A Birthday & A Serious Question

Happy Tuesday! I have two topics to discuss with you on this fine day.

– Jake’s Birthday –

I love both of my brother’s birthdays almost more than I love my own. It’s so fun to celebrate people! 17 words that describe this awesome kid:

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And 17 of the cutest pictures ever (because Jake was the cutest baby ever):

 

– Race Shirts –

In the running world, there’s a bit of an ongoing controversy. Do you wear your race shirt TO the race, or are you the kind of person who can only wear the shirt post-race? I fall into the latter category, and I have very specific reasons why!

  1. I don’t like to wear anything new on race day. I want to wear the clothes that I know fit and feel the best. This new random race shirt hasn’t had time to pass my tests yet!
    2. I spend a lot of time selecting my race outfit! Beyond feeling good while I run, putting together a race day outfit is kind of like a reward for all of my hard work.
    3. Everyone knows where we are and what race we’re running. If I wore my race shirt, I would feel like a running billboard. Plus, I might blend in with other people who decided to wear THEIR shirts! Have you ever spectated a race? It’s quite the parade and you need to wear something obvious so that you stand out to those looking out for you!
    4. If you run in your hometown, you will most likely lounge around the day after the race. If you’ve traveled to your race, you’ll most likely be traveling home. In either situation, you will want to wear something comfy and casual, and a new race shirt fits the bill. Plus, it’s a subtle way to humble brag. 😉

So which side are you on? Race in your race shirt, or save it? Share your thoughts with us here!

A Race + An Adventure

In the midst of working on that whole “running is fun again” thing, I signed up for a race this past weekend. One of the neighborhoods nearby is called Clarendon (which ironically is the name of one of the new filters on Instagram and that makes me freakishly excited) and this past Saturday was dubbed “Clarendon Day”. Besides the food trucks, craft vendors, and musicians all around, there was also a 5k race, a 10k race, and a Kid’s Dash to kick off the morning’s festivities. My friend Kristen and I have met some great friends through our Monday evening runs with lululemon in Clarendon, so we signed up for the 10k race with a few of those running friends!

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Kristen, who is wearing mint in the middle, and Lindsey, who is standing next to me in a black SCRR shirt, are two of my friends from Pittsburgh. We all went to Duquesne together and now we are all teaching in the DC area. 🙂

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Pros of the race:

-It started at 9 AM. That is very unusual for a race, but I appreciated getting to sleep a little later on Saturday morning! The 5k started an hour earlier at 8 AM.
-It was mostly downhill and flat, which makes for a faster race.
-The roads never felt crowded and the race directors made it clear where we were supposed to be going!
-We ran past part of the Pentagon that you don’t usually see while you are driving.
-Although the race ended at the bottom of a huge hill, every participant was given a Metro card to ride back to the start where the Clarendon Day festivities were taking place.

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Cons of the race:

-Since it was a smaller race, we didn’t wear timing chips. That means I had to rely on the clock and my GPS for my race time. I like exact numbers and wish I had been wearing a chip. 🙂
-It was described as taking you along the “eclectic neighborhoods” of the Orange line (in reference to the Metro), which I assumed meant we would hit the streets of the neighborhoods a bit before heading down the hill. Instead, we just ran down the main street (the downhill) and then headed out on the highway. Literally. One side of the highway was shut down for us to run!
-This was an out and back course, which would have been fine if there was a lot to see, but again, we were just on one side of the highway. We turned around near mile 4 and headed back. It was kind of strange!
-The finish line was slightly uphill and around a bend. That is just mean after a mostly flat course! Hahaha

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I did not mean to get my face in this photo…but you can see the mile 6 flag behind me, right? Well, because this was an out and back course, we ran past the mile 6 flag at like mile 1.5. Obviously I don’t expect them to wait until we all run past to hang up the flags, but to just start and then see that flag makes you kind of wish you were already done! And then once I realized my face was in the picture, it was kind of perfect. 🙂

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The obligatory post-race photo to send to my parents. My 10k PR is 52:45 and I ran Saturday’s race in 55:25. Again, I wonder if the clock was a bit off and what my time would have been with a chip…but I still wouldn’t have set a new record. I probably would have just come closer to my PR, which is fine by me, because I feel like I set that record when I was fast! That must mean I am getting some speed back, right?!

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This was the funniest sight to see post-race. You know a race just happened nearby when the garbage can is overflowing with water bottles and banana peels. 😉 #runnerprobs

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Our race bibs came with three drink tickets for different local restaurants. All of those restaurants had crazy long waits, which is to be expected, so we decided to have brunch at Circa instead.

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Girl talk, run talk, coffee and mimosas. The perfect Saturday morning.

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And then Lindsey and I had to satisfy our sweet tooth with a Red Velvet cake pop. I dropped half of mine on the sidewalk, but the half that I DID get to eat was delicious!

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Another fun sighting: one of the kids’ activities was climbing. Instead of your typical fake rock wall, the kids were climbing up the side of this fake palm tree. I wanted to climb, too!

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My friends all bought really pretty jewelry from one of the craft vendors, and I was SO close to also making a purchase! There were so many pieces that were perfect for every day wear, but I was just too indecisive. Instead, I bought this wooden plank spray painted with my favorite thing and favorite place. 🙂

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Saturday afternoon looked a lot like getting ready for an event that my runner friends and I all bought tickets to: a 90s bar crawl in DC. We took to Pinterest for clothing inspiration and noticed lots of flannel and crop tops, so that’s what I went with! Once we were out, we saw so many more good ideas that we forgot we used to wear! Jean overalls, jean on jean outfits, windbreakers, bandannas as hair accessories, and graphic tee’s with all of those classic 90s shows like Ninja Turtles and Pokemon!

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Everyone who registered was given a wristband and one of these neon plastic mugs. There were probably eleven or twelve participating bars, and at each location, there was 90s music playing and lots of drink specials for us. Kel Mitchell, from the show Kenan and Kel, was even at one of the locations for a Meet and Greet! I don’t go out just to drink very often, so I was excited to explore the Dupont Circle area of DC and try some new restaurants and bars. We had appetizers at Black Finn to start and hit up some food trucks in Dupont Circle later in the evening.

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Apparently, this was my classic shot on Saturday. See the post-race selfie above with all of my friends. Ha!

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My favorite thing about this event, besides the fact that everyone really got into the “costumes”, was that it was from 2 PM – 10 PM. Of course, you could stay at the restaurant or bar that you were at for as long as you wanted, but the event specials ended at 10 PM. Because we headed out at 4 PM, a little earlier in the afternoon, we were tired and wanted to go home earlier in the evening, which meant I was in my bed for the night at 10:30 PM. And to think in college, we used to wait until 10:30 PM to even go anywhere…those were the days. 😉 #gettingold #alwaystired

Sunday morning = waking up early and going to church. I can’t sleep in for the life of me, so I made myself look presentable enough to go to 9 AM church with my friend Sarah. Because our church has several locations, I really enjoy going to the Saturday evening or 9 AM Sunday services because those ones are always “live”, meaning the pastor is standing right in front of you on the stage. If you go to another location or go to a service at another time, you see the exact same service, but you are watching it on the screen. The band is always live and everyone gets really into the message as if the pastor is really there, but there is something about him really BEING there that makes it so much better. 🙂 Also, Pastor Mark must have had 12 espresso before this service because he was a ball of energy! We were talking about a parable and he made a reference to Beyonce. And broke out in an 80s song. It was a great time! Haha

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I went to Target to grocery shop and buy new nail polish, ate a bunch of junk food like the pizza pictured above, and basically did a whole bunch of nothing for the duration of the day.

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Sunday looked a lot like laying on the couch, taking random cat naps, and watching the Kardashians and one of my favorite older movies, The Prince and Me!

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I did make homemade chicken and vegetable soup, so I guess I can give myself credit for that…

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…oh, and then I had to do this. Because for the past three weeks, I have been doing laundry, but then shoving it in the basket and never folding all the clean stuff. Three weeks worth of clean laundry on your bed means you have to fold and put away ALL of it before bed, right?! Let’s just say “almost”…

How was your weekend?!

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Recap

I headed home to this place this weekend…

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…to wear an outfit like this…

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…and eat food like this.

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It was marathon weekend in Pittsburgh and I couldn’t wait to go back and cheer on my friends. I knew SO many people who were running and after spectating last year (when I was hurt), I knew it would be fun to go back and watch again! I don’t know why I didn’t sign up…but at the last minute, I found a bib and I was officially running another half marathon! The first time I ran a half marathon in 2013, I was SO nervous and I put SO much pressure on myself to finish in a certain amount of time. Yesterday, I knew my morning routine…I knew what to do when I got to the race…and I knew that even though I was prepared to run 13.1 miles, I didn’t REALLY train for 13.1 miles this spring. I trained for the 10-miler that I ran with my friends three weeks ago. So I have done a lot of running…but I wasn’t ever working towards 13.1. So going into yesterday’s race, I tried to take the pressure off of myself and just run for fun.

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I started the day with my favorite pre-race breakfast of peanut butter banana toast…

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…and got to the starting corrals right at 6:50. The gun went off at 7 AM. Oops! I didn’t mind arriving then because I don’t like standing around to wait. Pre-race nerves kick in and I end up in the world’s longest line with other people who also think they have to pee at the last minute;) So the only bad thing about my (sort of) late arrival was the corrals were PACKED. And since you enter from the back and work your way forward, it was kind of a struggle to get to Corral C, which is where my friend’s bib was registered. Luckily there was a girl in front of me who took charge and led the way!

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I didn’t take many pictures while I was running…but Pittsburgh is known for its bridges, and this is the first one we crossed at 16th Street in The Strip District. Here is what I remember from the race:

Mile 1: So many people. Lots of bobbing and weaving to find my stride. I don’t like when groups of people spread out across the street because then you can’t get past them!

Miles 2-4: Enjoying the crowd support and nice weather. I threw my sweatshirt right at the start line because I didn’t need it! I also started messing with my belt here because I wanted to turn my music on and put my phone in the pocket. Sadly, because I just got a new belt, I couldn’t figure out how to make it tighter and my phone made the belt so heavy…which means it bounced up and down while I was running. No thank you! I ended up holding my phone the whole race, but that was okay because when I run on a normal day I am usually holding my phone (I don’t like arm bands).

Mile 5: First Gu. Unfortunately it was chocolate because I couldn’t find a second salted caramel flavor at the store this weekend. Chocolate Gu is a little too sweet for me, I think. I was excited for the next water station!

Miles 6-9: If you saw me towards the end of these miles, I would have told you I wanted to quit. I thought I was going to see my mom in this stretch and I didn’t see her at the spot I thought she would be at! I also started picturing everything that was coming instead of the mile I was in and I just got cranky. Ha!

Mile 10: Free gummy worms. Usual part of a half marathon…

Miles 11-12: All. the. hills. The Birmingham Bridge is the last bridge you cross and it feels SO hard. This is also the spot where the half marathon and marathon split, so as we turned left to go to the finish line, we were relieved…and stuck with another hill. The end of this race is a slow incline until you are basically at the finish line and then it’s flat! I saw some of the chefs from Duquesne standing on the edge of campus and shouted “Let’s Go Dukes!” and they all started cheering. 🙂

Miles 12-13.1: I definitely played the same song on repeat because it’s loud and mean and helped me go fast!

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If you would like someone to pace you anywhere from 8:32-9:54, call me. Consistency is obviously my middle name. 😉 It’s funny because you can tell I was messing with my belt in mile 4…and then in mile 5 when I gave up and refocused on what I was doing, I ran so much faster!

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My number one fans were at the finish line. 🙂 I finished in 2:05 which is definitely not my fastest half marathon, but I’ll take it knowing I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been! I have a completely different perspective about races now than I did when I started racing…it’s just about celebrating what you can do on that day, in that moment. It’s not about “winning” or stressing yourself out…it’s about the atmosphere of a race. The atmosphere is AMAZING. Runners are excited, spectators are excited, everyone is happy and working hard…it’s very, very inspiring and it’s such an accomplishment no matter how many times you have crossed a finish line.

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And then there are the little things. I may or may not run for the free food.

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The finish line is right by Point State Park and there are a ton of vendors around selling food and other running goodies to us exhausted runners! I wanted to find my friends and see others finish the full marathon, so I took my time…got my medal engraved, drank a shake, and went to this wonderful place with foam rollers.

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Lindsey also ran the half marathon…her fifth half! Pittsburgh is her favorite course ever.

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Then I walked around some more and finally made my way over to mile 25 to find this girl. This was her second full marathon (because she’s nuts…I think I’m a one and done kind of girl) and she was SO. FAST. When I saw her at mile 25, I ran next to her for a little for encouragement…she set a 47 minute PR yesterday. She finished 47 minutes FASTER than she did last year! I am such a proud running friend. 🙂

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My brother got me a bear and now my first Pittsburgh half marathon bear has a friend;)

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And then I had to drive back to Maryland. Sigh. That was a long drive. It was so hard to sit for four hours! Luckily, my friend Kristen was in the car with me. She lives near me and is also from Pittsburgh so she was going home for the weekend to run too! The trip was so much more fun with someone to talk to the whole time! Especially yesterday when it was full of stories about running and racing. Something only a runner could appreciate!

Today, it’s back to reality and three more weeks of school. I think I can, I think I can…

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Unrelated picture of my brother’s dog and his new blanket with a hood. Cutest thing ever. Hahaha

Happy Monday to YOU! What did you do this weekend?

My Running Story

The first time I heard someone say they were going for a run…well, I can’t even tell you how old I was. For as long as I can remember, my aunt has gone to the park or the track to jog almost every single day. When I was younger, she was one of my favorite people to spend time with (she still is!) so hearing her say she was going somewhere without me was just not cool. 😉 Sometimes she would let me come with her and I really would run and try to keep up! But I never made it too far and my mom was always nearby to pick me up when I needed it. Even with my aunt’s inspiration, my running career didn’t start until high school. Occasionally I would go running in my neighborhood, which, by the way, was completely uphill no matter which route you took, and that was about the extent of my running abilities until I went on vacation. Then I was one of those “OMG I love running on the beach” people. But let’s be honest, the beach is a prime running location!

Senior year, I decided to take running a little more seriously. I joined the cross country team. Do you know why?

Because I wanted to be on a team.

I am not a talented team sport player, so I figured I couldn’t really mess up in cross country because I was only in competition with myself and the clock. I learned so much about running during that year and I still use some of that knowledge to this day! What shoes to wear (I got shin splints real quick), what to eat before and after a race, what not to eat before and after a race, how to breathe properly, how to stretch…some good stuff.

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All of the seniors were recognized at the end of the season with a huge banner in front of their house. Remember when I said I wanted to be on a team? Hahaha

Then I went to college. I will spare you the woe-is-me-freshman-weight-gain story because there really wasn’t MUCH wrong with me at the end of freshman year besides the fact that I just felt gross. I had gained about 12 pounds and I ate and drank pretty much whatever I wanted but I had so much fun. Life is about living after all, right? The summer of 2011, I committed to being more healthy. I started going to the YMCA more often and Spinning became my #1 workout. I loved it so much that I spun my way through sophomore year and found myself in a certification class to be a Spinning instructor. 🙂

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No one likes to Spin during finals week. 😉

During the summer of 2012, I worked in the one of the Education department’s offices at Duquesne (where I went to school). This meant I had to make a decent commute downtown from the suburbs and I kind of felt like a real person for the first time. Was I supposed to wake up early and workout? Or was I supposed to work out after work when I most likely felt like crashing on the couch? I settled on morning workouts and I would do 30 minute fartleks around my neighborhood (we moved…now it is flat, thank goodness). I had no idea I was even doing fartleks, I just knew I was running quickly for 30 seconds and then jogging for 30 seconds…or maybe I would sprint mailbox to mailbox. I was basically doing speed work for short distances just so it was over quickly and I could get to work. Then I went back to the beach and fell even more in love with my soul mate workout.

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From the summer of 2011 to the winter of 2013, I typically ran 5 miles a day 6 days a week. I was starting to get really excited about how far I could go and how fast I was getting! On any given morning at 7 AM, you could find me running around downtown Pittsburgh. During holidays, family members joined me. In the warmer months, I signed up for races. It was a really great season of life.

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August 2012

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September 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

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Christmas 2012

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February 2013

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July 2013

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September 2013

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October 2013

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November 2013

By this point, I had run 2 half marathons, a 10 miler, a 10K, and three 5Ks. The half marathons were more “serious” races for me…I had a goal to finish under two hours, and I did that in 1:54 and 1:56. In the 10K, I wanted to finish in less than an hour and I just made it with a time around 58 minutes. The 10 miler and the 5Ks were just for fun (and yes, I realize how ridiculous it sounds to say I ran ten miles for fun but…). I did Color Me Rad twice and I ran the Jingle Bell Run during the holidays with friends. I have no idea what happened to me during the Jingle Bell Run but I was flying. I finished in 21:05 and that is honestly my favorite race to date because it showed me how much my body is capable of in the running world! But maybe you can see how with all of these races and an almost every day schedule of running, my body started to say no to running. I just wasn’t ready to listen. I was signed up for the 2014 Pittsburgh Half Marathon and I was convinced I was going to change my entry to the full marathon, so I started “building up my base”. Aka running more miles than I was ready for. And I ended up not even being able to lift my left leg to put pants on.

It was never a catastrophic injury…meaning I didn’t fall over while I was running or feel a great deal of pain. On New Years Day 2014, I went for a run around my neighborhood. Just 3 little baby miles to start the new year off on the right foot (or sweat out the alcohol…you will never know;))! But less than a mile into the run, my left hip just felt weird. Not pain exactly, but enough to make me say “enough” and turn around and walk home. I didn’t feel defeated because I was listening to my body and I honestly didn’t think anything serious was wrong…until this pain continued to happen every time I went running. I took a few days off (because who needs doctors) and then I paired up with my best friend Elliptical. Nothing seemed to be helping this pain/ache heal, and when I could feel the pain during my favorite hip hop cardio class, I knew something was actually wrong. I finally made an appointment at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. I was not messing around. After a few appointments, a bunch of x-rays, and a prescription to continue not running (I was secretly dying inside), the doctor informed me that I had a tiny tear in the muscle in my left hip. This is an injury that typically isn’t surgically fixed unless you are a real athlete…which I am not. I do not get paid to run. I am not in the Olympics. I just really, really like it. So my job was to go to physical therapy and not run. After that, we could talk about running again. The doctor promised it would be possible, but it definitely wouldn’t be the same as before. I may have actually sobbed and yelled at him while he was telling me all of this. I am a really great patient. 🙂

Six weeks and many hours of Netflix+elliptical later, I was cleared to run. I legitimately left my doctor’s appointment and went straight home to change and get outside. It was so fun! But I was really surprised at how different I felt. It wasn’t as easy as it used to be and I didn’t feel motivated to get out there and run again the next day because I was too scared.

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March 11, 2014

Instead of changing my half marathon entry to a full marathon entry, I tore a muscle in my hip. The worst part of the whole injury was that I essentially did it to myself. I added too many miles to my schedule too quickly and my muscles weren’t strong enough (as in I really only ever picked up weights if it was raining or something equally as silly). I spectated my first race last May…and it was actually really fun. I thought I was going to be really depressed watching everyone do what I couldn’t do, but it was fun to be so supportive, especially because I knew so many people running! I ended up selling my race entry to a teenage boy (our moms work together) and it was his first big race so it was a great feeling to know I could give him that! And even though I wasn’t officially running, I still had a tight schedule to keep as I ran to different places on the course watching my friends! The most exciting moment was finding my best friend at mile 24 and running next to her for a few seconds to give her a pep talk during her first marathon. 🙂

IMG_2930Running and I have an interesting relationship these days. My brain wants to be invincible Kylie of 2013 and my hip is always quick to remind the rest of my body that I cannot, in fact, run every day. I have to actually follow training plans now (which I should have been doing all along…sigh) and I have to actually cross train, strength train, and stretch. All of those things that us runners sometimes slack on because we are so excited about just the running part.

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First race post-injury: The City Spree, June 2014

I ran a “Hat Trick” this past fall…a 5K and a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. I think it’s safe to say I’m back in the game. But really, I don’t feel that way all the time. Many, many days when I step outside, I have the mindset of my old running self (which is great for motivation) and then I actually start moving and I remember…my body is different now. I don’t feel like I move as quickly and sometimes I don’t even feel like a “real” runner because I’m not out there being hardcore on the daily.

Really, who decides what a “real” runner is?

I’m deciding for us.

Real runners are people who run. PERIOD.

And take selfies. #realrunner

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I’m currently on week 6 of a training plan (I’m training for a 10-miler) and I am frustrated that I am this far into the plan and running every day is still not an option for me. Example: last week I ran on Wednesday, so on Thursday I should have done no running at all. And I didn’t. I had plans to go to the gym and lift. But the gym is 0.7 miles from my apartment…so I thought…what if I run 0.5 there and walk the rest of the 0.2…and then run the 0.5 home and walk the rest of the 0.2…

THIS IS WHAT RUNNER’S BRAINS DO PEOPLE.

THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN NO RUNNING ON THURSDAY.

So I did that ridiculous bit of running which really did what? Add 1 mile to my day and get me to and from the gym a tiny bit faster? And then I woke up on Friday and immediately knew my run that day was not going to feel good. It’s times like these that make me secretly hate the people who can run every day and take it for granted OR don’t use their gift. Yes, I call it a gift. But I have to remember that I was one of these people once. I don’t get to be upset with other people for their abilities. I just have to focus on my own. And that is hard. I get frustrated and want to stop trying. But I never will because running is my most favorite thing ever and I will do whatever it takes to make sure I can participate in the sport for as long as I can. If the day comes that I really do have to hang up my hat…well, I’ll probably cry first, but then I’ll have to find a new passion to pursue. I know there are MANY people who do not understand the thrill of the run. But for me…it’s relaxing even when it’s hard, it’s rewarding, it helps me focus, and it relieves stress. I get to see beautiful sunrises and sunsets and I get to do something good for my body.

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In the meantime, I’m focusing on trying to enjoy the running that I am able to do, and I’m going to try to take better care of my body. Because I only get one body and I beat it up pretty badly before. Plus, there is a bright side to the whole I-can’t-run-everyday thing. It gives me time to Spin and lift weights and go to yoga and do all of those things I felt like I didn’t have time for before. Now I just need to practice appreciating those things. Because usually, I’m wishing I was outside looking like this.

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Run happy, everyone. 🙂