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2018-01-16T15:08:52.726Z
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By now, you’ve probably seen those Top Nine of 2017 floating around IG. (Here’s mine and here’s where to get yours.)

I’ve written ad nauseam about how hard 2017 was for me (and I will likely continue to write about grief in 2018, though I hope it feels less painful then.) But you know what, in spite of all that, I actually had some awesome highlights, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.

#1. Australia + New Zealand

Right from the start of 2017, it was about looking for light amidst the dark. My mom had a major emergency surgery in late December last year, and she came home only four days before I was scheduled to leave for Australia. But with her blessing and her doctor’s, I still went on my trip to Australia and New Zealand, and I’m so glad I did, because it’s a trip I’ll never forget.

#2. Foxwoods for my birthday

Once I came back from Australia, my mom continued to get more sick instead of better. I wanted to do something totally different and silly for my birthday rather than “hey let’s just meet at some random bar” (though I also did that the night before, which was perfect), so I went to Foxwoods Casino to see one of my fave comedians, Iliza Shlesinger. YOU GUYS, the people watching there was amazing. 

SANTA’S WORKSHOP — KEEP OUT, read the sign on her kitchen office door, from November 1 on.

Of course I peeked, and of course she admonished me, but I had to know what kind of Very Important Christmas Activities were going on in there, and OK, fine, what gifts she was hiding from me.

As I got older, I knew that peeking really would ruin my Christmas, that the surprise is half the fun.

“Theodora, I need your list,” is the refrain I heard from November on.

Christmas was big in both of my parents’ families, so it became big in our little family of three too.

All my parents ever wanted was a child, so once they adopted me and their dreams came true, all they wanted to do was keep me happy. In turn, I was beyond grateful for their love and just wanted them to be happy.

Several Christmases, my mom tried so hard to give us the perfect Christmas that she literally made herself sick, coming down with pneumonia from exhausting herself to the point that her immune system couldn’t handle the germs she encountered during her days of wandering the mall looking for that perfect gift.

Every Christmas, just before Christmas, she asked what my perfect gift would be. The question made me uncomfortable, because it never was about the presents. OK, fine, the first 22 years, it was totally about the presents. But once I started...

Literally every single time I take a yoga class, I think “I should do this more.”

My energy levels have been pretty low this month. Call it grief and low-level dread of the holidays, call it depression, call it too many cookies and wine (jk there is no such thing), call it a mild Vitamin D deficiency, but I really just want to spend a ton of time in bed.

I know I always feel better when I work out, so I’ve been trying my best to stick to working out — while also being gentle with myself and honoring my body and mind.

So some days, that looks like Orangetheory; some days that looks like 10 minutes of a Daily Burn video at home; some days that looks like a good yoga class.

I love the soulful and mindful — I do yoga 80% for my mind, and 20% to get a good stretch in.

Feeling particularly lethargic on Saturday, I knew I needed to do something. But also that it needed to be really close to my apartment if I was actually going to go. I didn’t have it in me to get on the subway there and back and spend an extra hour to and from.

A little search on Classpass, and I found Yogamaya, which I somehow never realized was around the corner from me? And they have a Yoga for Athletes class? Where have...

This post is sponsored by Epson, but all opinions are mine.

 

I really love toys.


I mean, I’m 34 going on 4, so this makes sense. But I love trying out gear, so I was fascinated when I heard Epson was launching a running watch, I was intrigued. Epson…like, the printer? Are they 3D printed watches? (As it turns out, Epson is owned by the same company that owns Seiko.)

To be honest, for the past few years, I’ve mostly relied on my Apple Watch for my running. I haven’t been training for any time goal, so just knowing the overall distance and pace has been all I needed.

But as I attempt to channel my grief and the strength I’ve gained in this past year into running hard and fast (and often!), I need something a bit more than that super-simple interface.

Hey, remember when I used to write about running and fitness more?

Yeah, me too. Ah, yes, back when life was more simple and running and fitness were a novelty, not something that I now depend on for my sanity.

Well, I have found the perfect way to channel and combine my grief and my running.

Remember when I did the Teal Walk? First with my mom, and then with my friends in memory of my mom. 

Well, Teal got charity bibs for the NYC Half this year, and I’m proud to be raising money for them and have another race, another goal, on the horizon. 

I’ve been doing Orangetheory again, and I’m really excited to see how all of this torture speed work pays off.

I would love to dream big and say I’m gunning for a new PR, but I’ll have to see how much running fitness I can recover in the next 3.5 months. It’s been a while since I’ve even gone sub-2, so I know that is at least my solid B goal, no matter what.

Do you have any big running goals right now?

Yesterday was a hard day.

Yesterday was a great day.

I’m thankful that the two can co-exist a bit better than they could a few months ago.

I woke up yesterday giddy with excitement for having all of my favorite women in the same place, and I went off to the gym to burn off some of the anxiety about throwing the *perfect* party.

I ran my heart out on the treadmill and left endorphin-wasted and happy and sweaty.

But then, alone again in my apartment, I felt so alone in the world. I thought about the time my mom had come to my cookie swap three years ago, and the other times I’d called her to tell her excitedly about how well it had gone playing hostess, proud of her teaching me to entertain and open up my home (or fave gym, same thing) to the people I loved.

And I spent hours that I should have been cleaning and prepping sobbing and on the phone with my aunt and a dear friend who lost her parents young.

The other guests were set to come over at 2, but my gem of a BFF came over at 12:30 to help me finish the party prep.

I’m not sure we had enough cheese?

Llamas and cookies?

Sitting in a cozy little gallery in Brooklyn yesterday, I found a piece of myself I hadn’t realized I was missing.

I’ve had this blog for almost nine years.

I have a journalism degree.

Yet I have a hard time calling myself a writer the way I have a hard time calling myself an athlete, despite the fact I have now run seven marathons and more than 30 halfs.

At this massive crossroads in my life, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and attempting to find that sweet spot of what makes me happy and can make me money.

My brain feels like it’s going in a million directions at once, but I keep coming back to two things: I want to help people, and I want to use my voice.

My voice and my words are what I have.

And yesterday sitting in this gallery, I felt more alive, more ~present~ than I have in a long time. 

I’m in a NYC Motherless Daughters Facebook group, and they hosted a grief writing workshop.

I wrote about my pain.

I felt my pain.

And I felt support from strangers united by the grief that usually feels so cold and isolating. 

I discovered things I didn’t know I was feeling; tears silently ran down my face as I listened to these other women share their stories of loss and wondered how they read my mind.

I left and walked out into the bright mid-day sun feeling energized and sad all at the same time. Feeling supported and alone at...

OK…

Did you also buy a ton of crap this weekend?

No, me neither…

I’ll admit that most of my shopping was for me, but hey, it’s stuff that makes me happy…so…mental health? (Can I submit these receipts to my insurance?)

Here’s a few of my fun purchases. And to new readers…I am all about the Christmas season so this is essentially a Christmas blog until January. Consider yourselves warned. 

Old Navy (which is currently doing 50% off EVERYTHING)

Sparkly Workout Pants — why yes, I did wear these to OTF today and chicked the dude on the treadmill next to me, thank you for asking.

Llama jammies — definitely not wearing these right now… 

Llama socks — also not wearing these right now… 

Christmas Decorations

I decorated my tree yesterday!!! So pro tip for New Yorkers (with a little extra room in your budget, tbh, because this isn’t quite the most budget-friendly but was worth it for me): NYC Trees will deliver and set up your tree — and also include the skirt and stand. I had a crappy experience with tree delivery and putting it up myself last year, so this was worth it for me this year.

Last year, my college roomie Jen helped me shop/decorate my tree. (I am like a child shopping for Christmas ornaments, so I need a little adult supervision here to stick to a vision.) We decided on red + silver as a base with the sentimental ornaments...

Well, I made it through my first Thanksgiving without my mom — obviously not without a gazillion tears, but I made it.

What helped: a combination of old traditions + new. It would be foolish to pretend all is the same. I took care of my own soul, and I spent time with family. 

I spent Wednesday night with friends seeing the Macy’s parade balloons being blown up, with a stop in Columbus Circle on my way there to see one of my fave Christmas spots in the city. I’ve always loved the view from the second floor of the Time Warner Center, but especially around Christmas. Last year, it took on a new meaning as I found myself drawn there, as I made my way, feeling lost, back downtown to my apartment after my mom had a major surgery at Columbia. This view, these stars, bring me a certain amount of peace for reasons I can’t explain.

Then, so long as I was in the city on Thanksgiving morning, I went to Orangetheory for an ass-kicking. I’d woken up sad and anxious, and to distract myself from that for an hour was priceless.

My BFF Meg wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving, so she came to NJ with me for Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t have scripted better how helpful it was to have...

I’m not going to mince words: this was the shittiest year of my life. Losing my mom, my job, my dog (he’s alive but the super long story short is he got kicked out of my building and now lives with a friend’s mom in Georgia) and, oh yeah, let’s throw a breakup in there because why not? That. all. sucks. really. hard. 

And if I said that I’m not feeling pretty depressed pretty often, that’d be a lie. I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can at least hide it or push it to the side when I’m with people…but I’m having a pretty hard time.

With all of that being said: I do still have a lot to be thankful for.

I wrote two years ago how thankful I was for my mom and that her prognosis was good. I never thought I’d be writing two years later about her death, because I never thought she’d die that soon from ovarian cancer. It still feels like I’m talking about someone else. Because I can’t possibly be talking about my mom not being here, right? She was so strong and stubborn and healthy before she got sick, and thankfully my parents were able to afford the best care for her…and it still didn’t matter. 

But, as people sometimes remind me — I had 34 great years with her. I got so much love and beautiful memories in those 34 years —...

As a housekeeping note, I’ve extended the giveaway on my last post until 9PM 11/17.

I survived my first solo vacation.

It was everything I expected.

It was nothing I expected.

I found power not in getting on a plane alone to fly 3000 miles away to a country where I knew nobody; I found that strength in driving on the other side of the road. Alone. At night.

I found power switching hotels when the AirBnB I’d booked sort of on a whim didn’t work out for my goals (…of being able to walk to a pub.)

I found power not having a plan and allowing the days to take me where they may (no easy feat for a crazy New Yorker.)

When that meant returning to the Cliffs of Moher on a sunny day (even though I’d already been there two days earlier), I honored that.

When that same visit brought me to my knees in tears from beauty and grief, I honored that.

I spent a good amount of time enjoying my own company and curiosity, and I spent time frustrated with my own company, spiraling and reflecting on what I didn’t have in my life.

But I let that spiral pass, as they may. And it did.

(Also, in a totally last minute decision, I realized I should probably bring some sort of raincoat...

Still, every single time I run a marathon, I can’t believe that I actually did it. 

HOW did I cross the finish line of my seventh last weekend?

The older I’ve gotten, the more value I’ve put on recovery — because I love running and the joy it’s added to my life, so I want to be able to do it as long as possible.

Over the past few years after doing things like relaysrunning festivals and two marathons in one month…I’ve needed to learn how to recover for real.

4 Running Recovery Methods That Really Work

1. Celebrate.

Duh. Even/especially the pros do it.

2. Epsom Salt Bath.

 When I was younger, I used to be more hardcore and take ice baths…but I just can’t hang like that any more and prefer the coziness of a warm/hot bath. (Apparently I’m right on trend; a recent study found that heat is more helpful than ice on muscles. SWEET.)

3. THE STICK

I know, this thing looks like a torture device…and it sort of is. But man, does it help get into muscles to relieve restricted blood flow so that your muscles can grow and repair. And it feels a little easier to roll this over my muscles rather than putting all of my weight on top of a foam roller. It’s also awesome for traveling.

AND! You can win...

Hi, can someone help me figure out how to bottle endorphins? Because I am still riding a serious endorphin high, and I don’t ever want to come down.

From the day I got into the marathon lottery until I toed the start line yesterday, I was nervous about how I’d handle marathon day emotionally. From just being sad that my mom might not be there because she was too sick, to being devastated that she wouldn’t be there because she was no longer with us, I was terrified of this day. I think on some level I didn’t start training until September because I didn’t want to face the marathon without her after she died. And then I pulled myself together and realized I’d be more sad if I didn’t do it. Either way I would have been some level of sad yesterday; I might as well just run the damn thing, right?

My mom was there by my side for my Junior League brunch two years ago, so I made sure to surround myself by friends this Saturday, and I made my best friend sit next to me, ready to grab my hand as I sobbed. I cried getting ready, but I’m not sure if it was a weird combo of anxiety and gratitude, but I made it through the brunch without crying.

Our president, Suzanne (to my left), tells me I’m...

I originally wrote this post 4 years ago (please see: baby face), but I think it’s worth reposting again today because all of the tips still apply! I’m both excited and terrified to run marathon #7 on Sunday, but mostly excited.

I was on an email chain with these lovely ladies, and one of the ladies said she was “so excited, it felt like Christmas. Is that weird?”

NOT AT ALL. It is not my first marathon or my first New York, and I am just as excited. (When NYCM was canceled last year, she ran 26.2 all in the park, like the original marathon. DAMN.)

I know lots of people are first-time NYCMers or first-time marathoners, and I thought I’d give you some tips from my perspective.

SPECTATORS

There are a few places that I think are great to spectate, both from having spectated there and from having been cheered on from there.

Mile 2/3: Bay Ridge: While you don’t need crowd support that early in the race, it’s always fun to be cheered on. My book club cheers from here, and I remember there being people out cheering but the crowds being a little thinner than they are farther in the race.

Mile 8: This is where the three different-colored starts come together, and you can also get here by almost any subway: C to Lafayette, G to Fulton, 2/3/4/5 to Nevins, B/D/N/Q/R to Atlantic/Pacific. My friends and family cheered for me from here last time,...

There is a LOT going on in my life right now, so I think Tina’s High Low High is an awesome format right here.

HIGH:

I just got back from an awesome workout at Uplift.

LOW:

While I could certainly work out during the day at my job…

As of last Monday, I am no longer with my job. It was certainly a surprise, shock and disappointment, but I am grateful for an amazing four years there and to walk away with so many colleagues turned friends.

I went back to work the week after my mom’s funeral, so a little downtime after the most stressful year of my life is really a blessing in disguise right now.

In the interim, I’m looking for some freelance writing and social media consulting work, and I would be incredibly grateful for any leads! My email is theodora at preppyrunner dot com. I’m not currently in a rush yet to get back to an office, and I truly am excited (and OK, yes, a little terrified) of this whole “the world is my oyster” thing.

Accordingly, I am FINALLY actually taking my NASM test, now that I have no excuse not to study with this extra time on my hands!

HIGH:

I am so...

I’m really happy to say I’ve had a handful of “best days in a long time” days lately, amidst a sea of low days, and yesterday was actually a day that’s been in the works for a while.

If you didn’t know, I have this (weird, I know) thing with llamas and alpacas. After my birthday at Foxwoods, we were going to stop at an alpaca farm on the way back, but we got stuck in a snowstorm, because February birthdays really ruin everything.

My buddy Blake and I were both having A Week, so she decided that we should take some ridiculous adventure outside of the city. “Like…alpacas???” I asked. “Nah, it’s ok, that’s my brand of weird.”

LUCKILY SHE WAS TOTALLY DOWN FOR IT, so off to the alpacas we went!

NYC friends: there’s actually an alpaca farm just in Westchester (!!!) called Faraway Farms. Which is not actually that far away. Blake is an angel and drove, and it took ~about~ an hour, but you can also take the Metro North to Croton-Harmon and take a ~$25 taxi to the happiest place in the world.

You would not believe how happy I was when we pulled up. 

This gets close, though. Happy, crazy, whatevs.

Oh hey buddy.

Leda, the owner, explained to us that they don’t like to be petted (wah), but...

There’s this dirty little rumor going around that I’m training for the NYC Marathon. (Shameless plug: I’m raising money for the New York Junior League and you can donate here.)

In past years, I’ve started training around the first week of July. This first week of July, I lost my mom. Most of the rest of the summer is a blur of grief and chasing any happiness that may have been out there. I ran when I felt like it and when I thought it served me. This included the morning after she passed away so that I could run through my tears without my dad seeing quite how hard I was crying. Sometimes it was just a mile before work solely for the purpose of giving me peace and energy; sometimes it was more.

What it was not was any kind of formal training. Sometimes that structure is good in hard times; at this time, it wasn’t for me.

Around September 1, I realized the marathon was two months away and that I needed to make a decision. Would I run this thing? Could I? Should I/ ! I would have deferred my entry and still (obviously) raised the money for the NYJL. 

Since then, I’ve been attempting to do a double-digit run every weekend and hopefully keep adding to mileage. I’m going to be undertrained, I am well, well, aware, but I ultimately decided that it would be...

OK, so sure that’s a little reductive…but, um, I really love my coffee and my wine.

I also really like my PJs and my couch and my bathtub, because I’m 34 not 24. 94% of the time, I’m in bed before 11:30, with most of the time that being even before 11.

But that other 6%…

That other 6%, my friends…

Well, most of it happens out in the Hamptons, where I pretend like I’m 24, not 34, and stay out late dancing.

I used to be the kind of person who would be having fun and then suddenly hit that exhausted switch and need to go home LIKE STAT.

And then I was introduced to espresso martinis.

I’ve been experimenting with them lately at home and thought this would be a fun Friday post to share.

It’s Friday night and the gang’s all here.

There are a million complex ways to make them..but I’m not a very complex girl, especially in the kitchen, so here’s how I made them.

Espresso Martini Recipe

(Based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 shot vodka (I used Tito’s)
  • 1/2 shot coffee liqueur (I used Bailey’s because it’s what I named my dog after)
  • 1 shot espresso (I used...

I started Tina’s Designed to Fit program last week.

Someone who commented here nailed it on the head — they knew themselves and knew they were susceptible to gaining weight after losing a parent. I’ve gained some weight in the past year/years, and know/am afraid of the potential of sliding further.

I “know” how to eat healthy. I lost 50 pounds a few years ago (and then gained about 20 of it back).

I’ve just gotten out of the habit. I lie to myself and tell myself I eat “healthy enough” but the truth of the matter is, I really like my wine and it leads to crappy eating choices, or I don’t plan and eat health halo foods at work.

Where Designed to Fit comes in: Tina provides my macros based on how active I am, etc (there are different levels for workout days and non workout days) as well as recipes and a general meal plan.

I’m only a week into it, but I’m currently attempting some sort of hybrid: making as many of the recipes (or similar ones) as possible but being really good at tracking my macros. As a busy single New York professional, there’s a combo of free food, being busy and being social that can distract from eating my own food. To be honest, I wasn’t making much at home AT ALL for a long time, so this is as much about re-establishing healthy habits as it is losing weight.

…that said, I texted Tina this...

I’m running the NYC Marathon on November 5, for the 4th time.

When I got in through the lottery in March, this Sunday seemed not months, but years away.

My mom was several months out from a major emergency surgery she had in December, and she was still struggling, but she’d been so resilient the first time around that I was sure she’d come out on the other side again.

I hoped that calling her and telling her about the marathon would excite her, would give her something to look forward to, to rally for, to channel her energy into getting better for.

As I sat in that sunny booth at work, I waited to hear some glimmer of the mom I knew coming out, to say that of course she’d be at the marathon. It scared me to think that she might not, but I never, ever thought it would be because she didn’t live long enough to see it. That happens to old ladies, right? Nope, cancer knows no age. My mom was 72. Two years ago, she ran all over the city with my friends, even as the cancer was growing within her.

As she got more and more sick and the end came into sight, I pushed down the thoughts of her not being there when/if I get married one day (those are entirely too painful to think about). But it became apparent that I would run the marathon this year...