she believed she could…

My last post was about the medal holder I made with my dad over Thanksgiving, and it turns out he spent a little more time  in the garage (or should I call it Santa’s workshop) after I left! 

  
He made this race bib holder to go along with my medals. How incredibly thoughtful, right?! Though I had to ask how he got so good at painting letters in the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I won’t give away his secret though. 

So if you love a runner, here’s a tip: make them something that enables them to show off their hard earned bibs and medals! 😉

632.6

I never thought I would ever be considered a runner. I will leave it at that because I’m sure the five people reading this know all about how I started running, how I hated running, how I found running buddies, and how I now wake up at an ungodly hour to pound the pavement. In fact, I calculated it all up this morning and I’ve run 632.6 miles this year. I’m not going to hit my goal of 1,000 miles this year, but that was lofty to begin with. 632.6 miles…that’s about as far as Disney is away from my apartment. Crazy, right?!

Anyway, yesterday I got home from work and run club to find a box sitting on the counter waiting for me. I was confused for a moment because I’ve had this vow to not online shop (that and the things I “accidentally” bought online this week aren’t due for another couple of days…). So what was in the box, you ask? This bad boy…errr….girl:

Trophy

The Danville Half-Marathon was my second half-marathon, and the first of three I had signed up for during October, November, and December. I did not have high expectations and had to be reminded by my mom many times that I was running my own race and it didn’t matter what other people were doing. That seems to be the constant battle of mine – I’m too competitive with others and not competitive enough with myself.

It was a really chilly October morning and I was one of two people I saw running with a camelbak on. I was nervous. And scared.  “Would I finish?” “Can I actually run 13.1 miles still?” “What if that race in February was just a fluke?” “I’m not cut out for this.” It’s amazing how much you can doubt yourself before the gun goes off.

Then the gun went off…or rather the guy leading the show yelled, “GO!” and off we went. People passed me. My hands were cold. My earbuds didn’t want to sit in my ears right. I was annoyed I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Then I remembered that I enjoy running and noticed that I enjoyed running through my hometown. I started trying to find the silver lining.

When I got to the first water station, I ran on by because I had my trusty CamelBak. At this point, I was almost 3 miles in and feeling good. By mile 6, I grabbed a GU but still didn’t slow down. At mile 8, I realized I had been running the whole thing with no walk breaks and I would be incredibly mad at myself if I stopped running to walk for a bit with 5 miles left to go.

Long story short, I ran all 13.1 miles to a personal record of 2:11:56 and placed 3rd in my age division. I took 25 minutes off my original half-marathon time from February, and I was seriously in awe of what you can do when you set your mind to it. Oh, and when you’re hydrated. 🙂

mark your calendars.

I like quirky things. That fact coupled with working in higher education has led me to have a deep-rooted love of calendars based on an academic year. I design academic planners for our students, I pause at Target every single back to school season to see what colors are popular on planners each year, and I drool over great planner layouts on instagram and etsy. When A Beautiful Mess posted about their academic planners for 2015-2016, I was all over it. In fact, I tagged my friend, Carly, in the post or texted her (all forms of communication blur together over time) and she said she was already looking at them.

#busy

This planner is up to snuff. I am in love with it. I carry it around like I would a book for class. It’s quirky, colorful, and it’s providing a way to keep track of all the things I do (for work and for play). Plus, it comes with emoji stickers. EMOJI STICKERS.

Anyway, there’s no real point to this post. I just wanted to share something with the world, and why not my #busy planner.

planner

running real talk.

Y’all, someone needs to come take my credit card and running shoes away from me. I just signed up for my second half-marathon in less than a week. I’m starting to think I enjoy the thrill of hitting “Register” and typing in my info more than I actually enjoy running. Anyway, I managed to get signed up for the 2016 Disney Princess Half-Marathon last week despite the runDisney website crashing and being cumbersome. That means Abbydean and I will be getting our mulligan to run this race as sisters (and maybe Cruella DeVil and Lucky).  It’s so hard to believe that it has been a year since I began my running journey. In that year, I have racked up over 500 miles on these little legs of mine. Is the human body incredible or what?!

races

 

In those 500 miles, I have run in 7 races, picked up a regular running partner in the mornings, and joined a running club that meets 3 times a week. Who knew running could be so social?! But back to the taking my credit card and running shoes thing…

What started as a “Hey, let’s run this half-marathon on my 25th birthday” novelty has turned into a “Hey, let’s run 5 half-marathons while being 25!” So here’s what I have coming up.

  1. Danville Half – October 17
  2. City of Oaks Half – November 1
  3. Baton Rouge Beach Half – December 5
  4. Disney Princess Half – February 21, 2016

Yes, that is quite ambitious. I know. But I’m not trying to PR every race. I will probably train to PR the Danville half and finish respectably at City of Oaks. I’m running with my pal, Leigh, in Baton Rouge and I have to work that weekend, so that will be easy. Then two whole months to prepare for Disney! So yeah…someone please tell me to stop signing up for races.

ncma summer films 

The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of my favorite places in Raleigh. It’s like walking into a peaceful world in the middle of the hustle and bustle that is the capital city. I’ve been to visit the exhibits, to take photos, and to just wander around the trails for a little exercise. The trail is by far my favorite. You can walk, bike, and run for miles alongside people laying in fields reading and art sculptures scattered along the property. Last night, I discovered something even cooler. They show films outside in the amphitheater on summer evenings. 

 

feeling kate spade-esque in my play on patterns

 
Carly and I packed picnic snacks and headed out there last night to see To Kill a Mockingbird. Kudos to the NCMA for seeing an opportunity (like the release of the highly anticipated, highly debated Go Set a Watchman this week) and taking advantage of it. The place was packed – I was glad we got there early and claimed a good spot. The people watching was highly entertaining, and it wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be. And as Carly said, it would be a cool date spot for all ages. For $5, you really can’t find a better deal on a weekend night. 

They’re showing films through the rest of the summer – everything from The Theory of Everything to Big Hero 6 (for the kiddos) to the Sound of Music (maybe I can get my sister down here for that…). I know Carly and I have a date with Chris Pratt in September when they show Guardians of the Galaxy. #swoon 

the woman i want to be.

There’s a quote by Diane von Furstenberg that goes, “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become.” I think I stumbled upon that quote right as I was launched into the adult world after undergrad (thanks, Pinterest!). It struck a chord in me, and it’s always been in the back of mind. It doesn’t matter what I do career-wise or hobby-wise, as long as I become the woman I want to be. That woman is a blend of Audrey Hepburn, Kate Spade, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, my mom, and my grandmother to name a few. Someone who oozes joy  but understands there are bad things in life. Someone who sets high goals, but admits there are moments when you have to cut yourself some slack. Someone who walks (and works out) with grace, but knows it’s kind of fun to laugh at yourself when you fall down.

As I’ve been meandering through adulthood, trying to figure out how to cook the perfectly portioned meal for one, how to not be awkward in every day life, and how to pay my bills without complaining, I’ve slowly noticed a change. I feel myself becoming more confident, more joyful, more outgoing. I find myself needing less validation from my peers, and I’m learning how to make efficient decisions and not saying “maybe” when I really mean no.

But I didn’t realize this change was visible. Well, my friends, I think it is. 30LeahWhitt

 

The girl in that picture is exactly who I want to be. This picture was taken at 9:00 p.m. on a Thursday. That day consisted of getting up at 5:00 to go to the gym, working an eight hour day, stressing out about an event that was happening the next day, changing my outfit twice, laughing with my sister, and greeting 5 dozen women to an event that was all about them. But that day felt so full of things that I love to do. I mean, yes, Ashley  (of Story Photographers) is so incredibly talented it’s not even funny, but when she sent me that photo I felt beautiful. She’s taken my picture plenty of times before; family photos, my sister’s wedding, selfies for instagram, and with a boy….but that picture. That picture of me tied to nothing else made me feel whole. I felt like relieved because I finally feel like I match my interior (to paraphrase Elphaba in Wicked).

Every girl goes through an ugly duckling stage – but I have felt like I have had an identity crisis in my looks. First, my hair was too long and crazy and overwhelmed me. Then I learned I had to wear glasses every day, so I went with rimless ones so people wouldn’t immediately notice them. Then I cut all my hair off. Next, I decided to grow my hair out and learn how to use a curling wand. All of these little exterior changes never really made me feel like myself. But I think I have figured it out. My hair is never going to be perfect and I’m always going to feel naked without my glasses. I’m never going to master the smokey eye or remember to put lipstick on after I brush my teeth. But I am always going to remember that happy girls are the prettiest girls and I’m always going to know how to make an Old Navy dress look like Kate Spade. I’m going to know that my heart shines through more than I know, and that my brown eyes will captivate the right person.

So, thank you life (& Ashley), for showing me that sometimes it’s not about living the life society pushes on you. It’s about becoming the person you want to be.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

I woke up this morning and couldn’t believe February was over. It seemed to have flown by in an instant, didn’t it? Between training for the race, hosting Galentine’s Day for my girlfriends, snow days, and traveling to Disney, it was in and out of here like a gust of wind.

For March, I want to set some realistic goals . Now that my half-marathon is over, I feel a little lost. All throughout that process, I had a date I was excited about. I was working towards that goal with every mile on the treadmill or adventure through a local park. Now that it’s over, I still want to run but I have a tugging at my soul to do something. Set another goal.

I was talking to my friend Carly last night and we both have Lara Casey’s Make It Happen on our bookshelves to read right now. I was sharing with her that I have tried to start reading it multiple times, but I just don’t know what I want to make happen. It’s like I have all of this energy built up and nothing to spend it on. While I was dating, I guess I put that energy towards being a great girlfriend. Now there’s a void, and the trouble with voids are that it takes so long to figure out what actually fills them. I know shopping feels great, but it won’t solve the problem. At the end of the day, I would just have all of this stuff and a super long credit card statement. Eating probably would feel like filling a void as well, and I’ll admit, I can be a bit of an emotional eater (pass the Papa John’s breadsticks please), but that wouldn’t help either.

So why am I sharing all of this? Because I’m hoping inspiration strikes. I hope that I will figure out what the tone of my blog will be. I read so many about fashion, beauty, and exercise, but I don’t really know what my “expertise” is. That’s where my March goals come into place. This month I want to wholeheart things instead of half-assing them. In the words of Ron Swanson:

So I am currently working on setting my March goals, what are yours?!

Life Lessons from a Half-Marathon

Y’all – I did it! I am a half-marathoner. I have a hard earned medal to prove it. Getting here was interesting to say the least. Throughout this whole process, I learned so much about myself. I’m still learning, but I thought I would share a few things that I didn’t know 7 months ago.

medal

  1. You don’t have to follow a training program to the mile. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. For example, I restart games over all of the time if I don’t do something perfectly. In my world, I’m either 100% or not doing it. So when it came to my training program, I hit every mile assigned to me consistently for four weeks, then I hit a wall. I just didn’t want to run that week, and I struggled with feeling like I was failing. That I wasn’t really a runner if I couldn’t get all 310 miles of my program in. Then I cut myself some slack. I went from not exercising at all to volunteering to run 13.1 miles at once, so it was okay if I didn’t want to run every day. That was a big moment for me. I realized that I don’t have to live and breathe by a training schedule, but I need to listen to my mind and body. I also have learned to determine the difference between exhaustion and laziness.
  2. Listen to your body. It knows what’s best for it.
  3. Running is cheaper than therapy (including retail therapy). The more time you spend hitting the pavement, or treadmill, the less time you can shop online.
  4. You don’t need fancy things to get started. Just a decent pair of running shoes and determination. A planned running route wouldn’t hurt either.
  5. There’s no such thing as a “runner” body type. I saw all kinds of ladies and gentlemen out there getting their run/walk on. Don’t think because you aren’t currently a runner that you can’t accomplish something as significant as a half or full marathon.
  6. Foam rolling is as amazing as they said it would be. Once you learn how to do it, that is. It took me a few months to learn proper techniques, but I found a helpful little video that covers IT stretches, calf stretches and a neck roll.
  7. Like most things in life, you get what you put into it. I got a little discouraged going into the last leg of this journey. I didn’t follow my training program, I got lazy with the cold weather and snow, and I let my insecurities get the best of me. But when race day came along, I realized that I had been dedicated and determined and I knew I would finish, even if I had to walk the whole way. And I finished 10 minutes faster than my goal time of 2 hours 45 minutes.

The most astonishing thing I learned was how much I learned about who I am through this whole process. I mean it really shouldn’t surprise me being that running is spending quality time with yourself (and putting one foot in front of the other). I’ve learned that I need time to process things – or more accurately put, obsess over things until I’m tired of thinking about them. I’ve learned how to motivate myself and what doesn’t work when it comes to getting my butt out of bed or off the couch. I’ve learned that if I can sing-dance while running, I’m a lot happier. I’ve learned that I’m good company even on my grouchiest of days.

castle

Thanks for joining me on this journey! I can’t believe it’s already over. Now onto my next adventure!

what i’m reading

I love to read. It’s always been a hobby of mine. Is reading considered a hobby? I’m going to go with yes. I was that kid who waited at midnight for the release of the next installment of the Harry Potter series, then I would devour the book in days. Well – except for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – that one scared me for a solid 2 weeks before I picked it up again.

Anyway, I thought I would write a short post on what I’m reading currently or planning to read in the next few weeks. As you can see here, my dresser has turned into a make-shift bookshelf. That’s mainly due to the lack of space on my nightstand. I do, in fact, own a bookshelf, but I’ve gotten into a habit of picking up (or ordering off Amazon, let’s be real) books and starting them all at once. It’s my intention to finish at least 2 of these by the end of February.

Make it Happen – Lara Casey
My friend, Carly, and I went on a trek to Barnes & Nobles a few weekends ago for this book and I didn’t really know much about it. She was intent on reading it and told me she would let me know how it was. Then I met the author the very next day at a bridal show I was working. It’s a small world, after all.

One Plus One – Jojo Moyes
Ever since I finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, I’ve been entranced by her writing and the way she tells a story. I would also recommend The Girl You Left Behind – so good.

The Empathy Exams – Leslie Jamison
It’s rare that I pick up a book that’s non-fiction, but the description of this one grabbed my attention. It’s a collection of essays about the human experience and how we express empathy towards others.

Tiny, Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed
This one stays on my current rotation. It’s a collection of advice columns (questions and answers) from Dear Sugar, also known as the best-selling author of Wild. Every time I have something frustrating in my life happen or my heart breaks, I reach for this one.

A Book of Sunshine
My Meme gave me this book in September of 1998 (it says so on the inside cover). I just came across it a few months ago while moving, and it made me immensely happy.

booksfeb15

Not shown here is the book I’m actually reading at the moment. I’m currently working my way through The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes. It’s on my kindle and I’m enjoying it so far. Now if only I could read all day instead of work… 🙂

 

Goals

I was talking to my brother-in-law yesterday about how I have my goals for work this year pinned to the bulletin board above my desk so I could see them every day. Conversation ensued, and I wondered why I didn’t do the same thing for my personal goals. To remedy that, I made this lovely little image to frame and hang on the mini inspirational wall I’m creating in my bedroom.

2015 goals

 

A lot of my goals are intangible, or ideas, to help me become the person I want to be, but others are goals that I can meet and exceed if I tried really hard (hello, 1,000 miles) and things that I really need to make more time for (reading every day).  I submitted my little goal picture to PostalPix to be printed this morning, so I can start reminding myself to live on purpose and not out of habit this year. No one wants to live the same year 85 times and call it a life.