Monday, October 22, 2012

What it's like to run a Marathon

The marathon has come and gone and it would seem that my legs are desperately trying to separate themselves from my body today. I enjoyed (almost) every moment of the race, despite feeling a bit worse for wear today in the leg area of my body.

My alarm never went off that morning, but we still made it to the starting corral just before 7 a.m.--and in time for complimentary gloves to fight off the cool temperatures.

The atmosphere throughout the entire race was great: upbeat and positive, and there were many encouraging spectators along the majority of the course. Especially these two, who printed out a gigantic embarrassing picture of yours truly:


That's my sister and brother.


My parents came, too:




My mother in-law and sister in-law were also there to cheer us on.

I spent the early part of the race wondering if I was going to finish. I felt achy and nauseous, which I ultimately chocked up to being dehydrated. I was able to get back on track with Gatorade and Shot Bloks. The more we ran, the better I felt.

However, it's likely that our outfit choices for the day were the highlight of the experience.



As you can imagine, they were an attention grabber and garnered plenty of compliments along the way. My favorite was an man who pointed at us and said excitedly, "I saw those pants in Bexley!" Yup, that was us, 10 miles ago.

The way I see it, if I'm going to run 26.2 miles I would like very much to be as bright and obnoxious looking as possible.

We also had the opportunity to run through Ohio Stadium during mile 18, which was pretty amazing.



Most of the race we both felt strong and happy to be there---which is evident in all those photos. In truth, it was those last two miles that were the hardest and most taxing of the experience. My legs were beyond tired and it took everything I had to put one foot in front of the other. My body was ready to stop, but we kept pushing.

Our finishing time was 4 hours and 38 minutes.



I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I refuse to entertain the thought until after a well-deserved week of rest.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Grunion


Grunion (n.) anything we seek that eludes us, but in its place we are mysteriously blessed with something sweeter than what we set out after in the first place. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Taper Torture

The marathon is on Sunday. Our days of lengthy runs are a not so distant memory as we continue our taper in preparation. For me, it's not running all those miles each week that has begun to break me a bit. It's been forcing myself not to run that has successfully pushed me off my rocker.

It's a funny thing, training for a marathon. It's a lot like life: it has its ups and downs, moments of pure agony and torture, followed by moments of blissful accomplishment. It has tested me in ways I never imagined it would: both my physical body and the murky depths of my soul. I've been pushed and pulled to the brink plenty of times in my life, but never in this way. Training has seeped deep into my pores and reminded me that I'm much tougher than I think and much less willing to bend than I thought.

Marathon training is truly the physical manifestation of anything you've ever worked for in your life: it just feels more simplistic than any other problem or hurdle I have encountered. It has shone a light on my shortcomings in a way that nothing else could. It's split my brain and soul open in some strange way that makes me feel one part strong and another part incredibly vulnerable. It's difficult not to feel poetic about the experience.

Training is tough work, there's no sugar coating it. It's about putting in the time and the miles to accomplish a pretty amazing feat. It's not easy, and there were plenty of moments where I looked myself in the mirror and wondered what in the hell I was thinking. Each week, I change my mind about ever running a marathon again--it seemingly depends on how I feel in that moment.

Life keeps humming along at its normal pace while I've dedicated most of myself to marathon training; that's what sometimes makes it feel impossible. I'm married to running, it seems. In sickness and in health, good times and bad. Even when it's the running that is actually making me sick and the bad times seem to outweigh the good ones.

My personal breaking point arrived last week. I was exhausted, stretched entirely too thin in every area of my life, and I actually wondered if I was going crazy. It felt like something--anything--had to give. It was one of those uncomfortable moments that I typically revel in, the ones that seem to have the power to mold me into a better person.

But last week? Last week I wasn't interested in being a better person. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and kindly request a monetary refund for Sunday's marathon please and thank you. I felt exhausted and beat down and really quite pathetic. Of course, this feeling only blossomed into something terrible when I woke up early Saturday morning with a raging case of DPE (that's Double Pink Eye) and if I had the physical ability to do so, I would have cried.

We took a break from running this weekend, listening to our tired bodies that seemingly had enough. We ran 53 miles the prior week and had to pay for our efforts in some sort of bizarre health-related currency. I felt defeated and tortured.

I ventured out on a solo run late last week (my first since June) without the company of my iPod and let myself take it all in. The air was cool and a trademark Autumn breeze whipped through my hair the entire way. That run dug deep into me and pushed me back to where I belonged---deeply in love. I love running in more ways than I can articulate. But like anything else, turning something you love into a demanding job has a way of helping you to fall out of love. I needed that time to be with my thoughts, listening only to my heart and lungs working in concert, to flesh out that soft spot I once held for running.

Tapering, or reducing your miles in anticipation of a lengthy race, is a very necessary part of the training process. You need to rest (mentally and physically) to prepare for the 26.2-mile journey ahead. But it feels like torture today. After everything that stands behind us, running fewer (or no) miles leaves me too much time to spend inside my own head.

I have a difficult time, in all areas of my life, with resting and knowing that I have truly tried as hard as I could and put in every effort left in my body to successfully complete an important task. The tapering--resting--lets those questions swim freely in my brain. I have a problem with second guessing myself, and it's never been more clear to me than in the midst of resting, not training, for this marathon.

Have I done enough? Probably. I have to trust myself--and my body--now.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Poop Gets In Your Eyes, a song by Frank Sinatra

Oh, you haven't heard that mega hit by Old Blue Eyes? That's interesting.

People like to say that "$hit happens," but I also like to think that it's much more all-encompassing to simply say: Life happens.

I realized this over the weekend when I woke up early Saturday morning in a crazed panic upon realizing I could not open my eyes. Literally. They were completely incapable of opening and it was a problem.

But Emily, you might say, what's the big deal?

Well, the large deal was that both of my eyes were swollen and fused closed from a pesky case of double pink eye. DPE, as it were. It was one part scary, two parts disgusting, and a few parts disturbing. DPE is not for the faint of heart, friends. As a very clean adult who spends a scarce amount of time in the company of small children, it was a bit perplexing.

I did what any intelligent human being would do: I blindly tripped over two overly anxious dogs and smashed my bony shins into a large wooden bed frame as I felt my way blindly into the bathroom to see what the fuss was all about. The fuss, I realized, with the aid of a warm wash cloth and sheer determination was DPE.

Upon realizing this news, I promptly went back to bed for another 6 hours and spent the remainder of the weekend feeling sorry for my quarantined self and cleaning my home like a mad person with products that had words like "anti-bacterial" and "bleach" in them.

The high point of the weekend arrived from my ever-loving husband who, upon hearing the news of my ailment, asked the following:

"Don't you get pink eye from getting poop in your eye?"

Yes, you do.

I guess this means my days of spreading fecal matter all over my face and eyes for their magical healing properties have come to a close.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

CampusBookRentals.com

I was recently contacted by the website Campus Book Rentals to provide information to my readers on the company and the services they provide to college students.

While I am no longer a college student myself, I very vividly recall the anguish and significant expense associated with purchasing textbooks--and the horror of trying to sell them back after the semester was over. The fact of the matter is this: textbooks are crazy expensive and reselling them back to the bookstore typically means a loss of your investment. When I was in college, I recall a man in a very sketchy looking van parking on campus with a makeshift banner and buying textbooks each semester. It was a bit unnerving.

This is where Campus Book Rentals comes in: they allow you to rent the textbooks you need right from their website. They will ship them to you for free and give you free shipping when you send them back. The books are deeply discounted (think 40% to 90% off what the bookstore charges) and guess what else? You can highlight the books. I love a lot of things in this world, but using my highlighter is among the most beloved of the things I do on a daily basis.

They offer flexible renting periods for books and even buy books you have on hand using a free shipping label. As if that wasn't enough, every book you rent means a donation to Operation Smile, an organization that helps fund surgery for children across the world who are born with a cleft lip as part of their "Making A Difference" Program.

This website *almost* makes me want to go to grad school just to save money on books. Almost. If you are in the market for textbooks, however, I highly recommend you check them out!


Disclosure: I was compensated for writing a review on the Campus Book Rentals website. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Buy Now or Never: A Review



I was recently contacted by the website Buy Now or Never to do a review on a few items on their website. Buy Now or Never is a discount website that carries deeply discounted handbags, jewelry, accessories, home furnishings, area rugs, and luggage & travel items. There are many big designer names and items on their website at great prices.

I chose two pieces from their designer-inspired line of jewelry:

Designer Inspired Double Band Ring with Raised Stone Encircled by CZ's



Designer Inspired Twist Gemstone Oval Earrings


My items arrived quickly and well packaged. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of these items. When it comes to "designer inspired" items, there can often be questionable workmanship which makes them look cheap. That was not the case for these items; both the ring and earrings are both heavy and appear to be well made. The earrings are relatively heavy and have beautiful filigree details on the back. The ring's CZ stones were set properly and appear to be very secure.

Both pieces are a great option for someone on a budget: they are significantly less than the real deal and in my opinion look just as great. I received many compliments on both pieces when I wore them.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience with Buy Now or Never and wouldn't hesitate to return as a customer in the future.

To sign up for the Buy Now or Never email list to get updates on sales and discounts, click HERE.


Disclosure information: I received a complimentary pair of earrings and ring from Buy Now or Never to review. All opinions are mine.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Storm before The Calm

I have always believed that chaos is thrown into your life for a very specific reason. To test you, build your character, make you think harder, or even to give you a new perspective. It's not always easy to see things that way, but I have to believe it's true.

I think about this a lot, mostly when I feel overwhelmed and I wonder why I'm stuck in (what sometimes feels like) a mess. When you are stuck in a place where it feels like you'll never go anywhere, you are there for a reason.

I hear this all the time: you are where you are because there is still more for you to learn.

As someone who wholeheartedly believes I will always have much more to learn, I still struggle when life gets crazy and it feels like I'm struggling. Life can be messy sometimes. It feels like chaos. It feels like you are going to break. But really, I like to think that it's that way because I'm on the right track. Things are on the verge of changing, right in the midst of the chaos of my life.

I have to believe this is all true, based upon everything I have experienced in my own life. In every moment I have known in the thick of utter chaos, things have always turned for the better afterwards. There's just something incredibly powerful about fighting through it all to come out on the other side with the experience to back it up. It's made me who I am.

I don't know what the future holds---and neither do you--but I have to believe the ugly parts are all part of the grand design. I've seen it in my own life and I know I am a better person for it.

So, embrace the ugly. Encourage the chaos into your life every step of the way. Allow yourself to be criticized, tested, and honed into something beautiful and strong. Hold firm to what you believe is right. Do the right thing, even when you are criticized for it. Treat people fairly. Trust carefully.

But more than anything, be willing to ride the waves as they crash onto the shore. It will all make sense someday--your path is all part of the plan.

As for me, I know the bad always has a way of leading to the good. I welcome the mess into my life, because I want it to make me a stronger person. I have seen it play out in my own life time and time again--and my prayer for you is that you can find the strength to see it, too.

"When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you were into it, it was a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect." - Schopenhauer
 
Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world cannot support that many ballerinas. Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world cannot support that many ballerinas. and every day with. It's about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there's not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you've finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that's all that you can ask for." -Paul Maurerand every day with. It's about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there's not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you've finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that's all that you can ask for." -Paul Maurerand every day with. It's about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there's not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you've finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that's all that you can ask for." -Paul Maurer

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