Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Half Marathon: Check!

I am completely aware that it has been about 2 weeks since my last blog post. For that, I give you my deepest apologies since I am sure that you missed me dearly... 

I'm sure you all have just been dying to know how my first half marathon went! 

Well, it was unlike anything I have ever expected. I actually placed in the top 5 female winners!! My clocked time was one hour and 15 minutes. Can you believe it?!?

You shouldn't. I'm joking. In fact, I'm not even sure if that has happened in my dreams.

Yes, the race was unlike anything I have ever expected. It was awful to tell you the truth. The heat made me feel like I was literally in Hell and the hills (even the smallest, most puny ones) made me just want to hop on the Cleveland Rapid to the finish line. And yes, I did place... but it was like 5,287 out of like 15,000 some people. 

What matters though is that I finished. 

Tony stayed with me the entire time. Even when the heat got the best of me and I could tell he was just dying to take off running, he never left my side. I'd say he's a keeper. :o)

Here are a few pictures from the race:

 Pinning my bib!

 Tony and I holding up the sign that Jenny made!

Tony, Me, Cristina and Pito all before the race!

 Almost there!

Not sure who that lady is, but I was determined to beat her!

 We did it!

My love and I! :o)

When I crossed that finish line, I hugged and kissed Tony and then immediately said, "I'm never doing this again". That's a lie. Who am I kidding? I'm already making plans to do another half marathon in October. 

Would I ever do the Cleveland one again? Probably. Do I want to? Hell no. 

If I am going to continue doing marathons, I want to travel while doing it. I also swore to myself that I never want to do one in the summer time ever again. I don't know if I can keep that promise, but when I get hot and sweaty, I become the biggest, crabbiest, most dramatic diva ever. Trust me, I hated Tony during the race. All I wanted to do was quit and find a pool and he wouldn't stop yelling at me to run faster. Love him for it though. 

Since the race was on a Sunday, I was happy I took that following Monday off of work. It allowed me to rest, recover and also gain my sanity back. That whole week before the race, I couldn't sleep nor concentrate on anything.

What a perfect day off. 

So Jo(W)anna know what? Although this half marathon was the most challenging thing, both mentally and physically, that I have done thus far in my life, I can finally say that I've done it. I have never been a runner. EVER. So to me, this is a huge accomplishment. Now that I have done one where my only goal was to finish, I want to continue doing them with new goals in mind. I am so thankful that I got to share this experience with my best friend, Cristina, her brother, Pito, and with the love of my life, Tony. Although it was hot and difficult, and even though I contemplated jumping off those Cleveland bridges a couple of times, I wouldn't have wanted my first half marathon to go any other way. no regrets is the key to happiness! Since it was so hot and difficult, I know that now I can complete almost anything else that I set my mind to. And I will.

What a journey this has been. Thank you so much to everyone who has ever encouraged, supported, and even doubted me. You all kept, and continue to keep, me going. 

I can now proudly sport my 13.1 sticker on my car. (Courtesy of my roommate Jenny)

13.1... I'm only half crazy. Who knows, maybe someday I'll go full crazy and do a whole marathon. ;o)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Five Days To Go!


41 pounds ago, I signed up for the Cleveland Half Marathon — 13.1 miles, by the way — in Cleveland, Ohio, which takes place this Sunday, May 20. 

These past few days weeks, it's all I can think about and I have so many emotions that I just don't know what to do with myself. I am nervous, anxious, excited, overwhelmed, motivated and well, scared. Not knowing how the course is going to be and not knowing what my outcome of the race is going to be, is I think what scares me the most. But I have been training for the past 5 months and well, I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

No turning back now.

These past couple of days I have been researching some quotes to keep me motivated, focused and determined. But before I list off some of my favorite quotes, I want to speak out for every runner, cyclist, or endurance-sport athlete out there: you guys rock. After all the training I have done for this half, I have such a renewed respect for those dedicated enough to practice regularly and compete in their sport. With jobs, families, and other responsibilities, finding the time to train and stay healthy is not easy. So for those of you that need some motivation or for those of you who just enjoy motivating quotes, here are a few of my favorite:

- "Divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart." - Mike Fanelli, Running Club Coach

- "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." -John Bingham... Ain't that the truth...

- "Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." -William Faulkner

- "What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate." - John Bingham

- "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard...is what makes it great!" -Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own

- "Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body." -Lynn Jennings... Amen sista.

- "No one ever drowned in sweat." -Author Unknown (For me that's debatable...)

and for my all time favorite quote...

- "If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." - John Bingham

If you can tell.. I am a fan of John Bingham quotes...

But quotes aren't the only thing keeping me motivated, small half-hour/fourty-five minute runs this week are getting me excited for the half as well.

Yesterday, me and my roommates, Jenny and Cristina, went on a run. Cristina and I told Jenny to set the pace and lead the way. That was a mistake. Have I mentioned that Jenny has a been a runner her entire life, has already killed a half marathon, and has the body of a muscular goddess? If I haven't... then meet my roommate, Jenny.

This is intense Jenny on our run yesterday.

We weren't even a mile in when Cristina turned around and gave me a "Jenny will be the death of me" look.

Jenny taking off...

And then there is Cristina and I being facetious... (DOUBLE CHINNN)

God I love these girls. Without them, my runs (and life) would be boring.

 So Jo(W)anna know what? No matter how scared you are to accomplish something, you must remember all of the other times you had to take risks to reach a goal. To learn how to walk, to learn how to talk, to learn how to ride a bike, to learn how to drive a car, to learn how to run a half marathon. All of these required risks. Progress always involves risks. And while risk taking is inherently failure-prone, the ability to say you tried is what satisfies the soul. So even though I am scared out my mind about running 13.1 miles for the first time in my entire life, I know I just have to take the risk and just run in order to accomplish another life goal.

Now I just only pray my shoes don't scare me too bad come Sunday morning...

Happy Marathon week!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Warning: Sappy Mother's Day Post

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." ~Tenneva Jordan

With Mother's Day coming up, it continously has me thinking about home and how much I appreciate my mother. So here it goes, to my mother (who probably will never read this because sometimes turning on the computer is a struggle. Haha!) this is for you... 

Being so far away from my mother has been a struggle for me at times, but in the end,  has been a blessing in disguise. When my parents lived two hours from me when I was a freshman in college, I took it for granted. I didn't go home as often as I should have and now, being so far away from home made me realize that I should never take an opportunity to go home for granted. Being so far away from my mother has really strengthened our relationship. Not only do I consider her my mother, but I consider her my best friend. My sisters may call me "momma's girl", and maybe even a bit of a suck up at times... but they're right; I am. She is someone whom I can always turn to when I am feeling sad, happy, scared, nervous, confused, excited or overwhelmed. She always knows the right things to say, even when it's things I don't want to hear. She guides me when I do not know what's next, and no matter what, she always has my back. She is selfless, always putting me and my sisters before herself. She is beautiful inside and out. She is the very person I hope to be when I become a mother.

 She is funny.

She is peaceful.

And well, why yes, she is my home girl.

With all this wedding planning, I realize more and more each day that my future of creating my own family is fast approaching. Once I am married, Tony and I will begin our own family traditions and begin our own journey together, and in a way, it is very bittersweet. So every second I can, I cherish every conversation, meal or vacation with my mother. I know that getting married won't change my relationship with my mother, in fact, it will probably only enhance it some more. But reflecting back on my 24 years with my mother, and how much she has shaped the person who I am, I do feel a bit nostalgic. My mother and I have been through so much together. There have been times where I thought she could never forgive me for things I have done, and there have been times where I knew she couldn't be more proud. These past 24 years with her as my mother have taught me that a mother's love is pure, unconditional and a true definition of "tough love".

So Jo(W)anna know what? A mother's love often goes unnoticed or disguised, and often, it isn't until this one day out of the year, this one day, that we thank her for everything she has done. This one day where we can reflect on all the good and bad we have ever had with our mothers and acknowledge how much of a role she really plays in who we are today. This one day where we can admit that "mother always knew best" and actually recognize it to be true. But why just this one day? If you ask me, mother's day should be every day. You should always thank her for everything she does. You should always reflect on the good and bad you have with your mother. You should always acknowledge how much of a role she plays in who you are today; and be grateful for that. You should always be willing to admit that "mother always knew best" because let's face it, it's the truth.

So to every mom out there, Happy Mother's Day. Although you may not hear it as much as you should, we appreciate you, your hard work and unconditional love. So just know this Mom's; you are teachers, friends, and mentors just as much as you are mothers and we love you!! 

Love you, Mom!

And no matter how old you are, or where you live, you can always go back home. Home, where your mother will always welcome you with open arms and a home cooked meal. Home, where your mother will secretly pray you stay for a week longer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Just a Casual Stroll

"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time". ~Steven Wright

Oh yeah Steven? The shortest route from coast to coast, from San Diego, CA, to Jacksonville, FL, is approximately 2,350 miles long. With an average human walking speed of 5 km/h, and allowing 12 hours per day of walking, the journey would take at least two months.

When I have a random 2 to 3 months to spare.. maybe I'll attempt this...

BUT... I do believe that not enough people take simple, quiet, healthy walks. There is so much life has to offer and it's, unfortunately, easily overlooked every day.

We surround ourselves with so much noise for the majority of the day (i.e. phones, email, meetings, commutes, etc.), that we owe it to ourselves to make time for some personal reflection and peaceful activity at the end of the day. And if you don't enjoy the quiet and relaxation, then to each is own I guess.

Lately I have been doing so much running that not only is my body telling me I need a break, but I feel like I don't even pay attention to my surroundings anymore. I run and I run and I run just to get to the end. So yesterday, my roommate Cristina and I decided to give our legs a rest and go for a walk. It was a perfect day for a walk. The temperature was in the mid 60's, there was a strong breeze (of course there was... they don't call it Blowing Bowling Green for nothing) and you could smell the rain coming in from the North.

Now of course, when I get the opportunity, I bring my camera with me wherever I can. 
Here are just a few of the surroundings from our walk yesterday:

I gave her flowers! :o)

This was a cool lookin tree! This was Cristina's find!
It had like clumps of leaves.

If you can't tell.. I love silhouette pictures!
A storm coming in!
Hey wittle guy!
The sun in battle with the clouds.

So Jo(W)anna know what? When you don't think you have the time to enjoy what life has handed you, tisk tisk. "We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us." - Albert Einstein. Time is what you make of it, so reserve an hour of your day to enjoy life. In all comparison, an hour to admire the outdoors is nothing compared to the 4 hours the average American spends watching TV a day.

Plus... trees don't make bad therapists...

Happy Thursday! :o)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cake Toppers

So I have 6 months till my wedding!


The time is approaching for me to plan our cake tasting and to start thinking about what Tony and I want the cake the look like!! 

During my daily internet browse over my lunch break, here is what I came up with:

 Since Tony likes to fish...
  Since Tony and I enjoy champagne...
  Since I enjoy food fights...
  Since our bridal party is pretty gangster...
Since Tony's family is most likely in the mob... 
In theory, most Italian families are obligated to have one family member in the mob...
(Joking... or am I?)

All of these seemed like pretty legit ideas until I came across this one:

1. I either fell through the cake  because my heels were rockin sharp!
or 2. I ate my way into the cake and couldn't get out...

If you know me... option number 2 is probably what happened...

Although I would totally be down for doing something funny like this cake topper... Tony would probably pay me $50 not to. 

Instead... Tony would probably pay me $200 to have his dream cake:

Marg is such a tasteful lady... 

If you don't know Tony, he has always had a soft spot for 101 Dalmations. Growing up, he loved the Disney Villains, especially Cruella. But hey, we all have our quarks! If we were all the same, life would be boring!

But for those of you that know Tony really well... you should be cracking up at this cake design... 

(Sorry Tony if you ended up reading this)

Jo(W)anna know what though? Whatever we decide to do with our cake, it's not only going to taste wonderful BUT it's going to look wonderful.. wanna know how I know? Because it's going to be a life size replica of myself. 

Let's face it, who doesn't want a life size wedding cake of yourself?

Who wants my head?! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Weekend Recap

I will still never understand why the things you look forward to the most fly by in a blink of an eye. 

But anyways, what a weekend! Of course, and as always, it wasn't long enough. All weekends never are.

Friday night my roommates and I hung out at home. Lately, it's been a rarity that we have all been home at once on the weekend, so we wanted to soak it up! Drinks in hand, we all hung out in the living room and shared laughs! Those are my favorite kind of nights. (We also wanted to rest up for Saturday/Cinco de Mayo)

Saturday morning came quickly, and man did it go by quickly too....

Tony and I went car shopping because his 2001 Ford Ranger is pretty much on its death bed... We looked at a few cars, got some lunch, then headed home. 

After I let my belly rest, my roommate, Jenny, and I then went on a 5.5 mile run. The sun was out, the wind was blowing, it was a perfect day for a run! (I also didn't want to feel guilty about the amount of the food and drinks I was about to consume that night)

Then we let the Cinco de Mayo festivities begin! We all began cooking and preparing our favorite Mexican dishes! 

The process of making my cream cheese filled jalapenos wrapped in bacon!

The finished product!

Cristina's Taco Cupcakes!

Jenny's chicken and cheese quesadillas!

The feast! Or as Tony would call it, the "Feastista"

My plate... I had to take a bite before I took a picture!

After one plate full, the buttons on my pants wanted to pop off... oh wait, I wore shorts with an elastic waste JUST for that reason... 

Despite my fullness, it was time to get ready for the real fiesta! We all got dressed up in festive colors, put on our sombreros and blended up some margaritas! 

Cristina, Me and Jenny!

So Jo(W)anna know what? The weekend was a blast... even though I spent most of Sunday in bed feeling under the weather. Margaritas... you won. Tony made me a nice steak dinner last night to make up for not being alone on our anniversary last weekend and then we went out for ice cream at one of Bowling Green's best ice cream shops, The Sundae Station. He's the best! It was so good to all be together for a weekend! Making these kinds of memories with my best friends makes me the happiest person. Never take your friends or the people you love for granted, and make sure you always set aside time for them. Time is a perfect reflection of priorities, always remember that! 

Hope you all had a wonderful Cinco de Mayo/Weekend as well!