Accountability.

Guess what? 
…even I need a kick in the ass sometimes to get my workout in. 

Shocking, I know. ;-)

But seriously, this brings up a very valid point — accountability can be a huge motivator. HUGE. So today, I’m here to tell you how to find that accountability, harness it, and get that workout in. In three very easy steps. 

Step 1: b*tch and moan vent to your fit friend and sis about how much you really don’t want to get your run in after work. (while sitting in traffic on the way home, NOT texting while driving, I swear). Call your husband and do the very same thing. Only to hear: “I’ll motivate you, and you’ll motivate me, we’ll get it done.” (remember this, you’ll need to reference it in a sec). 

Step 2: Read the following text from the same fit friend and sis while filling up your gas tank (it’s really quite awesome to see your gas light come on while in traffic after a long day…am I the only one who hates filling their gas tank and always waits until the most inopportune time to fill it??)

photo (3)

Step 3: Call your husband back. Tell him you’re almost home and to get ready to work. His response: “I’m tired, maybe we should skip it.” <–what happened to motivating eachother?? My response: “Nope, we’re doing it. My run won’t take as long as your weight workout so get upstairs and get moving, I’ll be home soon.”

The result: 

photo (31)

Four sweaty miles, done. That’s all I really wanted — I didn’t care about how far I went, I just wanted to get a good sweat, feel that rush of endorphins and get my heart rate up. Something I desperately needed after WAY too much sitting at work all day.

And that my friends, is all it takes to stay accountable to your fitness goals. Three easy steps* is all it takes.
#makeitcount

*Note: it also works well to post your workout intentions on Facebook or Twitter, then it’s out there for the world to see, and do you really want the ‘world’ to know you skipped out on that workout? ;-)

#Runsherpas: the #teamsutera way

By far one of the best aspects of marathon training for Scott and I (aka #teamsutera) was the amazing outpouring of love and support from loved ones — not just family but ‘IRL’ friends and bloggy friends alike. It was nothing short of incredible.

Between that and all that Scott and I learned during our 18-week marathon training journey together and we’re both *still* feeling very grateful for the entire experience.

One of the coolest phenomenon’s ever was the forming of the #runsherpa support group that sort of started small and snowballed before we knew it. In case you aren’t sure how this all came together, refer to this post please. :-)

So when #teamsutera (and fellow #runsherpas, my sis and M!) had the opportunity to pay it forward by becoming #runsherpas ourselves, we jumped at the chance. And who better to #runsherpa for than for Meaghan — who is staring down her first ULTRA marathon tomorrow: the Stone Cat 50 miler. For those of you who do not know Meaghan — you are sorely missing out. Not only is she freakin’ hysterical and an awesome, awesome, AWESOME friend ‘IRL’, but she is ridiculously inspiring.

Just SIX MONTHS ago this girl was recovering from compartment syndrome surgery. A surgery that had her basically starting from scratch. From ground zero. From the very beginning all over again. No matter how long Meaghan had been running, none of it mattered post-surgery. She was starting fresh. As in one foot in front of the other, slowly but surely.

And today? She’s prepping for an incredible challenge — 50 miles. And oh yeah, it’s a trail race too.
(see?? I told you she was pretty amazing, did I not?)

To this day, I count Meaghan as THE most passionate runner I have ever met. She absolutely glows anytime we talk about running. Her words are dotted with joy whenever she’d share training advice and tips (something she does very sensitively I might add — she is *not* a know-it-all kind of runner AT ALL…and she’d have every right to be one given how experienced she is). It was her words that stuck with me on that epic 22 mile training run that Scott and I absolutely crushed this summer. (and it was her post that made me bawl like a little baby when she wrote about seeing my marathon journey from the outside looking in…)

Her words? So simple yet incredibly powerful: Let the run come to you.

That phrase still gives me goosebumps.

ANYWAY. Now that I’ve gushed for this entire post about the awesomeness that is Meaghan, it’s clear that I seriously cannot wait to #runsherpa for her tomorrow. Scott is getting in on the action too, naturally. He’s taking his post-race pizza making duties *very* seriously. And I can guarantee that he’ll be the loudest #runsherpa of all time…and probably the loudest spectator at the race tomorrow overall. Just a hunch. ;-)

So tomorrow? I am honored, proud and SO excited to #runsherpa the hell outta Stone Cat while Meaghan crushes her first ultra. No matter what, she’s going to cross that finish line with pride. She may be hurting. She may be utterly exhausted. And she’ll definitely be emotional. But what I hope she never forgets is where she was just six months ago — and a smile of joy and gratitude crosses her face as she finishes all 50 miles.

Run proud, run happy, run strong Meaghan. You GOT this.
Love,
#runsherpa Jess (and Scott ala #teamsutera fame)

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. 

(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

Oh, exhaustion.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought I’d enter my first week of taper with tons of energy, ready to tackle each of our remaining runs with happy running legs.

Um, notsomuch. 

At least not this week. I am just exhausted. 
…I guess my body finally caught up with all 40 miles we put in last week, huh? 

Reminder: I am not invincible.
(duh)

So this week has been a huge one for me in terms of truly and honestly listening to my body. I’m teaching a lot this week which I love — but it’s been adding to the exhaustion factor a bit. I suppose starting a new job can also lead to the exhaustion factor too, hmm? (a new job that’s going *really* well in case you’re wondering ;-) )

My plan for the remainder of the week is this: 

Teach my beloved 9am class today; get ready as fast as I can to hit the road into the office after class. Rock it out at the office (heh). Commute home. Put my game face on and get the 7 miles in that I didn’t get in this morning.
…but be ok with things if those 7 miles don’t happen for whatever reason tonight. Listening to my body.

Teach tomorrow at 6am and 5:30pm and work my bum off in between at the home office. Focus on lots of fueling foods, good hydration and be ready to carb up (yay pizza!) tomorrow night in preparation for Saturday’s long run.

Saturday: long run day (whee! yes I still get excited about these, who knew?!). We’re aiming for 15 miles. And I kind of love that 15 miles doesn’t feel quite so daunting anymore. (especially when I know I taper even more the week after this!). 

Oh, exhaustion? I feel ya, I do. But guess what? I’m not gonna let you do me in this week. Nope. I allowed it this morning. I finally got a restful night’s sleep after two back-to-back nights of tossing and turning and restlessness. Today? After a glorious NINE hours of sleep (yes NINE), I am back on my game. I feel ‘me’ again and that’s what matters.

Because guess what? In 17 (!) days: I’m gonna be a marathoner. Why yes I am. ;-)