Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This Could Never Be a True Healthy Living Blog.


Because I run, but that's often where my "healthy living" stops.

I try. Oooooh, do I try. I made a tofu stir-fry the other night and it probably was decent for me. And sometimes I bring my lunch to work. And I went to a NYSC Total Body Conditioning class this morning and it totally kicked my butt.

But I frankly am a sweaty mess while I do all of these things. And I have a drawer so full of snacks at work that I am infamous around the office. And I just ate a Hershey bar.

The point is, I am human. And I am not that healthy, I just like running so that I can eat a lot. It works for me, and I am at a healthy body weight. I just have zero self-control when it comes to eating. Run 13 miles? Sure, I'll do it. 26? Absolutely. Don't eat nachos? Are you out of your damn MIND!?

Healthy-living? Eh. Running to Eat? Definitely. Probably would be a better title for this blog, in fact.

I like healthy food, but I'm not overly excited by healthy food. Like, you tell me you substituted apple sauce for butter in your banana bread? OK. Great. You tell me you just went to TOWN on a piece of drunk pizza? Fan-TAS-tic. Where? What type? Tell me more.

Which brings me to wanting to blog to you about one of the most exciting meals I've had in a while. It's so NYC cool slash decadently calorie-filled I just can't STAND it, which is why I bring it to you. Without further delay I introduce you to: The Momofuku Fried Chicken Dinner.

I defaced this photo from http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/08/momofuku-fried-chicken-dinner.html
I was going to write a whole description and review, but then I realized I'm not a food critic. So I have copied the description from Momofuku Noodle Bar's website:
fried chicken is noodle bar’s large format meal. it feeds 4-8 people. the meal includes two whole fried chickens, one southern style and one korean style, and it comes with mu shu pancakes, long spicy peppers, baby carrots, red ball radishes, shiso leaves, bibb lettuce, four sauces and an herb basket. guests are encouraged to eat as they please, from making wraps with the pancakes to eating the chicken straight-up. the southern style chicken is fried with a buttermilk and old bay batter. the korean style chicken is triple fried and served with a light spicy glaze. 
$100 for your entire party, not including other food and drinks ordered, tax and tip. 

They only take limited reservations and these reservations are very difficult to procure. Luckily I have good friends. Good friends that invite me with 24 hours notice. And luckily I'm willing to DROP EVERYTHING when presented with fried chicken.

So, at 10pm on a Thursday, I sat down for an epic meal. I had done this once before a couple of years ago, and had oft' dreamed of experiencing it again.

Because I don't take pictures of my food as a general rule, I swiped this from Momofuku's website  (http://momofuku.com/new-york/noodle-bar/fried-chicken/) and used it here. Those hands are neither mine nor those of my friends.
So you get the chicken and all the yummy "go-withs" as labeled above. And then you and your friends LITERALLY DIVE IN to the chicken.

Not literally.

Well...yes, basically. Literally.

The Korean-style chicken is just fantastic. Sauciness and spiciness and it really goes with the condiments they give you and you put in a lettuce wrap and mmm mmm mmm. [This is why I don't write for the NY Times Food section.]

But the Southern-style. Oh, the Southern-style. Is it appropriate to use the word transcendent when describing fried chicken? I think yes, and I think I will say it again, but bigger and bolder: transcendent.

Just the right amount of crisp and spice and UMPH that you want from a fried chicken. The side-sauces also compliment well, but honestly I enjoy this chicken just on its own.

You seriously need to grab a group and try it sometime. Not only is it an absolutely phenomenal meal, but it's a really cool, unique experience that you can only get in a city like New York. And super cost-effective! We ordered a couple of [amazing] apps and some beers, and even with that I paid less than $40 including tax & tip. Can we beat that? No. No, we can not.

Before I had eaten this delectable meal, I already had had a huge dinner snack because I knew I wouldn't make it all the way until 10pm without dinner. I mean, let's face it. I can't make it from 9 am to noon without having something in between.

And despite that, I was ravenous when I arrived. So I ate a lot of chicken. And then, when I was so full that I literally thought I might pass out, I had another one of the mu shu pancakes.

At that point, I was so full I almost threw up. Because that's how I roll when I like my food.

The next day I had to take a rest day from exercise because I was so sick to my stomach from eating so much food. No part of me regretted it.

And this is why I don't write a true healthy living blog.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

This Post is a Little Cheesy.

Here I am, precisely three weeks P.M. (Post-Marathon), at my parent's house in Plymouth, MA. We are snowed in for the morning while a little storm passes by.


I was planning to try for an 8-9 mile long run today, but instead have had to "settle" [read: eagerly get back in bed] for watching the HBO Beyonce documentary and hoping that the gym is open this afternoon for some treadmill action. If I feel like it.

I really don't.

You can print Beyonce motivational posters from Vulture.com to adorn your office or bedroom: http://www.vulture.com/2013/02/print-vultures-inspirational-beyonce-posters.html

As I've mentioned, I signed up for the NY Half before I ran Miami and now have that coming in exactly one month. I've run only a few times total -- and never more than 6 miles -- since the race. Hmm.

I won't run the Half for time (last year I PR-ed at that race before doing so again at the Brooklyn Half in May. But I still would like to have a decent showing. I'm doing this race because I had such a blast last year and wanted a repeat showing. This is the race that shuts down Times Square and ends at the South Street Seaport. It's on St. Patty's Day (after party, anyone?) and I have a bunch of friends running it as well.

Also I truly thought I wouldn't get in the lottery when I signed up at the end of 2012, but of course this is when I get lucky. I NEVER WIN ANYTHING!

So now I'm still training. Kind of. I'm trying to work out at least a few days a week, but I'mma be honest. It's tough.

For the week immediately following the marathon, I didn't work out at all. This is not only okay, but is highly recommended by just about all sources. What I did do, however, was eat all of the foods.

For a couple of months leading up to the "big day" I was really good about my eating to ensure that my body -- that I had worked so hard to cultivate over 20+ miles of training -- was in tip-top shape for the big day. The choices I made were ones I learned were right for my body through trial and error from all those months of training. Trust me: You'll know an error when you feel it during a 3+ hour run.

We'll leave it at that.

But between the low amounts of alcohol, minimal oil and fried foods, and zero lactose consumed...I felt great. It truly was not about weight loss as my portions of many foods (carbs, vegetarian proteins, etc.) were high. But if that's the side-effect? I'll take it.

I feel like others would agree that often when you're IN a healthy mode it's easy to STAY in a healthy mode. And as soon as you embark on unhealthy activities, sometimes it can be a slippery slope. A treacherously slippery slope.

So, let me graphically demonstrate to you the type of lifestyle I have lived P.M.:


And I'm finding it hard to get back on the wagon.

Is three week a long time for a downward spiral? No, no it is not. Will I get the willpower to get back on? Absolutely. Is this why they, in all their wisdom, invented stretchy pants? You're damn right.

But it is a constant struggle. It's one that has plagued me my whole life. But through training I was somehow able to reach an equilibrium. A balance.

When I was in marathon mode, I truly and honestly didn't crave the cheese and the processed foods as much as when I wasn't training. And I got really used to the fact that in order to have a successful run of more than 4-5 miles I simply needed to eat healthy the day before and abstain from all alcohol.

And so I did.

I also truly loved the feeling that I could eat large portions of many foods I love (stir-fries, pastas, big ol' bread baskets) basically guilt-free. It made giving up the daily cheese snacks more than bearable. Because in my mind bread > cheese > all other foods.

What they don't tell you after you run a marathon is that you're still "Marathon Hungry." I'm not sure for how long, but I can tell you with confidence that it is at least 3 weeks. And meanwhile, no calorie burn.

So here I am, midway down the slope and lazier than ever. With a Half Marathon that I've paid $100+ for and genuinely do want to race in four weeks. And I know that to do that successfully I need to stop the binge and start the running again (all in moderation, of course).

... I also do know that I deserve a break.

And so I'm torn.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's never easy, this whole "being fit" thing. Even when you are feeling the best about yourself than you ever have (which is where I was from basically October - January with the NYC Miami training), and even when you accompish huge goals....it's a struggle.

All we can do is all we can do. And I have to remember that no one cares if I gain or lose weight. They really don't. And no one cares if I ran 20 miles this week or 4. They care if you're confident and they care if you're happy.

I know, I know. It can sound contrived and ridiculous. I just ran a marathon, so howcould I feel anything other than pure joy and positivity!?

This running / racing / working out "thing" is a lifestyle. And I'm still trying to figure out how that lifestyle fits in with how I want to live my life.

I'm never going to be the girl who prepares a week's worth of lentils and bok choy (both things I do genuinely like, by the way) and then do some meditative yoga and drift off to sleep in a Buddha-like state of calm. Rather, I'm the one who will cook one singular healthy meal, brag about it for 14 days, and then go out for Mexican and order the extra-large burrito and yes I would like the side of guacamole and the large margarita with that. And more chips, please.

You may be able to relate.

So now, if you'll excuse me, I have some lunch to eat. Watching Beyonce dance so much took a lot out of me.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Miami Part III: How It Feels to Run 26.2 Miles

Not even close.

In Part I of my saga, I went to Miami and prepped for my first ever marathon.
In Part II...I ran said marathon. And it went just splendidly.
And now, the final chapter of my marathon tale: So how ya doin?!

Let's paint a picture:

So you've just run a marathon and you've found your friends and you're like "OMG! YAY! I RAN A MARATHON!" And then you call you parents and your Dad explains that due to the Google earth tracking system he has been cyber-stalking your every move since 5:30 am and knows more about the course and your splits than you do, and you're like, "I RAN A MARATHON!" and then you hang up. And then you look at your phone and you have 33 text messages and 46 notifications on Facebook and 11 twitter mentions and you're like, "OMG! I'M SO POPULAR! AND SOCIAL MEDIA IS AWESOME AND I RAN A MARATHON!"

And your friends are trying to force water and pain killers on you because they're like, "um...you ok...?" and you're delirious and happy and THE KING OF THE WORLD and weirdly, no, you're not hungry and in fact food is repulsing you. And then you realize that you feel a bit faint and that, yes, perhaps water is a good idea. And yes, you'll take the pain killers. ALL OF THEM. And then you try to sit down and realize that you can't because your quads are literally so shot that you can't sit down. And when you finally maneuver yourself to ground-level you're like, "Well...I guess this is where I live now..." Because you truly believe you will never stand up again.

So that's where we were.

After celebrating with the TFK ladies for a bit, [still a lil' drunk] Betsy managed to help me walk the 1/2 mile or so to the shuttle bus. When I got to the front doors of the bus I was like:

But I managed to [painfully] heave myself up the stairs. And then on the bus all of a sudden THE HUNGER began. And it continues to this day.

So about an hour and a half post-finish -- still wearing my sweaty clothes (and medal!), dirty from laying on the ground and gritty from my own sweat drying and leaving a salty-residue on my oh-so-pretty-face -- I simply couldn't wait another moment to eat. B and I ate at the restaurant in the downstairs of our hotel and I dove into a Chicken Parm sub and just went to town on it. Didn't stand a chance. In about 34 seconds flat, my massive plate was reduced to little but crumbs and a piece of lettuce.

No image. Food gone too quickly. 

For the remainder of my time in Miami, I ate everything I had been denying myself during those final weeks of training. All of the junk and the fried and the cheese and the frosting....oh it was so good. So. Good.

And then I took the most epic shower of my life. The shower at the hotel was one of those awesome ones that rains out of the ceiling. I wish I took a picture. Instead I'll show this:

It was like rain! And it was GLORIOUS!

Then [now hungover] Betsy and I needed to be asleep. Immediately. So we passed out for a couple of hours and were awoken by a knock on the door.

"Room service!" called the cheery voice.


"Wait, wait...." I muttered. "That's not for the cleaning...room service...maybe food...what..." And I tried to get out of bed but couldn't because I was rendered paralyzed so Betsy had to.

And then it was THIS!!!


In my bleary, moderately-delirious state at first I thought it was a gift from the heavens. Perhaps some sort of marathon miracle that was bestowed on me by the angels.

But once my eyes adjusted and I read the card I realized that it was even better. Some of my girfriends from NYU had called the hotel and had delivered these [delicious] cupcakes and lovely chocolate covered strawberries! How freaking cute and amazing is that?

And Betsy and I ate absolutely destroyed the cupcakes, and then we passed back out.

When we awoke a bit later, I felt that I wanted to be out in the world to [briefly] celebrate. So we put on clothes and I put on my medal and we went to get celebration cocktails.

A medal and a martini! And a bit of a running shirt sunburn.
Drink served from a penguin shaker!

We were too exhausted and I was in too much pain to muster more than this brief little party. So B and I did the best thing ever instead: We got to-go pizza and ate it in bed while watching TV.

And it was glorious.

The next morning I awoke and the pain was -- if you can believe it -- a little worse. Getting up and down (from things like....the toilet...) were a fiasco. And parts of my body such as my neck and shoulders and sides that had been masked by the leg pain were suddenly feeling the repercussions of my actions.

Luckily I had thought ahead and booked massages for B and I just a short walk away. So she walked (and I shuffled) the 10 minutes to the spa and were got glorious massages. 

Followed by the much-anticipated subs at Publix. [Note: Worth the hype!]

The deliciousness was then followed by the beach, just a couple short blocks from our hotel.

It was a delightfully relaxing day, except for when I was laying down and suddenly felt something bite my hand! Turns out that for the first time in about two decades I had been stung by a bee. A FREAKING BEE!

Since I hadn't been stung for so many years, I had no idea if I was allergic and that caused a few minutes of panicked Googling [what did people do before you could Google "Bee sting what to do"?]. But luckily everything was fine and no hospitalizations were neessary.

No one panic! Everything is okay!

That night we went out for a "real" celebration dinner at this lovely Cuban-fusion restaurant on Lincoln Drive called Yuca. I forgot to take Food Porn pictures, but of course got some great cocktails and pretty dresses shots.

Mojito and prettines

Fancy drink and red lipstick

Closeup of the fancy layered drink!

We had a leisurely meal followed by a couple of beers at an outdoor bar, and then we called it a night. Turns out we aren't the "clubbing" type so much.

Tuesday morning was, sadly, our last day in Miami. We checked out of our rooms and spent the day at the rooftop pool and bar lounging, drinking [see a theme here?] and soaking some last-minute sun before venturing back to NYC.

This. Is. The. Life.

Due in large part to the massage and the massive amounts of laziness we had exhibited, two days after running 26.2 miles I actually felt decent! Of course I was still sore. But it was not nearly as bad as I had been told it could be.

Frankly, I didn't feel much worse than the first time I ran a Half Marathon back in 2008. Back then I didn't really know what I was doing in regards to running, and I remember it taking a long time until my legs felt okay. I also had a lot more issues with blistering, chafing, and fun things like that back then.

But with time and with practice, I've learned -- even with this new long distance -- to manage these things a bit better, I suppose.

I attribute my success in large part to the absurd amount of training I did leading up to this month. But more importantly, I attribute it to doing that training correctly. I didn't over-train despite 20+ months of time. I added cross-training and strength-training. I watched what I ate. I didn't wear heels for about 6 months.

In sum: I was calculating and I was careful. And I was crazy.

But I can't stress this next point enough (but I will try by using bolding and size):

Throughout the entire process I had -- and continue to have -- the most supportive, understanding, and wonderful co-workers, friends and family that have been carrying me on their shoulders all the way. 

It's meant the world, and it's meant all the difference, and for that I thank you.

Onward and upward. I've completed this amazing, life-changing event, and now I'm living in a post-marathon world. I've been resting a lot, beginning to incorporate exercising back into my routine slowly and carefully to prevent injury, and eating everything in sight.


The marathon-training appetite, it turns out, most certainly does not dissipate just because you run the race.

Now now what? I guess only time will tell.....

...Oh, that and the Half Marathon I'm signed up for in a few weeks....

...And the Full NYC Marathon I am signed up for on Nov 3rd...

...just that. And time.

Yes, I am running New York and I am so truly happy that I made the decision to do so. It's not [just] about running just another marathon. Although Miami was an amazing experience and I had a wonderful mini-vacation down in Florida, it's not like it was an easy-breezy process (as you know). But now this is a part of me.

And I'm on a roll.

Now it's about enjoying the process, enjoying my physical fitness, and finally conquering the elusive New York City Marathon. Because she and I have a date with destiny, and it's about time that I show that race that MeriG means business.

In sum: Lots more shenanigans ahead.

Thanks for joining me in my NYC Miami Marathon adventure. I loved sharing every single moment of it with you.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Miami Recap Part II: A Palindromic Finish!

At 3 am my alarm went off. Not that it mattered because I had been up off and on the entire night (if we want to call five possible hours in the sub-set a "night").

I ate a bagel and got dressed while Betsy slept blissfully. All of my stuff was laid out, so I had very little to do (other than panic in the bathroom) for 45 minutes before heading out to get the shuttle to the race start.
Yep, you're reading that correctly: 3:50 am.
People were still out drunk from the night before in full swing. It wasn't even remotely the day yet. A very weird feeling as I trudged the 10 minute walk to the shuttle meeting spot. Other runners were trudging their way out of hotels and towards the shuttle and I felt like we looked like a bunch of running zombie. Rhombies, if you will.

I was on the very first shuttle out of there, and at the race start at 4:15 am (two full hours before the starting time). This might seem a little crazy and compulsive to you, but as you know by now...I AM crazy and compulsive! I was actually very pleased to be there early, to eat more food (banana and peanut butter) and use pristine, never-used port-o-potties before the masses arrived.

True story: If you google images for "new porta potty" this will come up via zimbio.com.                  
Bieber Fever!!
There were photographers milling all about, and they snapped some pics of me looking pretty nervous -- yet excited? -- as I waited. My parents as a gift bought the full package of photos from the day, so I'm excited to share them with you from here on out!

Thumbs up before the start!

The music started at about 5 am. This is also when I said "F-it. What will be will be," in regards to the bathroom situation and took two Immodiums and said a little prayer. Fast-forwarding a bit, I'm happy to report that I did not poop my pants or need a porta potty during the marathon.

Okay no more bathroom talk (I think).

Unless you want me to go on. No? Okay, your loss.

So with still about an hour before race start, I then found Joss and Erica -- my fellow TFK training buddies who also ran Miami.

While I consumed the last of my pre-race food (these "blocks" by Gu that are basically pure carbs and give you a little boost of energy) we lined up to begin.

At 6:15, the gun went off and people started to go. However, there were 25,000 runners doing the Half and Full at the same time (more on this later), so it took 17 minutes for us to actually get over the starting line.

And then we were off.

Mile 1 through 10

I stuck to my pre-planned strategy of starting sllooooowwww for the first 5-ish miles. I did about a 10 to 10:30 pace for those initial ones, and I think it really helped later on.

The sun rose over the water and cruise-ships docked as we ran over the MacArthur Causeway from downtown Miami to Miami Beach for the first few miles. The energy was really fantastic, but it was a bit challenging to weave around the multitudes of slow runners and full-on walkers that weren't -- as running protocol would dictate -- moving to the right.

Miles 4 through 8 were around Miami beach. I was feeling "so far so good" and really trying to continue to hold myself back at this point and not run ahead.

Early on in the race, as you can tell since it is NOW just dawn!
I fell into a pretty steady 10 minute pace and was feeling strong and confident when I passed Betsy for the first time just shy of the 6 mile mark. [Sidebar: Although in fairness it was only about 7:30 at this point, i was disappointed that she hadn't yet started drinking.]

Other people were, however, imbibing. I saw a lot of mimosas and margaritas on Miami Beach, which was great because truly it was before 8 am. Also there were still drunk people from the night before. One particularly stellar duo of European gentlemen thought it would be a good idea to stand in the middle of the road and make fun of us in some sort of -- I can only assume -- made-up language. A girl in front of me picked up a cup of Gatorade and poured it on them. And it was glorious.

Feeling good enough for shenanigans

Around mile 8 we left the Beach and ran the two-ish miles back over causeways to the "mainland." At this point I started feeling a little nagging sensation in my knee. It's hard to say if it was real or in my head because -- trust me -- when you're in the moment? It's real easy to get into your own head real quick.

I also noticed that I was near the pacer at this point for the 9:55 average minute per mile, which is equivalent to a 4:20 pace. My goal coming into this nonsense was simply to finish. But my real, deep-down goal was 4:30. It was around this point where I thought to myself, "hmm....could you really perhaps beat 4:30 today?" 

I saw Betsy right before Mile 12 and she was drinking and she yelled out, "hey girl!!"

The motto of the race, I should mention at this juncture, was #ACTUALLY. Once that starting gun went off I was no longer training for an [alleged] marathon. I was #ACTUALLY running a marathon (and, yes, the hashtag is necessary). Betsy commemorated and had an appropriate sign to boot.

A few minutes later I saw her again (see map above where there was a turn off the main drag and then back on so she could see me twice) and she yelled out, "You're actually running! Be pretty for a picture!"

This is what she got from that:
Please note that the neighborhoods -- at points -- left a little "something to be desired." Also notice the spectators at this point include Betsy on one side of the road and one random dude staring at us on the other side.

Keep in mind that at this point - just over two hours into the race -- there were still 25,000 running. Some were doing the Half...and some the Full. Just shy of the 13.1 halfway marker, crowds on the side starting yelling "you're almost there!" and "finish right ahead!" 

I wanted to punch them all in the face.

Volunteers started indicating for Half-ers to go to the left and Full Marathoners to keep right as the road divided with partitions. With the finish-line-slash-half-way-point looming ahead I realized something...

Um....guys....where you all going....??? Guys? 

As we ran through the "finish" line [lookin' strong yet feeling confused] this became even more apparent.
Keep this image ingrained in your mind. This is what a finish "should" look like.
My actual finish will appear....somewhat different. 

It turns out that of the 25,000 runners 22,000 were only running half of the race.

Where. Did. Everyone. Go.

Not only did I still have ANOTHER 13.1 miles to go, but I was basically alone now.

For a few minutes this totally weirded me and I was scared and still having knee pain and internally freaking out.

But then I realized that this would mean the water stations would no longer be a complete disaster and I wouldn't to worry about being elbowed or crashing into someone who decided to just HALT without notice or to just in general be near other people.

And ultimately the truth is that I don't really like other people. So I carried on with pleasure.

Now I'm gonna show you some more pictures to visually demonstrate how I felt from miles 15-23. I alternated between feeling like this:

Oh, hey girl! I just ran for about 3 and a half hours already and I'm not remotely finished. Yet somehow I feel amazing. I think this could be a precursor to death, or perhaps I already am dead. Hard to say. THUMBS UP!!!

And also feeling like this (which I include in this post so that you don't think I am some super-human freak:)

Oh god. Oh my god. Someone help me. Please.

The race wove down one road, running at mile 15 just on the other side of the road to where people were running back at mile 22. And I hated them. Because they were almost done and I was not. And because a lot of them were really pretty and that angered me to my CORE.

The race went into Coconut Grove and -- weirdly -- at miles 18-19 were in an oddly residential area at times. Starting at 19 it was a straight shot along S. Bayshore drive up to what Betsy and I classily referred to as the "penis" of miles 22 through 24 when we went out along the Causeway and back.

A couple of highlights along the way: 

1) At mile 17 a well-intentioned lady called out, "You guys are doing great! Only 9 more miles to go!" The girl next to me correctly responded with "%&@# YOU!" 

2) Because my name was on my shirt, I got a lot of shout-outs from the energetic -- if slightly sparse -- crowd. It was nice.

3) One of my TFK teammates had come to surprised us and cheer us on. He was at Mile 20 and it REALLY HELPED at that point to see that familiar face and see the support.

4) Right before and after the penis (sorry, the "causeway"), I saw Erica's boyfriend Tyler as well as her family. They were cheering super loud, and I really needed the support at mile 22 and then again at 24.

5) One of my other TFK friends -- Merri -- ran the Half and then was there just before mile 25 to cheer  us Full Marathon crazy-people on. Seeing her was also much-needed. She said, "How do you feel!" and I responded "I think I'm going to die!" And then I ran on. Good chat!

Throughout the entire time, I ran on my own, without music. Although there were times with no crowd, I wanted to hear and experience everything. I also was just trying -- to the best of my ability -- to absorb every moment. After about mile 22 I knew that this was happening. Whether I walked or ran (but I did run!) I was going to finish. this. marathon.

Everyone says the last 6 miles of the race is mental. And this is totally true. But, for me, it wasn't as "planned out" as some suggest. I've read and heard that many people plan out miles to dedicated to family or friends. Or have mantras planned to say to yourself.

Can I be real? For NY I was considering dedicating miles. But for Miami? Um...sorry beloved friends and fam, but those miles were ALL dedicated to me. They were mine. And YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY!!!!!!

And my mantra was equally selfish. I keep saying to myself "You're awesome." Simple, sweet and elegant.

And I also in a moment of delirium thought, "When you finish this, you can do anything." True that, self. Except ski, because you are bad at skiing. And at baking. You are not a good baker. Also at arts & crafts and interior decoration. Those are also not strong areas for you. Otherwise, yes, anything.

Around mile 24 my mantra changed just to "GO." And I actually said that [and the equally motivating variation "&@$%-ing GO", out loud to myself, over and over to get through this point where I felt my left knee and quad start to give out. Also my right arm-fat had started to rub against myself to the point that I had a serious [yet awkward] chafing situation. Just on my right arm-fat.

I'm so cute.

At mile 25 or so, the crowds thickened and I knew that not only was I going to finish...but I was going to finish in under 4:30. And I saw a photographer and I made this happen:

BOOM!!!!! 25 miles and I look like a MILLION BUCKS! 

But then, it was go time. My body had started to truly give out and had reached it's max. I was 5+ miles further than I had ever gone before, and I felt it. I was in agony in every bone and muscle in my body. And sweating profusely. And slightly sunburned. And dealing with arm-fat chafing.

I saw [drunk] Betsy just about at mile 26 with 0.2 to go (don't forget about the 0.2!) and she took this action shot:

And then -- with the now full crowd cheering my name and no one around me because there were, like, 10 people running the marathon -- I breathed & sprinted to the end.
I sprinted because I wanted it to be over. I sprinted because the crowd was watching. And I sprinted because -- at this point -- it didn't matter if I walked or jogged or ran...I hurt but I also felt unbelievable.
"Seriously, Go!"

As I crossed the finish [which I forgot to raise my arms for...at least we have the Half shot!] my face shows my feelings: a mixture of joy and pain and just pure, raw emotion.

I had forgotten to stop my watch or look at the clock. And I didn't. Give. A. Crap. 

Ohmigod. I finished a marathon. I. Finished. A. MARATHON!


And the world rejoiced. And then they put a medal around my neck. And I cried.

Crying tears
And I checked my phone and I saw this:
Holy crap!

Not only had a finished under 4:30...I finished way under.  AND MY TIME MAKES A PALINDROME!!!!! WIN!

I limped through the recovery area and snapped this shot:

And found my #1 Spectator who was a delightful mixture of supportive and excited and inebriated:

And Erica:
Despite an ulcer and a flaring IT band...Erica ROCKED IT!!
And -- P.S. -- she is the best training buddy anyone can ask for!
And I just smiled....And smiled.....And smiled....

....because I in pain. And I was dehydrated. And my right arm-fat hurt. And I had some pretty epic blisters. And I was pretty sure my left quad was never going to work again....

....but I was no longer [allegedly] running a marathon. And it was still sinking in....

MeriG is #ACTUALLY a marathoner.

Stay tuned for Part 3: MeriG, you just successfully completed a marathon without causing  Armageddon. Now what are you going to do!?