Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Before...

It’s Thursday afternoon, the day before Jeff and I leave for Atlanta and I’m supposed to be at work. Sadly, my dermatitis is threatening to eat away at my left hand so I’m forced to sit this one out. It’s been a relatively quiet day. I ran a couple of errands to get some goodies for the plane and filled out a registration form for school. All I have to do now is pack.

Yesterday I got acupuncture in hopes to make my crazy skin calm down. My lady, Carrie, gave me some nasty tasting herbs to take and more to soak my hands in. It was lovely to lay there and be worked on. I desperately wanted the care she was offering. I wanted to relax beneath the feel of her hands and the needles moving the stagnant energy I seem to be storing. I am still rather emotional about these upcoming travel plans. I cry at the drop of a hat and laugh at the silliest things. I could barely be still on the table as Carrie pushed and pressed into my stomach and knees, trying to find the right spot for a needle. I hope this tension will release on the road once the race starts. I’d be a lot happier if I could release it now. I’m vacillating between running from whatever I’m feeling and trying hard to be still. This metaphorically looks like eating a cookie or 3 while stretching on a yoga mat. I tend to forget the fact that I’ve even pulled out the mat (every day for three weeks now!) is huge. I figure the cookies will take care of themselves if I don’t worry too much about them and quit trying to change how I’m feeling by using them.
I’ve received a lot of kind words, some warnings and some advice about running such a long race. The most common ones have been…
* Don’t start too quickly, you’ll run out of energy. (this is by far the most difficult one for me)
* You’re going to hit a wall probably around mile 15 or mile 20. Don’t stop running. Don’t give up.
* Remember your friends, family and pancakes will be waiting for you so you have to cross that finish line!
* Distract yourself by trying to remember the capitols of every state, all your teachers from grades K-12, or your high school schedules.
* Make sure no one is cheering for you between miles 20 and 26. You’re not going to want to see anyone, but you will when you cross the finish line.
* You’re going to ask yourself “why am I doing this?” Keep going.
*Don’t worry about a thing. You’ll be great!
And my personal favorite…
*Always smile when you cross the finish line! There will be cameras!
Many people have asked if I’m ready. What exactly does that mean? I don’t think anyone can truly be “ready” for this. Sure training is really important but it’s also a mental thing. Right now I have no idea what to expect. At this point, for me, being ready is a decision I have to make. Sure I’m nervous that my longest run during training was about 15 miles instead of 20 but I feel confident that I can achieve this. A friend told me a long time ago that “if you can do half of any race, you can do all of it.” I’m going to trust that.
I went to Lululemon on Monday in search of something new to wear on race day. My friend Christine calls this place “the devil store”. We both have found that we feel instantly gorgeous when slipping something on from this place. The colors are beautiful, and the fit is almost always flattering. The sinful part is forking over an exorbitant amount of money for said items. I try to keep my habit to a minimum.
After trying on all sorts of things I decided to stick with the tried and true tank top I bought for my first half marathon. I bought a gray one that matches the original purple one and hoped Atlanta would be warm enough to rock the shorts I already own.

A while back Jeff bought me some Cliff GU shots to try on my long runs. I didn’t notice a huge difference when I consumed them but every single runner I’ve talked to said they find them to be imperative. I bought two and decided to see how it goes at mile 20 when all energy stores are depleted. Earlier this week, Jeff bought these delicious pbandj bars for me after I became addicted to them a few months back. They taste like real food ( because they areJ) and not like paper, chalk or cardboard.

I also got a new pair of shoes after my shin splints made a brief appearance a few weeks ago freaking me out. Shin splints have kept me out of races before. With some acupuncture, some stretching and new shoes, I’m back to normal.
The only things left to do are pack, fly and pick up my race number once we’re in Atlanta. It’s all still so surreal to me. I can’t believe it’s actually happening! Eek!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marathon Mix...

I haven’t written at all about this now upcoming Atlanta marathon. I haven’t had much to say about it really until now. It’s been staring me down lately, tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me that it’s coming. In turn I have been freaking out about the whole experience. Am I ready? Have I trained enough? What will I do if it rains? What if I don’t finish? What will they think of me?
“Calm down.” my co-worker Lindsay tells me one morning. She is running her 8th marathon in D.C. the same day I’m running Atlanta. “It’s normal to be feeling this way. It’s normal to get all emotional and scared. You’re doing a big thing and you’re ready. OK? You’ve already done the work. Now you just have to do the marathon. You can’t control the weather, or how you’re going to feel that day and people will love you anyway, so go have fun.”
I laugh at how simply she states things and return to Earth.
“I’m going to email you something a friend forwarded to me before my first marathon. I think it will help.” Lindsay says and gets online. Later her email is in my Inbox and I’m soaking up the words. I’m especially intrigued by the opening paragraph…

“People often ask,” why do you run marathons? “ I often joke that it is cheaper than therapy.

I believe however that people run marathons, especially their first one, because they are either running to something or running from something. Only the runner really knows which. A great amount of time and focus is necessary to train for a marathon. The endeavor not only requires intense drive but also sustained effort.”

This got me thinking about why I’m running. I’ve thought about it an awful lot and still don’t have a concrete answer. My love of running is high on my list of reasons if not the top reason. I’ve always loved running, have been decent at it, been competitive about it, and yes, it is cheaper than therapy, but seriously, a marathon?! What’s the point?
The point, for me at least, is to accomplish something physically and mentally demanding. Why do that though? I imagine I need to prove to myself that I’m strong enough because some part of me thinks I am not. Also, running creates space between me and the rest of the world. My head escapes whatever is bothering me. While I’m running it’s sometimes quiet but mostly it goes on it’s own journey as my legs take me through mile after mile. When I’m done I feel refreshed, happy for doing it and more often than not, a little more level headed than when I started. When racing, the energy of all those runners alone is enough to keep me addicted, not to mention the heart pounding anticipation of crossing the start line as well as the finish. There is also nothing like being among so many like minded people doing what they love, going after what they want whether it be a personal best, a first time race, a last race before starting something major like having children or getting married. Some are running for cancer research, running because they survived cancer, running through grief, or simply running because they can. Whatever the reasons are, having that shared experience tops my list of high points in my life.
Let’s also not forget the sense of accomplishment once the finish line is crossed. During my first half as I approached mile 12 tears stung my eyes because honestly, I didn’t know I could make it that far. I was on cloud 9 for the next three days after that race. I want that feeling again.
I found it interesting that the email Lindsay sent stated that people who run marathons are running to or from something. Lindsay feels I’m running towards school and a new life. I agree to an extent but feel I’m running from…something. Upon further exploration of that I see that I’m racing toward my future, away from past hurts, thoughts, beliefs that no longer serve me. I’m ready to be free of all that garbage and learn a new way of thinking, of being.
To accompany me on this 26.2 mile journey I’ve decided to put music from the past 15ish years on my iPOD to make me laugh at the silliness of being fifteen again, (Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby“) to relive driving home with Nathan after Friday night football games in high school, (Collective Soul’s “Heavy”) giggling through art class (Chumbawamba‘s “Tubthumpin“), swimming countless laps through swim season (Cake‘s “Distance“), running track (Sisqo’s “Thong Song” along with Collective Soul’s “Run”.), a freshman favorite (Matchbox20’s “Push”), commuting to college with my friend Kylie (Mystical’s “Shake ya Ass”, Nelly’s “Country Grammar”, and E.I.”), driving to Atlanta to Van Michael as I began my career (Ashanti’s “Rock Wit You”), my first concert with my best friend Kat, (Stereophonics’ “Dakota”) some late nights (Indigo Girls “Closer to Fine”), trips to London, (Coldplay “Speed of Sound”), meeting/losing Rob (Saving Abel’s “Addicted”) moving to Chicago (Killers “All These Things I Have Done”) falling in love with Jeff( The Be Good Tanya’s “The Littlest Birds”) and the list goes on and on…
I’m thrilled to make this journey both physically and mentally. I’ve never been so scared of a race before in my life but Imma do it anyway. I’m not sure what I’m looking for exactly or what I’m expecting by doing this. I don’t think I’ll actually know until I cross the finish line…

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I'm up early on the morning of my birthday despite going to bed late the night before. A sleeping Jeff is next to me but he's soon awake as I'm moving around. We talk a bit and I'm trying to decide whether or not to go write at Swim. In theory I always want to do my favorite things on my birthday. This includes writing, running, a massage, getting my nails/toes done, eating cake,and sushi (not at the same time) and being with someone, or a few someones that I love. Usually I get too excited and ansty to sit still and write. I can for a little bit but nothing much really happens, and, again in theory it's nice but, I usually get distracted.
Today is Saturday and my least favorite day of the week. I very much dislike the chaos of the salon when I'm at work. When I'm off though, I dislike the same chaos out in the world. It seems everyone is rushing from one thing to the next as if this is the only day they have to accomplish everything on their massive "to-do" lists. It would be nice to go to brunch but waiting an hour for a table just to scream at Jeff over pancakes and noise is unappealing. Even going to a spa right now or shopping sounds unpleasant. I decide to save these things for later, and do something I never do on my actual birthday. Relax.
I kiss Jeff goodbye and head out to Swim. I'm practically giggling on my walk to the cafe because the weather is perfection. After a long hot, humid summer, we've arrived to a beautiful sparkling fall complete with sunshine, clear blue skies, richly colored leaves and mild temperatures in the 70's.
At Swim I do more staring off into space and internet browsing than writing. It's difficult to pin point how I feel, besides simply happy, relaxed and excited. I'm freakin' thirty! This has always been, in my mind, a far off age...something that would happen someday but was hard to see. Even at 28 I had a hard time seeing 30. It seemed like it was another lifetime ahead of me and in a way it is a another life. It feels like I've found a glove that fits me perfectly and I'm slowly inching my fingers into it, staring at it like I can't believe I found it and it's mine. Not only that, but it's been with me, in a pocket, this whole time. I was just too busy trying on other gloves in hopes I would find something better or more interesting, but am now finding that my own little glove is perfect in it's own way. It's colorful. It's good enough and a helluva lot easier to wear than anyone else's.
I leave Swim to go get Jeff. I'm cat-sitting for my co-workers who are getting married in Florida today. Staying at their place has cut my commute to work down a little and has been an all around lovely experience.
Jeff and I go to the grocery store and get ingredients for breakfast and the cake I'm going to make later. I became obsessed with this chocolate pumpkin cake with pumpkin and nutella icing a while back when I found it on my favorite blog The author, Ashley says that this cake is a project and isn't something you just throw together. I decided to wait until my birthday to try it. Breakfast was also a recipe of hers. It's the "lazy oatmeal bake". We ate it with apples and Nutella.

To go along with the oatmeal action, I asked Jeff to bring over his coffee makin' goodies to brew up something delicious.


We ate outside on my co-worker's deck, finished our coffee and then... it was cake-bakin' time! Jeff brewed a little more coffee for me and I got to work.

This recipe requires making two different batters. I usually get turned off by a lot of steps or a lot of ingredients but not today. I enjoyed the entire process. I have to admit I was a little bit shocked when the cakes came out ok. It sometimes takes a couple of tries before I get it down when I'm cooking or baking. Once everything cooled, I whipped up the icing and took 8,000 pictures of my accomplishment. Jeff has 8,000 pictures of me taking these pictures I later discovered. :)

After the cake was cooled off and iced we had to get ready to go to dinner. We were meeting my friends Lydia and Kamal and Jeff's roommate and co-worker whom I adore, Spring, at Adobo Grill in Old Town. Jeff and I were then heading off to Second City after dinner for some comedy action.

Dinner and margaritas were delicious! It felt good to be out. Jeff and I laughed for two hours straight at Second City. We somehow got really good seats up front despite getting there a little later than expected. I almost had just as much fun watching Jeff laugh than I did watching the folks on stage.
We caught a cab back to my co-worker's apartment and passed out late. Both of us had to be up early at and work the next morning. It didn't matter to me though. I wouldn't have traded this day for anything. It was the best birthday I've ever had.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The End!!!

The End!!!

Today is October seventh and the last day of my twenties! I am sitting in Swim CafĂ© before work trying to conjure up memories of the end of my teens and turning twenty. I don’t remember a whole lot except that I was probably at work. I was an color assistant for a few months before Rob, the salon director at Van Michael Salon in Atlanta needed another cutting assistant and took me on. I had just begun my career in the hair industry eager to soak up everything I possibly could learn. I was still in a relationship with my high school sweetheart and I didn’t give a damn about getting color on my skin.
Today I reside in Chicago, and am in a lovely relationship that is better suited for me. My fingers are torn to bits from dermatitis and never would I ever dream of touching color with my bare hands. To top it all off I’m on the verge of switching careers. Never did I ever see any of this coming. My twenty year old self was certain that by thirty I would be married, living in a house I owned with my husband. My finances would be immaculate, the skin on my hands would be intact and I’d do hair forever and ever and ever.
I like today’s story more than I like Miss Twenty’s story. It’s way more colorful. I giggle when I look back and think of all the fun I had blowing paychecks, flying from state to state having adventure after adventure before jumping the pond and continuing the exploration of foreign lands. I proudly bought my beloved Celica at 21, lived by myself for five glorious years and left everything that was comfortable for some vast unknown life that waited for me in the Windy City.
The ups didn’t come without downs. I got my ass beat by my high maintenance Buckhead clientele early in my career. I swallowed my feelings with staggering amounts of sugar, caffeine and alcohol. I raced around like a maniac trying to please this person and that person while trying to figure out who the hell I was and whose rules I was following. When Rob died everything came to a screeching halt. Nothing else in the world mattered but taking care of the tremendous sadness that threatened to swallow me whole if I didn’t. As I slowly navigated through the darkness that is grief I began to wake up and discover a voice that has been with me all along. It was something I didn’t know I missed. When I felt ready I left Atlanta and started over.
Chicago welcomed me with it’s blustery winds, snow and…love. For the first time in my life I feel accepted. I feel like I fit somewhere. Through work I acquired the confidence I craved to be a better, happier, more successful stylist. My sense of direction has gotten way better from navigating the public transportation system, and I’ve finally found a healthy, supportive relationship with a person that I love so deeply that it almost hurts.
I keep wanting to capture every single thought and emotion today. Maybe I won’t be able to capture everything. Maybe that’s just how it is. Maybe I’ll never be able to express some things. Hmm.. I could just be here though, on the last day of my twenty ninth year, (a favorite this decade;)) with this delicious coffee, on this perfect fall day with all it’s bright sunshine, cloudless blue sky and yellow-leaved trees experiencing the wonderful life I’ve created for myself.