Sunday, December 25, 2016

Perspective and Gratitude

From Evans #iamme campaign, photo
by Danielle Levitt
When I was at the gym yesterday, going in on the elliptical, I started to smile.
I looked down at my clothes and realized that with the exception of my big girl panties, everything I was wearing I had not purchased myself:

NYC Marathon long sleeve tech shirt

tech running tights by Merrell
running shoes by Merrell
socks by Swiftwick
and bra by Enell 

When I started my fitness journey, I would run on the treadmill in my office almost every o dark thirty morning and dream. I would imagine that I could do any event I wanted, wear gear that fit and looked good, and that when people watched me in action, they would feel as though maybe they could do that too.

Over the past year, I've had many, many cool opportunities and experiences thrown at me and somehow, with the blessing and support of the Rabun Gap Nacoochee School, my students, my family, and my fitness community in general, I was able to take advantage of many of them.

From Tough Mudder Long Island 2016

I started out the year in January doing the Atlanta Fatass 25K run hosted by the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society in Atlanta

In early March, I did the Naked Bavarian Trail Marathon in Reading, Pennsylvania

Narragansett Beer Half, Easton MA

In April I participated in a photo shoot for Evans, a plus-size fashion company based in the UK.

I did my first Tough Mudder Training event and the Shape Magazine Women's Half Marathon in New York City

At Catamount 25K
In May I did my first ever Tough Mudder in Atlanta

Early June I did the Tortoise and the Hare 12 Hour Run in Canton, Georgia. Oh, I also got a book deal too. I started writing that.

A few weeks later I did the Catamount 25K in Stowe, Vermont. I wrote my book.

A week after that, I did the Finger Lakes 50s 50K. I worked on my book.

I drove up to Massachussetts and did the Naragansett Beer Half mid July. BOOK? Yes! And beer too!
The following week I did my second Tough Mudder in Long Island, NY. I was still writing that book.
Post Marine Corps Marathon with my cuz

In August I got to tape a show of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (which hasn't been aired yet)! Did somebody say book?
In September I got to try out some the (then) top secret new obstacles for Tough Mudder. Book, book, book, book.

October featured the most events:

First, I did the Tri-State Tough Mudder in New Jersey. Escribía mi libro.
Then I did my fourth Tough Mudder in Dallas. J'ai ecrit mon livre.

I met NYRR CEO, Michael Capiraso!
What a cool guy!
My penultimate event was the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. My cousin and her children gave me VIP treatment before, during, and after the marathon. It was a difficult one (it was extremely hot!) but the hardship paled in comparison to the good times had with family, new and old friends, and new respect for the marathon distance I gained. Ich habe mein Buch geschrieben und I finished the first draft the day before the marathon at 9:28pm the night before Marine Corps.

And finally, to top of an incredible year of running, reading, writing, and doing a little diversity and inclusion at work,

I ran the New York City Marathon in November. To say it was one of the most fantastic experiences ever is an understatement. Also, I got to meet NYRR CEO Michael Capiraso, shook hands with Race Director Peter Ciaccia, went to the Runner's World Party that weekend with my Swiftwick bestie Ashley, hugged Ryan Hall, and heard Kara Goucher, Stephanie Bruce and Sara Hall speak at the NY Custom Physical Therapy pre-race partay! And then to top it off, my family was able to see me run the race of my dreams in their own backyard.
Mom, sis, niece and nephew cheering me on at the NYC Marathon in Brooklyn!

Wow, right? I am so fortunate to have the sponsorship and ambassadorship opportunities I do. I love each of the companies I get to represent as they align with both my lifestyle, mission, and intention. They have allowed me time to learn, grow, prosper and succeed as an athlete, even though those things might look and feel different for other, more traditional athletes.

Check out this podcast that Nicole DeBoom, founder of Skirt Sports, and I did a few weeks ago!

For this incredible and still surreal year, I thank Merrell, Swiftwick, Skirt Sports, the folks at Trail And Ultra Running, my publicist Margaux Nissen Gray, my literary agent Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret, my family, and countless others who have supported, encouraged, and motivated me to keep doing what I'm doing. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, Happy Holidays, and Happy Winter!

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Something got me out of bed yesterday.
Maybe it was that I woke up without a deadline looming over my head.
Perhaps it was my excitement about returning to one of my favorite yoga classes at my favorite gym, Lifetime Athletic.

Or that I knew my mother would make me dinner (cuz I'm still a big baby).

All of the above.

Plus, I was excited the fact that I would actually have a minute to sit down and post on the blog today.

I know, it's been a while and what actually inspired me to blog was something that my yoga teacher Erica Sergott said yesterday during practice.

It was really simple.

Morning of NYC Marathon!
At the beginning she said "Set an intention for your practice today" and I immediately thought of my breath. 

I haven't been running regularly since the New York City Marathon because:

     1. I needed and still need a break from running after that back-to-back-marathon-palooza (Marine Corps followed a week later by NYCM) followed by life.

     2. I've had some pretty major breathing problems since the beginning of November, when thick smoke and particulate matter filled the air of Northeast Georgia because of wildfires as close as four miles to our town.

Two doctors visits, one x-ray, one CT scan (clear!), and two different steroid prescriptions later, I'm slowly approaching a state in which I can breathe again without feeling like I'm drowning in peanut butter mixed with molasses and Elmer's glue. Breathing is essential.

Erica Sergott, yogi extraordinaire!
I've also been under a bit of stress lately. If you read my Women's Running Magazine post from last week about my goals and accomplishments from this past year, you'll understand why. And also, if you are new to this blog, you should know that I'm in the midst of writing a book. That's been giving me a little bit of anxiety.

But back to yoga yesterday morning.

I set my intention for my practice. It was--

"Thank you lungs for allowing me to breathe." 

Throughout the practice Erica reminded me several times to call to mind my intention for the practice, and it refocused me in a really powerful way.

My breathing became less labored, and I became less afraid of giving my full self to movement. I gave into quietude of the mind, and to opening myself to the bounty of good that has come my way in the last two years.

I returned to my intention, expressed gratitude for my lungs, and then reminded myself of the intent of everything that I do in the name of fitness, including this blog. I recommitted to health and wellness a few years ago, because I was letting them escape from my life. I started the blog because I wanted to share the journey with others.

So here I am. After a hectic-in-a-good-way year I want to recommit myself to blogging on this platform and continue to share my journey with you.

Thank you to Erica, yogi extraordinaire for helping me to realize this with a simple but incredibly meaningful yoga practice.