Run less…love it more?

Ever since the marathon in October (which feels like a lifetime ago, btw…), I’ve been running less and less. Not entirely by design mind you, I had every intention of keeping up the mileage to a certain extent, trying to stick with a longer run per week, yadda yadda yadda.

But then, that didn’t happen.

For lots of reasons –

– I needed a break from the intensity of marathon training. I didn’t realize it until a few weeks had passed, but man — marathon training is no joke. I *may* have mentioned this before. ;-)

– I missed the barre. And wanted to have time to weave in a couple of classes to take vs. ‘just’ teaching classes at barre n9ne. I missed embracing the shake at the barre on my time, not teacher time.

– I also started teaching more classes at barre n9ne (thanks to the studio growing by leaps and bounds, whee!) Slowly but surely and over time, I picked another up class and then another — and now, I find myself at the studio almost every day teaching a class(es). *Swoon* I’m LOVING it every second of the way, clearly. <3

(sorry, digressing…)

In the midst of all of that, which took place over the course of the past few months, I did run but it was along the lines of that #runsimply mantra I set for myself a couple of weeks, post-26.2.  I chose to run when I wanted to run and I chose not to really plan the runs all the much — just running because I loved it, wanted a good sweat, was looking for that runner’s high that truly nothing else compares to.

And now? I honestly don’t even know where my mileage stands per se — I’m mostly running 2-3 times per week, MAYBE 4 times in a week but that’s been a stretch of late. And the distance varies from a quick and dirty 3-miler to somewhere in the 5-6 range if I’m on the treadmill during the week or in the 5-7 range if it’s the weekend and I have the luxury of running outside.

What I noticed the other day, though? Was that even when I’m running on the treadmill – the TREADMILL — I’m running something fierce. I’m the happiest runner you ever saw, my legs are humming along, the miles seem to just tick by, and I’m even returning to those hilly intervals I did a few weeks back that nearly killed me (the one where my a$$ fell off, yeah those…).

To run less has meant loving it more.

I am in deep passionate love with running. I’m not obsessed with it, I’m not thinking about my distance or pace or speed or runs-per-week constantly, I’m not thinking about it at all — unless I’m in that moment, that ‘run-moment’ and then? The love story continues.

It’s sort of like those friendships where you may not see that friend for months or even years at a time, but you can pick up right where you left off, as if no time had passed at all — never once skipping a beat.

That’s what running has become for me — a love story with no ending in sight, no definitions or rules or boundaries needed. It can change at any time and it’ll certainly continue to evolve this year, that much I am certain of.

But for right now, love? Running less means loving you more. <3

photo(11)

The proof is in the sweat — and that smile on my face after one of those NEEDED get-out-of-my-head-shake-the-funk runs is all the proof I need.

…annnnd the blooper reel (26.2-style)

Oh look — *another* marathon-inspired blog post over here. I know, I know — you’re all shocked by this, hmm? ;-)
(and this one is kinda long, sorry – lots of blooper stories to share!)

But seriously — enough with the tears up in here. While I’ve LOVED sharing our very emotional, very amazing marathon journey with you guys here, today it’s time for a few giggles. It’s about time, right?

With that, I bring you….the BLOOPER REEL, 26.2-style. Let’s dive right in, shall we? 

Remember how I told you all that Friday was a day filled with anxiety and emotion as we prepped for Chicago and made our way to the airport that afternoon?  Well, for any of you Type A-ers out there, you KNOW how stressful and anxious packing can be. I mean I had a TYPED-UP list of things to bring with me on this trip — broken down into nice neat little categories: race morning, post-race, Friday night outfit, Saturday night outfit, etc. etc. etc., you get the idea.

I even had a separate category just for snacks and fuel.
(can you see where this is heading folks?)

…I forgot to pack our Healthy Bites.

The ONE item I so painstakingly planned ahead for, packing up nice and neatly in teeny tiny little ziploc bags in the freezer – three for me, three for Scott. Yet, they never made it out of the freezer and into my carry-on bag with our giant bag of snacks and other race day goodies (bandaids and body glide, anyone?). As soon as I realized it in the airport, my heart dropped, and I immediately felt like crying…and throwing up. Those Healthy Bites were made with such love and care by the ever fabulous, ever beautiful #runsherpa queen Lindsay. She made them ESPECIALLY for our race and they meant the world to me. The world.

Yet I forgot them. I was SO sad.
…and MAD at myself for forgetting the most important thing aside from our sneakers on race day!

Immediately, I started to panic. My sis tried to help keep me calm. Scott just looked at me, unsure of what to say really. And I was just a mess. I emailed Lindsay to get some ideas on what else to pack once we arrived in Chi town (cut-up larabars? lunabars? something ‘real’ was what I wanted, not just our honey stingers and gummy bears). Lindsay responded almost immediately (because she’s awesome) and one of the first things she said after giving me some backup options, was this: “what hotel are you staying at?” I knew what her intent was. She was going to spend an arm and a leg to overnight replacement Healthy Bites to our hotel. I did NOT want to put her out that way, particularly because this was entirely my fault. And yes, I was being stubborn.

Little did I know that she wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer. Behind the scenes, fellow #runsherpas Heather and my sis were scheming. I was even texting with Heather about it and she played dumb to what was really going on behind the scenes (so sneaky!!). As it turns out, my sis was SO worried about how I’d reacted to my forgotten Healthy Bites that she HAD to fix it. With Lindsay’s help at Healthy Bites headquarters (hehe) in Austin, Jo and Heather (and Lindsay) split the cost of shipping the bites up to Chicago in time for the race.

I have NO idea what this cost them but I’m sure it was a small fortune.
…and that gesture by the three of them? Meant the absolute world to me. 

What started as a GIANT blooper on my part turned into the most beautiful act of kindness I’ve ever seen.
…love you ladies!! <3 #gratitude

(editor’s note: check out the awesome “Fueled by Healthy Bites” badge on the right side of this blog post — how awesome is that?? Healthy Bites FTW!)

And in other blooper reel moments? Let’s discuss:

  • In my haste to bring my stuff downstairs to load into the in-laws car for the ride to the airport, I slipped and fell down 3-4 stairs. Like, really? I NEVER fall down the stairs (I do fall *up* them from time to time, though…). I was so annoyed I started to cry. Um hi, anxious much?
  • Again in a haste, we left to grab some lunch before our ride arrived to bring us to the airport. We stupidly decided to try a new place neither of us had ever been to before. And because we thought we ‘knew where it was,’ we didn’t bother with GPS. Annnnnnd we promptly got lost. In the freakin’ city we LIVE in. Who does that?? Cue more tears (I was hangry, I have an excuse…kinda).
  • At the airport, we get through security with relative ease. Line wasn’t very long, leaving us with plenty of time to grab a drink at the airport bar with Jo and M who were already at the airport. We hastily grabbed our shoes, our carry-on bags and our toiletries…or we tried to grab our toiletries but the security guard grabbed them and started inspecting them. Shaking the bag at me, she chided me for using a *gallon* sized ziploc instead of the approved *quart* sized bag. How many times have I used those damn gallon sized bags and never once been stopped? But THAT DAY, of all days? And I’m being harassed by the security agent. I had to choose my battles — tossing some of my products so they’d fit into the smaller quart sized bag instead. (or she offered that I could “check” these items instead…um hi, who would ever do that for TWO items??). I was *so* annoyed in fact that she left me speechless. Scott must’ve breathed a sigh of relief at that one…he’s seen me throw a tantrum in public before, it’s not pretty. LOL
  • During the race, Scott and I had our eyes peeled for friends and family we knew would be cheering us on. I guess our eyes were a little bit TOO excited to see our name on one of the signs as we passed by one spectator in particular. Scott *swore* it said “Sutera” on it somewhere and yelled “babe, that’s for us!” thinking it was a blog reader or someone who was holding the sign. No, no — it was for another runner with the last name “Suter.” The lady looked at us when Scott got all excited and said something to the effect of “this isn’t for you.” LOL gee thanks ;-)
  • Annnd last but not least: I booked our hotel room in Chicago SO long ago (Um, I booked them in FEBRUARY) that I forgot that our room had a king-sized bed. It wouldn’t have mattered if Jo and M hadn’t decided later on to join us in Chicago and I offered to share our room with them to save some money. Buuut I forgot that tiny detail until a week before the race. A wee bit late for making room change requests. Soooo king bed for #teamsutera and tiny rollaway TWIN bed for Jo and M. Fail, fail, FAIL. (good thing they have a sense of humor…)

The moral of this story? While there were plenty of tears this weekend — tears of joy and tears of utter exhaustion and pride — there were also plenty of laughs to go around. Because that’s how #teamsutera rolls ;-)

26.2: In the words of #teamsutera

Wow. I sit here at my laptop, knowing full well what a huge accomplishment becoming a marathoner is. 
…yet I struggle to find the right words to capture the moments that lead up to Scott and I crossing that finish line together. Hand-in-hand, as promised. 

But I’ll do my best to capture the emotion of the day — with future posts on all the *other* stuff that happened leading into the big day (including a ‘bloopers’ reel which I’m sure all you Type A-ers will appreciate!). 

26.2: In the words of #teamsutera

Running the Chicago Marathon was both the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but also the most proud thing I’ve ever done in my life. The days leading into the marathon itself? Marked by lots of tears, more than a few moments of anxiety and a whole lot of thinking, wondering, pondering, reminiscing. You see, this past 18 weeks meant so, so, so much more to me than the race itself. No matter what was going on in our lives from June – October, the one constant that remained? Training for 26.2. It was always there. Always present by my side. In my mind. Just like Scott has always been there, always by my side, always on my mind. <3

So leading into the big day on Sunday, all I could think about was ‘wow, this is almost over.’ The word ‘over’ felt so big, so heavy, so sad, somehow. I found myself crying in the car on the way to work anytime I thought about the marathon, or when I’d read some comforting and uplifting words from friends via text, email or tweet (Meaghan wins the award for making me cry the hardest with the most heartfelt email I’ve ever received from a friend). It all suddenly felt so rushed, so whirlwind-ish, so…nearly over. Even the morning of the marathon seemed to whir by in an instant. Next thing I knew, we were trudging down to Grant Park to find our start corral — with Jo and M by our side, trying their best to keep us (meaning: me) calm. Distracting us, making us laugh, taking pictures…even giving us both a hug before we parted ways at our corral. (the most comforting hugs of all…)

Scott and I stood in our corral, taking it all in. We were both so proud at that moment. I know that because Scott’s eyes were absolutely glowing with joy. Meanwhile, I kept hiding the fact that I was welling up with tears, sobs rising in my throat as I listened to the announcer prepare us for what would lie ahead. I didn’t want Scott to see me looking sad — when really it wasn’t sadness, but just sheer emotion at the enormity of what we were about to do. I couldn’t believe we were toeing the starting line — or once we crossed that starting line that we were actually running a marathon.

Us. Running a MARATHON. Seriously??

Now, I’m not going to go into every last bit of the race, mile-by-mile. That’s not my style, as you know. I’m here simply trying to capture the emotion of the day. Sure — it was physically painful. Sure — it tested every last ounce of mental strength I’d built up during training. Sure — it was all I could do to show strength and confidence when I saw my sis and M at mile 8 and again at mile 17 with my mom and her boyfriend Mark (when all I really wanted to do was crumple to the ground in tears). Sure — it was really hard to continue shuffling forward when we both hit the physical wall around mile 19.

But what mattered more that day? How we handled that pain, that emotion…all of it. We handled it together — just as we’ve done with every obstacle we’ve faced in life. With couragestrength and a fierce commitment to eachother and to finishing what we started.

So as we rounded that bend to mile 26 — and the announcer told the runners to take it all in, the accomplishment we were thisclose to hitting…and the emotions just came flooding forward. I was crying, big giant sobs while trying my best not to hyperventilate as we headed towards that finish line. It was more that I could finally exhale — all 18 weeks of work came rushing back at me.

We did this. We set out to finish what we started. And we did it together. Hand-in-hand, huge smiles on our faces, tears in our eyes, and more pride than either of us have ever felt in our entire lives. 

So on Sunday, October 7th at roughly 1pm — Scott and I became marathoners. Finishing that thing in under 5 hours (4:54ish). But more than any number could possibly tell you? We finished what we started — together, as always. 

#teamsutera

(editor’s note: I seriously have *so* much more to share from our marathon weekend but I felt it important to start here — from the very emotional side of marathon training. A side of training I was clearly very unprepared for but so very thankful for. More to come, much, much more…)

26.2 miles of gratitude

It’s marathon week for Team Sutera. And it’s been a very emotional one for this half of Team Sutera in particular.

Every single time I allow my mind to wander to marathon day, my eyes instantly well up with tears.
…partly because the sheer thought of what we’re about to do is equal parts awe-inspiring and equal parts fear-instilling (don’t worry, it’s the good kind of fear – the motivating kind)

…also because I think about crossing that finish line, hand-in-hand with Scott, and seeing my sister, her fiancé (!) M, and my mom and her boyfriend all smiling and cheering for us at the finish line (see? Even typing these words has me tearing up…).

…but mainly because I am quite simply stunned by the love and support we’ve both been surrounded with since we started training. From friends, from family, from #runsherpas,  from co-workers, from barre n9ne clients and fellow instructors, even relative strangers on twitter. All rooting for us. All pulling for us. All lifting us up with their words of encouragement and utter trust that we’ve got this.

So, as Scott and I head to Chicago today, I’m doing just one thing in preparation for Sunday: I’m showing gratitude. To everyone and anyone who will listen to me.

This is how I plan to spend the 26.2 miles we’ll run on Sunday – by lifting Scott and I up with words of gratitude. Every time we hit a mile marker, I’ll be dedicating that mile to someone or something that I’m grateful for. I may shout it out, I may whisper it quietly to Scott, or I may keep it tucked away in my mind.

But for every single mile we run, I’ll be grateful.
…and I’ll do my best to show that gratitude both in my actions on Sunday but also with words of gratitude, moments of prayer, and quieting moments running side-by-side with the love of my life. <3

It’ll be 26.2 miles of gratitude. 

Training for 26.2 — through the eyes of the hubs

Hi everyone!!  It’s Scott. I just wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for joining Jess and I on our marathon journey. I have really appreciated the words of encouragement that you have given us! It has meant the world to us!  I would like to thank all of the virtual run sherpas out there who joined us on many of our runs.  We could feel your presence and your prayers as we trained for this amazing accomplishment. I wrote Jess this open letter to let her know not only how I felt about this journey but how I feel about her.

Hey baby….

For someone who knows me better than anyone, you know that writing my thoughts down is not my strong suit. I wear my emotions on my sleeves, my actions speak much louder than my words. I would rather show you than tell you. With that being said, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for not only encouraging me to go after my dreams but for joining me on this journey.

Our latest journey, marathon training, has cemented my belief that we can accomplish anything together.  When the two of us set a goal there in no goal we can’t reach together. God gave us a tremendous gift — each other — and I am so proud that we have taken that gift and made it blossom. We have challenged each other, pushed each other, supported each other throughout our relationship and by doing so have made each other better. You make me a better husband, son, brother, and friend. You make me a better person.

I have enjoyed our early morning runs so much. They have given me time to reflect, time to think, time to be with you virtually uninterrupted.  We may not speak for miles, our eyes may not meet for hours but our breath and our footsteps are in sync. To take a moment and listen (which I spent the majority of our runs doing) I was astonished at how connected we truly are. We have a CONNECTION that no one could possibly understand and I find  that very hard to put into words. When I’m with you I feel no pain — even while running 20+ miles – no anxiety on what the next mile brings, no pressure to be someone I’m not, and no sadness for dreams that have not yet come true. Instead I feel unconditional LOVE and with that comes the truest form of HAPPINESS!

You have been OUR motivator. You have been OUR nutritionist! You have been OUR alarm clock. You have been OUR strength.  Without you WE could not or would not have been able to accomplish this. YOU are OUR Sherpa!  WE are going to Chicago! WE are going to complete 26.2 miles! WE are going to kiss at the finish line!

We did it! And we did it our way, the Sutera way!! We trained for a marathon and enjoyed EVERY minute of it. We did it with a smile, we did it with laughter, we did it TOGETHER.  That is the Sutera way!!

(editor’s note: this series of pics epitomizes our relationship — love, laughter, friendship, trust, adoration…<3)

<< Editor’s note #2: To say that this guest post left me with tears in my eyes is an understatement. As Scott said in his own words — he has a hard time putting in writing how he feels sometimes…which has always struck me since he is SO open with his emotions otherwise. So to see his emotions in words — versus written all over his face — well, it touched me in a very different way. Add this to reason #4, 567 why marathon training has been a true blessing, a gift, an experience I will not soon forget. <3 >>

(almost) Wordless Wednesday — remembering every (long) mile.

Today, just days away from the Chicago Marathon and I’m sitting here remembering every single mile of our long runs. Runs I made sure to capture in pictures to help me firmly sear those moments, those miles, into my memory for good.

13, 14, 15, 10

16, 18, 20, 12

20, 22, 16, 10…

176 miles worth of long, long, (LONG) runs.

176 miles worth of proud moments.

176 miles, together — Team Sutera 4lyf <3

The last (long) run

Saturday marked our last long run before the Chicago Marathon. 

Back when I created our training plan, scrutinizing every week, every mile, every detail, I remember looking at that date: September 29.
…and thinking, damn — I can’t even fathom what *that* will feel like. 

Knowing that all of our long runs were done.
…including two 20 milers and a 22 miler.

Knowing that we left nothing behind but hard work, dedication, and more than a few laughs along the way.
for 18 weeks. 

Knowing that in less than one week, we’d be toeing the starting line *in* Chicago.
…thisclose to becoming a marathoner.

At that time, 18 weeks ago, I had a hard time fathoming any of it. I just couldn’t visualize it. I couldn’t quite grasp that our bodies would get “there” — to that point where running longer and farther and harder would somehow, over time, feel shorter and shorter, ‘easier’ and ‘easier’ (‘easy’ being a relative term, of course). 

But yet, September 29th arrived: 
…we stepped outside at 7am.
…it was raw and chilly and a little bit rainy.
…but off we went.
…chugging through those miles.
…10 miles that felt effortless.
…our legs were so happy, so rested, so joyful out there.
…it hardly mattered by the end that it wasn’t exactly a beautiful fall day.
…it was a beautiful day to be running. For no other reason than we’d hit our stride. Made our way through every single one of our long runs. Every single training run. Every single week of our schedule.

Our bodies told us one thing on Saturday: “we’re ready.” 

Both of us lamented at the end of our 10-miler that we SO could’ve kept going. Kept chugging along, happy as ever. We smartly did not, don’t worry. But to know that our bodies could go farther and longer and actually *wanted* to go farther and longer? Amazing.

…guess this whole taper ‘thing’ works, hmm? Legs that are itchy to run more? I’ll take it. If I could just bottle up this feeling and re-release it again next Sunday around 8am? That would be fab. Let’s see if we can make that happen, mmk? 

#26point2in6days
(omg)

#everytime

#everytime.

#everytime I lace up my sneakers…

…I never regret it. 
(even when I’m tired after a long day and have a run on the agenda. Like last night….5 sweaty treadmilled miles, done. #getafterit)
(even when I *think* I’m way too tired to get out the door at dark thirty.)
(even when it’s a lace-up-and-run on the treadmill — those endorphins man, nothing better.)

#everytime I set foot in the studio…(a studio that is expanding again this fall, whee!!)

…I fall even more in love with barre n9ne. 
(with the clients who I adore)
(with the challengers, both new and old, who constantly commit, recommit and take charge of their health.)
(with my fellow instructors who I am constantly learning from, and have so much fun WITH every chance we get for a b9 staff dinner.)

#everytime I think about Chicago…of how far we’ve come…

…my heart bursts with pride and joy. 
(and slight sadness that it is so very quickly coming to an end.)
(this has become so, so, so much more than just another training cycle.)
(… the most incredible 18 weeks I never saw coming.)

#everytime. <3

What my head is saying (12 days away)

Ok, seriously — it’s crunch time people. We are 12 DAYS away from the big day.
…race day. Our first 26.2.

 

It’s *ALL* I can think about.
…which is why it’s all I’ve been blogging about lately (sorry ’bout that!)

So what is my head saying with 12 days to go?
(I’d invite you into my brain but it’s a scary place up there, so a few snippets will have to do!)

OMG we’re really doing this. We’re really gonna run 26.2 miles in 12 days.

Must add this to my list – buy energy bars (for Scott),  peanut butter packets, bagel thins and bananas to pack in our suitcase for our pre-race breakfast (well, maybe not the bananas, they might get mashed, huh?) I best not forget to buy these things, mmk? (um hi, there *will* be grocery stores in Chicago…relax headcase!)

Will this weather pattern hold? Right now it’s looking like 50s at the start of the race, 65-70 by the finish. Utterly perfect. Please, please, pleeeease stay that way.

Um. What if I really have to pee during the marathon? I am NOT stopping to use a porta-potty. I refuse to stop. So my options are what? Pee myself or hold it until we finish. Neither of these sound very enticing. <tucks this one away to ruminate on more later…>

Holy crap, 26.2 miles is going to feel so far especially after all of this tapering we’re doing. Please, please, please mind games go away — taper is good, rest is good, my legs will be SO happy and itchy to run on race day. Right?? (this is where you all shout at me through the computer in agreement — RIGHT!!)

It’s gonna feel *so* weird to run 10 miles on Saturday as our last long run. If I thought 16 miles flew by last week, 10 is going to flyyyyyyy by. That is still so weird to consider – double digit miles flying by? Does that happen on race day or am I in for a rude surprise? (wait, don’t answer that…)

I seriously can’t wait to buy race bling from Erica Sara, her stuff is gorgeous. Oh — and a 26.2 decal for the car. I’ve always seen those on other people’s cars and thought “damn, that’s really far to run.” 

Um, my birthday is the day before. Man I’m really not in the mood to turn 33 (!). Just a number, just a number, just a number…

I really, really, really want to cross the finish line with Scott, hand-in-hand. I wonder if we’ll be able to do that or if it’ll be too crowded at the finish. How awesome would that be to see on camera (sis, are you taking notes?) ?? I’d cherish that pic forever…just as much as I’ll cherish that moment forever, it’s going to be seared into my brain for good… <ok please don’t cry while writing this post, I mean really…>

What am I going to wear? My go-to run-a-marathon tank from Lululemon and my speed shorts also from there? They’ve been with me on every long run from the start, afterall. I suppose I owe it to them to come with me on race day too, huh? Hmm – in that case, this weather pattern really has to hold. I’d rather not freeze my ass off waiting at the starting line.

Man, I’m gonna meet some awesome people while we’re in Chicago. Including Tina (looooong overdue), Amber (runsherpa!) and Heather (also looooong overdue) and I’m sure a slew of other bloggers who will be there running and spectating. So cool.

Um. We’re really doing this.
…in 12 days.
(omg)

(see? I told you my head was a scary place to be at times…;-))

16 miles: happy.

Happy. 
…that about sums up our 16 miler on Saturday. 

Happy that we were out there running together – Team Sutera all the way
(we didn’t get to run together *all* week due to something called a ‘new job…’)

Happy that our legs were ready: strong, rested, ready.
(thanks to taper time and learning to pull back…which is *very* hard for me, as you all know)

Happy that the miles felt SO good. All 16 of them. Literally ALL of them.
(which never happens in long run land…at least not in my version of it)

Happy that with every mile, my mind grew calmer, quieter, happier. I have never had this quiet a mind during a long run.
Ever.

Happy that this run proved to me and to Scott that we are more than ready for 26.2. Seriously, if someone told me to keep running for another 10 miles on Saturday, I could’ve knocked out another 10. I felt that good. So did Scott.
(but um, not gonna lie — I was glad we weren’t running another 10, 16 was plenty on Saturday!)

Happy that in 15 days (!) — we’d be running the streets of Chicago. Together. With (as Scott put it), 50,000 of our closest friends cheering us on.
(the roar of the crowd — the mere thought of it — sends chills down my arm every time I think about it)

(Can you see the happy in our eyes here? I can. ;-) )

With every day that passes, every step we take, every mile we cross off our training plan — I’m happier, more proud, more confident, more ready. I stand here continually in awe of how far we’ve come, and where we’re about to go. Feeling especially blessed and full of faith at this very moment. It’s a damn good feeling.

Run happy friends, always. <3