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I am not usually very public with the way I feel about my body, but if you know me, you know weight issues are something I have struggled with for a very long time. I’m a big girl, I’m not just overweight, I’m also big. At 5’10 with a size 12 shoe, even at my lowest weights, finding coats that are long enough to cover my torso and arms and women’s shoes and sneakers that fit on my feet is a challenge.

I won’t bore you with the details of my struggles with weight loss, but around this time last year l found myself once again at my highest weight and knew I had to do something about it. I packed my gym bag one morning in April 2013 and finally decided to use that YMCA membership I had since moving to Maryland in August of 2012. I got on the treadmill and huffed my way to a 56 minute 5k. I was afraid to try and run at all, not only because I felt like dying just walking briskly, but because I didn’t want other people to see me trying to run. A few weeks went by and I got brave, I started to jog. I slowly got better, and eventually even mustered the courage to take the jogging outside.

I started to sign up for some 5ks. Then I took a huge leap and signed up to be a St. Jude Hero and complete the Run Disney Glass Slipper Challenge ( a 10k and half marathon in one weekend). I also joined Team in Training to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and participate in the Nike Woman’s Half Marathon in Washington DC. I signed up for several other half marathons including the CGI Rutgers Unite Half Marathon, the Run Disney Dumbo Double Dare, The Atlantic City Half Marathon and The Space Coast Half Marathon. I’m working on training for my first sprint Triathlon as well.

Then I did something extra crazy, I entered the lottery for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, and I got picked!!!! Very exciting and terrifying at the same time, but I know I can do anything I put my mind to, and training for this race is now a top priority of mine. I even went online and ordered an official training shirt from NYRR because I was so excited.

So I’ve been signing up for races. I’ve been training with Team in Training and on my own. And in the last year I’ve dropped 35 pounds. I’ve been feeling really good about myself lately, and my clothes are getting pretty baggy.

On Saturday we had our final Team in Training practice. Within the two miles, I tripped on the sidewalk and went down hard. I ripped up my hand pretty nice, ripped my jacket, scraped my knees and got covered in dirt, but I picked right up and kept going because I don’t give up. After practice I decided to head on down to early packet pick up for the Nike Woman’s Half Marathon since I didn’t have any other plans for the day. I changed my dirty clothes at a rest stop on I-95 and went to get my packet.

At packet pick up they had a special shirt for all of the Team in Training participants. The volunteer told me that the TNT shirts were running much smaller than the regular shirts so I might want to size up. I tried on the shirt and agreed that it wasn’t working for me in the bust and shoulder areas so I asked for an XXL instead of the XL. I thought I remembered that being an option but I guess I could be wrong, because they didn’t have any. Now, I know I am not a small girl, but I am also pretty sure that there are bigger women than me also participating in this race. I shrugged it off and took the XL. When I got home I noticed on The Nike Woman’s Half Marathon page that other women were upset about the shirts as well. I threw in a few of my own comments and then moved on.

Today my Woman’s XL 2014 TCS NYC Marathon training shirt made by Basics came in the mail today. I immediately ripped it out of the bag and tried it on… It was like a belly shirt. Doesn’t even come to my belly button. I started to cry. I felt like I didn’t belong, I can’t possibly fit in with these other woman runners. I’m a Clydesdale. A giant. I’m too fat, I’m too tall, and my chest is too big. I don’t have any business showing up to the starting line of the TCS NYC. Marathon on November 2nd.

It was a terrible feeling. I felt like the girl who was too afraid to go outside and run because of what other runners might think, how they might judge me. But I have to remember what really happens when I go outside and I run. When other runners/joggers/walkers pass by, most of them wave. They say hi, and many offer words of encouragement, and tell me I’m doing a great job, keep pushing. The same happens on the race courses. I can’t let these companies get me down and make me feel bad about myself because I am not SMALL enough to fit into what they classify as an extra large woman.

I went and took the four most recent race shirts that I have received, all a size woman’s XL and all vastly different when I took a picture of them. And I really would like to thank Run Disney and Champion for making shirts that are a woman’s XL that actually fit me.

So I am going to keep getting out there and pushing, training hard. And I’m not going to cry about a race shirt or let companies like Nike or Basics make me feel bad about myself. My body will no doubt continue to change as I continue to train and run across finish lines of races I never thought I would complete. I won’t give up now.

So every now and then something absolutely ridiculous and lucky happens to me. I found out this week that out of 77,087 people that entered the lottery for the 9,170 available spots in the TCS New York City Marathon, my name was drawn!

Honestly, I don’t even believe it.

Back in January I was thinking about the remote possibility of running a marathon (before I even ran one half marathon). I thought, if there was ONE marathon I would want to run, I would have to pick New York City. I was born and raised a Central Jersey girl (yes, Central Jersey IS a thing), and New York has always been “The City” to me. Even now living in Maryland, and my few years in South Jersey, Baltimore and Philadelphia could never change that. So I decided not to over think it too much and get too caught up in the 26.2 miles and let fate decide if running a marathon was in the cards for me this year. I paid my eleven dollars and threw my name in the hat knowing it was a slim-to-none chance.

On Wednesday morning (before 9am) I saw a pending charge on my credit card for $255 from New York Road Runners, and started shaking in true Jes is excited fashion… Right in the middle of mandatory training for work…. Right in the front row of the auditorium. Probably a bad place to be sitting when you’re now on your phone texting EVERYONE.

I waited all day and kept refreshing my e-mail and NYRR account hoping for an official confirmation and worried the charge might be a mistake. It finally came in around 5:30! I was in! Fate has made up her mind… By the end of 2014 I will hopefully have completed my first marathon!

A little less than a year ago I started my running journey and by the end of this year, I will have 3 10ks, 6 half marathons and a marathon under my belt and completed fundraising for St. Jude and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society?! Unreal.

In other news, the Rutgers Half Marathon is just over two weeks away, and I’ve talked my sister into doing the 8k race. Maybe next year she will be running longer races with me!

Another year another birthday! This year I’m on a mission to make more birthdays for everyone! If you can, please consider clicking on the cupcake and donating to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my Team in Training page to help get one step closer to curing blood cancers.

Thank you.
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iPhone 5s
ISO
250
Aperture
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Focal Length
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Another year another birthday! This year I’m on a mission to make more birthdays for everyone! If you can, please consider clicking on the cupcake and donating to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my Team in Training page to help get one step closer to curing blood cancers.

Thank you.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend 2014 Recap

I’m not really sure where to begin, my first Run Disney weekend was a whirlwind, though I suppose its best to start at the beginning. We arrived in Orlando around 4:30 on Thursday and my Aunt Carol picked my Mom and I up from the airport and brought us to our hotel, The All Star Music Resort. Check in was quick and easy, no wait at all. We were given magic bands as our room keys and were later able to load our park tickets and fast passes on them as well!

After we checked in and unloaded our bags in our room, we went back to the front of the hotel to wait for a bus to the expo. The bus pulled up almost immediately and we were off! We arrived at the expo around 6:30 and I realized that I left our waivers in the room! Luckily there was no wait to use the computers to print out forgotten waivers. There were no lines for packet pick up either. Since I was doing the Glass Slipper Challenge, I was able to pick up my gEAR bag and Race Retreat wrist band right in the same room. My Mom was also able to pick up her ChEAR Squad items. We then headed across the way to the expo to visit the St. Jude Heroes booth to check in and pick up my Pasta Party ticket and St. Jude running gear. We walked up and down the expo rows and picked up a few items. My mom bought a Sparkle Athletic tiara visor for my sister, though she was worried it wouldn’t fit on her head. After we left the expo, we headed back to the bus area, and once again, there was a bus waiting for us!

Friday morning we met my Aunt at the Magic Kingdom. We spent the day there. I made them ride “Its A Small World” with me, even though my Mom HATES it. Dumbo was another must ride. I can be a 27 year old child, don’t judge me. At the end of the day my Mom even bought me one of those Mickey Mouse Balloons that I had been asking for since my first trip to Disney in 1989. She was a little upset by the $12 price tag, so I reminded her that it probably would have been cheaper in 1989. I picked up a few souvenirs as well. My Aunt took us out to dinner and then dropped us back at the hotel.

I began to lay out everything I would need for the 10k in the morning, since I knew my brain would not be very functional at 2:30 in the morning. I usually wake up sometime in the 4am hour, so it wasn’t that much earlier, but 2:30am is a lot to wrap your brain around. I was in bed my 8:30, and passed out by 9.

I slept much better than I expected, but before I knew it my alarm was going off. We both got ready, took a few pre-race photos and we were out the door by 3:15.

I have read a lot of horror stories about waiting for buses and getting stuck in traffic, so I wanted to be on time for the first bus. When we got to the front of the hotel, there were THREE buses waiting. We were the last two people on the first bus and we were off to the race! The DJ was in full swing, waking people up and having them dance. There were port-a-potties everywhere. Everything was very well organized and ran very smoothly. I made my way over to corral C after one last potty stop around 5am. The corrals went off right on schedule every 10 minutes and at 5:50am I was off.

I decided I was going to take it slow and aim for a finish time of 1:20 since the half marathon was the next day. I’m glad I did, because oh boy the humidity! I was also feeling very dehydrated, and I didn’t take a water bottle with me because I heard that there are always plenty of water stops. There were three. And at every single one my cup had barely a mouthful of water. I was pretty thirsty and just wanted to finish. I decided I would carry a bottle with me the next day for just in case. It was pretty cool running under the overpass where Elsa was making it snow (although I’ve had quite enough of the white stuff for this year thank you) and through EPCOTs World Showcase just before dawn.

The boardwalk was a little slippery, but much nicer on my feet than the pavement. Before I knew it I was rounding the corner to the finish line, just on my mark of 1:20. They loaded us up with water and PowerAde at the finish line, I collected my Enchanted 10k medal and Glass Slipper Challenge wristband and we were headed back to the buses.

Except we walked, very far, and still didn’t see the buses. Two Disney workers rode by us on a golf cart and we asked where the buses were, and they let us know we had gone in the exact wrong direction. Then they very nicely offered us a ride back! We hopped on the back of the golf cart and they drove us right up to a bus, where of course, there was one ready to take us back to our hotel, no waiting!

When we got back to the hotel we took showers and naps and then headed to Downtown Disney for lunch and a bit of shopping.

Then we headed over to EPCOT in the evening for the Pasta Party. There was a nice buffet of pasta, chicken, breadsticks and Mickey Mouse ice cream for dessert. We sat with a bunch of people from St. Jude and had a nice little dinner. We left a little early because it was getting late and that 2:15am wake up call was looming. I went through my ritual again of laying out everything I would need for the morning and called it a night.

At 2:15 I sprang out of bed. I was starting to feel nervous about my first half marathon. I was feeling nervous that the buses would be more congested and things wouldn’t be as easy today as they had been the day before. I got ready, and we were out of the room by 2:45. When we got to the front of the hotel the buses were waiting AGAIN! RunDisney did such a great job with the transportation. Seriously, I’m so glad I changed my hotel reservations at the last minute for a Disney Resort, it was perfect and worry free.

When we got to the staging area I headed for the Race Retreat and grabbed a bagel and some water. I took an extra water to carry with me during the race this time. I hit the private port-a-potties which were nice, and then hung out outside with my mom. We met some other runners, who reassured me that I would do just fine in my first half marathon, and kept telling me this was the perfect event for a first timer. Everyone was so friendly. I’m not one for talking to strangers, but you couldn’t help but get a good vibe from everyone. Around 4:50 I started my walk back to corral H. This time the walk was a bit longer, but I knew this from all of the other race recaps I had read. Once I was at the corrals, I took one last potty break. The lines moved relatively quickly and I had plenty of time to get into my corral. Now it was time to wait.

The race announcers were plenty entertaining and before I knew it they were singing the national anthem and the first corral was off with a bang. We slowly made our way to the start and now it was our turn. Here we go. After the ridiculous humidity on Saturday I changed my goal of finishing in 2 hours and 30 minutes to finishing in 3 hours. I started off nice and slow, trying to enjoy the scenes around me. By the time we at mile two-ish headed to the Magic Kingdom, Kim Smith went flying past us in the opposite direction. She finished in 1 hour, 11 minutes and 47 seconds.. A whole FOUR SECONDS faster than my BEST 10k time. We all cheered for her as she passed.

Before I knew it we were running down Main Street USA towards a fogged over Cinderella’s Castle. I saw my Mom on main street. Somewhere in the Magic Kingdom, I lost my headband, but there was no turning back!

My pace was picking up and I felt really good. It was humid, but it was going well. No aches or pains, feeling great. There were a lot more water stations, with a lot more water in the cups. I had a water and Powerade at every single one. At one of the stops they even refilled my bottle for me. I was making great time and was on point for finishing at two hours and thirty minutes, until I hit mile 7 where there must have been some sort of invisible forcefield. They were playing “Let it Go” from Frozen, and I think my body just let go of all of my energy. My body felt heavy, but I wasn’t in pain and my breathing wasn’t heavy, I was just TIRED. Maybe running two days in a row in humidity when I’ve been training in sub-freezing temperatures wasn’t the best. So I slowed it down. I knew I could still hit under the three hour mark since I made such great time in the first half. I decided to take it easy and take more walk breaks.

For the most part a lot of people were trying to be courteous to others. At one point though, there were three women walking with their arms linked right down the middle of a water station. This was probably the only time I actually felt annoyed by other people. There was a lot of bobbing and weaving around people, but with 24,000 runners, you can only space out the crowds so much. I finally reached the green army man who was yelling “JUST ONE MORE HILL!” but I knew this was a lie from the other blogs I’ve read. Climbing that last on-ramp was a bit of a struggle, I was tired, but I knew I was nearing the end. As we entered into EPCOT cast members were cheering us on. I saw the mile 12.3 water station and I knew I was almost done with my first half marathon. Rounding Spaceship Earth and heading back out of the park, a cast member yelled “YOU’RE ALMOST THERE I CAN SEE THE FINISH LINE!” and some women behind me were like “SERIOUSLY OMG LETS GO!” and we all just started to run as fast as we could with our last bits of energy. Everyone was so excited to be almost done. As I crossed the finish line it took everything I had to try and lift my arms in victory. I collected my medal and everything else they were handing to us, and I almost forgot all about my Glass Slipper Medal. A friendly volunteer stopped me and gave me a gentle reminder, and I hopped over in the line. I did it! My official time was 2:57:50, under my re-adjusted goal! According to MapMyRun I hit 13.1 at 2:49, and the finish line was 13.83 miles.

I met up with my Mom and we went into the Race Retreat tent for breakfast. I have a hard time eating after running, but there was bacon and home fries. I always have room for bacon and home fries… Oh and then I saw cans of coke. I hadn’t had caffiene in 10 days, and coke in even longer. Yes, my post half marathon meal was a can of coke, bacon and home fries. My Mom asked if I should be drinking water, but I drank so much during the race, I felt okay. I only have two complaints about my Princess Half Marathon Weekend and they are both related to the Race Retreat. The special Race Retreat souvenir was a pair of Princess Half Flip Flops so you can take off your sneakers and stretch your feet. Well, they only came in small and medium. The lady handing them out said that they ran large “All the way up to size ten” well, this princess has big feet, and I’m sure I’m not the only one rocking a size 12. I grabbed a pink pair in medium for my sister. The second complaint is that I had heard that there were celebratory mimosas in the Race Retreat Tent. What I didn’t hear was that you had to pay $10.50 for one. Its $120 for the Race Retreat and you can’t even get one shot of champagne in some orange juice? I’ll stick with the coke I guess.

We headed back to the bus area, this time in the right direction, and only had to wait about five minutes for a bus. Soon we were back in the room for some stretching and showering and napping. We ate a salad for lunch at the resort and then I hung out in the room for a while watching NetFlix and my Mom went to the pool. We headed over to Downtown Disney for dinner and then turned in for bed early. It was nice to know there would be no 2am alarm going off, but that in the morning we would have to pack up and say goodbye to my balloon!

In the morning we packed and my Aunt picked us up at the hotel. We spent the day at the Animal Kingdom since my Mom and I had never been there before. We rode a couple rides, my Mom screamed louder than small children. Picked up a few more souvenirs and then my Aunt drove us to the airport.

All in all it was a successful trip. When I got home, I found some exciting vacation planning booklets in the mail for my August Disney Land vacation and Dumbo Double Dare Challenge. I’m ready to do it all again… Maybe a little more excited this time because now I KNOW I can do it, I’ve never been to Disney Land, and Matt is running with me!

I recently participated in a Regional Candy Swap hosted by Heidi Kenney.  I was paired up with Jackie from Colorado. I finally had the perfect excuse to stop in the local candy store that I have been driving by billboards for every day on my way home from work for the last year and a half… Except I was in Florida, of course.  One thing I always ALWAYS have to get when I am in an airport in Florida is the yummy coconut patties, so I thought I would throw a couple of those in my Maryland care package.  When I got home, I stopped at the local shop and picked up some Maryland made goodies and sent my package on its way.

Today I got my package from Colorado! In it I found some salt water taffy.  I’ve always thought of salt water taffy as an East Coast thing, which is why I included it in my package as well.  I guess I was wrong, learn something new every day! There were also some Hammond marshmellows which I will be saving for after dinner, Rocky Mountain Sheep Horn Doodles, which are not at all what they sound like… Don’t worry, they’re just chocolate covered peanuts! And some Prickly Pear Licorice which I have been chomping on since I opened the package. I love licorice, I’m going to spoil my dinner!

If you would like to see what other people got in their candy swap click the picture of my candy!
Zoom Info
Camera
iPhone 5s
ISO
100
Aperture
f/2.2
Exposure
1/30th
Focal Length
4mm

I recently participated in a Regional Candy Swap hosted by Heidi Kenney. I was paired up with Jackie from Colorado. I finally had the perfect excuse to stop in the local candy store that I have been driving by billboards for every day on my way home from work for the last year and a half… Except I was in Florida, of course. One thing I always ALWAYS have to get when I am in an airport in Florida is the yummy coconut patties, so I thought I would throw a couple of those in my Maryland care package. When I got home, I stopped at the local shop and picked up some Maryland made goodies and sent my package on its way.

Today I got my package from Colorado! In it I found some salt water taffy. I’ve always thought of salt water taffy as an East Coast thing, which is why I included it in my package as well. I guess I was wrong, learn something new every day! There were also some Hammond marshmellows which I will be saving for after dinner, Rocky Mountain Sheep Horn Doodles, which are not at all what they sound like… Don’t worry, they’re just chocolate covered peanuts! And some Prickly Pear Licorice which I have been chomping on since I opened the package. I love licorice, I’m going to spoil my dinner!

If you would like to see what other people got in their candy swap click the picture of my candy!

When I was in Florida in July for my grandmothers funeral we all bought mini palm trees and I neglected to take it out of its packaging until November. Yep, it died. I needed to get a new one! Immediate planting requires!

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