Reading & Listening, Lately

Well, it has certainly been a while! Since my last post, I ran a PR in the marathon at CIM, got engaged (!!!), traveled to Maui, Colorado, New York, London, and Paris (more on that to come in a later post). In conjunction with planning our wedding, I decided to take a much-needed break from running (more on that in a later post, too).

With my new found free-time, coupled with my intention to limit the time I spend on my phone, I’ve made a conscious effort to start reading and listening to more podcasts. Here are some of my favorites:

Books:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hanna: I’m not even really sure where to start with this book, because it touched me so much more than I thought it would. Last year I read and loved All the Light We Cannot See, which opened my eyes to the Nazi occupation of France in WWII. The Nightingale is also set in France during WWII but tells the story in parallel of two sisters and their respective roles in the war. The younger of the two goes on to help the French Resistance in a dangerous yet heroic fashion, helping downed airmen for the Allies get across to the Italian border. The older sister acts heroically in smaller, yet equally profound way but taking in her Jewish best friend’s baby after she is sent to a concentration camp. It is a heartbreaking story about love, resilience and finding your purpose. I can’t recommend it enough.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: Do you love Reese Witherspoon? Could you sweep a Jeopardy category dedicated to her rom-com’s, like this contestant Emily did? Because I do, and I absolutely could. Anyway, when this book came out last year, Reese recommended it as part of her book club. I saw more and more good things and was pleasantly surprised by how much I did love this book. It’s about a mysterious, vagabond mom and daughter who move to the small town of Shaker Heights, Ohio and become intertwined in a well-known family. It’s themed around the complexities of race, motherhood, and family, and the author beautifully weaves all of these themes into the character relationships.

Crazy Rich AsiansA typical “beach read,” this is a fun, light read that is definitely more of a soap opera type book. If you want something fun and dramatic, with details about how rich just some people can be, I’d definitely recommend it. I liked it, but didn’t love it, and am struggling currently to get through the sequel.

Before We Were YoursI love having a Kindle for the convenience of being able to buy books-on-demand, but (confession) I like reading ahead sometimes I also like to go back and re-read certain chapters if I get confused, or if I really like them. This book is definitely one that I wish I had in paper form; it’s a bit confusing at the beginning with a lot of characters being introduced at once, then switching back and forth between a story in the present day and one in the past. It didn’t make sense to me until about half-way through on how the two stories are connected, but once it was clear I couldn’t put the book down. Without giving too much away, it’s about a girl and her family who are deceitfully placed in an orphanage and their struggles at that time and in the future. All in all, it’s a unique, heartbreaking book about survival and trusting again after we’ve been hurt.

Podcasts:

Dirty John: Remember how good the first Serial was? The murder-mystery about a man in Maryland accused of murdering his then high school girlfriend? And then S-Town, the story of John B. McLemore and one reporter’s discovery of his eclectic life? Well, if you Serial and S-Town, I think you’ll be equally as impressed with Dirty John. It tells the story of Debra Newell, a middle-aged woman living in Orange County who quickly falls in love with a man she met online, John. When her grown adult children meet John and observe more about his peculiar lifestyle, they raise the alarm to their mom, only to find her aloof to their concerns. The story get’s even more intense as we learn more about John, and let’s just say I finished it in 3 days and fell into a Google hole shortly after I finished looking for more.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: This podcast makes me truly happy. Hosted by Linda Holmes she is regularly joined by Glen Weldon and Stephen Thompson with another person in the 4th-chair. Every week the podcast reminds me of a group of friends getting together, discussing the latest movies and TV shows they’ve seen. Which, is exactly what this is.

Fresh Air: It’s no secret that I absolutely love Terri Gross. I think she is simply brilliant; the way she can press someone to answer her while interviewing them, yet also show compassion and empathy. I also love her range of topics, from celebrities to authors to former secretaries of state. My favorite episodes as of late are actor Brian Tyree Henry (with a clip of Terri’s interview with Barbara Bush in 1994), James Comey, Todd Purdum on his new book about Rogers & Hammerstein, Being Jewish in Trump’s America, and Sarah McBride, the first transgender person to speak at a major party’s convention who was also an Obama intern. If you had to pick just one, I would listen to Sarah McBride. She has an amazing story about how she came out as trans shortly after college to overwhelming support, then married a man who had terminal cancer and is now a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign.

The Daily: Disclaimer: For a while, I didn’t love The Daily. There, I said it. Now that’s out of the way, I’m back into it but don’t listen to it daily (see what I did there?) I like the episodes that are about random stories I don’t think I would have heard otherwise, not necessarily the ones about the latest news. As I’m getting back into it, my favorites so far are Linda Brown’s Landmark case, the story of the young African-American girl at the center of the Brown v. Board of Education supreme court case in 1954 and Fired Over an Instagram Post, an ex-New Orleans Saints cheerleaders’ story about clear double standards when it comes to the NFL. While very different, I like the storytelling in both and find both topics to be equally relevant in the climate we live in today.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen in my stories the book debacle of 2018 when I found Exit West on the sidewalk near the Embarcadero. I went back for it 90 minutes later and it was still there, so I decided it was a sign and I took it. And, thanks to all of you for telling me it was a sign, too 🙂 Anyway, I’m planning to start reading it this weekend after I finish My Name is Lucy Barton. I’ll do a full recap of both when I’m done, soon 🙂

With love,

Brittny

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Dealing with Disappointment

I’ve been quiet here lately, and while I can’t pinpoint one reason in particular, life has been… going. Swimmingly. And going quiet well.

Unfortunately it’s been a rough 2017 for our nation and the world; from the state of our political climate, our climate in general, mass shootings, scandal after scandal, etc. But my little world has been pretty amazing, filled with lots of running, adventures, and a whole lot of love. And while I am incredibly grateful for my happiness and blessings, it’s difficult to feel completely happy when there is so much suffering, unrest, and discomfort in the world. This year I have learned more than anything to appreciate every moment, and savor this happy time in my life.

As previously mentioned, there’s been a lot of running in 2017. After today I’m at a total of 937.05 miles for the year. This is by far the most I’ve ever run in a year, as I’ve trained for three half marathons, one marathon down and another coming up next month. I’ve been able to feel myself getting stronger, physically and mentally, and have accomplished PR’s in the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon.

Despite my success this year it hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. Based on how well all of my other races had gone and the work I put in to my training, I had really high hopes for the Chicago Marathon. I trained 150 more miles this training season, overcame an injury, had amazing long runs, incorporated more speed workouts, etc. But the fact of the matter is the race didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped. Overall, the Chicago Marathon was a complete disappointment. I was really, really sore during my taper and felt some weird pain points I hadn’t felt during training. Which, are normal during the taper, but I’m beginning to realize the extent of my soreness wasn’t normal.

Then came race day. The first half of the marathon was fine. Good, even. I tried to pace myself so that I didn’t start out too fast. But setback number one was when I got a stomach cramp at mile 6. Which, I was able to semi manage until I bonked at mile 18. At mile 20 I thought my hip was going to, literally, fall off.

While I was suffering on the inside and was feeling my dreams of a PR slip away with every slow step, on the outside everything around me was amazing; the race itself was incredible. The course. The crowd. The people. I was getting pretty emotional the first three miles, watching runners pull off to the side when they saw their loved ones. The crowd was the most intense I’d ever seen in any race. Five people deep, with tons of signs, clapping, and cheering. The saving grace was that I saw Mike and my friend Evan at mile 6 and mile 16. I didn’t expect to see them at mile 16, so when I saw the “Go Yuloo” sign when I was truly hurting, I’d hoped it would give me more strength. But I think instead it gave me comfort, and made me realize how bad I was hurting.

From then on I just wanted to be done. For a couple of split seconds, in my complete moments of utter weakness I’d thought about dropping out. But instead I called my best running friend, Peggy, at mile 20, and she coached me in between walking and running when I could.

The race itself was a complete oxymoron. It was the perfect combination of love and hate.

After the race I was pretty defeated. I was so happy to have finished, but angry and disappointed with myself. When we got back to the hotel I tried to take a nap but I couldn’t sleep, so I called my mom and talked to her for about 45 minutes. I can’t tell you how much that phone call meant to me. My mom and I have had plenty of important conversations in my life, but I think that one meant the most to me this far. She was genuinely and wholly proud of me, when I was at an incredibly low point. The love I felt and knew to be true when I was questioning so much about myself was, and still is, one of the most important feelings I’ve ever felt.

A lot of others have had the same reaction. “you’re too hard on yourself!” “at least you finished!” “it’s still an incredible accomplishment!” While all of those things are completely true, it isn’t enough for me. I know I can do better. Be better. It hurts so bad because I didn’t execute my potential.

What I’ve struggled with in the days since is how we can feel such contradicting feelings. How can we be proud of our accomplishments, knowing that we could have done better? How do we settle when we know we haven’t met our fullest potential?

When we’ve settled on the fact that it’s over, how do we pick up the pieces to try again?

Because what if we keep failing? It takes a hell of a lot of vulnerability to keep trying when you haven’t succeeded.

What I remind myself of over and over is that the easy solution would be to not try again. To let the marathon defeat me. To say “yea, I’ve run a couple marathons, but they didn’t go well. So I’m going to stick with what I’m comfortable with.” It would be a hell of a lot easier to keep PR’ing in distances that I know I can crush. But that isn’t going to challenge me. Or change me. Or help me grow. As someone who fears uncertainty, I’m learning to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. That not everything in life is going to pan out the way you imagine. We can’t control everything, and running is, by far and away, my greatest teacher in this lesson.

I’m learning to build up my resilience so that when I do fail, I can pick myself back up.

And then came Shalane Flanagan and her incredible win at the New York Marathon last weekend. Watching her pull away those last few miles, watching her bump her fist and say “fuck yes” in a moment of pure emotion and bliss was an amazing moment for me. As a woman. As a runner. As a marathoner. As someone always trying to be better.

So I’m going to try to PR in the marathon again next month. I’ve put in the work, and now maybe the hardest phase is finding that faith in myself that I can succeed. Why not? When we’ve put in the work, why is the option of success one that we fear? Or one that we are too humbled to vision? To dream big is to take risks. As athletes. As competitors. As humans participating in life. So why not me?

20 Miles

This past Saturday I ran 20 miles. 2-0! It’s the furthest I’ve ever run, aside from the SF Marathon last year.

I get pretty anxious and nervous for long training runs. The night before any scheduled run longer than 10 miles I don’t sleep well (as in I wake up every couple of hours, typically in sweats, etc.) because I’m so anxious. And I’ve typically done the mileage I have scheduled many times before. But just because I’ve run a half marathon before doesn’t make the next any less daunting. Because I’m always trying to do better. And the risk of not being better than I was yesterday is scary. Because if I’m not improving, what does that mean? Am I injured? Is it a set back? Was my last run a fluke?

This past Summer I got really into running. Okay, I’ve been into running for the last 7 or so years, but this Summer I’ve become more social in my running. I started listening to podcasts, officially joined Strava, started going to workouts at Fleet Feet, trained my butt off with Team in Training, and joined the Oiselle Volee team. It’s been extremely fun and rewarding to connect with others over our shared passion.

My dear friend Peggy (she is one of my biggest running motivators) introduced me to a podcast called Run Selfie Repeat a few months ago that has changed my perspective. What Kelly Roberts, the host of Run Selfie Repeat, talks about in her latest podcast is giving yourself permission to succeed. Something that really resonated with me is this: “If you can give yourself permission to succeed… sometimes that means not giving up. Sometimes that means just showing up. Taking the time to believe that success is more likely than failure that’s a muscle we very rarely flex.” This. is. so me! I am always procrastinating my runs because I think it will be a bad run. Why? Why do I foresee a run ending badly? Sometimes it takes me hours to even get the courage to go for a recovery run. When I’m supposed to go slow and not hit any milestones. Why do we project or plan for the worst? Why are we always surprised when we succeed, even though we’ve practiced and trained to do just that? Why do we downplay our success? Is it because we are supposed to be humble in our accomplishments? I get that, definitely. But at what point are we allowed to be proud of our dedication to our goals and achievements?

Channeling all of this, I changed my perspective for my last very long training run. On Friday I made a conscious effort to stay cool and try to remain calm. Sure, I still woke up at 3 am, then 4:30 am on Saturday morning, but I calmly talked myself back to bed. When I got up at 5:45 I did my typical routine: coffee, with toast + peanut butter + 1/2 a banana. And I just chilled. That’s the thing, too, about training with a team. It’s still hard to wake up so early when you’d rather be sleeping, but you do it for them. So that you don’t let your teammates down.

What I’ve come to realize during this training cycle is that at the end of the day we are the drivers of our own success; no one else is going to do the dirty work for us. When we dare to dream of goals that seem out of this world, and then work our butts off, it’s a privilege to honor that dedication. How daring and bold it is to even dream up big dreams.

Despite the soreness, missed vacations, parties, and dinners, waking up at an ungodly hour every Saturday, physical therapy, etc. this is why I run. To know that I can dream up a goal and dedicate myself to achieving it. And I’m working on knowing that when I do achieve my lofty goals, it’s okay to be proud of myself. And if I fall short, remembering that it takes a daring dreamer to even put myself out there.

Confidence & Perseverance

There are officially less than 8 weeks until the Chicago Marathon, and I’m feeling great about my training so far this season. I ran 18 miles this past Saturday (!) and the rest of my training includes running the Giants Half Marathon in a couple weeks, another 18 miler and concluding my long runs with a 20 mile long run. This leaves room for a 3 week taper and then the big day on October 8th.

I know I’m not alone in that I get nervous about my long runs. The thought of running that many miles at once is physically and mentally intimidating. I follow this training plan, and on this plan the long run distance starts at 6 miles and in the course of 13 weeks advances to 20 miles. Again, that’s 6 miles to 20 miles in 13 weeks! To reflect and think that your body has become strong enough to run 14 more miles in a single run is crazy and completely amazing.

That is why I love running so much. Because running is the development of both physical and mental strength. Running forces introspection; it teaches you to really listen to yourself. You are the only person at the end of the day who can make all of this worth it. What you put in, you will get out. No one can run the miles for you.

There’s an honesty about marathon training that gets overlooked. We need to listen to our bodies, treat them well, and know the difference between true fatigue and doubt. It’s often the most difficult part of training, making that rest day call. The days when your body is worn down and needs to recover. I’m sick right now, and it’s hard for me to accept when I have a 6 mile run on the schedule. But I’m listening to myself and trying to be kind.

More often than not, it’s not fatigue. Our bodies have become stronger. Instead, it’s doubt. It’s the place in your brain that will manipulate you to believe that you can’t hit your paces, that 18 miles really is too long, that you’ll just wing it at the end or the adrenaline will carry you on race day. So what is it that overcomes doubt and second guessing? You guessed it: confidence and perseverance. People start running for different reasons, but these two lessons are in my opinion the most valuable outcomes when you train for a race. Confidence to overcome doubt. Perseverance to try anyway, keep going and overcome. Listening to yourself, doing what’s best for you, accepting that you are human, and knowing that you are still strong and bad ass to even try in the first place is a gift.

I’ve loved being more involved with my Team in Training group this season. In case you missed it, I’m running the marathon with Team in Training to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. On Wednesday nights we have track practice at Kezar Stadium and Saturday mornings we meet up for long runs. While it’s challenging getting to the other side of San Francisco after work some Wednesdays and difficult to pump yourself up at that notoriously windy and foggy track, it’s thrilling to feel myself get faster each week. Our coaches, Joe and Megan, come up with the workouts and plan out our long run routes, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the variety. When I was training for the SF marathon solo last year, I would procrastinate my long run until 10 or 11 am and run the same route over and over. Our Team in Training long runs start at 7 am, and knowing that I have other people to run with and am done by the time I used to start has been a game changer.

I have some donations that I haven’t submitted yet, so I’m over halfway to my fundraising goal, too. I’m getting pumped for Chicago and have appreciated your support tremendously, checking in on how I’m feeling, asking about my shin splints, how my run went, etc. If you’d like to donate, I’d be so grateful and you can do so here.

Running does so much for my body and soul, and I love sharing my journey with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support.

One Year

Today marks one year that my beautiful friend and roommate, Kate, passed away.

There are some days that I still can’t believe she is gone. I’m quickly reminded because of the void I, and all that knew her feel on a constant basis.

On this forum and in life I’ve talked a lot about who she was; a confident free spirit who let her heart and intuition guide her. She was one of the most self-serving people I’ve ever known, and she was who she was respectfully, honestly, and responsibly. She did only things that served her happiness, purpose, and truth. And she did that while simultaneously volunteering and mentoring, passionately pouring herself into her book, running, practicing yoga, traveling the world, going camping, etc.

What makes me the most sad is that there are people in this world who will never know her. There are so many who need her, who could have benefited from her bright light and they never will.

Kate was fearless. She was human, she made mistakes. But she lived knowing who she was, and if you had a problem with that it didn’t affect her much. I’m pretty much the opposite; I’ve always needed validation from others. As a result I’ve let the fear of judgment from others influence my decisions and feelings. But this year I’ve challenged myself to embody the Kate mantra; to do what makes me happy and live my truth. All I, or any of us, can hope for is that while we are trying to do our best, to live the best version of our happiest lives, we have the support and kindness from those we love most. And if we don’t receive that, recognizing we need to rethink those we hold close to us.

Kate has given me inspiration, taught me lessons, strength and courage every day. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, miss her, or wish she was still living in our apartment. I know that’s how you can verify the impact of someone on your life when they are gone; when they continue to be a great life teacher after they’ve passed.

Kate has also given me the gift of new friends. Before Kate’s passing, I didn’t hang out with the Wisconsin Crew much, but that changed after our shared tragedy. Now this scrappy group of Badger alum are an integral part of my life.  I can’t thank them enough for their support, love, and friendship this past year.

With the anniversary of Kate’s death comes some good news. The book Kate was working on publishing, Fly With Maya, will soon be available for purchase. You can read more on the website, but in short it’s the amazing story of a girl who travels around the world, meeting engineers along the way on a hot air balloon. It’s a beautiful story of teaching a little girl that she can be anything she wants, even a typically male dominated profession like an engineer.

In memory of Kate, I encourage you to sign up to volunteer, cook a healthy meal from a cookbook you’ve never used, go for a run, arrange a gathering with family or friends, plan your next big vacation, or call a friend you’ve lost touch with. She did all of these things in a single day. If we could all be more like Kate, this world would be a much more wonderful place.

I try, everyday, to be more like Kate.

With love,

Brittny

Global Running Day

I love Global Running Day. I get sentimental on this day ever year, as it’s a time for me to reflect every year on my running journey, where I’ve come and where I started. I also hope it encourages at least one person who thinks they can’t run or running isn’t for them to give it a try. Because that used to be me, in a big way.

Running is such a big part of my life, and probably more than I realize. I obsess over, prepare, practice, train, and think about running every single day. When I’m not running, I’ve made the conscious decision not to run because my body needs recovery.

I get emotional when I think about running because I never thought I would be a runner. I’ve been running for 7 years, and up until last year I wasn’t comfortable labeling myself as a runner. I always thought running was something outside my wheelhouse; something that only people with a certain body type, who are naturally fast, confident, or gifted could do and do well.

Running is hard- there is no question about that. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable. It’s frustrating. But it’s accepting uncomfortableness that has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from running. I can’t knock seconds, or even minutes, off my race times without pushing myself to new heights. I have to be vulnerable and take a leap of faith to achieve higher goals. If I want to run faster splits or run farther distances, I have train faster and run more miles. I have to trust the process. Which is another valuable life lesson; as someone who likes being in control it’s scary to put your heart, soul, time and energy into something when you can’t be 100% certain of the outcome. We’re at risk of injury, sickness, bad weather, etc. We’re human after all. At the end of the day, when it comes to running the only thing you can control is the effort you put in. Even if numbers don’t prove it, when I train harder I gain so much; I have more discipline. I am stronger. I am healthier. I feel more like me.

I love geeking out over stats, the feeling when I know I’m going to PR, but most of all talking and bonding over running. Admittedly I prefer to run by myself; I can’t really talk when I run so it just suits me better to run independently. But I never regret it when I run with friends or attend a running meet up. I love hearing about other people’s accomplishments with running; to me, running isn’t competitive. We’re all just trying to beat ourselves; to be better than we used to be. Shoutout to my ladies Peggy and Kate, for the shared encouragement, understanding, love and support with running 🙂

More than any thing I’ve ever done, running has taught me so much about myself. Running has taught me discipline. It has taught me tenacity. Perseverance. Confidence. To be brave, proud of myself and my accomplishments. Running has made me stronger, both physically and mentally. It has guided me through some of the darkest moments of my life. Running has made me a better person.

So that’s why, after I swore I was “one and done” with the marathon, I’m running the Chicago Marathon this fall. My training officially kicked off this week, and I’m all sorts of nervous and excited. I’m also partnering again with Team in Training, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you’d like to donate to my training page, please do so here.

And if not, that’s okay too. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support and encouragement. It means the world to me 🙂

 

Japanese Salad Bowls

Since completing Whole30 and getting back from Southeast Asia I’ve been craving simple, nutritious meals that don’t skimp out on flavor. I’m also in the beginning of training season (I have two half marathons at the end of the Summer and am currently debating signing up for the Chicago Marathon) so it’s important to have a balance of carbs, protein, and fats. I’ve also been on a bit of an unintentional vegetarian/vegan kick, as I just haven’t really been in the mood to cook lots of meat lately.

I love Cookie+Kate and Minimalist Baker as sources of inspiration for vegetarian meals that are fun and flavorful. I made this Japanese Salad bowl as a combination of Minimalist Baker’s Buddha Bowl and Cookie+Kate’s Vegetarian Sushi Bowl, and it turned out so well I had it back to back nights for dinner this week. Here’s the recipe:

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Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooke Time: 20 minutes (45 minutes if cooking sweet potato)

Makes 1 serving:

Salad:

1 1/2-2 cups kale, stems discarded

1 Japanese sweet potato

1/3 C frozen edamame

1 green onion thinly sliced, stems discarded

1/2 bell pepper, cut into slices

1/4 avocado

2 tblsp olive oil

Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Dressing:

1 tblsp sesame oil

1 1/2 tblsp tahini paste

1 tblsp soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos

1 teaspoon sweetner (honey, maple syrup, agave)

1 tblsp water (to thin)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 400* and bake your sweet potato for about 45 minutes (you can always meal prep your sweet potatoes in bulk on Sundays and heat one up quickly in the microwave). I like to wash it, pat it dry then wrap it in foil and simply put it on a baking sheet.

Slice the bell pepper into strips and throw into a cast-iron skillet with a dash of high heat oil (I love avocado oil). Sauté for about ~10 minutes, depending on how much you like to cook your bell pepper (you can always have it raw). Heat a pot of water and boil the edamame for about ~7 minutes. While these both cook, slice the green onions and your avocado. Massage the kale with olive oil and a dash of salt (this will help take the bitterness out of the kale and trust me it makes the world of difference).

Once your sweet potato is done heating wait a few moments to let it cool and slice it into rounds. Using the kale as your base add the edamame, green onions, bell pepper, sweet potato. To make the dressing, simply add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the salad, and you’re done!

You can always double the recipe, add your choice of meat or fish, add sliced cucumber, carrots, etc. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

With love,

Brittny

Life, Lately

I’ve taken the last couple of weeks to resume normal life after Whole30. I’ve been adding back in foods and ingredients that I wasn’t eating (dairy, gluten, legumes, alcohol etc.) and have been adjusting pretty well. I did have ice cream a couple nights last week and woke up in the morning to find my hands were super.swollen. So weird, but that’s the only major difference I’ve noticed.

For the next couple weeks I’m laying low and gearing up for a trip to Thailand and Vietnam in Mid-March. It’s a small group of us from the Machu Picchu trek I did in 2015, and I’m SO FREAKING EXCITED. My friend Peggy should seriously quit her job and become a travel agent, as she has planned this entire trip for us and I couldn’t be more grateful. So I’m finally going to buy a real camera and download podcasts/books (recommendations are welcome!)

I recently discovered Fresh Air and I have to say I love Terry Gross. She has such a calm yet inquisitive interview candor that I feel makes the interview interesting and the interviewee comfortable. My favorite so far is an interview she did with Barry Jenkins and Tarrell McCranney (the director and playwright of Moonlight, respectively). I saw Moonlight a couple weeks ago and I’ve thought about it every day since; it’s left an impression on me that I can’t seem to shake. The film tells the story of Chiron, and his life in three different stages; all stories have profound layers of both pain and beauty, and themes and revelations about Chiron that all fold together so methodically at the end. If you have time, go see it before the Oscars- I think it will get a few surprise wins. That and Manchester by the Sea. While the circumstances and settings of both movies are starkly different, they are so very similar in telling stories of incomprehensible trauma and how we cope.

I realized earlier this week that I’ve seen 5 of the 9 Oscar nominated films for Best Picture: La La Land, Arrival, Hidden Figures, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. Hey, I had to do SOMETHING while I was on Whole30! Anyway, now I’ve made it my mission to see all 9 films before the Oscars on February 26th. I’m seeing Lion tomorrow, and will fit in the rest somehow this weekend/next week. Once I see all the movies, then I’ll give my predictions for wins 🙂

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These are some cookies I made from Shalane Flanagan’s Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook. Majority of the recipes are gluten free and vegan, and these cookies were AMAZING.

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I finally ran that half marathon I’ve been talking about repeatedly, and unexpectedly PR’d 🙂 My chip time was 1:55:49 and I’m really happy about it! The race started off a little slow (weaving in and out of crowds, deciding how hard I could push myself, etc.) but I found my bearings shortly after mile 2. Around mile 7 I realized I could PR, and miles 8-12 were on the great highway, so relatively flat and boring but I took advantage of the flat road. I PR’d by 2 minutes and was also really happy to see I had negative splits the whole race. Since I only trained for about 6 weeks, I’m going to contribute this Half’s success to Whole30

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Enjoying a Mango IPA at Barrelhouse in SLO. I’m not one of those girls who “doesn’t drink beer” but I really have not been feeling it lately. But this Mango IPA is by far my favorite beer out there; it’s slightly sweet, light, and extremely tasty. If you’re ever taking a drive through the central coast I really recommend stopping for one.

Whole30 Graduate

For the month of January I did Whole30. I gave you a week 1 recap and then didn’t give you a week 2 or 3 recap. My bad. But! I’m happy to report that I stuck with it for 30 days straight; I haven’t had grains*, gluten, soy, dairy, alcohol, added sugar or legumes. 95% of the meals I ate in the month of January I cooked. That’s right; to ensure I was compliant with Whole30 I cooked almost all of my  meals at home, and if I did go out to eat it was to grab a salad, or the like. Needless to say it was by far the healthiest month of my life.

So, was it hard? Ab-so-freaking-lutely.

Would I do it again? Probably.

So why exactly did I do this?

Well I’ve mentioned here before that after the marathon, running took a back burner in the fall. Combine that with going out quite a bit on weekends and eating all.of.the.things, come December my body was in desperate need of a break and reset. I was feeling extremely puffy and bloated, and it started to affect my mood and my self image and confidence. Unfortunately, it got to the point where I was the unhappiest with my body than I’ve been in years.

Emily brought up the idea of doing Whole30 for the month of January and I told her she was crazy. But, due to the aforementioned feelings above, I knew I needed a hard reset and to do something I’d never done before. I had been putting off my health for months, letting vacations or fun events be an excuse. But in January all my weekends were free and the excuses had run out. It was time for me to focus on making myself healthier and happier. So while Whole30 was a bit of an extreme way to set out to accomplish this goal, desperate times call for extreme measures.

What did I learn, exactly? Well, over the last 30 days I’ve gained a lot of perspective. I think a lot of people share this mentality when it comes to treats: that a bite won’t kill you. But for me, a bite turns into 2 or 3 bites, and I regret all of them later. “Treats” weren’t special anymore and I wasn’t saving them for what they are; a special food to celebrate a birthday or a really shitty day. Not to celebrate that I got of bed that morning and was a functioning human. Before Whole30 I was taking the “treat yoself” mentality a little too liberally. I was saying “yes!” to everything out of fear of feeling FOMO or looking silly (I don’t know about you, but when something is in front of me I have a really hard time saying no). Yes, I’m that girl who enjoys the half of a cupcake for a few minutes and then is on the bus home after work regretting it. But what I realized was underneath that was disappointment in myself that I didn’t have control or that I let FOMO get the best of me.

I had to learn to get comfortable saying no. Instead of giving in I remembered my goal and why I was doing this in the first place; why I was on this restrictive diet and reset. I would remind myself “You’ve had a cookie before. What you haven’t done before is said no to indulgences that you’ll regret later.” So with that, I politely said no more times than I ever had before and explained I was doing Whole30. And you know what? Everyone supported me. And I began to be okay with “missing out.” I put myself and this dedication to my body and mind first. I’m really proud of that. Perhaps the most important learning and accomplishment of Whole30 is that I have more willpower and determination than I’ve ever given myself credit.

Taking the time to mindfully think about the foods I was putting into my body was also a welcome perspective. I’ve circled back on the realization that my food is my fuel. You already know running and my performance is important to me. So, yes, while I did PR the morning after a day of day drinking last fall, I’ve also been able to wake up every day for 30 days without the excuse of a hangover to skip my morning workout. I’m also someone who gets MAJOR anxiety after they drink, so that anxiety relief has been amazing as well.

So did I lose weight? Yep. About 6 pounds. And while I’m thrilled, I’m more grateful for the loss of anxiety, learning to put myself first, and getting comfortable with saying no. It feels great to accomplish something so big for me personally to start off the year.

I bet you’re wondering if I’m eating a donut as I’m writing this reflection post. Not exactly. I’m following the Whole30 reintroduction and will start to slowly add back in the foods I haven’t been eating. So instead of a donut I’m eating homemade granola. And it is GLORIOUS! On Friday I’m going out for sushi and am adding back in legumes, and after my race on Sunday I’ll have my first drink since January 1st.

Cheers to 2017 already off to a healthy and accomplished start : )

*Disclaimer: I was eating quinoa for a few days there. As I’m training for a half my body needed some type of grain carb.

President Trump

*Warning: Semi-liberal post. If you’re offended by these opinions, I advise you don’t read this post*

I’ve been interested in politics since I was a little girl. I can’t remember how, or what exactly sparked my interest, but I remember writing a history paper in 7th grade about JFK. I did TONS of research on the young president who came from a family of wealth and privilege. Even then, I wasn’t ignorant to his extra marital affairs but instead focused on his legacy; how a young, Catholic senator from Massachusetts captivated our nation.

This history/political science interest continued on to high school, where I had a history teacher named Ms. Feinberg. Whether she knows this or not, she had an incredible impact on how and why I think the way I do. She graduated from Columbia undergrad and Stanford graduate school. She wasn’t married, had frizzy hair, and didn’t dress all that well. And she was the first female role model I had who’d put her education first. Above getting married, her looks, etc. And while I don’t think this was ever her intention, her liberal rhetoric poured over into the way she taught. I thought she was incredibly smart, and I challenged myself to be more like her.

I went on to be a Political Science minor in college, and was fortunate enough to be going to school in Colorado in 2008; a swing state that has a caucus nomination process. The night I went to caucus was one of the most important and rewarding experiences of my life as an American citizen. I went to the local elementary school where I sat in a classroom with about 35 other voters. When the facilitator asked us to raise our hands for who we were nominating for the Democratic party, about 12 people raised their for Hillary Clinton, and 23 or so raised their hands for Barack Obama.

I raised my hand for Barack Obama.

A couple of weeks earlier, Obama held a rally at the University of Denver on a weekday morning. A classmate and I left at 6:30 am, made our way down to Denver, and arrived at 7:30 am to see 20,000 people lined up outside the DU Hockey Arena. 20,000 people. The arena could only hold 9,000. Some people left, but we heard muffling of people going onto the soccer field where he would address those who wouldn’t be able to get in. We beelined for the soccer field, and were some of the first ones on the field.

He came out with Caroline Kennedy by his side, and I felt a moment where life had come full circle. From that braces and pimpley preteen who was infatuated with this woman’s father to then, a woman in college attending a political rally.

He spoke about change. He spoke about hope. He was charismatic, kind, warm, and smart. It felt like everything he was saying I was looking for. My vote was a no brainer.

Flash forward 8 years, to Election Day 2016.

Maybe I’ll blame the fact that I chose to write my first history paper on a democrat, or maybe I’ll blame Ms. Feinberg. Or the fact that I was born and raised in the most liberal city in the country. I even have republican parents! But I can’t help it. I am what you would classify as a liberal. I believe in women’s rights. I believe in equal pay. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe in gay marriage. I believe in civil rights. I believe in social welfare programs. I believe in universal healthcare. I believe that global warming is real. I want to protect our national parks. I am willing to pay my fair share of taxes and sacrifice part of my paycheck to protect and advance these initiatives. Because I believe we are all in this together. But I also want to say, that I support our troops, our veterans, and those who fight for our country. I think you can be “Republican” on some issues and “Democrat” on others. I’m not sure there isn’t anyone in this country who doesn’t think we need to make veteran affairs a top priority. So if that makes me by definition a liberal, then so be it.

I’m here to say, and I guess the point of this post, is that I am sad today. Sure, I am sad my party “lost.” I am sad that Congress is made up of a Republican Majority. I’m afraid these leaders will take away some of the rights I believe should be non-negotiable. But with that, I understand there are transitions of power. I know that “my party” isn’t always going to be in power.

What I am sad about most is there is a man in power, the leader of the free world, my, our, YOUR POTUS- a man who degrades women. Who mocks the disabled. I am sad we are transitioning from a dignified, respectable, and graceful president to a man who has shown little to no empathy or tolerance for those of different religions, cultures, and circumstances than his own.

About a month before the election I heard an interview with a republican couple from North Carolina. They were swing voters who were leaning towards Trump because of their religious values. What was making them swing and doubt their vote was Trump himself. The husband worked for an international company and did a lot of business overseas. He was embarrassed by Trump and was afraid of losing business if Trump became president. They spoke about the bible, and how God loves all of his children, no matter their immigration status. I’m sure they ended up voting for Trump, but for those reasons I can understand. They voted for him because the values they hold dear he supported. But they did not support his demeanor and candor.

I know that there are people who don’t agree with me on what I value. But then again, I don’t know them personally. I live in my liberal bubble. I only travel to the coasts, to big cities. I am amongst people who would fight for my right to be paid equally. I am amongst people who would fight for my right to get birth control. I don’t know people who are sick and tired of our government. Who feel like this isn’t their America. The people I know thought our government was working just fine under President Obama. Sure, they may not have been happy all the time, but I don’t know anyone who is happy about the man we are going to have in office for four years.

I know there are disgruntled Americans. I know they are out there. Because they have made their voices heard. I just want to know if they are proud of our new president’s demeanor? Of his temper? Of his Tweets?

Because I believe you can still respect a leader in power who you don’t see eye to eye with. You can still respect someone you don’t agree with. You can still be kind. You can still be graceful.

I’m hopeful. Because if we lose sight of hope, we have no dreams to hold on to.

My best friend sent me this quote, and it encapsulates everything I’m feeling today: “Loyalist to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”- Mark Twain.