Training for Tuesday: All Because I Took That Extra, Little Step

Every few months I pop in to say something about how if I can do this, anyone can do this, and maybe you find that inspirational or maybe it's just annoying but for those of you in the former camp, today I'm laying out exactly how I got from zero - that's 0, zilch, nada, seriously can't stress the nothingness enough - to the half Ironman that I am today, 4.5 years after beginning my running journey. I don't write running posts because I consider myself a running expert who has a lot of insightful advice to share; I do it because I genuinely love sharing my story (and getting to know others' in return). I never want anyone reading to get the wrong impression and think that just because I run marathons and triathlons now, I've always run them. Or been able to run them. Five-years-ago me is hysterically laughing at that thought. I always strive to do that as candidly as possible so today I thought I would keep it simple by explaining exactly how I got from point A to point B...and what the next point on my roadmap might be. 
via @Nike

How My Late 20s Are Better Than My Early 20s

I turned 28 last month and have now entered into what is, solidly, my late 20s. You know, because if 25 on the nose is mid-twenties, you can ride that pretty easily into 26 and even into 27 before being booted out of the mid-twenties camp. At twenty-eight, though, you're officially outside the mid-20s circle; if you haven't embraced the late 20s yet, the 28th anniversary of your birth is about the time you have to do that.

Getting older has never bothered me. Since I have an October birthday I was always one of the youngest kids in my grade in school, so birthdays were a welcomed chance to catch up to my peers' age - even if it was only for a few months. And as an adult I've continued to be a little ahead of the curve, making big life decisions before most other people I know, so birthdays have continued to be celebrations of finally having my numerical age match (or at least get closer to) the age I feel.

Until my 28th birthday. Prior to October 2 of this year, there was not a day in my life I ever felt old. But when I woke up on my birthday, that feeling hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't know what it was that made this birthday so different, but I couldn't stop thinking about all the things that teenage or early 20s me would have thought that late 20s me would have done by now. My life has always had a fairly predictable trajectory and I think younger me would be, at the very least, surprised at how things have turned out.

In my early 20s, I checked off a lot of items on the To-Do list of life: I graduated from college (20) and from graduate school (21); I got my first real job and started my career (22); I got engaged (21) and married (22); I bought a new car (22) and a house (23). As a newly-minted adult heading into the Real World, I did all the things the world around me told me that adults do. I did them not only because I felt like I should, but because I wanted to. After spending my life relying on my parents, it felt good to be out on my own and establishing my own life. It was fun to have a steady paycheck and to be able to spend it decorating a home I owned with a person to whom I had pledged to spend my life.

But when I was 25, the age by which I always assumed I'd be nicely settling into a career with maybe even a kid or two at home, my life got turned upside down. I use the passive voice rather than active, as if something happened to me rather, but in reality, I made a choice. I decided to leave my job and go back to school for another career. But truthfully, even though it was ultimately my decision, it didn't feel like I had much of a choice. Something in me shifted and I couldn't stay on the path I had planned.

So now that I'm old, as we've established, and my life is markedly different than I ever thought it would be, I've realized that these years when I thought would be stable and easy, they've actually been anything but. But you know what? They've been my best years yet. How is that possible? Well, it's like this:

Hiking Hollywood: An LA MUST-Do

When Ben and I went to California in August, we ventured down from San Francisco to Los Angeles for a few days. Aside from seeing baseball games at Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium, we weren't particularly excited about anything else LA had to offer. If it weren't for LA having two Major League Baseball teams (and Ben's and my goal to hit up every park), I can honestly say I don't think either of us would have voluntarily visited. We had no interest in going to Hollywood (although we did end up having breakfast at Sunset and Vine, walking a couple blocks of the Walk of Fame, and then driving down Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive on our way out of town, which was plenty) so we weren't exactly sure how to spend our limited time in between ballgames.

2 Years With 1 Car

Long before we started watching tiny house documentaries or knew that Mininalism was a proper noun, Ben and I took our first big leap in simplifying our life by getting rid of one of our biggest and most costly possessions: Ben's car.

Becoming a 1-car family was something we had talked about for a while, but, like most people, it just wasn't feasible. I had a 25-minute commute in one direction while he had a 10-minute commute in the opposite direction, and our schedules were too far off from each other to make carpooling feasible. The public transportation in our area left a lot to be desired, so that wasn't an option either unless one of us was willing to significantly extend time spent commuting. 

Double Race Weekend: City of Oaks Old Reliable 10k Recap

After I finished running and partying at the Wicked 10k, I took a shower and jumped in the car to head to Raleigh, NC for my second race of the weekend: the City of Oaks Old Reliable 10k. I've run the City of Oaks half marathon twice now and have loved it. I probably would have passed on this this year's race though, what with B2B two weeks prior and Wicked the day before, except that I had a very special friend running her FIRST FULL MARATHON and I wouldn't have missed that for anything! I did briefly considered running the half but ultimately decided on the 10k - luckily all three distances offered start at the same time, which meant I could hang with Alyssa for 5 miles before sending her off to finish the rest of her marathon! And after I talked to Lisa a couple weeks before the race and she confirmed that she was planning to run the 10k too, it was pretty much a no-brainer.

City of Oaks has no race morning packet pickup, which meant I had to make it to the expo before it closed on Saturday. I knew I wasn't going to have a ton of time to spare, but left with enough time to make it an hour before the expo closed. Then I had to stop 3 times on the drive there to pee and my ETA kept getting later and later until I finally arrived with 30 minutes until the expo closed. I ran in and went straight to the bulletin board where all the names and bib numbers were listed and...I didn't see my name.

I didn't see my name! What? My last name is hyphenated and I usually just go by the second one for simplicity's sake, but I checked the first one too just in case I had registered under that name? I felt a wave of relief when I saw that name on the list, but was almost instantly deflated when I noticed the age listed for that name was 31, not 28. I figured it could have been a glitch, but I really didn't think it was me (it's a fairly common name). I went over to the registration table to ask if they had any other identifying info (like a city or something) to help me figure it out, but that bib had already been picked up so nope, just someone else with my name. I looked through my emails to see if I could find a confirmation email from when I signed up but nope, nada. I distinctly remember being on the registration site so I suppose it's possible that either it didn't go through for technical reasons, or I did something wrong. My supposed registration date was 2 weeks before Beach2Battleship, so it's entirely possible that the latter happened. I was thankfully able to register on site about 15 minutes before the expo closed, so eventually I was able to get on my way!

Double Race Weekend: Wicked 10k Recap

This wasn't a weekend to update my PR board, but any weekend when I can update my list of completed races is a good one! I realized after the fact that it was a pseudo personal record in that, although I've done a race challenge once before (with an 8k on Saturday and marathon on Sunday), this was the first time I've run 2 totally different races in the same weekend in 2 different cities (in 2 different states at that!). Who says I can't have new experiences even with almost 60 races under my belt?

Just so we're all clear here, I should just go ahead and tell you that Wicked is my FAVORITE race of the year. Except you wouldn't know that if you were Alyssa or Lisa because when they asked me on Saturday night how it was I blandly said, "It was fun." (sorry for the lack of enthusiasm at the time but I just wasn't feeling very well!). But anyway, I love the time of year and the Halloween theme and the post-race beach party and literally everything about it from start to finish. It's put on by J&A Racing, who host several races from 5k to full marathon throughout the year. If you find yourself in the Virginia Beach area or are looking for a racecation, I can't say enough good things about these events! Wicked was my first 10k in 2011 and I've made it a point to come back every year since (same for their other big race, Shamrock weekend in March).