Marathon Plans

This upcoming Saturday I have the Montgomery Half Marathon. Last year I was late to the start because one of my players was in the hospital. So this year I am excited to have the chance to run it again. I know the course, I know where the hardest parts are, so I’m ready to attack it.

I love half marathons, but admittedly I haven’t trained for one as much as I did the first 1/2 I ran. I’ve been able since November 2014 to maintain my fitness level to a point where I can run 10 miles pretty okay, but it is a struggle to get to 13. But with a little pre-work out and a couple weeks of training, I can get there. I tucker out around miles 11 and 12, and then pick it up for the ending.

I’m ready for this Saturday. I ran a half marathon 3 weeks ago, and I know my body is capable of the push. I am looking forward to the run. But I’m starting to look long term too. I’ve hummed and hawed about doing a full marathon, but I’m starting to lean into it. I want to attempt the monstrous run. What’s holding me back? Is it time commitment to training? I have a sturdy base level of fitness I can build from. So what’s the mental gap? I need to sign up. It’s the next evolution in my routine. It makes sense. I know I can complete it if I tried. To go with ease, not worry about time. I worry about my time with half marathons. I want my splits to be better and better. Close to 8:00 mile splits or around there. But a marathon. The goal will be to complete it. Not to worry about time but to worry about pushing through the pain to achieve what few are capable of doing.

It’s time. Marathon is training will commence. I want to challenge myself mentally, physically, emotionally through the training process.

October 2017, it’s time to for a marathon bib to be incorporated to the stack.

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Life Changing Suggestions

I’m coming around to the 3 year mark of when I made the commitment to exercising regularly. In two days, the 50 Mile Running Challenge begins, but what piece of advice will help newer runners achieve their goals? There’s a ton of different levels of runners in the group, and I’m so excited to see the advice, encouragement and support everyone provides. Such an eclectic group: we have people training for marathons involved, those who’ll be doing half marathons, some who are new moms looking to get back in shape, former college athletes, people looking to make lifestyle changes, and then some who are rehabilitating their injuries or coming back from surgeries. So much variation, and it’s going to be incredible.

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But back to the point: What kind of advice would you give to a new runner?

I’ve been scouring Runners World Magazine, Livestrong.com, Competitor.com, Active.com, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine for some suggestions, and here’s the top 8 most useful tips and suggestions for new runners:

  1. Join a Running Group, virtual or local— Many beginning runners go solo because they might feel overwhelmed, nervous or intimidated by running with others. But gaining a running partner or a support running group will allow for the run to be more enjoyable, help inspire and stay motivated. This is really important in the very beginning on a plan because having a partner or a group support can really help push someone to try new distances or activity level. (source: Runners World)
  2. Have a strategy— If you are going from running 0 miles to a new program, it’s so important you are mindful and are listening to your body. Many people get hung up on speed to begin with, but you need to focus on progression. No one is judging you and it’s so important you worry more about how you feel rather than pace. My personal suggestion is to set up a “running time.” For example, look to do a duration of 20 minutes total “running time.” As you are in your “running time,” if you run for a minute and need to walk to catch your breath, try to be mindful of your running to walking ratios. As the program progresses you’ll notice within that 20 minute “running time” you will see steady improvement after 2 weeks. And you’ll know by listening to your body when you can begin to gauge distance rather than duration. (source: Runners World/ Personal experience)
  3. Log Your Runs— Running is a introverted and solitary activity. You’ll recognize your mind will sort through lots of things and you’ll feel a lot of emotions too. Probably very difficult ones in the beginning because it will be mentally draining and add a lot of stress physically. Document your starting weight, some feelings during the runs, thoughts, distances, times, pace, etc. You’ll be thankful you did. It will also keep you on track. (source: Competitor.com)
  4. Buy a good pair of running shoes— If you are using old pair of running shoes, you’ll notice after a few first walks or runs your knees, joints, and calves will be incredible sore or painful. This can really hinder the running experience, and turn you off from completing the challenge and reaching your goals. Having a fitted pair of running shoes is actually INJURY PREVENTION. Running shoes have thicker soles for cushion and stability. Your feet may swell when you run, so trim your toenails. (Source: Runners World, Active.com, Livestrong.com, Competitor.com, Fitness Magazine, Personal experience)
  5. Don’t be afraid to walk— It is okay to walk. The fact that you’re outside, or on a treadmill and working is a huge accomplishment. If there is a big hill and you are tired, it’s perfectly acceptable to walk up the hill. As you progress and increase your cardio levels in time your walking will decrease, but in the beginning, do the program and style that works for you. (Source: Active.com, Fitness magazine)
  6. Be sure to get rest— You are putting a lot of stress and demands on your body when you are first starting out. Many new runners will start too much too soon, and because of it they’ll suffer from shin splints, sore knees, hip flexor pulls, tight hamstrings, etc. You’ll also feel your energy levels will take a dip too. It does get better, but as you feel run down take a rest day, recuperate and recover and before you know it, you’ll feel fitter, stronger and more energized. Rest allows for your muscles to rebuild from all the micro tears in your muscle tissues which occurs during any new workout plan. Body has to adapt and it does take 2-3 weeks. (source: National Academy of Sports Medicine, Runners World, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine)
  7. Proper fuel and hydration— I’m plugging something personal in here. I take amino acids an hour before every run and have noticed it keeps me energized through out. After I run I also take amino acids to help with faster recovery. Hit me up if you have questions.– What I’ve read from sources regarding fuel and hydration: As you start to get into the thick of your running regiment, you’ll notice you’ll be hungrier more often. It’s imperative you consume nutrient dense foods, because it will help heal your body, strengthen your bones, and replenish your glycogens storages. Which will also allow for weight loss. Try not to use running as a reward to indulge in bad food. It will be counteractive to your progress. It also will lead to your muscles getting more labored or fatigued the next time you run. Ladies, consume high-fiber and complex carbs 30-60 minutes after your run, Gentlemen look to consume more protein dense foods 30-60 minutes after your run. Our genders are not equal when it come to replenishing and how we heal. Replenishing electrolytes and minerals following a long run is imperative to your recovery. Runners World recommends Advocare Rehydrate as the best go-to recovery drink post work out. You can buy some from me here: Advocare Rehydrate (source: active.com, Runners World, personal experience, National Academy of Sports Nutrition)
  8. Set up achievable goals— When you make daily, weekly or monthly goals make sure they are achievable. Be proud when you accomplish them, brag about it in your group, to friends, and write it down in your log. Hitting goals will allow for this whole experience to be enjoyable and fun. Have fun, share your accomplishments, and load up on lots of memes to describe your running experience. (source: personal experience, Runners World, Livestrong.com)

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50 Mile Challenge

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My former college teammate and I have been doing this monthly challenge for years. We try to get 50 total running miles in a month. We will self report to each other and it was a way to help kick start our fitness regiment. It has helped me reach the fitness level I am at now. I feel healthier than I ever have before and I want to share it with others.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

So many people want to get in shape, lose weight, get fitter but they might not know where to start. But with doing a challenge it provides a little structure, plus being a part of a group setting allows for greater results and has proven it allows for a higher percentage in reaching goals.

Setting up daily goals in the days and weeks after my husband passed away provided me with a purpose. It gave me a reason to get out of bed every day because I felt self-motivated and I knew if I hit those little milestones eventually it will turn into a habit. With this 50 Mile Challenge, I want to pass along the lesson I learned and gained. I want to help others reach their goals too.

How will I help you and others reach their goals? Well Facebook of course! It’s self reporting style, and there’s more and more joining the challenge each day. Do you want to start on your journey to bettering yourself?

Check out my 50 mile challenge! Begins February 16 and ends March 31. 44 total days to get 50 total miles running or walking.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

Also check out my Instagram at @flippingsteier

Another half marathon

On Saturday I ran in another half marathon. We don’t have Equinox gyms down in Montgomery so I used the Montgomery Marathon as my tool to raise money for Cycle for Survival. Obviously I wasn’t cycling, but I feel strongly about raising money for rare cancer research. And I love cycle for survival and how they use the money raised. Running 13 miles is not an easy task and whenever I’m running I think about all the people who no longer can run or be active because of cancer. And being active and controlling the effort level of what you put in while you still can is really a gift. So I do these races and when my legs are cramping and my sides are hurting and my mind wants me to stop, I keep pushing because I know if George was still alive he would keep fighting. And when he was alive he kept pushing and believing in everything his doctors were doing for him. So I do too. I want to push myself to the breaking point because he did.

People lose their limbs or ability to walk because of cancer. Or they’re hooked up to a drip for days and fighting for their lives. For that moment to go outside and live life the way they dreamed. So I run for those people. I run, cycle and raise money yearly because I believe the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering are the front line of battle to cure rare cancers. If I can help just one family, it’s worth it.

Ive been dating Mike now for 7 months and this was my second half marathon while we’ve been together. He’s very supportive of my excessive cardio habits, and reminds me he will never do a race with me and though I wish one day maybe, he makes me feel special about it. I do think being in the south, the focus on physical fitness isn’t like what it is in NYC, but he’s very complimentary of when I do distances over 5 miles. He’s also very athletic and I do like being with someone who takes care of themselves physically. I never realized how important that aspect is in my happiness in a relationship. But having it there I don’t want to be without it.

My legs are very sore today but for all it’s worth, the only thing I would change is I should’ve trained a bit better, but I’m proud I completed another half.

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Fitness therapy

imageSomething about being outside, feeling the cool breeze on my cheeks, having my nose run uncontrollably, and bounding along the sidewalks makes everything better. Dashing across the streets when there’s a break in traffic, feeling my heart race when I misjudge, it makes me come alive. Fitness is my therapy and it has become my savior. My old friend who pats me on the back when things don’t go the way I want. It’s also my enemy who challenges me to improve, to show my true colors. Because when the going gets tough, I can either shut down, lose control, or stand up tall and push forward. Fitness allows me to rise up to the occasion. It calms the choppy waves that arise from time to time.

I get lost in the challenges though and that’s when fitness becomes dangerous. I love the discomfort and the burn. When my legs are aching for me to stop, but I push forward anyway. When my breathing becomes shallow and my heart is beating loudly like a timpani. Those are the times I crave but know to be cautious. I’ve used fitness in the past to punish myself. To feel the agony and torture my mind cannot translate. To break myself and physically hurt in the way I emotionally do. Fitness is my lifeline. My serum. My therapy.

The challenge of tomorrow gives me a reason to get out of bed. I need to run, I need to bike, I need to feel my body twist and burn.

 

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The tingle in my muscles and the jitters in my joints are returning. The need to flee is coming back. The brutality of self-loathing is bubbling. I don’t recognize myself and I’m starting to feel distant. I hate who’s been glaring back at me.

My bones ache to hit the pavement and mute the world. To run myself until I weep, and scorch my body from the inside until it turns into something new.

It’s comforting to be back here, but it comes with a price too. I was lost without George, but then miraculously I began building a new life one brick at a time. But I lost count of the bricks and it feels like everything is sinking. I want to run, I want to have my body receive the flogging so my mind can be free.

Just like old times; Time to grit my teeth, put my head down, and walk back into the labyrinth. I’m ready.

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President James Garfield crashed my birthday weekend

12189853_10100800020754279_9000497672418306689_nI turned 30 years old yesterday. George and I used to talk about my 30th birthday a lot. He said he was going to throw me a party for it, and for some reason I’ve always looked forward to turning 30. When I took the job here at Huntingdon College, the moment I signed my lease to my sweet apartment, I promised myself I was going to party in Nashville. Which is only 4 hours north of here.

So why Nashville? I am a Andrew Jackson fan. The Jacksonian era is my favorite time in American history, and he’s also my favorite president and politician. I wanted to ring in this new lease on life with my favorite president. When looking for activities to do, and things to see in Nashville besides Jackson’s Hermitage, I discovered that there was going to be a half marathon on Halloween. Ring in my 30s by running one last half marathon in my 20s? Oh hell yeah.

So I signed up for the race, booked a great hotel near Vanderbilt, and the birthday weekend festivities started to roll forward. Accompanying me was my Airman who I met down here in Montgomery in the dog park. Jackson was my favorite president and commander, Mike is my favorite Airman and fellow history nerd. Made sense.

Are you still with me? I’m sorry for the long drawn out anecdote in the beginning. We’ll get the birthday party crasher, President James Garfield.

I’ve had a lot of luck in the dating game. Beginning of this year I was seeing Tom, and due to taking the job in Alabama we broke up. Not on bad terms. Upon moving here, I wound up at the dog park on the hottest damn Sunday of the summer, and I met Mike. We’ve been dating ever since. I do recognize if the circumstances of my life didn’t go the way they did, neither Tom or Mike would be in my life. I remember standing outside one evening in the Alabama humidity and asked George to show me a sign if I’m making the right choices in my life, whether it’s dating, professional, emotional, etc. I just wanted him to show me a sign. I then forgot about it for awhile, and then came Packet Pick up mayhem of October 31, 2015.

I got to the packet pick up late on the day of the race. T-minus 20 minutes before start time. I was freaking out. But Mike was there to calm me down, and make fun of my annoying chirping of “where’s packet pick up?” We found the tent, and I gave my name and the woman handed me my bib number: 1881

As I was running I started thinking about 1881. Who was president? Was it our 19th president Rutherford B Hayes? Or was it Garfield? Maybe Chester A Arthur? But then my head went clear and I realized why 1881 was such a gnarly year. It was the year Garfield was assassinated. No joke, I had to hold back my tears. I love history, I really do, but I also recognize not many people love it as much as me, so I try to keep it together. But when I went out to Cleveland with George in 2010 we visited the cemetery where James Garfield is buried. It was the only time we went to a tomb of president.

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Such an eerie coincidence right? No it gets weirder. I make no bones about it. The number 19 is my favorite number, so what does this have to do with our 20th president? He was born on November 19th, and he died on September 19th. For those new to my widow blog, I married George on September 19th.

I’m a firm believer in signs. I feel like here and there George will put markers out for me to know he’s still with me. But he provided me with the surprise of James Garfield on my birthday weekend. I see this and I can’t help but think, yes the puzzle pieces are slowly fitting together and I like what I’m seeing.

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Shadows chasing shadows

I can feel my grief in my muscles. The aches and tightness in my legs are constant reminders of the sadness that creeps into some of my days. I still find my release in fitness, and I grieve more some days, and on those days my body takes the punishment when my mind wants to run away. I’m feeling anxious tonight. This weekend is the first weekend of many recruiting trips. Recruiting plays a huge role in the success of my job, but I haven’t forgiven myself for spending so many weekends on the road when I should’ve been with George during his final weeks. When I got the phone call that he must go into hospice care, I was at a recruiting tournament in New Jersey. It was a Saturday at 9a and I remember getting to Memorial Sloan Kettering to speak with the social worker about hospice by 11:30a.

I hold on to so much regret.

Tonight I felt the uneasiness of grief creeping in so I laced up my sneakers and went for a night run. I am getting more comfortable about Montgomery and my neighborhood so the night run felt good. My sore muscles started to loosen up as I found my stride, and the grit of the pavement under my feet was a sweet reminder of how good it feels to hurl my body throughout the streets until my mind disappeared. At one point, the street lights shined down perfectly and I was chasing my shadow. The dark carbon copy stretched out in front of me, and I would chase her down until she lengthened and fell behind. And then at the next streetlight, she would creep into the lead and I would chase her again. There’s always going to be shadows from my last life hanging around, and I’ve been good about running away, but if I’m going to move past the shadows, do I have to face it head on?

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Transformation of the Year

Warning: The hubris is real in this post. There is no competition, no election, no votes, because without rival I have won the Transformation of the Year Award. Challenge me for it, I dare you. I destroyed 2014.

Facebook had the audacity to try and compute the “best moments” of my 2014 year, but from where I began January 1 to now cannot be collected in a montage of pictures and post that received the most “likes.” WordPress tried to sway me by showing me my “Year end review” as today’s post, but I wanted to take control of deciding the highlights of this year rather than social media telling me what’s up.

This was my first full year without George. The thought of it on December 31, 2013 shook me so deep that I felt it in my bone marrow. And I’ll be completely honest, with 2015 just 26 hours away, heading into another full year without him sucks too. But this suckage is going to continue for a lifetime. And that’s just the way it goes. Life without George sucks, but I’m making the most of it.

Get ready for a plethora of pictures, because as I said, the hubris is real.

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I’m not sure where to really even begin. I honestly gave up on life November 25th, 2013. I thought with George gone, I would certainly wither away into oblivion. It was wishful thinking to vanish in those early weeks and months. I returned to work just a week after he died, but when winter break hit, I went back home to grieve with my family around. When it was time to return from winter break back to the office, I was only wearing George’s sweaters. It was the way I wanted to deal with the loss of my husband, and it also was a way for me to be hidden. Tucked away within oversized sweatshirts.

IMG_9078God I hated myself at that time. When looking for pictures for this post, I honestly have very few from November-February. I just veered away from cameras. Once Drew was back in session and lacrosse season commenced my life had purpose again. In a Jay-Z kind of way, every single day I had 99 excuses why I never wanted to leave my apartment, but there was 1 reason why I did: Drew women’s lacrosse team.

IMG_8043When I was splintered and cracking this team helped me stay together so I wouldn’t shatter. No matter how badly I wanted to just say to hell with all of this and just not show up, I would mosey into the field house at 6am with tear streaked cheeks from sobbing and massive bags under my eyes from lack of sleep, and these girls would be ready to go. Most the time. They would buy me a coffee in the morning, and my assistant would tell me something completely out there from what happened to her the night before. It was the best life support I could have asked for. Throughout the season we had amazing experiences which will forever warm my heart.

Like going to the Super Bowl Halftime show at the Meadowlands!1660297_10100343770538369_746299047_nIMG_5690

We participated in Cycle for Survival, where all the money raised goes directly to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to help perpetuate cancer research and treatments. As a team we raised over $11,000 for rare cancer research, something that meant the WORLD to me because George believed so much in everything they were doing for him at MSKCC, and I wanted to continue his fight against cancer even though he was no longer with us.

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February 8, 2014 changed my life completely. Having the team surround me and support me on this cause, and seeing how much they believed in it, it set in motion my gradual physical transformation. I felt so damn good sitting on that bike and riding for George. I felt him in all my muscle fibers just telling me to be a little stronger and fight a little harder. If you wanna to learn more or donate to our team at http://mskcc.convio.net/goto/TeamKraynak

IMG_8522Right before our first game on February 27th, I made the move from the apartment George and I shared to where I am now. The stress of losing George and then moving was far from easy. It was a fast reality that life unfortunately goes on, and I needed to start figuring out how to live by myself. Cooking for 1 was something that took some getting used to, but finding ways to occupy my time and mind became a necessity for survival. And that’s where SoulCycle came in.

IMG_6120The energy, community, friendships and strength I gained during the classes at SoulCycle changed my personal outlook. During the time from when I found out George was dying to February 8th, I stopped caring for myself. I had put on a tremendous amount of weight because I just was so depressed, and so empty inside. The moment I sat in on my first SoulCycle class I knew it was going to impact my year. I loved the sensation of my legs screaming at me as I tried to keep pace with the instructor. Dropping my elbows on the downbeat of the music, and closing my eyes just so I could feel the love swell inside me. I hung on to those feelings from the classes for days. I returned weekly to SoulCycle until I was making daily visits and sometimes twice a day visits. I felt safe within the community, and they encouraged me to better myself. They wanted me to be the best person I could be that day. And even when there were days when all I wanted to do is curl up into a ball and cry my eyes out, I would throw on the yoga pants and a t-shirt and head to Short Hill to ride.

IMG_7139Eventually, there started to be some noticeable changes. I was happier and had more energy. The tireless nights and the tears started to subside, and my life was starting to come together a little bit. But unfortunately I still was very unstable. But through the instability, I made sure to keep my off days consistent, and I made sure to go to Coney Island to go swimming with the Polar Bear Club. Again, many of George’s friends do polar bear swims and it was another way for me to feel him. But running into ice cold water was another way for me to control my grief. I wanted to feel the discomfort of the water, and I also loved the support the community offered me. Encouraging me to go a little deeper, stay in a second longer, to embrace the excitement of rushing down the gritty beach, and kicking the sand up as you step into the lapping ocean water. The shock of the water awakens every neuron and cell in your body.

1498782_10152560235034377_1267205832_oOnce the lacrosse season ended, my daily routines were shook up and I ran off to Europe. Throughout the first 6 months of 2014, I felt a lot of my time was spent to holding it together and to working, and I needed to take the time for myself to fall apart. So I packed my bags, and headed to Germany and Switzerland, where I got to visit the Alps and touch the sky and see the beauty of everything that surrounds us. And once again, as I looked out at the snow caps, and the green plains below I realized that this life is so massive, that these moments we have together are suspended in time. Just dangling there like a puppet in our memories, just waiting to be revisited and played with. Regardless of how painful. Our time together is unique to only us and we define them any which way we want. And as much as I would get angry that George was gone, I wouldn’t trade our moments and memories at all. So much so, that if I had to go back in time and do it all over again, I would because it led me to him.

imageUpon returning from Europe, I returned to NJ and made a vow to take care of myself over the summer. It was time for me to figure out how to maneuver through this journey and life. The weapon I chose was exercise. I became spin certified. I started lifting with my good friend and neighbor, who also work at Drew. Finally a work colleague/friend asked if I wanted to do a triathlon and that’s when my brain lit up like a halogen lamp. I loved biking, I had been doing SoulCycle and had just been hired at a gym to teach spin. I had started running again a bit more in late June, so it made sense to incorporate swimming into the regiment. Training for the triathlon gave me direction and purpose which I had been lacking since lacrosse season ended. Plus it forced me to be more militant and disciplined with my exercising. My body transformed quickly and as my body was transforming my mood and grief became more manageable.IMG_7170IMG_6463IMG_6956In the middle of my workouts I traveled back to Connecticut where I became an aunt and met my niece for the first time. During this time in my home state turned out I had mono… Anyway, when I saw her beautiful face and the cutest smile, she melted my heart. I felt that unconditional love again, and I started to feel alive as I was heading into August. I cannot even describe to you how callous I was prior to meeting her. It was instantaneous, I saw her face and my heart just filled up. She’s my best little buddy.

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Then in August I got the most amazing opportunity. To ride in the Cycle for Survival Times Square Takeover and tell my story on why Cycle for Survival is so important to me. Never in this lifetime did I think I would speak in the middle of Time Square! And as Fall approached, many of the first anniversaries were going to hit hard. But with the Time Square Takeover, I got to spend my wedding anniversary on a bike while raising funds and awareness for rare cancer research. The one thing that first gave my life purpose back in February. It was the most poetic way I could imagine spending George and my wedding anniversary.

10690080_685294978228734_1519184977747720339_nIMG_7729IMG_7751A week later I competed in my first triathlon with my good friend and work colleague. I finished second in my age group. But most importantly, I set a goal to finish under 3 hours, and I did. As I crossed the finish line, never did I think I would do a triathlon in less than a year after George passed, and I most certainly never thought I would actually enjoy every second of it!

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After the completion of the triathlon, my buddy and I decided to start training for a half marathon. I talked about wanting to do a half marathon when George was alive but never had the discipline or drive to train for one. But during the triathlon training, I realized the long runs, the biking helped me sort through my woes, grief, and strengthened me more than physically. I was becoming an entirely different person. Something I hoped for during my darkest days. I remember thinking I would love to be someone other than me in those first few weeks of widowhood. But now I had become someone that wasn’t me. I was a better version of myself. I was a person I know George would be so proud of, and when he catches glimpses of my accomplishments he knows that I’m a survivor. That I am strong and that I will flourish and thrive.

I did my first half marathon 2 days before George’s death anniversary, and then I did my second half marathon the day before George’s funeral anniversary. I’m still in disbelief that all this has been accomplished in just a year!

I talked about running a half marathon when he was alive, but never did. So doing the Philly Half Marathon was one of the most satisfying and euphoric days.

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You want to know what the greatest transformation is out of all of this? Yes, the physical transformation is apparent, but the emotional and mental one is what I reflect on the most. I remember so vividly how miserable I was a year ago at this time. I remember the hurt and the unforgiving jaws of grief. And today, I look back and holy shit, I cannot believe how far I’ve come. I have changed my ENTIRE life in a year. I did not allow his death to define who I am, instead I allowed his death to reshape me and push me forward to be better. To be the best person I can be. And I wish he was here to see this, but I’m also aware that if he were here, these changes would not exist. 2014, you started off as the most miserable year of my life, but ended as one of the most fulfilling. I’m going to obliterate 2015.

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Thanksgiving 2012

December 2013

December 2013

December 2014

December 2014

Ashes won’t choke the fire I have

Today officially marks the one year of the beginning of this journey. George passed on November 25th, 2013 and on December 7th was his funeral and the day I received his ashes. There was this little grief engine inside of me in between those dates to keep me going. On December 8th, I was allowed to vanish into widow solitude. My parents stayed the night with me a year ago, and we went out to breakfast, but after breakfast I remember they had to return to Connecticut whereas I had to learn how to stand up again on my own that Sunday.

I remember after they left I just went home and cried. I think I watch Schindler’s List that day… I can’t remember. Honestly I could look back at my blog post from that day. I began this widow blog around then. I am so grateful that I started documenting this journey when I did because so much of the last year is foggy. I feel like it happened to another person and not to me. Almost like it was a dream, but when I woke up from it everything was different, including me.

This year, all of it, from all parts dealing with his immediate death felt like it went by so agonizingly slow. It’s been just a little over a year, but it feels like decades. I look at pictures of us together, when we would travel to Ohio or just poodle around NYC, and that life looks like it happened with someone else. It doesn’t feel like me. I see him and I still love him so much, but I look at her and think that’s not me. Pictures capture moments and memories, something to be cherished for years. And I cherish every minute I had with George, yet those times are scalding. I wince when I see them. Kind of like you know not to rest your hand a stove after you’re done cooking, and those pictures are like a furnace to my brain. I’ve noticed that some other wids have been having similar sentiments as well, and I’m not sure if that’s just where I’m at in this journey. Perhaps it’s a “let it go” aftermath. I’m always unsure if I’ve truly let go, because what does that really mean anyway?

This past Saturday I ran another half marathon, but this time with my best friend from college who’s endured a significant loss as well. A parent died unexpectedly. When George passed, we talked extensively about the grieving process and how badly we just want to call them to talk. This was her first half marathon and my second. But afterwards we were just so happy to have done it and to have done it together, especially with how crappy the weather was–35 degrees with freezing rain.  But we went to lunch and we both work in athletics at the Division III level and she asked now knowing the structure of different schools, divisions and athletic programs, if I could do it all over again, would I go to CCSU? I didn’t hesitate in my response. I said I wouldn’t change a thing because without it I would have never met George. With how painful this year has been, I do sometimes wonder how different things would be if I never met him. But when it’s all said and done, he was the best thing that has ever happened to me. A love that runs so deep that even in passing he inspires me to be better every day. That’s a once in a lifetime kind of love. I adore him with every beat of my heart.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
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