (when it would actually be my birthday) ((so tired, so old)) but somehow lasted until 12:30 and headed home after a celebratory Green Tea shot.

Saturday morning we went to the 3M Half Marathon expo downtown as soon as it opened since the streets would likely be closing down due to all of the marches and protests. Even though the expo had finally moved to a larger convention center, it was pretty underwhelming. For once in my life I walked out of there without spending a dime.

We then went to Jo’s Coffee to be touristy and snap a photo in front of the I Love You So Much wall. Initially the plan was to do some shopping on South Congress afterwards but traffic was starting to get pretty bad so we headed back up north to avoid the crowds. Brunch + a bloody mary bar happened at Cover 2 and then we proceeded to sit real hard on my couch under blankets watching old Grey’s Anatomy episodes for several hours. Didn’t hate it.

Sunday morning was what we had been looking forward to / dreading all weekend: that whole running thing. By noon we were at brunch at St. Genevieve. We started with a mimosa flight (with blackberry lavender, coconut pineapple, peach thyme, and orange juices as mixers) and then proceeded to crush three entrees: crab cake benedict, french toast with brandied bananas + Nutella whipped cream, and a breakfast quesadilla. Everything was fantastic.


Now comfortably in a food coma, we retired to a rooftop bar to lounge on some couches in the sun for a few hours and watch the Packers/Falcons game. The crowd started to get pretty rowdy around 4:30 with Sunday Funday now in full swing, so we moved our party next door to Lavaca for the Patriots/Steelers game.

We ordered a ton of food from Turf & Surf, pissed off the Steelers fans next to us, celebrated the Patriots win and were back at my apartment by 9pm.

Monday certainly wasn’t my favorite day as I drove Ashley to the airport at the crack of dawn in rush hour traffic, despite the fact I politely asked her to stay and just move in with me. Apparently she had a job and a dog to return home to. Rude.

And so my 33rd year begins! God help me.

3M Half Marathon 2017 Race Recap

I’ve been sitting on this half marathon PR (2:14) for five years now. FIVE!! To be honest, I’m still not sure how it happened in 2012 because I never trained for the paces I ran in that race. The only explanation is I was coming off of a strong marathon training cycle and in somewhat decent shape.

In the past year, I’ve run 3M Half (2:25), Austin Half (2:41), Best Damn Race Orlando (2:30), NYC Half (2:27), and Rock n Roll Las Vegas (2:27). The only one I intended on potentially PRing at was Vegas and it was really adorable I thought I could drop some fast miles while in Sin City. And by adorable I mean dumb – very dumb.

So I set my sights on 3M this year. It’s a fast course, but just like the last five times I’ve run it – training fell off during the holidays. Before Sunday’s race the last time I had logged any miles was December 26th. SMART. Thankfully my obsession with spin classes kept my endurance up.

Race Day

The weather was a little warm for my liking (around 60) and there were some lovely 30mph winds (NOT at our backs) which made running pretty goddamn difficult. But in any case, I decided to just wing it and see how I felt.

Miles 1-4 :: 9:52, 9:26, 9:42, 9:42

I really had no business running this fast this early in the race but it was comfortable so I went with it. I started doing the math after mile 4 clicked by and thought maybe by some sort of miracle I could break 2:10.

Miles 5-8 :: 9:40, 9:55, 9:44, 10:21

When I hit the 10k mark I realized I broke my 10k PR and had two thoughts: (1) I really need to run a 10k soon and (2) Melissa you’re probably going too fast, don’t die. I was taking water at every stop but when it came time to take a gel I couldn’t get it out of my FlipBelt. I knew if I stopped to figure out where the hell it was hiding I’d likely lose momentum. Around mile 8 they were handing out Clif gels on the course so I grabbed one from a volunteer. I wanted to take a salt pill at this point but again couldn’t get it out of my belt. I pulled over, untwisted the FlipBelt and dug one out. I think I lost ~45 seconds here and logged my first mile with a 10 in front of it. Shit.

Miles 9-13 :: 10:09, 11:01, 10:35, 10:29, 10:46

Annnd the wheels fell off. Despite the course being mostly downhill, there are a few hills in the later miles that feel a lot steeper than they actually are. At mile 10 the 2:10 pacer passed me and I started to mentally give up. I busted out the math again, trying to see if there was even a slight chance of eeking out a PR. The sad, soul-crushing truth: it would be goddamn close.  My quads were dying, my arches were pissed, and the wind was still being a little bitch. I legitimately thought I was going to blow away while running behind the UT football stadium.

Rounding the corner heading to the Capitol building I realized I had less than a minute to get to the finish if I wanted to PR. Less than a minute with dead legs. NBD. But I somehow found another gear, kept pushing, and crossed the mat in 2:13:37.

Do I think there’s a faster time in me? Yep I sure do. But am I happy with this time? Yep I sure am. I have the Mercedes Half Marathon coming up in three weeks but have zero expectations to PR. There are a fair amount of hills and with my luck it’ll be summer by then in Alabama. So this spring I’m going to work on the 10k + 10 mile distances, and hopefully knock out a faster 13.1 in the fall.

Onward + upward!

 

2016 :: The Year of Yes

Last January I decided 2016 would be my YOLO year, a year where I’d say yes to anything and everything. A year of getting shit done, having fun, and doing whatever the hell I wanted. I think it’s safe to say 2016 was one of my best yet.

:: January ::

NYE

I rang in the new year with this girl in Florida, ran my fastest 10k in five years, Paula spontaneously came to visit Austin for my birthday weekend, I ran my fastest half marathon in four years, and now I’m the proud owner of this sparkly patriotic hat.

rhinestone hat :: February ::

I ran the Austin Half Marathon, which has one of the most miserable courses but for some reason I find myself registered for it every year. I also attended my first RV show and learned I am the perfect size for said vehicle.

RV Show 2016

:: March ::

I traveled back to Florida to visit Paula and run Best Damn Race Orlando. We attempted learning how to line dance [major emphasis on ‘attempted’] and on Sunday enjoyed not one but two brunches. Because why have one when you can have two? I ran the NYC Half Marathon with my best friend since first grade and enjoyed a few nights out in my hometown. The last weekend of the month I FINALLY was able to run the Texas Independence Relay and it was everything I hoped it would be. So much that I’ll be back again in 2017!

BDR Orlando

:: April::

Two weeks after TIR I thought it would be a good idea to run yet another 200-mile relay (YOLO) from Fredericksburg to Austin. The Hill Country [shockingly] turned out to be really freaking hilly, so it was tough but the company was great. I even convinced a co-worker to run this as her first race ever and surprisingly she still speaks to me.

Ragnar Austin

:: May ::

Another trip to the northeast for my best friend’s bridal shower in New Jersey. I also ran two 5ks: one as a training run and one with the intention of PRing. The PR did not happen because hills make me die inside. I hired a running coach since training for Marine Corps Marathon would be kicking off shortly. I also booked a cruise for New Year’s Eve to Mexico! Good decisions all around.

Daisy 5k

:: June :: 

My best friend’s bachelorette party in Austin happened and it was ah-mazing. Magical things happen when you are a psychotic Type-A planner with a love for spreadsheets. I ran many evening miles with a co-worker [the one from the relay – see, still running!] and nearly died as the Austin summer rolled in with 100+ degree temperatures. Also probably one of the most exciting and terrifying things of the year happened in June – I quit my job! After seven years, with the final two being absolutely soul-sucking, I finally said enough was enough and pulled the plug.

MC Bachelorette

:: July :: 

Back to New Jersey again for my best friend’s wedding! Pretty sure I hadn’t seen this group of girls in the last four years as much as I had in the last four months and it was fantastic.

MC Wedding

:: August :: 

Surprise surprise, back to Florida again to see Paula. We had a glorious weekend filled with cocktails, pool time, and brunching. I met my family at Disney World for a few days of Mickey Mouse taking advantage of my wallet but it was totally worth it. I even purchased an overpriced pair of Minnie Mouse ears because, why the hell not? Wrapped up August with pit tickets to see Brad Paisley and as usual he did not disappoint.

Brad Paisley:: September :: 

Marathon training was going incredibly well and in true Melissa-luck fashion, I sprained my foot. Landed myself in a super attractive boot and on the running sidelines for about five weeks. At the end of the month I had to come to terms with the fact that running a marathon was not in my best interest. HOWEVER! September is when I realized I had a full-blown love affair with spinning and it carried me through many weeks sans running. Hello, sanity saver.

Love Cycling

:: October :: 

While I couldn’t run the full marathon, I was determined to use it as a training run and still travel to DC with Lora for the weekend. The 18 miles I ran were the strongest ones I’ve ever had during a marathon and it was nearly impossible for me to walk off the course at that point knowing if I continued I could have had a 60+ minute PR. Being responsible is dumb sometimes.

MCM 2016:: November ::

Two weeks after DC, Lora and I reunited again with Ashley in Vegas to take on a weekend of gambling. Oh, and a half marathon. Two weeks later I ran the Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot by myself for the first time since moving to Austin in 2009 [cue all the emotions] and nailed an 8-minute PR. Sweet, sweet redemption.

strip at night

:: December ::

Went into this month on a mission to break a 5k PR from 2012. I would have settled for a 30-second one but ended up with a 2-minute one. Oh hey, you know what speedwork does? Makes you faster. Who knew. I still felt like I had a little more in me though, so I signed up for another 5k six days later and PRed again. Only by 3-seconds though, and that was with a stop to tie my shoe at mile 2. So! There will definitely be another attempt in 2017. I traveled to Maryland to spend Christmas with my family, which was wonderful 🙂 Then I blew out 2016 with an epic vacation to Mexico with some of most awesome people I know.

Chichen Itza

And that, my friends, is how you execute a Year of Yes.

Life Lately

So the past couple months have been ridiculously busy, but pretty goddamn awesome.

  1. April. Oh, April. This was the month I registered for a race every weekend and didn’t regret a single one of them. Two 200-mile relays [one Gonzales – Houston, one Fredericksburg – Austin], a 10k, a 5k, and the Austin Spartan Race.
    12961272_10101379902805845_2193194264941914600_o12472441_10156690039735627_9128051661805359609_n13055667_10153706269919403_2823226496735535166_oSR - Fire Pit - 2Go big or go home, right? My bank account may be begging for mercy but wow, this was a GREAT month. I didn’t PR the 10k or 5k, but the relays were spectacular and I averaged miles 2+ minutes faster than previous relays. This was surprising, especially during the first on Blood, Sweat & Beers where we were sponsored by a local brewery [Independence] and had a seemingly endless supply of cold delicious beer + Fireball. I was the last runner in our van and they sent me off on my leg with a shot of Fireball and welcomed me back with a beer in a koozie. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I’ll be back in 2017 for sure.
    12938117_10154098267988000_3953905159121565887_n
  2. Running. A spinoff from #1, I’m still on the running high I’ve been raving about all year. I recently took on a running coach and she is wonderful. Needing someone to keep me accountable with my busy schedule and work hours that just won’t quit, I’ve logged every workout assigned to me. Granted, we’re just running easy for right now and the end goal is a massive marathon PR, but I’m terrible at logging miles during the week and this forces me to get my shit together. It’s truly a #noexcuses situation now.
  3. College. I mentioned this vaguely in my last post. I’ve been kicking myself for almost seven years for not finishing my degree. I’m currently taking two classes this summer and will take another in the fall, graduating in December. This may seem boring or “really? just now?” to most, but I am EXCITED. It’s time to put this behind me and move forward with that expensive piece of paper in my possession.
  4. Social life. It’s no secret I became quite a recluse over the past year and a half. I don’t like to talk about my feelings and would rather watch hours of Netflix in solitude with a bottle of red wine and half the Chinese food menu. But over the past few months I’ve been going out, spending time with friends, and really enjoying life in general.
    11255012_10101352369033745_4208714277962022985_o12806235_10101338278830625_4226993725506068303_n13006451_10101383063940905_5755412431467142055_n13124681_10101407891715845_172892955674486181_n13243695_10101425961104645_7042126563711722118_oIt’s been a long time since I’ve been this happy and I really like it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m counting down the hours until this weekend when I can become one with my couch and the newest season of Bloodlines. What? Old habits die hard.
  5. Moving on. Woof. If there’s one thing I don’t want to talk about, it’s this. I wish I could say”I’m so over everything, it’s been a long time and it’s all behind me” but I’d be lying to you. And to myself. And yeah it’s still fucking hard. But the happy times outweigh the sad, and maybe I’ve been contemplating dating. Maybe I’ve been severing ties with things which brought up too many bad memories. Unfortunately, that 10 year-old past doesn’t seem to want to GTFO out of my brain. But I’m trying. And it’s getting easier. Thank fucking god.
    2d680850-3c65-4329-a125-11d5aa17d0cd
    Everything is going to be just fine.

Why Being Single Actually Isn’t the Worst Thing Ever

To be completely honest, I believed transitioning from being in a 10-year relationship to being single was going to be horrific. I mean, what was I going to do with all of this newfound free time? Who was I going to text all day long and share inside jokes with? Who was I going to have dinner with on Friday night and binge watch shows on Netflix with all weekend long? Who was I going to vacation and experience new adventures with?

My fucking self. And I don’t hate it one bit. I can make decisions solely based on my own schedule, my own time, my own aspirations. I could decide to go back to school and get my degree, something I’ve been kicking myself for since 2009 when I first moved to Texas. I can work overtime to move towards the promotion I want without having to worry my significant other will think it’s because I want to spend more time with a coworker rather than seeing it for what it truly is: furthering my career. I can sign up for a race every single weekend in a month’s span [April, I’m looking at you] and have no concerns about the money I spend or the time I’m away from my partner. I can go to dinner with friends on any given day of the week and have no need to check-in with someone to let them know when I think we’ll be paying our check and heading out. I can spend my entire weekend watching seasons upon seasons of favorite shows I’ve seen a billion times and order half of the Chinese food menu without being judged. I can book last minute flights to anywhere in the country to spend time with friends and family without worrying about breaking the budget. I can do whatever the hell I want and be 110% happy about it.

From day one I said I wouldn’t date again for at least a year. That deadline came and went in March – and guess what? I’m still not dating and everything isn’t falling apart. At 32, some may feel they should be married, have kids, and own a house. Those are not defining moments for everyone. I don’t feel like I’ve “failed” because I’m single, childless, and living in an apartment. I have absolutely zero desire to jump on Tinder and rush into a relationship just so I won’t be alone. When the time is right, things will fall into place and I will find someone worthy of sharing my time with. But at this junction in my life, I am perfectly content living for me and only me. And I don’t feel guilty about it one bit.

Downhill to Downtown to Deep Eddy

The 3M Half Marathon would be the first half I’d run solo in almost three years. Not even sure I can count the number of lackluster 13.1s on two hands in that span of time but holy crap, they were all terrible. I went into each just hoping to survive and finish with my legs still attached. Training for those was half-assed and the pace was slooowwww. It was a time in my life where I didn’t give two shits about running and really just did it because it was something I had always done. I lost the spark, the desire to really push myself, and those race times really reflected that.

But 3M was going to be different. Sure, my training could have been better and long runs, well, longer. But I don’t think there’s been a single training cycle which coincided with the holidays that went according to plan. I didn’t stress over it and convinced myself that, YES, I could do this. I would put in a solid effort and see what the past few months of Orangetheory + running really did for me. The bar wasn’t set high with hopes of a PR so the pressure was off in that department. I wanted to cross the finish line with a respectable time and not have to take any walk breaks. Seemed easy enough.

On Thursday Paula trumped my prior last-minute decision with an extremely last minute decision and booked a flight to Austin to run 3M. She joined me Friday night at happy hour where we discovered the magic of Deep Eddy Sweet Tea + Peach Vodka shots, and continued the party down on Rainey Street at Bar 96. Ended up being a later night than it probably should have been, but .. #YOLO [yes, that’s making a comeback]

Bar 96

Saturday we hit up the expo so Paula could actually register for the race, had mimosas at Moonshine, and then lunch at Silo on 7th. After inhaling a couple burgers we walked around at the Domain, bought things at MAC we didn’t need, and picked up groceries for dinner. The rest of the day was super productive – we started the most recent season of The Mindy Project and proceeded not to go to bed until finishing the entire thing. Overachievers.

RACE DAY

So many factors were working against me at 3M: I wore something new, didn’t eat breakfast, and didn’t take any gels / chews during the race. Basically [stupidly] threw caution to the wind. Race morning was a chilly 39 degrees but didn’t stop me from wearing a short-sleeved top and skirt. I had a throwaway zip-up hoodie but it lasted all of a 1/4 mile before I ditched that thing. So on to my race plan… I started much further back than I wanted, probably almost at the back of the race. I’m well aware of my propensity to haul ass in the first mile, try to hold on to said too-fast pace, and then burn out around mile six. So I marched myself to the back of the corrals in an attempt to rein it in and race smart for once in my life.

Miles 1-6 were uneventful. Here’s the thing: the 3M course is boooooring. It’s through residential areas, side streets, and pretty much wherever there’s nothing to look at except runners around you. Still for some crazy reason I love this goddamn race. It’s net downhill but don’t be fooled – there certainly are some hills. And each one crushed my soul a little. The one on 45th was more painful than I remembered in previous years. I focused on keeping an even effort on the uphills and recovered on the downhill.  After we hit mile 6 my brain slipped into a bit of a dark place where all I could think about was how I had to do the distance all over again – and then some more. My iPod volume was forced up a few notches and I kept moving.

The second half of the race was tough, but doable. I really didn’t want to walk but my right calf was super tight and desperately needed a stretch. After the water stop at mile 8 I pulled over to the side to give the calf some relief on a curb. I limited myself to about 25-30 seconds but it definitely helped. Once I hit mile 10 I started to get hungry but it would have been too late for a Gu to actually do anything – so I didn’t bother. Still not really sure how I made it through without breakfast or any fuel during the race… Also around mile 10 was where I resolved not to walk, even though when we were heading through the UT campus nearly every person around me had slowed to walk. So I kept running and took advantage of the opportunity to pass a ton of people. The final hill up MLK hurt like a bitch but the finish was just around the corner so I threw on my pain face and kicked up the pace.

Official Finish Time – 2:25:33

3M Half Marathon

Like I said, not a PR, but overall one of the strongest races I’ve had in recent years. This is my 2nd fastest half marathon ever [plus a negative split!] and I’m still not sure how I pulled that off. Coming off such a great time at the Rogue 10K, I’m still really high on running and excited for the next few races coming up. I have two weeks until the Austin Half, where I will likely walk 30 times and also cry a bit while crawling up the hill on Enfield, but if I can somehow squeeze out a course PR – I’ll take it!

Post-race we spent many hours at Jack Allen’s Kitchen destroying their buffet and enjoying pineapple mimosas followed by Deep Eddy cocktails.

IMG_1575

Mid-afternoon Paula rudely forced me to take her to the airport so she could head back to Florida. I only agreed because there’s already a Southwest flight booked to Orlando in March for another weekend of running, eating, and drinking.

My legs and liver cannot wait.

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.