Guest Post: Cait

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know I like to refer to myself as a runner, but my friend Cait is an actual, competitive, marathon runner. She inspires me to hit the pavement and keep going, even when my body disagrees and was kind enough to answer some questions about running and her passion for fitness with us.

Thanks, Cait!

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Can you give us some background as to why and how you started running?

When I was about 5 years old I started running the Town day road races with my family.  Soon after that it became a hobby that me and my dad did together.  We would do weekend runs together and Christmas morning was always a fun run.  Next I started my first team in elementary school, and the rest is history.

Why running?
Running is the easiest way to get a quick workout in and you only sneakers and an outfit, and if you need a watch.  Other than that its simple, you just go out your door and explore.
How do you prepare for runs? Whether it’s race day or just a casual jaunt?
Race day and a casual run are completely different preparations for me.  A causal run I just get dressed and go out my door. But a race preparation starts really when the entire training starts, hydration, nutrition and sleep. Typical day of prep would include a bagel with cream cheese a coffee and apple juice, and depending time 2 hours before I run I would have a power bar and some water. I additionally 1 hour before race time will start to stretch and warm up.
What have been your greatest achievements with running?
My greatest achievement would be finishing the Boston marathon, or should I say swimming! (A/N: It was pouring the day of the marathon this year!)
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What was running the marathon like, both physically and mentally?
Besides training your body to run for 4 hours, the hardest part was getting over the fact that you are in pain and you are tired.  If running a marathon was easy, everybody would do it.  It takes mental and physical strength that will push you past your limits, and you truly find out what your body is capable of.
Are there any negatives or downsides to running you’ve felt over the years?
I ran competitively for 12 years so there are deff some negatives.  Injury’s will pop up but you can bounce back, the biggest challenge i have faced would have to be the mental burn out. Over training is a common you can experience mental fatigue.
How was it being a collegiate athlete?
Being a collegiate is something I am so happy I was able to do.  I loved being able to compete and miss being able to toe the line and feel the adrenaline pumping.  I wish I could do it all over again.
How have you made the transition from collegiate athlete to casual runner (if you can call it that)?
Transitioning from a collegiate runner to a casual runner was a weird experience.  I didn’t know when to start running again after my break and so I ended up just starting to sign up for 5K’s and half marathons and then some how I got a number and ran the Boston Marathon.
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Any suggestions and advice to offer those who are looking to get into or improve their running?
One thing I would say is to be proud of yourself for getting out there, it is an amazing feeling when you suddenly feel yourself getting better. It is also a great stress reliever so that is a plus.
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Love Letter to Exercise

It was the summer before my senior year of college and I had no idea what to pursue in my professional life, but I knew I did not want to present myself to the world in my current condition. I was obese, self-conscious, and overwhelmed. Rather than sink further into this black hole, I decided to pull myself out of it.

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After work, every afternoon, I put in 15 minutes on the clunky elliptical we had in the basement. I blasted music and endured it. As the days and weeks passed, I started putting on episodes of favorite shows, like Friends and Golden Girls, and worked until the end. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the effort, the slick sweat and short of breath feelings grew addictive.

I could go for an hour, playing with speeds and intensities. I was losing weight and I felt good about myself for the first time ever. I was in complete control, pushing my body to limits I thought I would forever detest. My body craved more. After my elliptical session, I would do sets of jumping jacks and started lifting the light weights we had lounging around. By the end of the summer, I was more determined than I had ever been in my life and I knew I would keep going once I was back in school.

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At my college, there were two gyms- one in the main building of campus and the other in the basement of a dorm. I loved both, they became safe spaces of comfort. Lifting weights awakened my body in new ways. I’d feel sore the next day, but it was a result of achievement rather than a painful deterrent. I had no knowledge about how to lift weights, no idea what exercise worked what muscle group, I just tried what I saw other people in the gym doing, or what I read about online.

In these days, I racked up one-two hours every day at the gym. It’s not what I recommend for everyone, nor something that is doable for busy people, but it was my saving grace. Gone was the anxious girl who ate her emotions. I found my strength.

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February of that year, I decided to tackle the treadmill. Growing up, I loved playing sports, but I hated to run. I started at 30 minutes, walking for 4 minutes and running for 1 minute in 5 minute increments. By Red Sox opening day that year, I took my runs to the outdoor track down the street and was running 3-4 miles at a time. I was a runner- and that is not something I offer lightly. To this day, I am not quick or smooth or a model of running perfection by any means, but I can run for miles and I will never forget what that means to the girl in the summer of 2011.

By graduation, approximately one year later, I was 100 pounds down, exercising six days a week and maintaining much healthier (and happier) eating habits. I was sad to be leaving school, but I was excited to see what the future held. That is not to say that I didn’t struggle after. I’m still confused as to what to do in my professional life in many ways, but that is the product of living.

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But this journey that I continue on, allowed me to be okay with putting myself out into the world, to experience and experiment. I tried several different jobs and trusted my instincts enough to walk away from something that wasn’t right for me. I studied to become a personal trainer and help others who struggle like me or just need a little guidance and push. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams and listened to my heart when I knew it was time to come home to my family.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect. I eat too much, I have a lazy exercise day or choose to gasp- take two days off from the gym sometimes- but mostly, I’ve maintained these healthy habits. Eating is a large part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy life, but exercise was my gateway. Without it, I would not have the strength to endure, two of my favorite words.

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Exercise is my time. No matter what, I will always have that hour in my day that I take for myself. It doesn’t have to be a full hour, it doesn’t have to be a perfect mixture of cardio and strength training, and it doesn’t always have to be crushing and exhausting.

Embrace the messiness of fitness- the sweat, the confusion, the pain, the results. It does wondrous things for the body, physically and mentally.

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Let the Rain Come

Hello Monday and hello to you!

Once again, I can’t believe how fast the weekend flew by. I had a ton of fun in the sun and spent the majority of the weekend relaxing. It might be a rainy week ahead, but at least we’ll all be at work anyway.

My friend/client snapped this shot of me training her on Friday afternoon. We were laughing, but really I was trying to get her to stop talking long enough to actually exercise!

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Lunch was a BLT salad.

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That afternoon, this guy had his annual check-up. He’s doing great! I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since I adopted him. He’s the joy of my life.

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Later, I got to cuddle with the cutest baby I know, little Lily.

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On Saturday, I woke up and had a breakfast of an egg on toast with a sprinkling of cheese.

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It fueled me through a 2.25 mile run, including a massive hill at the end. Woo.

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My reward was an afternoon on the beach with my BFF!

It was a blast soaking up the sun and diving into waves. We headed into the city after for a drink and to walk around. It was such a lovely night outside and it was great walking around our old college neighborhood.

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Sunday morning included what I’m branding the BELT- bacon, egg, lettuce, and tomato. Delicious! We attended mass in the morning in honor of the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing.

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It was a nice moment to celebrate with family and we all went out to eat after.

That night, I went on a long walk with my parents, made these Skinnytaste bagels, and got some Sunday night things done.

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Anything great happen this weekend?

I’m Allergic to Apples But I Still Eat Them

A real daredevil I am…

My weekend started early Friday afternoon when I got off work and finished up a killer workout. I ate lunch and cuddled up on the couch watching old episodes of Will and Grace with this guy.

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That night, I went out to dinner with some work friends before heading to bed and preparing for another early morning at work.

Once I finished work on Saturday morning, my friend Stephanie picked me up to see our other college friends Erin and Katie. It’s been awhile since the four of us got together and we had a blast apple picking, laughing, and chatting.

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And eating apples… I’m slightly allergic, so I stuck to one and felt fine. Erin for the photobomb win!

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Even though it was not quite a fall day (hot!), we enjoyed being outside and snacked on apple cider donuts.

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That night, a few of us saw It, which was creepy and a little confusing, but fun! I’m ready for the Halloween season!

Sunday started like this.

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Kittens apparently do not have sense of personal space.

After grocery shopping with mom, I whipped up some french bread pizzas for a game day lunch.

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Both the Red Sox and Patriots had come-from-behind wins and though I’d prefer them just to do well from the beginning, those types of games are more exciting.

When the sun went down a bit and the air cooled, I headed to the track to fit in a 3-mile run. I started re-watching Big Little Lies because my mom hasn’t seen it yet and it’s still amazing.

Now we’re back to Monday- make it a great one to kick off this week!

Reflection Time

First of all, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my mama. She’s the best.

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On Friday, I realized it had been five years since I graduated college. This made me reflective and several pages in my journal is a testament to that. The truth is, the years don’t really matter, except that we can no longer count life in “school years.” I am no longer a super-senior of real life. I just am. And yet, I still have nightmares where I’m lost in high school and can’t find my classes, so what does that signify?

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When the picture above was taken, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had just lost a ton of weight, I was graduating with honors, and even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, I had a temporary summer job, and I figured I would figure it out. Five years later and I’ve held five different jobs, all for the better, lending to well-rounded life experiences and honing professional skills, and I keep telling myself that it’s important to figure out what you don’t want to do, as much as what you do want.

Life is not perfect or easy, but I have been blessed. There have been struggles and losses and hardships, but I’m choosing right now to focus on the good. Those top three, since graduating, include becoming a published writer, getting my personal training certification, and moving to LA- if only because I had been talking about it for five years, so it was move or shut up.

*My parents would probably like me to insert my Master’s degree into this list and while yes, this is an accomplishment, I have (un)gracefully retired from teaching and will never use the degree in the traditional sense. Call it an invisible fourth choice if you must.

I should also note that this blog is also five years old and I’ve been trying for five years to find a direction for it, but it’s been chaotic. Such is life.

Looking back at pictures of my friends, I found this gem.

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This was taken six years ago right before I started my weight loss journey. This girl is me, and yet, I do not recognize her. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t particularly enjoy looking in the mirror at this time. But, a few months after this was snapped, I did look at myself in the mirror, long and hard, and I discovered that I was worth more than I realized. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times. My relationship to myself did not better after I lost weight. I chose myself and saved myself because I liked myself, and it helped me find the strength to exercise, eat right, and be kinder to my body, mind, and soul.

It’s funny that I struck this particular pose because in just a few months, I would be employing that strength, both physically and mentally, and completely uprooting my life for the better.

This blurb was longer than I expected when I first started typing, but the only other matter of the weekend I’d like to discuss is that I saw Billy Joel at Dodger Stadium and it was awesome. I love him and I’m not sorry for it.

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Also, Dodger Stadium looks strange without that large looming wall in left field. Just sayin..

My Washer/Dryer Is Trying to Kill Me, Among Other Things

It took exactly two weeks, but I’m happy to be back in the world of employment! A start to chasing those dreams.

On a side note, my washer/dryer is trying to kill me.

I know I’m lucky  to have a washer/dryer (it’s an all-in-one machine, which is strange in itself to this suburbia kid!), but the machine promises “quiet” and “effective” and all I hear are confusing, loud banging noises and it takes hours. I  have to leave my clothes in for a slow dry if I want them to dry at all. Ah, the markings of being an apartment renter! This isn’t Kansas anymore, kid! (But also, I’m thankful for not having grown up in Kansas, not that there’s anything wrong with it per say, but- I’m losing focus).

In summary, the washer/dryer is freaking loud and I think it is trying to kill me.

So how about Tuesday?

Things got moving early (and by early, I mean a lot of people would side-eye me for that comment if they knew what time I awoke) around here. After hopping in the shower, I enjoyed breakfast.

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After spending the morning running around town, and by town, I mean Hollywood, I came home ready for lunch! Thank goodness for meal prep! Quinoa, black beans, corn, broccoli, orange pepper, and soyaki! A side of hummus and chips complemented flavors nicely.

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Dinner was out with a classmate of mine from college who just happened to move to LA about a month before me. I can’t tell you how great it was to see a friendly, familiar face, especially one who is facing the same challenges and positives as me! For food, I had a cup of yummy chicken tortilla soup and a side of brussels sprout and bacon mash. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with that dish, but it was just mashed potatoes with some chunks of sprouts and bacon. With cheese!

For a workout, I got things moving with a bicep, back, and core workout and finished with twenty minutes on the spin bike.

I’m feeling good! How ’bout you?

 

Wednesday Friend Day

Pictures on this gorgeous Wednesday afternoon include this stylistic sky shot of blissful blue:

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And a shoddy nail job:

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I’m blaming the sticky nail polish on this one!

Apparently today is National Best Friends Day, which means I have to honor these people in some way. Hmm.

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I had to throw it back to before the blonde hair, so methinks it’s time to get a new picture, ladies! Happy National BFF Day. I guess you’re cool.

On another note, today I started with a workout focused on the shoulders and ending with a run because it is seriously super nice out! I also met up with my friend Alison for lunch and now I’m typing away in the backyard, soaking up the rays before work!

Go hug your best friend, or at least shoot them a text.