Forging On.

The past couple weeks have been exciting. I got to go on a cruise with my best friend Nicole and we had an amazing time. I’ve missed being able to spend that much time with her so it was nice to just go and be.

But as life seems to be getting more and more hectic I’m realizing that I’m retreating to things that I never thought I would.
Meditation and yoga.

I consider myself a runner first and foremost. A triathlete, a soccer player, a swimmer. But not a yogi. That was something I only started a year ago just to say I tried it but the rewards I’m experiencing from it are unparalleled.

Running gives me clarity. It’s the motion of putting one foot in front of the other. Focusing on the air that’s passing in and out of your lungs. The feeling of strength as your legs propel you forward. The proverbial wind in your hair. Running has always been my sort of therapy. My way of getting away from things.

When the going got tough, I got going. And by going, I mean running. I literally ran away from my problems. But it wasn’t in an unhealthy way. I would contemplate every situation I was going through on my run and come up with a game plan. I would come away from runs calm, cool, collected and thirsty.

But here’s where my body has thrown me for a loop.

I’m craving yoga. I’m craving the deep breathing and the stretching. I’m craving the peace of mind.

The calm that ensues after a yoga session for me is something I can’t really compare to because it’s so new to me as well. I’m finding myself wanting to get away from it all, go somewhere remote and just….be.

Maybe go to a forest, a mountain, a beach. Just sit and watch the world spin.

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Realizations.

This summer I had the awesome chance to study abroad twice. I went to Ireland for a month in May and to Belize in July. I loved literally every second of the opportunity and there are so many things I could talk about in regards to these trips but one thing in particular sticks out in my mind.

The people.

The people I traveled with, the people I met along the way, the people who made the entire trip worthwhile.

What most don’t realize about these study abroad trips is that you forge these new relationships with people you’ve never met and you literally become instantaneous friends. Because you don’t know where you are, you’re in a foreign country with people who don’t speak the same language and then there’s the group you’re with, your little sanctuary of peers.

You create these bonds that can withstand more than you could have ever imagined. You put trust in total strangers who do the same to you. You share with them, laugh with them, cry with them.

As you travel, you learn about them, start to pick up on their little habits, encounter new things with them. It’s this intense situation that they’re there every second for.

In Belize, we traveled to a cave that made me appreciate my group in an entirely new way. We were climbing down, down, down. We were sliding on mud, pushing each other up rocks, swinging our bodies onto ledges, all in complete darkness. We were having to rely on each other because it was so difficult. We literally needed each other. It was like the most intense team building experience ever.

After the cave adventure, the rest of the trip the group acted as a unit. If someone needed help, we were there. If someone was upset, we were there. If anyone screwed with anyone, we were there in the worst way.

Now that I’m home and I’ve had time to digest everything that happened to me, I can finally grasp how important these people have become. They’re not just people anymore, they’re friends, sisters, brothers, family.

Each person brought something different to the table, brought a new side out of everyone else. And that’s what is so great about it, we became different people because of who were surrounded by. We pushed each other to be better, stronger, happier.

As I go forward in life, I tend to look to those I was with. I’m especially close to a few and what’s funny is those few are people I would have never associated with if I had not gone on these trips.

From Ireland, I look to Casey. She was my rock, my best friend over there. We did everything together and we quickly realized how similar we were. She is this gentle and kind person who made me appreciate life. She taught me how to be gracious, humble. She showed me that it’s okay to trust and I needed that. I see her often and talk to her even more often. She is like my other half at times and one of my best friends.

From Belize I look to a few people.

On the trip, my “person” was Arielle. We had this instantaneous friendship. We sat on the plane together on the way there and talked about everything under the sun. We were roommates the entire trip and it got to the point that we didn’t even have to talk anymore. She’d shoot me a look and I knew exactly what she was trying to say. We laughed about everything and everyone and tried new things together. We cared for each other when we got hurt, told each other everything and confided in one another.

Now that I’m home though, I’ve come very close to a group of people. Sammy, Brandon and CJ. It was a chance encounter that turned into a realization that we worked really well together. We’re all so completely different that we end up complementing each other in a weird way. Like I said before, everyone brings something to the table and on that table is a conglomerate of personalities.

The people I traveled with have become a staple in my life. I’ve established friendships and made an effort to keep them. It’s interesting that total strangers that decided to do something for themselves ended up finding other people who they ended up needing in their life.

Who knew?

The Looks.

I’m overweight for a runner. For a cyclist. For a swimmer. For a triathlete. For a Spin class enthusiast. For a soccer player.

I’m overweight, period. I’ve never been the skinny one or the “little one” or what not.
I’ve always had a problem with food. An unhealthy relationship to say the least. I lean on it like it’s the only reliable friend that’s left in the world. When I’m having problems of any size, there it sits, waiting for me.
It’s an addiction.

But 2 years ago, I fell in love with something that changed my life. Running. Just putting one foot in front of the other, until I couldn’t think anymore. Until all the drama, the bad thoughts, the anger, the hurt, the sadness was gone and all that was left was me.

And that’s when it got better.

I lost weight. I got happier. I wanted things for me. I got control of my own life again.

Even if the only control I had was how long my runs were. It was something to grasp to.

But, I’ve never gotten to the point of what is considered in society, “skinny”. I’m still not there, even after 2 years. I work my ass off, but there are bad days just like everyone else. And sometimes I let them get the best of me, but the next day you better believe I’m in the gym showing my body the attention it DESERVES.

Sometimes, I get looks.
Not always bad. Sometimes really judgmental. Sometimes full of approval.

No, I’m not skinny, but you better believe I’ll be out there working my ass off because I’m worth it. Do I need to be skinny to show you that? No. Is it something I work towards because I want it? Yes.

I log more hours in the gym that half of the juice-heads combined.
I log more miles in a single run than some 3 year olds can count up to.
I go as fast as cars when I ride my bike. Sometimes.

I do this for me. And honestly, that’s the healthiest outlook I’ve ever had.

So, for those who give looks to me at the gym because you think I’m too fat, because you think you’re better than me, more in shape than me, pulling more weight or reps than I am, or going faster than me…
or for those who give me the “holy cow look how hard she’s going”, she’s really pressing that much weight, look how deep her squats are, I swear I saw her 10 miles ago look….

Thank you.

Those looks fuel me. They drive me.
Those looks will be a part of the reason I will achieve greatness.
The rest will be on me.

Daily Musings

Since my triathlon, I have been slacking on a strict training schedule. School has literally taken over my life and so I run into the weekends with open arms because I’m desperate to get away from school. But, I feel like as we get closer to the end of the world and what not, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

I’m focusing mainly on weight loss with emphasis on endurance training. I spend most of my time in the gym doing cardio and the rest with strength training. I also got a personal trainer that I go see once a week with my mom (which is awesome!) and he seriously kicks our ass. I always feel like death afterwards.

As we go into the dreaded “holiday” season where temptations are everywhere my new mantra has become moderation. Except when it comes to beer, because there’s no such thing as too much beer. But in regards to food, I’ve cut out snacking completely because I have this terrible habit of “snacking” on 4 different things and usually right before and after meals which does no one any good.

I have the Women’s Half Marathon on November 18th and I plan on walking it entirely because I have put in NO training this year. Recently, I acquired a hip injury (I have no idea how it happened, though) and I literally can’t walk without a terrible limp. So, even walking the half might be out of the picture which is devastating because this will be my 4th year in a row.

The worst feeling in the world is being told you can’t run. Like all of the sudden your one source of outlet, therapy, release is gone without your consent. I know that injuries heal but speaking from experience, you never get back to 100%. Ever. After my ankle tore, it took me 5 months just to start jogging again and to this day, I couldn’t tell you how much money I would pay to be able to run pain free.

But alas, here we are.

So I’ve started a new goal tracking system where I plan my workouts for the week on Sunday night. I look at what I want to accomplish and write it all down, that way I feel accountable for it actually happening. Like tomorrow, Wednesday:

11am- Ethics Class
1pm-Meeting in Clearwater
4:30-Spin Class (as per hip’s pain level)
6-Yoga

Oh! That’s another thing. I’ve been trying to get back into yoga because it’s just what I need sometimes. I don’t think you realize how beneficial yoga is until you stop going cold turkey and you stop reaping said benefits. Merp.

So here’s to a successful week. And a healed hip.

Miles for Kaleigh

My friend, Kaleigh was diagnosed with a tumor on her pituitary gland in 2008. She is actively trying to seek medical attention but doesn’t have insurance and is having to pay out of pocket for her medical expenses. So, I’ve decided to start a fun fundraiser in her honor. 

It’s called Miles for Kaleigh and here’s how it works. For every mile run and recorded I will donate $0.25 to her cause. You can do this by:

  • Sending me a picture of your watch with miles logged
  • Taking a short video telling me how many miles you did
  • Or just messaging me how many miles you completed

Visit here to get more information on how you can participate in Miles for Kaleigh and click here to donate directly to Kaleigh. 

She’s an avid runner and I thought this would be a cool way to show her that the running community is able to come together in times of need. 

So lace up, go out, and run some Miles for Kaleigh. 

My First Triathlon

I’m in a place right now where I can’t put into words how happy, proud, and content I am with my race today. I didn’t put enough time into training and it showed but I pushed through, perservered.

The morning started nice and early, waking up at 4am to get a good breakfast in and put the finishing touches on all of my equipment. I don’t remember being nervous until I got in the car and started moving. I drove with Teri, who did the race with me, and we drove the hour long ride to Tarpon Springs. We got our bikes off the rack, got our gear together and headed towards check-in.

I got my chip, got my body marked (#7!) and headed in to transition. Since this is my first race, I was kind of shell shocked at the amount of people, the sheer amount of money that the bikes were worth, and the often strange rituals the athletes were taking a part in. Think; buckets of water to dip their feet in, religiously checking their tire pressure, frantically checking their watches…I suppose when there’s so little you can control about the race, you take whatever you can into your hands.

My “station” was in the front right hand most corner, allowing me to kind of spread out a little bit, which was nice. I set up all my stuff just as I had planned and stretched out. I went to the beach to watch all of the waves go off and get acclimated to the water. Allie and Teri were in the waves ahead of me so I got to see them both off which was really cool.

My wave went off at 7:51 am, we were the last wave to go off and the water was amazing. Warm, barely choppy and my wave had hardly any people.

In the water, I’ve heard so many horror stories about being kicked in the head, being swum over, etc, but I only got kicked twice which was surprising and such a relief. The water got progressively choppier as we got further out and I took a few facefuls of saltwater. I started in dead last and finished the swim in only 6:41 which was AMAZING. I passed 7 people. So awesome.

Transition 1 was chaotic, I got my swim cap off, goggles off, and put on my socks and shoes. I ran out of transition in about 1:24, surprising again. Next leg, the bike.

The fastest I had ever done 10 miles was in 39 minutes so I was aiming for 45 because the course had a BUNCH of sharp turns. Two miles into the ride, I realized my tire was flat. Like, flat flat flat flat. Both tires. Crap.

I knew that I wasn’t going to stop in the middle of the ride because I wanted to badly to finish this thing. The course was amazing, and the volunteers were even better. Literally every 500 yards there was a volunteer cheering me on like there was no tomorrow. I loved every second of it.

Except for the part where it started POURING. Three miles into the ride, the skies literally opened up and I was drenched. Every ten seconds I would ride with one hand to shake off excess water. THe water from my hair was rolling down into my shoes so by the end of the ride, I had 2 inches of water in my shoes. The bike was 10.2 miles and I finished in 55:23, even with two flat tires and a hurricane.

At times when I struggled during the race, I developed a mantra. You’re doing this, and nothing or no one will get in your way. Anything and everything that’s been in your way before, is no more.

It really helped to focus on those words. Particularly because they were true.

Transition 2 was ridiculously quick. All I had to do was change out my shoes and I was on my merry way. Because it was still pouring, I decided against a hat as there was no need. My legs were pretty much jello for the first mile so I walked a good half mile to reintroduce my legs to the movement of running.

My knee was bothering me like something fierce so I decided to play it safe and went with a walk/jog routine to minimize any more damage that could be caused. The 5k course was beautiful, it went along a causeway to the mainland where it wrapped around a park and headed back out over the causeway. I normally hate out and back courses but this one seemed to fly by.

While I was in the park, the winds started picking up and I was literally being blown sideways, the rain was pelting my face and there were little kids who were trying to fly into the wind (kind of funny). I made my way through the sudden storm and headed back towards the causeway.

Crossing over the bridge, Teri was waiting for me to finish it out with her which was so cool. I ran the last 1/4 mile and finished under 2 hours.

I swear, there’s nothing like crossing that line with your arms raised knowing you did it. You accomplished what you had set out to do, and here you were, celebrating that moment.

My First Triathlon

This Saturday, the 8th, will mark my first ever triathlon. I can’t explain to you how many emotions I have about it. Anxiety, excitement, fear, adrenaline, pride.

At this point, my goal is to finish. The end. I already know there are only 2 other girls in my age group so I feel like that takes a lot of the pressure that I was feeling away. Only two other girls that I’m technically competing against. So what if I come in last? I still get third.

My training has been subpar since I signed up. I’ve been so busy this summer it was almost silly to take on something like this, but I don’t want to drop something just because of an excuse. I’ve committed and I’ll stay that way.

It’s going to be a sprint distance so it will be a 1/4 mile swim, a 10.2 mile bike ride and a 5k. For my first distance, it’s a good one. Bite size, if you will. 🙂

I still have no idea what I’ll be wearing. Or what shoes I’ll use. Or how my clips will feel with a newer bike. But hey, pre-race anxiety can’t last all week….right?

Tonight I will be doing a 20 mile bike ride (on a stationary bike) to measure my time and really get a feel for how my legs will hold up. I’ve done a few brick workouts (going right from the bike to the run, or swim to the bike) and my legs are usually okay, my hamstrings are notoriously tight though. So I’ll probably stop in at a yoga class by tomorrow just to get loosened up.

But, I’m excited. And even though I have to keep reminding myself of that, I really am. And I can’t tell you how proud of myself I am for taking this on. I know when I cross that finish line, I’ll be one happy girl.