Hi all. So I planned to blog and journal more regularly this year and obviously haven’t gotten off to a good start about it. But I’m optimistic that life will start to stabilize again soon. Last year around this same time I made a cross-country move – and I did it again the same time this year. Let me tell you; that takes a lot out of you. Even more this year, I didn’t have my dad and brothers helping me load the truck, carry the heavy boxes, or my mom helping me pack in her super orderly and helpfully organized manner.

Warning: I’m low on pictures right now. I hope you like to read.

2016 has started off with a few curveballs and the thing about life and goals is that curveballs happen. Between the move and subsequently not feeling so hot the last few days since I made it back to Maryland (yup, I moved back to Maryland from the Lone Star State. More on my feelings on that in a bit), I’m way behind schedule for my goal of running 1,000 miles in 2016. My friend Ali convinced me to sign up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon (which I’ve run before and loved) but I haven’t worked out since racing a 10K almost two weeks ago.

And I would like to write about that 10K real quick if y’all don’t mind.

First some background: Last year was mainly a year for Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathons that I really wasn’t getting the proper training in for. There weren’t a ton of races put on in my area and usually when they were happening I had to work Saturdays; my job involved a lot of events and with Texas weather, weekend events all happen the same weekends in April and October basically. So I traveled for races but didn’t get to run a lot of shorter distances because driving 4 hours round trip to Dallas for a 5K or 10K felt silly to do same day.

So my friend Abbie and I ran a couple of races together; we did Vegas together as her first full marathon (I did the half), one was the local Turkey Trot because I didn’t have to work Thanksgiving, and two were in Dallas that we did as a weekend thing where we drove up on Saturday and stayed in a hotel and made a weekend of it, going to the art museum or shopping on the Saturday, enjoying awesome Italian restaurants for carbloading the night before, then racing Sunday. But our opportunities to do that were rare.

The two times we got to do them though were a blast. I stopped blogging last year right around the time we did our first one together – the Wounded Warrior 10K/Half weekend in Irving, TX. It was a hot day in June and I was out of practice with hills so I struggled but we pounded some BuzzBrews post-race (if you ever visit Dallas, I highly recommend brunching at BuzzBrews in Deep Ellum or on Lemmon Ave).

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From WW weekend. I’m guessing it wouldn’t surprise you if I told you Abbie always at least places in her AG if not wins her AG.

The second was a race called Too Cold to Hold which was put on by RunProject – I wish we’d had RunProject or RunOn Texas stores in Tyler because they put on good races all year long. But alas, the big city of Dallas got it so us Tyler-ites had to travel.

I had done a little speedwork and had a good long 10-mile training run during January with mainly building my mileage and endurance back up after I didn’t run at all in December. So my lungs felt strong but my legs definitely couldn’t carry the speed. I wanted to use the race as a sort of benchmark as to how much work I have cut out for me this year to get back to my old fitness and speed level where I was in 2014 when I set my current standing 10K PR.

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So our Too Cold to Hold weekend was our last hurrah before I left Texas literally later that night the day of the race.

Note: It was definitely not “too cold to hold.” As Texas is wont to do, it was in the 70’s in January so I actually got a little overheated in my longsleeve pictured above. It was a good thing I wasn’t running the 7 more miles Abbie had ahead of her – but if I had I probably would have planned to wear a tank top like she did in the first place.

Too Cold to Hold takes place in Norbuck Park which is part of White Rock Lake in Dallas. A lot of the course is along White Rock Lake, making for some annoying headwinds for the out portion of the race but a nice cooling breeze for the back portion. More importantly, it was a really pretty course.

This was around mile 2 of the race and it was out and back for the 10K-ers so we got to go back down it too. It was definitely the highlight point of the race. I’d been training mostly on the treadmill due to lack of daylight and lit, safe trails to run after 5pm in winter time in Tyler so I was just really happy to be out for a run on a Sunday morning.

Toward the end of the race was where my main problems lay. I always have a problem with the last bit of a race because my brain says “okay at this point you are definitely going to finish within X amount of time, take a longer walk break if you want” so it’s always a mental battle for me to try not to slow down in the last mile or two. This race made it even harder because the last mile, which is not a mile we’ve already covered, it’s not part of the out and back, has two bridges that really give when there are people pounding across them. They bounced up and down which really threw my cadence off and made me worry about impact to my hip, which I’ve been uber-sensitive about ever since my bursitis injury in 2014. So I made the bridges excuses to walk when I really didn’t need to, I could have pushed a little harder and maybe would have if it hadn’t been for the shakiness of the bridge.

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In the end, I finished in 1:10:24. It’s not my slowest 10K – the Wounded Warrior 10K last June that I mentioned above was a 1:11 or 1:12 I think – but considering my first 10K ever was a 1:06 I took it as a serious sign that I am so ready to get back into my pique shape in 2016.

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(If you’re wondering, Abbie blazed a 1:42 half marathon time, won 1st place in her AG and like 4th or 5th overall woman. Yeah, that’s my friend. She’s a beast.)

After the race Abbie and I went full Texas and raided the Waffle House. And it was glorious.

But now I am back in Maryland. Abbie is planning to come visit me in May and we are looking at running the St. Michael’s Running Festival (she’s never been to this area and I’d love to show her the Chesapeake). In the meantime I am trying to regain my energy without pushing myself too fast and making myself sick after all the stress and energy-sapping that was the move. I’m still unpacking.

I’m also job-searching, which is stressful but I’m also kind of… for two years a huge part of my identity was my job. I was so proud to work where I worked. It had been my dream for years. But it was time to move on, and it was weird and scary because I didn’t want to leave before I had another gig lined up but it’s hard to line up the kind of work I want to do from east Texas so I had to make this sort of leap of faith to come back to the DC job search market and leave working for a place I was so proud of. I could have moved to Dallas or Austin, but for all the baggage DC holds for me, it’s still home. It’s where my network is, both professionally and for emotional support.

It’s a really confusing place to be. It’s also a little bit exciting. For years all I’ve focused on professionally has been animal protection. If I didn’t have to worry about money, I’d be so excited to feel kind of free to explore life and opportunities beyond just one of my passions. I have many passions and interests and I worry about a period of unemployment, and I am sort of in a way grieving this sense of loss that even though it was my decision to leave it was a really hard decision and I was sad to come to the realization that leaving was the best thing to do for my long-term goals.

But I learned over the last year that I both love and am good at communications strategy. That is truly what I do best, and I want the chance to focus on that. And it just wasn’t the way things were going to go. And the DC market just has more opportunity to pursue that line of work than east Texas.

I also learned something else about myself. I didn’t know how badly I need routine and work-life balance until I had a job that made it really hard to find and set one. I had very little work-life balance and I know my limits now.

So I’m definitely in a transition period in my life and it’s scary and confusing but I try to imagine 6 months from now, and 5 years from now, and 20 years from now, and I visualize looking back fondly on this moment where I was kind of brave enough to leave something that was good to me but wasn’t the best for me because I’m optimistic it will lead me to more adventures in life.

Texas was full of adventure. But just in the 6 days since I’ve been home in the DC area, I’m remembering all of the adventure DC has to offer too. All the opportunities and things to explore.

So it’s good to be home.

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Photo of my hometown credit: Thomas Fitzgerald
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