Our Wedding Ceremony

On July 14th, 2018, Mike and I were married in front of 105 of our dearest friends and family. The day unfolded similarly to how I envisioned it would when we got engaged 8 months earlier on Kapalua Beach in Maui; But the truth is, I don’t think anyone can prepare you for your wedding day. What surprised me most was the overwhelming amount of love, gratitude, pride, and fun I had. Feeling an inordinate amount of even just one of these emotions is a euphoric experience, but combining them all so that they create a magical, never-before-felt feeling of bliss that stays with you for hours… that is what made our wedding day the best day of my life thus far.

So many times I remember taking a step back and thinking “Remember this moment. SAVOR this moment. This is special. You are so lucky. You are so loved.” Every second of our wedding my immense gratitude didn’t escape me. For those who traveled far (we had guests from London, the East Coast, and my Aunt and Uncle DROVE from Atlanta, GA) and to be with the people I love most in the world, in one place at one time. For people from all stages of my life finally meeting for the first time or reuniting, dancing, laughing, and crying together. Every time I saw my friends and family sharing a moment my heart burst into a hundred pieces.

In no shock to anyone, the person who made it the absolute best day was the man I married; I fell in love with Mike over, and over, and over again. At our first look, during our vows, when we went to the beach at sunset, our first dance… I look back at our photos and just see us beaming at each other. And that’s exactly how I felt the entire day; I had the brightest light inside of me that was made up of all of this love, and there was nowhere for it to go but to radiate out.

Since there is so much to share, I’m going to break it up into two parts: the Ceremony and Reception, starting with the ceremony (I also have some wedding planning “tips” at the end, should you be curious and I also won’t be offended if you don’t read any of this and just look at the photos, or watch our wedding video :)…

Deciding our Vision and Venue:

We decided early on that the most important element of our wedding was that it was a reflection of us; we wanted it to be relaxed, outdoors, personal, full of love, and most of all fun. It wasn’t hard to land on Orange County as the location, as we travel there often to visit our family. We spend a lot of time in San Clemente visiting my brother Aaron, his wife Domo, and our niece Dinah, and it’s equidistant between where our parents live. If you haven’t noticed yet, we are beach people, so it was easy to land on the theme of a “beach wedding.” When we chose San Clemente as the location, Domo quickly suggested the Ole Hanson Beach Club. From the moment we saw the photos online, my heart was set. The Spanish architecture, proximity to the beach, and overall elegance of the venue were exactly what we were looking for; a place that is special and unique, and not to mention a place we could easily revisit in the years to come. We visited the venue 3 weeks after we got engaged when we were home for Christmas, and took it as a sign that the ONLY date they had left for the Summer of 2018 was July 14th, and that was that.

Our First Look:

We are both thrilled we decided to have a first look. Not only did it make sense logistically (so we could take photos before the ceremony and attend our cocktail hour), but it really helped calm our nerves. I was doing pretty well while I was getting ready that morning/afternoon, but once we made our way to the venue and I started to see everything set up the gravity of the day started to sink in. It wasn’t until I put on my dress in the bridal suite and I was told Mike was upstairs that I started to get nervous. Not the jittery kind of nervous, but the anticipation kind, most of all because I just wanted to see him so badly. Leading up to our wedding I had teased him so many times, asking him what he thought my dress would look like; a big cupcake dress or something “sexy.” When the moment came for us to finally meet and Emily, our wedding coordinator, lead me out to the front of the building I remember taking a deep breath, feeling ready and excited. And just like that, when I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around I immediately started to cry. I felt a huge sense of relief to finally be together, knowing that we would face the rest of the day, and all of our days forward together. We both were just sort of a mess those first couple moments, taking turns crying, smiling, kissing and saying “This is so crazy! It’s finally here!” We then took our photos and said hi to family and friends that had started to arrive.

www.VallentynePhotography.comwww.VallentynePhotography.comwww.VallentynePhotography.com

The Ceremony:

We asked our former colleague and dear friend, Amy, to officiate our ceremony. It was important to us that our officiant was a significant figure in our lives, and Amy has special relationships with us individually and as a couple (we often describe our relationship as a mother/sister/mentor/best friend). She has always supported our relationship, and not to mention she’s one of the warmest and kindest people you’ll ever meet, we knew she would do a fantastic job. And let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Many of our guests told us after the ceremony that it was the best ceremony they had been to, because of the backstory and context Amy told about how we fell in love and our journey that lead to us getting married. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

And now a bit of the story of Mike and Brittny. Theirs is a story of timing. It’s a story of growth, of perseverance, and of patience. It’s a story of undeniable chemistry. It’s a story of a die-hard Giant’s fan and a die-hard Dodgers fan, and proof that this unique and precarious combination can live in harmony. It’s a story of timing so perfect that everything came together to create the absolutely gorgeous moment we’re having today. We are here today to celebrate the love that Mike and Brittny have for each other and to give recognition to their decision to commit their lives to each other and accept each other completely…

I am one of the fortunate few who had the honor of seeing Mike and Brittny fall in love. We worked together at a software company, and during the early stages of their relationship, the timing was a bit of an issue. However, there was no denying that Mike and Brittny had something truly special, and it was clear that eventually, we would come to this moment. It was meant to be…

At one point in their relationship, both Brittny and Mike experienced significant pain and heartbreak and personal growth. During that time, Brittny focused on training for the San Francisco Marathon. While they were not officially a couple at the time, Mike and Brittny remained close friends.

Mike wanted to support Brittny by going to the marathon to cheer her on, but Brittny was hesitant. She began the race, and at mile marker #3, there was Mike, holding a sign that said, “Go, Yuloo!”

She continued on and got to a place where she was struggling. As she approached mile marker #16, she was both mentally and physically worn down and wondered if she could continue.

And there was Mike, holding up the sign that read, “Go, Yuloo!”

I love that story not just because it’s like a scene from an unwritten romantic comedy, but because it’s about perseverance on both sides, and that Brittny knows that when times are hard, Mike will be there to hold her up and support her. That when Mike needs Brittny, she will be there to hold him up and support her. And that together will be there for each other, supporting each other along the way, and that they are absolutely meant to be.

Amy closed the ceremony by reading the Apache Wedding Blessing, which was also read at her own wedding.

Admittedly, if I had to pick one absolute favorite part of the day, it would be our ceremony. And, isn’t the whole point of a wedding the ceremony, to formally and officially declare your love? Nowadays so much focus has turned to the reception and party, and don’t get me wrong, we had a GREAT reception and were very focused on guests having a good time. But we found that saying those words to each other, expressing our love and commitment to one another in front of those we love most and to legally be a family, it really does feel different now. To us anyway. I truly am all for whatever people believe and what works for them; for Mike and me, it was our wedding ceremony and declaring our love to one another that solidified our forever.

Music:

We spent a lot of time thoughtfully choosing songs for our ceremony, to reflect the symbolism of who was walking down the aisle at that moment. We wanted to set a more serious tone with our family entrance and change it up for the flower girls to make it fun and upbeat (this also helped when they practiced walking down the aisle). One thing we struggled with for a couple months was the song I would be walking down the aisle to. Mike decided he wanted an instrumental song, but we just couldn’t find one we both liked that wasn’t too sad or serious. We were listening to John Mayer one night at home, and when Gravity came on, we sort of just looked at each other with this look of “Duh!” John Mayer is my favorite artist (I know, judge away!) and Gravity is my favorite song of his. Lastly, landing on All You Need is Love was definitely inspired by this scene from Love Actually 😉 :

Mike & Family Entrance: Ophelia by Vitamin String Quartet

Flower Girl Entrance: How Sweet It Is To Be Loved by You by James Taylor

Processional: Gravity by John Mayer

Recessional: All You Need is Love by The Beatles

Our Vows:

In keeping with our goal to have our wedding be intimate and personal, we decided to write our own vows. In natural form I had written mine months earlier and was fairly confident about them. I included my favorite quote/poem by Mitsugi Saotome in mine, and built in my promises through his words; to laugh with each other, to touch, enjoy the beauty of the stars, to grow, and discover the joy of challenge and each other. But Mike… Oh Mike. I should have known he would one-up me. And he sure did and really brought down the house with his vows. I don’t remember what his were exactly because I was sobbing through them, but they included lyrics from Gravity. He said that the first time he ever saw me, the feeling he felt was Gravity, and he promised to keep me where the light is; that light is our life and our love. Just. So. Amazing.

“Breaking from Tradition”:

As I mentioned earlier, we wanted our wedding to be a reflection of us, even if that meant deviating from tradition. My step-dad, Frank, has been in my life since I was 9 years old. Admittedly, I wasn’t too stoked on him those first couple of years (my mom’s new boyfriend, come on I had to give him a little bit of a hard time), but over time when I would go through bouts of not getting along with either one of my parents, Frank was my solice; he was always there to keep my secrets or sympathize with me on which parent was currently ruining my life. Frank is the most patient, endearing, and supportive person I know. He has always treated me like I his own daughter, despite our lack of shared DNA. Because of our special bond, it was only natural to me that both he and my dad walked me down the aisle, and that I had father-daughter dances with them both. And I wouldn’t change that for the world. Having both of the men I have loved my entire life walk me down the aisle is something I am so proud of, and I know they are too.

Both Mike and I are incredibly blessed to have many friends from every stage of our life that we are fortunate to still be close to. For me personally, I have friends from preschool through college, colleagues I’ve kept in touch with and friends I’ve met through others that are all a huge part of my life. Something I really like about myself is that for as long as I can remember I’ve always had a lot of friends and from a young age I’ve always put a lot of effort into my friendships. I try to treat my friends how I want to be treated; special, loved, seen, uplifted, and supported. It just didn’t feel right to us to only select a handful of our many friends to stand up there with us. It didn’t feel right to say someone is more special than the other, because all of our friends have carried or lifted us at monumental moments in our lives. So instead, I invited my friends over in the morning while I was getting ready for bagels and mimosas, and they all came early before our ceremony to take photos with us. It was the best way to incorporate everyone and still spend dedicated time with them on our wedding day.


Ceremony Vendors & Tips:

We were incredibly lucky to know a few of our vendors before we worked with them. Domo (who was truly the unsung hero of our wedding) introduced us to Emily, who is Domo’s best friend’s brother’s girlfriend. Did you follow that?? Anyway, when I met Emily in person, I knew she would be our coordinator because of her warm aura, and at the time was also starting her own business as a coordinator and florist. She mentioned she studied flowers under Shannon of CargoCreative, who I had already been following for years on Instagram. When I reached out to Shannon and told her our budget, she was so helpful in making suggestions for how we could make everything work. And I personally think my bouquet is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but I know I’m biased 🙂 Lastly, Heather, our photographer, shot Aaron and Domo’s wedding five years ago, so she was naturally our first choice for our photographer as well. And although I didn’t know her before I started working with her, Kaylyn, our invitations and design guru was an absolute joy to work with. She is incredibly talented and the sweetest person.

I can’t tell you how much it put our minds at ease to have these friends be in charge of such important aspects of our wedding. I highly recommend getting vendor recommendations from friends or from your venue and then trusting them. Not only are these people professionals at what they do, but I like to think ours had a personal investment in making sure our day went by flawlessly.

Ceremony Vendors:

Photographer: Heather of Vallentyne Photography

Videographer: Brian of Love is Cinema

Wedding Coordinator: Emily of The Moody Blooms

Flowers: Shannon of CargoCreative

Groom’s Suit: Calvin Klein

Arch & Guestbook: Built Gary Gettman, Father of the Groom

Details (Invitations, Chalkboard, Guestbook design, etc.): Kaylyn of Pirouette Paper

Bride’s Dress: Essence of Australia via Archive Bridal

Bride’s Veil: Borrowed from my cousin, Caroline Wesley

Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Sarah of Beach Bridal Beauty

If you made it this far, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read about our ceremony. It was truly magical, and I thank you for allowing me to express that to you.

With love,

Brittny

My Favorite Memory as of Late, Courtesy of Dinah

I’m coming off the post-wedding high, and am STILL beaming with so much love. I’m not sure when I’ll do a wedding recap, one because all of our pictures aren’t ready, but also because I’m still too emotional I may sob all the way through it.

One topic I am ready to write about is my niece Dinah, and more specifically, a moment we shared a couple of months ago that has turned into one of my most cherished memories.

Even if you and I are simply acquaintances, you know about Dinah. Dinah is my brother Aaron and sister-in-law Domonique’s daughter. Dinah is almost 3 years old, her favorite color is pink, she loves goldfish crackers, unicorns, books, the beach, the mountains, RUNNING (the first day we go on a run together will be one of the best of my life), PJ Masks, etc.

Watching Dinah grow has been one of the greatest joys of my life. From holding her when she was newborn, to seeing her walk for the first time, to the first time she called me Boo Boo (my family nickname- she called me Brittny once, and I was shocked she knew my real name but I think/hope that was a one time thing.) It has been an overwhelming experience to see the world through her eyes. I love explaining and teaching her things, taking care of her, doing things for her, seeing her pure and innocent joy, etc. She is funny, smart, caring, and ambitious. I adore her spunky spirit, and how she often times just goes for it. I hope she never loses that spirit.

Over the Spring I made a lot of trips down to Southern California to plan our wedding, which meant I was able to spend a lot of time with Dinah and the rest of my family. A couple months ago I was there for some detail meetings, so I called Aaron to see if we could go together to pick her up from school. I met him at their house and we hopped in the car to go get her, and when we arrived at her school we walked out back to where the kids were playing. As soon as I spotted her (her back was turned to us), I said “Hey Dinahhh!” She whipped around, paused for a second, and then SPRINTED toward me and said “Boooo Boooo” in this long, dramatic way. It felt like slow motion, her running and screaming “Booo Booo!!!” She ran into my arms and I held her for a solid three minutes until we both recovered. She was shocked and yet so, so happy; the feeling was obviously mutual.

I don’t know if that was the first time she felt those emotions at the same time, but I do know it was overwhelming for both of us in the most amazing way possible. While I was holding her, I was also soothing her, because again I think she was overcome by the combination of emotions. Seeing the expression on her face, her running toward me, the way she said “Boo Boo,” and holding/soothing her for as long as I did make it one of the happiest moments of my life so far. It was a true moment of euphoria, and I was left glowing for weeks after.

While I know Dinah loves me, for obvious reasons it’s difficult to communicate sometimes with an almost-three-year-old. I constantly want to cuddle, kiss, hug, and play with her, and while 80% of the time she indulges me, she understandably has her own thing going on. What this moment solidified for me is that even at her young age, I am important to her. I mean something to her. I am loved by her. And I hope she always knows how much I cherish, adore, and love her. To put it simply, it was an outstanding moment of purpose. In a world that seems to be downright ugly at times, defining moments like these are what I hold on to, to keep me going, as a reminder that there is so much love in the world. I’m incredibly lucky to have many loving family and friends, but to know that you are loved so wholly and purely by even just one person, is what makes life worth living.

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Dinah and me, a couple hours after our special moment

What is your favorite memory as of late? Do you have any moments of purpose with any of your family or friends?

With love,

Brittny

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, and 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 liked Serial and S-Town, I think you’ll be equally 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 grows 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

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.