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. 🙂

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.

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!

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.

Week 8 – Who do we appreciate?!

I know I should have posted a running update yesterday, but I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t succeed in Week 8 of my program. Last week was a bit of an uphill battle, and I just couldn’t force my body to run more than my mind was. I finished a couple of the runs, but the long run just didn’t happen. Long story short, there was a break up and a lot of work going on last week. I was being pulled in so many directions and I needed to focus on landing on my feet ready to start this week with bright eyes and a strong heart.

With that being said, I am back on track with 5 miles under my belt already this week (at a sub 11 minute mile pace, no less).

Here’s to new beginnings and kicking Mickey’s butt in 27 days!

5K does not equal $5,000

The last time I checked in with you I told you all about how I’ve started to run and I briefly mentioned signing up for a 5K. Well the 5K came and went and it was pretty awesome! I mean, it was cold and rainy and torturous, but it was awesome! Abby and I both set goals for ourselves and squeaked out times that were respectable and met our goals. Well I squeaked by; Abby annihilated her goal. (You goal, girl!)

First medals!(Post-race with our first-ever running medals! We both finished second in our age groups.)

My favorite part of the whole thing is that it was this big group of people, of all shapes, sizes, and ages, working individually towards one goal. I was surrounded by people who wanted the same thing I did – to cross the finish line – the entire time. It was also pretty cool to run through a town I had driven through countless times, and get up close and personal with it’s charming qualities. The cute little cheer teams around each corner didn’t hurt either.

All in all, I think I like running a lot more than I anticipated. I mean I went to Tennessee last week and packed my running shoes before anything else. I’m pretty sure I said, “That was the best treadmill I have ever seen!” to about 4 different people when talking about working out in the hotel fitness center. Six months ago, I would have laughed at the idea of going to the hotel gym on a trip!

High points so far: I have just been over-the-moon impressed with myself for getting up to 4 miles.
Biggest challenge: Running is a total mind game. I get in a mental fistfight with myself every day before lacing up my shoes and heading out the door. That and I think I have a bunion. It hurts. I need to go see a doctor.
Next goal to accomplish: Running a 6 miles in an hour!
Things I’m excited about: Making a final decision about our costumes for the half-marathon!

hermit crabs & gale force winds.

I feel like I’m a completely different person than the last time I signed in to write to you. My world has been a little chaotic over the past couple of months, and some days the only thing I want to do when I get home is crawl into my bed. But since I am not a hermit crab and I have responsibilities instead of a colorful shell to crawl into, I figured I might as well write.

Since we last spoke, I have moved (twice), become uncoupled with a boy and with my first love the Moozda, bought a new car, acquired a roommate, picked up a second job (and about to start a third), and signed up for a half-marathon. Let me tell you, I feel like a breath of fresh air has been blown into me – I just wish it wasn’t being blown into me with such gale force strength.

If anything, I feel like I’m no longer sitting on the sidelines waiting for life to start (at least 85% of the time). I’m trying to take control of this little life of mine, so at least control of the things the good Lord lets me think I have control over. I’m learning to jump in with both feet and let life happen. I’m learning how to be sad about things being over, and resting assured in the fact that endings are just the beginning of something else. So expect a little more from me on this outlet. If I’m coming back to life, I need to come back to this slice of the interwebs that I call home.

.

 

adulting.

If I’m 100% honest with you, I feel a bit pretentious sitting down to write this. What do I know about being an adult? I’ve only had 3 years of experience, and I got the job with practically no life skills and one small qualification to my name (hello, bachelor’s degree hanging on my wall). But for some reason, this feeling that I need to craft a list of things I’m learning won’t go away.

1. Picture the person you want to be – I have this vision of who I want to be one day. She’s this mixture of Audrey Hepburn and Anna Wintour with a little Tina Fey and Katy Perry mixed in there for good measure. She’s assertive, but kind. She’s confident, but quirky. She’s independent, but loving. So right now, I may feel like I fall short…a lot. (haha…I’m short…there’s nothing to see here, folks). I may get frustrated and feel defeated, but as long as I can picture who I want to be, everything else will fall in place.

2. Work smarter, not harder – dear Lord, I try to circumvent this all the time. Especially when I first started working. Instead of doing it the easy way, I felt compelled to do it the hard way. I thought it showed that I was hard-working and dedicated. Looking back, it probably made me look a little silly.

3. Don’t take anything personally – I’m starting to realize that people’s attitudes toward you and the way they handle things are rarely (if ever) actually about you. Unfortunately, I realize all this in hindsight after I’ve jumped on the phone to tell my mom about the latest injustice I’ve suffered.

4. Always have a spare $125 for an unplanned car repair or more importantly, a Kate Spade New York surprise sale.

5. Be gentle with yourself – still working on this one, but it counts that I recognize I need to do this, right? Right?!

6. Be impeccable with your word – always do what you say you’re going to do. You’ll astound people.

7. Spell check.

8. Call your grandmother.

9. Don’t buy/adopt a pet because you’re lonely. This goes for boyfriends too. – I’ll admit, I’m working my way through this one. I want a dog so bad. It’s hard to go home to an empty apartment, especially when you can get a dog who will always be excited to see you when you get home. But dogs are more than an adoption fee. They rely on you, and if you can’t rely on yourself some days, you probably shouldn’t have another living being with puppy dog eyes looking up at you expectantly.

10. Stand up for yourself.

11. Exercise – & not “eggs are sides…for bacon”. I struggle with this every day. I know I should exercise. I know I’ll feel better, physically and mentally. I still have to fight off the lazy bug, but once I do, I feel so much more productive.

It’s easy to sit here and craft aspirations for life and forget about the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day. It’s easy to say you’re going to always do you  best, then spend 25 minutes griping about your colleague, your boyfriend, your friend, or all three to different people. It’s easy to put things off until tomorrow. It’s easy to go home and hibernate instead of going out because you’re tired or introverted. But I hope this is a reminder (if not to you, than to me) that life is a work in progress. Being an adult is not some predetermined idea of success. It’s just a reminder to get up, show up, and grow up. 🙂

 

adios january.

I cannot believe that January is over already. Technically we have 14 hours left, but still…

Just like that we’re 1/12 of the way through 2014 and what do I have to show for it?!

Things I’ve accomplished in January:

  1. I’ve been to the gym on average 4.2 times a week (mostly at 5:00 a.m. – ouch)
  2. I’ve helped the boy install 6 of 11 sets of blinds in the new house!
  3. I’ve made a dozen cupcakes that disappeared in 3 days
  4. I’ve cooked approximately 22 dinners & packed tons of lunches
  5. I enjoyed 1 snow day where I discovered the wonderful nectar of the gods, also known as coconut oil
  6. I’ve watched 2 seasons of Raising Hope, 1.25 seasons of Friends, 2 episodes of Breaking Bad and I’m currently caught up on Downton Abbey season 4
  7. I’ve read 4 books
  8. I spent 3.5 hours navigating the nightmare that is known as IKEA
  9. I spent 2.75 days in Virginia
  10. I’ve sent 7 pieces of mail
  11. I lost $286.92 to Sheetz and the Moozda’s constant hunger for gas
  12. I’ve saved the $26 required for the 52-week money challenge (hi, mom!)
  13. I fed Henry* once – his feedings are the boy’s responsibility because his food stinks and the last time I fed him he regurgitated his food and began pooping within 30 seconds of me feeding him

So there are the numbers of my month. Now to take on February, the best month ever! 🙂

*Henry is our orange African Cichlid – he kind of looks like a goldfish, but he’s shy…except for when he poops and pukes. Shane likes fish. It’s weird.

lazy.

I’m incredibly lazy. Case in point, the frequency of the updates on this blog. I’m not the kind of lazy where I lay on the couch in sweatpants for days on end. Nor am I the kind of lazy who uses the floor as a shelf for everything. However, I am the kind of lazy that sneaks up on you. The kind that says “Oh, you don’t really need to put on your make-up or fix your hair today” and “It’s a little too chilly outside this morning, don’t worry about going to the gym.”

It’s good that I’ve identified this though. I’ve learned that as long as I have a plan in place, I can overcome the urge to be lazy. This means writing a meal plan for the week so I’m not tempted by delicious Chinese take-out or my emotional eating trigger known as Papa John’s garlic parmesan breadsticks. It means pulling out everything I need to get ready in the morning before I start getting ready.

So why am I talking about all of this?

Since December 30, I’ve been going to the gym. It’s been an adjustment. I have to force myself to get out of bed at 4:45 in the morning, and if my workout gear is not laid out the night before I tend to talk myself out of going. Once I’m there, I’m usually good to go as long as I’m on a machine that I know how to operate. I finally feel like I’m mastering the laziness that has conquered my attitude about myself, my body image and my enthusiasm for life. My body now trumps my mind when I get on the treadmill and just try to walk for 20 minutes. Before I know it, I’m running and I’ve  burned 250 calories. I feel better about myself and I’m starting see the calf muscles I used to have in my soccer playing days.

Here’s to fighting off the lazy demons! Oh, and I think I’ve decided to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2015. It’s on my 25th birthday after all. 🙂