Archives For Love & Life

The Softer Side: 100% Me, 100% Real Life.

Do you remember my “30 Things I Want to Accomplish in My 30th Year” post? I certainly needed to take a refresher read through the post.I’m approximately 167 days removed from the last day of my 30th year…However, I had quite a few lofty goals during that time. As I look back on the time that has passed since that day, I think of all the things I have accomplished — even things that weren’t on the original list. Of course, there are also a few goals that never materialized during that time.

As I reflect back on that time, I wanted to post the update, which in turn will help me write some new goals as we approach a brand new year in the next 50 days.

 

 UPDATED & FINALIZED: The 30 Things I Want to Accomplished in My 30th Year (plus 167 days)

✅Run a marathon – Completed the Georgia Publix Marathon on March 22, 2015

Climb a mountain

✅Run a timed 5K race under 30 minutes – Completed the Dublin Grant Thornton Corporate Challenge in August 2014 at 27:45

Take a baking/decorating course

✅Visit an Eastern European country – I visited Croatia, Slovenia, & Czech Republic in July of 2015

Read more books

Run a timed 10K race under 57 minutes

Take a photography course

✅Begin selling cupcakes – I had an office bake sale on May 27, 2015 and sold 6 dozen cupcakes

Take a cooking course

Attend a fashion week

✅Try a new, exotic food – I’ve tried both Korean BBQ and Persian cuisine

Send more “just because” mail

✅Run a timed half marathon under 2 and a half hours – Completed the Dublin Half Marathon on September 22, 2014 in 2:07

Travel more

✅Join a running club – Joined the Atlanta Track Club in October of 2014; Trained with the ATC during both 2015 spring/fall marathon training

Cycle 100K in a single day

✅Raise $1,000 for charity – I raised $3,000 for Girls on the Run

✅Run a profitable business – $22/ month isn’t much, but it’s profitable!

Take a sewing course

Get 100 new blog followers

✅Keep in touch with friends more – I try to call/text regularly, even if it’s just to say hi!

✅ Learn to play tag rugby

✅Set aside at least $500/month to savings – Moving back to the US really helped on this front!

Get five new Juice Plus customers

Keep a food diary for 30 straight days

Write an A-Z series blog post

✅Conquer a fear – I can’t tell you what as it is personal, just know that I did.

Start a date night jar and use it frequently

As you can see, I didn’t quite conquer half of what I wrote down to do, but, I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way! I’ve been through quite a few leadership and mentoring seminars lately, and I know how important WRITTEN goals are. I’m a visual person, and just having them in front of me, helps me stay focused on what I want. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2016!

I’m a marathoner! It’s an exciting thing to say to someone who then in turn calls you full on crazy–Unless, of course, they are also a runner. The NYC marathon was my second marathon, both overall and this year. I know I’ve been a nonexistent blogger since January, but I’ve had a lot of things happen in life. And so, nearly 11 months after my last post, I bring you: my NYC marathon journey.

My journey to the NYC marathon was a challenging one. First, I gained my entry to the marathon not by being one of the lucky lottery winners or qualifiers, but by committing to run for charity (a charity I am a local coach for, no less) months before the lottery even closed. Hurdle number 1: raise $3,000.

Let’s just discuss the art of fundraising for a minute, considering I did sign myself up to raise money for Girls on the Run. Talk about a challenge! I’m an accountant–asking people for money is something I do only when I issue a negotiated invoice, never voluntarily. I had to figure out how to raise money, lots of money! I put a lot of effort (and credit card points) into an office building bake sale and two charity cocktail evenings and that STILL wasn’t enough. But I have some pretty amazing friends and family and after Girls on the Run posted a story about my “why”, the donations flooded in and I hit my goal. I was officially going to run the marathon because of their love & support! While difficult, I can also say it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my lifetime–because as a coach, I know how the funds are allocated and how they truly impact the lives of the girls in the program. I’ve seen their faces as they cross the finish line of their own 5K each season and it has truly been life changing!

Second, there are stories after stories about how getting to the start line is harder than running an actual marathon. Two marathons in and I’ve fallen victim to running injuries both times. This injury far surpassed the first though and there was no recovering before race day, despite taking it easy for nearly six weeks leading up to the race.

Fast forward through weeks upon weeks of training and fundraising to race week.

I packed my bags; I decided I was running this race, if it meant I ended up walking half of it. (Keep this in the back of your mind as you read on.) I was prepared for rain, cold, or shine. I packed my hydration, my fuel, recovery, and even my own coffee! I took heed to the “do NOTHING different on race day” warnings.

Race day morning I woke up 5 minutes before the alarm. I met the Atlanta team on the subway at 6:40AM. At 7AM we are in line for the ferry. However, the crowds were large and we didn’t even get onto the ferry until 8AM. Then it was straight into the bathroom lines before waiting in line for the shuttle to take us to the start line. At 9:50AM the shuttle dropped us off and we’re left to hustle to our corrals before they close at 10:15AM. I will say, it’s a darn good thing I didn’t blow the girls off that morning because I thought they were crazy wanting to catch the subway FOUR hours before our wave started! Little did I know it would take as much time as it did…I get it now!

I’m finally in my corral by 10:15AM and I meet Barbara. She’s a nice lady, running her fifth marathon, and her talking to me keeps my nerves at bay. I have my “marathon plan” and I’m not going to go out too fast, no matter how many people are passing me!

Ready to Race

Green Wave Start Line

The gun goes off at 10:40AM and we surge forward. The race is officially on for me! The entire first mile and a half is uphill across the Verrazano Bridge–much like the Wednesday night runs I do with West Stride…I got this! I kept a nice, steady 11:30-12:00 ish pace. I was feeling good! Miles 1-4 FLEW by. Before I even blinked I was at mile 5 and thinking to myself “I can totally do this”!

Mile 6-13…I started thinking how much I really don’t like Brooklyn. It’s so boring. I’ve been on the same road for over an hour and a half at this point; I sure could use a change of scenery! The crowd turnout is great though, and the bands/support is helping me keep going.

Mile 14 – Bridge #2, an uphill battle into Queens, though not nearly as bad at Bridge #1. Everyone hits a wall, but not everyone hits it at mile 20. For me, that wall was during Mile 15. Mile 16 was also the start of the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. Let’s talk about this beast for a minute. This is where I knew I had to walk if I had any hope of saving my knee. And so I joined the ranks of the walkers. However, this allowed me to stop for a photo op, which actually helped pull me out of my funk and helped me hurdle the wall.

Manhattan Skyline via Queensboro Bridge

I picked my feet up again on the descent as the mass of people rounded the corner onto First Ave. This is where everyone warned there would be a wall of noise. Perhaps the crowds were a bit burned out at this point, because I never even had to turn off my headphones. I was a little disappointed, if I’m being frank. (And there were A LOT of people in the crowds at this point)

Mile 17-19 was a pretty easy run along First Ave with the crowds surging me along. I was still on point with my 11 ish minute mile at this point and was feeling pretty good until about Mile 18. I felt the knee pain creep in, despite my repeated efforts encouraging my body to keep cooperating. I was fighting tears from Mile 18-19 but I was trying to stay mentally tough!

Mile 20, Bridge #4 into the Bronx – yet another hill. I actually heard a lady behind me say “I’m so over bridges at this point” and I don’t think I could’ve agreed more. However, I powered up this one and kept trucking along. The Bronx was actually one of my favorite parts of the race, despite it being a quick mile and a half. The bands were playing great music, the crowds were yelling/cheering/making noise – I guess they realized that is when most people do hit their wall! Thank you Bronx crowd!

Mile 21-23 is where things started falling apart for me. I pushed through Harlem, but as I neared Central Park, my right hip started cramping; it had been compensating for the left knee for nearly 5 miles at this point and started screaming no more. I was at 108th and 5th and I had a complete mental breakdown. I couldn’t control the tears at this point and by the time I found hubby at 103rd I was nearly inconsolable. The pain was over bearing and it’s all I could focus on. I was ready to quit. I kept sobbing on his shoulder “Tell me I can do this; tell me I can finish this!” The nice French lady standing beside him offered me a coke, and the ladies behind Joe kept encouraging me saying “You got this! It’s only 2.5 more miles. You’ll be ready to sign up for the next one before you know it!” I knew, no matter what, I had to cross that finish line; Quitting wasn’t an option at this point.

My brain was out of the game, as was my body, but at Mile 24.5, I breathed in new life as I was sobbing through Central Park. In this exact moment, I found the will to power through in my heart. I was extremely disappointed in myself for having run nearly an entire marathon only to end up walking the last 2.7 miles, but this sign was EVERYTHING. To the spectator holding them — you are my freaking hero!

Mile 24.5 Mantra

Despite my head & my legs, I crossed that finish line, with a time of 5:07:29 and it was 100% heart that carried me through.

Nearly a week later, I still can’t get over the disappointment, even though I know this is a HUGE accomplishment. I’ve heard every justification and positive word that could possibly be said…maybe in a week I’ll have a happier outlook. For now, I have my medal sitting on my desk and am just fortunate to have that.

NYC Marathon Finisher's Medal

There is no runner’s high; there is no great feeling about this one. To me, it is simply done. Are these feelings normal?

As I sit here this morning, reflecting on the fact that another year has flown by, I’m grateful; grateful for everything that was 2014. It was a heck of year — physically, mentally, emotionally, personally, all of it.

Reflections on 2014:

I met some incredible people who I am so lucky to call friends now;

I started 3 new jobs;

I bonded with my niece and reconnected with my family;

I got unbelievably lost, and have begun to claw my way back;

I became a better, stronger, faster runner;

I turned 30;

I moved 4,000 miles across an ocean;

I had my apartment burgled;

I lost two clothing sizes and counting;

I saw a huge part of the world that I never imagined possible;

I paid off some student loans;

I celebrated my 4 year wedding anniversary;

I LIVED. I LOVED. I LAUGHED. I CRIED. I CELEBRATED. I LET GO.

THIS IS LIFE.

Are you reflecting on your 2014 this morning too? Do you have lofty goals for 2015?

Until next time, Happy New Year!

XOXO – K

 

2014 was supposed to be my marathon year. I was registered for the Dublin Marathon in October and training was in full swing as I ran the Dublin Race Series from June to September. Life ultimately had different plans for me, and I found myself back in the USA before I ever saw the end of September.

I attempted to keep running, in hopes I could find a marathon around the late October/early November timeframe that could replace the Dublin marathon I would be missing. Two VERY hilly runs around Atlanta later, I realized running a marathon in 2014 was simply impossible. You see, in Dublin, I was at sea level, with very few inclines or hills any where to be found in the city or along the routes I frequented. Atlanta, in stark contrast, is 320m above sea level (1,050 ft) and that my friends, is the highest elevation of any major city east of the Mississippi River. To say I struggled to adjust is a huge understatement.

It has taken me three solid months and struggles like you would not believe to get to a point where I feel like a runner again. I’ve had to pull my pace back, and I feel like a turtle again. I’ve also spent a lot time in the gym cross-training, you know, the keys to running don’t just involve a strong lower half…

Two weeks ago, I ran a 10 mile race. It was hilly, but not as bad as I expected, and that is the exact moment I had the realization that I had adjusted to the elevation and hills that are Atlanta. I was on sheer runner’s high as I crossed that finish line.

Monday Night Brewing

The race had several tents set up, one of which was the Georgia Marathon. Ten minutes later I was signed up to run the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 22, 2015.

I’m super pumped and scared for this journey all at the same time. I’ve never run more than 13.1 miles before. I have no idea how I’m going to do this — OK, that’s a lie because I’m going to do this on sheer will power and desire; because it’s what I want to accomplish as a runner this year!

Chase your dreams, then keep running

It’s going to hurt; it’s going to be a challenge, both mentally & physically; it’s going to consume all my free time (hello, I’m training for this during tax season!); it’s going to make me stronger. AND THAT IS GOING TO BE MY REWARD WHEN I CROSS THAT FINISH LINE IN MARCH!

Here's to 2015

This training will be both friend and foe, but, as Barney says in How I Met Your Mother, challenge accepted! Bring it on 2015!

Until next time, XOXO – K

It was your typical Thursday; Alarm goes off then the snooze battle begins; Finally drag myself out of bed and get ready for community service day. It was my fourth day of employment and I was going to spend the day with 120 co-workers cleaning up Atlanta’s third largest park. Luckily, the firm had provided us with T-Shirts so all I had to worry about was jeans and shoes!

I had asked my husband to take me to the park on his way to work because I was told parking was going to be limited. We walk out the door, locked it, and because I’m always paranoid, I actually double checked it was locked. Then, we were on our way.

The park was a fairly large park, albeit if I were driving by I would’ve never known it was a park–At least not before we all got to work! I had signed up for the gardening crew, thinking I would be planting pretty flowers everywhere — but I quickly learned my idea of pretty little flowers were actually trees!

Sun rise peaking through the clouds - Atlanta Memorial Park

Sun rise peaking through the clouds – Atlanta Memorial Park

Atlanta Memorial Park - Early morning

Atlanta Memorial Park – Early morning

 

There was A LOT of digging and swinging a pick-axe to plant my tree and by 11AM I was already exhausted but in just two quick hours the park looked completely transformed! And, we were all having fun helping each other out even though it was a lot of labor.

It took me nearly two hours on the side of a hill to get the hole deep enough to plant this not-so-little guy.

It took me nearly two hours on the side of a hill to get the hole deep enough to plant this not-so-little guy.

 

After the clean-up & planting was completed for the day, we all headed out to Monday Night Brewing for a firm meeting. What a great time — and an opportunity to learn so much about my still new-to-me co-workers! Who would’ve guessed I’d be standing in line for food and chatting with one of the two founding partners? WHOOP!

Monday Night Brewing - Drafty Kilt

Monday Night Brewing – Drafty Kilt

 

I’ll be darned if a few of us didn’t continue the party at a bar after the brewery! Also a good time — but maybe could’ve (erm, should’ve?) done without that Fireball? I finally hang my hat around 8:30 and HAD to get home. I was the old maid! (But we did get to the brewery at 2…) Luckily my husband was nice enough to pick up my not-so-sober self and bring me home on his way from the office.

I alternate talking his head off about my day and my co-workers and singing on the ride home– both things I do quite well with alcohol! We arrive home and he puts the key in the lock and turns. Nothing happens. He looks at me and I shrug. “Honey, I double checked the door this morning, it was locked! Maybe we just didn’t hear it click?”

Door opens and we walk in. At that particular second I didn’t think it was odd that my kitchen lights were on. Blame it on the booze? The next 30 seconds are a bit fuzzy as I shut the door and turn the lock only to notice the entire door frame near the lock plate is splintered. I drop everything I’m holding and turn around. Hubby is standing in the living room looking at the hallway, which is where we had a TV sitting — HAD. Then the reality sets in as I see the bathroom light and fan on and my dressers drawers astray, clothes pulled out randomly, my jewelry box open, and my fire-box rummaged through.

You don’t really know how you’ll react when you realize someone kicked in your door, violated your privacy, not to mention your sense of security — you just don’t. Especially not after a few drinks — but I promise you this is a SOBERING moment.

Burgled

At this exact moment in time we had lived in our apartment one week — ONE. Seven days. Half of the building is still under construction! My first phone call was the cell phone of the apartment manager. Hubby’s was the police. My second call was my mother, and it’s probably better my father answered. I was crying so hard I could barely talk, let alone stand. Then somehow I end up outside, and the security guard is standing there listening to me try to blubber what happened to my father; Then the guard tells me my neighbor across the hall also got burgled; Then the cop arrives (dad, did I hang up on you? I’m sorry!) but the cop lives here; He had JUST introduced himself on Tuesday evening.

He comes in and takes our statement as we survey the items we are missing. You know the hardest part about trying to survey what you no longer own? When you haven’t seen most of said stuff in 19 months. I took very little from my jewelry box to Ireland with me. I knew it had been rummaged through but I had no clue if anything was missing. The important pieces (at least to me, though they are far from valuable on the monetary front) were still there. My closet was untouched, and the only valuable thing I REALLY own was on my finger that day — despite knowing I’d be doing garden work all day… I don’t really believe in coincidences, so let’s just say fate intervened that morning.

After the cop left, it really set in what the thief took and I lost it thinking about my computer. The computer! My life was on that computer! Oh, phew we had it backed up. OH NO. What about the back up external hard drive that every picture from the last 19 months over seas on it? Was it gone? I was inconsolable at this moment and my poor husband…he was trying to help me! He did find the backup in a box in the closet — OH THANK YOU LORD.

[Side note: MULTIPLE BACK UPS PEOPLE. THREE, AT A MINIMUM. We are fortunate the hard drive was nowhere near the computer and was in a box in the guest closet, but… THREE BACKUPS.]

I won’t dwell on the aftermath of the burglary. We were safe, and luckily not home at the time. We didn’t lose anything that wasn’t replaceable, and we learned a valuable lesson on that front. And the silver lining? I wanted a new computer anyway!

It’s not the stuff you need to worry about in your life. It’s you; it’s your memories; and it’s your sense of security. All of these things are priceless. Insurance can pay you for your lost stuff but not your sanity. it’s been a tough two weeks, but the new access locks around the apartment complex, the alarm system, and the support of our friends and family help tremendously.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you — because that’s the exact moment when it will. Never say never.

XOXO – K