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My Semicolon

5 Aug

I’m conflicted about this space.  Some days it feels like the purest expression of myself and what I’m thinking.  Some days it feels like a surreal spotlight I’ve thrust myself into where I have to live up to this “healthy living blogger/running blogger/green blogger” stereotype.  I try very hard to find to the balance between my own privacy and the spirit of what this blog was created for.  I NEVER want this space to seem like a brand I’ve attempted to create for myself (about myself?  of myself?) – that feels so very disingenuous.  I try to keep things here very light-hearted, which is why it’s difficult when my life seems bogged down with anything BUT light-hearted stories or anecdotes.  But, I have to get this out.


Real talk?  The last 2 weeks have been a real struggle for me – everything about them has been a struggle.  I’ve been sleeping more than I’ve been doing anything else, except maybe loaf around on the couch and watch TV.  I have turned down invitations to hang out with friends, I haven’t done a single thing physically active since TWO Sundays ago, I’ve been scavenging for food, I haven’t so much as walked my dog.  And it’s not because I’m lazy.  I mean, I can be a lazy person.  I’m not denying that.  But this is more than that.  This feels like my depression, my oldest frenemy.

She reared her ugly face right around the time I got PMS a few weeks ago, but now the bitch is trying to rent a room at my house.  My depression isn’t sadness or sorrow, which I think might be more cathartic.  No, I feel like I’m a toy that’s been run down and my battery light has been blinking for awhile now.  My depression is a spectrum of apathy and drowsiness, the kind which turns your whole life into a long chain of arrested development and procrastination. If you just thought:  “Snap out of it, girl!” – you’ve never struggled with depression.  I would give anything for it to be that easy.  Though, my battle with depression no longer feels like I’m a passenger on a train that’s careening down a hill towards a village with no breaks.  I don’t feel like the village anymore either, so there’s that.  Right now it feels like I barely have the energy to type these words, and I just can’t imagine pulling myself up by the bootstraps right now.  My mind whispers to me all day, trying to lure me right back into my bed with promises of sleep.

We are given so very little time on this planet, and I feel like I’ve wasted so much of mine tangled up in varying degrees of depression.  It’s sickening, but it’s out of my control for the most part.  It’s a very real struggle in my every day life – even on days when I feel fine.  I know the only answer is to keep fighting, keep pushing, keep battling through.  If I could just get my running shoes on and get out the door, I feel like I could jump start something inside me.  Anything would be better than this feeling of just being so drained, so tired, so blah.  Sleep, all of the hours of dreamless sleep, reach for me and I let them take me.  I remember the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college where I fell asleep one afternoon and slept for 4 days straight, waking up to go to the bathroom and eat every now and then.  I truly never want to be in that mental space again:  the sleep, followed by the insomnia; the blog which was just cryptic notes and song lyrics, which was really me screaming for help; the broken trail of friendships because I could just never keep it together; the dark place that is always there, just behind my eyelids.

I don’t talk about it much, because frankly, it’s not a place I like to revisit.  10 years ago, a bomb went off inside me and I just couldn’t contain the blast.  Every single thing I had ever buried deep down inside came spilling out and I was drowning in all of it.  I had the choice whether or not to use a semi-colon or to use a period 10 years ago.  I chose not to end the sentence.  I chose to take the long, winding, treacherous journey that is “dealing with all of the things for all of time.”  I can remember very clearly what that moment felt like – the moment I chose to live – and I think about it often.  I think about it most when I’m feeling…well kind of how I’m feeling right now.  I am not a quitter, even though it seems like everyone quits on me.

I’m not writing this for applause or for sympathy.  Honestly, I’m writing it for myself.  Remembering how far I’ve come since then makes my current mental state seem like something I know I can overcome again.  And again.  And again.   I’ve done it before and I will chose that semi-colon every single fucking time I get the opportunity to do so.  I may have written this for me, but I’m posting it as a public blog entry for you.  Yes, for you.  So that if you’re ever feeling like this, you know that you’re not the only one.  It gets better.  It doesn’t always stay better – some moments, hours, days, weeks, or months are damn harder than others.  But it will get better again.  Every single morning you chose to wake up, the sun will greet you and remind you that after a darkness will always come a light.

That Time I Surprised Myself With Awesomeness

25 Feb

Between the weather, work being busy, trying to get the house organized and packed (which I was informed that I am failing miserably at), and PMS, I think I have used up all of my excuses for not sticking to my training plan.  Instead, I have been hibernating, sleeping in, and being a lazy slob in general.

Then, I looked at the calender.  I am running a 5K in 11 days and I have yet to log enough mileage to qualify as even “mildly substantial.”  Womp, Womp.

So in the spirit of failure and un-achieved goals, I forced myself to put on warm clothes and go to the park for a run.  When I left the house, it was lightly snowing and it had just started to cover the streets and sidewalks.  The wind chill was measuring in at 19*F and I was dreading everything that was to come.  Except maybe the iced coffee I knew I would buy on my way home.

I wanted to start out nice and slow, since I feel like I always go hard and then burn out too quickly.  This was advantageous for two reasons actually – the beginning of the trail was covered in patches of ice which were disguised by mud!  Yikes!!


I love the Bridle Trail at Schenley Park.  I love the way it slowly wraps around the side of the hill.  I love how surrounded I feel by natural beauty while at the same time being smack dab in the middle of the city.  The Bridle Trail is never crowded nor is it desolate like the rapey trail by my house.

I think it holds a special place in my heart because I have a lot of good memories here.  When I first moved to the city, I was a mess both emotionally and physically.  I remember coming here for a 5K with my roommate and walking it IN FLIP FLOPS while slightly intoxicated.  I had no idea what I was in for.  That’s so funny to me now for some reason!

Several years later, I did another 5K here – the Greenfield Glide – with some of Christina’s immediate family.  There are actually quite a few cousins missing!  Yes, this is only PART of her immediate family.  Yes, everyone is super close and we see each other all the time.  It is amazing.


We all either walked or ran in memory of her Uncle Pat:  a marathon running, Golden Gloves boxing Irishman with the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.  I will never forget watching his widow cross the finish line last, emotionally flocked by her adoring children and grandchildren.  It brings me to tears just thinking about how powerful that moment was.

I walked that particular race because I was afraid for people to see me struggle.  I was so new to running that I didn’t even know what chip timing was, so I didn’t even have a chip on!   I laugh thinking about how Christina’s dad was breathing down our necks the whole time, power walking right behind us and challenging us not to let him pass us.  At one point I’m pretty sure he was smoking a cigarette and still managed to finish just ahead of us!  I wasn’t laughing about that 20 lbs. ago but it’s humorous now.

I think of these memories almost every time I run at Schenley and it makes my heart happy.  I must’ve spaced out at some point because I ended up missing a turn and making a wider loop than I had intended.  I ended up having to climb a MONSTER hill only to be welcomed by all of the stairs which take me up to Schenley Oval and eventually my car.


Miss Negativity (aka the little voice in my head) was bitching HARD the whole time.  She was throwing herself on the ground and kicking her feet and stomping around and sighing and insisting that she just was not going to do the hill or the steps or any of it.  SO THERE.  Hmph.

But…I had to get back to my car.

When I got to the top of the hill, I had survived.  Surprise, surprise.  And so I made it a point to run the Oval as a sort of victory lap/middle finger to show her that I would be the one to determine where we went and how we got there thankyouverymuch.   I actually continued to run the whole way back to my car.  Who knew?  I finished strong on my so very tired legs, with a huge smile on my face, wings in my heart, and an unusual silence where Miss Negativity is usually filling up space.

I chose to become a runner because I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort zone.  I wanted to be active and become a healthier person.  I never could have imagined all of the things that running has given me.  Then again, running hasn’t given me anything really.  Running has proven to me that I am capable of so much more than I can imagine.  Again and again I am surprised at every one of my achievements.  And yet, I continue to improve every day.  So, really I gave this to myself.

I am at a point in my life where I honestly feel like I am the best version of myself that I have ever known – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  And you know what?  That’s a pretty awesome feeling.


Help Save Christmas!

27 Sep



Yeah.  I said it.  Yes, I know it’s September.


BUT.  But…there is a really good reason for me bringing up Christmas so prematurely.  A fellow Pittsburgh blogger, Cassie, has something amazing brewing for Christmas this year!!  She is playing Santa for 3 families in need by raising money from a super awesome spinathon.  Yes, spinathon!  On November 10th.  How cool is that?  And also, by having people like me and you and us purchase items off of the Amazon Wishlist she’s compiled.  She is going to have everything shipped to her house until it’s time to make the big drop!

Who are we helping?

3 different families, from some of the poorest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh:

1.  A cancer patient with no family to speak of, no support system and no money.

2.  A single mom, working  hard but struggling in her minimum wage job to provide a good life for her daughter.

3.  A single mom with 3 kids – 2 of which have special needs.

How can YOU help give the gift of Christmas this season?

Just hop on over the Amazon Wishlist Cassie set up, it’s full of toys and essentials like cleaning supplies and paper products.  For less than $20, you can make someone else believe in miracles this year.  OR  Spin!  This is Cassie’s 2nd “spinathon” to raise money for an important cause.  Again, Joy To The Spinathon will be held on November 10th, 2013 in Harmar, PA.  Get your spin on for a cause or sponsor a spinner!

If you’ve never read Cassie’s blog before, I strongly suggest you pop over and say hello to her!

On Self-Doubt

12 Aug

I have a confession to make.  I left the Great Race running clinic feeling very discouraged.  Despite having bought new running shoes afterwards, which should have made me the happiest girl in the world, I literally boycotted running for a week.  Not cool.

So, what happened?

At the clinic, I felt like an imposter.  The whole “I run, therefore I am a runner,” thing – I get it.  And most days I own that.  But seeing all of the other runners at the clinic kind of took me back to the feelings of inadequacy I had throughout high school and college.  That version of myself was lazy, overweight, inactive, non-athletic.  The people around me at the clinic were athletes.  They were runners.  I was an imposter, wandering around amongst them, trying to lay low and sneak back out to my car before they figured out that I shouldn’t be there.

At 29 years old, you’d think I wouldn’t let that little voice in my head break me down.  But there she was, louder than ever.  And I listened to her when she told me that I will never be the runner that I want to be.  I thought over and over again about all of the flaws I have in my running form and felt embarrassed, silly for thinking of myself as an actual, real runner.  How silly I must look with my horrible form and my not-even-running shoes.  Last week I blogged less, I ran not at all, I ate all of the things, and I felt like crap about all of it.

Christina was out of town Saturday night – Sunday, which left me alone with my thoughts, a pint of ice cream, and Lifetime Movie Network.  Normally, that combination is a recipe for emotional disaster but I’m really not the person that I used to be.  Yet another one of life’s lessons right in front of my face, so blatant that I couldn’t even see it.

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” – Oprah Winfrey

I read that quote out loud and said: I know that’s right, girl.  Then I sat there lost in my thoughts for a few minutes and let it really sink in:  No, really.  She’s completely right.  I can either keep feeling sorry for myself because I haven’t seen the progress that I wanted OR I can accept the fact that I haven’t worked hard enough to earn that progress.

I run, therefore I am a runner.  The kind of runner I am is dependent on me.  My form, my endurance, my determination; those are all things that are dependent on me.  Just me.  I desperately want to lace up my shoes, walk out the door, and run for miles and miles.  I’ve never wanted anything so badly in my life.  But that doesn’t happen, not just because I wish for it anyway.  Running is slow progress, it’s pushing through shin splints and blisters, it’s talking yourself out of taking yet another walking break, it’s lacing up my shoes even though I’d rather slip back into a dream, it’s feeling exhausted but running anyway.  There’s no finish line, no people cheering, no water stations, no bathrooms, no medals.  Really there’s just me and my shoes on the pavement, with music in my ears pushing me to go harder, sometimes joined by a poodle who finds intrepid joy in this simple act of moving forward.

I love running, even though sometimes I find myself talking about it like a burden or a chore.  I started this journey for one simple reason: to improve my self.  Running is like life – I can say I want to be more determined, more motivated, more hard-working, insert whatever here.  Without action, those are just wishes, as fleeting as the wishes lost on so many birthday candles.  Those wishes become goals when I actually start working towards them.  Running has shown me that I will never reach my goal unless I give it 115%.  And then a little more after that.  This weekend I realized that I have to stop thinking about running like a backpack full of boulders, this thing I carry around with me that weighs me down with self doubt and guilt.  Running is a lesson.  And when I stop being afraid to learn it, then I will be a runner.

Meet Mallory

17 May

Today I thought I’d switch it up and talk about someone else for a change.  I’ve been following a friend’s weight loss, fitness, and life transformation via Facebook for the last few years.  Mallory’s journey has been really inspiration for me and I was especially curious to know what its like to be a low carb athlete.  Enjoy!

Q1:  Are you carb-free or low-carb?

A1:  I’m low carb. I always have less than 50g of carbs per day, usually I’m under 30g.

Q2:  When did you make your decision to eliminate/cut carbs and why?

A2:   About a year ago, Charlie (her husband) decided he wanted to try low-carb based off of some conversations with a friend that he met while working at a sandwich shop. We had both lost some weight by cutting calories and running a few years back before our wedding, but we both gained weight back so we decided to try it. I struggled with it for a while and I had cheat days sometimes, but as of now, I haven’t had over 50g of carbs in a day since Easter.

Q3:  Were you a runner prior to eliminating/cutting carbs?

A3:    I started running before I started dieting. Running was something that I never, ever wanted to do or even thought about.  But living in Pittsburgh made me realize how awesome it is for both physical and mental health. I started running when I weighed 210 pounds. I decided that i needed to make drastic changes in my life, and couldn’t think of anything more drastic than that!

MalloryBefore Q4:  How have your running/training/fitness experiences been affected since you changed your diet?  (For example, do you notice that you have more or less energy?  Do you notice that it’s easier for you to lose weight?)

A4:   At first, I was really concerned with running while eating low-carb. I was still in the mindset of needing to “carb load” before long runs. I eventually just stopped wanting to eat carbs for the most part.  Before I run, I really don’t eat carbs.  Instead, I’ll have eggs, cheese and bacon.  Carbs are important for recovering, though, so on days that I run I eat a little more. The carbs that I do eat are usually from beans and vegetables (Wendy’s chili and Baja Salads, for example).  As far as energy -I have way more of it!  I sleep better, I wake up more easily, I feel like I recover from long runs and hard workouts better than I ever have, and losing weight is definitely easier.

Q5:  Have you dealt with any fitness-related challenges since making such a big change in your diet?

A5:   The only challenge I have at this point, is finding time for runs. I work a lot of hours in varying shifts, so it’s hard to schedule my runs. Physically, though, I haven’t had problems since I’ve changed my diet.

Q6:  What foods do you depend on to fuel and recover from your workouts now? 

A6:   After a run, I make sure to only drink water until my thirst is quenched. Over hydrating is just as bad as being dehydrated, so I’m very careful with that. I normally try to run right before it’s time to eat a meal, so when I’m done I just eat whatever I would normally: meat, cheese and vegetables and/or beans depending on the intensity of my workout or run.

Q7:  Does your nutritional plan change when you aren’t training for a race?

A7:   I really try not to change my nutritional plan. At this point, I’m not on a diet.  I’ve just changed my eating lifestyle. When I am training for a race, I will eat closer to 50g of carbs on longer run days, but otherwise, I stay around 30g.  I have recently been seeing a fertility specialist and during her testing, we found out that I’m pre- diabetic. I have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and it’s closely related to Type 2 Diabetes.  I started eating low-carb because I wanted to lose weight, but now I enjoy eating low-carb.  It helps me keep my sugar low by not ingesting unnecessary sugar via carbs.

MalloryB&AQ8:  What upcoming fitness goals are you excited to share with us?

A8:   I decided that while I really enjoy seeing lower numbers on the scale, I no longer have a specific weight loss goal.  I decided to make a goal of being able to wear a bikini. I know that sounds kind of weird and super girly, but I never felt like that was something that I could do.  I feel like anything is possible now! Also, I am going to be running some races coming up. I’ll be doing the Montour Trail Half Marathon in September in Robinson Twp. (right outside of Pittsburgh), and I’m giving a full marathon another shot in October at the Wineglass Marathon in New York. Today is actually exactly 2 years since I ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon, but didn’t finish. That moment really made me fall out of love with running for a while, but I’m really back in love again and look forward to earning the title of marathoner!

Thanks for sharing your story Mallory – and good luck at the Montour Half, girl!

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