Stop Beating Yourself Up. You’re Amazing!

After talking with quite a few people following my race recap post, the main comment I received was ‘stop beating yourself up, you are amazing!’

And you know what? I am.

There are millions of people who live in and around Washington, D.C. Many who probably claim to be runners. But, how many people signed up for the Leesburg 20K? A little over six hundred.

And I was one of them. And I finished.

I finished a race most people wouldn’t have even put on their radar. I finished a race that most people ask me ‘why do you even want to run that far?’

Because its special. It makes me feel special.

Not a lot of people tackle races longer than a 10K. Those who do usually reach for a ten miler, maybe a half marathon when they think they are ready.

And even then the amount of people who attempt and finish those races is a significantly smaller pool than the masses who do 5K and 10K.

If running long distances was easy, everyone would do it. It is hard. It takes a lot of time to train and prepare for this. It’s taxing on your body and your emotions and even your relationships. This takes time and effort (unless you have Forrest Gump abilities).

So instead of beating myself up over being on the slower side of the curve, I want to celebrate the fact that I am doing this. I am running distances I never imagined were possible for me and I am finishing races.

Slow and steady isn’t something for me to be ashamed of, it is something for me to celebrate.

I feel like in my race recap I came off a little snarky with my finishers medal graphic.

So, instead of hating on myself for not being a faster, more seasoned runner. I think its necessary for me to celebrate the fact that I finished that race in a respectable pace. I was slow and steady, like the tortoise, but I finished and am proud of that.

When you start to feel down about how you performed in a race or a training run, remember that you stuck with it. You are special because you’re doing something that not a lot of others consider doing. You may be slow and steady but you’re winning the race.

And you deserve an award.

So, stop beating yourself up. You’re amazing!

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Guest Post: From a Half to an Ultramarathon

Seriously. I really did just go there.

Today’s post comes from one of my best friends, Kristen. She is a simple, 25 year old who isn’t passionate about much besides cats, Christmas, craft beer, Disney, food, and running! (And some might say making alphabetical lists!) When she’s not pounding the pavement with me, you can find her at Dogfish Head or at home with her cat attempting to cook. I wish I was joking. 

She has been my biggest influence in running and I could not thank her more. She is patient when I am moving ridiculously slow and when I want to walk. She encourages me to keep pushing, to keep moving, and to sign up for more races than I can count. I remember when I saw on Facebook that she had completed her first half marathon and thinking there was zero chance I would ever be able to do that. Little did I know that her finishing a half marathon would inspire me to compete in my own.

A big hello to Sarah’s readers! I was seriously stoked when she asked me to write a guest post! My first thought was, yes, someone is *finally* asking me to talk about my love of running instead of just putting up with it (hi mom…and my coworkers…)

If you told each one of my gym teachers spanning from kindergarten to high school that I’ve just finished an ultramarathon, they’d collectively blink their eyes, look at you in disbelief, and insist you have the wrong person. “Kristen isn’t a runner,” they’d say. “The furthest we’ve seen her run is from the gymnasium to the school buses to go home.” The girl who feigned mysterious stomach aches, her period, chicken pox (without the rash, of course), ebola, mad cow disease, and any other off-the-wall illness to get her out of running the dreaded mile around that quarter-mile track, is now the girl who runs marathons. What?!

In May 2011, one of my best friends and I were so stressed out at work, so we said screw it, let’s run a half marathon. I had never run more than a mile before this point (and begrudgingly at that). For the record, I do not recommend this approach! Despite the lack of training (and my giant Chipotle feast a mere three hours before the start gun), we finished the race in 3:10:09, which is nearly a 15-minute per mile pace. Even after three-hours-ten-minutes-and-nine-seconds of straight huffing, puffing, and death crawling to the finish line, I was willing to do another race just to prove I could do it and wasn’t a fluke.

I immediately signed up for the Disney World Half Marathon to be held in January 2012 and the DC Rock n Roll Half Marathon to be held on St. Patty’s Day (And yes, green beer was served at the finish line!) I trained intermittently, but not seriously for these events and was able to finish the DC Half in 02:32:43, a 37ish-minute improvement over my first time. Not bad. *Now* I was hooked. Despite salty sweat stinging your eyes, shivers, hunger pains, and cramps and aches all throughout your body, nothing can touch the feeling of accomplishment you get after crossing that finish line.

My race day gear!

Running through Cinderella’s Castle at Mile 6 and a Post-race Mickey bar

I ran a few half marathons after that (including re-running my first ever race exactly a year later in May 2012 and coming in 42ish-minutes faster at 2:28:35!) I also completed my first marathon. Barely. However, thanks to that addicting feeling of accomplishment, adrenaline, and major life stressors such as a new job, new apartment, and nasty breakup, I truly committed myself to running. What better way to demonstrate this commitment than by signing up for an ultramarathon. In the desert. At midnight. Under a full moon. At an elevation of 6,000 feet. Right outside the ominous and mysterious Area 51. Done!

Cheesin’ in the elevator at my hotel. Ready to do this thang!

At the “Black Mailbox” before the start!

Fast forward to August 5th after a spring and summer of training, and I’m toeing the sandy, desert-y start line of the Extraterrestrial Area 51 Midnight Marathon and 51k. Oh crap. We had just made the 2.5 hour trek from Las Vegas to Rachel, Nevada and everyone was pumped! It’s midnight under a full moon with clear skies and stars for miles when the race director yells “Go!” Quite a humble start with zero pomp and circumstance. Just a sea of runners with their headlamps, glow bracelets, reflective tape, and Camelbaks.

Days earlier, I had met up with an incredibly nice group of fellow runners online where we decided to follow the Jeff Galloway method of running and do 2:1 splits. (This means two minutes of running for every 1 minute of walking. This would give us an 11-minute per mile pace. Totally respectable for a midnight marathon held at high elevations!)

Our fearless leader, Dave, hit the lap button on his watch and off we went, exchanging nervous glances and hooting into the night! We were ready to conquer this:

Source

After only a mile had passed, I naively yelled out, “This is so much fun!” Laura, another member of our 2:1 clan replied, “Let’s see what you say at Mile 26.” But see, it *was* so much fun. Despite the almost literally neverending hill, cramps, elevation, and night sky, I was happy. The girl sitting in the nurse’s office with a fake stomachache during gym class was running an ultramarathon­ and actually holding her own!

As we slowly took down the miles, we began to gain and gradually lose members. People would stick with us for awhile, but would eventually fall back and walk. Dave and I stuck together the whole time, running most of the 13.1 miles up to the halfway point. Along the way we spotted cows, heard coyotes, gazed at countless shooting stars and rocky canyons, and talked about our families, cats, and post-marathon dining (and drinking!) traditions. Why run if you can’t eat?

At Mile 20, we started to approach the finish line at the Little A’Le’ Inn. (Literally the only business in a town of 54 as of 2010). But before we could cross that line, the marathoners had to run 3 miles past and 3 miles back, and ultramarthons would run 6 past and 6 back. Ouch. I held it together until about Mile 26 and then started walking. My aching legs just couldn’t keep up with the 2:1 splits anymore.

But then around 5:30am, the sun started to rise over the canyons and rocks and for the first time, I could see the road ahead of me. Incredible! I got a jolt of energy and was able to run a little more, enough to get me over the finish line.

Scenery from the race!

Mile 30. 1.67 to go!

I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face at 7:39am. 31.67 miles in seven hours and thirty-nine minutes for a 14-something minute per mile. Ouch.

Crossing the finish line!!

Iconic!

As I was beating myself up, I realized several things:

1- I had run 13.1 miles straight uphill. I could now tell people I ran an entire uphill half marathon!

2- I had PR’d at the marathon distance. My previous time was 6 hours; I was at the marathon point for this one in 5:50.

3- I ran all night. Literally. And had been up for nearly 27 hours by the time the buses brought us back to Vegas.

4- I didn’t get attacked by a rattlesnake or abducted by an alien. I win!

After arriving back in Vegas, I took a cold shower (it’s good for your muscles!), assessed my wounds, ate a miraculous Kind bar (oh, that is a post for another day!), finished the last few chapters of Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run,” and slowly drifted off to sleep. For the first time in a long time, I finally felt like myself again. I might have started the summer running away from something (everything!), but had now run my way to irrevocable happiness. From now on, as long as I have my sneakers, I know I’ll be able to confidentially outrun whatever life throws my way.

My two new favorite things…

The Kristen I knew ate McDonald’s or Taco Bell everyday for lunch. Funny enough, she still does this quite often. And she is an ultramarathoner. Wow! 

I am so lucky that she chooses to run alongside me. 

Who inspired you begin running? How so? Do you know anyone that has completed an ultramarthon? Which one? What were their thoughts? Let’s discuss!

DIY: Ribbon Wall

 

So, it’s been a little while since I’ve provided a tutorial. Now that the wedding is way past over (sorry guys, running is all I can think about!), I feel like I should post a little more about the details that went into making it look the way it did. I knew I was a DIY bride from the beginning, but I can’t even count the hours that Chris and I spent tackling projects to provide the perfect reflection of us (thanks Pinterest …). Yes, I did just mention that the man in my life helped me craft. Totally a keeper!

I refrained from posting other tutorials during the planning process, besides the lace mason jar tutorial, because I didn’t want to reveal too much. I wanted to make sure that people would be wowed when they entered the venue and I couldn’t be sure of that had I shared it with the blogosphere. Especially since I like to share Passion & Laughter with the lovely people in my life, I decided it was better to keep my mouth shut til after the festivities.

Let me also just mention that I am the worst person ever at keeping my mouth shut. Even more so when I am SO excited about it. And if its about me. I was bursting at the seams waiting to divulge to anyone who would listen. When people asked about the wedding, I’d be all ‘RIBBON WALLLL’ and they would stare back at me like I’m a weirdo because I was going crazy over ribbon. The next question would always be “well, whats a ribbon wall?” And then I’d just be like “Wait and see!”

This ribbon wall was the crown jewel of my wedding projects.

Important to note that this is totally workable to suit your needs. Adjust when necessary and share yours with me! Chris and I used ours for a backdrop for the ceremony. We we’re lucky and had the structure (featured above) to base our measurements on. Seriously, we went there in January when it was freezing and measured so we were one hundred percent sure! I needed to do this though because on the off-chance our ceremony was moved indoors, it had to be able to fit into two different structures. Also, Chris is 6’4″ so the ribbons needed to fall to a certain length or it would’ve looked weird. We chose 6″. The measurements of the structure were 7.8″ all around.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get down to business!

DIY: Ribbon Wall

Supplies needed:

Ribbon (varying width, textures, colors, patterns)

Fabric scissors

3 – 1 1/2 in x 10 ft PVC pipe

1 -1 1/2 in x 2 ft PVC pipe

2 – 1 1/2 PVC pipe T joints

2 – 1 1/2 PVC pipe 90 degree joints

4 – 1 1/2 PVC pipe caps

1 small bottle of fabric glue

Spray paint (we chose white)

Diamond dust spray paint (glitter!)

Power sander or sandpaper

Small hack saw

Step one: Measure PVC pipe to desired length and cut with hack saw. We chose 7.8ft for our length. With the ends you just cut off, trim each piece to match the smaller 2 ft piece. This will give you four two-foot legs for the ribbon wall.

Step two: Use power sander or sandpaper to remove any markings on the pipe.

Step three: Spray paint the PVC pipe color of choice as the base coat. Be sure to cover any markings that remain. Spray paint every single piece of remaining PVC pipe for color consistency. Helpful spray painting tip: use something to stand the pipe up straight for even spraying. We used a card table flipped upside down covered in plastic and put each of the pipes on the legs. If you do choose to use the ground, wait until it is dry before flipping over to prevent streaking.

If after the first coat any additional marks remain, apply additional coats until you have reached desired color.

Step four: Spray the diamond dust over the dry spray painted PVC pipe. Follow same procedure as the previous color. Use lighter coats because it can easily get too heavy a coat if you’re not careful. Feel free to do several lighter coats rather than doing it all at once. Be sure to let it dry in between the coats.

Step five: Measure ribbon to desired length. We chose six feet. With your fabric scissors, cut the ribbons. I did mine in a slant rather than straight across to prevent fraying.

Step six: Place the PVC pipe that you’re using as the top of the frame onto the ground. Place the ribbon under the pipe with just a few inches above it, the rest laying below. With the few inches above the pipe, bring it over the pipe and connect to the longer end of ribbon. Be sure not to wrap too tight so you can still move the ribbon freely from side to side.

Step seven: Apply a small amount of fabric glue onto the inside of the piece you just wrapped over top of the frame. Gently squeeze the two pieces of together so the glue can adhere, but again remember not to make it too tight so you can move it along the top of the frame.

Step eight: Repeat steps five through seven for each piece of ribbon to fill the frame to your desired amount. If you want it full, you’re going to do this quite a few times. For a lighter frame, you won’t need to do as many.

Step nine: To assemble the base, take two of the leg pieces (two-foot sections of pipe) and insert them into the opposite ends of the T-joint to create one long piece. Place one of the PVC caps on each of the open ends of the pipe. Repeat process on other side.

Step ten: Insert the longer pipes into the remaining end of the T-joint on both sides. You will start to see your frame form.

Step eleven: Take the 90 degree joints and place on the open end of the vertical pipes used in step ten.

Step twelve: Insert the pipe with the ribbon attached to the open ends of the 90 degree joints. You may need an additional hand for this as the pieces are quite large.

Step thirteen: Step back and admire your amazing work.

Success!

And there you have it. Thirteen relatively easy steps to construct your very own ribbon wall. The best part about the PVC pipe is that it comes apart which makes for excellent transportation since this is expected to be a bulky item. All you have to do is make sure you remember to pack all the correct pieces and assemble when needed.

Chris and I worked diligently on this project. Mainly, I picked out and did everything with all of the ribbon while Chris did the sanding, spray painting and general construction of the large pieces. It’s love. Ha.

On the day of the wedding, we had a slight breeze. The wind pushing the ribbon around was so amazing. It felt like Chris and I were in our own little ribbon world.

I really feel like this could be used for anything. A birthday party, a wedding, a photo booth backdrop, and sort of holiday decor, a cool way to enter a room, etc. If you can think of any other uses, definitely let me know because I’d love to hear them!

Enjoy! And please please let me know how yours turn out!

**All photos were done by Korie Lynn Photography**

High Fives All Around

Friday night after writing about my fears, I went to sleep. Shockingly, I managed to do this with little issue. The nerves were ridiculous, y’all.

Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:45am. Seriously. I ate some cheerios and hung out for a little bit. Decided that watching a little bit of TV was a good idea so naturally I turned on my favorite channel, Investigation Discovery. The show on at 6am was Cold Blood. The plot… was about a woman that gets raped and murdered on a run. No joke. I can’t make this stuff up. So there I am chomping on my cheerios in my gear scared out of my wits that this could be me. Like the universe telling me to not go outside. I waited around for a little bit for the sun to really come out and then I was off.

And off I went. Just running. And running. And running.

For TEN MILES. Actually, 10.18 miles. I successfully ran 10.18 miles. And I am just as shocked as you are.

I achieved so many personal records during this run. I PR’d in distance (obviously), pace, and just overall time. When I ran eight miles, I had to stop and walk after six miles because of a leg pain and I ended up finishing in an hour and forty minutes. Last week when I did nine miles, it was a painful overall time of two hours and twenty-three minutes. For 10.18 miles, I completed it in an hour and fifty-eight minutes. REALLY!! Before Saturday, I had a tough time finishing five miles in under an hour and here I am doing ten miles in under two hours. And I ran my fastest [recorded] mile EVER.

Honestly, when I stopped, I cried. I was so overcome with emotion and accomplishment that I couldn’t control the few tears that sneaked out. If you had told me in April that by the first week in August I would be able to run 10 consecutive miles without stopping, I would’ve laughed in your face. In April, running this distance was not even on my radar, I just wanted to get back up to being able to run two miles without stopping to walk.

If you’re wondering why mile six was a little faster than the rest? I ran to the closest place I knew that was open and had a bathroom for a much needed bathroom break. Definitely running for a greater purpose at that moment.

Right now, I am continuing to enjoy the mass of endorphins from the ten miler. I am also a little [only a teensy bit] concerned about how the runs this week will go considering I seem to suffer from performance inconsistency.

The biggest question I need to ask myself right now is does this double digit training run make me a runner? Woahhhhh.

Birthday Shenanigans

Chris baked me a cake and lit all the candles. On the 10ft walk over to me, they all blew out except one. Love it.

My actual birth date was filled with a lot of love and happiness.

Cupcakes, flowers, and a new running toy? Consider this girl elated!

To celebrate my twenty-fifth birthday further, I was whisked away to Atlantic City!!

Chris, Jenny, and Kristen conspired together to surprise me with a fun-filled weekend of gambling, comedy shows, and alcohol.

We went and saw Aziz Ansari. If you haven’t heard of him or checked out any of his stuff, you are missing out. I definitely peed my pants a little from laughing so hard during his set.

Chris managed to snag us tickets about six rows from the stage. Definitely no complaints there. [I apologize for shitty iPhone quality photo, but its just for proof.]

We prepared for the show accordingly.

Following the show we went out into the casino and tried our luck at various table games and slots. Personally, I am a fan of roulette. Picking the numbers is fun for me and there isn’t really much skill involved unless you can do probability based math.

Embarrassing Sidenote on Gambling: On Saturday night during my first time ever playing Craps, I hit someone in the face with dice. No joke. My hand was shaking so bad and I lost all control of my arm with adrenaline because I was so focused on trying to hit the back wall … instead I threw the dice up, not down like a normal person would and BAM! I hit some poor innocent player square in the face. Thus ending my future career in Craps dice rolling. Also, I could’ve probably slowed down on the drinking to avoid the future jokes made on my behalf about this situation, but such is life.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing a little shopping, eating, consuming more alcohol, and more gambling.

Being the smartypants I am, I took Monday off to recover. For my own celebration, I treated myself to seeing the Katy Perry movie which I shamefully admit to crying at, doing a speed work exercise, and grocery shopping. A nice change of pace from the last couple of weeks.

This birthday was a lot of fun and I could not be more thankful for the people involved in making it such a fabulous occasion. Seriously, all the love shared on the day and then the weekend with the fun and ahhhh. Getting a little too sentimental and emotional here, but whatevs, I have great people in my life.

What has been your favorite birthday? Why? Have your friends and your spouse ever worked together to plan a surprise for you – party, trip, etc? Let’s discuss!