Keeping Fit With Family Life: Three #NoBull Tips

3 #NoBull Tips for Keeping Fit with Family Life

Howdy, Heifers.! I’m greeting you from environmentally-friendly Phoenix, Arizona – where you don’t need an oven or stovetop to survive. All you need is a sidewalk or the dash of your car. Seriously. See my Twitter feed.

Speaking of feeds, I’m talking today about feeding ourselves well, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and sticking to our weight loss goals while living with a household of people who could not care less about whether or not we meet a five-fruits-and-veggies a day goal or get in an early morning run.

Yes, I’m talking about kids. I have four of them. They’re all teenagers. Do you know what this means? This means they care more about that status of their hair or their latest social media post than they do if I eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food or flop down after ten sit-ups and binge watch Bonanaza because I cancelled the cable subscription.  

Seriously. I don’t think they’d even notice. They’d just blow past me, prostrate on the floor, not even bothering to offer me a handful of Cheezits as they head back upstairs and into their dens of teenage angst.

Heifers, I cannot let my health depend on the people in my house any more than I can let it depend on friends who tell me to live a little and order the nachos, co-workers who suggest I skip an evening run and hit happy hour or neighbors who give me a raised brow when I run past them at 3:30 am.  As much as I have to tune out the opinions and behavior of the people outside of my home, I have to do the same thing, sometimes, with the people inside my home.

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve read the articles about healthy family living where nutritionists suggest making meal times fun by whipping up artistic creations with bananas, strawberries, raisins and a whole-grain toaster waffle.  These nutritionists suggest that if we just get our kids to help with meal preps, these kids will suddenly dive into a bowl of zucchini with gusto, the pride and sense of accomplishment from chopping said vegetables overriding their desire for pizza.  These articles show pictures of families on bike rides along scenic trails with a beach landscape in the background, everyone properly outfitted with helmets and knee-pads.

Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not what happens in the RHR Household.  My kids don’t care if I make them cut up squash and roast it by hand in the Arizona heat. They still don’t want it. They don’t care if I air up the tires in our bikes, shine the helmets and suggest (in a Disney princess voice) that we all spend some quality time together cycling to Whole Foods to stock up on quinoa and chia seeds.

They still want to eat entire Costco boxes of Fiber One bars and leave the wrappers stuffed between the bed and wall (true story) or play video games all afternoon before screaming a suggestion that we all have In and Out Burger and then hit Dairy Queen for dessert.

Heifers, the struggle is real. I mean that, too. It’s hard to eat healthfully and mindfully when we live with people who have different priorities and metabolisms.  So, instead of giving you princess tips to transform your household into a healthy living pamphlet complete with unicorns pooping rainbow skittles, I’m going to give you my TOP 3 NO BULL TIPS for sticking with healthy eating and exercise even if your family isn’t on board.  

  1. Do You - Like I’ve said before, if we want to be healthy and fit, we have to do it for ourselves and by ourselves. Period. I know we want everyone else to get on board and do it with us. It would be easier if our friends, family and co-workers also decided to give up hot wings and ranch dressing for a salad and fruit. But Heifers, this isn’t going to happen, and nothing can derail good intentions more than depending on other people to make them a reality.  In the end, you have to do it for you, hold yourself accountable, make your own choices and stop listening to all of the noise that comes from other people and their choices. This is true for family members as much, if not more, as people outside our homes. Our kids and spouses don’t magically change their eating habits just because we change ours. If we start a running program, it’s not up to anyone else to get on board and lace up to join us. And if we wait, hope or wish that the people we live with will make the same changes we’re making, we’ll fail.  We. Will. Fail. The only way to stick to a healthy lifestyle is to focus on our own health and stop being distracted by other people’s habits.  So figure out what a healthy you means. If it means a keto diet, fine. If it means gluten-free, go for it. If it means 3:00 AM workouts so that you can fit in the rest of your work, then kill it at 3:00 AM. Figure out what works for you and then make peace with that. When you know yourself and you know what your body and mind need to be healthy, you gain confidence and clarity in what exactly you need to do. You stop looking to other people for help or guidance or even companionship. Yeah, all of that is great. But it isn’t always reality. My teenage daughter isn’t going to get up and run with me. My son isn’t whipping up baked tortilla chips and fresh guacamole for us. That’s the reality. So when my kids are ordering dessert or still sleeping when I get home from a run, I don’t let that affect me. I know what I’m doing, how to do it and where I’m going. I do me. End of story.

  2. Comparison is the Thief of Joy….and Killer of Fitness Plans - You’ve heard it before, the Teddy Roosevelt quote: comparison is the thief of joy. It’s also a real killer of healthy living and any other goals that take time, effort and serious suck. When we compare ourselves to someone else, anyone else, we forget our own unique situation and start thinking the answer to all of our questions lies in what everyone else is doing. It goes like this: you see a fit woman at Starbucks.  Maybe she’s rocking skin-tight yoga pants. And maybe she’s eating a slice of lemon pound cake. It’s easy to go down the mental comparison path, maybe thinking that if a woman that fit and healthy can eat a slice of pound cake, I can, too.  Or maybe I’m at the gym and I see a woman walking casually on the treadmill for half-an-hour and then chatting with friends for the rest of her workout. I start to wonder why I’m gutting out a 20-minute leg workout that is killing me.  Same thing happens at home, with kids. Have you ever noticed that kids can eat a few slices of pizza and wake up the next morning and not say a word about bloating or weight gain or basically anything else except plans for the day that include you carting them all over town in the Swagger Wagon?  It’s easy to see your kids or husband eating yummy food that would kill your healthy eating plans and think: maybe I should do that too? They’re not overweight and struggling. Maybe I’ve got this whole healthy diet down wrong and need to just splurge a little.  Yeah, slippery slope, Heifers. Don’t even start down that road. Teenagers have crazy metabolisms that, for women, peak in our late teens and early twenties.  You heard me:  according to Women’s Health magazine, the fastest our metabolism is going to get is in our twenties.  So, comparing myself with my teenage daughter is not only crazy, it’s scientifically wrong. Eating like a teenager will result in some serious weight gain for a (coughcough) forty-something mother. Even eating like a man, a man of my same age, does me no favors.  Men have more muscle mass, heavier bones and less fat. Thank you, Mother Nature.  What all of this means is that comparing myself and my habits to anyone else will only kill my diet, exercise and wellness plans. I can’t eat like a teenager. I can’t eat like my husband. In fact, I’m a whole little unique ball of just me, which is pretty great when I honor that and make choices that reflect my own body’s needs.  Comparison is a thief and a mirage.

  3. Set the Example…and the Menu - Finally, as much as this smacks of one of those CDC articles on healthy family life, I do believe the example I set for my kids is important….but, I take a long-term look at just how important it is. Just because I eat a salad today doesn’t mean my kid will stop hoarding Fiber One bars or forgo dessert. But, what she will see (even in the very back of her teenage mind) is that her mother cares enough about herself to eat well and exercise. Maybe that lesson won’t impact her today or this week or even in the next year or two, but one day, when she might face her own struggles or begin to think about her health, she’ll have a solid example to fall back on. This means that when I make healthier choices for myself, I know that I am teaching my kids how to do that when they decide to make that choice for themselves. I don’t think every lesson we teach our kids sinks in that exact moment. Sometimes, even for adults, lessons take years to learn. Still, we have to have the experiences to see the lesson at all. When I make healthy choices, my kids see that, and it reminds everyone in our house that food is not the enemy and that healthy living isn’t a fad diet or a week-long boot camp that ends on Friday, forgotten by Sunday.  So, I set the example. Then, I set the menu. Somewhere in American culture we got the message that happiness is directly linked to pre-packed snack foods and sweets. I don’t have to subscribe to that bull, and I don’t have to set that example for my kids. I can choose what I buy at the store, what I stock on the shelves and what I offer for meals. I don’t HAVE to offer pizza and cookies and bags of chips. I can, and do, stock the fridge with fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, healthy snacks and occasional treats. I don’t make a big deal of it, either. There are no lectures or nagging. I just don’t buy a ton of junk. If the kids get hungry, they have options. There are apples, bananas and string cheese. I set the example, and I set the menu. I don’t have to tempt myself with stockpiles of junk to be a good mom. I don’t have to stockpile seaweed crackers, either. I provide healthy food and a moderate amount of treats. Because love isn’t actually wrapped up in foil and loaded with a week’s worth of sugar.  
     

I know it’s not easy to stick to healthy lifestyle changes when the people around us don’t struggle with the same issues or feel compelled to change their own habits. It took a while for me to understand that I didn’t have to base my own choices on anyone else. In the end, that makes my own health dependent on someone else. That means I give away some of the power I have over my own health, and that’s never a good idea.

So, Heifers, think about the people in your life who have a direct impact on your healthy choices. It might be the family you cook for, the kids you pack lunches for, or the toddlers who ask for food every 22.7 seconds throughout the day. It might be the husband who keeps fit without thinking about it or the wife who has never struggled with her weight. Whoever it is, think about how they impact your habits and if you need to make some changes in how you interact with each other so that your own health and wellbeing don’t end up veering off track.  

Post your thoughts, experiences and ideas in the comments and let us know how you keep fit and healthy with a family in tow, and keep an eye on my Twitter account. Who knows what the AZ heat will cook up next.  

But... I'm not a "Real" Runner....

Are You a Runner?

I was having dinner with a friend the other night, wolfing down Café Rio taco salad with extra tomatoes while she told me about her existential crisis (her words, not mine). So, here it is:  she writes stories but hasn’t been published yet, so she argues she’s not a writer.

It’s easy for me to see the Swiss-cheese holes in that theory. I asked her, “Do you write?” She said, “Yes, every day.” I said, “Then, you’re a writer.” DUH.

It seemed so simple to me.  But for her, it was a tough sell.  She had a ton of requirements for being a ‘legit’ writer.  She had to be published.  The publication had to be ‘traditional’ instead of self-published.  She needed to get some good reviews, preferably from a famous magazine or newspaper or something.  She might have visions of being interviewed on NPR.

To me, she’s a writer because she writes. Period. Simple. End of story.

But then I started thinking of running and how I felt like a total imposter when I first started running. I had the same bogus beliefs about finish-lines to cross before I could say, in more than a whisper, “I’m a runner.”

In fact, I still sometimes struggle with feeling WORTHY of the royal title of runner.  It’s a title, right? You have to be able to say it with a straight face, with some swagger.  I don’t always feel like I have swagger.  Sometimes I feel like a total fraud.  A swagger-less fraud.

Sometimes (ok all the times), when I’m out for a run, I walk and then run and then walk again. I do this when I run half-marathons and 10ks and when I cruise through my neighborhood. I have closed down races and gotten in so late the cones were picked up and we had to straight-up navigate our way to the finish line.  I limp to finish lines, 34th out of 35, and I’m pretty sure I’ve rolled in dead last.  

I wear the race numbers, cross the finish lines and eat the free bananas, if there are any left, but I still don’t always feel like a runner.  

And you know what? That’s as wrong as my friend who writes every day and doesn’t feel like a writer.  She writes. She reads about writing. She gets better and sometimes sucks and then gets better again. She is a writer because she writes.

And I’m a runner because I run. And so are you. The details, those things I need to say out loud to make it legit, those don’t make me a runner.  What makes me a runner is that I run.  I get out there, before the sun rises, and I run. I go to races, and I run.  

I ran when I was fat, and I run now that I’m fitter.  I run when I’m tired and would rather be sitting with a bag of chip, surfing the web.  

I run when I’m busy and have work to do and could totally justify skipping my run for a day….which we all know so often turns into two days…and three….and then a week.

The fact is, there is no official finish line to becoming a runner.  Some people run a 5k or a 10k or a half-marathon or a full-marathon or an ultra-marathon. Some people run in tights, and some people run in baggy sweats that have seen better days.

Some people wear gear.  Some people go minimalist, forgetting fancy shoes or sweat-wicking performance pants.  Runners come in all shapes and sizes, and just like you,  don’t have to be stick-thin to be a yogi, you don’t have to be in ultra-marathon shape to be a runner.

What we have to do to feel like runners or athletes or writers or musicians or whatever else it is we want to be, is really just a combination of two things.

  1. We have to believe it. 

  2. We have to do it.

In the words of C.S. Lewis:  We are what we believe we are. That’s it.  If it seems simple, it is.

Are you a runner?  Well, do you run?

If you do, the answer is yes.  It’s yes even if you sometimes walk.  It’s yes if you finish last or even if you don’t finish every time. It’s yes no matter your pace, your schedule, your conditioning or your outfit.  If you run, you’re a runner.

Celebrate every run, not just the runs that include monitors, set courses and finish lines. Celebrate getting out there, sticking with it and coming back to running after inevitable breaks.

Being a runner has only one rule, folks: run.  And if you’re out there doing it, you’re killing it.  

So lace up your shoes, put on whatever gear you want, get out there….and run.

 

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I've Had The Time Of My Life: Buffalo Marathon Race Report

Grab some cawfee, heifers ... this is another LONG one... 

Where to start... where to start... 

The weekend of the Buffalo Marathon was probably one of the best weekends I've had in a long, overdue while.  Being a mom to four teenagers with a traveling husband has its ups and downs. There's always something to do - always someone to drive here or there - some sports uniform to pick up or drop off - some debate to drive a kid to - somewhere to be ALL.THE.TIME.  

ALL. THE. TIME.

So when it came time to leave for Buffalo, this Heifer was all smiles.  I had my #heiferBelle and we were ready to GO!

Have #heiferBelle, will travel...and FYI #heiferBelle flies SWA.

Have #heiferBelle, will travel...and FYI #heiferBelle flies SWA.

Leaving on an early morning flight is always good for me - I'm up almost daily before 4am to run, so having to be at the airport early was par for the course.  Arrive, check in, grab some cawfee and sit in blissful early-morning airport-silence and people watch.

I love people watching at the airport.  It's just fun. You can tell who's on a work trip, who's going on vacation, who's going to a heifer convention, etc.  I was one of the happy people, looking refreshed, ready to get outta dodge and enjoy some time with friends, new and old.

I want to step back for  just a minute and talk about narrative...

Same scenario, involving four different people, has four different narratives. My narrative is different from the other 3, etc.  That is a beautiful thing.  I'll walk you thru this as we go, y'all. My brain is a scary place so try to stick with me as best you can.  If you have questions, raise your hand and wait quietly until I call on you. 

Fast forward - I arrive to Buffalo in time for dinner. My friend Julie picks me up.  Julie is one of these people that when you meet her, you just love her.  Gregarious, kind hearted, and a genuine good person.  I've known her for about 5 years and just love her ((((THiS)))) much. If you're in Buffalo, look her up. She's THAT cool.

My narrative:  "Julie is so kind, she went out of her way, with kids in tow, to meet me at the airport (she even came INSIDE!) and took me to dinner, and then back to my hotel. I will keep her as my friend forever and ever."
Julie's probable narrative "Have to pick up this crazy Heifer from the airport, guess I should feed her before dumping her at hotel and going home to crawl into my big soft bed and get some sleep!" 


Thank you Julie, for being awesome.  Dinner was great, the company and the conversation were as well.  

Arrived to Hyatt Buffalo to find the lobby decorated in Marathon signs.  I loved it already.  

#heiferBelle was so pushy, trying to get into EVERY SINGLE pic! Sheesh.

#heiferBelle was so pushy, trying to get into EVERY SINGLE pic! Sheesh.

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The best part?? When I checked in... there was a gift bag waiting for me.

I really wasn't anticipating any gifts upon arrival, so imagine my shock and awe when I was handed a HUUUUUUUGE gift bag. I thought I had been given someone else's bag by mistake, but it said Melissa K. on it, and I found myself wondering how many other Melissa K's there may be, when I realized in fact, yes, it was for me.  Imagine my giddiness!

A weekend away from home, with friends, AND a goody bag? Are you kidding me?  If I'm dreaming, don't pinch me. Clearly I need to get out more. A lot more.

I was super excited when I got up to my room and opened it.  Race swag, people.  Race swag. I'm still new at this. I'm still in love with every single shirt, jacket, gadget I get as a result of having changed my life for the better.  I love it all.  

This bag was enough to send me into a few minutes of somber gratitude.  I'm here in Buffalo to RUN A RACE.  With friends. And to SPEAK AT THE EXPO.  Me?? Little old me??  All I did was change my life and get healthy.  I didn't do anything any more special than anyone else -- and to have been given this privilege.... just no words for the gratitude I felt right then, and still feel.


Now, let's talk about the actual events.  I was in Buffalo to 1) Run the half marathon with a big herd of Heifers, and 2) to speak at the marathon expo, not in that order.

It's really hard for me to say which was more exciting - the thought of running a race with a huge herd of heifers, or speaking at the expo, and having the opportunity to maybe change even ONE life.. maybe give hope to ONE person who was listening, just one.  Having the ability to change lives by simply sharing my story... it's the biggest honor and privilege I have.

My narrative: "Oh shit.  I'm a little bit nervous."
Julie's narrative, "This is so great, Melissa is here and we're gonna party!"

I was pretty excited for the whole weekend - Friday night there was a little pre-race party which I was privileged to have been invited to. It was labeled a VIP party..and rumor had it that the one... the only... BART YASSO was going to be in attendance.

Now, let me say this.  I'm not normally star-struck.  Famous people don't phase me, because let's be real. They poop just like me and you.  They are just regular people, right?  

But I'm new to running, 4-ish years in now. And I've heard about Bart Yasso since day ONNNNNE. I'm talking, people would see that I'm new to the sport and their first question is, "Do you even Yasso, bro?"

And I'm over here wondering "Do I do what? Who? What???" So I did a little research one day. And that is the day I became one impressed Heifer.  That's when I knew one day, I too, would YASSO!

This guy has quite literally been there, done that.  People say he's one of the nicest guys they meet, as it relates to...yanno...rock stars.  I didn't believe it.  I figured he'd be puffed up and full of himself, like most rock stars. He'd never even glance in my pitiful Heifer direction, because who am I? Just another Heifer.

My narrative, "I'm gonna sneak a pic of Bart and pretend we're BFF by night's end."
His probable narrative "I hope nobody sneaks a pic of me.. I really hate that... "

Moving on - Julie arrived as my date (and we evidently were a little excited for a night out).

Not quite sure WHAT we were doing here.  But it was fun, so I'm gonna go with that.

Not quite sure WHAT we were doing here.  But it was fun, so I'm gonna go with that.

No really.  Why did we have our mouths like that? I don't even know... I can't even.... 

I wore makeup for the first time in oh, probably a month. This is work, people. War paint. Game face, ON. Hair: washed, makeup: heavy.  

Party face: ENGAGE!

Party face: ENGAGE!

Julie arrives at the hotel and off we go.  We meander down to the lobby like all self respecting VIP Heifers. I was wearing heels.  HIGH HEELS people. I was walking like a jacked up linebacker with a limp.  Cannot have been any less attractive. I was walking like a marathoner who got lost at mile 26 and end up with 28.9 on their garmin.

My narrative "I just hope I catch a passing glimpse of the one and only Yasso himself!"
Julie's narrative "Has Melissa EVER worn heels before? She needs "GIRL" lessons!"

Get down to the party, help myself to a little roast Buffalo beef and scarfed it down. Met a few really incredible people while we were there, chatting with people.  Below is me with Russell, and the two amazing race directors Greg and Rich.  Russell is 80 years old and ran the whole marathon. He beat me.  Think on this: he's 80 and ran the full.  I'm ::coughcough 29 coughcough: and ran the half. He beat me.  Allow me to introduce one bad-ass mofo, Russell.

Russell, you, my friend, are a rock star!

Russell, you, my friend, are a rock star!

THEN....... the unimaginable... the very thing that I never thought would happen, happened.  I see the one and only BART YASSO!!!!! I blink my eyes - could it really be him? The legendary guy who ran a naked race?  Who ran the Badwater 146??? NO WAY.  Trying to contain your excitement when wearing 4" heels is hard, even on a good day for a sophisticated girl.  But for me? I died 6 times.  I'm never awe-struck.  But this guy? Yeah.  Awe-worthy.

I figured, 'Oh why not! You live once, heifer!' So I hobbled over to the one and only RockStar of Running, and blurted out, "OMG YOU'RE BART YASSO! CAN I GET A PHOTO?" (Later thinking, "great job, as if he didn't already KNOW he's Bart Yasso.").  Yeah.  I'm pretty smooth.

Poor guy.  He probably gets this all the time (actually, he does. I witnessed it 42,002 times in one hour)... so I was just one of many. It's all good. He's used to it, right? I admit. I still felt dumb.

My narrative, "I just pooped my pants, it's BART YASSO!
His probable narrative, "Another woman, another photo...it's hard being a rock star.... yawn... are we done yet?"

Me.  Dying. I'll never wash my shirt again.  Ok not really.  I will.  

Me.  Dying. I'll never wash my shirt again.  Ok not really.  I will.  

You have to understand, heifers.  This was me, below.  This was me as an insecure, dead-on-the-inside, miserable person.  This was basically me, my whole life. Until the day I decided I deserved happiness. 

So I did what so many of you have done. I changed my eating habits, and I lost weight, simple as that. Nothing any more monumental than any of you have done.

Me.  Pushing 260 pounds and miserable

Me.  Pushing 260 pounds and miserable

And I started running.  And then started this little RHR moooovement. That's it. Anyone could do this - people are doing it all around us - and this is no more special than anyone else. 
So what's THIS girl, below... doing in a place like this - a marathon?? With some of running's GREATEST legends? 

To say it was the pinnacle of my new healthy life doesn't do it justice.

So how is THAT girl now doing this? 

Oh hey it's me and #MBB (My Buddy Bart.) He didn't realize it yet, but we were already BFF. And not in that awkward "rabbit stew" kind of way.  

Oh hey it's me and #MBB (My Buddy Bart.) He didn't realize it yet, but we were already BFF. And not in that awkward "rabbit stew" kind of way.  

So imagine the sense of gratitude I was feeling just by being in that room with these amazing people. Nothing but gratitude, guys.  Nothing but gratitude and happiness.

Fast forward to Saturday.  Being a morning person - y'all know I left the parTAY early and was asleep in my room, Golden Girls playing softly in the background, by 10:30pm.  Even that was pushing it for me.   I lead a geriatric lifestyle.   I've accepted it.  Saturday is the expo, where I got to stand up and speak to however many people showed up to hear me.

I was super excited that all of my Buffalo Heifer contingent was with me - here's a few pics of us goofing off before I was up to speak.  I think it's a Buffalo thing - they point with the wrong finger....

Oh hey, it's me on the Speaker List!  

Oh hey, it's me on the Speaker List!  

Some of Buffalo's Finest Heifers! Rich, Wendy, Andrew, Julie, Brandie, And Cleopatra

Some of Buffalo's Finest Heifers! Rich, Wendy, Andrew, Julie, Brandie, And Cleopatra

So grateful to have these friends who came out to not only run the race together, but to listen to me speak, and to really help create such a fun weekend!

I don't even know who took this pic. But look! I was scheduled right after my newest BFF, Bart. Talk about the best opening act a girl could ask for!?! 

My narrative "HOLY CRAP I have to speak right after Bart. I'm gonna die!"
His probable narrative "WHY IS THIS WOMAN FOLLOWING ME? SECURITY!!!!"

 

I am a dork.  I admit it.

I am a dork.  I admit it.

Fast forward to my speech time - I was hoping for a packed crowd of 32,008 people.  It fell short of that number just slightly - but I always have a great time sharing my story.

My Buffalo Heifers stayed to hear me talk (a few of them didn't even fall asleep!) And... be still my heart... the one and only Bart Yasso stayed to hear me as well.  He realized at this point that we were now BFF, so you really have to give the guy thumbs up for honoring a friendship he got drafted into.

TALK ... ABOUT... PRESSURE.... 

 

Finished my speech and looked up to find most people awake.  I was relieved.  Maybe even Bart liked my story!  I'm pretty sure he didn't fall asleep listening to me. Maybe.

(I did meet a woman at the start line of the race who approached me, saying she heard my talk at the expo.  I asked her if she wanted my Heifergraph.  She looked at me sideways then walked away slowly. #awkward)

The rest of Saturday was spent with friends, relaxing and meandering around a local town, Ellicottville.

Ellicottville sure loves their Heifers.  It's a great city tucked into the hills outside of Buffalo... I hear it's popular during ski season, which in upstate New York is what, like August through May?  If you're in the area, check it out for sure.

Any Saturday night spent with friends is always a good Saturday night.  I was back in the hotel and walked into my room to find this note, which they left for me. Is this some hotel lovin' or what?   Really a nice touch.  There's that crazy #heiferBelle working her way into every single photo again....

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I would be lying if I said I fell asleep with anything but a big smile on my face that night.  Such a fun trip and it was still going on.... so much gratitude.

Cue Sunday morning wakeup, 4am.  Yawn. Stretch. Time to get Heifer'd up for a little half marathon.  Rumor had it Bart was running it too. No worries though - I let him win.  I am all about respect.

Here are a few of the Buffalo Heifers and me at the start line. Mind you, it was 50 freezing degrees, I was wearing my jacket and wool socks. Don't judge. These Buffalo Heifers said it felt like spring.  I had to humbly disagree while grimacing in the arctic tundra.

I do not understand how they were not frozen HeiferPopsicles.  I was freeeeeezing.

I do not understand how they were not frozen HeiferPopsicles.  I was freeeeeezing.

My narrative "It is FREEZING out, let's get this party started!"
Their collective probable narrative "Why's that crazy Heifer look so cold? It's gorgeous outside!"

These people were all freezing too.  Even though they look happy.  Just trust me. They were cold. 

The race course is well marked, and beautiful scenery abounds.  I mean, HEIFERS! I could see CANADA from the race course!  It's almost as far as Russia.  So really I could ALMOST see Russia from the race course!

This is not Russia. But it's Canada, which is even better.

This is not Russia. But it's Canada, which is even better.

Fast forward to about mile 9... one of TeamHeifer was down. Heifer Down! Heifer Down! She had a knee issue.  Heifers don't leave each other on the race course. #NoHeifersLeftBehind

So.... we did what all Heifers would do.  We shoved her in the sweeper/cop car and walked slowly in front, in a show of support.  Ok not really. I was a little tired too. An injured heifer was just a good excuse for me and my running Heifer pal, Cleopatra, to slow things down a bit and take in the scenery while we waltzed towards the finish line.

Me and Cleo. This was her first race EVER.  She had never even run before. She's either really crazy or a rock star. You decide.

Me and Cleo. This was her first race EVER.  She had never even run before. She's either really crazy or a rock star. You decide.

By this time, Heifers, the course was closed. The cones were removed. I'm normally a back of pack runner - but this was the BACKEST of the PACKEST I've ever been.  

I was post-cone back-of-pack. It was pretty darn hilarious .... we could hear the music at the finish line... but we turn around and the trusty cop car with our Heifer-friend in there is GONE.

Now, you should know, my faithful trusty running friend Cleopatra is FROM Buffalo.  But she's not familiar with the streets of downtown Buffalo. If she was lost in a paper bag, she would need search and rescue to get her out.  I have a bad sense of direction, so I get that. I do.

We ended up finishing the race.. the 13.1 in .... 13.76miles. 

My narrative "Oh thank Gawd we found the finish line! I'm tired and hungry!"
Her probable narrative "Why's this heifer so uptight? This is my first half marathon and I'm not even tired!"


I used to make fun of those people. Now I AM those people.

Regardless, we finish the race #HeiferStrong (not really, we were all limping, but whatever. Details)... and who was there at the finish line, already done his race, showered, and looking all happy?

MBB.  My buddy Bart. Remember? My best friend.  By now he's really wishing the weekend was over and I would stop showing up everywhere.

My narrative,  "I'm so embarrassed, I finished almost last and I smell like a trash can. But I want to hug my newest BFF!!!!!"
His probable narrative, "SECURITY!!!!!"

Now, let me say this about the Buffalo Marathon race directors Rich and Greg.  These guys are incredible. NO detail goes unnoticed and every single thing from race course to volunteers to the after party was handled beautifully.

Check out this after-party, y'all.  This city knows how to PARTY. The entire upstairs floor of their civic center was cleared out, so we could enjoy an after-race party.

Cookies. I grabbed 4.  Don't judge.

Cookies. I grabbed 4.  Don't judge.

this crazy guy.... 

this crazy guy.... 

If we're being completely transparent here... I will admit something within the privacy of this blog. It's just between us... I grabbed 4 cookies, and then I saw the pizza. 

My narrative "PIZZZZAAAA! Eat all the pizza!"
Pizza guy's narrative "Incoming Heifer! Stand back! She looks hungry!"

The problem? I was holding 4 cookies in my hand and NEEDED that pizza. So, like any decent respectable Heifer, I shoved all 4 cookies into my mouth and grabbed the pizza.

Don't judge.  I was hungry.  I got my money's worth out there on the course, so after the now almost 4 hours that had passed, damnit, I DESERVED THAT FOOD!

(Right?)

We partied down for a little while, then I went back to my room to collapse into a heap of sweaty exhaustion.  After a little siesta... I met up with some friends to go see "The Falls" and have some dinner.

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John, Cleopatra, Brandie, Me in front, with Toni, Epnu, Julie and Rich behind us

John, Cleopatra, Brandie, Me in front, with Toni, Epnu, Julie and Rich behind us

Submitted without comment

Submitted without comment

This entire experience, from Thursday morning when I stepped on the flight, to Monday morning when I boarDed the flighT home ... was nothing but stellar.

From meeting the one and only Fitz Koehler (race announcer extraordinaire!) to running a 13.76 mile half marathon... I quite literally, had the time of my life.  Had I met her years ago, I'd have been intimidated by her - she's gorgeous, fit, and so, so friendly.  But now that I'm in this not-so-new space in my head these days - she was just one more amazing person in the narrative of my weekend.

I want to thank, specifically, Rich, for helping make this happen for me.  I want to thank My Buddy Bart because really, meeting him was a lifetime highlight for me.  He said that once he retires, we are going to do lunch.  He doesn't know it but I'm already looking forward to it. In that non-stalker kind of way. #notawkward

I also want to thank all of my Buffalo heifers for welcoming me into the group as if we'd been friends forever and ever.  You guys are truly amazing and I'm blessed to call you friends.  Even Epnu, the French guy who I can't tag on Facebook.
 

And really, none of this would have happened had I not made that one little decision over 5 years ago... to be healthy.

 

For all of this, I am just so, so grateful.  Thanks for reading.

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