Speak da Troof Sunday: Stressed out Jessica is no fun

I was inspired to write this after reading SUAR's latest post - hers is a lot more serious, but it gave me a nice reminder that just because you blog about running and fitness doesn't mean that you have to avoid blogging about anything else in your life.  And since other parts of my life have been overshadowing any running and fitness, I thought maybe another speak da troof was in order.

This is not to say that I haven't been trying to blog.  I started a 15 Thing list on Friday, beginning with my decision to halt Insanity for a while and try it again at a different time.

Although I normally would agree with what the lovely Amylee (who just got a new half marathon PR, YOU GO GIRL!) said about needing to give something a while before you make a decision on it... after day 3 of Insanity, my decision was made.  No more Insanity for Jessica right now.  And I really do mean right now - I'm not throwing it in the garbage or selling it on Craigslist or anything.  It will stay in my workout DVD collection and I think the time will come that it will be the right thing for me to do and it'll be great.  But now is not that time.  Even just three days into it, I was dreading the workouts.  Honestly, they're not that much harder than TurboFire (my heart rate was about the same for the Insanity workouts and the TF workouts), but what TF has going for it that Insanity doesn't is fun.  TurboFire is super hard, but the music is awesome and you're too busy shaking your booty to notice.  There are no distractions in Insanity.  You know that your life sucks a little and that your muscles hate you.  It's a little stressful.  And I do not need stress from exercise right now, I need exercise as a release.  So I'm starting TurboFire again tomorrow, and will throw some running in when it works.

The reason I am trying to minimize added stress is because I've got a whole lot of it weighing on me right now.  But instead of hiding away and not blogging, I felt like it might help me to get it all down and out there.

About a week ago, I was checking the Disney Auditions website, which I do regularly, and two different auditions caught my eye.  The first is in Orlando on November 7th, and it's for an a capella group called Voices of Liberty that performs in Epcot.  I've heard them before, and they are an absolutely incredible ensemble that I've always wanted to audition for, but I'd never gotten the chance.  But my parents had already made plans to go back to Orlando in just a few days, so adding on some extra time so that I could do the audition seemed like a no-brainer.  The second audition, though, was even more exciting to me - it is scheduled for November 10th, and it's for two brand new a cappella groups that will be added to Disney's California Adventure next year.  The website describes them as follows: "Minnie’s Fly Girls Charter Airlines, a four-member charter airline crew that sings and swings to songs from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and The Friendly Sisters, a talented trio from the Midwest who epitomize the innocent, optimistic “can-do” America of the 1920s."  They are looking for singers of all ranges and types, and the benefit of auditioning for a group that doesn't exist yet is that you're not trying to fill someone's shoes.  The problem?  The second audition is in Hollywood.  So now instead of going to Orlando for a few days just to relax and then come home, I'll be going to Orlando for a few days to relax, then do a big audition, then hopefully have callbacks the next day, then fly from Orlando to Burbank, do a big audition bright and early the next morning, and then probably cry a lot.  And I leave in four days.

It sounds silly, but these auditions are taking a serious toll on me.  These are big league auditions, much bigger than what I'm used to, and I know that.  So the first step for me was to get some headshots taken, because I really didn't have anything that was perfect.  Luckily, I was able to make arrangements with a photographer to get some headshots taken on Friday, and I have since chosen one and she is getting it retouched and sent off to the printers so I will have copies on Wednesday (fingers crossed).  But it's me, and I'm high maintenance, so it took hours for me to pick the right shot after she'd put them up on her website.  And then I asked for opinions from my parents and David, and sure enough, more hours spent changing my mind about which was the right shot!  I'm also completely unsure about what to sing for both auditions because they're not what I'm used to... for a specific musical, I'd sing something from a similar show, but for vocal groups that do a variety of things, it's a lot harder.  

On top of the stress of actually getting ready for the auditions, I also have my responsibilities here hanging over me.  I feel terrible when I miss Friday mornings with my Weight Watchers members, because I've been in their shoes and I know how important it is to have your leader to depend on.  But doing these auditions means that I'll be missing two more meetings, and the guilt is overwhelming (before you ask - yes... I am Catholic).  And that's just the guilt I feel going to the auditions.  If either audition leads to an offer, everything changes.  I believe a position with Voices of Liberty would start immediately, meaning that I'd be quitting my job with Weight Watchers with very little warning and leaving the cast of Cinderella (which we FINALLY started rehearsing for and I will update more about later) with no Cinderella.  The Disneyland situation wouldn't be much better - those contracts start in January, which means that I could give Weight Watchers plenty of notice, but I would still have to leave Cinderella.  On the flip side, it would mean that I'd be moving out to California in January, which would mean the end of the long distance for David and I, and I'd be doing it with a great job already secured.  Not to mention the fact that I'd be getting paid to sing.  For Disney.  

Regardless... that's what is hanging over my head right now and why Insanity is going to have to wait.  It does actually feel kind of nice to put it all out there and not keep it bottled up.  Hopefully everything works out the way it is supposed to... but I'm not sure what way that is right now!

Insanity Day Two: Where we Replaced Nausea with Tears

Today's workout:
Insanity Day Two (Plyometric Cardio Circuit)
446 calories/45:00

So far, I think my feelings on Insanity can be summed up easily... I hate it.  I really hate it.  I'm going to keep giving it a chance for a little while because I haven't exactly loved most exercise programs at first, but they've grown on me.  Like running... that thing I based this blog on and then kind of forgot about after the half marathon.  Um.  I'll get back to that when it isn't snowing outside (and yes, there is snow on the ground outside my house, and yes, I am bitter).

Today's Insanity adventure went a little differently than yesterday's.  I was hoping that yesterday was kind of a fluke - I hadn't had any water before I started (perhaps not my best idea), I was feeling a little sluggish anyway, and I was working out in the basement, which is glorious in the middle of summer when the AC is cranked up and you can see your breath down there.  Not so glorious come fall and winter when the heat kicks on.  By the end of the warmup yesterday, I was already feeling a little lightheaded, but I wanted to stick it out.  Again, perhaps not my best idea.  About halfway through the fit test (which is only 8 one-minute exercises, so you'd think it would be okay), I felt incredibly nauseous.  I finished, but it wasn't pretty, and I honestly thought I was going to throw up.  The only real consolation is that I still remember my original fitness test for P90X, and it went horribly as well... it actually made me seriously reconsider the program.  And I did really well with P90X, so I decided to plow ahead.

Fast forward to today.  I woke up and my lower back and hamstrings were incredibly tight.  Painfully tight.  I really didn't want to face a second day of torture, but I wanted to give it a chance.  So I fixed all the mistakes I thought I'd made yesterday.  I had a little something to eat so I wouldn't crash and burn, I drank some water, and I made sure it wasn't boiling lava hot for my workout.  Then I started Plyometric Cardio Circuit, and it all went downhill from there.

By the end of the warmup, I was already a little tired and a lot sweaty.  And then we did the warmup routine again.  And again.  One complaint I have with Insanity so far is that it is tedious.  I'm almost wishing I'd done Insanity first and then Turbo Fire, because now I am comparing the two... Turbo Fire was very physically challenging, but it was always fun.  The music was fun, the moves were fun, and even when I felt like I was going to die, I never felt like I had to quit.  With Insanity, I was staring at the little clock on the screen wondering why it wasn't moving faster.  And yes, you're working your ass off so you shouldn't care that you're doing the same moves over and over, but I can't help it.  It was boring.  

After three times through the warmup, it was time to start what Shaun T referred to as "Suicide Drills."  Joy.  I have finally learned why I had no interest in doing sports in high school - drills.  I hate drills.  This is where I lost it.  I got through one or two drills and thought I was going to have to quit.  My body was tired, my heart wasn't in it, and I just wanted to give up.  So I stopped the DVD and cried for ten minutes.  Really, this program and I have a great track record so far.  First day, I almost throw up.  Second day, I stop the workout to cry.  I'm curious to see what the other breaks will be as I keep going!

But I did muster up the courage and the energy to push through the rest of the workout.  And now I'm trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to proceed.  I do struggle with committing to something that I find incredibly unpleasant, especially because my back and hamstrings do really seem to be struggling with it.  But at the same time, I also struggle with giving up on something that I've wanted to do for so long.  P90X wasn't easy, but I did it.  Training for the half marathon wasn't easy, but I did it.  I'd like to be able to say that same about Insanity, as long as my back can play nice.

The one great thing about hard workouts, though, is that they get me ready for sleep.  So... here goes!

Beachbody is going to kill me.

I just did the Fit Test for Insanity.

I might die.

I'm alive, I swear.

I wrote this on Sunday, but have been having computer issues ever since, so... forgive the tardiness.  But I'm back home now and free from Florida's humidity for a little over a week (yes, I'm going back that soon... more on that later).  Which means I actually have hair.

 I also have crazy eyes, but that is neither here nor there.

Sunday's run:
Easy run around Disney's Boardwalk (first run since the half!!)
3.37 miles/45:00

I have officially become the kind of person that I used to make fun of... the weirdo that makes fitness a priority.  Not only did I pack all of my workout gear and running stuff on this trip, but I actually used it.  I set my alarm nice and early this morning because I had planned on doing three easy loops around the Boardwalk.  Today is exactly two weeks after the half marathon, and I've actually been craving a run, so I knew it was a good time.  I felt so good on the third loop that I decided to do a fourth.  Seriously.  Me from three years ago thinks me today is a complete tool.

But let's put this into perspective, shall we?  Let me show you some of the things that I have eaten on this trip so that you can understand why I desperately needed to go for a run.

And yes, that is greasy, delightful bacon that you see on the side.

This and the next two pictures are from a glorious thing event that my dad happened to get us tickets to... a white truffle lunch.  This is a creamy and INCREDIBLE risotto that I almost died over.  On top are shavings of white truffle, which tastes a little like garlic and is delightful.  Did I mention that white truffles are absurdly expensive (read: about $2000 a pound) and I'll probably never taste one again?  You  better believe I licked that plate clean.

Steak. White truffle. Sauce undoubtedly made from crack.

What you don't see here is the glass of brachetto (i.e. glorious sparkling light red wine that I die for) that I kept having them fill up.  But you do see a slice of chocolate polento cake.  Italians, you slay me... you make that, we make grits.  Marry me.  Please.

Please note that this pornographic display of food does not include the following: four (yes, you read that correctly) sandwiches from Earl of Sandwich, a freshly baked cream cheese pretzel, a massive chocolate chip cookie from Goofy's Candy Company, and the cheeseburger and hot fudge sundae I had for lunch yesterday.  Oh, and did I mention the French Regional Lunch?  It's no big deal... just a very fancy event for the Food and Wine Festival where gorgeous French waiters bring you a six course meal, complete with a wine for each course.  And they don't pour you one glass and let you go.  Please.  They keep topping you up until you no longer fit in your chair.  I have a serious love/hate thing going on with the Food and Wine Festival.

But I made it through the run without dying, and I'm very proud of getting a run in while on vacation.  Now I just have to try to do that again next time.  And maybe try exercising at home, too... um...

Some Jungle Cruise sass.

Direct from the Jungle rivers of the Magic Kingdom (or the break room if you want to get specific)... Enjoy.

Do you love the hair? Thanks Florida. RUDE.

15 Thing Friday: Airplane Edition!

1. Yes, you read that correctly... I am blogging on an airplane. Thank you, smart people, for inventing an app that allows me to obsess over my ridiculous blog even when I'm not on the ground! Now if only I could add pictures with snarky captions instead of needing to put them in later. Uggggh, my life is super hard and full of work.

2. Speaking of work... Today's interaction with my coworkers was, as seems to be the usual, more of this:

3. This is my fourth flight this month. For someone who is terrified of heights, doesn't love flying, and SERIOUSLY hates airports... This is a little excessive. Luckily, I'm going to Disney World. If I was going somewhere not Disney related, chances are I'd shank someone with my knitting needles before the flight was over.

Miss Chubby Cheeks throwing down some airplane sass. And... zombie David?

4. Unluckily for me, I'm going to go work. I have a few free days for fun and games, but mostly I'm going to be telling a whole lot of bad jokes and trying not to slip and fall on my own sweat. Seriously, it's supposed to be in the high 80s the whole time I'm there. Florida: WTF?!!

5. As if one workplace rampage wasn't enough, I'm most likely walking into another one on this trip. One of the newer skippers is furious with me for "taking her hours" because I took a shift that another skipper wanted to give away, but she wanted it. Apparently this girl has never heard the sayings "the early bird gets the worm," "you snooze, you lose," or "not my problem." Somehow I didn't realize taking an available shift was a crime, but she has sent me several angry Facebook messages so I am well aware that she believes it is. Ah, Facebook... Making passive aggressive behavior easier and more annoying since 2004.

6. This is what I'm currently staring at. Get ready, it's pretty thrilling.

Not thrilled yet? Me neither.

7. When I was in eighth grade, we had to take these long surveys about ourselves and at the end, we got a list of suggested careers that were based on our answers. The top two careers it suggested for me were performer and flight attendant. Welp... Guess we know why I ended up as a theatre major.

8. A man has been playing video games at max volume for nearly two hours now. Sir, the airplane isn't that big. And I still have those knitting needles primed and ready for shanking.

8. I do hope you're enjoying the exquisite photography of today's 15 Things. Please note that in my eighth grade survey, it clearly said "performer" and not "artist."

9. I have my iPod on shuffle, which is something I try out maybe twice a year. It never fails to remind me how lazy I am, because I think I only listen to and appreciate 1/4 of what is on this sucker. Why don't I delete this nonsense? Oh wait. I'm lazy. That's right.

10. Speaking of lazy... I meant to go for a run this morning. When that didn't happen, I told myself I'd run after work. Would anyone like to venture a guess as to whether or not that happened?

11. They just announced that we will be arriving in Florida almost an entire half hour early. Good job, flight crew, you saved innocent people from my knitting needle wrath.

12. Unfortunately, we're still not getting in early enough for Earl of Sandwich. Forgive me, holiday sandwich... We will be together soon.

13. I definitely have not been fantasizing about what I'm going to eat for dinner the entire flight. Because obviously I'm starving to death... The bacon cheeseburger I had for lunch and the Ritz crackers and peanut I inhaled an hour ago just aren't cutting it. Exactly how long can I ride on the half marathon coattails?

14. While fantasizing about dinner, I've also been skimming the October issue of Shape... Clearly looking at a fitness magazine burns the same calories as actually doing the workouts. I'm always entertained at how easy fitness magazines make getting in shape sound. This issue claims the following: "1 Move + 2 Minutes = Sexy Abs."

Oh yeah? So if I do this for two minutes, I'll have sexy abs? Please, Shape... 15 reps of that wouldn't even burn off the cheese on my bacon cheeseburger.

15. We are about to land and I am completely exhausted. Thank God I'm not one of those people that gets too tired to eat. I'd get out of a coma for food.


16. I did this whole thing on my phone. Seriously, iPhone, I pledge my eternal love to you. You have my heart forever.

Triple Tangent Twednesday (better late than never!)

First of all, WELCOME NEW FOLLOWERS!  I can't even begin to explain how exciting it was to get so many comments and watch my list of followers grow today.  I was checking my email and punching David in the arm all day.  I'm sure he was thrilled.

For those of who you are new, I feel the need to explain this post a little bit.  Originally, I stole the idea of Triple Tangent Tuesday from this beautiful blogger, but I failed at blogging on Tuesdays.  Tuesdays were dead to me, apparently.  So I started doing the tangents on Wednesday and calling it Triple Tangent Twednesday.  The end!  Now it's 11:57, so most likely this will end up being a Triple Tangent Thursday, but... we do what we can.

1.  My pretty, shiny bribe to trick myself into tracking my food for a week WORKED, kids.  I tracked for a full seven days, every single day, and I didn't even use all of my weekly allowance!  I love bribery, works like a charm.  Dangle something lovely in front of me and I'm so much more likely to get off my chubby parts and get moving.  I now have my Tervis tumbler!

We are pretty much inseparable already.  I feel like this is going to cause worse relationship problems than the time I told David I was leaving him for a buttermilk biscuit.  And yes, that really happened... in my defense, it was a damn good biscuit.

2.  I got up this morning, immediately got into my workout clothes, and did some Turbo Fire.  I was happily surprised to notice that my legs were actually doing pretty well - I kept a lot of the moves low impact just to be safe, but squats didn't make me cry nearly as much as I thought they would.  What did hurt more than I expected was the fact that my sweat was made of pure sugar and was really pissed to be coming out of my pores.

Oh, did I forget to mention the box of donuts that happened post-race on Sunday?  I might need to make a part four of the race recap, entitled "Freezing to Death, Naps Formerly Known as Comas, and Jessica vs. The Donut Box."

3.  David is in town (hooray!) which means lots of eating out... which means that I spent most of today in complete denial of the fact that I need to fit into my pants.  Take, for example, my breakfast, which I am not so proud to tell you I polished off without thinking twice. 

In case you're wondering, that is not the biscuit that I threatened to leave David for.  

But despite all of my pants fitting denial, even I couldn't finish everything at dinner, and so a miraculous thing happened that David insisted I share with all of you.

That's right, kids.  We have leftovers.  As you can see from David's bewildered face, we aren't really sure what to do with them, since we encounter them so rarely.  We think leftovers are for people who haven't learned to unbutton their pants in public yet.

But shockingly, after eating my weight in food all day, I'm not feeling super delightful.  So I've already chosen where David and I will be going to breakfast tomorrow morning.  It's one of his favorites, so I got called "the most perfect girlfriend ever" for suggesting it.  Really, I just need a place that will serve me oatmeal so that I can show my face at work tomorrow... but hey, I'll take the whole perfect girlfriend thing.  That's a solid bonus.

Blogger fail.

I'm getting a few emails from wonderful people who for some reason can't comment on my posts... I'm sorry! I changed settings a bit so it should be fixed, but if you want to comment and can't, please feel free to send me an email! I would LOVE to hear from you! All of these comments and emails mean the world to me and I greatly appreciate each and every one of them. LOVE ALL OF YOU!!

Hello SR readers!

So... Skinny Runner mentioned me on her blog...

And then I almost died because I started to jump up and down in excitement (yes, I am five years old, thank you for asking)... neglecting to remember that I'd run a whole lot on Sunday and my legs still hate me.  Oops!

A big HELLO AND WELCOME to anybody stopping by for the first time!  Now is where I'd normally say something lame like "Check me out!" and make some sort of I-think-I'm-gangsta-face, but I was mentioned on SR so I have to kind of pretend I'm cool.

Running my first half marathon AND being mentioned on the blog of a runner I admire?!  This is turning into a pretty amazing week.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half Marathon Recap Part Three: The Race!

You were wondering when I'd actually get to this part, weren't you?  If you've made it through parts one and two, congratulations.  Forgive me for the insane wordiness of this part of the recap, but I want to remember everything, so I need to get it all out while it's still fresh in my mind!  You understand, right?  Of course you do.  You're awesome.  :)

So after the porta potty adventures, I took off my trash bags and throwaway turtleneck before heading over to my corral.  I had never done the whole throwaway clothing thing before and felt terrible throwing a perfectly good turtleneck on the side of the road... what can I say, I have attachment issues.  So I did what any normal person with issues would do.  I folded the turtleneck neatly and placed it on a park bench.  I'm desperately hoping that someone who was cold and in need of a turtleneck found it and is now a little warmer.

When I headed over to my corral, I was thrilled to find that the corrals were all slowly moving forward - the race had already started, so corral 14 was closer to the starting line now than it had been.  This meant less walking for me, which was great.  Slight tangent, but I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with how well organized the whole race weekend was.  You can tell Rock 'n Roll has a lot of events every year, because they know what they're doing.  While the corrals did feel kind of like a cattle drive, they were so well marked that even a newbie like me had no trouble finding the right one.  And I really appreciated that each corral got their own gun - it makes a difference!  I like pretending that I'm an elite runner and am starting at the same time as the hotshots!  Thanks Rock 'n Roll, for the ego boost.

The corral was the first of several stressful moments of the race, and I don't know why.  Maybe it was the fact that I felt like a cow being herded into a very small tunnel.  Or maybe it was the fact that I had no grace at all during the whole process and managed to drop my sunglasses twice, which resulted in one lens popping out twice because I have cheap sunglasses, and then I got my headphones stuck on my headband and my headband stuck on my earwarmer, and finally just gave up and shoved the headband into my pocket about 45 seconds before I started running.  Don't get me wrong, Bic Bands, you are awesome and I have no problems with you slipping during activity.  But even the greatest non-slip headband will move when I'm yanking my headphones around it.  Alas, the pink zebra headband didn't get to see the camera during the race.

The first few miles are all kind of a blur now, to be honest.  I was incredibly proud that I started off slow - I think pacing is one of the hardest parts about running, and my dad kept reminding me to start slow and not burn out early.  It turned out that my first mile was actually one of my slowest miles (12:48 pace), so I did very well with my pacing, which I know saved me towards the end.  But I was really trying not to get too in my head about everything and actually enjoy the race.  One of my favorite things about the whole experience was the people on the sidelines.  My parents had planned to be near the finish line, which was WONDERFUL, and really gave me something to look forward to... but it meant that I didn't have anybody else I knew cheering me on through the course.  I pretty much just took advantage of the friends and family members of others.  I especially loved the people that made signs (and I told them how much I loved them).  There were some great signs.  I made a list of some of my favorites they were so great.  I wish I'd taken pictures along the course, but I was honestly so focused on trying to just keep going that anything else might have killed me.  I'm slightly disappointed that I don't have pictures of all the signs and fun stuff I saw, but I think I would have been more disappointed if my time was slower than I wanted because I was busy taking pictures.

One of my favorites was a guy who was standing on the sidewalk at around mile 4 or 5, with a bicycle on the ground next to him, and a sign that said "Bike for rent: $50 a mile."  I told him that if he went a few miles ahead, I might take him up on the offer, and he was so sweet and said I wouldn't need him.  But sure enough, later on in the race (no idea what mile, somewhere between 7 and 10, I think), there he was with the same sign, only he'd crossed out the $50 and written $100 underneath it.  Some other favorites were "You've done much worse things for even longer!" and "Show running who's boss!"  The girl who was holding the latter sign also held one that said "Wanted: hot running boyfriend," which I thought was hilarious.  But that was around mile 7, so anything was entertaining to me because I was slightly delusional and really starting to bonk.  I think my absolute favorite signs, though, were a guy and a girl that I saw twice on the course.  The girl had a sign that said "I don't even know who you are, but I am SO PROUD of you!" and it honestly made me tear up.  I told her that it meant a lot to me to read that, and she smiled.  The guy's sign, though, might be the best I've seen.  It just said "Worst parade ever :("  HA!  I told him I loved his sign and he told me that I was looking good!  I was amazed at how nice the spectators were to random people they'd never met.

The run itself was a mixed bag, just like most of my long runs had been.  There were times where I felt amazing, empowered, proud and invincible... and then there were times where I started getting choked up and thought about quitting.  The compression tights made a BIG difference in how my legs felt (no hip pain until much later in the run, no real knee pain), which was great, but they didn't fix everything.  My hips still started throbbing around mile 9 or 10, and my ankles started bothering me around mile 8.  There were two really tough spots in the course for me, too, where the course looped back onto itself - instead of everyone running the same way on the street, it was sectioned off so there were two lanes of traffic, with the right side going one way and the left side going the other.  It turns out that I hate loops and that they fill me with dread and unpleasant feelings.  During both of these spots (the first one was long, too, a little over a mile), my legs felt heavy and it was a definite struggle.  At around mile 10, my legs got super heavy and tired.  I actually started thinking that I was going to have to stop running and just walk the rest of the way.  But instead, I just let myself take a few extra walk breaks, and I'm so glad I did because I really wanted to finish running.  One of the best things that happened to me was that I saw a guy (this was maybe around mile 5 or 6) wearing a shirt that said "Discipline or regret" and it became my new mantra for the rest of the race.  I absolutely DID NOT want to regret the experience, so I knew I had to be disciplined and keep pushing.

The end of the race was really great.  I had been struggling mentally and physically to get through the last three miles of the whole thing (luckily, the "worst parade ever" guy came back, which helped), but when I crossed the 12 mile mark, I knew I was so close and could definitely finish.  I also knew thanks to my beloved Garmin that as long as I stayed with the pace I'd been keeping, I would be able to make my goal of finishing in 2:45.  I know that my real goal was just to finish, but I REALLY wanted to make 2:45.  Even the slow pokes can have time goals, right?  Mile 13 actually ended up being my fastest mile (11:48) and I think it was because I got a good second wind.  After a few gradual uphills that had been pretty tough, mile 13 was mostly downhill, and I got some good momentum going.  I realized I was getting really close when I could see the Civic Center (where the finish line was!), and a very important song came on my iPod - the song is called True Believer by E-Type, and it was part of Body Pump release #70.  That was the release that I did every week in the summer of 2009, just a few short months after starting Weight Watchers, and only a few weeks after I'd gone through an incredibly painful breakup.  All those songs remind me of how empowering that summer was for me (it was also the summer I first did Couch to 5K!), but "True Believer" always made me think of my mom.  When it came on my iPod as I was reaching the Civic Center, I got really choked up, and somehow I knew that I was getting close to my parents.  And sure enough, I turned a corner, and saw my parents!  My mom was in a bright yellow coat cheering and smiling and waving and my dad was taking pictures.  It was exactly the push I needed, and I raced full speed ahead with everything I had left towards that finish line, mouthing the words to "True Believer" with every step.

My dad snapped this picture as I flew by :)

I crossed the finish line and threw my hands into the air - I HAD DONE IT!  I had finished my very first half marathon.  And I had made every goal I wanted to.  I was still standing, I had not thrown up, and to top it all off, when I stopped my Garmin after crossing the finish line, it said 2:43:34.  My official chip time was 2:44:18 (I had stopped for about 45 seconds to get my armwarmers off when I had gotten too toasty while running), so not only had I officially finished, but I had officially finished 42 SECONDS AHEAD OF MY GOAL!

After I crossed the finish line, threw my hands into the air, and then cried in joy, I realized that a line of volunteers was handing out medals.  I hobbled over (my legs started cramping up almost immediately, but I kept moving) and got my medal, then looked up and realized I knew the girl who had put it on me. Her name is Hannah and I had done marching band in high school with her, but I almost didn't recognize her - she'd lost well over 100 pounds and looked absolutely stunning.  I gave her a huge hug (I apologized for smelling so terrible and she laughed) and may have teared up a little bit again.  It meant so much to me that someone I knew had handed me that medal, and especially someone who had gone through a whole transformation like I had.  

With my medal around my neck, I got in line to have my picture taken, and while at the time I was worried about standing still so long, having now seen the picture, I am so glad I waited.  I haven't bought the official pictures yet (of course I'm going to, I'm buying everything they offer me for this race!), but I will share them when I do.  I'm tearing up just thinking about it now, because the look on my face in that picture right after I got my medal is pure joy.  

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half Marathon Recap Part Two: After the Expo and Before the Race!

Turns out I have more to recap before I even get to the race!  Technically, this should be "Part Two: After the Expo, Hating Alarm Clocks, Freezing Cold, and Porta Potty Adventures" but that seemed a little excessive :)

Post-expo on Saturday, I went to Road Runner Sports and picked up the right size of the CW-X tights - SO GLAD I MADE THE TRIP.  These things were lifesavers.  I also grabbed a couple Undercover Cami Bras that were on sale, and I have to say that I'm completely thrilled with them.  I don't have a whole lot going on in that department, exactly, so support has never really been my issue.  But the fabric is super soft and they're seamless, which is delightful.  Plus, the bottom band is nice and wide, so it covers the heart rate strap for the Garmin.  Win win!

I tried to relax for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  My mom made her tuna casserole, which was another delicious excuse to carbo-load.  Then I laid everything out, called David, and went to bed.  By the grace of God and the exhaustion of walking around and running errands all day, I actually ended up getting a good night of sleep, which I know made a huge difference in how I felt on Sunday.  

The alarm went off hatefully early on Sunday... 4:50 am, to be exact.  I was planning on leaving my house at around 5:30 to get to the starting area (let's take bets on whether or not that happened) and I wanted to give myself plenty of time to wake up and get ready.  Obviously I hit the snooze button.  Please.  But eventually I got up and got moving, and forced my dad to take some more obnoxious pictures.  Unfortunately, due to camera trouble, they turned out blurry... but I will make you look at one anyway.  This was what I called my "running fast" pose.

My dad was nice enough to drive me down to the starting area, and got me all set for the cold.  Luckily, there was no rain or snow on Sunday... we were all a little worried since Saturday was so rainy.  That being said, Sunday was COLD.  What you see in the running fast pose is what I was planning on actually running in - the 3/4 tights, a Nike Dri-Fit Tank, and random blue Nike jacket I got at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale and have no idea what it is specifically.  Do you recognize that jacket from the expo?  Yeah.  I apparently don't believe in laundry.  But again, I digress.  What I ended up wearing to the starting line was all that, plus long armwarmers, fleece gloves, a throwaway turtleneck, and two garbage bags.  I was the prettiest girl at the race.

Glaring at the camera... still blurry.  Forgive me.  Don't zoom in, your head will explode.

And yes, what you see behind me is, indeed, a donut shop.  Lamar's Donuts, specifically, otherwise known as some of the best donuts on the planet.  We stopped here before heading over to the drop off area so that I could get my race number and trash bags on.  Gorgeous.  My dad liked the irony, so we got some good "Jessica with the donut shop" pictures.

Yes, that's me... corral 14.  This is the corral you get put in when they ask you for a finishing time and you laugh for a few minutes before you realize that they're serious, and that there are people who are actually going for a time rather than simply trying to run the race and not die before crossing the finish line.

After the donut shop photoshoot, my dad dropped me off near the starting line, and I spent some time walking around.  This might not have been the smartest idea before running that many miles, but it was about 35 degrees outside and walking kept me warm.  Plus, I was trying to find the fancy schmancy VIP Porta Potty area.  Yup.  You read that correctly, kids.  Brooks does a VIP Porta Potty deal for many of the Rock 'n Roll events (maybe all, I'm not completely sure).  I laughed when I first found out about it, and wasn't even planning on trying to get into it, but it turns out that if you spend enough money on the Rock 'n Roll merchandise, you gain access.  And we all know I rock at spending money, so there I was, with a little VIP Porta Potty sticker.  

If you're planning on running one of the Rock 'n Roll races this year, GET THE VIP PORTA POTTY PASS.  This thing is a game changer.  My only complaint about the whole thing was that they didn't explain where the VIP area was, so I spent a long time wandering around looking for it.  But in that time, I passed the rows and rows of porta potties with at least 25 people waiting for each one.  Yikes.  And just to be clear, I HATE porta potties.  Hate them.  I will avoid them at all costs.  So when I actually found the VIP area, I was thrilled - it wasn't porta potties!  There were two trailers, one for men and one for women, that were "climate controlled" (read: HEATED, praise the heavens), and had four tiny little stalls.  The toilets flushed and there were real sinks with real water and real soap.  When I got there, it was only about 20 minutes until the first corral was set to start, and yet I only waited behind about 7 or 8 other women.  Delightful.  And at the end, a Brooks volunteer offered me Lifesaver mints and Shot Bloks on toothpicks!  It was so cute I could barely stand it.  Did you hear me, kids?  GET THE VIP PORTA POTTY PASS.  You can laugh at first, but you will thank me.  I promise.

After my porta potty adventures, and bonding with some really nice women in line who thought it was relatively hilarious that I was wearing trash bags (say what you will, but I was warm), it was time to get my iPod on, get the Garmin on, and head over to the starting line.  So...

Coming soon (finally)... Rock 'n Roll Denver Half Marathon Recap Part Three: The Race!

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half Marathon Recap Part One: The Expo!

First of all, I am thrilled to report that even though I ran 13.1 miles for the first time ever yesterday (and yes,  I am going to be bragging about that for at least two more weeks, so get ready), I am not feeling too bad!  Right after the race yesterday, I started having cold-like symptoms: sneezing, a bad cough, chills, etc.  I was worried that maybe I had pushed myself too hard and was too far down, but I think I just needed some good rest!  And compression tights work wonders... but more on that later :)

The whole Rock 'n Roll weekend started off on Saturday morning when I dragged my Pops to the expo.  I was originally planning on going Friday by myself, but I'm so glad I waited because it was really fun to have my dad there with me.  I could not believe the expo!  I'm used to pretty low-key 5Ks where you can pick up your race packet and t-shirt half an hour before the race starts, so this was a mind-blowing experience for me.  It was huge and there was so much going on!  Not to mention loads of stuff to buy, and obviously with my shopping addiction, I spent a pretty penny :)

The first thing that I did when I got there was find my race number on the big boards outside (there were so many people registered!) so that I could confirm my registration and pick up my race packet.

My dad loves to take pictures from behind me.  This is the first one that didn't make me rethink liposuction.

I found myself!  Turns out there was another runner with my first and last name doing the half as well.  I'm glad we didn't get confused since my expected finish time put me 5 corrals behind her.

Once I'd found my number, it was time to venture into the expo!  Well, actually it was time to take some goofy pictures and then venture into the expo...

I think my dad snapped this one right before I was going to do my signature thumbs-up-with-obnoxious-face pose.  So glad he got this gem instead.

Much better.

RED CARPET!  I did kind of feel like a rock star...

After I strolled down the red carpet like I owned it, I picked up my race packet and t-shirt.  Then I drifted into the actual expo and honestly... I was completely shocked.  This was so not a 5K.  I walked through all the Rock 'n Roll merchandise for at least 15 minutes before I even realized that there was more stuff beyond that.  And then of course I bought most of the merchandise... a fashion show will be conducted for your enjoyment later this week.  And by that I mean that I will force David to take pictures of me modeling all of my new gear for you.  

There was a massive Brooks area that was SO COOL that I could barely stand it.  I wish I'd taken more pictures of stuff, but I was too busy walking around with my jaw down by my knees.  If I have one regret about this whole experience, it's that I didn't have my camera duct taped to my hand - I missed some great Kodak moments.  But I was soaking it all in!  Regardless, the Brooks area was probably my favorite part of the expo.  It was all carnival themed which was super cute, and they were giving tons of stuff away.  I won a headband and a free t-shirt (both of which will be part of the fashion show, don't you worry) and then went into this little interactive trailer that had really odd running shoe related things. They were hilarious!  There was a massive Brooks shoe, for example, and you could pick up a little headphone thing (English is my first language, I swear) and listen to a bit of a story about it... I can't remember it exactly, but they were saying that the rumor was that the shoe was made for Big Foot, but the CEO of Brooks denies that and claims it was made for an one-legged Eastern European circus performer.  Weird, right?  Oh well.  I was laughing, even if no one else was.  I also saw this in the Brooks carnival, which made me laugh out loud because I might as well live here.

Eventually, I was carnival-ed out, and went around the corner to discover that I hadn't even really hit the expo yet.  I was still in random merchandise area.  The expo was even bigger than I'd thought!  There were tons of booths and I stopped at a lot of them, but the whole area was pretty packed and I was turning into hungry grumpy Jessica, which is not the best version of me.  I checked out some Sweaty Bands, which was entertaining with my dad because he was a little taken aback by the price.  Lucky boys not having to worry about sports bras and hair accessories!  I also checked out some other booths, including the Hot Chocolate 15K which I am sorry isn't happening this December here!  But I'm hoping to still be able to do it next year... any race that involves Ghirardelli is a winner in my book.  I did get slightly distracted by another booth...

But can you blame me?!!!

I am still a little sad that none of the Disney races fit into my schedule for a little while... I would even run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon if I could and I hate Tinker Bell.  Unfortunately, I'll be too busy starring in Cinderella here in freezing Colorado to jet off to Florida or California to run some races.  I really am not complaining about that.  Races will also happen in 2013, but me getting to sing "A Lovely Night" constantly for my adoring fans has a time limit!  But I digress.  The runDisney booth was super cute, and they had tons of medals on display - the Rock 'n Roll medals are pretty awesome, but of course Disney puts them to shame.  I was especially jealous of the latest medal from the Disneyland Half, especially because if I'd gotten my butt in gear sooner, I could have run that baby!

AHHHH!  So awesome.  I guess I just have to stay in half marathon shape so I can run it next year :)

I hit a few more booths before I left, and even tried some Shot Roks, despite having just read an article that said absolutely do not try any new foods before the race.  Oops!  I actually did regret that, because I thought the Shot Roks were disgusting.  I tried the peanut butter flavor and it tasted like peanut butter death.  Mostly, they were just super chalky and kind of bland.  Not a fan.  Love Shot Bloks, though!  

Obviously I made my dad snap a picture before I left - because the sign was thanking and telling me that I was going to ROCK IT!

Coming soon... Rock 'n Roll Denver Half Marathon Recap Part Two: The Race!



And I did it all in less time than I was even hoping for :)  But despite an "oops!" nap (read: meant to nap for half an hour and passed out for two hours instead) I am still completely exhausted, so I will save the recap for tomorrow when my body is slightly less angry and I have the energy to get the pictures on the computer.  That's tiring work, kids.

For now, I'll just say that I'm a happy, happy girl and I can't wait to tell you darling people out there all about it!  THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for the wonderful comments and encouragement.  You guys are wonderful!  Stay tuned tomorrow for all the details!  :)

Can't believe it's October 9th!

I'm laying out all of my stuff as I type this... well, no, I don't have four arms, so I'm taking a break to type this.  There has been a slight adjustment in what I'm wearing because it will be about 35 degrees for much of the 13.1 miles.

In twelve hours, my we're-super-slow-please-don't-trample-us-when-we-shuffle-over-the-starting-line corral will be almost finished with the half.  And by "almost finished" I mean that we'll probably have about an hour to go.  Which to me means almost finished.  That's terrifying.

The expo was AMAZING and I will post more on it later.  For now, I am going to drink some more damn water, make sure for the millionth time that I have everything ready, call my boyfriend and hopefully, pass the hell out.  Because I'M RUNNING MY VERY FIRST HALF MARATHON TOMORROW MORNING!!!!

If you are awake nice and early tomorrow morning, please send me some warm, confident, fast vibes.

15 Thing Friday: Obsessing about my first half marathon edition!

1.  I did my last training run yesterday and aside from some crazy wind in my face for the second half of it, it was wonderful!  I ran the trail and tried to keep the pace of my running intervals between 10:00 and 11:00.  Even uphill!  I was really proud of how well it went and now I'm feeling confident and ready for Sunday.

2.  Meanwhile, I found the perfect shorts for the half.

If you know me at all, you know that I actually seriously considered purchasing these just so I can have them in my drawer.

3.  Actually, I did splurge a little and bought the CW-X compression tights I was obsessing over.  But I got all twitterpated when I ordered them and told myself I wouldn't fit into the medium, so I ordered a large pair.  As if my ego wasn't big enough already... they're too big.  After I did an adequate happy dance, I realized I was super disappointed.  So now I'm trying to squeeze a trip to the local Road Runner Sports (by local I mean it's 25 miles away from my house) into my crazy day tomorrow, along with working two meetings and racing to the expo.  Which I am SO EXCITED FOR I CAN HARDLY STAND IT!

4.  I did have a minor panic attack when I first got the CW-X tights out of the package, though, because I realized that they didn't have a nice pocket for my phone.  God forbid I rely on the water and Cytomax stations they provide, because obviously I am hell bent on carrying my Camelbak and my handheld water bottle... which I hope isn't too obnoxious, but it's what I've gotten used to, and I don't want to change anything at the last minute.  But with my water bottle in my right hand, I don't want my phone in my left hand because I like having a free hand... THE AGONY!  Then I re-read all of Cely's posts where she was worrying about Chicago, and it made me feel better.  At least I'm not the only one who gets a little freaked.

5.  I've been slightly in denial all week about how fast the half was coming up, but I thought today I'd finally take a minute to look at what other people recommend eating the last couple of days before the race.  After reading a whole lot of articles, I decided I needed some more carbs.  So I did what any good health conscious runner would do: I went to Chipotle and got a massive burrito with some chocolate milk.

Bonnie was also interested - she felt pretty depleted after this morning's walk and wanted to replenish her glycogen stores.

6.  Not half related, but when I went to work yesterday afternoon, I felt like this:

And when I left, it was a whole lot more like this:

It wasn't a pretty day.

7.  I skipped Turbo Fire today.  And yesterday.  My excuse is that I need to take it easy before the half.  But really, I'm just burnt out on Turbo Fire and thrilled that running 13.1 miles gives me a great reason to slack off.

8.  They keep changing the forecast for Sunday.  A week ago, it was in the 50s and partly cloudy, otherwise known as perfect for running.  Then it was high 30s and snowing, and then mid-40s and raining.  Now it's back to 50s and partly cloudy.  If you're not doing anything Saturday night, please do me a favor and pray to the weather gods for no rain.

9.  I have already decided on my post-half-marathon dinner.  I will be having a two pound pizza from Beau Jo's.  It's designed to feed 2-3 people, so I'll probably need a side of breadsticks too.

Just looking at it makes me drool.

10.  I also have a feeling that some of this will be in order post-half...

Or maybe pre-half.  Like right now.

11.  Again, not half related... but I love Frasier.  Really.  God bless WE tv for having hours of it on at a time.

That will probably be my face when I cross the finish line.

12.  Two nights ago, I dreamt that it took me four hours to finish the half.  Last night, I dreamt that I finished in 2:30.  Even my subconscious is unsure about this whole thing.

13.  Of course, I also dreamt that I looked like Sofia Vergara, so... my brain is clearly delusional.

14.  Obviously I'm watching Frasier right this second.  They mentioned gummi bears.  Now all I want in the world is a delicious, sugary, gummi snack.

15.  My eye just started ticking.  Either I desperately need to get to sleep or see a doctor.  That's a delightful 15th thing, isn't it?