A Tale of Two Sneakers.

Hello loyal readers and followers!

Since I have as of late been writing a lot about running due to the fact that I’ve been running a lot, I’ve decided to branch off into a blog dedicated “solely” to that topic.

It’s called A Tale of Two Sneakers, and it chronicles the journey of two sneakers (them being mine) and the various and sundry incidents and accidents encountered along the way. So please, if you like my posts here, particularly the running ones, stop by and check it out at www.ataleoftwosneakers.com.  Thanks!!

It was the best of runs, it was the worst of runs….

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Marathon Training, Week 2: A Little Fall of Rain

 

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the aftermath.

This morning, I had the intention of running 9 miles. I find that if I don’t go out there with the distance I would like to run already ingrained into my brain, I get tired and want to stop. Telling myself before the first step that I would be running 9 is the only way I will actually run 9. So, at 8:30am, out the door I went to begin my journey.

It started off great, although a little humid (and by “a little” I mean water droplets were forming on my skin and I couldn’t see out of my sunglasses because they were fogged the instant I stepped outside). I walked the .5 miles to the park, and as I was almost there, it started to rain very, very lightly. A man in his front yard shouted as I went by, “It’s your fault it’s raining!” I assumed he was kidding so I laughed and said, “yeah right.” Then I briefly wondered if maybe it was my fault. Is that even possible? As I continued my philosophical discussion with myself, I reached the park and began the actual running portion of today’s show.

The first 4 miles felt pretty good. I was worried a bit that it was so humid I wouldn’t be able to make it to 9, but the very very light rain and the fact that the sun was mostly hidden made it bearable. I was glad it was raining, and thought to myself, “gee, I wouldn’t mind if it rained a little harder. It would feel good!”

You know how they say be careful what you wish for?

All of a sudden it started pouring. Like not just raining a little bit more, but a torrential downpour. I was nearing a tree, and worried about my iphone getting ruined (I really could not have cared less if I got wet – it was all about the phone), so I ducked under a tree for cover. I hung around for about 10 minutes, wondering in true dramatic fashion if i’d ever be able to continue, when it finally started lightening up. so I continued on, soaked but determined. It was a tad cooler (or I was just so soaked that it appeared to be so), so I picked up the pace, and did two more miles, virtually rain-free. I had to ring out my shirt about 10 times, but I finally felt like I was reaching the early stages of drying out. The 4 extra pounds of water I was now carrying did make the run a bit more challenging, but I’ve done it before, so I pushed onward.

I had just finished mile 6, when I heard a rumbling in the sky – yep, it was thunder. “Please just pass,” I begged of the Universe, however my pleas went unanswered and within a minute, it was raining again. Like “raining men” raining. It was coming down so fast, that I wasn’t even sure what to do at first. I quickly regained my wits, and headed toward a tree who’s trunk looked pretty dry so I thought I’d be offered some shelter from the storm.

I waited. And waited. And waited. The water began getting past the tree’s leaves and I was soon left with nowhere to hide. So I did what any sane person would do. I held my phone in my hands and bent over it so it wouldn’t get wet. As my back began getting more and more soaked, I again begged and pleaded with the Universe to make it stop. I started bargaining – “I’ll run all 9 miles if you make it stop now!” That didn’t work. At this point, I was the only person left in the park, so I started communicating with the Universe aloud, hoping that maybe if it heard my actual voice, that would work.

Apparently, the Universe doesn’t speak english. I raised my fist in a fit of rage as the water flowed all over me (but my phone was dry!). After about 20 minutes, I gave up and started crying. I guess the Universe felt sorry for me at this point, because it finally started to let up. I quickly strapped my phone back on my arm ran my last two miles, soaked and dying of thirst.  Although I was originally going to run 9, I settled for 8.5. My soaked clothes were heavy and so was my heart.

I finally got home, opened the door and the first thing my nephew said to me was, “Jeanine, why were you out running in the rain?”

I don’t know, but clearly it was my fault.

 

Sometimes, You Just Gotta Push Through.

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This morning, I went out for a run – a long run. I’ve officially begun training for a full marathon this November. I set out to run 8 miles this morning. The park where I run is a one mile loop – so that would be 8 times around. I don’t mind – I actually enjoy checking off each go-round in my head. It helps break down the distance into manageable increments. I’ll be sure to remind myself of this, when I’m out there running 18 loops. Can’t wait.

Anyway, the reason I’m sharing this particular story about this particular run on this particular day is because it was different. Even before I started out, it felt different. I can’t explain why it felt that way, but I can now explain why it was.

I had planned on leaving the house at 7:30am – that did not happen. After a series of little events, including a late wake-up, some ants in the kitchen, and a nervous stomach, I finally set out around 8:30. Not too shabby – I’d still have most of my day post-run to do other stuff.

I put on this Enya Pandora station I just made the other day – it’s the perfect running music, I must say. I feel inspired and at one with the park while I’m running (or something like that). I walked the half a mile over to the park, and I started my 8 mile journey. I was about to finish 2 miles, when a crew of county landscapers pulled up near the end/beginning of the loop. They had just started setting up as I was about to run by. One older man in particular caught my attention, and as I got closer, he smiled, and said “good morning” and I realized he reminded me a lot of my dad. So I smiled back, and continued on, thinking about my dad and the nice man who just happened to be there to brighten up my run as I came by.

On the next two loops, I didn’t see the man at all – I assume he was working. Nearing the end of loop 5, I saw him again, leaning against his truck and smiling broadly as I approached.

“Thats Four!” he said as I passed by, holding up four fingers (remember, they didn’t arrive until the end of loop 2 for me). I smiled back, held up two fingers, and replied “Two more to go!” He laughed and so did I. The run was getting harder, as it had been a while since I ran some real distance, so that was just what I needed to keep going strong.

Going strong was really starting to get old though, especially when about a quarter mile in to loop 6, a very young and very fit young lady wearing only a sports bra passed me at a very fast pace. I was getting slower, and this did not help. I started feeling a little down, when I came up behind a man and his son. They were talking about walking the loop, and at the exact moment I passed by, the man said, “sometimes, you just gotta push through.”

Was he talking to me? No. But I heard it, and it meant something to me. I felt my strength coming back, and I continued on, with a new found desire to keep on keepin’ on.

I soon came around the last turn of loop 6, to where the men were working again. I saw the man from before, still leaning against his truck, and again smiling as I approached.

“One more!!” he exclaimed.

I smiled back, and said, “I’m almost done – sometimes you just gotta push through!” He laughed and so did I.

Then, I cried. I imagined my own dad cheering me. I wondered if this was somehow my dad reminding me that he isn’t far, and he is proud of me. I believed that it was. And it kept me going.

With these thoughts in mind, I ran the loop for the last time. I was getting very, very thirsty. I started to wish I had drank more water before I left. I started to wish I had driven my car instead of walked to the park so I could have a drink as soon as I was done. I started fantasizing about the ice cold water I had purposely put in the fridge for me to enjoy when I returned home after the run.

As I came around the last turn for the last time, I saw the man again, and I noticed him open the door of his truck, and appear to be looking for something. I was bummed – I hoped that he was done by the time I passed, so we could have one last exchange before I retired from the park for the day.

I ran closer and closer, and I was just about to pass the man, when he turned around, and handed me an ice cold water that he had in his truck.

I stopped. “For me?” I beamed. He nodded. I took the ice cold water, just like the one I had been fantasizing about, and I shook his hand.

“Thank you for cheering me on,” I said. “It really helped.”

“You did it!” he exclaimed.

“Yep, 8 miles!” I told him.

And just like that, our purpose in each others’ lives had been served. I will never know what my purpose in his life was. Maybe I reminded him of someone he lost. Maybe he really just wanted to get rid of the extra water. Maybe he won’t forget it, either.

The universe works in strange ways. I was reminded today that you get what you give. I’m truly sorry that I had forgotten that to begin with.

Another Day…Just Breathe.

October is Healthy Lungs Month. Today, October 28, is Lung Health Day. I never gave these much thought, until this year.

Last April, I lost my Dad to a combination of many things, but the main ones being COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and ultimately, lung cancer. My Dad was a smoker for almost 50 years.

I love my Dad, and I miss him everyday, but he did not take care of himself, no matter how many times we asked him to. Sometimes, with enough urging (and some yelling) he would try to do better. But he always seemed to eventually go back to his old ways. “I’ll do what I want” seemed to be his mantra. You don’t get the nickname “Wild Bill” for nothing.

Me and Wild Bill, cowboy hat and all.

Me and Wild Bill, cowboy hat and all.

My Dad was stubborn (just like his daughter) and he lived his life the way he chose to and by his own rules. In many ways, I admired that quality in him, and hope that I, too, can live my life they way I see fit, and not how anyone else tells me I should. There were some times though that I just wish he would have taken the advice of others, mainly regarding his health.

There are two major things my Dad taught me (in addition to learning how to drive): always be yourself no matter what or who says otherwise, and to take care of your body. Sadly, I had to learn the second one by watching him do the exact opposite and slowly suffering over time. Sometimes I think I didn’t try hard enough to get him to do better. Sometimes I think he must not have cared enough about me to do better. Sometimes I realize that there was nothing I could do and he did the best he could. And it had nothing to do with me.

As I mentioned, I have worked hard to take care of myself. I never smoked (ok, I did once in my best friend’s backyard in high school but that was it, I swear). I hardly drink. I watch what I eat (to a fault sometimes). I work out in some way every day and have for the past 17 years. I’ve run 6 half marathons and countless other races. I do yoga. I think about my life and how precious it is. I try not to waste a single second (I don’t always succeed, but I am forever trying). In a way, I have my Dad to thank for this. It’s not the happiest motivator – but I do believe he was very proud of me, and hopefully he knew how much that meant to me.

Thanks, Dad.

Thanks, Dad.

Although my Dad was too stubborn to accept any help, I’d like to think that there are many others out there who can still be helped, and that maybe, just maybe, I could help them. Not only do I have a passion for treating myself right, but I’m even more passionate about helping others to live better. So for National Lung Month, I’d like to tell everyone to get out there, get moving, and keep breathing. Check out some online resources (and there are many), like Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, to learn more about lesser known dangers to lungs like asbestos which is known to cause a rare cancer called mesothelioma, and most importantly, spread the word. We can all live better, if we work together.

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Be excellent to each other.

Think of All the Things You CAN Do.

The other day, I was complaining (again) about not being able to run. The whole tendonitis thing was really getting to me, and I was wallowing in a sea of “why me?”, until a friend said these words to me:

Think of all the things you CAN do.

So, I did.

I can take a cycling class. So the next morning, I took one at the gym. I can use the good old elliptical machine. So, I rocked out a 7 miler. I can do do yoga. I can swim. I can still ride my bike. I was already doing these things, but for some reason it didn’t matter. I was stuck on the one thing I couldn’t do.

Wah.

Wah.

Getting stuck is the worst. Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re stuck until you become unstuck. And more often than not, it’s the words of an outside observer that gives you that push to unstick yourself.

Besides all these things things, I began thinking about all of the things that I CAN do that I don’t spend nearly enough time appreciating: I can see; I can hear: I can smell, touch, and taste. I can work. I can think. I can write. I can dream. I can love.

TLF.

Wedding bliss.

Wow. There are a ton of truly amazing things I CAN do. Not only am I thankful for all of these things, I’m thankful to the wonderful friend who pointed it out to me.

Besties.

Besties.

Gratitude really can make all the difference. No more wallowing. I have absolutely no reason to. The world is too good for it.

With that being said, I think I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon doing one other thing that I can do, and pretty well at that – bake a pumpkin spice cake. 🙂

You do what you must do, and you do it well.

You do what you must do, and you do it well.

This is What Happens When You Stop Running.

This is post is not going to inspire you to live a more fulfilling life.

This post is not going to tell you what you can do to stay positive.

This post is not going to teach you how to bake a delicious new dessert.

Some days, even the most positive person in the world feels like it’s all a bunch of B.S.

This post IS going to tell you that it’s OK to feel that way. And that it’s OK to talk about it. Its happens. It doesn’t make us bad people. We shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it. Or write about it. So that’s what I’m going to do today.

I have been running now for about 5 years. I was always into fitness, but I started running around the loop in this park which was within walking distance from where I used to live. I found myself slowly doing it more and more, and decided in 2011 to sign up for some official races. I ran two that year, and then in 2012 I ran about 10, and kept that up every year since. Last year, dare I even say I started to actually become a “good” runner. I set a new 5k PR at three consecutive races, and even won my age group, I set a new 10k PR, and I set a new half marathon PR, all within one calendar year.

My 1st place trophy.

My 1st place trophy.

I was running almost everyday, and had never been in better shape, so I decided that 2015 would be my year to run a full marathon. I carefully selected one based on time (October) and elevation (good for first time-marathoners) and registered for it in the spring, planning on training through the summer, starting right after I got back from my honeymoon.

I even got some brand new kicks.

I even got some brand new kicks.

On  or about July 8th, I started my marathon training plan. The goal was to run 8 miles that day, adding one mile to my long run every week, up until two weeks prior to the marathon, when I would wind down until race day. Feeling good, I headed over to the park to begin.

Five miles in, and things were going really well – the run felt great, and I was keeping pretty good time. I knew I’d easily hit the 8 mile mark. At some point before mile 6, I felt a weird twitch or pop or something in my left ankle. I figured it was one of those annoying little running pains that come and go, so I kept on going, and it felt fine.

The next day, it did not feel fine. It hurt. It hurt on the top and side of my foot. It hurt at the back of my heel. It especially hurt when I walked down the stairs. It did not hurt when I just stood still, and it did not hurt all that much when I walked a normal pace. It mainly hurt when walking down stairs as I mentioned, or when I pointed my toes, which was when it actually hurt the most. I assumed it was a sprain or strain. I feared it was a stress fracture, but a quick googling of that caused me to rule it out. So I went with sprain or strain.

I stopped running for the next week. It started to feel a little better, so I decided to go out for a short run.

I realized that was a bad idea. So I waited another week. It again started to feel a little better, so I tried a short run again.

I realized that again was a bad idea. At this point, I was starting to worry. What on earth could be wrong? It would start to feel better, then as soon I as did any kind of running, it started hurting all over again. I googled “pain walking down the stairs” and a bunch of results came up, all with one word in common: tendonitis.

“That’s not possible,” I thought. I’ve been running for years. Why and how would I suddenly get tendonitis??? After a couple more weeks of feeling better/running/feeling worse, I decided to see my doctor.

“You have tendonitis. I recommend not running on it, wearing a brace when you do start running again, and taking an anti-inflammatory. FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”

Ok, so I imagined that last part. But isn’t tendonitis forever? The doctor actually made it sound like it would heal, but the people I know who have it, have had it for pretty much ever. Did this mean I would never actually run again??? Honestly, I still don’t know. It’s been a little over two weeks now with not a single run at all (except to cross the street once), and it’s still not healed. Yesterday it felt great, so I decided to try a 25 minute long cardio workout, to get my sweat on. I’d been biking and swimming to try and make up for the lack or running, but I’m just not getting the same results a good run gives me, both physically and mentally. I was also afraid to go to yoga, but I’ve since bagged that fear, and found that yoga is the one thing that actually helps. Anyway, riding high on the positive effects of gentle yoga, I busted out the 25 minute cardio workout and felt great. It was tough, and it was sweaty. It challenged me physically and mentally.

“I can do this every day until I can run again!” I shouted to myself with joy.

An hour later, my ankle hurt almost as bad as it did the day of my initial doctor’s appointment. WTF.

Confined to the bike. FOREVER.

Confined to the bike. FOREVER.

Today, it hurts only slightly less.

Today, I woke up frustrated, devastated, and just plain sad.

Today, I’m starting to wonder if it really will ever heal. I’m starting to think that staying positive about it is a bunch of BS. But I’m still secretly hoping that maybe writing about it will help shake off some of the frustration.

Maybe not.

Maybe it’s time to learn to dance.

I’m a Real Runner Now! (I think).

This past Sunday, I ran the Broad Street Run for the 3rd time. Even though it’s one of the most crowded races I run (40,000 runners!), it’s still my favorite. I love running through the city of Philadelphia, seeing the street lined with cheering folks, from all walks of life, playing music, shouting out support, smiling, and waving. Plus it’s pretty freakin’ amazing to run through the very same city that I’m usually driving through, stuck in some kind of traffic, not looking at anything but the bumper inches in front of mine. The Broad Street Run provides an entirely new perspective. It gives new life to the city I’ve spent so much time with my head down in. Every building, every cross-street, every person becomes a wonderful site worth savoring as I wind my way with the crowd from the North end of the city to the South. The neighborhoods that are so vastly different, are joined seamlessly into one, but the endless stream of runners, and spectators. It’s kind of a spiritual experience, I suppose.

Anyway, this year, something was different. Not with the race, or the city or the crowd – something was different with me. For the first time, I felt like a real runner – a competitive runner. Someone who actually knew what they were doing, prepared accordingly, and actually ran kinda hard. There were 3 main reasons for this:

1. I dressed properly. In the past, I’ve worn clothes that I could run in, but I always had some weird thing going on – a shirt that made me too warm so I had to hold it, keys that I didn’t know what to do with, shorts that rubbed me the wrong way, etc. But this year, I finally had the outfit down. I had the right pouch to hold my keys, the right armband to hold my phone, and the right clothes to avoid being too hot, too cold or too chafed.

dressed for success with my partner in crime.

dressed for success with my partner in crime.

2. I wanted people to get out of my way. For the first time in any race I’ve ever run, I found myself getting annoyed when I came up behind someone who was slower than me. In the past, I felt relieved when this occurred, and slowed down to their pace, giving myself a break. Not this time. The last three miles in particular, I was determined to keep the pace I was running, and found myself dodging folks left and right, doing Indiana Jones-like sideways jumps between two runners with little space between them, hopping up onto the sidewalk, and muttering “c’mon!” under my breath. I’m becoming a monster.

3. I beat my previous time (by A LOT). My fiance always said that I could run faster, and as much as I hate to admit it, he was right. Not only did I crush my previous time, I felt FINE. I was in no pain that day, no pain the next day, and I could even run again. In the past, it took a good few days before I even considered running again after running a race longer than a 10k. But not this time. I could have run again that same day. But I’m not that insane (yet).

What does all this mean? Well for starters, all that running over the past 4 years has really paid off. And all that thinking that I couldn’t run any faster – that was a load of mental crap. Anything really is possible, once you decide that it is. I just hope this doesn’t mean it’s time to sign up for a full marathon. Yikes.

 

Gotta be the Shoes.

shoes

So, every so often, I write about something other than baking, and it’s usually one of three things: travelling, music, or running. And this just so happens to be one of those posts (surprise!).

I’ve been running now for a while – but I started actually racing back in 2011, when I ran my first ever official race around this time that year. It was a 10k, I was nervous as heck, cried on the way there, ran the thing anyway, and felt like a different person when it was over. I had done it – and I had done it on my own.

A year later, around this time in 2012, I ran the same race – and remarked on what a difference a year can make. I again cried on the way there, but this time, it was tears of joy – of accomplishment. I was again going to the race by myself, however I no longer felt alone, I no longer had any fear. I felt awake and alive, and was grateful for everything that came and went in that past year.

This year, I was going to run the same race, as kind of an homage to my racing beginnings. However, due to a very exciting turn of events, I won’t be racing this year. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not still running, and more importantly, reflecting.

Had someone asked me where I thought I’d be this time next year at last year’s race, I would have never imagined it would be where I actually am. It’s been a truly AMAZING year – I couldn’t be more grateful for all the wonderful things and people that have come into my life (or been there along) and just keep making it more and more fabulous to be alive. And by the way, it’s true what they say – sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is right in front of you – you just might have to be a little patient until it’s right. You can’t run a marathon without the proper training, right? 😉

Anyway, this post was originally going to be solely about my new running shoes, and how I couldn’t tell if it was the shoes or my mind that was making me run faster. But in the end, I’ve realized, it’s both. You can have the fanciest gear in the world, but your head’s got to be in it. If you really want something, you’ll always find a way to make it happen, even with old beat up shoes. The right shoes just make it that much easier.

And so it is, with life. It’s not the shoes that matter – it’s how you use them.

What is Survive?

I heard a little boy ask his dad that very question this morning while running the LIVESTRONG Philly 10k race. The father was explaining to his son that they were running in honor of a friend of his, who had cancer. “He didn’t survive, ” the father said, to which the little boy responded, “What is Survive?”

I didn’t hear what the father answered, as I had already gone into my head, asking myself that very question. As I ran the rest of the race, I came up with a few answers:

1. It’s waking up for days in a row, feeling like you don’t want to get out bed, but doing it anyway, until the day you finally want to get up again.

2. It’s watching someone close to you suffer, knowing there’s nothing you can do about it, but be there for them, and allow them to inspire you to be better.

3. It’s being better.

4. It’s the voice that says “keep going” when you think you can’t take another step. You can.

5. It’s forgiving AND forgetting.

6. It’s enjoying, appreciating, and being grateful for the little miracles that are all around us and happen every day.

7. It’s constantly broadening your scope – you’re never too old to learn something entirely new.

8. It’s laughing, loving, and being with friends and family.

9. It’s taking full responsibility for yourself and your actions.

10. It’s living with your eyes open, being awake, aware, and alive.

11. It’s having fun while you’re at it. 🙂

A year ago today, I woke up and headed out to my first ever “official” race – The LIVESTRONG Philadelphia Challenge. It was a 10k, and I was anxious about running that distance. I was nervous, sad, and alone, and I cried on the way there. This morning, I headed out to that very same race, and again cried on the way- this time out of joy and amazement in the difference one year and 9 races can make in a person. Live strong and prosper, everyone. You’re worth it.

The Heat is On.

I am a summer girl. I’ve always loved summer and defended it and all its glory to anyone who dared to say otherwise. That was before I became a baker and runner.

Over the past two years, I’ve been steadily increasing my skills in both. But during the last fall/winter/spring, I really put the pedal to the metal – graduating pastry school last December

my pastry school “final”

…and running a half marathon in April.

13.1, baby.

So when this summer started, I was rolling steadily along, baking and running almost every day. Well, as the temperatures crept up (and boy, did they creep), I realized that the summer was having a negative effect on these very things that had become such an integral part of my existence.

Sure, I can work out inside, and yes, my kitchen is air-conditioned. But even so, unless the AC is pointing directly at my butt or buttercream, things start melting. So, as much as it pains me to write these words, Summer, it’s over. It’s not you, it’s me. Seasons change, people change – and you no longer fulfill my needs. I’ll always love you, and I’ll always think you’re hot.  And there will always be a part of me that misses you throughout the rest of the long, cold year. But alas, I’ve gotta do what’s best for me. I hope we can be friends.

thanks for the memories.

I know you’re upset, but you didn’t have to go and melt the ice cream I left in the kitchen just now. Jerk.