The Best Me for 2015.

So, anyone who has been following me on Instagram, knows that I've been killing it in the gym the past few weeks.  I'm not really a huge "post my gym work out on IG and brag about it" kind of girl, but lately I've been changing that a little bit.  The fact is, I'm taking some major inspiration from Joanne Encarnacion, a fellow photographer who lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two daughters.  I've written about her briefly before, but for those of who you are new here or maybe you missed that post, seriously head over to her site and check her out.  Not only is she hella talented behind the lens, but she has mad style and, more importantly, has literally transformed her body and changed her life through fitness.

January is always the time of year when lots of us make super intense resolutions and vow that THIS is the year of fitness. I think I'm pretty lucky to say that I've maintained my fitness consistently year round, but to be honest in the past year I've fallen on the wayside a bit more than I would like. The combination of taking a 5 month long road trip, living in a tiny town without the most ideal gym operating hours, shooting weddings every weekend for 6 months straight, moving to a new city, buying a house and starting yet ANOTHER full-time job, it's left me feeling a little fitness free.  Sure, I've still be going to the gym and running and yoga-ing, but nothing like I know I'm capable of, so, with the end of the busy season of photography and the New Year approaching, I decided to set some goals for myself.

First-- I create my race schedule for the year.  Creating my race schedule is one of my favorite things and since I'm only accepting 12 weddings for 2015, I have LOTS more weekends free and lots more time available to run races.  When I run races, keep in mind, I'm not running them to win (ha!), I'm running them to hold myself accountable to the training and to enjoy the amazing camraderie that comes with running with 100, 500, 1500, or 25000 other people.  I try to run between 5-8 half marathons per year, but last year was not the case--being so busy with wedding photography, I really slacked, so this year, I hope to change that!  This year, I've chose to participate in the following (in order of the calendar):

--Charleston Half Marathon--January 17 (this past weekend and Ian's birthday!) in Charleston, SC--I've run this race 2 times before and I LOVE it. Not only do you get to run through the old historic parts of Charleston (my spirit city), but you also get shrimp and grits at the end of the run. Amazing.

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UPDATE --I ran it on Saturday and I made a PB (personal best)!!! I finished with my watch time at 2:06, clock time 2:14 and that doesn't count the 3-4 minutes I spent in the Porta Pottie around mile 11 (Just saying).  It was the BEST race I've run in a long time--within the first mile I knew that this race was going to be fantastic.  I felt awesome the entire time and the conditions were perfect--55 degrees and sunny, flat, supportive crowd. I was able to see Ian 1 time on King Street, but he missed me at our second spot, Mile 9, because I got to Mile 9 about 5 minutes earlier than I thought I would--it was amazing.  The absolute BEST way to start the 2015 running season. 

--Riverbank 25K--May 12--Grand Rapids, MI--It's been a minute (read: 6 years) since I last ran the 25K of Riverbank and I'd be lying if I said say I wasn't nervous--I'm super nervous! The first (and only) time I ran the 25K, it was tough. I don't think I'd ever run a marathon before and I probably hadn't trained as well as I could have.  It was a challenging race and one I remember finishing thinking, "Ugg, never again."  I pretty much dragged myself across the finish line and I've never run it since. This year, though, I know I can do it and have a better experience. I've got a great friend coming in from Chicago for it to run her first RB and a colleague or two from work training as well, so I feel I have a pretty good support system. Plus, it will be a training run for...

--Bayshore Half Marathon--May 26--Traverse City, MI--The last full marathon I ran was Bayshore in 2007.  I loved that course, but my days of full marathoning are over.  The half, though, is a perfect distance AND we don't have to pay for a hotel room.  This race filled up in 18 minutes this year and let me tell you, I feel super grateful I snagged one of the coveted half marathon spots!

--Lakeshore Miracle Run--July 11-ish--Saugatuck, MI--It's a 10K that feels like a marathon. For realz.  The last time I ran this race I had to stop in the woods and throw up (granted, taht might be because I had something like 5 beers the night before...ugg, don't judge, it was in my younger days), but this race is TOUGH.  You run through the woods, down the beach up and down a massive dune and then through the woods again. There are terrain changes and it's usually hot as balls--but the end is just fantastic.  This race is one of my favorites, without a doubt.

So that's the race calendar right now--I'll add probably 2 Fall 1/2 marathons (thinking Grand Rapids Half for sure and probably one other...any suggestions?  I also hope to do a couple races out of town as well--there is a trail marathon that goes all around the UP that is supposed to be fantastic, plus traveling for races is really a wonderful thing--you can throw a vacation and a race into one trip and really accomplish a lot! Maybe a triathlon? Maybe a half Ironman? I'm not sure....the idea of running a half marathon AFTER biking 56 miles sort of gives me hives, but I'm open to the surprise. I have been swimming a ton this winter, so if I could find an open water swim, that would be super exciting as well. 

Another thing that I am doing this year in 2015 is working on what the photo at the top says--being the BEST version of me that I can be.  Sure, that's partly fitness related, but it's also just about being aware of my eating, drinking and personality.  Recently I've verrrrry much restricted my drinking of alcohol--for about the past 5 weeks I've only been having a drink or two on the weekends, nothing during the week, and it has been an amazing change. I have so much more energy, I sleep amazingly well, and overall I just feel better, as though I can think more clearly and work more efficiently.  I also have been juicing every morning and having green juice (kale, apples, parsley, carrots, beets, etc) before anything else--this too has felt fantastic!  My favorite juice of all is carrots, ginger and grapefruit (skins removed)--ammmaazing.  In general, just being cognizant of what I'm eating, how I'm eating it, and what I'm not eating--I wouldn't say it's a diet, but it's a mindset of being intentional about what is and what is not ideal for me on a certain day of the week. 

Overall, I just really want to be able to say at the end of this year that I pushed myself, both mentally and physically, to be amazing--that might sound a little cheesy, but I really mean it.  This past year has been such a whirlwind, and for the first time in a lonnnng time, I actually feel settled and at peace.  I'm teaching again (and doing it pretty well), working to balance photography, living in my own house(!!), feeling good about our decision to probably not have kids, and adjusting to a slower and quieter travel life.  

Overall, it's been a major year of change and transformation and overhauls. I've had some relationships change and grown and become stronger, while others I feel I have finally put to rest as "that made sense at that point in my life, but no longer" and that feels great.  I have a good relationship with my family, my relationship with Ian is rock solid lovely, and I have some fantastic coworkers and students.  It just feels right--so without putting too much pressure on myself, I have set the goal for this year to be the year where I can look back and say, "Yup, I did everything I needed to to respect my body, to enhance my strength and to become an even kinder, more thoughtful and whole person."