The end of the #RoadToSixPointTwo

Since I’ve last blogged many, many months ago, I’ve become a legitimate runner. I now have a real training plan, drink PowerAde Zero (and eat real carbs!) and have plans to run my first two real “long” races – my first 10k in October, and my first half marathon in February. I think about things like hydration belts, Sweaty Bands and Body Glide, which all sound like they’d be a lot more fun than they actually are!

So, why did I start this journey? In part, boredom. Although I’ve been insanely busy with work over the summer, I wanted to have a new goal to work towards. Yes, I do have other goals that are more important, but they are practically unattainable, including (1) finding a new home for my family and (2) learning how to braid the girls’ hair in either French or Fishtail style. So, I needed an achievable goal. Many of my similarly aged friends run long distances, including full-time working moms, so I thought, why can’t I? If I am ever going to run a half marathon in my life, I wondered if I was more likely to do it at 41 or 45. And hell, if I was going to get myself to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2017, the only way to justify it was to run 13.1 miles, right?

As I started training, I discovered that running gave me permission to take time for myself, and as a full-time working mom of three, I treasured the time alone (shhhhhhhhhhh, don’t tell Patrick!). There was absolutely no one around outside at 5:30 a.m. in Allston (cars or pedestrians), and I could take any problem plaguing me (personal or professional) and just let it roll around in my head as I ran. By the time I was finished running, the problem seemed totally manageable and I usually had a solution for it. And no matter what life threw at me on a “run” day, I could take it in stride. It was as if the run took the edge off the crazy. For real. Talk to me on a “non-run” day, and you’ll easily be able to tell the difference.

But the biggest motivation for running came when I discovered that NOTHING makes me happier than seeing the sunrise. There’s something amazing about the subtle way the colors in the sky first change, that first dot of reddish sun peek over the horizon and those rays of sunlight starting to creep across the water (be it the ocean, a reservoir, or the Charles River). There were so many mornings where I’d snooze a bit and remind myself that I didn’t HAVE to get up to run. But then I’d lace up my shoes, stumble out the door and as soon as I saw that first hint of light in the sky, I’d be OFF trying to get to the best possible point on my running route to see the sunrise. And take a million pictures while my fellow and more legitimate runners rolled their eyes at me. #WillRunForSunrises #SorryNotSorry

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Sunrise over Narragansett Beach, Narragansett, RI (July 2016)

The beginning of my running journey was actually pretty easy. The summer flew by, and I racked up the miles. The first time I ran six whole miles, I gained so much confidence and just had this feeling in my heart that I was going to achieve my running goals and be able to finish the half marathon without getting “swept” by the Disney balloon ladies. I never stressed about my pace, and instead focused on building distance and endurance. Even with the time I spent snapping pictures, and doing “intervals” (i.e. walking) up the big hills, I was somewhere in the realm of a 12 minute mile, which felt pretty good for a relatively new runner despite some people asking me, “but don’t you want to run a 10 minute mile??” (Well, yes, of course I want to run a 10 minute mile…and I also want a condo in the city big enough to fit my family, so your point is what?). Depending on my route distance, my pace this summer was between 10-12 minute miles.

But now it’s September and this race stuff is getting real.  My first 10k is only ten days away. And with all my focus on building distance and endurance, I’m afraid I didn’t spend enough time focused on pacing and speed. Although I don’t care about my time for the half marathon (really, it’s a runDisney race and part of the fun is everything you get to experience on the course), I really care about my time on the 10k. In order to get “preferred” placement in a corral in the middle of the half marathon pack, I have to submit a proof of time of about one hour and fifteen minutes, which is roughly a 12 minute mile pace. If my math is correct.

Given where my pacing has been on my training runs, this goal *seems* achievable. (And shush, all you experienced runners who can do a 10k in under an hour….this is my story!). However, there is a certain word that keeps creeping into my brain no matter how I try to avoid it. Well, two words actually. “Can’t” and “fail.” I keep hearing that running is “90% mental” and I believe it. In these last few days, I’ve been trying to get myself into a positive frame of mind, despite recent personal and professional setbacks. I need to view this first 10k as a fun experience, knowing that I’ll be in one of my favorite places in the world, and that the worst thing that can happen is that I won’t hit my goal time. Well, no, actually the worst thing that could happen is that I get a horrible race photo, with an awful pained facial expression mid-stride along with three chins and muffin top. But seriously, if I don’t hit my time, I won’t get a “preferred” corral, and I’ll be somewhere way in the back for the half marathon. Is that really a crisis?  No. Will it allow me to come back and PR on this same 10k next year??  Hells, yes.

I have to keep my head in my own race, if you will, and try not to worry about the six-foot tall, 22-year-old Barbie doll blowing past me with the swishy blonde ponytail wearing a Victoria’s Secret “sports” bra that doesn’t actually support anything and booty shorts. The only person I’m really competing with here is myself.  I can’t expect that I’m going to be crushing races this early into my training, but by golly, I’m hoping those booty shorts start looking good on me too pretty soon! 😉

For those of you who are more experienced runners, what are your best pre-race tips? How do you spend the week before a big race? More importantly, what are your must have songs to get you pumped the morning of your race?

#RoadToSixPointTwo #TheEndOfTheRoad

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Smile! You PAID to do this race! (After my first 5k on September 21, 2014). #WillRaceForFinishersMedals

 

 

 

 

Dagobah Swamp Nose

Some people say that birthing babies is a beautiful experience to observe. Strangely, no one says that about removing nose packing.

Today was nose cast and packing removal day. I was nervous and a little bit excited. Me being me, I researched as much as I could to find out about the process in advance. I found a terrific blog by someone who had a similar procedure to mine called humpbegone.blogspot.com (great title!). The woman from the blog looked terrific in all her post op photos, even though she was more banged up than me after her cast was removed. The scariest thing was that she suffered an injury to her new nose (eek!) about a month post op when her toddler accidentally head butted her in the nose. A tiny piece of cartilage was dislodged and added a very slight bump to her nose. She hasn’t updated the site in several years, so no word if she ever had the “revision” surgery. That story was almost enough to scare me into moving in with my mom for a month!

I asked Patrick to drive me to my appointment, not only so I could load up on painkillers in advance, but also because I was scared and wanted someone to hold my hand during the process. I was sadly disappointed when they called my name in the waiting room and he said, “noooooo way, I’m staying in here.” (I had assumed he was working in the waiting room, but more on this later).

The room was freezing and after taking my vitals, the nurse/assistant offered me water. I hadn’t showered in six days and while I had “sponge bathed,” was terrified that I smelled bad and no one would tell me. I wondered if that’s why Patrick didn’t want to come in. No one was recoiling in horror over my smell, so I assumed I was acceptable.

The adorable doctor came in (she’s seriously adorable, can we be friends?) and started by pouring a liquid over my nose cast to dissolve the adhesive. Then she said it was time to remove the tiny stitches under my nose, and that it might sting a little. The first two snips were not bad but the next few felt like pulling nose hairs out with a tweezer in a very sore nose. Or getting stung by a bee under your nose. #Yeowch I had to take a break midway through to catch my breath. Yeah, I started crying, which not only was stupid but made my stitched McRib ache. It turns out I was supposed to be applying Aquaphor on my stitches every day, which would have helped them dissolve. #Oops

Then Dr. Adorbs swabbed out some “space gunk” from my nostrils, which really, really hurt. More tears and achy rib. I should have taken another break then, but she quickly swooped in for the packing. She did the left side first and said, “you’re going to feel a bit of pressure.” Side note: any time a medical professional tells you you’re going to feel some pressure, it’s code for: yeowch. I don’t know the particulars and by golly I did not look at what came out of my nose, but it felt as though I passed a semi inflated balloon through my nostril. It was not pleasant. That poor nurse/assistant let me claw up her arm throughout the ordeal (that’s what a husband’s arm is supposed to be for!).

Then Dr. Adorbs says, “it’s kind of like having a baby!” (Ugh, NEVER say that to me!) as she moved to the other side. But yes, it IS kind of like having a baby. The right side hurt a lot more than the left (whatever creature was lurking up there somehow felt bigger), and it felt like my nostril was ripped open. I assume it hurt more because that was the direction my septum was deviated towards and therefore was being pulled in the other direction. There was a little squirty water gun and vacuum cleaner that she used afterwards but my nose was just so sensitive I want to scream, get the hell out of my nose!!! The doctor and nurse were cheering afterwards and kept asking me, “can you breathe, can you breathe?” I was afraid to breathe. There was all this – stuff – in my nose but I couldn’t deal with the nose Stanley Steamer anymore. And I could sort of breathe from my left nostril, which was a new and weird experience. While I was still very congested, I could feel a tiny pinhole of air at the top of my nostril. Is that what the rest of you feel, everyday?

The cast coming off was the least painful of the entire ordeal. It really was like a very sticky bandaid, definitely sore in spots, like on the bridge of my nose. When they took off the cast, the doctor and nurse oooohed and ahhed over my nose. “It’s so pretty!” “It’s so perfectly straight!” They exclaimed. I was very suspicious about all these rave reviews. How could my nose possibly look good, I wondered. Then they handed me a mirror, and I was really disappointed (and may have cried a bit more).

The bridge of my nose looked like it tripled in width, the end of my nose was roughly the size of a golf ball. Not at all what I was expecting. The bump on my nose was gone, though, and I did like how straight it looked from the side. I felt like Flynn Rider in Tangled when they just couldn’t get his nose right on the Wanted poster – a parody  cartoon of myself.

With tears still staining my face, I went to collect Patrick in the waiting room. I rushed out so quickly, that he didn’t even get a chance to look at my new nose. On the car ride home, I told him how disappointed I was that it was so swollen and big but was happy that it was straight and without a bump, to which he replied that in nearly 12 years of being married, he never noticed that my nose was crooked or even had a bump.
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When I told him how sad I was that he wasn’t in there with me, holding my hand (considering he was front row for the birth of three babies and not grossed out at all), he said there was no way in hell he was going to see them pull stuff out of my nose. Fair enough. He did buy me coffee every day, after all, and let me sleep.

So now I just wait and continue to improve. Hoping that I look and feel better soon because it’s time to get back on with my life. Seeing people this weekend, heading on a vacation in just three weeks, business travel in May and June. Most importantly, I want to feel like I made a good decision in doing this, and that it was worth the time, expense and pain. Right now I feel like R2 sitting on Dagobah clearing swamp mud out of my nose. I took a 30 minute shower today and it was heavenly (shhhh! Don’t tell Dr. Adorbs that I let it get it *really* steamy in there — I needed it!). I even had a very faint taste of my coffee today. And a jelly bean. It was fleeting and felt like I had to travel through hyperspace in order to get there, but I could taste it. That, and the bright sunshine today, gave me a little hope. Now, off to do my nose therapy!

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#39TilYouGetItRight

I’m feeling reflective in the last few minutes of 2015.  Although this has been a year of loss and frustration, 2015 has turned out to be one of the most remarkable and memorable years of my life.   Like the #39BucketList, I’m really sad to see it go.

The #39BucketList started on the night of my 39th birthday.  I found myself alone in New York City on a business trip for a brand new job. My new boss had dinner with me, but once he headed home for the ‘burbs, I was alone for the rest of my birthday.  The city and evening stretched out ahead of me.  Was I going to go back and sit in my hotel room? Hell, no!

On that night, I decided to take advantage of as much of the city as I could. I wandered all over midtown Manhattan alone. I sat outside for a while watching the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. I went to the very top of the Empire State Building (yes, I paid extra to go to the 102nd floor). I went to the really cool Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel and had a drink (try the Matilda!). I went shopping at H&M after midnight. Crazy, I know!

#39BucketList was never a specific list of things that I wanted to do before I turned 40. It was about saying “yes” to things that are important, that feel right and that make me happy. While it may sound juvenile and a bit selfish, it was a frame of mind to help me become more comfortable in my own skin and get me and my family on a better path. Instead of simply enduring life, I wanted to enjoy it.  It’s not that I’m not incredibly grateful for everything that I have. I am lucky to have a wonderful family, healthy children, and (while it’s not anyone’s ideal apartment) a roof over my head. For me, happiness means appreciating everything that I have, but also dreaming that there’s always something exciting around the corner.

As painful as it was to turn 40, I truly had an INCREDIBLE 39th year in 2015. For the first time since I was in my 20s, I traveled all over the country. In one year alone, I took four trips to NYC, two trips to DC, and trips to Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, the White Mountains, the Walt Disney World Resort (of course!), and more trips to Atlanta than I care to remember. On each of the business trips, I had the opportunity to meet, present to, and get to know all kinds of people. As much as a natural introvert as I am, I always feel a little sparkle inside when I’m out there in front of people.

I had the opportunity to be on TV, to the delight of my inner teenager, who was convinced that she’d dye her hair blonde, move to LA and become an actress.  I had a blast coming up with nonsensical soundbytes such as “the bustle of the city” and “gotta have these peppers,” all while showing off one of my favorite places in the world.  It was an AWESOME experience, even with the ridiculously frizzy hair and the wardrobe malfunction issues.

I found my voice on social media. I have come to love Twitter, a mini virtual universe where something is always going on. I have quite an eclectic Twitter network, made up of approximately 40% Disney enthusiasts, 30% social activists (many of whom I discovered during my #NoBoston2024 days), 25% professional contacts, and 5% spam accounts…well, ok, maybe it’s 25% spam accounts, and 5% professional, but whatever. Most of the time on Twitter, I feel like I’m the weird girl sitting alone at a cafeteria table talking to herself, but it is really fun to connect with people you’d never actually meet in real life.

I didn’t think anything would top the TV experience, but it was a spur of the moment cruise to the Cape that truly topped off my summer.  My husband and the kids were staying with my inlaws on the Cape, and as I had to work in the city, I planned to meet them later in the week.  Rather than take the bus (which was really the most cost-effective and sensible option), I decided she need to take the Provincetown Ferry, declaring it a #39BucketList item.  And I’m so glad that I did.  There I was, sitting in the open air on this ferry boat, my legs propped up on my suitcase in front of me.  The water was a little choppy that day and the boat was just speeding along, rocking in the waves, the ocean spraying in my face every so often.  I had no little people to care for, no worries that Bree was going to jump overboard, or having to take Owen to the bathroom.  I was completely relaxed, listening to my favorite playlist on my iPod, and just watching the as the city faded away into the place where the sky met the ocean.  The sun started setting, and I thought the ride couldn’t get any better.  Until I saw my first whale!  I’ve never been on a whale watch (that I recall) and so I just watched this whale in amazement. And then I saw another whale.  And then another. And I could see more in the distance – a random tail shooting up, a spray of water.  I think I saw about 10 whales in total.  Completely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.

Even though I’ve crossed the threshold of 40, I am going continue the Bucket List idea.  One of my friends posted the perfect hashtag on Facebook that cemented this all for me:  #39TilYouGetItRight. Obviously, 40 is not an end point,  and while I can’t use #39BucketList anymore, the purpose and idea behind it doesn’t have to go away.  Maybe the next decade will be about pushing myself to really explore what excites me and what I’m really passionate about. More than anything, I want to feel more of that “sparkle” that I felt a few times over the past year. I’ve always admired people who knew what their dream was at an early age and chased it. It finally occurred to me this year that the reason I haven’t found my “dream” is not because I failed, but it’s because I never identified what that dream really was.

I am sad to see 2015 go, but can’t wait to see what adventures await in 2016.

 

40 Reasons Why Being in Your 40s is Fabulous (really)!

  1. All the bands you loved in college are now on reunion tours and you can afford to get the really good seats.
  2. You can listen to Maroon 5 without embarrassment.  You score “cool” points for singing in the car while driving the kids to school.
  3. And, it’s not at all weird to crush on Adam Levine because at least he’s in his mid-30s.
  4. You can relate every guy you’ve loved in your life to a Taylor Swift, Katy Perry or Pink song, and you can’t help smirking while you sing along.  Jerk.
  5. You’ve figured out that simply wearing activewear gives the appearance that you work out.
  6. Same deal with a FitBit.
  7. Shapewear not only becomes socially acceptable, but expected and welcomed.
  8. Anti-aging skin products are now fully justified purchases as they are medically necessary.  They may not fly with the IRS as FSA-approved purchases, but your spouse cannot protest the cost.
  9. You are that much closer to retirement.
  10. Yet you are still smack in middle of the most desirable TV demographic.
  11. And you are still not *quite* yet at the age for bifocals or scary tests that end in “-scopy.”
  12. Do you still own any clothes, shoes, or purses from your 20s?  If so, congrats!  They are now vintage.
  13. You’ve figured out how to hide a bag of fun size Kit Kats from your family and so that you “forget” to hand them out to trick or treaters.
  14. You remember to hit up Target the day after Halloween for the 50% off Kit Kats and hide those too.  Beach season is over, anyway.
  15. If you have children, you stop feeling like the camp counselor or babysitter and more like a mom.
  16. If you are single, you can now *usually* spot and resist the allure of a “bad boy” — he may be exciting, but you have no time for that drama.  Been there, done that, have the T shirt.
  17. You finally got over that guy that ripped your heart out in your 20s.  Jerk.
  18. And you’re mature enough to be friends with said guy without getting sucked into a Vortex of Emotion.  He’s still a jerk though.
  19. You’ve forgiven your old boyfriend (one of the nice ones) for the whole “unanswered prayers” comment he made years ago because you’re there now too.
  20. Even as you grow tired of your own bull$hit, you have the optimism that there’s still time to change.
  21. There’s no shame in falling asleep on the couch by 8 pm.
  22. Or getting up at 4 am.  They have all those “early bird” sayings for a reason.
  23. You stop feeling like you need to compete with other moms.  They are going to better at some things, you’ll be better at some things, and it’s just best to find some to call friends.  All moms need good friends.
  24. Speaking of moms, you don’t have to wear mom jeans. Cute jeans nowadays do all the lifting and tucking for you.  Or come with stretchy waistbands.  Leggings?  Yeah, they ARE pants as long as your top covers your butt.
  25. You’ve finally figured out which clothes look good on you and you stop trying to make maxi dresses happen.
  26. You’ve learned to accept swim skirts, cover ups, and modest suit cuts, and for the first time since you were a little kid, you feel a bit more comfortable at the beach.  And you don’t miss being ogled at by gross old guys.
  27. You don’t have to worry about getting carded, unless you just ran to the liquor store and forgot your license (damn it, I’m 40!).
  28. You no longer get pressured to do shots at a bar.  Unless it is your husband’s 40th birthday and you are still in your 30s.  In which case the night may take a sharp, nasty turn and we shall never, ever, ever think about that again.  Like ever.
  29. You have fewer, but closer, friends.  Which is good because the limited time you have to socialize is too precious to waste on anything less.
  30. You really do stop caring what most people think of you.  It could be because you are just too damn exhausted to care, but it still counts.
  31. You have more credibility at work, no matter your field or job, if for no other reason than you’ve been in the working world for at least 20 years.
  32. And you are *that* much closer to deciding what you want to be when you grow up.
  33. You mentor the high-potential junior staffer at work because you used to be that girl.
  34. You also mentor the hot mess at work because, at times, you’ve been that girl too.
  35. At least one person looks up to and admires you, whether you know it or not, and even if you still feel like a hot mess most days.
  36. You finally settle on a title for your memoir.  And it doesn’t have a hashtag!
  37. You own at least one pair of nice sunglasses, a watch, or a great piece of jewelry that came in a robin’s-egg-blue box.
  38. You drive a car that has four hubcaps, both side mirrors, and is absent of major dents or rust.  (Oh, this one doesn’t apply to ME per se, just generally to people in their 40s).
  39. You have fun on Facebook watching friends, old and new, living their lives.  Some married their high school sweethearts and now have teenagers of their own.  Others are on second marriages becoming the modern day Brady Bunch.  Some are welcoming brand new babies at 40.  Others are world travelers, pursuing careers & dreams.  And all of these are valid places to be in life.
  40. You appreciate the meaning of “it all happens for a reason” because you understand that every heartbreak, missed opportunity and closed door put you closer down the path to where you are today.  And you are mostly satisfied with where you are today.