You Remember When + Where + How You Are

I was at my then fiance’s house, with his mother, his father, his older brother, and his (ours) two nephews. My husband is the middle of three boys, all Brooklyn-born, all married, all fathers. C is the only childless one.

Anyways, we’re in the kitchen, which, if you know black houses, is most-often the living/den/hanging out room. Mother-in-Law (I call her Moms–Mama reserved for the woman who birthed me–) is cooking something to feed us, even though we didn’t necessarily come over to eat, we know that as soon as we cross the threshold, there will be onions and thyme sizzling in a pan a few moments later. There is a television mounted to the wall. Pops (Daddy–you know. There is only ever ONE Daddy) usually controls what the entertainment is–sports or some home-remodeling channel.

That night, it was the court room. We were waiting to hear what would happen to George Zimmerman. At first nothing was happening. Pops muted the television, and we chatted about any and everything; his bell-toned Guyanese accent filling up the space. It’s summer, the summer before my nephew enters high school–and I think it is the summer before he bridges into being a man, into coming into himself in a way that has been different from other summers. He is making choices of his own now. His voice is getting deeper. He rides the train by himself.

I’m still trying to figure out my place in all of this–the family gathered around the room, and not-yet-married; am I a part of it? How will I be a part of it. Moms and Pops joke that I’m the quiet one (read: daughter in law), that I observe. Pops knows the way to my heart–through food, and listens when I make requests: Oxtails at Christmas, Lamb on the grill, whiskey or brown liquor on the table, and so on. Moms loves her boys, all of them, and I joke and say C is her favorite, though he says it’s not true. I’m not calling him a Mama’s boy, just stating fact. The two of them (Moms and Pops) raised some beautiful men in New York in the hard 70’s, in the harder 80’s, in the hardest 90’s, in the most hard 2000’s, in the ever hardest 2010’s. What must it take now? In the future?

Pops shushes us. Remember, he controls the television in the kitchen, always. A man is walking on screen to say something, and I swear to you, all of the warm air that was in the hot summer kitchen with the gas stove sizzling oil and thyme and rice now is sucked out of its one window.

I don’t remember the words or how they came. I just remember Moms scream.

She has three black sons; this is her worst fear. She has two black boy grandchildren, and–she hopes, looking at Me + C–for more, but this television just told her that the man who killed a black boy–just a few years older than her oldest grandchild–will be able to walk away guilt-free. Will be able to hold his gun in his hand; will be able to–has been given permission to–hold another gun in his hand and point it at a black man that could be–my husband, my brothers-in-law, my Daddy, my Pops, my two nephews (today, the oldest one is taller than me; he has facial hair, and his voice keeps reaching to his knees)….

And what are we, the women of the room, to do when the answer comes and it is judgment passed down? When my husband leaves at 11:30PM Thursday, Friday nights to go to work, in Brooklyn, just 8 blocks south of where the man shot the police, just a few blocks south of where the young man was shot sitting in the stairwell, where cops post up on our blocks in threes and fours……when My husband leaves the house, and kisses me good night. I pray he makes it back. He might not.

There might come a day when someone I know is sitting in a court room waiting for an answer to arrive. We have been waiting with baited breath too many times, gathered around a television, waiting for an answer. Only to yelp. Only to turn off the television and sit in silence, and figure out how you are going to continue to walk out into a world that continues to deny your very breath that expands your chest.

Moms catches her breath, and holds her oldest grandson. A black boy. We shake our heads. We shake our heads. The remote drops to the table. Somehow, we gather the strength to eat.

New Year. In Search of [more] Wonder

So, I owe everyone a recap–a formal one–of Amsterdam, and there was a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in there since I last wrote. But now, Christmas has passed and the new year, and I’m staring down the short road to my birthday, to 30.

C’s birthday is in December (in fact, a day after I got back from Amsterdam), and my Birthday in January, so we get several opportunities to really sit and reflect on the year and what we would like for the next year (our birth year, or the annual year). One thing that I realized while in Amsterdam, and what made the second half of 2014 so great is that, I found the part of me that was in search of wonder, and I fed it.

Let me explain. I think it goes back to my loving to “start” things, but my less desire to finish things. When I was marathon training, it wasn’t the starting that I was afraid I wouldn’t do, it was the seeing it through. But, each week, each month, each Saturday long run, had this built-in unknown. Each week, I was in search of my ability to accomplish what I set out to do, and that fueled me to continue on. After 13 mile runs, every distance up to 20 was a new territory. It was: can I run 14, can I run 16 (twice!), can I run 18 (twice!), can I run 20 (!!) miles. And I had this five month journey to answer the question: Can I run 26.2 miles?

And then I did.

Luckily, in the middle of that, I had planned to do another adventure: go to Amsterdam, by myself, and see the Anne Frank museum/The Secret Annex. So I was running towards 26.2 miles, and preparing to travel alone across an ocean, and be able to give my childhood self an answer to a search of wonder. I had read the diary as a young girl, and while I was struck by the writing about the war, what moved me most was her steadfast determination to be a writer, and to work her craft, and to desire all of that in spite of what was going on around her.

I had coasted on the joy of conquering the unknown–a marathon–until it was time to depart for another unknown–Amsterdam–and then, I came back, and life had no more momentum. No more wonder.

December inched by much in the way that the first half of 2014 inched by, and I recognized that I was letting myself get depressed again. I had no motivation. Nothing I was searching for; nothing to uncover.

On NYE, C and I talked about our goals for 2015, and for me for my first year of 30, and I didn’t really have a full list thought out in the way I might have in my early 20’s. A few years ago, I came up with phrases that would help me guide my thinking and actions. One was: A Year of Courageous Acts. Which meant, I was constantly going outside of my comfort zone. That’s how C and I started dating, actually.

This year, I think I want to say I’m “In search of more Wonder”.  And see what new adventures come my way.

Weekend Runs + Race to Deliver 4Miler Race Recap

Hello! Happy Thanksgiving Week!

I am so excited to get to Thanksgiving, but I still am unable to believe that it is this week! It also means that AMSTERDAM is next week, but that’s another post :) And there’s a lot that stands between me and Amsterdam–like my Daddy’s turkey, my Mama’s dressing, and all the sides I have to cook (mac & cheese, collards, greenbeans, etc etc)!

I have to admit though, that weekends are SO LONG when you’re not marathon training. I swear, they zipped by so quickly when half of the days were spent running, preparing to run, and recovering from the run. I ran Saturday and Sunday, both outside and enjoyed every minute of it, and also enjoyed some nice, relaxing time at home!

Here’s what my week looked like:

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  • 4 runs
  • 1 bike day
  • not much cross training action (need to work this in)

Saturday I met up with my friend Charif to run 4 miles around Prospect Park. My “usual” now, Bike + Run (until snow comes, I guess). Ignorance is certainly bliss, because I accidentally left my gloves at home, and my fingers almost froze off! I got home and realized the weather was 38*! No wonder! Anyways, so my goal this past week has been to get my miles in without stopping or walking, which I am capable of doing, but mentally it’s a struggle. I enrolled Charif in my goal of 4 miles without stopping/walking and we were successful! I still managed to spend over an hour with him and forgot to get a photo, but he was there. And it is so nice to get to a point of running and talking again :) Also! Charif coached me up Prospect Park Hill without stopping so it was a good mental push I needed, especially for Sunday’s race in Hilly Central Park.

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Sunday was Race Day! It was my first race since THE MARATHON (lol I feel like it always has to be in all caps), but also my last of 9 + 1 Qualifying races for 2015 Marathon! When I signed up for it, I had no idea what my legs were going to feel like on race day after the marathon, but I could walk 4 miles if I had to if it meant I could get my 9th race in!

Instead, it turned out to be a great race! And my legs have never felt stronger! (Well, 2014 strong) So I was hoping for a good race. C is injured and also didn’t sign up for this race but he came up to cheer me on! It was nice to have someone out there rooting for me! My coach was running Philly Half Marathon the same day and we talked about my goals for this race, and she said to “surprise yourself.” And if I was feeling really good in the last mile then I could push it.

The great thing and bad thing about weight loss is your fat clothes don’t fit you anymore. I found this out the hard way. On race day. I had been lazy about immediately washing my pants after runs this week and so were left with my all black old navy tights–with no drawstring. I put them on and they felt loose–yikes–but I didn’t have a choice. It was that, or capris, and I wasn’t prepared to have exposed skin today. So I went with the tights. Bad move.

Here’s us at the start:

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We got to the start mad early (like 25 minutes early) and C lent me one of his jackets (haha) to stay warm with while we waited. It was also a small enough race that I wasn’t in the last corral (based on my 2012 10:22 pace), so I wanted to line up before they collapsed :) I got in line and tried to decide between music or no music for the race. Pros: If I landed on the right songs, I could be propelled pretty fast/my legs go into auto pilot. I don’t have to listen to my breath or feet. Cons: If I don’t get the right songs in enough time, I get frustrated and slow down. I didn’t really have any set goals for this run, but I did have a great run on Thursday that gave me hope for a great race. My legs were a little tight from Saturday’s Bike + Run, but not unbearable (I’ve run longer miles through much more pain), so I was just going to run and walk through the water stops.

When the race started, I turned on the music, and just went with whatever my legs were going to give me today—C caught a great shot near the beginning

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And then I was off! Immediately upon running, I realized that my pants were going to be trouble. I pulled them up as much as possible, and they kept sliding down. I checked in back to make sure nothing was too low, and luckily my marathon vest comes down pretty low over the bum area that I would be covered. But up front! they kept sliding down and down and I kept pulling up and up. I found a decent friction point where they wouldn’t go past, and continued to run/only to walk through the water stops, and powered up Cat Hill. I was keeping a pretty good pace for the first mile–well within my comfortable pace that I’ve been keeping these past few runs.

Mile 2 was the flat East Drive section where I picked up some time, and a few downhill slopes turning into the 102 transverse. Mentally, I had to begin to prepare for the “rolling hills” of West Side Drive, and figure out my game plan. I had gotten into a groove, my aches were still there, but fading a little bit (i had walked them out), and my pants were going to be annoying, but they weren’t going to come all the way off, so I was just going to run with it (ha!).

When I turned unto the West Side, I had a quick walk break. This is what I mean when i say it’s mostly mental. Like, I didn’t *need* the walk break, but I felt better when I took it, and my legs were “begging me”.

Then started the slow rolling hills. I had to remind myself that I had done a 14, 16, and two 18 mile runs in Central Park this past season. I knew the hills before that, but I definitely got to know them then. And I also knew that I could make up time on the down hill. The first hill, I ran half-way up, and then walked to the crest, and then powered down the hill. When I made it to the bottom of the short downhill/foot of the next mountain/hill, I kept going at my power speed for more than half of the hill! I took a quick walk break to gather myself, and powered down the next hill, and half-way up the next. At this point, it was the last major incline of the race, I had passed the 3rd mile marker, and coach said if I was feeling good I could push it at the end.

And I did.

I sprinted down the hill (.5 mile downhill, which I knew was coming), and thanked my quads for making me fly. Even when it got to the flat part of the park before the slight downhill, I was still holding a generous clip, AND continued to push it lower and lower.

Honestly, my brain was like, let’s walk. Even though clearly my legs were like: we got this. And I almost walked, except, I saw C and wanted a good picture :)

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And I got it. When I passed him I had less than .15 left, and was inching close to my fastest race mile of the season! I was in this weird pocket by myself, and people in front of me were just a little too far to speed past. But I still managed to push it at the end.

And then I was done! And I felt great! I finished my # 9

The bagel was a little hard, and the apple a little soft, so C and I just went to get breakfast and I basked in my glory. I had a season PR for average mile. I had a negative split the whole way (first mile was slowest, and kept going down to my fastest mile), and today was the first day that I felt like—I could get my old self back.

My coach texted me congrats! and we celebrated her speedy legs in Philly, and it’s going to be a great winter, y’all!

This week: TURKEYTURKEYTURKEY & DRESSINGDRESSINGDRESSING (or, stuffing) & MAC & CHEESEEE

To keep myself accountable, me and C signed up for a 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. I also have to get a 3 mile run in.

I’m really digging this winter conditioning. It’s more fun than I thought it was going to be. :)Let’s hope it stays that way!

Big Girls Do Run….Marathons

The cold almost got me today, y’all. I didn’t want to get up early and go to the gym to run “only” 3 miles before work. So I slept in. And made plans to do it after work. Before burgers. Because Spurgeon :).

Anyways. The place we were meeting was closer to a Crunch on Wall Street and well, it was just easier to go to this crunch than walk over to one closer to my job to have to still travel and meet up on time. I figured I pay for access to all of the Crunch’s so why not?

Now, I’ve been a member since like 2012 and I have not ever been approached in the 4 other Crunch’s I frequent: 2 in Chelsea, 2 in Brooklyn. Maybe it was Bc I was one of the few brown girls in the gym who were not trainers? One of the few brown girls in the gym who wasn’t working out with a trainer (for real the trainer to client ratio was pretty high)…or maybe because I was–it’s true–one of the bigger girls in the gym, that the trainer took my asking where the (ONE) water fountain was as an invitation to small talk….and sales pitch. Went something like:

Me: excuse me, where is the water fountain? I don’t usually come to this gym.
T1: right this way…..so….you’re here for a class?
Me: no. To run.
T1: oh, that’s all you’re doing?”
Me: yes…I am still recovering from….THE MARATHON
T1: oh oh oh….you were….able to run the whole thing? I mean, how did you do? I had a friend who had to stop like….before brooklyn.
Me: exactly like I wanted and finished without stopping or without injury
T1: I’m running my first 5k next week
Me: oh, that’s nice…. (In the tune of:”that’s cute”)
T1: maybe we can work out next time you’re here.
Me: I don’t come here like that.

I couldn’t tell if it was part hitting on me or what. I thought if I said I ran a marathon he’d get off my back, and that didn’t work, then I thought if I flashed my wedding ring that he would step back. Not so much. Exhibit B:

I’m running on the treadmill. My plan for the 3 miles is to run it non stop. I’m rebuilding my legs post marathon, and so it’s not impossible but it’s a bit more of a challenge than during training. At this point I have been running for almost 30 minutes straight without walking–AS MUCH AS THE GUY NEXT TO ME AND THE WOMAN NEXT TO HIM–I slide into the treadmill next to the wall. A female trainer with locks (maybe she’s coming to say something about that?) comes into my peripheral vision. I’m jamming to Beyoncé, getting my groove on, and I see a hand in my face. At first I’m like: she is not trying to stop me. I AM RUNNING. I HAVE EARPHONES ON. I WAS WRONG.

T2: hi! I wanted to come introduce myself.
Me: (taking earphones out. Not slowing down at all.) hi.
T2: I saw you over here doing your thang! You were running like…..forever and not stopping!
Me: yeh, just…getting an easy run in (please note. I am still running and she is using up my precious oxygen!!)
T2: are you training for something? A race coming up like a 5k our something?
Me: no. Just recovering from THE MARATHON
T2: oh oh oh! That’s cool! (Here it comes) what was your time?
Me: I finished right where I wanted.
T2: that’s good I’m sure it was amazing. I want to do one. Everyone is doing one
Me: you should! Good luck. At which point I turn to face forward and try to put my earphones back in
T2: how are you doing over here? Do you have any incline on the treadmill?
Me: IM GOOD. JUST GETTING A RECOVERY RUN. (Back off, kid!)
T2: oh, ok I see I see! Keep doing your thang! Just wanted to say hello and introduce myself.

4 minutes go by during this transaction. SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!?!??

I never saw her gasping at anyone else running on the treadmill or rushing to help them out! I never saw my boy harassing anyone else. Was it my size? Like I looked like I was hopelessly there to do some cardio and needed the help of the trainers lest I drift endlessly in a walking daze? (Cause clearly they watched to see if I was going to walk!). Do they not know that big girls do run…..MARATHONS. and I’m sorry, but like that trumps any lunge or dumbbell row you might ask me do do. ESPECIALLY if you haven’t run a 5k yourself, and you are coming to talk to me WHILE IM RUNNING to think I’m going to stop my run to talk to you.

I finish up. Old boy, T1 is giving me a head nod. I go to somewhere where folks ain’t creeping (because clearly they are if you know I’m running “mad long”) to stretch out and refill my water bottle.

T1 finds me and says that he is impressed that I’m “doing so much! Did you lift weights too?!?!?!?!” Granted, I didn’t, but…the surprise? I tell him no, I just ran

A 5k

And keep it moving towards the changing room.

Week 1 #WinterConditioning

It’s been two weeks since the marathon, and I’m still not tired of talking about it, though I feel like some of the glow is fading…I certainly do NOT miss chronically tight legs/bum hips, getting up SUPER EARLY to make sure I have enough time to get in 6 miles before work, constantly washing stinky running clothes.

I took a solid week off from running, and even though my legs felt “fine” on Thursday after the marathon, I didn’t try them until the Sunday–a week after the marathon. I had convinced my friend Charif to run with me, though I told him that it would depend on how my legs felt whether or not I would really run. I was prepared to bike a loop of Prospect Park instead.

Oh! My bike has been dusted off! I feel like I have a few more weeks before snow perpetually covers the ground, so I’m looping in real-life cycling (instead of spin classes) into my week by using it as a warm-up commute to Prospect Park. It takes about 20 minutes there, and 17 back (yay downhill!), so I get in some good spins.

I think I mentioned here, but I’m not jumping right back into marathon training for a spring marathon. Instead, I’m going to put my efforts into Brooklyn Half and getting fast and fit. I begged my running coach to set me up for that plan, and she happily obliged, and I’m still working with my nutritionist, and recruited a strength personal trainer to join my team. Last week we met up at his gym so he could see where I’m at currently to help him put together my plan. Here’s what my non-marathon training week looked like–ironically, the same amount of working out, but it didn’t feel nearly as crucial!

Here’s the week in numbers/pictoral form:

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  • 3 runs (4 if you count Sunday-to-Sunday)
  • 5 days total working out (6 if Sunday-to-Sunday)
  • 2 strength days
  • 3 bike rides!

SUNDAY (11/9): Bike 5, Run 3.5 with Charif

My legs were still “tender” I like to say, but it was a great run—we caught up on life, and got in a few unassuming miles along the way. Also, I saw some mile numbers I hadn’t ever seen before outside, so that was exciting to see faster times creeping up.

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TUESDAY: Strength–body weight exercises with Lean.Strong.Fast

This workout was tougher than I expected it to be! I warmed up for a few minutes on the treadmill, and then did a series of leg-work/body weight exercises to strengthen my running legs and core. As expected, core is weak, but I was happily surprised at my ability to do so many of the exercises–like full push-ups from the ground (!!) We finished the session and he stretched me out/massaged IT band & piriformis muslces and I squealed out of laughter (mad ticklish) and pain (SUPER TIGHT). Note to self: love up on that foam roller some more!

WEDNESDAY: Run 3.4 in park with Toni!

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I met Toni when she gave me the hug of life at the end of Staten Island Half. If you’ve run a few signature NYRR races, you’ve seen her smiley, beautiful face at the finish line to high-five you, hug you out, hold you if you’re crying, etc etc. :) She’s amazing and her energy is so contagious. We were basically insta-friends and made a date to go running together. Her son runs with Black Men Run, so we met up and waited for some more Black Men to show up–during that time, we had a photoshoot (see above!). We started out running and I think her energy was so contagious, that I caught it in my legs! My first mile was 10:xx and I had not ever seen that number for a mile this whole whole season. It felt effortless. I felt like I was flying. And we were talking and catching up. Then, I think I psyched myself out and my numbers came back down to the “numbers I know”—but the speed is there! It’s there! And I have Toni to thank for showing me it’s in those legs of mine.

THURSDAY: Strength–body weight exercises with Lean.Strong.Fast

This day was another tough one. I didn’t eat enough before hand (measly Lara Bar) and felt it definitely near the end when I had to do some jump rope. It had been too long since I jumped rope, but it was another good reminder of how strong I am, and how the body does remember! I need to incorporate more jumping into my routine! More core work, such as plank jacks, and lower-body work: squats and lunges and–what coach believes will become my favorite–one-legged stand up and sit down (controlled) from a weight bench. WITH A MEDICINE BALL. Yep.

FRIDAY: Glorious rest!  + Cocktails

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SATURDAY: Bike 5, Run 3.5

As you can see I’m trying to be social again with my running. It definitely helps the miles tick by so much faster, and instead of going out to drinks to catch up (hey, I do it!), I coerce my friends to come for a run! Charif tried to cancel on my at the last minute, but I coerced him to come out :) and so glad he did! We didn’t take a picture together, but he’s there in spirit. And it was a beautiful day to be out running.

Glorious Fall!

Glorious Fall!

SUNDAY: Walk 2, Run 3.6, Bike 5

Yesterday, C and I decided to grab breakfast in the neighborhood. I got chicken and waffles, and he got an omlet. We were both stuffed at the end, and so I asked to take the “long way” back, which meant doing an almost 2 mile walk in Bed Stuy. Score! I got home and changed and got ready to head out for my run.

Yesterday was also the start of my actual running plan that my coach set me up with. 4x week running, with my longest run of 6 miles not coming until Dec 20. I AM IN HEAVEN. :) Coach pushed me to use my easy runs as absolutely-no-walking runs, and I only had 3 miles on tap, but the park is 3.4-3.6 (depending on if you start at GAP or on the loop) so I did 3.1 miles without walking, then ran/walked the hill back to Grand Army Plaza (GAP). It was much chillier on the ride over than Saturday, however, I was prepared and was actually pretty hot by the time I biked and ran and got ready to bike back home! Check out my gear :)

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I swear that pink vest was the best thing I could have bought all season! It keeps me warm, it reminds me of the marathon (because I ran in it AND because it has the marathon logo!) and how strong I am, and it has pockets. Win Win Win.

Also: Who knew weekends could feel so long without a long run!

My Therapist….err….Nutritionist! (a rambling thought)

I still haven’t written the post about how I decided to drop $$ on building my team (as if everything else in marathon training isn’t expensive enough!)–running coach and nutritionist. And the life mantra I live by right now that led me to that decision, but it’s coming. I think it’s a bigger project/writing that I want to give a little more brain energy to than the few minutes I spend updating my blog.

However, I find that it’s no coincidence that my mental life is turning around/had turned around during marathon training, and I think that it’s no coincidence that several—several—times I was telling someone about my nutritionist, I said, “Therapist” first.

Let me back-track.

I come from a family that believes you should just—-get over—things. That, eventually, wehther you address it or not, things will go away, or fix themselves, or that the solution to big problems have small answers. That, to lose weight, you just….eat less. (There is a story about a family member telling me in middle school that it “wouldn’t hurt me to skip a meal” as a way to encourage me to lose weight. THAT HELPED!–NOT!) That, if you’re sad….you just, suck it up and deal. And maybe you’ll cry about it in a conversation, but you’ll stop as soon as you start and then you’ll move on to the next conversation, and as soon as you stop crying, that’s the healing process, right? It starts to work itself out, just like that.

In 2012, I started seeing a therapist because I was in this bad, dark place at work and I thought it had to do with how I was presenting and processing things and I wanted to be a better girlfriend (my unhappiness there was spilling over into my unhappiness at home). Now that I am drawing the timeline, I started therapy RIGHT when I stopped working out regularly, and RIGHT in the middle of my desire to transition into a new job.

I was skeptical–still am–of the process. I had some great moments in the room, and I am so thankful that the therapist worked with me when I transitioned jobs and my health insurance didn’t transfer. When I think about the timeline some more, I remember being *more* sad than before, and I remember my clothes started fitting differently….Sandy happened and I lost my groove and thought I could stand to keep that $ in my pocket, and so I stopped going.

Fast forward to 2013. I decided to get fit again. i was back in the gym, I was running miles a month (70, 80, 90) and it was almost effortless, and I was losing weight again, and then my grandmother died in February. I brought my running clothes down to SC and I continued to run, and I continued to support my family those 8 days, and I lost track of myself and my process of mourning. I didn’t grieve like I wanted to.

I came back from SC and maybe ran for another month before I stopped running all together. And turned to food. I ate my deep deep levels of grief. Obviously, I became more unhappy, and continued to eat, and continued to get more unhappy as more things didn’t fit me, or I would think about my grandmother, or as I would think about not running and how much I was eating, and would choose to eat some more. It went on this way until near the end of 2013. I got married not in the shape/weight that I wanted to be, but I have to accept it. A few months later, I went back to therapy, because now I wanted to be a better wife. I wanted to be…..happier.

It’s hard to explain, but I feel like, the person I saw had some other agenda. I wanted to go and I wanted her to help me be a better person to those people around me, to be more…present. I felt like, she didn’t feel satisfied with the session until she asked me a question that made me cry. And at the time, I thought THAT must be good therapy. She had the tissue right there, and we were talking about my grandmother and I was crying and I was…healing, right?

Fast forward to this past September when I got my act together and scheduled a meeting with a nutritionist. I had lost, about 16 lbs on my own just because of the sheer volume of running and cross training I was doing shed lbs. I got a little faster, and gained a little more confidence, and I didn’t have to go to a next round of wardrobe (I’m still holding on to that wardrobe from 2012. I should let it go, but I’m still holding on) that I was pushing the seams on….The nutritionist really helped me see food as FUEL to do hard things. Like, run 26.2 miles. Like, run 18 miles on Sunday, 15 miles throughout the week, and 20 miles the next Sunday. That Food, can fuel AND help you shed weight, if you put it in the right place.

And you know, I could have lied to my nutritionist (I swear I almost wrote therapist just now!) about how much I ate or when or why to save from her possibly judging or scolding me. But I choose to be honest: Don’t tell me to count calories. I won’t. I tell her: I need 4 snacks–throughout the day, how can we make that happen? We work together to give me…choice. I think in so many aspects of my life, I always felt like I didn’t have any choice for that happened to me, that things…weight gain, grief, healing from grief…just happened to me. She doesn’t tell me what I can’t have, she lets me choose things that could work better for me, and includes the things I might want (Dessert…Wine…Carbs) and tells me: choose 2. And I feel like, I have some power. I don’t feel powerless. I have gained some of my strength back.

And I think once I regulated my intake of food–I’m still working on it. I’m in the middle of a 7 day clean-eating detox right now and missing sugar and bread like WHOA–my mood increased. I felt more confident in my running ability. I shared with C my nutrition plan and he is on board. He doesn’t say, “you can’t have that” (except during this detox, which my nutritionist didn’t say I should do), instead, he has a plate of food that I can eat ready on my plate and joins me in this journey.

And my mood has been incredibly upbeat. It’s probably because there’s less junk in me clouding my judgment/feels. But, who knew that changing my diet…..being mindful of the things I put in my mouth…..help me see differently/feel differently. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I call her my therapist. Not to say that nutritionist=therapist, but I kept looking for some way to address all my ills, and food——-has been a way to touch on it.

The Power of Habit…and, So…What’s next?

OK. When I set out to try to run NYC Marathon back in June, I kept professing that if I just finished this, I would never run again.

At the time I said it, I had no faith in my ability to fall back in love with running, for running to hold a part of my life again. Honestly, I just wanted to make good on the promise I made myself back in 2012 when I qualified. I wanted to “see something through.”

It started when I kept making excuses for not running with Curtis. I was tired. I would do it later. One day, C was like, OK if I let you get away without exercising right now, I want photographic evidence that you worked out later. So I took a picture of the treadmill, and texted it to him. Then…I posted it on Instagram. And got some “likes”.

And then magic happened.

One of the books I read near the beginning of this training cycle was The Power of Habit, which goes through how we build habits into our lives, and how–if we want to make something a habit–to set things up for future success. So many things we do and do well are because we created a habit (that is: trigger, routine, reward) where getting through the three processes is seamless and your body/mind starts craving the reward.

The first habit was: Workout. Post on Instagram. Get a “Like”/some form of encouragement from people out there. The reward was the fact that people saw me doing something and encouraged me to keep on doing it. So I did.

To make getting to the Workout part (the hardest part honestly, is getting to the gym. IN THE MORNING. BEFORE WORK.), I set up myself for success. Each night, I packed my clothes in my gym bag and set out the clothes I would wear to the gym. I’d set my alarm clock, and go to bed. When my alarm clock would go off in the morning it was the trigger. The routine was simply: put on my sports bra, pants, shirt, etc, and grab my bag and get out the door. It really was that easy.

Then it became a series of rewards after the other: because I worked out and posted on instagram/facebook and got a whole bunch of likes, I felt good. Because I worked out, I was coasting on an endorphin high all day. Because I worked out, I could come home, eat dinner and get cozy in bed because I was going to work out in the morning again. When I added a coach to this routine, I had a personal cheerleader–someone to provide me the reward immediately upon finishing my work out.

So I had it from all angles: folks on the interwebs to “like” and congratulate me for getting out on the road or on the treadmill and make me feel like I’m doing something right. I had my coach who would tell me what to do once I got to the gym (also important is removing anything that would block me. For me, I didn’t want to think about what I had to do. All I wanted to do was get to the gym and follow directions), and then tell me what a great job I did once it was over. And then as soon as I crossed into miles 13.5+, the rewards became: finishing running distances I’ve never run before–in light of all of my challenges. So then I was hungry to try to get to the next level. And I had all of the other motivating factors behind me.

This then carried over into my eating—I had someone literally outline what I could eat and when and how much and what kind, and when I came back to meeting with her, I would get my reward: a lower number on the scale, a “great job!” when she saw my log.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say my success getting to the finish line wasn’t carefully orchestrated. And now that I don’t have that scaffolding to my day, and finally feeling like I can do things again (went for my first run on Sunday, one week after the marathon! and biked!), I’m trying to figure out what’s next.

In my immediate-post-marathon haze, I told my coach not to take me seriously for anything but I wanted to consider a Spring Marathon. I told her I probably would be talking out of my mouth, but not to entertain anything seriously until 11/15. I had sent her possible marathons. I thought I had found the perfect Spring marathon–the NJ marathon. And she was like, let’s wait until 11/15! That was too long to wait, but I finally came down on this decision: I will never ever have my first marathon experience again. HOWEVER. There is something unparalled about the local support I’m capable of having here. And while I raced a smart race, I raced it 30 lbs over weight, and I don’t know what it’s like to *really* run the marathon, and I want to try it. So I have a year to get into the shape I want to be to try NYC again next year. And I don’t want some marathon in between to sour my experience or use up any of my chances.

Not to mention, I think in my training for a marathon, I completely started to disrespect the Half Marathon distance. Because I ran races as part of my training and would run a half marathon and add miles before and after, I completely disrespect that Half Marathons can be hard and challenging as well. This happened today. I was meeting with a personal trainer (more on that) and had a T-shirt for a half marathon on. He goes, “Oh! How was this race?!” And I wave my hand and say, “Oh, it was a training run. I had to do 18 miles. So it was just all right.”

BUT IT WAS A HALF MARATHON!

So, I want to come back to respecting that distance, because 13 miles is a long ways, too. And 13 miles fast is a challenge. That’s my Spring Goal. To PR my half marathon distance. That is going to take a lot of discipline in every aspect of my life. But I can do it. My PR Half Marathon time is the Brooklyn Half. I ran it at 2:27 in 2012. There’s my baseline!

Then I’ll rest up and get ready for NYC again next year–I have my ultimate time goal in my head that I want to chase, but it’s too early to put that out there.

So in the meantime, I’m slimming down, getting fit, getting fast. I’m not done yet.