Saturday, December 31, 2011

So Long 2011

Being as 11 is one of my favorite numbers, I definitely thought 2011 would be my year. It was not. It started off with the stomach flu right after my 25th birthday, therefore making me miss the epic snow storm in Oxford, job crisis, and cuts and ending with a losing football season and the death of my two beloved animals.

2011 also brought some amazing news/events and that's what I am focusing on.
  • Great friends, connecting back with old ones, and making new ones.
  • AMAZING family (both related and the ones I chose for myself)
  • Learning I would become an "aunt" thanks to Gracie and Tommy. I can't wait for Elliott to be here so soon. I literally tear up just thinking about it.
  • My cousin and Ellee's engagement. First family wedding since my parents 30 years ago.
  • My aunt still fighting her battle with cancer (and WINNING).
  • Completing a half marathon with Jessica. It was a lifelong dream.
  • Celebrating Mardi Gras with Hill and Regan.
  • Allie and Eric's upcoming nuptials .
  • The Sunday (Monday) Funday crew. I treasure their friendship so much!
  • Jacque and Thomas' engagement!
Things I am looking forward to in 2012. In order of things that will happen
  • My 26th birthday and doing NOTHING to celebrate, except eating chicken crunch
  • Sweet Eli's arrival (hopefully sooner than later).
  • Jacque's Bachelorette Party
  • Nashville to see my baby cousin play baseball and to spend some quality time with my aunt and uncle
  • Starkville the next weekend for the same above situation. When your family lives far away, you treasure seeing them as much as possible.
  • Jacque's wedding in FLORIDA. Hopefully a Disney trip in there somehow!
  • My mom's cousin's son's wedding in Chicago. Her family is INSANE, so I enjoy getting to see them every so often.
  • IRA in Chicago with my work friends. Can't wait to show them Chicago again.
  • The Country City Half Marathon in Nashville (still debating it for giving up Double Decker).
  • Beckett's Wedding to sweet Chaddy
  • CORBIT AND CAROLINE'S wedding!!! Corbit is part of our weekly dinner crew and I just adore Caroline and can't wait till she moves here!
  • Kenny and Tim concert in July with my best friends from home.
  • TRAVI'S wedding!!!
  • My sweet Dot's wedding to Eric!
  • Hopefully getting a Gertie (my dog name).
This year my main resolution is to go with the flow and not stress out about things that I can't control.

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2011.

Monday, December 5, 2011

13.1...Because I'm only half crazy

I did it....I am a (half) marathon runner (errr...walk/jogger).

Completing a half marathon has been on my "Bucket List". It was originally something I wanted to check off before I turned 25, but when I tried to sign up for the Chicago Rock and Roll 2 summers ago, it was already sold out.

I found out that my dear friend/tailgating family friend, Jessica also wanted to do a half. I don't know how we even started talking about it, but last Spring on a wing and prayer, we both signed up for the St. Jude half marathon.

St. Jude has always had a special place in my heart. My "church buddy" in grade school was a St. Jude patient. Unfortunately, Marisa lost her battle to cancer on July 3, 1999, but her life was extended due to treatment at St. Jude. Another coincidence is that I went to St. Jude Grade School. St. Jude is also the patron Saint of lost causes, a saint I pray to often.

In true Sarah fashion, I bought the app for the half marathon and vowed to stick to the Program. Well in true Mississippi fashion, Ole Miss football got in the way. Jessica, Sunny, Susan (when not chasing the most precious 2 year old around) and I did find a route that was about 4 miles and walked it at a fast pace almost every night we could.

Night before the race:
Jessica and I went up to Memphis Friday afternoon. We both were frazzled, forgetting things, my dog wasn't feeling well and I almost took him to the puppy ER. We ended up getting to the EXPO around 6. The check in process was so easy. We both wanted to look at all the fun things, buy some GU and maybe get some new running clothes. *Next Year, we plan on taking Friday off work and going on Thursday, everything was picked over and it was very crowded.

Morning of Race:
I honestly couldn't sleep, the thought that I was actually going to participate in a half marathon that day. All I kept thinking is "dear God, please don't let me die during this". Jessica and I got there early, we were able to check out bags, take pics and go to the bathroom (for the millionth time that morning).

Jessica and I before the race. Excited, nervous and WAY TO EARLY!

After this pic, I talked to my mom and her advice was "Why don't you just walk". Thanks for the advice mom. Appreciate it. After this, we started to walk to the corral's. We kept looking around seeing what everyone else was doing. When we got the corral that we thought we would stay in, I ran into a old friend from college, Emily. Emily had the same game plan that we had. It was fun to have a third person in our group.

Emily, Jessica and I right before the race started.

Loved this sign right before the start. I guess I'm only half crazy and only half inspiring. I'll take it!

I was so happy I decided to take my phone. I was able to capture some great things along the run. We decided to start out running. I honestly thought that first mile would never come. We dodged so many people walking and tripping over people (NOTE: Start in faster corral next time).

I'm not going to bore you with any more text so I'll just add commentary to my pictures.
Loved this group around Mile 4. They were children with Special Need's (mainly Down's Syndrome), dancing and cheering! I just wanted to stop and hug them!

This was at the end of running through St. Jude. I cried the whole time. The support in that portion of the race was AMAZING! This poster says "Because you are a runner, I'm a survivor." Talk about emotional.

Saw this Panda zoo friend around mile 7. I was sooo excited!

When we got to mile 13, Jessica, Emily and I SPRINTED to the finish line. Jessica and I grabbed hands and finished together. It was such an amazing experience.

Jessica when we finished!
Emily when we finished!
Me after I finished, So HAPPY!

Jessica and I in line to get some much needed and deserved food.

YES, I got in an ICE COLD TUB in the name of pain IN my race clothes. Thanks to Larandust, Jared and Chelsea for their advice in how to stop us from being super sore. All your advice worked!

The next day I went and saw my friend Susan and her sweet baby Cooper, who is HILARIOUS. He loved wearing my medal.

My advice for the St. Jude half for first timers like myself:
  • Get a good night of rest
  • Wear layers that you can take off, tie around your waist
  • Buy GU or the GU chewables
  • Start in a faster corral than anticipated.
  • Stretch afterwards
  • Soak in an ice bath (it sounds crazy, but it worked)
The St. Jude marathon was the most incredible experience. I still can't believe we accomplished it. I can't wait for next year, to actually train, and to beat my 3:30:46 time!