What I Wore {post 75}

Happy Friday!  Happy almost June!  It has been crazy hot this week (actually, it's been crazy hot for weeks), so looking at some of these earlier Spring outfits makes me a sweat a little.  

I'm thinking of doing another style challenge, like I did last May.  That was a lot of fun and would force me to use clothes from my closet in a new way.  I'll see if there is one available (last time I did the challenge posed by Dean Street Society ... my friend Toya told me about it).  In any event, here are today's outfits:

Chambray Blouse, White Pants & Pearls

This was a pretty fun outfit and comprised of a bunch of new pieces.  Let's start from the bottom up.  The shoes are new.  You can't see them very well, but I have been wanting/needing a pair of medium brown leather pumps and found these, the Sophia pump by Ivanka Trump, at Nordstrom.  They're great shoes, but run a little on the big side.  I need to get some sort of shoe insert so that my heels don't slip (there's no way a half size down would fit me ...).  The pants are old and from the Gap.  Belt is also old - I think it was from the NY & Co. outlet.  The top is from Banana Republic, which I got on sale and paid for with rewards.  I liked the wash of the denim.  The necklace was a buy from the j.crew factory.  I really liked all the strands of pearls.  

Black and White Dress, Belt & Black Cardigan

If not already obvious, dresses are my wardrobe stable.  When I am feeling uninspired or lazy, I just grab a dress and either wear it solo or pair it with a cardigan.  Done.  It is the easiest way to appear pulled together when short on time.  This dress is a great buy from a few years ago from TJ Maxx.  It is sleeveless, so I can wear it in all seasons. The cardigan is from Forever 21.  It's a very delicate looking knit and looks much more expensive than it was. The belt was a buy from Anthropologie (on sale 100 years ago).  

Blushy-Nude Dress

I've been wanting a dress this color forever.  I finally found exactly what I was looking for at Ann Taylor.  They were having a great sale, and I picked this up for about 50% off its normal price.  The color is perfect - not too pink, not too brown and just "nude" enough.  It's a nice sturdy knit, so the dress has a beautiful shape.  It made me feel good.  I wore my nude patent pumps with it.  Easy.  

Have a terrific weekend!
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More progress in the dining room - recovering the chairs!

Whoa lookie here!  A house post!  I've done a ton of projects around the house, but have been very lazy in sharing.  And I just realized that my new computer doesn't recognize my old camera ... so until I figure that out, I'm going to have to rely on old photos and the iPhone (using various filters to make the photos a little better).

Do you know how happy I am about my dining room?  The answer is very.  Super mega very.  And today's project pushes it into super crazy mega very territory.  Something as simple as recovering the seat cushions on the chairs made a huge difference.  Here's a shot of the space:

I bought these 6 cane back chairs from my friend Heather years ago.  They were/are exactly the look that I wanted in my dining room.  When I first got them, I recovered 5 of them in a pretty light sage fabric that I had from Ballard Designs.  It worked well.  The last chair (because I didn't have enough of the sage fabric) got covered in a cream fabric with grey coral print.  See - here they are in a four year old photo:

But as my living room/dining room has evolved, the sage wasn't working.  I knew the easiest way to fix that was to simply change up the fabric.  I went with different, but complementary, fabric on the arm chairs and side chairs.

Arm Chairs

I went with a light taupe solid fabric for the arm chairs, because I keep them away from the table, so they need to work with the rest of the room.  The fabric is very neutral and works well.  I bought a new pillow that works really well with the space (and ties into the art above the dining room table).  For the other chair, I moved my pretty geometric printed pillow, which now reads a bit more gold than yellow.

Side Chairs

As for the side chairs, I chose a neutral floral fabric.  I love it.  And it's not too white to render it impractical for the dining room.  

Love love loving this room!  There is but one thing left to get - a rug for under the table!  Once that's done, so is this space.  I may want to touch up the paint on the dining chairs, but that's not really worthy of a blog post.  

What about you? Do anything similarly small but with a big impact?
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Sweat: Playlist roundup! Including the newest one!

This post will be useful for approximately 0.1% of the people who read this blog.  It will be a source of entertainment or ridicule for the rest.  I've got a round up of some of my favorite playlists.  They are all really great.  And all pretty special.  They may make you go like this!

Or [probably] like this:

But regardless, they're fun.  Feel free to click (they are all old blog posts where I shared the playlist at the bottom) and pilfer what works for you.  What works for me:

For a 5K - all fast cadence songs with 160-180 bpm
For any longer distance running - a mix of slow and fast songs

I'll also share my newest playlist, which I used at the NJ State Marathon (with my comments after certain songs in red italics).  Even though that race wasn't the best, the playlist was.  Also, excitement: in just three little weeks, some of my besties and I are going to the BARRY MANILOW CONCERT OH MY GOD ALL CAPS ALL CAPS EXCITEMENT WITH SEQUINS!  I'm pretty sure I'm going to live blog the hell out of it.  !!!!!  


Onto the playlists.   

Rainbows! Unicorns! <-- that's the title of the playlist.

1812 Overture (Finale)  I'm telling you - it will inspire you. Put it on your playlist!
All Night Long (Lionel Richie)
All Out of Love (Air Supply)
Always On My Mind (Elvis Presley)
America (Neil Diamond)
Annie's Song (John Denver)
Apache (The Sugarhill Gang)
Baby, Now That I've Found You (The Foundations)
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown  (Jim Croce)
Black Water (The Doobie Brothers)
Brandy (Looking Glass)
Break My Stride (Matthew Wilder)
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Elvis Presley)
Can I Get A... (Jay Z)
Can't Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton) (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis)
Carry On (Fun.)
Count On Me (Jefferson Starship) I heard this at the end of the movie The Family Stone. I love it. It makes me cry but that's OK.
Different Drum (The Stone Poneys)
Do You Hear the People Sing? (Les MisĂ©rables Original London Cast) 
Don't Go Breaking My Heart (Elton John & Kiki Dee)
Double Dutch Bus (Frankie Smith)
Down (feat. Lil Wayne) (Jay Sean)
Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
Feels So Good (Chuck Mangione) I hit this sucker three times at the end of NJ Marathon.  It's that awesome.
Flashdance...What a Feeling (Irene Cara)
Freedom Street (Ken Boothe)
The Gambler (Kenny Rogers )
Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)
Hard Knock Life (JAY Z)
Here I Go Again (Whitesnake)
Hold On (Wilson Phillips)
Hopelessly Devoted to You (Olivia Newton-John) I defy you to not bust out into song with this one.
I Am...I Said (Neil Diamond)
I Got a Name (Jim Croce)
(I've Had) The Time of My Life (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes) Nobody puts Baby in the corner!
If You Could Read My Mind (Ela Wardi)
If You Leave Me Now (Chicago)
It Takes Two (Rob Base & DJ EZ)
It's My Turn (Diana Ross)
It's Not Unusual (Tom Jones)
Let It Go (Demi Lovato)
Let's Hang On (The Four Seasons)
Like a Prayer (Madonna )
Livin' On a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
Lotta Love (Nicolette Larson)
Move Bitch (Disturbing tha Peace)
My Life (Billy Joel)
Never Can Say Goodbye  (Jackson 5)
Never Knew Love Like This Before (Stephanie Mills)
Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now (Starship)
Our House (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
Party In the U.S.A. (Miley Cyrus)
Penny Lane (The Beatles)
Philadelphia Freedom (Elton John)
Shake It Off (Taylor Swift)
Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) (Beyoncé)
Sister Christian (Night Ranger)
Sloop John B (The Beach Boys)
Southern Cross (Jimmy Buffett)
St Elmo's Fire (John Parr)
Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley)
Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver) The song that reminds me most of home ... even though I'm from South Jersey and not West Virginia
Take On Me (a-ha)
Talking In Your Sleep (The Romantics)
The Tears of a Clown (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles) This song is the only exception to the NO CLOWN rule I have
Theme from "Greatest American Hero" (Believe It or Not) (Joey Scarbury) A now-staple on every playlist. 
Tomorrow (Andrea McArdle) yes. from Annie.
Touch Me In the Morning (Diana Ross)
Waiting for a Star to Fall (Boy Meets Girl)
We Built This City / We’re Not Gonna Take It (Russell Brand & Catherine Zeta-Jones: Rock of Ages (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack))
What a Fool Believes (The Doobie Brothers)
Wherever You Will Go (The Callin: Love Actually (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack))
While You See a Chance (Steve Winwood) Fist pump to the sky when this comes on.
With Your Love (Jefferson Starship)
Woman In Love (Barbra Streisand)  This is also a new staple. Add it to your list. Go for it. 
Working My Way Back to You (Spinners)
You Can Do It  (Ice Cube)
You May Be Right (Billy Joel)
You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC)
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What I Wore {post 74}

Happy Friday and Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Can you even believe it? I cannot.  I'm still surprised it's Spring ... let alone unofficial Summer.  I hope you have a great weekend on tap.  Here are a few recent looks.  

Blue Buttondown & Blue Printed Skirt

I love this skirt, which was a buy from Target a few years ago.  I only wear it in the Spring and Summer, because the print is decidedly seasonal.  I wore it with my light blue buttondown shirt and a fun new cobalt necklace from a new little boutique nearby.  

White Tunic & Skinny Jeans

This was a date night outfit.  I wanted easy, breezy and fun and this fit the bill.  I bought the top at H&M (!!) and the jeans I've had forever.  It was a chilly night, so I wore my cowboy boots from Texas and some big bold fun earrings.    

Coral Top & Seersucker Skirt

You know it's Spring when I bust out the seersucker. In fact, I usually wait til Summer to wear it, but this Spring has been insanely summery.  I wore the skirt (a few years old from j.crew Factory), with a coral top I got on crazy sale at Ann Taylor.  My coral wedges happen to work perfectly.  The color is a bit off in this pic, because someone (little girl) put a filter on my phone.  Ha! 

There you go!  Have a delightful weekend one and all!   
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Wanderlust and Wonderlust

If you have read the blog for awhile, you probably recognize that my posts typically fall into one of three categories, which just happen to be the title of the blog itself: style, home and sweat.  Those things are all important to me, and I love that my blog is not pigeon-holed into just one of those categories.  If not already obvious, I write for myself for a bit of catharsis and to share a little bit of me with the interwebs and whoever wants to read; I don't write for sponsors or to amass a bunch of page clicks or for advertising dollars.  There's nothing wrong with that approach to blogging ... it's just not where my blog fits in.

You've also probably noticed that there are (and have been increasingly more) posts that are sort of outliers - posts that don't squarely fit in the style, home or sweat categories.  Posts that are more my own musings or thoughts.  Posts like Rainbow ConnectionRunning ThroughMy Funny Valentines, etc.  There are times when I just want to write about what's going on in my head and in my heart.  I am glad that I have a place to do it.

I have to confess that I was feeling pretty melancholy yesterday.  Even though life is, by all accounts (and frankly by my account, which is the only account that truly counts), good, I was feeling down and sorry for myself, and unfortunately that feeling coincided with a day on my own.  I am not unaccustomed to time to myself and without the kids.  It's just on this day, for whatever reason, I was feeling pretty blue.  I usually seek out the company of other people - that is my inclination, my instinct and my tendency.  But yesterday I wanted peace and quiet and solitude.

As I sat on my couch, willing myself to take a nap that I knew wasn't going to happen, I realized I needed to get outside.  Now, again, if you've read this blog for more than a minute you know what my inclination was: I wanted to run.  But I had already run 8 miles in the morning and I wasn't up for more miles (which, ultimately, was a blessing in disguise).  I decided to put on my new trail runners and go for a walk and explore.

I truly unplugged. I left my watch, my phone, my iPod, everything at home.  It really was just me and my thoughts.  I decided to explore the trails along the creek near my house, which, I'm ashamed to admit, I have not done in the 3 years I've been living here.  I indulged my wanderlust and just walked with no real purpose other than to clear my head and explore.  After just a few minutes, I realized all that I've missed by running all the time.  Walking along the quiet, wooded, shady trails enabled me to completely let go - to simply be, to see what was around me and appreciate the simple beauty.  I walked through the mud, I explored a trail up a hill, I stood on the pebbly shore of the creek and watched a few fish swim by, I took deep breaths, and I started to cry.  I'm not sure why and I'm not sure it matters.  But I found myself crying as I walked, and rather than stop, I just kept on walking and letting the tears flow.  It was obviously a release I needed.  While I still don't really know why the tears came, I don't think it matters.  They did, I let them flow, and I felt and feel better.  I found myself thinking of my friend Maggie, and then found myself talking to her.  I try to talk to her when I run, but that never really works.  Running thoughts are so staccato and broken up.  Running is more about pounding out stress and sadness than really muddling through.  I muddled through on my walk. 

I had no real purpose, no destination, no earthly clue where I was going, but I kept walking.  With wanderlust fully engaged, I started to feel better.  I'd veer off the path and check out a steep hill to see what was at the top. I'd walk to the creek bank to check out a gorgeous purple flower.  I'd stop for a minute and take a deep breath and say a quick prayer of thanks. And I kept walking. 

I found myself on a hillside covered in buttercups.  I can't remember the last time I saw a buttercup, let alone an entire hillside filled with them.  The ground cover was yellow and for a moment, I wished I had my phone so I could snap a picture of what I was seeing.  Not wanting to forget that sight, I stopped and picked a bundle. 

My wanderlust led me right to Valley Forge Park.  I had heard that there was a trail that led from where I live right to the park but had yet to find it.  I found it yesterday.  I realized on that walk how I need to indulge my wanderlust more often with a slow, steady walk.  Of course I will still run every chance I get, but I also realized I need to do more exploring and walking.  I feel like I've missed out on a lot of the world around me.  

While I was walking, I was thinking about this post and how it was my reconnection to wanderlust. But I also realized that the walk was as much wanderlust as wonderlust.   Where wanderlust is the exploration of the world around you, wonderlust, to me, is the exploration of wonder and of mystery.  I had not really thought about that until the moment during my walk where I was walking through what felt and looked like a blizzard of dandelion puffs - you know ... the ethereal white puff balls that are everywhere in Spring and are the bane of any self-respecting lawn-loving person's existence.

But it was magical.  It was really like a beautiful flurry of dandelion puffs all around me.   For a little while, I tried to find the source - where could all these puffs be coming from?  But I stopped myself.  Because I knew that no matter where the source, nothing could compete with the beautiful image I had in my mind.  I didn't want to ruin that.  

And as I walked through those lovely wisps, I thought about how when we were kids, we would take those puffs and say "make a wish!" and blow them away and hope our wishes came true. I was surrounded by wishes, surrounded by wonder.  What was that wish? What was that one? What was mine?  I closed my eyes and felt the billowy wishes wash over me.  I hope that some of mine come true.  That's wonderlust for you ... it's the beginning of a dream, of a wish, of hope.  It's the seduction of the very beginnings of those things in your heart.  

When I was finishing my walkabout, I realized I felt so much better.  The tears had stopped.  I no longer felt melancholy.  I felt hopeful.  And I immediately said to myself, "it is well with my soul."  Now, I don't talk about faith or religion here on the blog, because, well, I just don't.  But I am a woman of quiet faith, and that hymn resonates with me.  It always has.  After my wanderlust and wonderlust, it resonates even more:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul.  I can't guarantee I won't be sad or melancholy again.  But I know that I just need to wander, and wonder, and things will be better.  And it will be well with my soul. 

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What I Wore {post 73}

Friday!  Mother's Day weekend!  And the weather on tap is looking beautiful.  I'm so looking forward to a fun weekend with the kiddos.  They always "take me" out to my favorite pub for Mother's Day lunch - they know Mommy loves her burgers and Hop Devil beers :)  I'm going to do my best to get back into a more regular blogging schedule.  I have so many house projects to share.  But now for some outfits to round out the week.

Blush Blouse & White Skirt

I have had this skirt for 13 years!  It's a Banana Republic skirt.  I keep going back and forth on whether to bring the hemline up a little or whether it's fine as is.  Still undecided.  Anyway, I wore it with a kind of new blush blouse from H&M that I bought with Jamie awhile back.  It's so feminine and pretty.  Nude patent pumps round out the look.

Coral Blouse & Tan Pencil Skirt

This was a pretty easy outfit to throw together.  I got this coral blouse from TJ Maxx a few years ago for something like $11.  I wore it with my old standby - the tan pencil skirt and my coral necklace from j.crew factory.  

Teal Top & Skinny Jeans

I'm not sure where I wore this outfit ... it was probably a casual Friday in the office.  I found the top at Anthropologie after Christmas.  I love it.  The top has a sort of scallopy lace and it's very delicate.  I wore it with my favorite skinny jeans ("jeggings" from American Eagle -- don't judge.  AE is one of the few places where I can find jeans that are short enough for me) and my cowboy boots that I bought in Texas.  

Have a great weekend! And happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there ... especially mine!
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Race Recap: 2015 Novo Nordisk New Jersey State Marathon

Hello hello.  Happy Tuesday!  I rarely (ok never) post on Tuesdays, but I haven't been making time for blogging lately.  Part of that is because I've been avoiding this post.  I am usually so super excited to recap a race here on the blog ... but this one ... not so much.

On Sunday April 26, I raced the 2015 Novo Nordisk New Jersey State Marathon.  Even though I qualified for Boston back in October at the Steamtown Marathon, I wanted to really "seal the deal" and run a marathon even faster to guarantee I could run at Boston in April 2016.  That was the plan going into New Jersey:  I would train all Winter and early Spring, get faster, and boom! I'd PR and run the marathon around 3:40.  Ah ... the best laid plans of mice and men.  Needless to say that did not happen.  It didn't even come close to happening.  It the opposite of happened.  And I have a lot to say about it, having had two full weeks to think about it and learn from it.  So, I'm going to split this post into two parts: part I - the race recap (which will be replete with photos) and part II - my take-aways.  Sit back, grab some coffee and a small delicious treat, because this is gonna go on for awhile.

Part I:  Race Recap  

I'll give it all away up front with a screencap of my splits and final time:

Yeppers.  4:03:15.  That's the second slowest stand-alone marathon I've ever done (I don't count IMLP).  It's the slowest marathon I've run in years.  And it was a freaking battle.  I'll get into that in Part II, but man.  Oooooooooooof.  Oof.  

My training was totally on track until I got the flu about 3 weeks before the race.  That laid me flat on my back and unable to train.  My training runs after the flu weren't that great.  So going into the race, I was not very confident.  Still ... I had put in the hard work and thought I might be able to do it.  My race plan was to run the first 3 miles at 8:30 pace and then drop to 8:20-8:25 and hold it for the rest of the race. 

And then God laughed.  My paces steadily get slower and slower with each mile. 

Miles 1-3:  8:24, 8:26, 8:26

I held the pace.  I felt really good.  I did a systems check at mile 3 and thought to myself, "OK ... you can push a little faster."  So I did.

Miles 4-8:  8:22, 8:12, 8:28, 8:19, 8:27

These miles were great.  I remember running over a little bridge around mile 6-7 and I felt all gazelle like and powerful and happy and strong.

Miles 9-11 - 8:29, 8:34, 8:39

Yah.  I was starting to feel it a little.  I convinced myself I would just slow a wee bit and then make it up at the end.  Once I hit mile 11, I started questioning this wisdom and was really tempted to bag the marathon and just finish at the half.  

Miles 12-13:  8:50, 8:54

I am usually feeling so super strong at miles 12-13.  Not so much here.  I just kept thinking how I still had to run another half marathon.  Not the right mindset.  No way.  And these were the last miles where I'd see an 8 as the first digit in my time.

Miles 14-20:  9:19, 9:09, 9:24, 9:22, 9:48, 9:28

I don't remember much about these miles to be honest.  I know I was miserable. I was tired.  My legs were tired.  I told myself I could walk through any water station that was around and tried very hard not to walk otherwise.  I also allowed myself to walk for as long as I wanted through the aid station. 

Miles 21-23:  9:38, 10:19, 9:44


Mile 24:  11:06

I can't use words.  How about pictures from this mile

That is not the face of a happy runner. 

Miles 25-26:  10:39, 9:30

Once I hit the final mile and could see/hear the finish line, I rallied a bit and tried to run as hard and strong and fast as I could.  Here are some final pictures of me nearing the finish.  

And then in the finish chute ...

Pictures are definitely worth a thousand words.  If ever race photos told the story of a race, it is these for sure.  I can read the pain, disappointment, resignation and just plain unhappiness on my face.  

Part II:  The Take-Aways

I will forever consider this race my "Tale of Two Cities" Marathon, or more precisely the Tale of Eight Cities Marathon, as the course winds through a bunch of shore towns in the Northern New Jersey beaches (Oceanport, Monmouth Beach, Long Branch, Deal, Allenhurst, Loch Arbour, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove).  But geography aside, looking back, I can't help but think that the race was one of contradictions, just like the beginning of one of my favorite books,  A Tale of Two Cities.  

It was the best of times ...  the first 10 miles
It was the worst of times ... pretty much everything else.

It was the age of wisdom ... at the end when I decided to cut myself a freaking break and look at the ocean and relish the fact that I was alive and able to run a marathon
It was the age of foolishness ... that I didn't really trust my body and go by the signs it was showing me those last few weeks in training. I started way too fast.  

It was the epoch of belief ... there was a moment early on when I believed I might actually do it.
It was the epoch of incredulity ... the moment at mile 24 when I realized it was impossible to run a sub 4:00 marathon.  Unless I sprouted wings.  Or roller skates.  

It was the season of Light ... the start and that hopeful anticipation.
It was the season of Darkness ... mile 20 when the woman on the side of the road cheerfully said, "you're almost there!"  MURDEROUS RAGE NO I AM NOT!!!!  

It was the spring of hope ... there was a brief shining moment sometime between mile 15 and 20 when I thought I might rally.  I might do it.  I might ... no.
It was the winter of despair ... mile 15.  I took my first walk break.  I have never had to walk that early in a race.  And I looked at my watch, and looked at the mile marker and thought "Goddamn.  This is just like labor with a second child.  I know what to expect, having been through it before, and I know I have a lot more pain, and a lot more time to go, before this is over."  And then I realized that I was comparing running to childbirth.  And I wanted to cry.  

At the end of the day, I just didn't have it.  I don't know what happened.  Believe you me, I have wracked my brain to figure it out, and I can't.  Yes, the flu set me back, but I cannot believe that a week of not running would destroy my fitness after all the hard work that I'd done over the Winter.  I do know that on my last two long runs, I finished them completely gassed - my lungs were tired and my legs were tired.  The lungs didn't worry me.  I know that the lungs take awhile to recover from the flu.  But the legs?  This wasn't my first rodeo and I knew that my legs should be feeling really strong - and nothing like they were feeling - that close to race day.  

I think, at the end of the day, I lacked the heart.  As much as I wanted to convince myself that I wanted to do this race, I wanted to PR, I wanted to run fast, etc. etc. etc., I am not sure my heart really felt that way.  And if I've learned anything in sports or in life generally over the past few years, if your heart isn't in it, there's no point.  The heart just doesn't work that way. 

Amy sent me a text with about two weeks to go and I saved it.  I had expressed to her my concern that things just didn't feel right.  And she said this:

The marathon is two weeks of healing and strengthening - mind, body and soul - away. You've got the legs and the lungs.  Now for the heart.   

She was, of course, spot on right.  And while I tried to get my heart into it, the heart doesn't want what it doesn't want.  Deep down, I knew I had already BQed.  Deep down, I knew my Steamtown time was good enough to get me into Boston.  Deep down, my heart just wasn't in it.  And I was tired.  
It's hard to admit that.  But I am. I am really tired.  Not of running.  But of the hamster wheel of races and training that I happily put myself on over the past 3 years.  It's hard to admit that I'm tired of racing because I've heard cautionary tales and warnings time and time again about burn out.  I didn't, and don't, want to play into that.  But in complete and total candor, it is very hard to go from Ironman! BQ! Racking up PRs like they are beads on an abacus! to a string of pretty good, but ultimately disappointing, races that fell short of the times I expected or that I've seen or that I've come to expect over the past few years.  So far, 2015 has been that kind of year.  It's been frustrating and challenging in so many ways.  Rather than continue to be frustrated and feel like training is a chore and I'm spinning my wheels or moving backwards, I'm taking a little break from it and will just swim, just bike, just run and enjoy.  

I will completely admit that I wanted to quit this race.  Many times.  At mile 11, I seriously considered turning left at the split, doing the half marathon and walking away with a decent time.  I almost did it.  But yelled at myself to do something to myself that was anatomically impossible and went right.  Every time I passed a police car on the course, I was so tempted to run over, say "I am quitting. Please take me to the finish line." But I didn't. I kept on going.  I learned that while my heart may not have been in that race, I still had guts and grit -- and a lot of them.  I learned what it felt like to race on those two things alone.  It isn't pretty.  It isn't easy.  But I did it.  I showed myself that I had some serious mettle.  

At the end of the race, in that final mile, I went from beating myself up about a crappy, hard fought and disappointing race, to realizing how completely ridiculous I was being.  I thought about my cousin who just passed away and my friend Maggie who died a number of years ago, and realized that I was being so selfish, stupid and spoiled.  Here I was, on a stunningly beautiful Spring day in a beautiful spot, with the ocean in my sights, finishing my 7th marathon and I was sad and mad because I was not hitting a time that I thought I should hit -- how utterly dumb and myopic.  I forced myself to look out into the ocean and soak it all in and be thankful for this amazing life that I get to live and this incredible thing that I did. And somehow, the photographer managed to catch that moment.

And then as if that moment were not enough, I followed another runner to the finish line.  It was obviously that person's first race and while I normally try to gun it to the finish, in this case, I hung back a bit, so that the first timer could have a moment at the finish without me busting through and ruining the shot.  There's nothing like seeing someone cross a marathon finish line for the first time.  Here's the picture:

What you cannot see is right after this picture was taken and we crossed the finish line, that first timer ran to the side of the chute to his mother, who was waiting for him.  The two hugged and just collapsed into joyful sobs.  That ... that is the heart and soul of the marathon right there.  You can't fake that heart.  And I wouldn't ever want to.  It was honest, pure and raw emotion.  It was pure heart.  I'm ready to get mine back into the sport that I love, and seeing that moment at the finish line showed me that I am not there yet.  I'll get back there again, but I know I can't force it.  In the meantime, I'll remember that finish line moment that was not my own but which profoundly affected me and reminded me how much I truly love running.    
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