Just one block.

Yesterday I saw the movie, “Brittany Runs a Marathon”. It was great. There were a few parts I was like “Ehhh that could go” (i.e reference to BMI, food shame, etc. another blog post for another time), but for the sake of a movie to watch on a Saturday morning, I thought it was good.

Me at my first 5k in 2012

Me at my first 5k in 2012

The story essentially is one of a woman who goes to get her life together and decides to run a marathon. It shows a journey of being hung up on a scale, friends who don’t understand your goals, and really finding yourself in the process.

It was way too familiar.

There’s this whole scene of Brittany saying, “Just run one block”. I remember learning to run my “one block”. I remember what it felt like to run my first 5k, and then my first 10k, and then my first half marathon, and then my first marathon!

Every single one of those steps was hard.

We need to celebrate every step that feels hard.

When your friends tell you they ran “Just a 5k”, don’t down play it! Hype. Them. Up. That’s a huge deal for some humans! If your friend says they put a job application in, but they’re not sure if they’re qualified…support the heck out of them! It’s a huge first step! If you choose to give up something because it’s no longer serving you - a relationship, alcohol, a city you’re living in - celebrate those moments. That shit is hard to work through and process.

That first step translates to every part of our lives.

A few months ago, I took my first step of leaving a career field that at one point I was so sure about. It was scary. It’s still scary. But it’s been great for me. And I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the people who hyped me up along the way and still are hyping me up.

You can take that first step. Try out for that play. Lift that heavier weight. Ask that human out.

Run just that one block.

One of my favorite mantras is to “Lean into the discomfort.” We grow in the discomfort. It’s where the magic happens.

Happy Sunday folks! Happy to be back from a blogging hiatus!

date the heck out of yourself.

This past Saturday I took myself on a date.

Now, I have gone out to eat before by myself, or frequented coffee shops, or worked out alone…however, it’s been awhile since I’ve gone to do something bigger by myself. The most recent time I can remember doing something like this was when I was in graduate school and I went to see Sara Barellies by myself at the House of Blues in Orlando (#noregrets, she’s my queen),

So, Saturday I got in my Uber and headed to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see the Nashville Ballet’s rendition of “The Nutcracker”. As I scurried into the theater with my champagne and popcorn, dodging children and families, I found my seat, turned my phone on “Do Not Disturb” and just sat back and got as present as I could.

Sitting there watching the dancers and listening to the music was so enjoyable. My favorite part was when Clara enters a magical forest to find the Snow Queen and King do this beautiful duet, or “Pas de Deux”. I actually started crying it was so beautiful. Between the dance and the music, I was just so overcome with emotion!

During the intermission I made friends with the two gentlemen sitting next to me. It was also their first professional ballet too! During the second act, you can hear both my new friend and me audibly “Ohhh”ing and “Ahhh”ing.

It was amazing to sit and be present, with myself, and have this day just for me. Afterwards I went to wait for my Uber and walked into The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville and enjoyed the holiday decorations.

What I learned on Saturday is that we deserve to do the things that will make us happy. I found my ticket for this show significantly discounted on Stubhub and knew that I can make it work for the day. It is so important to do things for ourselves with no set agenda. While the company of friends, family, partners, and loved ones is lovely, it is sometimes so nice to just be alone. Do something for YOU.

How will you do something for YOU this month, this week, this year? Is it a coffee for an hour at that new shop? Is it a manicure? Is it a yoga class? Date yourself. You’ll be happy you did.

concrete jungles where dreams are made of

Wow.

Where to begin?

On November 4th, 2018 I beat my previous marathon goal by 23 minutes. I ran through the city I grew up in and more importantly was cheered on by family, friends, and the wonderful strangers of NYC.

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I want to talk about that for a minute…one of my mantras for this marathon was "You have GRIT. You can get through this.” Now grit is a word I would use to describe the people of NYC. NYC is the city where anything can change in a minute, where I think the definition of the “hustle” comes from; a city that has overcome so much adversity. But beyond their grit, the people of the five boroughs know how to show up. Whether it was the 13 mile block party in Brooklyn, the roar of the crowd on 1st ave coming through the Upper East Side, the amazing music and tunes in the Bronx, or the energy of crowds in the most beautiful park in the world, Central Park, the support, energy, and love I felt from the people of NYC (and guests I’m sure) was unparalleled. Thank you for helping me to stick to my grit and perseverance every time you cheered my name (it was on my shirt!), gave me a high five, or just sent the love. I am so grateful.

I want to talk a little bit about though the best part of this marathon.

At mile 23 (or so…who knows), my watch died.

Now….at the time I freaked out a little bit. And any runner reading this is probably wondering, “WHERE IS SHE GOING WITH THIS? THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLE.” However, when my watch died, I told myself now more than ever was the time to get present with my mind, my body, and my surroundings.

My watch dying was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I had no idea my pace, I just knew I had to keep going. My watch died around the time I was entering Central Park, which to me is one of the reasons you run the NYC Marathon in the fall. As I was running, truly listening to my body, breathing, and not constantly checking times, I heard a familiar voice yell my name; it was my best friend since middle school Julie! She surprised me in the park at a moment I needed her the most. There were tears and that memory is one I will have for the rest of my life.

It was then that I knew it was on. I had to finish this race. Before my watch died I knew I was on track to a PR, however towards the end of the race I had some pretty bad knee pain and started to slow down some so I knew I also had to pick it up some. I found that when I was so insanely present in this moment I felt like I was at my personal best…something most people can’t say during the last 2.5 miles of a marathon.

It was at this moment that, “New York State of Mind” came on my Spotify and I just told myself, “Soak this in Gabbie. You may never get to do this again.” And I did. I looked up at the trees and at the leaves changing, which if you’ve never been to Central Park in fall you need to go. I high fived strangers cheering me on. I thanked them. I was overcome with gratitude and I almost felt like I was in a euphoric state. I cried…a lot. I was (and still am) just so insanely proud. And so happy with how far I have come. I was so grateful to have an opportunity to be in the “greatest city in the world” running the biggest marathon in the world. I was able to reflect on the previous 20 something odd miles and the wonderful things I saw. From being inspired by athletes with disabilities being guided by a volunteer to seeing other members of the #BadassLadyGang on the course to seeing my whole family waiting for me in Harlem, I just seriously was so inspired and thankful.

We runners (and humans!) are so inclined to look at a watch for our time, but we don’t listen to our bodies or we don’t soak in the wonderfulness of what is happening around us! I, too, am so guilty of this.

When I approached the finish line, I knew I had PR’ed (gotten a personal record) based off the time on the clock. However, to my surprise, when I crossed the finish line and looked at the results on the app, not only did I realize I had a bigger PR then what the clock showed, but that those last three miles I had negative splits, meaning my miles got a little bit faster each mile, something that is really hard to do during a marathon. That is one thing I am most proud of.

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The NYC Marathon has a pulse unlike any other. I can’t describe it. But from their own tagline, “It will move you”. And it did. I am so moved. It was one of the BEST days in my life. I am so thankful for everyone who was there for me, everyone who texted me, called me, etc. Thank you for showing up for me.

I will leave you with two things. I just read Olympian Deena Kastor’s book “Let Your Mind Run” and a quote stuck out to me.

Resiliency opens doors, and compassion and gratitude can dissolve tension, and enrich any moment
— "Let Your Mind Run" - Deena Kastor

This quote is the essence of what makes running so wonderful.

Below see a “One Second Everyday” video I took from my a chunk of my training. I think it encapsulates the experience perfectly.

it's all happening

In just FIVE short days, I will be a marathoner for the THIRD time.

I truly believe that this third time is going to be a charm.

Why do I think that?

I think I really really defined my “why” this time. We talk about knowing our “Why”s often and it is so important. It’s what keeps our passion. After finishing the Chicago Marathon 2017, I looked at my parents and said, “Please don’t let me do this ever again. I’m sticking to Netflix marathons. ” However, my dad being the motivation he is told me, “Enter the NYC Marathon lottery, if you get in, I will pay for it.” I for sure said to him, “There is NO way I am going to get in, but I’ll enter”. Then back in January I saw a large charge on my credit card from the New York Road Runners and realized, “Sh*t! I think I got in! I forgot I entered this!”.

For context, in 2017, 16% of entrants into the lottery were selected to run the race. People enter this lottery year after year trying to get in - I got lucky and was picked the first time I entered! I knew I had to do it. I am not the most religious, but I do believe there was a plan and a reason why I had to run this race. I took it upon myself to focus in on my, "Why”. I’ve done this twice already; what will make NYC so special and what do I need to accomplish? Well…it included a few things

  • NYC is the city I grew up in. NYC is where my mom and dad took me to see my first Broadway show at eight years old for my birthday, “The Sound of Music.” NYC is where my cousins lived and we used to have epic sleepovers, it’s where you can get the best slice of pizza at 2am on New Years Eve with some amazing friends, it’s where you can see true magic during the holidays, it was always the mysterious and exciting big city that was only a 30 minute train ride from my house - it’s a city that I’ve always considered to be my hometown city. To run NYC is going to be a dream.

  • This marathon is going to be especially special because it’s coming with an epic cheer squad. Not only is it the BIGGEST marathon in the World - being so close to NJ and having family and friends in NYC, my cheer squad is going to roll deep. My mom, my dad, my brother, some of my greatest friends (including Alison coming with me from Nashville!), my cousins, my aunt…they will all be there! Even better, the night before the marathon I get to sleep in my own bed! And my Zia is going to make me pasta #ItalianAF. The comforts of your own home make marathons so much better!

  • Once I realized I got in, I told myself that if I ever were to do a marathon again I would do it so right and try to PR. The worst part about marathons is how long they can take when you’re slow like me. This go around I worked on speed training and running a bit more. I am going into this marathon with over 100 more miles on my feet. I feel like #GFRgoesforaPR will be a reality!

So start spreading the news, I’m leaving Thursday, I’m going to be a part of it, New York, New York (city marathon)!

So thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me, loved on me, coached me (Megan!), and cheered for me. For everyone who was ever told they couldn’t do something, they weren’t strong enough, weren’t brave enough, weren’t fast enough, this race goes out to you. You can do anything you set your mind to. I promise!

This weekend is going to be huge and I can’t wait to report back on my tour on the “greatest city in the world!”

a different kind of body positivity post

If you know me, you know I am all about loving yourself, doing what's best for your body, and not feeling trapped by having to make food choices all for the sake of looking #instamodel ready.

If you also know me, you also know that I aim to live the most authentic life in congruent with what I value so this blog may be a little vulnerable.

The past few months have been pretty stressful, but also pretty fun. I've traveled for work, planned a major event, and have been getting my house up and running. I've also continuously done some soul searching and started marathon training again because...well we'll get into that. A few weeks ago I was noticing my clothes were fitting a littttle bit tighter than usual, like to the point I couldn't wear them, so I decided to get on the scale for the first time in forever. 

I saw a number I literally have never seen. It sent me on a shame spiral. Unlike last summer when I put on a few pounds, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. This time, I was legitimately sad. I started asking myself questions that I haven't really asked myself in awhile....like "Have my friends noticed?", "What's wrong with me?", "Why did I let myself go?".

These questions are sad. And there's no love towards myself in any of those. These questions are unkind and unfair, but unfortunately these are things that we are inherently taught to think as children from what we saw on television, from how we heard friends and family members talk about dieting, and from growing up in the age where the internet became a thing.

So naturally I wanted to lose weight.

This is where more shame came in.

We have started to live in a world that is so black and white.

Brene Brown talks about this in "Braving the Wilderness". A world where it is very "You are either for us or against us". 

Lately I have observed from social media, podcasts, etc. we are either so very body positive where we want to be free of the scale and counting calories or we are extreme on the other end where it's all about counting macros, #gains, and before and after photos.

So as someone who considers themselves on the body positive end of this conversation, it is really really hard for me to admit that I want to lose weight and what kind of judgement would come with that. I love my friends, they support me, and think I'm beautiful no matter what. However, if I want to lose these few pounds to 1) feel better, 2) help my speed training with marathon training (this is science), 3) not have to buy new clothes, am I being a hypocrite if I decide to write down what I eat for a few weeks to hold myself more accountable?

There needs to be more of a middle ground. I'm a little unsure what that looks like, but I can imagine it'd include the following:

  1. When friends and family mention they want to lose weight, ask them caring questions. There's a healthy way to all of this, and at the end of the day we want sustainable results and lifestyle changes, not diets.

  2. Try not to pass judgement. It's easy to scroll through Instagram and roll your eyes at someone checking into Orangetheory, CrossFit, or posting their running mileage (subtle plug for #GFRgoesforaPR), however everyone has a story and a reason. If they love doing these movements and this holds them accountable to sweat a bit everyday, kudos, YGG (you go girls!...or guys!).

  3. Accept vulnerability and talk about this stuff! I didn't want to talk about any of this, but I brought it up with my therapist and she helped inspire this blog post. We need to have courage and be seen, and the best way is having these difficult conversations.

  4. Recognize our privilege in being able to have these conversations and our ability to make changes. Not everyone has the access to certain foods, gyms, or the ability to exercise. It is important to always remember that.

Ultimately at the end of the day we just need to spread a little extra love and support our friends and family when it comes to this topic. It's hard out there, y'all and we are all beautifully made just the way we are. Don't forget that.

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