Changing My Story: Running After 10 Years Off

I participated in track for three years in high school. I choose to say “participated” as opposed to competed/ran/did, because that’s exactly what the experience felt like.

That wording has to do with one of the main stories I’ve been telling myself my entire life, especially now when I tell people where I work and why I love sports. I’ve repeated it so much, out loud but mostly in my head, that I’ve convinced myself it’s true and will be true forever.

I’m not athletic.

It’s not a death sentence. It’s not the worst thing to be. It’s just something that I wish I wasn’t.

Here’s the way I tell the story…I say it’s funny I love sports so much, because I’m the most unathletic person, and it’s all part of a giant inferiority complex I carry. I find athletes and their pursuits – dedication, overcoming adversity, sheer talent, graceful/inexplicable movement, creativity, attitude under pressure – very inspiring, and yet so out of my own realm of possibility.

Even in those years of track, when I challenged myself physically and mentally more than I ever have, at times I felt horrifically out of place. If it wasn’t for the incredible teammates and friendships I developed, I’d have quit very early in my first season. But that’s not how sports work, not when you have a great coach and people supporting you and when you figure out, at 17 years old, that being part of something bigger than yourself is pretty fucking great.

After those three years, I spent my senior year on the sideline after having knee surgery. Since then, over the past ten years of my life, I’ve gone through phases of physical activity. Gym four days a week, no gym at all, ballroom dance classes, walking everywhere and getting lost in London, sneakily gaining 30 pounds in college, losing it without really trying over the course of five years after college.

Which brings me up to now, a place where my diet and food choices are something I take pride in. I cook a lot, drink green smoothies, and am fueled by delicious, simple, wholesome food (and iced coffee and blueberries, depending on what day it is). The downside of this is my body has adjusted to this lifestyle, where if it’s not fueled properly – i.e. with pizza, too much popcorn, 11pm coffee and truffles, as it was yesterday – I pay for it, in not being able to sleep, heartburn and stomach cramps. This is the path I have chosen.

The fitness piece of my lifestyle is something I am ready to tackle. I have the fuel part nailed down, now I’m ready to drive.

And I’m ready to change my story. The “I’m not athletic” story. I’m spending the next six-ish months in Nicole Antoinette’s From 0-13.1 training program, learning to run again, proving to myself I can do something really physically demanding, and hopefully staying out of Stupid-Fucking-Injury-Land (Nicole’s phrase, not mine). There will be days where I am the hottest of hot messes, and there will be days I look fresh as a damn daisy because I just ran outdoors and DIDN’T HATE IT. I imagine it will be eye-opening, sweaty, emotional, painful, and an incredible test of my own discipline, but so completely worth it. I’l be sure to chronicle much of my running journey here, because even just signing up and reading through the training materials has me all sorts of inspired (and I haven’t done for a run yet).

Why? Because of my story. If it’s true, then whatever – it shouldn’t keep me from pursuing a life of movement and dance and adventure, as unathletic as it may appear, because no one really cares anyway.

But, if I find out it’s NOT true – if I complete Nicole’s half marathon training and a sprint triathlon in September and want to keep being athletic (!!!) – then damn. I’ll have some new stories to tell.

Time to Fly

I’ve been thinking and dreaming a lot lately. About my life and what I want it to look like. About tattoos and what I’d get if I got one. About what and why I write. About my body and soul and the stories I tell myself about them both.

All this to say, it’s been an eye-opening start to 2014, in the most lovely way.

My eyes have been opened by conversations. Long, deep ones in Mexico, over margaritas with your friend from preschool. Ones where you mostly listen, and still learn about yourself in the process. Smiley ones over incredible coffee in Brentwood, where you talk about your goals with a friend just as motivated as you are. Soul-baring ones in a yurt, with 13 strangers (not for long) who wind up being some of the strongest women you’ve ever met.

Through these myriad talks, I’ve gotten clear on a lot of things. My goals for the year. What I’d like my relationships to look like. How to love myself more and take care of myself. The over-arching theme of my year, as woo-wooey as that sounds. In the interest of being brave, specific and letting the universe know what that looks like…

I’d like to complete a sprint triathlon or some other fitness challenge.

I’d like to start a relationship (hey internet, how YOU doin’?).

I’d like to strengthen my family relationships, and move on from things that have happened in the past that kept these relationships from being all that they could be.

I’d like to start a new website that involves me going on a year-long adventure.

I am fully aware of how blessed I already am – with a job I love, great friends, family far and wide, and pretty good health. This year is all about, to use the words of NFL GMs leaving the NFL combine, maximizing my potential.

Overall, I just want to fly. Take big risks, let myself be free and uninhibited, clear of distraction. Staring down at the depth of failure, and taking off anyway, trusting that I can soar.

 

Five Sneaky-Awesome Things to be Grateful For

I am coming towards the end of six days off for the holiday (PRAISE SCHEDULE JESUS), and my Thanksgiving was pretty fantastic. There was tea with my mom, the traditional turkey dinner with copious amounts of football, potatoes and pie, an oyster roast, and a little bit of shopping. I have so much to be grateful for – my family, friends, job, my developing cooking skillz, my plans for next year. But there’s always more I can appreciate. So, inspired by the always-great Nicole, here are five sneaky-awesome things I’m grateful for this year:

1. Something Your Body Can Do: Yoga

Never do I feel more graceful, weirdly athletic and structured than while staring laser-eyed at my right hand in Warrior I. I always question if my surgically-repaired knees will hold up or be sore or just collapse, and yet every time, they feel strong. Something about going seamlessly from one pose to the next…TWSS. Moving on.

2. The People Who Help You Without Even Knowing It:

Chelsea Latimer, for her constantly gorgeous, uplifting, authentic, so-very-California Instagram

Doniree, for making me want to travel more (to Portland in particular), start drinking whiskey/scotch/bourbon, experiment with cooking, and write like I talk.

Nicole, for her honest, hilarious advice, recipes and unbridled enthusiasm.

My friends who are fellow native New Englanders, for being down-to-earth yet proud, loud when excited, and having absolutely zero tolerance for anything or anyone fake.

My sister, the funniest person in my life, my biggest fan and most boss lady I know.

3. Something That Has Changed in the Past Year: The Way I Eat, Yo (I don’t know why I added Yo to that, I’m just gonna go with it)

More meat. Less bread. More veggies. Less sugar. MOAR CHEESE (but not too much). In general, more of the good, real, simple things (whole milk in my coffee FTW) and less of not-real, science-helped-make-this things. I’m cooking more and eating out less, which makes me feel like this. The food I make just tastes better and feels better to eat. In correlation with this, I’ve been sleeping more when possible (sleep is a glorious priority, y’all) and drinking water throughout the day. An epic discovery that is not that epic because it’s so simple: I feel unstoppable when I’m rested, hydrated, and fueled properly. GO FIGURE.

4. A Sh*tty Experience that has Taught You Something About Yourself: Screwing Up at Work

[long sigh] I am not the work I do. I am not the work I do. I am not the work I do.

So freaking hard to come to terms with, especially when, like me, you’re so passionate about your profession. Screwing up stats, not meeting creative expectations, comparing my work to others – it’s a vicious cycle I’m sort of starting to break. I can’t let where I work define me, even though it is an enormous part of why I’m happy. I fear sometimes I’m just the girl who works at ESPN. NO. I AM A WHOLE, COMPLICATED PERSON, DAMN IT.

5. Something You Have Enough Of: Food and Coffee

Ah, see #3 above. I adore grocery shopping, and am grateful I have the means to do it the way I want to: frequently and with excitement. I’m at the Foursquare mayor at my local Trader Joe’s (can I put that on my resume?). It’s my happy place, finding deliciousness among chaos. Each morning, I’m grateful for the Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate to get my brain functioning. I’m grateful for the seasonal teas featuring the festive foxes/woodland creatures on boxes. I’m grateful for being introduced to brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potato gnocchi, sprouted grain bread, multigrain baguettes, and a litany of other things. Trader Joe, whoever you are, thank you for being you.

Something I’ve been doing this year (and I think I’ve done it everyday), is keeping an Evernote notebook and just typing in one cool thing I’m grateful for that day. I’d like to think I was a pretty grateful person before, but I definitely think I am more now. Thanks to Nicole for the inspiring this post.

Also – if you want more awesome from Nicole and want to kick 2014 in the face (in an aggressive, motivated, not-angry way), she’s having a Cyber Monday special on her 15-step bullsh*t-free goal-setting formula that runs until Friday. Just click the link and enter the code “EffYeah2014″ at checkout. I haven’t done the formula myself, but I will tell you the two things I’ve done with Nicole – Bloggers in Sin City and the 30-Day Sugar Detox – were two of the best life decisions I’ve ever made. So her work is legit. I’m not an affiliate, I just think she’s the balls and she’s helped me a lot, and maybe she can help you, too.

It’s Been A While…

I haven’t posted here in a few months. I’ve been feeling uninspired, somewhat overwhelmed by adulthood (run all the errands! Sign up for health insurance! Don’t forget to bring in the trash cans! And for god’s sake clean your makeup brushes!), and, if I’m being totally honest, lonely.

BUT.

As life always is, those sads have been complemented by extraordinary feelings of warmth, love and excitement. Behold some of the things I’ve done/signed up for in the past couple of months…wait, shit. The past 36 hours have been pretty fantastic. So let’s start there.

Booked a one-way ticket to Cancun (nonstop from Hartford for the oh-so-surprising win) to visit my lovely aunt.

Reserved a spot for my mom and I to go to Italy, in which we will eat all the pasta, see all the ruins the Amalfi Coast has to offer, and try not to die while hiking to said ruins. Also, ESPRESSO AND PIZZA FOR DAYS.

Just when I thought two countries was enough to visit next year, Ash Ambirge launches Life Hooky and announces its first retreat is to Costa Rica. God damn you Ambirge for making such a beautiful and enticing website that makes me swoon for more vacation time.

Cut a pretty damn awesome soccer highlight for SportsCenter. I’m a casual soccer fan, but when someone does something spectacular, I gets the excited. Cristiano Ronaldo did that yesterday when Portugal beat Sweden to advance to the World Cup. I think I was able to tell a pretty comprehensive, cool story with graphics, other assorted fanciness and the dulcet tones of Taylor Twellman, who basically lost his shit when Ronaldo scored his 3rd goal. What’s even better, though, is how Ronaldo’s hat trick sounded in his native language:

Portuguese is delightful.

I made a ridiculously cheesy Spotify playlist made mostly of current pop hits on the radio. It helps me believe that maybe, just maybe, pop music isn’t going to be entirely composed by robots in five years.

I started my Christmas shopping on Groupon, in bed.

Outside the last 36 hours, some other cool stuff happened…

My brother got married to a lovely, smart, funny lady. There was love, laughter, sunshine, cousin time, catching up with extended family, bottomless wine (seriously, no one knows how much wine they drank because the dutiful waiters would not let your glass be less than 2/3 full), Greek desserts, and so much happy. The day after the wedding, I crashed at the newly married couples house, while we all ate wedding cake and watched Killing Kennedy. I am so thrilled for my brother and thankful that he’s brought such a boss lady into the family.

I said yes to something that terrifies and excites me. [deep breath] I’m going to be a part of Elevate, a year-long journey with 13 other women from the US and Canada. We’ll be led and coached by the talented Molly Mahar, starting with a retreat in California, and finishing the year with a retreat in Seattle, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. Me applying and getting accepted was in itself therapeutic. Remember all those funky feelings I mentioned at the beginning? Those have been lingering for the past few months. I’m not very good at being vulnerable in real life, much less the internet, so yeah. Meeting fabulous women, getting clarity on my goals for 2014, making progress, and taking really great care of myself? YES PLZ.

Tomorrow (today, I guess…it’s now after 4am) is my first day off in nine days. I have no plans aside from doing laundry, cooking, and maybe going to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch football.

Maybe I’ll even go write some more.

Non-Football Reasons to Love College Football

Eff preseason football, because it’s meaningless and makes people take about the Jets too much.  Tonight is the beginning of college football season, the end of a long, tiresome, drawn-out drought of meaningful pigskin. I enjoy the NFL more, but there’s so many special things and stories college football consistently brings to the table. Before kickoff tonight, here are some of my favorite things I’ve read and seen, and you don’t even have to like football to appreciate them.

An absolutely exquisite story on Vanderbilt’s offensive line coach, who nearly died in 2006, and the story of how he was saved makes beautiful sense. The writer, Spencer Hall, is both gifted and hilarious. Continue reading

Vivir Mi Vida

It was a random Tuesday night, and all I wanted to do was dance. Like, shimmy my hips, move my feet side-to-side, flail my arms with reckless abandon, and, just in general, shake it fast.

And so off I drove, 25 minutes to my local pole and fitness studio. For the first time in months, I Zumbaed (is that a verb? If it wasn’t, it is now), and I heard a fantastic song I couldn’t stop playing through my head on the way home. It was in Spanish, so I could vaguely make out some of the words in the chorus, and it sounded a lot like Marc Anthony.

I get home, open up Spotify, and sure enough, the 1st result is a song called “Vivir Mi Vida,” and apparently it’s kind of a big deal on the salsa charts these days. The truth is, I’m starting to get tired of the song itself, but the translation of the lyrics is quite lovely.

Voy a vivir el momento
para entender el destino
Voy a escuchar en silencio
para encontrar el camino
I’m gonna live in the moment
to understand the fate
I’m gonna listen in silence
to find the way
I’ve been trying to listen to myself more lately. I don’t have to been DOING SOMETHING with every free moment. Five minutes, just sitting in thought, can provide remarkable clarity. It allows your mind to wander, and it might not be to a pleasant place, but quiet brings things to the surface. You’re allowed to FEEL ALL THE THINGS.

Y para qué llorar, ¿Pa’ qué?
Si duele una pena, se olvida
Y para qué sufrir, ¿Pa’ qué?
Si así es la vida, hay que vivirla
And why cry, for what?
If it hurts bad, forget it
And why suffer, for what?
If life is like this, you must live it
I don’t totally agree with this part. You cry because you’re sad, and it hurts because it just does. I’M SORRY YOUR LIFE IS SO GREAT AND YOU DON’T HAVE ANY FEELINGS, MARC. JK, I’m sure Marc has plenty of first-world problems and other things to worry about. The point is to move on and continue living despite suffering and all that jazz.

Siente y baila y goza,
que la vida es una sola
Voy a reír, voy a bailar
Vive, sigue, siempre pa’lante,
no mires pa’ atrás
Feel and dance and enjoy,
you only live once
I’m gonna laugh, I’m gonna dance
Live, always keep moving forward
Don’t look back
La vida es una sola. You only live once. You now know how to say YOLO in Spanish. You’re welcome.

Aside from the fact I’m now considering getting “La vida es una sola” tattooed on my wrist, listening to this album on repeat has reinvigorated my love for Spanish. I love how it sounds, how it flows seamlessly from one word to the next, and I miss being able to roll my “r”s without an explanation.

So, sometime in 2014, I plan on going to Costa Rica for a week, probably here, and just YOLO’ing so hard. I can’t wait. If any of y’all want to come, and I am dead serious about this, let’s discuss, preferably via Skype with cervezas in hand.

What are your favorite phrases in another language? My sister, who’s currently celebrating her birthday in Brazil (talk about YOLO), taught me how to say “GET UP OUT OF MY GRILL” in Portuguese earlier this summer, but now I forget