Preparing for possible snowfall tomorrow.
Praying for my paternal Grandpa who is in bad shape right now. (Understatement).
Lifting with Sara at the gym and she is the perfect workout partner.
Working towards creating my very first product. (ooooh mystery! suspense!)
Patting myself on the back for submitting art to a gallery showing!
Drinking pumpkin yogurt green smoothies for breakfast.
Starting to read a book that will probably tell me my life is all wrong. ha.
Waking up at 5:30am almost daily. Every day I do this is a new record for me.
Feeling busy, scheduled, misunderstood, sad, excited, supported, positive, strong, and more. Humans are so complicated.
Moving things around so my Dad can stay with us for a few days.
Dreaming about the gift card I have for a massage. I think it’s gonna be my carrot for the aforementioned product completion.
Wearing graphic t-shirts because who doesn’t like having fun messages on their shirt?
Needing the world to stop so I can soak up time with my grandparents and focus on what’s important.
Look! It’s Ginger BFF! How adorable are we together? So happy!!! Being around Katie makes me want to do a happy dance.
Being around Katie AND her awesome husband Matt… that just puts my happiness through the roof!
The three of us spent this past weekend in Charlottesville VA, sort of the half-way point between our two homes. Katie and I spent a Ginger BFF weekend there last year and decided to invite the boys along this time. John couldn’t make it due to work and kid duties so it was just Katie, Matt, and me.
I had suggested to them that we go for a hike together and they were on board so I picked out a trail in Shenandoah National Park that offered a three mile out-and-back option and a ten mile loop option. I had my gear with me but I was dead sure they’d go for three miles.
Guess which one Matt, the guy who had never hiked before, excitedly announced we were doing?
Ten miles, my friends. Ten miles. Thankfully, the views were outrageously beautiful almost the whole time. Towards the end when we were struggling a bit, we used the gorgeous scenery as distraction from the fact that we were really going ten miles.
Go big or go home, I guess!
Despite Matt’s tshirt (he is All That Is Man), it was actually quite cold, in the low 40s and much cooler in the shade. Some parts of the trail even featured my beloved snow.
Thanks to my GPS watch, I now know that we climbed uphill for almost three. straight. miles. THREE! UPHILL! Yes, shouting is necessary. Saying we hiked uphill for three miles makes me feel so badass. Of course, you didn’t see us hobbling after mile seven and saying to each other “I’m so over this. No more uphill!!”
Alas, we survived to tell the tale of spontaneously hiking ten miles. I ran out of water and we tested our physical and mental strength but we did it!
I was so happy to be done that I could’ve kissed this Appalachian Trail marker. (Yup, the trail was partially on the AT).
We gobbled Ibuprofen, chowed down on every snack we had, and got cleaned up so we could go stuff our faces some more. It was game nite, after all! Since Katie and I met while attending the University of Georgia, it was only fitting that we watched the game together.
The next morning we woke up extremely sore but thrilled with our accomplishment. We had SO MUCH FUN together. Matt’s a wonderful man, Katie and I enjoy each other so much, and it was just a really great weekend. Absolutely no complaints whatsoever. I would drive several hours to visit them any time!
We’re thinking of making our weekend together an annual thing for as long as we can keep it going. We’re hoping to hit up new towns from now on and have already started talking about next year. Got a suggestion for a fun, active, tasty-food-boasting town between Tennessee and Pennsylvania?
Woohoo! It’s Friday! Killing time at work till 5pm? Or want to read some fun things this weekend? Let’s wander the web together! The theme of today’s links is a little deeper than usual so I’ve thrown in a few fun things to mix it up.
I’ve definitely reached a tipping point with my goals and dreams. Nicole at A Life Less Bullshit wrote Are You Afraid of Hard Work? and it puts into words the culmination of all the feelings I’ve had lately.
When you start sharing your ambitions, people’s reactions are unpredictable, even from close friends and family. Here’s a great story from the ol’ reliable Thought Catalog called Don’t Ever Be Afraid to Change. (Found via How Sweet Eats)
The human brain is so damn complex. It often tries to outsmart itself. Have you hit any mental roadblocks when pursuing your goals? Then check out 6 Ways My Brain Stops Me From Creating – And How I’m Fighting Back. (Found via Get Gutsy)
What Do You Need to Feel Healthy Today? Emphasis on today. It could be a hug, a chat, or an early bedtime. I love love love this because asking yourself this question daily will get you a different answer each time but the most important thing is to just ask the question!
The boys and I chow down on a quick little dinner ditty called California Roll in a Bowl. Now we also have California Roll Nachos. Is this an app, snack, or dinner? Oh hell, let’s make it all three! Yum! (Found via How Sweet Eats)
I am blunt sometimes to the point of rudeness because I just don’t take people’s shit. We’re all adults here. I have some work to do on phrasing things better (umm what is “tact”??) but I’m at least proud that I can stand up for myself. If you’re the same way, or maybe you’re struggling with tolerating things you shouldn’t be, then Danielle LaPorte (as always) delivers with What Shit Are You Putting Up With?
Have you thought about what you’ll be baking for the holidays? I’ve been assigned to cookies for my family holiday gathering and I’m thinking about including these banana bread bars with vanilla bean browned butter glaze. Not sure if it’s the recipe or the alliteration that I love!
Have you been wandering the web too? Got something to share? Link to it in the comments!
We’re back at the start of the March for the Fallen, an event honoring fallen Veterans, where I chose to participate in a 16 mile hike. If you’re following along, that’s nine more miles than I’ve ever put on my feet before. Part 1 left off right at the start where I knew immediately that I was going faster than (I thought) I was comfortable with. Suspense! Drama! Turned out that pace was just fine. Phew!
The first 2.25 miles were paved roads which were faster but also harder on my not-warmed-up-or-stretched-or-foam-rolled legs. Ugh. My lower legs were tight and my brain was going nuts hoping that we weren’t on paved roads much more than this. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that I’d be back again on this stretch of road to finish the event. ha.
Mile 1 19:27
Mile 2 19:01
I was so thankful when road turned to gravel.
I also grabbed a snack around this time from the aid station, a PB&J. I would’ve preferred the one I had in my bag but I was trying to limit extraneous activity.
Mile 3 19:16
Mile 4 19:05
Mile 5 18:51
I saw people stopping to treat blisters already. That made me feel worried about my own feet yet thrilled that I wasn’t having any issues and was actually enjoying myself!
I pit-stopped during mile seven to get some snacks out of my bag. It took much longer than I thought it would because sorting through my bag distracted me from my pace but it also took forever because I essentially had a waterproof “rain fly” on my pack which meant unsnapping it, finding what I needed, and resnapping it.
In hindsight, I probably should’ve eaten again sooner but just like pace, I had no idea how to properly fuel myself for 16 miles. Regardless, I was feeling great. Mile 7 is about the time when I realized I could totally go this distance. I felt confident.
Mile 6 18:02
Mile 7 19:46
I had now covered the entire course and was about to turn around and retrace my steps. The terrain was so varied but now I knew what I was in for. You already know about the dreaded paved roads but there was also big-rock gravel, tiny-pebble gravel, mud, trail, everything. And that terrain didn’t discriminate between hill, flat, and downhill.
Mile 8 21:49
The turnaround point was right before a massive, insane “hill” (uhh mountain) that John had previously showed me. We thought for sure the course would go up it. Well, the 28-milers did but my turnaround point was just past the base of the crazy hill. So when I saw my turnaround point, I first thought “no! I wanted to climb that damn mountain!” then “well, maybe I should just keep going and do the 28.” then I talked some sense into myself because of John waiting for me, J-slice waiting for us at home, and this was the first time I’d ever done more than seven miles. Let’s not add 21 to that! So I turned around, thrilled that I had made it half way and was still feeling so damn good.
My pace was pretty slow shortly after that, I think because I stopped for a photo. I was towards the top of a huge valley in Central PA in the Fall after putting in more mileage than I’d ever done before; I couldn’t not stop.
Mile 9 22:24
I was with a crowd through about mile nine. After that I was completely alone. I saw three people from miles 9-16: one way up ahead, one struggling behind, and one ran past me. I lost sight of them quickly.
Never ever had I completed ten miles. I celebrated with a photo.
I stopped for a pee break here and must’ve walked extra fast to make up for it. When you’re wet, sweaty, have a pack on, are female, have to squish into a porta potty, and then find your hand sanitizer because you know you’ll be eating off those hands later, there’s nothing quick about stopping to pee.
I’m so fortunate that my body held out until mile 11 with all the water I’d consumed. I saw people stopping at miles 2 and 4 who had to wait in line. I know I know, this event wasn’t really for time, but I wasn’t about to lose time just for a silly pee break. Since I was completely alone at this point, no line for me!
I picked up the pace after peeing, must’ve hit a hill at this point, but was pretty much coasting. I enjoyed the scenery, got to see some training facilities, listened to music, and just plain felt really good.
Mile 12 20:59
Mile 13 18:20
Mile 14 17:12
You might remember that the last two miles were back on paved road. Ugh. My lower legs were struggling a bit at this point because of the hard surface but I got pumped up by a surprise visit from John and knowing I only had two miles left.
Here you can see the “rain fly” over my pack and how muddy my legs got on the course.
Soon after I saw John, I started feeling what I thought was a huge blister. It turned out later it was just my sock bunching up. No blisters!
Mile 15 17:59
Mile 16 18:03
I completed the 16 mile portion of March for the Fallen with an overall time of 5:06:34 and a huge smile on my face. That’s five hours, friends, and it felt like nothin! Well not nothin… it felt like a huge accomplishment, especially since we were all there to remember and honor fallen heroes.
I later looked at the elevation graph by mile thanks to my GPS watch. Holy crap.
At least the hardest part of the course was in the middle!
The timing and categories in the official results were odd but from what I can tell, I finished 13th overall and 6th female, both in my category. They didn’t do age group results but I think I was third.
I had an average pace of 18:34 which was minimum six minutes faster than I thought I’d go. I really showed myself what’s up!
Best of all, John’s coworkers said they were really impressed by me. ha! That’s right Johnny boy, your girlfriend is awesome!
The Post-Hike High
I was so freakin proud of myself. Actually I still am and it’s been a month. This was such a huge accomplishment for me because it was nine miles more than I’d ever walked/hiked/run/anything with my own two feet before. It was by myself. It was rainy and chilly. And in general I just have feelings of intimidation and inferiority because I didn’t serve in the military and I’m “just” a soldier’s girlfriend.
Screw all that. I did it!
The event offered free massages afterwards aaand all I really wanted was water, food, and to stop sweating, but how do you say no to a free massage? You don’t. And it was glorious. It was like foam rolling without the effort.
After we drove home and I cleaned up, John wanted a nap but I was wide awake. ha. Backwards much? I was too hungry to let him sleep so the boys took me out for any meal I chose. Sushi of course!
I already plan on participating next year, assuming my body holds up (I’ll be 30, after all, and isn’t everything downhill after 30? haha). I fully expected my knees to hurt or at least ache at some point during the 16 miles but I didn’t have one single issue. Might’ve been the adrenaline.
I used my watch to keep pace with what felt comfortable but I know I could easily go faster a) now that I know how it feels to go that far, b) now that I know the course, c) if it hadn’t been raining, d) if I tried to make my stops faster. My watch’s stats told me later that I had a whopping 13 minutes! of non-moving time. That was one pee break, two stops to get snacks out of my bag, and tiny pit-stops at drink stations to thank the volunteers and see what snacks they had.
I could easily get in under 5 hours next time, assuming the weather doesn’t switch to being 80 degrees and sunny. Under five hours is my goal.
I haven’t decided yet if I’ll do 16 or the full 28 miles. I’d really love to say I’ve done 28 miles because it’s my favorite number, it’s more than a marathon, and it’s a massive accomplishment for me. Most people finished the 28 in about 8-10 hours which is a long ass time so we’ll just have to wait and see.
The whole event was SO SMOOTH. Organized, well-planned, and went off without a hitch. I do wish the event directors had been more generous with the details though. For example, I knew there would be water stations every 2 miles and they would have food (“fruit, etc” were the words used) but I brought my own stuff, and a lot of it, not knowing what they’d have. I definitely could’ve cut back on carrying most of that.
The 16 miles went fabulously for me. I was SHOCKED. It was out-and-back so that helps. But as I mentioned, I spent seven completely solo miles with no one around me. I was worried that I would get lost or my pace would slow down considerably but nope. Turns out I actually enjoyed being alone because I could focus on what worked for me.
I credit my “success” with 1) being prepared, 2) the encouragement I received from everyone (especially Amy) beforehand and text messages during, 3) hiking so much over the last few months, 4) my shoes. Not kidding! I talked to and saw soooo many people stopping to change their socks, complaining about blisters, and having trouble. I had nothin. Well, I got pebbles in my shoes, but that’s normal during hiking. I had no problems whatsoever. I still can’t believe it!
I am so, so happy I participated in the March for the Fallen. I’m so thrilled that I pushed myself and went for the 16 miles. I’m extremely proud of myself that I completed it on my own! I know I said all of that before but I just can’t get over it. To use a word that’s been abused into lacking meaning… participating in the March for the Fallen was truly amazing.
Have you ever participated in a non-running event? What’s the longest or hardest hike you’ve done? Which distance do you think I’ll do next year? Oh the suspense :)
Don’t throw tomatoes at me yet! I’m not here to remind you how many shopping days until Christmas. I swear. I do love me some holiday lights any time of the year though. Twinkle twinkle!
December is coming quickly and that means one very important thing… 25 Days of Giving!
25 Days of Giving is a movement that my friend Steph started. The idea is to give in some form daily from December 1st through December 25th. It’s a crazy time of year and giving back to your community and worthy causes is one way to remember the spirit of the season.
I’ve started brainstorming some ideas for my gives based on my 2012 and 2013 gives as well as this list of 75 ways to give back during the holidays. I’m about half way there, need to research a few more, and plan out a schedule of gives.
I’m not yet 100% committed to participating because I have some other priorities right now but I’m hoping to make it happen. I might switch up my sharing format because sharing daily is actually more time consuming than giving daily. Funny, right? That’s part of the fun of 25 Days of Giving though… it really can be fast, easy, and simple to give back. I think I just need to choose gives that aren’t extravagant this time around.
I hope to get you a post next week with some helpful tools to plan out your own gives. In the meantime, I figured this post would serve as a little reminder and get the giving-idea juices flowing!
Comment below if you have any questions about 25 Days of Giving or a particular giving idea. I’m always looking for more ideas, especially simple and inexpensive ones, so please share any ideas you have! And if you’re considering or have definitely chosen to participate in 25 Days of Giving, let me know!
All of the hiking I’ve done over the last few months was training for one big event: the March for the Fallen. It was a big, scary goal of mine and I was never completely sure I could even complete it until I was several miles into it.
[Note: this post was incredibly looooong so to save your sanity and eyeballs, I broke it into two posts. The second will be coming at ya later this week.]
The March for the Fallen is hosted by the Pennsylvania National Guard to honor fallen veterans. It offers a 5k, 10k, 16 mile course, and 28 mile course. It’s considered a road march but I’m calling it a hike because the terrain was so varied.
When I stumbled upon the March for the Fallen online, I was looking for a physical challenge, something I would need to train for. This event spoke to me because of the PA National Guard affiliation and the opportunity to pay respect to fallen veterans and their families.
Since 28 is my favorite number, I momentarily considered registering for the 28 mile option and then quickly decided I was nuts. I opted for 16 miles. Even that was NINE miles more than I’d ever done so to say this was a lofty goal for me is an understatement.
Originally, I suggested to John that we do the 16 miles together. You know, couples bonding and whatnot. He wasn’t interested in the mileage so I accepted that I’d do it alone. I was kind of happy about that because it’d be a challenge for just me. Fast forward a few weeks and John changed his mind; he wanted to join me. My stipulation was that he was there to support me, not to pace us or rush me or try to hit his own goals. He agreed but came back to me a few weeks later and said he couldn’t or didn’t want to do it (I don’t know which and still don’t understand why).
At this point I was super disappointed because I’d mentally prepared for doing this alone, then prepared for having a support system by my side, and now I was back to going solo. It was a huge emotional rollercoaster and not a great place to be in mentally. Luckily, Amy was cheering me on every step of the way. She’s the one who was insanely excited for me to even register and truly helped me switch from the Anxious As Hell train to the Excited train.
John did end up coming through, just not in the way I’d initially hoped. He got up early on a Saturday, drove an hour to the starting point, built me up, cheered me on, and texted me at different points during the 16 miles. It was the next best thing to having him beside me.
I was completely loosey goosey about training. I hiked when I could, for as many miles as I had time for, and didn’t worry about it. Well, I worried about it, but didn’t kill myself trying to schedule in long hikes.
I was pretty sure my training hikes were different than the course would be, mostly in terms of terrain. I had GPSed our hikes several times and we generally had about a 25-30 minute per mile pace. At that rate, 16 miles was gonna take me 7-8 hours! Nonsense. I did further math and decided to shoot for 6-7. That was daunting but I also told myself that I was going into this mostly clueless about pace so I could be way off. Let’s hope so, eh?
My Type-A personality kicked into gear when it came to pre-race prep. I wanted to have everything with me on race day that I could possibly need… and then some. I had so many lists in my head, my phone, and on sticky notes that I finally had to just re-write them neatly in one place. Be prepared: this is slightly crazy.
Two of those lists translated into this hot mess:
I’ll probably do a post on just prep alone so it’s documented what I packed and needed/didn’t need. I’m hoping that could help someone else doing a long hike, trail race, or even walking a half/marathon.
As a general rundown, I packed: snacks, first aid, spare clothes, my phone and iPod, GPS watch, Camelbak, chapstick, Gatorade, and a bazillion more items. You would think I had military training based on the prep I did.
The Morning of the Hike
My alarm went off somewhere around 4am and I immediately had anxiety. I knew all week that rain was pretty much inevitable (sigh…) but I still hoped I’d look out the window and see dry roads. No dice. This was my biggest concern right after being able to do the mileage because I only owned a rain jacket and nothing else that would keep me dry.
John played chauffeur for the hour drive while I fretted about rain, mud, what other people were wearing, what I should wear, and if I’d be able to stretch and foam roll beforehand. I spent 30 minutes the nite before stretching and foam rolling but right-before is key for my body. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t get to warm up at all due to the rain and that freaked me out).
We saw a few of John’s soldier buddies which only made me more nervous because I felt like my participation in the March for the Fallen was representing both myself AND John. No pressure or anything.
In addition to the rain, it was also cold. Low 50s I think. My brain bounced between capris, pants, capris, pants, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve, long, short, capris? It was a game of pinball in my head. In the end, I went with a short sleeve shirt and capris and packed the rest in my bag. Thirty yards past the start, I regretted not having pants on. A mile later, I was thrilled with my choices because I was HOT. That whole series of events that lead me to being content? Pretty common for me. I’m sure it’s super pleasant for others to be a part of. ha.
Look! The sun temporarily attempted to come out! That was short-lived because it rained for 80% of my time on the course, although thankfully fairly lightly.
We had a prayer, moment of silence, some remarks were made about remembrance and the entire purpose that we were together that morning. Hearing those words calmed my nerves and forced me to remember that there was bigger meaning to the March for the Fallen than just me doing something way outside my comfort zone. We were there to honor fallen veterans. Enough said.
We started off as a huge group. Generally when you start a race with a group, you want to forget everyone else’s pace (it’s usually too fast from excitement) and do your own. The problem is that I had no idea what my pace should be. Remember, my training hikes were at a 25-30 minute per mile pace. The only solution was to go with what was comfortable. I kept checking my watch and seeing 19 and 20 minute paces and thought “this is going to get me in trouble.”
[…to be continued…]
I just realized something completely obvious. Play along, will you? It’s a three-step thought process.
One: there are things I do well. Duh.
Two: There are things I don’t do well. Duh.
Three: The things I don’t do well? Someone else does. **The ultimate DUH!**
I have spent so much time fighting myself, trying to “complete” myself, strengthen areas of weakness, and do everything all on my own. What the hell, Janelle? Ask for a little help. Hire help. Accept help. Simple as that.
I have no idea why I wasted so much time fumbling around. Oh wait, I do know: stubbornness. I inherited that quality from a long line of bull-headed but strong people. It’s a double-edged sword.
I desperately wanted to complete something all on my own and feel extremely proud of that. Now I know that’s just a bunch of nonsense because even if I complete a task, project, idea, or goal “on my own,” there are always helpers! Someone wrote an article that sparked my idea, a friend checked in on my progress, John made dinner so I could do my own thing, etc etc etc.
This is such a forehead slap kind of moment.
My biggest need: help executing. I have a billion ideas floating around in my head and some on paper; I want to make them happen! I don’t know why I’m having so much trouble with that but someone somewhere is good at that. I’m going to find them and put their idea-extraction-and-execution skills to work. I’m finally admitting this to myself. My struggle to execute could be a phase or a side effect from things that are going on in other areas of my life and that’s okay. I mean, it’s frustrating as hell, but I’ll work through it… with someone’s help. Probably several someones.
Here’s my reality check: I’m done with talk and inaction. I’m done fumbling with things that aren’t my strong suit. That isn’t to say I won’t try things that I’m not good at (it’s that getting-outside-your-comfort-zone thing and all), it’s just that I need to be kinder to myself and accept when it’s time to ask a loved one or pro for help. And then do it.
I’ve already sought out help from:
- My Mom: she’s been feeding me twice per week after I work out at the gym, among the million other things she does for me
- Matt, my personal trainer, who’s been pushing me and encouraging me in the gym
- An online personal training system to help me with workouts when I can’t get in with Matt
- Jess, who really opened my eyes and gave me a kick in the pants
- My parents who have been listening and offering advice to help me work through a few issues
That’s a good start but I’ve realized it’s not enough. I also need help from:
My friends. I need to open up to them more about what’s going on in my head because I know they care and can help but only if they know what’s going on. They’ve asked the right questions but I’ve been vague in my answers and played things off like they weren’t a big deal. I gotta get real with them.
My Mom. She wants to help! Accept it and schedule it.
John. I plan on communicating one thousand percent more about my schedule, my needs, and what he/we can do to make our lives go more smoothly.
Professionals. I will need help rebranding my blog, making decisions, and moving content over. I’m considering finding a counselor for myself or going back to the one John and I had used (our sessions ended – bigtime sadface!). I’d love an accountability partner or coach but I need to find the right one who clicks with me.
Everyone. A bit of an exaggeration but close. I need support, support, support. And encouragement! And excitement over my ideas.
Please tell me I’m not the only one with a major forehead slap moment lately? Have you recently realized something that’s been so in-your-face obvious that you completely missed it? Let’s get real with each other in the comments.
Want more Reality Checks from me? It’s where I get super honest with myself and then with you. Read I Had a Panic Attack, I Have Fears, Single Parenthood is Not Glamorous, I Need a Break, I’m Too Damn Hard on Myself, and I’m Obsessed With Lists.