The Long Run, in GIFs

You can thank a few things for this post:

  1. My caffeine buzz from QuickChek’s new “Harvest Blend” coffee. I refuse to jump on the Pumpkin Spice bandwagon, and my favorite convenience store is right there with me. You can keep your Wawa’s, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts. I prefer the slightly alterna-chick vibe I get by being 100% staunchly pro-QuickChek.
  2. This ridiculously long but still incredibly entertaining list of gifs from Buzzfeed.

As I scrolled through the page before work, it occurred to me that many of these gifs represent my feelings before, during, and after a long run. Thusly, I present you with: The Long Run, in GIFs:

I wake up ready and raring to go.

angryOr not really, because I may have had a glass or two of wine the night before and set my alarm for WAY earlier than I really want to wake up on a Saturday, and who’s effing idea was it to sign up for a stupid marathon anyway?

So I stumble to the Keurig, pop in a Jamaican Me Crazy k-cup (thanks, Wolfgang Puck!), and begin the prep process. Fuel up, scrub my face, sunblock it all, and get decked out in my running gear finest then throw open the door to greet the morning with some attitude.

new gearStepping off the porch I remind myself that I should probably do some dynamic stretching; these knees don’t exactly have the get-up-and-go they used to, after all.

stretchBut instead I wait and wait, then take off the second my Garmin has satellite reception, like an idiot.

startOr a pirate.

The first mile or so is touch and go. My music is pumping, I’m feeling fresh as hell, ready to take on this run. But my legs, knees, hips and ankles sometimes have other plans.

fumbleSo I slow it down a bit and settle into a nice pace for a few miles. 2, 3, 4, 5+ miles go by, and it’s all good.

yeah baby

Around the halfway point though, I start to get a little distracted. Sure, I’m running, but maybe this song isn’t what I want to hear right now, let me slow down for a few strides here and find a new one. Oh look, sunflowers! That’d make a really great #seenonmyrun pic. I may even do a little run-dancing to break the monotony.

motorinBut then I catch a creeper at a red light just watching me with a weird look on his face, so I stop dancing and pick up the pace again for a few miles.

watching

Once I pass the halfway point I start to think a little too much about things. Am I going fast enough? Can I maintain the pace that I just kept for an hour+ for another hour+? GOD my legs are starting to get heavy. Or are they? Is it all in my mind? They say running is all mental, so am I psyching myself out now, or am I really tired? Oh hey another red light.

snailThank God. Let me just walk through that.

I glance at my watch and think “OK, 3 more miles. We can do that. That’s just a 5k! You can do that in your sleep. For breakfast. Mmmm breakfast. What kind of food should I eat when I finish this run? Pancakes maybe. Yes. Remember that time you went to IHOP with Jenny for unlimited pancakes and you tapped out after 3? Hahaha what a lightweight. Ugh weight. You know if you weighed less you’d probably be able to run faster. You really are so slow. I mean come on. Maybe you shouldn’t have signed up for this marathon. After all, this is only a portion of what you have to run, and you’re already flagging? You’re kind of pathetic. Just quit. Or don’t, because everyone that you told about this marathon would laugh at you and call you a failure. Maybe you need a new song to motivate you. Not that one. Another one. Another one. Oh my God, WHY DO YOU HAVE A SONG FROM THE LION KING SOUNDTRACK ON YOUR RUNNING PLAYLIST??”

insaneIt is hell inside my mind in those final miles.

Before I know it, all of my mental anguish has brought me to the final mile and my legs are ready to give up. I might have hit the wall by now, or I’m close to it. So I dig deep in my energy reserves and call upon my good friends Robyn, Britney, or Freddie for some moral support and head into the final kick.

final kick

In the last 5 minutes or so of a run, I will make all manner of uncomfortable faces, say some pretty nasty motivational things to myself, run-dance, jump, air-drum, and basically do everything I need to push through the last .5 mile and call it a day. With every step, I glance at my watch, anxiously awaiting the appearance of the magic numbers after my mileage – ##:00.

And just like that, it’s over!

PR danceI stop the watch, do a little fist pump, and maybe bend over for a bit to catch my breath because let’s face it, Brit-Brit knows how to make me work, b*tch. Time to celebrate the fact that I got through it!

ice bathWith a nice cold bath.

After some stretching, rehydrating, and an ice bath (or shower), it’s food time. Sometimes I feel like eating all of the things after a run, and other times I can’t stand the sight of food, but one thing is for certain: after I eat, it is always, indefinitely, without fail:

naptimeNap time.

FIN.

Running on Island Time

Before I begin – I apologize for my silence lately! I had a nasty sinus infection at the end of March so I had to take a full week off running (UGH). As an aside: how do people run through illness like that? I had a fever of 102 and hallucinated that I was Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle; I couldn’t even sit up straight let alone run!

Anyway, after that, I set sail on a 7 day cruise to Florida and the Bahamas with my mama! Usually, I see vacation as my time to forget the rules and return to my natural state. Unfortunately my natural state is less “let’s get physical!” and more “screw the training plan, they’ve got free brownies 24/7 up in this bitch, it’s brownies-for-breakfast time”.

But with the half marathon looming ahead of me (18 days, eek!), I knew I had to stay active – and BOY did I! I’m proud to say that this was the most active vacation I’ve ever had – filled with running, open-water swimming, biking, rope climbing, capoeira, weight training, and LOTS of walking. No lie, in Florida we walked for 6 hours straight. We didn’t even stop to eat. I had a soft pretzel at 7pm and freaked out the pretzel cart woman with my obscene moans of relief after my first bite.

So I started my 2nd morning on the boat with a nice 5K, spread out between the fitness center and the jogging track on the ship’s top deck.

with a view like that I HAD to go on deck

with a view like that I HAD to go on deck

It was amazing – between the sun and warm air and new route, it was the most invigorating run I’ve had in months! I finished with a half hour of full-body strength training in the gym and then took the 8 flights of stairs back to our stateroom for good measure. And if you’re wondering – yes, I did have a brownie for breakfast. Life is all about balance.

That same day we toured the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and we ended up walking the equivalent of about 284 miles* (*I may be estimating). We spent 7 hours touring, and aside from the one hour bus ride we were on our feet. The. Whole. Day. The following day we were at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. I planned on doing nothing (except for drinking pina coladas on the beach), but once I got in that cool, refreshing, 15-foot deep turquoise private lagoon water? I just had to swim.

wouldn't you?

wouldn’t you?

I haven’t swam in open water in more than 2 years, but I jumped right in that water and floated, kicked, dove, frolicked, and generally played mermaid for about 3 hours. I even swam around that island you see in the center of the lagoon (the water surrounded it on all sides), stopping just once on the far side beach to give my shoulders a break.

After getting a crazy sunburn from all this beach fun (the price a mermaid must pay, I suppose), I took the next day off in Atlantis, and spent most of the day in a flowy caftan in shaded areas. It was actually kind of fun, I pretended I was a Kardashian. Not a bad way to spend a day in the Bahamas.

By our last day at sea, my sunburn had finally calmed down enough for me to put sneakers on so I started with a quick 2 miles of speedwork on the treadmill, followed by 2 hard and fast miles on the bike (in 7:40, a new bike PR!!), then ran up the 4 flights of stairs to the top deck for a session on the ropes course.

ropes course (bottom), see also "terrifying workout in gale force winds and a full body harness 17 stories above the Atlantic Ocean"

ropes course (bottom), see also “terrifying workout in gale force winds and a full body harness 17 stories above the Atlantic Ocean”

Suffice it to say that I would have been content sticking with mini-golf after my time on the ropes course, but I perservered and went to a free capoeira class instead. A bucket list item of mine, capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines dancing, fighting, and games. Lots of hovering, squatting, kicking, and general break-dancing. Lots of fun.

Now, full disclosure: the class was taught by a blindingly gorgeous Brazilian man who pronounced the word “since” with a long “I” (s-eye-nce), bless his heart. And while we’re sharing and feeling religious, God bless those rocky northern Atlantic currents. Because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to cap off my last day at sea with a face-full of Brazilian man-thigh when the boat zigged and we both zagged during a particularly intense sparring session. Cue the bad-ass music and “calmly walking away from a car explosion” scene:

and when I walked off the boat, it burst into flames, too.

and when I walked off the boat, it burst into flames, too.

Cut to today: my muscles are still on FIRE from all the wild and crazy things I put them through in the past week, and I couldn’t be happier! So what do you think? When you’re on vacation, do you go for the brownies or the ropes course (or both)? What’s your favorite activity to do on vacation? Tell me a story 🙂

Weekend Recap: A Frozen Run, Yoga, and Whiskey

This weekend has certainly been an adventure! After celebrating Valentine’s Day Friday night, I woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday for the Manasquan Mid-Winter 2-Mile Beach Run. It was a huge surprise to wake up to clean pavement – they had predicted 2-4 inches overnight and I was dreading a snowy run. Yes, it’s been a full year since my ACL surgery, but I’m still so scared of doing something to damage it – or to hurt my good knee! – that I take extra care when it comes to the snow/ice.

But, the weathermen were wrong (in other news, the Pope announced he’s Catholic), and we had a nice easy drive down to exit 98. Then just before the start of the race, the rain decided to join the party. In a big way. With some sleet. And whipping winds. While we waited for the gun, I popped my headphones in and wouldn’t you know it, my new favorite run-dancing song came on and lit up the day:

I’m gonna paint you a picture. Imagine if you will: you’re standing in a herd of soaked runners, icy rain pelting you from all angles with each wind gust. You think to yourself, “Why do I do this? I’m paying to do this?? I must be a special kind of stupid…” When suddenly, the girl in pigtails and an over-sized snow parka standing next to you jumps up into the air and lands with a shimmy, shaking her hips as she points to each of her neighbors and urges them to “clap along if you feel like a room without a roof”.

No, seriously, that's exactly how it happened.

No, seriously, that’s exactly how it happened.

As you can see, I pretty much smiled like a fool the whole time. Even with the skies raining Liquid Ugh (TM) all over us for the full 2 miles through puddles, potholes, and over frozen sand. Ordinarily I would have complained. But this was a whole new experience, and since I’ve technically never “raced” at this distance, I set a brand new PR for myself too!

Then, in keeping with this weekend’s active theme, I woke up nice and early again today for free yoga at our local Lululemon. This is about as perfect as it gets, because hey, free yoga, and hey , post-yoga shopping spree! I met up with a few friends and had a blast. But the three of us are clearly not allowed to take the class next to each other again, because we couldn’t stop pinching each other and giggling when one of us ate shit when tumbling out of crow pose. While we did have fun, I currently can’t feel my calves or remove my hoodie without tears of agony thanks to spending what felt like 80% of the class in down dog. So, mission accomplished?

After class I picked up a cute new post-practice wrap sweatshirt and finally joined the local YMCA too. Given the approximately eleventy billion tons of white bullshit covering every square inch of hope outside, I seriously doubt I’ll have clean pavement to run on before my half marathon in April. Add this ridiculous weather to the fact that I’m seriously afraid of slipping and twisting my knees on the ice, and my training situation is getting pretty dire. So $24/month later, I’ve now got a great little gym around the corner from my house that has a great view of the waterfront and a nice Olympic-sized pool too!

this blog post wouldn't be complete without a ymca selfie & obligatory cat picture

Clockwise: ymca selfie, new lulu shorts & mula bundle wrap, furry friend Emma, Cocoa Diablo & BWW time!

The rest of the weekend was normal weekend-y-type stuff: MarioKart (I suck), laundry (it sucks), Buffalo Wild Wings (does NOT suck!), etc. I even met up with my parents this afternoon and joined them for a Cocoa Diablo, or a highball of hot cocoa spiked with about 3 shots of Fireball Whiskey. It is about as delicious as it sounds, and twice as potent as you’d expect. Which brings me to now!

So how was your weekend? Did you manage to stay active? Tell me all about it 🙂

Run Dancing

My name is Jessica and I have a confession to make: I’m a run-dancer.

Actual footage of me run dancing.

Actual footage of me run dancing.

I wave, wiggle, point, jazz-hands, hip-pop, shimmy, bob and weave in time with whatever fun song that happens to pop up randomly on my ipod during my run.

But I’m not ashamed. Nay. I am proud of my affliction. I look forward to my next run for a number of reasons, one of them being the fact that I can rock out to some song or another with my headphones on and feel invincible as I run.

It may seem shameful, but I know I’m not alone. In fact, I’ve found quite a few fellow runners that admit to incorporating some sweet moves into their run, especially when the topic of running with music comes up. You know you have found a kindred spirit when you start trading songs:

“Have you ever run-danced to Pharrell?”

“OMG Yes! But I really love it when Lenny Kravitz pops up.”

“What about Sean Paul?!?!”

It’s truly the tie that binds, run dancing.

So, with that said – are you a run-dancer? If so, what’s your favorite song? PLEASE share so that I can freshen up my playlist!