Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Love Letter & A Tattoo

Dear Running,

I am writing this letter to proclaim my love to you and thank you for everything you’ve done for me. When I first met you I didn’t like you very much. At first, you made me feel weak, sick, and defeated. But for some reason, despite the pain and discomfort, I kept coming back for more.

You witnessed the first time I was able to run a half mile without stopping, then a full mile, then 3 miles, then 5. The feeling I got when I accomplished a new distance was amazing. I’ll never forget when I was a sophomore at Penn State in 2006, when I was upset and stressed out one night and I decided to run. I have no idea how far I ran because I didn’t have a watch, but it didn’t matter. I was gone for 2 hours and returned feeling like a brand new person.

You stayed by me through thick and thin, through good times and bad. You were there as the college pounds started disappearing and my self-confidence started to improve. You were there when I was student teaching and stressed out of my mind, when I was studying abroad and homesick, when I was sad and missing my mom, when I was hungover and needed to sweat it out, when I had problems I needed to get away from for a while. You never let me down. You were always there, unlike some other people in my life at the time. I was unhappy most of the time and you changed all that.

From there you watched me grow into a more serious runner. I wanted to see what else we could do together. The summer after my junior year of college I signed up for my first half marathon – The Philadelphia Half Marathon. The race that started it all.

My longest training run was 10 miles and I struggled the whole time, doubting myself and why I wanted to run a 13.1 mile race. I ran the race a few weeks later on November 18th, 2007. I finished in 2:02 feeling amazing and couldn’t wait to have more. I set a goal to run the full 26.2 miles the following year.

I graduated the following May, accepted a teaching job in Virginia, and moved there in August. You were there for me when I didn’t know anyone at all. I was lonely and extremely stressed out as a first year teacher. Training for a marathon was a lot to do on top of my teaching responsibilities, but I looked forward to my long run each weekend. It was my chance to escape from the world and relieve my stress, and it also helped me explore my new home.

At first, I knew nothing about training for a marathon. I did tons of research and basically learned as I went through trial and error during my training. There were days that I hated you and days that I loved you. That’s true still to this day. You were there on my terrible training runs that left me frustrated, weak, and in tears. Like my first 20 miler ever 3 weeks before the marathon, that turned into 19 when I literally could not take one more step. But even though we don’t always agree, we always find our way back to each other. You continue to surprise me by giving me another amazing run that makes me feel like I am on top of the world, and I forget all about the bad ones.

I ran the marathon on November 23, 2008 in 4:35:15. It was most difficult and most rewarding experience of my life. But I crossed the finish line knowing for sure that this was it. I needed to do this for the rest of my life.

Somehow I fell so deeply in love with you that my days feel incomplete when we don’t spend some quality time together. I ran a couple more marathons, and with each one you helped me learn more about myself and what I’m capable of accomplishing. I also ended up committing to running a marathon in all 50 states. That’s true love!

We’ve experienced some amazing places together too beyond the United States, like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Costa Rica. Remember that time I ran in the Australian Outback all alone? That was scary and not very safe. Or the time when I ran early morning on the beach in Costa Rica and all I could hear were the sounds of howling monkeys. So many good memories.

Along the way we’ve had other people join us on our runs, and I’ve even gotten a few people to fall for you, too. It feels so good to help other people realize how amazing you are and what you can do for their health, self-esteem, and happiness! You’ve also given me the biggest gift – a husband that loves to run too. Running with him has made us happier and strengthened our relationship in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without you.

I am not the same runner as I was back when we first met – now I’m faster, stronger, a little bit smaller, and I have more fancy gear – but you are the reason I am who I am today. You have made me a happier, healthier, more motivated person.

That is why I wanted to put my love for you permanently on display on my body. I decided to get a tattoo as a symbol for you and how much you mean to me.

This is the same symbol from the races that started it all – my first half and full marathon in Philadelphia – but it’s about more than just those races. It encompasses everything you are and everything you do for me every day. I can’t thank you enough for changing my life, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us in the future.

Love always,


p.s. I just remembered I wrote a letter to my body back in July! I guess I really like to write letters 🙂

Out of My Comfort Zone – Hot Yoga


Last month, I finally tried hot yoga! I was home for the weekend in Pennsylvania for my final dress fitting and my friend Christy invited me to go. She had been going for a few months and was loving it. I really wanted to try it because I had heard amazing things, but I was nervous because I knew it was intense. I also don’t really do regular yoga [or as much stretching] as I should, so I knew doing it in a hot room was going to be a challenge.

Here is a little background on Hot Yoga. In general, Hot Yoga is any form of yoga practiced in a heated room. The hot studio is kept at 105°F, with humidity levels between 30%-40%. The style of yoga we were taking was Hot Vinyasa. According to, Hot Vinyasa is described below.

This technique is sometimes also called Vinyasa Flow, or just Flow because of the smooth way that the poses run together and become like a dance. The word Vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement.” In a Hot Vinyasa class, the students develop skills of concentration and patience that help focus the mind as they increase physical strength, stamina, flexibility and overall health through a dynamic practice of continuous movement that helps rid and flush the body of wastes and toxins, thus cleansing and purifying it.

The benefits of hot yoga include:

  • Strengthening, cleansing, and removing toxins from your system
  • Improved performance of the heart and internal organs in hot weather [great to know for summer running]
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Weight loss
  • Developing muscle tone
  • Building up your immune system
  • Can reduce symptoms of chronic illnesses

Christy and I met at her yoga studio, Dana Hot Yoga in Bala Cynwyd, early on Saturday morning. Christy had told me to bring a lot of water, a mat, and a towel. She also said to eat very lightly before class, so I had a Honey Stinger Bar about an hour and a half before. When we got there we paid ($14 regular, $12 student drop-in rate – more expensive than I am used to, that’s for sure!), then went into the room to find a spot. It wasn’t overly hot in there yet, but it warmed up quickly. It felt good at first because it was cold and raining outside.

The room filled up and the class began. Our instructor’s voice was very calming, and it was easy to follow the poses she was leading us through. She told us how to modify them if needed and encouraged us to listen to our own body, not pay attention to others, and do our own practice. This was helpful for me, because I definitely felt like the least experienced person there, and definitely the least flexible! I just tried to focus on breathing, sweating, and moving the best I could. Since Christy had been going for a while, she knew the general sequence that the instructor was following and she got into them quickly and easily.

Some of the poses felt amazingly good, and some felt amazingly difficult. I could tell I had the strength in my legs to do some of the poses (especially the warrior poses) but I was lacking the flexibility to really do them to my full ability.


Downward facing dog was a pose that got easier as class progressed. It was difficult to get my heels down at first because my hamstrings are tight from running and not stretching as much as I should.


I was also lacking arm strength! I’ve been going to Body Pump so my arms are stronger than they used to be, but some poses like chatarunga were difficult for me. Especially after a LOT of sun salutation sequences in a row!


I think my favorite poses were the hip openers. They felt SO GOOD on my tight runner’s hips, especially this frog pose.


The hour long class went by quickly, and before I knew it we were in savasana. I almost fell asleep because I was so relaxed.


After class, I felt light, loose, calm, relaxed, and happy. It was amazing! I had heard that some people get headaches after class if they don’t drink enough water, so I made sure to hydrate all day. I never got a headache, but I also didn’t sweat as much as I thought I would, and I didn’t ever feel overheated during class. I looked this up to see why this may be, and I found a possible answer from this website. It said that if you don’t feel overly hot during hot yoga, it means that your body’s cooling system is working properly. It also said this about the amount of sweating during hot yoga:

Just because you are not dripping sweat does not mean you are not sweating. The body’s cooling system relies on sweat turning to water vapor. If sweat remains on your body or falls onto the floor it is not being used to cool you. Efficient cooling takes place when sweat evaporates as it is produced, thereby immediately transferring heat out of your body and into the surrounding air.

I am assuming this means my body’s cooling system is working efficiently. Maybe this is from all the running? I don’t know. I will have to try another class and see how much I sweat again.

Unfortunately I haven’t been back to a hot yoga class since, but that is mainly because I haven’t really put effort into looking for a nearby studio that offers it where I live. It’s also expensive, and I already pay for a gym membership monthly so it’s hard to spend the extra money. However, most studios do offer packages or monthly rates which make it more affordable than the drop-in rates. I know that practicing yoga is GREAT for running, though, so one of my goals for 2012 is to do it more consistently during training. My gym offers a few regular yoga classes and I know there are a ton of DVDs and Youtube videos I could use as well. Actually, I think I may do a little yoga after my run today! 🙂

The Veterans Day 10K

On Sunday, November 13th, 2011, two days after our wedding, we ran our first race as husband and wife! Running has become a big part of both of our lives, so we knew we wanted to include a race in our wedding weekend festivities. We heard about the Veterans Day 10K in DC and thought it would be perfect.

Kevin had never raced a 10K before, and I had only done one back in 2007 while I was in college (my time was 56:50). I knew we could do much better than that now, but we weren’t very concerned with speed for this race. We just wanted to have fun, and we knew it might be rough after two days of wedding partying.

We decided to make special shirts for the occasion. We bought plain t-shirts and ironed on letters to make ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ on the front, and ‘Just Married’ on the back. I thought they were super cute! We woke up early on Sunday in our hotel room (we stayed there all weekend for free – thanks to SpringHill Suites Woodbridge!), got dressed, and left for the race.

We stopped to pick up my cousin and his girlfriend who were in town for the wedding. They wanted to do some sightseeing in DC before flying back to Oregon later that evening, so we took them up there. It worked out perfectly because the race started in West Potomac Park, right by the monuments and the National Mall.

We parked easily and walked to the start. It was a beautiful walk along the water and the temperature was great- not too cold and not windy like our wedding day was!

When we got to the park we quickly picked up our race stuff, including an awesome long sleeved black technical shirt. They also had tons of food- coffee, bagels, energy bars, bananas, and more. I was impressed! There were a lot of people there, and many of them congratulated us and told us they loved our shirts.


It wasn’t too long before they started calling us to line up at the start. As we waited for the gun Kevin and I started talking about how we felt good and wanted to run hard. We set a goal to run the 6.2 miles in less than 50 minutes. I wasn’t sure if we could do it, but I wanted to try. So much for taking it easy 🙂

We started running and it was pretty crowded at first, so our first mile felt kind of slow [8:42]. The course was basically a big lollipop that went out, did a little loop, then went back to the start. The crowd thinned out a bit and we picked up our speed. The next mile was faster [8:14] and I knew we could pick it up more. We were feeling great!


Every mile we ran was faster than the last, and before we knew it we were in the loop getting ready to head back to the park. Kevin’s sister Kara and her fiance Brandon had texted us to let us know that they had come to the race and were there at the finish line waiting for us. We were excited because they had never come to one of our races before.


Unfortunately the photographers didn’t get any shots of us running together, even with our cute shirts on! It was funny to pass people and hear them say “awww” when they read the back of our shirts. We kept joking around to each other saying,  “Yeah, that’s right, we just got married 2 days ago AND we’re passing them” 🙂 What can I say? We are competitive!

At the end we were pushing hard. I realized there was a chance we could make it under 50 minutes and we REALLY wanted it!


We heard Kara and Brandon screaming our names and holding up signs for us, and we ran through the finish line in 49:59! We made it (barely)!

Here are our mile splits:

  • Mile 1 – 8:42
  • Mile 2 – 8:14
  • Mile 3 – 8:05
  • Mile 4 – 7:52
  • Mile 5 – 7:45
  • Mile 6 – 7:33
  • Mile 6.2 – 1:48
  • Finish Time – 49:59 (8:03 average pace)

I couldn’t believe we made our time goal by only one second! And how about those negative splits??? Kevin and I couldn’t believe how good we felt. It definitely wasn’t effortless, but it felt good to push hard and run fast.  There were so many fast runners there too, which was really inspiring. The first male finished in 30:23 and the first female ran it in 33:04! THAT’S SO FAST!

We found Kara and Brandon right away and took a picture with one of the signs they made for us.

Then we got a bagel and hung around to listen to the awards. Afterwards we all went to Georgetown Cupcake to celebrate. It was our first time and it was absolutely delicious!

Kara and Brandon left to go back to Woodbridge, and we stuck around DC for a while to do more touristy things and take my cousin and his girlfriend to the airport.

We also took pictures at the WW2 Memorial, with our original states of birth – Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and our new home- Virginia!


It was a wonderful day with my husband and a great way to end our wedding weekend!

Our Wedding: The Reception [Part 4]

Previous wedding posts:

After taking photos outside, Kevin and I headed inside the clubhouse for our reception. The staff at Osprey’s Landing had set everything up perfectly and it was all beautiful. We met our wedding party in the foyer to get ready for our entrance. I heard the DJ playing music in the bar area and guests mingling and talking during cocktail hour. I was so excited to get in there and start celebrating with them. Someone brought me a glass of wine, and a little of my favorite [tequila], and then I was all warmed up and ready to go! We heard the DJ start the song our wedding party would be entering to: “Yeah 3x” by Chris Brown, and our entrance kicked off with my dad dancing into the bar area with Kevin’s mom.

Then came the rest of our wedding party…

The song switched to “Give Me Everything Tonight” by Pitbull and then it was our turn!

It felt amazing to come into a room full of people that I love, knowing that they were all there for us. I was so happy and couldn’t stop smiling. Our wedding party joined us on the dance floor and we all danced together for a minute.

The song switched to “History in the Making” by Darius Rucker, and everyone cleared off the dance floor for our first dance as husband and wife.

Kevin and I sang to each other as we danced and just enjoyed the moment. This has been our special song since we started dating [exactly 2 years before on 11/11/09] and it meant so much to be dancing to it on our wedding day.

After our song ended we took the microphone and thanked our guests for being there for us. Then we told them we would be lighting a candle in memory of my mom, who passed away in 2004 from cancer. We wanted to light the candle and have it burning all night to symbolize her being there with us in spirit. It was an emotional and special moment for me and many of my guests who knew and loved my mom.

Then it was time for dinner. We all went into the dinner room and our guests found their seats with the place card I had attached to their favor (personalized M&Ms with our picture, names, and wedding date on them!)

For our table numbers we had a picture of us at that age. So Table 7 had a picture of Kevin and I at age 7. These were a big hit 🙂

We sat at our beautiful little sweetheart table. It was hard for me to sit down right away. I wanted to talk to all of our guests! But I knew it wasn’t time for that yet. First up were the toasts! My sister wrote an amazing and funny speech that left everything laughing. It was personal, sweet, and honest… maybe a little too honest! 🙂

Kevin’s best man was his dad, who also had a great speech, although much shorter and to the point. It was something along the lines of, “bring on the grandbabies” 🙂

Then it was time for the FOOD!

The staff has already made us plates of the delicious food, so we dug in while our guests were called up by table. Our food was from Windows Catering Company and it was so, so good. We heard nothing but great things from everyone about it. After we ate a little bit, we were informed it was time to make the rounds to all the tables to say hello.

Once we made it to all the tables the DJ announced that it was time to go back into the bar/dancing area for our dances with our parents. I danced with my dad to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. I love this song and it was really special to dance to it with my daddy.

Kevin danced with his mom to the song “Do I Make You Proud” by Taylor Hicks. This has been a special song for Kevin and his mom since he joined the Air Force, and it was another emotional dance for both of them.

After these dances the serious parts of the night were over and it was time to PARTY! Many of our guests told me that throughout the whole wedding, they went back and forth between laughing and crying – and by this time the tears were finished. We all had TONS of fun!

Of course we had some of the traditional wedding traditions during our reception. This included cutting the cake, which turned into a little bit of a battle!

And the garter removal, to the song “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” by Joe Nichols, because tequila is my favorite 🙂 Kevin thought it would be funny to use some props, including a mini bottle of Patron and Steelers underwear!

The bouquet toss was next… caught by Mamaw!

Followed by the garter toss… caught by my soon to be brother-in-law Brandon!

Then it was time to put the garter on the person who caught the bouquet. It just so happened that it was Brandon who had to put it on Mamaw (his soon to be grandmother-in-law!) This was HILARIOUS! It started like this…

And ended it like this when he attempted to take it back off (with his teeth)…

Don’t worry Mamaw was okay 🙂 She definitely knows how to have a good time!

We also did an anniversary dance for all the married couples. It came down to my aunt and uncle, and my friend Ashley’s parents. Ashley’s parents won with 33 years of marriage! We had a bottle of wine and beer dressed as a little bride and groom as their prize.

One of the last things we did was for my bridesmaid Sandy’s birthday, which was the same day as the wedding! We surprised her by playing the beginning of 50 Cent’s song “In the Club” where it says, “go shorty, it’s your birthday…” and gave her a Georgetown Cupcake! She was embarrassed and it was great!

The reception went by way too quickly and before I knew it, the DJ was playing our final song, “Marry Me” by Train.

After the reception some of us actually went out to a local bar and restaurant called the Bungalow Alehouse. We had some snacks, some more drinks and hung out. We didn’t want the party to end! But it eventually did, and we went back to the hotel room to this…

Our wedding was truly the best day of my life. It was imperfectly perfect, and full of love, laughter, and tears. I have the most amazing memories of this day, that’s why I wanted to document it here on this blog about my life so I will have it all written down forever. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Kevin and me. He’s my best friend and the love of my life!

I will end this post with a few of our favorite special details from our wedding.

Our card box covered in a race t-shirt and race bibs!

Our programs with a crossword puzzle all about us on the back

Our blessing bowl after guests dropped their stones into it

My beautiful bouquet

Our personalized M&M favors

Our Wedding: The Ceremony [Part 3]

Previous wedding posts:

Finally, our wedding was about to begin. Our guests were outside in their seats waiting, and someone told me that Kevin and his parents had just walked down the aisle.

The bridesmaids and I all stood by the door listening for our cue.

I took a deep breath and listened to the string trio play the songs we had picked out, while the DJ played the same songs outside for our guests to hear.

Before I knew it the processional song began, “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once, and my first bridesmaid was walking out to the pergola by the river with the rest of them close behind…

Our ring bearer accompanied by our junior usher, and our flower girl went out next. All of a sudden it was just my dad and me left in the foyer. I was so excited to finally walk down the aisle and see Kevin. I heard the song switch to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Over the Rainbow” and then my dad and I started walking.

The walk seemed so long, and finally my dad and I turned to walk down the aisle. I saw everyone standing up looking at us, I saw our bridesmaids and groomsmen, and I saw Kevin waiting for me at the pergola and I immediately started to cry [tearing up again as I write this].

I finally got to Kevin and I felt nothing but happiness and just pure love. I gave my dad a hug and went to join him on the pergola. I almost gave him a kiss accidentally – it’s just a habit by now – but I caught myself before I did!

On the pergola I could not stop my legs from shaking uncontrollably. I think it was a combination of nerves, excitement, and the wind! Our officiant welcomed everyone and then invited our parents up to the front to put their stones into our Blessing Bowl. We had each guest take a little stone when they arrived, and then drop it into our Blessing Bowl before sitting down. It was our way of asking our guests to give us their blessing. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen also dropped in stones on their way to the front, and our parents were the last to put theirs in.

Before long I felt completely relaxed up there with Kevin and just took it all in as our officiant went through the ceremony we had created ourselves. Next we had our first reading: “I Carry Your Heart” by e.e. cummings. We asked my godparents to read this poem:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

After the reading we asked our officiant to read a passage called “Union” by Robert Fulghum, which we absolutely love.

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.

Then it was time for the vows and the rings. Unfortunately, at this point our officiant told us that he had forgotten the special vows we were going to say to one another. We were very, very disappointed, but we went with the flow and said the standard vows. We plan to use our special vows to renew in the future. As we said our vows we exchanged rings.

Then it was time for our second reading. We chose “The Art of Marriage” by Wilferd A. Peterson and asked Kevin’s mom to read it.

A good marriage must be created.
In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…

It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once each day.

It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

It is speaking words of appreciation and
demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

 It is not only marrying the right partner…

It is being the right partner.

After the reading we did our unity act. We poured two different colors of sand into the Blessing Bowl that our guests put their stones in earlier. It was our way to symbolize us uniting together with all of our friends and family members’ blessings.

Finally, it was time to kiss and be pronounced husband and wife!

We walked back down the aisle to the strings version of “Starlight” by Muse. All the ceremony songs were strings versions and they all sounded absolutely beautiful, even though they were played by our DJ through speakers. We were so thankful that our DJ saved the day after our strings couldn’t play outside.

After our guests went inside for the cocktail hour, our wedding party and family stayed behind for a little while and we took pictures.

Then everyone else went inside to enjoy cocktail hour, and Kevin and I got some photos alone.

By this time we were freezing and so ready to get inside and enjoy our reception!

To be continued…