19 days and counting.

19 days from now, I'll be lining up at the Start line on Staten Island to run my first marathon.  This time last year, I had the exact same thoughts, countdown, jitters and excitement constantly rolling around in my mind and I can't really believe that I'm here once again.  

This hasn't been my best training season, and I can definitely admit that.  It's kind of interesting-- last year I obsessively trained and whittled down my lists to prep for the race until I was at my wits end, snapping at my family and Brian, crying at the drop of a hat, not sleeping.  This year, while I've trained, I haven't trained at my hardest and I know that I won't run the best marathon that I'm capable of, but I'm much more laidback going into the whole mess.  

I'm not happy with my training, knowing that I could have done better.  The stars just didn't line up this fall as perfectly as they did last year, and it's taken A LOT for me to keep pushing and trudging along.  And while I'm not happy that I'll basically be settling with my finish time, I'm happy and proud that I've stuck with this.  Believe me-- there have been moments when I strongly considered cancelling my entry.  At the end of the day, as stressed as I may be, I'm not a quitter.  I also know how many people supported me and fundraised for me last year, so this race isn't only for me but for them as well, and to quit on myself would be quitting on everyone who believed in me.  I, in good conscience, could never, ever do that.

Truly-- the majority of my thoughts are consumed by this impending 26.2 mile marathon that I'm preparing to run.  While I'm not obsessing over the details, I'm obsessing over LIFE.  I feel like other runners may understand what I mean.  I evaluate my shoe choice each day depending on which gives me the most support and stability while walking-- my cute leopard flats have been momentarily retired.  When I'm walking through grass, I constantly watch for holes and slopes, knowing that one is just waiting for me, hidden in the grass, waiting to take me DOWN.  Every meal reflects back to which workout I have next, and every glass of wine is debated against how many miles await me the next morning.  

It is exhausting.

Adding to this whole shit show is the half marathon that I ran this weekend.  It was my first (race-- in training, I've run that distance time and time again), and I wish I could say that it was my last but I don't think it will be.  The course was in Boston and constant. hills.  (I believe I texted my good friend and fellow almost-NYCer afterwards to say "Those hills were a motherfucker," because YES.  Yes, they were.)  The start was downhill and fast, so I paced myself well for 5 miles, and then hit a turnaround point on the course where I looped and realized that I was nearing the end of the pack.  The majority of the runners were apparently much faster than I was, and even though I was pacing at a great pace for myself, I felt slow.  I also started to realize that all of those awesome crowds who were cheering for everyone early in the race?  Yea, they start to dissipate once the main group comes through.  So there I was, far enough behind the fast people and far enough ahead of the last crowd to be completely alone with my thoughts and self-doubt.

Even with my music, I was alone with my thoughts, and that's about the worst possible thing to happen to me during a race.  The more I let myself think, the more I doubted myself, what I was capable of, if i would finish, if I would get hurt.  The miles crawled by, with the only interaction with anyone being at water stops.  I had to pee so unbelievably badly was quickly becoming dehydrated, so I stopped at along the way for a bathroom break.  At that point, I was TOO dehydrated, so every Gu Chomp and sip of water felt like waves in my stomach, pushing me to complete nausea with every bouncing step.  

When I got to Brian at Mile 9, I was just not in a good place.  I started sipping Gatorade, which I never drink, which only made me feel more sick.  At that point, I just wanted to finish and go home.  I knew all of my time goals were way past feasible, and my left foot was starting to twinge.  As I came up on Mile 11, something pulled on the outside of my left foot, and I slowed to a walk.  Walking uphill, around curves, on dirt trails... it was never ending.  I started to powerwalk to my music, just to keep up a decent pace and test my foot to see if it was okay.  I wasn't collapsing, so I figured I must be reasonably fine.  I made it to Mile 12 and lined up with the sweetest girl named Aileen.  As we both swore and cursed the race and the fact that we were running through a zoo at that point, we agreed to push each other to the finish.  When she'd stop, I'd push her and vice versa.  There was a note in the race handbook that only people who finished in under 2:30 would get a medal.  Aileen was upset because she had fundraised and ran the race for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in honor of her sister, who has leukemia.  She said that she had really wanted to run and get a medal to give to her sister, but that her boyfriend, who had also run (very quickly, I might add), would give his to her sister if she didn't get one.

The last bit of the race finishes on the track of a stadium and we joked as we rounded the last corner that there's a reason why we never ran track in school.  The announcer said my name and which town I was from ,and I crossed the finish with a smile, with Aileen following close behind.  As we walked towards the track exit I saw groups of volunteers still handing out medals and pointed them out to Aileen-- I have never seen someone so, so happy.  She took her medal and gave me the biggest hug and told her boyfriend, who was waiting past the finish line for her, that I had pushed her through and to not stop.  I can't lie-- as awful as I felt and as angry at myself as I was for how the race had turned out, that felt pretty good to hear.  

I found Brian and the fab Caitlin and her boyfriend Andrew, who had come to cheer me on (and jog with me at one point!) and promptly collapsed on the ground.  It was a long and tortured downhill walk back to the train, and then a long drive home.  After a long shower, a delish lunch and a change into yoga pants, I retired to the couch with pumpkin beer for the rest of the day.  

Today, two days later, I'm hobbling around.  My knees keep catching, my quads are on fire, and if I had to move anywhere quickly, I would surely be left behind to die because moving fast isn't happening.  I may have shed a tear walking down the stairs this morning.  And yes, in the back of my mind, I cannot stop thinking about the fact that 19 days from now I run twice that distance.  I keep telling myself that I haven't trained for hills like this course since NYC isn't hilly-- yes, there are bridges and then hills in Central Park, but for the most part, the course is generally flat.  I'm coming up with my little plan for the marathon and know at this point, I'll do the best that I can.  I'm resting my foot, icing, and running easy runs for the next three weeks.  I can only prep my body so much at this point, and while I want to RUN this marathon, I'm also going in with a completely different mindset from last year.

This is probably the one time that I will ever run the New York City Marathon.  While I want to try my best, I also want to enjoy and soak in every single moment of the day.  From catching the bus to Staten Island to waiting in Runners Village with Meridith, to hearing "New York, New York" play at the starting line.  I want to remember the signs and the cheering people and all of the daydrinkers who come out to support the thousands and thousands of runners.  I want to capture that moment as I come off of the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan and it's a "tunnel of sound," giving me a much-needed push at Mile 16.  I want to stop and hug my family and friends as I see them along the way and not rush past them as if I'm too busy to stop for 2 seconds.  I want to never forget the day, and I'm going to enjoy it as much as I possibly can.

I just ran my first half and have my first full right around the corner-- go big or go home, right?

Legit case of the Mondays.

You know you're in for a bumpy Monday when you pull into your office parking lot and there are only 2-3 cars parked.  Brian's office moved back to downtown Boston today, so he has to be at the train 15-ish minutes earlier than usual, which put me at my building 15 minutes early.  So as I rolled in today, armed with my large iced coffee and a lot of hope that today will fly by, I notice that the parking lot looks peculiarly... empty.  Most noticeably missing were the cars belonging to those who occupy our little executive wing, so the head honchos were MIA.  

My first thoughts, of course, went to the possibility that there was no work today.

"Is it a holiday?  Isn't Columbus Day in October?"

I monitor our office holidays PRETTY DARN CLOSELY, so I had to scratch that one.

"I know-- it's an off day because the end of the third quarter was last week.  Things were crazy, people were traveling back and forth across the country.  Yes, that's it-- they gave us a free day off and I just didn't hear about it!"

As I pulled out my phone to look up barre classes that are open during the day and thought of the fun little fall craft that I'm working on at home and would be able to work on while watching Scandal in my yoga pants all afternoon... the CEO pulled in.  Right next to me.  With a wave and a smile, he headed into the building.

Wisdom for today: Mondays are bad enough, but when you're teased with the possibility of an unexpected free day and then it's RIPPED from your hands... you're probably going to need more coffee.

We had one of those lovely, unexpected weekends where we didn't HAVE to do a single thing.  I woke up early Saturday morning to get my run on (NYC Marathon = T-minus 27 days and counting!!) and whenever I felt like I was dying, I would stop and snap pictures.  I may hate running at times, but it never gets old running in Scituate along the water:

After stopping by the grocery store (and liquor store) for essentials and Dunks for my standard post-run reward (large iced caramel mocha with skim and 2 Splenda, por favor) on my way home, I pulled into our complex to this gorgemous sight:

Dear Fall in New England-- I will never stop loving you.  Ever.  Promise, hugs and kisses.

We proceeded to spend the remainder of the afternoon on the couch rotating around to the different college football games.  I found a surge of energy and deep-cleaned the apartment, then took the most pampering, long hot shower EVER.  Face mask and scrub, clarifying shampoo + deep conditioner... it was fantastic.  It was a date night IN night, so while I cooked, Brian mixed up Round 1 of cocktails that we're auditioning for our signature cocktail at our wedding reception!  Contender #1 was a delicious concoction of bourbon, apple cider and ginger beer, courtesy of The Tampopo Post (try it immediately; it is divine!).

(the website's pic, not ours.  love the apple garnish though!)

My routine on Sunday mornings is to sleep as late as possible (maybe 9am-- if my body could sleep longer, I would be a much happier person, promise) and then have alone time catching up on my DVR shows.  Yesterday was no different-- I made a cup of coffee, lit all of my fall candles, and settled onto the touch to watch the Bravermans and my good ole Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.  Brian ran errands by himself all day, so after finishing up a few little things to prep for the week, I decorated for fall/Halloween and hung out with Olivia Pope until he was home.  

Sometimes a girl just needs to decompress to the extreme, and I'm so glad that I made time for myself to do just that.  Alright, lovelies-- back to the battlefield.  Fingers crossed that today flies by for you, too!

Five on Friday!!

{one} fall, sweet fall
Autumn has finally arrived in Boston and I could not be any happier!  This pale skin was MADE for riding boots and sweaters, so it's been wonderful to slowly but surely pack away the sundresses and bring out the long sleeves and leggings.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to decorate for Halloween that weekend-- couldn't do it.  Nope, this girl needed to wait until October 1st struck to justify decking the apartment out for the fall, so this weekend IT IS ON.  I also consider this as the clear zone to watch Hocus Pocus and get excited about it.  It was airing on the TV last month and I just felt like I would be doing wrong to Wini, Sarah and Mary to watch it before the month of October.

{two} It's handled. 
I have officially jumped on the Scandal bandwagon and have no plans of ever looking back to a world without Olivia Pope.   Basically, I not only want to be a gladiator in a suit, but I also want to beg/borrow/steal Ms. Pope's AMAZING wardrobe.  The woman can rock a power suit like nobody's business, all while ruling D.C. in platform pumps.  I find myself alternating between wanting to cry and cheer her on at nearly ever episode.  I'm halfway through Season 2 on Netflix and am avoiding the TV (and the temptation of our DVR) like the plague right now so I don't hear or see any spoilers!  Also?  I totally dress JUST LIKE THIS when I have wine on girls night in with myself.

{three} Old Navy for the win!
I've picked up a few fall essentials from Old Navy recently and I cannot lie-- they're on their A-game lately!  Clothes can be very hit-or-miss for me there, but after placing a little order to test the waters, my few new fall favorites have left me majorly impressed! 

Adorbs, right?  The dress is perfect for work, as is the navy sweater, and I just can't get past the cuteness of that fox (my namesake) in glasses.  Lurve it!

{four} stay-in saturday... and sunday 
This weekend will pretty much be the first (and last) weekend for awhile where we don't have anything planned, other than my 20 mile training run tomorrow morning.  We have big unplanned plans to potentially go apple-picking, watch lots and lots of football while eating yummy football snacks, start testing potential drinks for our signature cocktail at the wedding, and catch up on all of our DVR shows.  I plan to spend 85% of the weekend in yoga pants, on the couch with wine and my man, and I could not be more excited about it!

{five} camille.
These gorgemous lovelies just made their way into my shopping cart at Crate & Barrel.  Apparently it's the wine glass that Olivia Pope drinks from on Scandal.  I shall cheers her from the couch in style, y'all!  Treat yo self to the Camille Red Wine Glass-- perfection!