Thursday, June 21, 2012

Keep Calm & Love Running

As many of you know, I signed up for my first full marathon earlier this month.

At times, I feel completely crazy for signing up for a full marathon. I'm not sure what I'm thinking, but I am trying to stay motivated by seeking inspiration daily.

Most of the time, I am busting with happiness...ready to take on this challenge and fight to that finish line.

I ask for advice- from both rookie and veteran runners.

I read articles about inspiring people who've completed full marathons and other challenging races.

I research training programs to determine which program will work best for me and my hectic schedule.

NO skipping out on long runs when training for a full marathon.

I follow amazing people on Twitter who keep me inspired and motivated. See below.

A few of my beautiful running mentors and friends Meggie, Martha Ellen and Christi!
I run with my friends as often as possible! Last night at The Brew Mile, the heat was getting the best of me. And my legs felt sore and tight from not stretching well before my run. When we were coming up to the finish line, Mel looked at me and said, "We are almost there!! And under 12 for it, Ash! Run!"

And I did. I felt like Forest Gump - and I probably looked just as awkward, but I went on for it.

Our official finish time was 11:28!!!!!
I'll take it!:)
To be completely honest, I'm scared shitless about this full marathon. Thankfully, I have Carla, who is an INCREDIBLE running partner. We've only ran together a few times, but I'm confident we make an amazing team. And today I got a beautiful reminder that I have the most loving and supportive friends and family. 

One my coworkers was handing out the mail and said, "I have goodies for you!"

Goodies? I hardly ever receive mail at the office.

My immediate reaction was jury duty- probably because I watch too much Investigation Discovery.

I was wrong. And thankfully so...because what I opened up filled my heart with so much hope and joy.

It's the little and kind gestures in life that have the biggest impact.
Thank you again, Mel.
My beautiful friend Melanie Allen sent me this poster with an inspiring note. I rearranged everything on my desk and put it right in front of my computer, so I see it every second, of every day.

Her letter and poster came at the most perfect time.

I was starting to doubt myself...

I was questioning my abilities...

I was fearful that my mind would defeat my body...

Then Mel sent me this perfect reminder to  
keep calm and just focus on my love for running.

And by the time I got home from work, my friend Samantha Adamczeski sent me pictures from the #MakeTheRules Athlete's Handbook by Nike Women. She said it reminded her of me..and I was truly flattered.

Here are a few of my favorites: 

I have no clue what my full marathon journey will entail. But I'll maintain my positive outlook and attitude through the love and support of my friends and family...I couldn't keep pushing and fighting through those tough miles without you all. When my body feels like giving up, I drift away to to the messages, comments and posts from you. 

You are all helping me make my own rules.

You are all a part of my handbook to success.

Much love,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In Time, Happy Memories Are All That Will Remain

Yesterday morning, my sister and I woke up early to walk 4.7 miles in honor of our Uncle LJ.

"How did you even start running?" Sarah asked as we kicked off our long walk together. 

"Well, I had just graduated college and I was looking for my next big 'thing' to focus on," I said. "I was always inspired by my friends who ran half marathons and other races. But, I was never the running type...I hated it actually. I would hide behind the bleachers during our warm up and cool down runs when I was in track. And the only thing I hated more than running a mile in gym class was squared lunch pizza. Anyway, one day  I just jumped on the treadmill...and I could barely run for 30 seconds without stopping. But, I didn't give up. And now I've done 4 half marathons and countless races.. "

"I really don't know how you do it," Sarah said.

"Some days, I don't either," I said back. "But I can't seem to live without it. I run when I am sad. I run when I am stressed. I run when I want to eat nachos or cake balls. Running is just part of who I am now."

I gave her advice that my running mentors once gave me: 
  • Wear good running shoes. When your feet hurt, everything hurts!
  • Focus on distance or speed, you can't do both right away.
  • Take it one step at a time. One mile at a time.
  • Just start by putting one foot in front of the door. And repeat.
  • Don't compare yourself to anyone else...when you're running, run for you!
  • Buy Body Glide. You must buy Body Glide.
  • Sign up for races to stay motivated and on track.
  • Listen to your body, but remember running is about 30% physical and 70% mental. Be strong mentally. 
We spent the second half of our walk sharing our favorite memories about Uncle LJ, her upcoming wedding plans, her fitness goals, my job, her job and the lessons we've learned over the years. We walked by our old elementary school, my first job,  and the doctors office - all of which created more stories and memories to share.

And soon enough, we both agreed that time goes too quickly...and we need to make more time for family

I remember when we hit the 5K point, I was thrilled for Sarah.

"It's not even 9 am, and you've already done a 5K," I said.

"Yeah, but we walked the whole way," she said. "But I guess you have to start somewhere." 

She already has the PERFECT attitude. I couldn't be more proud of her...4.7 miles is the farthest my sister has ever walked / ran.

When we got home, we plopped on the ground and started stretching.

We did it!
P.S. Look at Bandit's smile. What a stud.
 Just as we were finishing up the picture, Sarah's snarky neighbor lady yelled at us, "EXCUSE ME, LADIES! THAT IS NOT YOUR YARD! GET OUT OF IT WITH THAT DOG!"

I was shocked.

Absolutely shocked.

First, it really didn't look like her yard - because as you can see from the picture above - we were far from her driveway.

Second, who is that unhappy and hateful in life?

I didn't know what to say...and I was full of emotions.

I looked at her for about 30 seconds without saying anything and then I stood up.

"Well, I just hope you have a great day!!" I said and meant it in the most sarcastic way possible.

"Oh, well..." she said. "You too then!"

She just stood there in her ugly night gown, unsure what to say next..

I leaned over to Sarah and said, "Kill em' with kindness I guess."

Then, I told Sarah what I REALLY wanted to yell back, which is not appropriate for this blog.

When I told my mom the story later, I joked that I couldn't believe my best comeback was, "I just hope you have a great day!"

"I'm not," she said. "That's just how our family is..."

And thankfully so... because being rude back to her wouldn't have made me a better person or less upset. 


The funeral was hard- but that's not a surprise. What funeral is ever easy?

I walked in with Justin and the room was silent except for the video slideshow playing in the background.

No one was talking.

Everyone was crying.

I didn't really know who to hug first or what to I decided to just watch the slideshow.

Soon, my mom and Aunt Cathy walked over to me.

The site of them crying made me tear up, so we shared hugs and just cried together watching the slideshow.

Thankfully, a few pictures made us laugh.

When the video started from the beginning, I laughed that Lady GaGa "Born This Way" was the intro song.

My Aunt Cathy, who made the slideshow, started smiling and said, "This was the #4 song played in his iTunes."

And if you knew Uncle LJ, you would just crack up picturing him listening to Lady GaGa.

When the next song in the video started, Aunt Cathy told me it was the #2 song in his iTunes....

"Only The Good Die Young."

My heart sank...

Eventually, I walked over to his casket. He had hot sauce in his pocket (he put it on everything). His iPod was placed in his hands. A sign next to his casket said, "Everything I learned in life was from Star Trek." His giant travel mug was on the ground next to him and his collection of fun ties laid across the casket. Memories raced through my mind...everything was placed perfectly around him.

A few minutes later, my nephew Braxen went up to the casket and said, "Have fun in heaven with Grandpa."

Then my other nephew Landen went up to the casket and started blowing kisses and waving goodbye to him.

My Aunt Angie heard the boys and turned away to cry. Most of us did...

I did my best to hold it together throughout the day. I wanted to say strong for everyone else. But I broke down on the ride home. I remember trying to close my eyes...hoping I would stop crying if my eyes were closed. But obviously that didn't work...

When I got home, I text my mom and said, "I love you so much! I can't imagine your pain and hurt right now, but you know I am here for you!"

A few hours later, she text me: "Love you baby girl! Saying goodbye is never an easy thing, but in time happy memories are all that will remain."

With that, I picked myself off the couch and got ready for a date night with Justin. And off we went to make happy memories of our own...

"Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure."
-Oprah Winfrey 

Much love,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Your Troubles Will Quickly Pass

Sunday was a beautiful day. Not only was the sun shining bright, but it was the day of my lovely sister's bridal shower.

I was, of course, a hot mess from 8 am to noon. I spent most of the morning buying items I forgot for the games, updating my timeline of events, and finalizing the food order.

Grandma Kaye reminded me EVERYTHING would be perfect. Not because I'm a perfectionist, but because "it just will be."

God love her- she was right.

Sisters. Friends. Bridesmaids.

Smiling with the adorable Evie & bride-to-be.
The shower was a blast. We shared a lot of laughs and I got to meet my amazing brother-in-law's mother and grandma.

The only downside was my Grandma Iris couldn't make the shower. I would soon learn that her absence was a blessing in disguise, as it would be the last day she would ever spend with her son, Larry Jr.


My sister called me at 6:45 a.m. on Monday morning. When I saw her name on the caller ID, I knew something was wrong. She never calls me early in the morning. 

"Hey Ash," Sarah said softly. "Uncle LJ passed away this morning."

"Oh," is all that came out of my mouth. "Wow."

He was only 47.

"Angie found him this morning because he didn't get up for work," she said. "He passed away in the same room-the same way, as Grandpa."

"Wow," I said again. "I'm so happy that Grandma had all day yesterday with him."

Sarah told me that Uncle LJ was great yesterday. My mom saw him for a split second, and Grandma got to spend the whole day with him. Angie, his wife, spent the evening watching "The Time Traveler's Wife" with him before bed.

When I learned that was the last movie they ever watched together as a married couple, I got goosebumps.

"How is mom?" I asked.

"I could barely understand her when I called," Sarah said. "She was crying really hard."

My mind flashed back to my Grandpa Larry.... I could hear my mom screaming at me to wake up, "Ashley- wake up!! They think Grandpa is dead!"

I drifted back to reality and asked Sarah to keep me updated. "Please let me know if anyone needs me for absolutely anything," I said.

I didn't wake Justin up with the news, but I had a feeling he heard me on the phone. I stepped into the shower and a few seconds later, Justin walked into the bathroom.

"Are you okay?" he asked. "Is there anything I can do?"

"I'm OK," I lied with tears and water streaming down my face. "I know I didn't see him that often, so we weren't super close, but.."

"But it's never easy," Justin said.

"He was just so young," I said. "47 years old is so young."

I instantly remembered one of my favorite memories of Uncle LJ. A memory that truly illustrates his kind heart and love for family.

The winter of my senior year, I totaled my big blue van. I had no money saved up for a new car, so I was extremely devastated.

My Uncle LJ learned about the accident and told my mom he could sell me one his cars. I was over-joyed!

"Uncle LJ has a Saturn that he doesn't drive much," I remember mom telling me. "It's older, but in good shape."

"A car is a car!" I said. "How much?"

"Well, he said he will sell it to you for one dollar!" Mom said.

"ONE FREAKING DOLLAR?" I said. "That's it!?"

I remember crying (well because as you know, I cry a lot). I was so incredibly happy and thankful.

When we went to put the car in my name at BMV, he wouldn't even accept my dollar. I can only hope he knows how thankful I was that day...

Later in the afternoon, I learned Uncle LJ had a massive heart attack in his sleep.


Walking out of the office today for lunch, I felt my throat tighten up.

"Do not cry," I told myself.

I was about to burst into tears when I tripped over my own shoe. Thankfully, I found the courage to laugh at myself and kept walking with a smile on my face.


Tonight, I ordered shrimp and broccoli with white rice. The healthiest Chinese food option I've come across. And this was my fortune:

"The troubles you have now will pass away quickly."
This message came at the most perfect time.

My uncle's sudden death reminds me that I must stop stressing the small things. I need to focus on WHO and WHAT matters most in my life. My worries and frustrations seem so small when I think of Aunt, who lost her husband and best friend Monday morning.

My mother, who will never share a hug with her older brother and role model growing up.

And my grandma, who  will lay her son to rest on Saturday.

Even though I can't control the past, I can influence the future. I'm hoping to organize or participate in a run with my family + make a donation to the American Heart Association in his honor. I am inspired to continue living a healthy and heart-happy lifestyle.

To ensure this happens, I signed up for my first FULL marathon tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My motto will be a quote I heard during a recent episode of Extreme Weight Loss Edition:

"Don't listen to your body, conquer it."


And before I leave you, I wanted to add...

Don't forget how important your health is...if you are trying to lose weight and struggling to find motivation, just remember this:

you only get one body, so treat it like a temple.

Love your family, friends, and future enough to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

I understand a health transformation is not easy. By all means, you've read about my struggles in this little blog. But I can promise you a few things:

You will push your body to new limits.

You will breakdown. 

You will have great days.

You will have bad days.

You will cry during the highs and lows.

And I'll be here for you every step of the way.

Much love,