Armed Forces Half Marathon recap!

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. I’m so excited to write this post because the Armed Forces half marathon was a blast and I’m so happy I registered for it on a whim this year.

Registering for the event!

After the Eugene Half marathon on April 29th, I felt really good and strong and proud of my performance and decided two things:

  1. I wanted to run the Santa Rosa marathon this year
  2. I wanted to run another half marathon in late May or early June

Now, I have a rule for myself that I wait about a week to register for a race after I run a race to make sure I’m not being impulsive with my runner’s high, and that I’m not trying to force myself to run a distance too close after running a race. I had originally decided to upgrade my Windsor Green 10k to do the half, but I decided I would rather do a different race and experience a new half marathon instead. After lots of research, the Armed Forces half was the winner.

  • Morning of packet pick up
  • I could drive there that morning
  • 3:30 course limit (I knew I would be near three hours and like the extra cushion)
  • Was on a Saturday, and I’m starting long runs on Saturdays now. Also, my husband had to work the same day and I knew I would be bored out of my mind

So on May 9, just 2.5 weeks before the race, I pulled the trigger and registered. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know anything about the race, the race started really early, meaning I had to leave early, and I would be going by myself. Now, I know I’m 30 years old, but I’m also supremely introverted and have a hard time going to new places alone so the fact that I was going to give that a try was a big step for me.

But I digress.

Race week

After my performance at the Windsor 10k I was so surprised by my pace that I texted Coach Patrick in a wee bit of a panic.

He chatted me through a plan and a pacing goal which really helped me align. I am in no shape to PR but I also feel like I have no sense of how strong my little body is right now. He told me to stick to the plan for the week that he had given me, which I mostly did except on a whim I got invited to audition for a musical the same week I was tapering so I had an unexpected hour dance evening during the week. Fortunately it wasn’t too treacherous on my body, but it happened.

But Tuesday before the race I was at work, and my calf had bothered me during the Windsor 10k but loosened up and then I stepped off a curb at work walking between buildings of my company, and something in my right calf tightened up and I panicked! I went running that night and I couldn’t do it. I was so upset. Was I going to miss my first 13.1 race???? All because I stepped off a curb funny???

I rested on Wednesday instead of running what was on the plan, and on Thursday went for a massage, where she worked just on my calf. It felt better but I felt so loopy and woozy afterwards. I drank a lot of water and ate some popcorn and went to bed and told myself to run my shakeout on Friday and see how I felt.

Friday I laid out my clothes and ran about 20 minutes. I felt a dull feeling in my leg but it was tolerable. A friend had invited me over for dinner and let me elevate my leg at her house and I told myself to wake up the next morning and see how things felt. If I was really concerned, I wouldn’t go, but I had faith.

Race morning

I had to wake up really early. It was brutal. I felt good and decided to go to the race. If things were bad, I would stop at an aid station and asked to be picked up. Easy as that. But I didn’t think I would need to.

Because I woke up so early I couldn’t stomach any food and saved my pre-race breakfast for the course. Did I mention I had to get up SO EARLY?!?? I had to leave the house at 4. FOUR FREAKING AM.

And off I went. It was really dark and I’ll be honest when I say I did not love driving that early when it was that dark. I got about 5 hours of sleep the night before so I was nervous. Next time I’ll consider that and probably get a hotel room for races that early.

I got on site around 5:25 AM. I am glad I left as early as I did because I was so bamboozled trying to find where I could park. I knew there were garages but I didn’t know where they were. I also walked in on someone who didn’t lock their port o potty so that was an exciting way to start the race 😑

The event, the Armed Forces Half Marathon, honors a branch of the armed forces each year. Last year was the first year and they did the navy and this year it was the army. I don’t have any family who has served, but I know two people who served in the army and I was sad I hadn’t thought to invite them to join. It was a really neat starting line with the army men and women, and vehicles.

The start line quickly filled up a few minute before the start, and they sang they National Anthem. They also played taps as a moment to honor. It was exciting to see everyone in their patriotic running gear, and runners wearing shirts noting what branches they served in or hearing them talk about it. If you have served, are serving, are a veteran, I thank you for your service.

I found a friend who I knew was running the race, Lupe, and was chatting with her at the start. We had talked online about the event and I told her maybe we could run a bit together. Off the race went, so we ran and talked.

The course goes through what is known as Bunker City” in Concord, CA. The early part of the race had an incline and across the course a few ups and downs.

It was HUMID during the race and I mean HUMID. I could feel sweat just pouring out of me during the first two miles of the race. I was worried I wouldn’t be warm enough just wearing a tank top but I was so glad I had because it was so humid out.

The course had great on course support and cheering. There was a trio of runners doing the event with full rucksacks and army boots, and also many people running with flags. It was really quite beautiful to see.

The course was mostly flat with a few rollers throughout and one big incline about halfway where you could see the entire Bunker City. It was a rad view. At one point in the race we saw the first place runner pass by us on the out and back potion, which is always fun to see. On the course there were kids cheering at the aid station, a DJ on course and there were cows!!! They were too far away to photograph.

I was doing 2/1 run walk intervals and my goal was to hold a 13:30 pace. I wasn’t even paying attention to my times but my body felt I was holding that pace.

Lupe and I were running and talking and I don’t even remember the first 11 miles of the race because we were talking the whole time! I thought we would run just about 2 miles with me so it was a total treat to run with someone that long. We parted ways at mile 10.75 and I finished myself. At mile 11 the reality of running my 12th half marathon hit me. Because I had been talking to Lupe for so long it didn’t even register in my mind! I was proud of myself for toeing up to the start line today. I knew the course would be long because my watch hit mile 11 before the sign came up.

Finally when I was hitting home stretch, I knew I was really close and found something deep in the bottom of my soul to give it a little more. I felt really strong going to the finish line and when I saw the clock said 2:58, I knew I had to book it to finish under 3 hours. Which I did, 2:59:01! Course was 13.22 according to my Garmin. Race time said I ran an average of 13:40, but my Garmin said (since it registered 13.22) my pace was 13:32 so I totally did what Coach Patrick and I aimed for, which I happily texted him at the end of the race!

I found my friend Lupe at the finish line festival and we hugged and said our goodbyes and that we would have to do it again soon! Shout out to her because she told me it was her 72nd half marathon!

I quickly got in line at the bagel shop near the finish line to eat something and then got in my car to go home. I wanted to leave as soon as possible due to 3 day weekend traffic. I would have liked to stay and visit the post race festival but I was concerned about how long I would be stuck in the car to come home.

All in all it was a great race and I’m so glad I registered on a whim. I’m so glad my leg behaved and everything was a great day. I can’t wait to do it again!!!!

Cheers runners!

Have you thought about a running coach?

Hey, runners of the internet —- guess what!!! Have I got an exciting piece of news for you!

Coach Patrick and I have teamed up because I’ve made myself the first unofficial ambassador of Good Fit Coaching! 😊

Whether your goals are to run your first 5k, or PR your marathon time and everything in between, he’s a great coach to help hone in on your needs and provide you custom plans and support.

Why work with a coach when there are training plans online? I used to just do all my training from free things online but working with Coach Patrick has totally changed who I am as a runner. Working with a coach provides me real time ability to have someone who sets plans for me that are realistic to my schedule and abilities, but also push me a little further than if I was training on my own. He listens to my fears and my doubts, but also lets me have running related laughs and encourages me to be the best athlete I can be. It is great to have support, receive feedback, and have someone to bounce my struggles and my celebrations with. In fact, he is almost always the person I text first after a race!

I’m excited to share that if you’ve been toying with the idea of working with a running coach, that he is offering a discount on online coaching, available to anyone even if you aren’t local to where I live! If you register for online coaching and use discount code VanessaF2F will get you $10 off a month for at least your first three months.

If you want more information or have questions, feel free to send me a message, or check out https://www.goodfitcoaching.com

Cheers runners!

Vanessa

Motivated Monday: For those who struggle with weight

Motivated Monday: For those of us who struggle.

I’m here.

I’m bringing the honesty forward. Paleta in hand, forty pounds gained back and all.

Food isn’t the enemy. Food is just food. Ice cream isn’t evil and kale isn’t angelic. You aren’t a bad person if you eat too many French fries and you aren’t a martyr if you eat nothing but unseasoned chicken breast. We all have setbacks. Sometimes we gain four pounds and sometimes we gain forty.

That doesn’t mean we are failures. We only fail the moment we decide to give up.

I have been working for the last year to believe in myself again. To find my spark to lose weight. To rediscover my love of eating right. But mostly I’ve been looking for the ability to forgive myself for gaining weight back and to stop being so hard on myself.

It has taken time and a lot of self care but I have finally made peace with what the scale is telling me and have decided that I am worthy of putting in the work to get to where I wanna be, though it will be hard. I don’t share for pats on the back or applause, I share because there’s lots of celebration of success but little talk of struggle and perceived failure on social media.

I’m here to remind you you CAN do it. If you KEEP TRYING you WILL GET THERE. It is only when we give up on ourselves that we have failed. I am not giving up. I’m going all in. You can too. Now that I’ve found forgiveness in myself to be better and do better, my happiness around my food is back to being positive and balanced.

Let’s do this together.

Cheers to never giving up!

Vanessa

Windsor 10k recap!

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. I had a blast running the Run Wine Country 10k this morning, though my morning really started out very poorly. I mean VERY poorly. As in, I almost didn’t show up to the start because I was having a major pity party for myself, but I’m SO glad I did because it ended up being a REALLY great day for me.

Saturday

Saturday afternoon Mr. FtoF and I went down to Fleet Feet for packet pick up and while we were there, enjoyed chatting with staff. I found out they carry that sports bra I really like that I bought at Title Nine, but they didn’t have my size so they were gonna order it. Woohoo! I would totally prefer to buy it locally and support the rad team at Fleet Feet than online. We went out to dinner and I had a pork sandwich, side salad and a few fries, and after we had ice cream. I figured this would be a decent dinner since I was only running a 10k the next day.

Then I laid out my outfit and went to bed pretty early because I was feeling pretty pooped. Yes, I take my matching very seriously. Pain is temporary but race photos are forever. (I always pick out clothes from my own running wardrobe though cause #nothingnewonraceday)

Sunday morning

All hell broke loose in my house. Alarm went off and I hit snooze a few too many times but was still ok and on schedule. I wanted to leave at 6:30 because the event started at 7:40.

First off (TMI warning), I couldn’t go to the bathroom. Like it just wasn’t happening. Squatty Potty didn’t do anything!!!!! This always makes me nervous because I did NOT want any on course surprises 💩. This was a bad sign of how today would go.

Second, I got out of the shower to discover there were ANTS ALL OVER MY KITCHEN TABLE. Mr. FtoF had some sweets from a work event that had to go back to the office but they aren’t going back to the office now because they were infested, along with my table and my floor. So I quickly wiped everything down to the best of my abilities, and knew I had to get a move on. I had no appetite but I forced a few bites of oatmeal down.

Then I went to get dressed. The third layer of meltdown started when I couldn’t figure out where I had put my new, expensive sports bra I wanted to wear. That wasn’t a huge deal since I had just done laundry so I wore one of my other ones. I’ve been spoiled because I own that sports bra and everything else feels inferior now. No big deal. Everything is gonna be JUST FINE. Just GET TO THE RACE.

But then I couldn’t find my Garmin.

I looked in all the usual spots. I tried calling myself from my husband’s phone since I have Bluetooth linked and it buzzes when someone calls me. Nope. Nowhere. Finally after 10 minutes of frustration I just stood in the bedroom and I cried. I was so overwhelmed with everything that the world threw at me this morning. I thought to myself “is this gonna be a race I don’t show up for?!?” I finally gave up on looking (after I’m pretty sure my husband decided he was going to leave me because of my meltdown over my watch), and on my way out the door saw the flashing of my Garmin on the floor near the door. THANK YOU RUNNING GODS. I was seriously anxious. Yes – I am capable of running without a watch but I haven’t done it in so many years and I was NOT mentally ready for today to be that day. Also, thank goodness I found it because there weren’t actually any mile markers on the course 🤔. So then off I went. Except there was no gas in my car so I had to stop to put some in the car. Then I zipped up to the race. Thank goodness I had planned to leave when I did because I left 10 minutes later but was still ok.

To the race!

Now I ran the 10k last year and the half the year before and it is seriously one of the prettiest races I’ve ever run. Don’t waste your time on the 5k. Run the 10 or the half. You get beautiful views and hot air balloons and a decent amount of rolling hills. I had considered upgrading to the half for today but stuck with the 10k and decided to do a half next weekend instead.

I made it a goal to just have fun and take selfies with everyone I saw that I knew. I definitely achieved that goal! I wrote on my arm “are we having fun yet?” As a reminder to take it slow and easy and just have a blast. Thank goodness I wrote that on my arm since I had my morning meltdown and was not in the right mindset. I was annoyed but when I got to the start my mindset changed.

I got to see lots of people I know, including Coach Patrick (woohoo!), who told me he would be running people in at the end of the race (this is relevant for later).

He gave me a super cool tattoo so I could represent 🙌🏼

Then it was about 12 minutes til race start. And guess what. I STILL HADN’T GONE TO THE BATHROOM. At this point I start panicking. Luckily I had the smarts to look at the course map and knew there were a few portopotties on course if I needed them but SERIOUSLY I was freaking out. I didn’t want any surprises between port o potties.

I gave up on trying to LET IT GOOOO and toed up to the line and off we went at 7:40.

Now, the first mile and a half really sucked for me. And I mean SUCKED. Seriously out of nowhere my calves got super tight, which coincided with an uphill climb. I was afraid I was gonna have to walk the whole race. Fortunately since I had run the 10k last year I knew once you get out of the first hill, it flattens out and I would be ok, so I told myself to walk what I needed up the hill and run the down and flats. I even stopped TWICE to loosen my shoe laces (and still made good time!). I thought to myself “today just isn’t gonna be my day” but I refused to walk back to the start and give up.

Finally I got out of the big incline and my legs loosened up (side note: I think it’s time for a massage for me!), and decided to take some selfies because the view was so beautiful! And check out my cool Mermaid Series shirt!

Miles 2-4 are kind of a blur. Not in a bad way, just in a nothing monumental happened way. I just kept trekking. I didn’t set any intervals for run/walk today like I had for the half marathon in Eugene because I wanted to give myself more flexibility to run when I wanted and walk when I needed. I’m glad I did that. I think I ran more than I would have. I definitely always thank the officers who are out on the course because I appreciate them being out there to keep runners safe, so I said that to all I passed and they all told me great job 😊. (On that note, during CIM, I thanked an officer at mile 10 who responded with “great job, you’re almost there!” which made me die a little inside because he obviously did not know how long a marathon was)

I saw a photographer at one point in there when I was walking and said a loud “sh*t!” because I knew I had to get to running if I wanted a good race photo!!!!

My run paces felt really effortless but when I read my Garmin to see how fast I was going, my paces were incredible! I saw 10:xx mins-11:xx mins and at one point was cruising at what felt like little effort and was at a 9:40! I can’t sustain those for full lengths of time but it feels good that I am really able to run that way and feel effortless.

Finally around mile 4 I knew there would be a water station but there was also an informal mimosa aid station! I’m so mad I didn’t take a photos with the ladies doing that. I did not partake because that would not have ended well for me 😂.

Somewhere around 55 minutes into my run, a bike whizzed past me and told me good job (thanks!), and told me a runner was coming up behind me. Oh… that’s because he was lead cyclist for the first place half marathon runner!!!! Holy smokes those half mary runners are fast. I was passed by about 5 men (didn’t recognize any of them) and the 1st place woman (who I have seen at lots of local races) between mile 4 and the finish. My mind started whirling about the potential of me ever placing in my age group. I’m not there yet, but maybe one day it could happen! Big maybe, but I’m not telling myself I can’t. I CAN work towards anything if I put my mind to it!

I took in a Gu around mile 3.8 but was feeling like I was starting to slow down a bit around mile 4.5, but the gods of the 10k heard my plea because I saw Coach Patrick running up and he ran with me for a little bit and we chatted and it was EXACTLY the boost I needed! He definitely was running me faster than I would have run myself at that point, and when we finally broke from each other so he could run other people in, I felt a second wind to finish strong, which is exactly what I did.

It took a little extra push but I finally rounded the corner and heard people cheering and it felt good to finish really strong. I thought I would finish around 1:24:00, and as I ran I thought maybe I would finish in 1:21, but imagine my surprise when I saw I finished in 1:19!

It has been a good feeling my last two races to pass people in the second half. Not because I want to beat anyone, but because it’s a good reminder to me that I paced myself evenly and didn’t burn out at the end.

And then, suddenly, I was done! It feels weird to be done running after just a 10k since my long runs have been SO long lately. I actually debated going out and running another 2 miles because I felt good but decided to rest for now and maybe do that in the evening if I still had the urge.

But of course, pancakes called.

And I did a lap around the finish line to see if I saw anyone I knew before heading home. Of course, after I left, two friends texted me to ask where I was because they were there 🤦🏽‍♀️. Oh well.

Today was a good boost before Saturday’s half marathon! I definitely need to roll out A LOT this week so I don’t fight my calves on Saturday. I also need to go through my running clothes to find a fabulous outfit to wear 🤔

And on another note…. I still haven’t gone to the bathroom even all these hours later so if anyone has any tips or tricks, I’ll be your best friend!!!!

Cheers runners! Thanks for reading my recap!!

Vanessa

From 264.2 to 26.2 round three: how I plan to be successful.

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. If you’ve seen any of my recent Instagram or Facebook posts, you’ll know I’ve decided on a whim to run the Santa Rosa Marathon again this year. It was my first marathon in 2016, and I didn’t expect to run it again this year. After watching my husband train for and run the Eugene Marathon and have a killer PR, I decided I wanted to push myself to train for a marathon sooner than CIM. Lucky for me, the nice people at the SR marathon hooked me up with a discount code 😊 (feel free to use!). I also love that this race is just down the road from where I live so no hotel necessary and I can convince my better half to come drop me off and pick me up 😏. I also hope some friends and family might make it to the finish line.

But I digress.

I was toying with the idea of running another marathon WHILE I was knee deep in running the Eugene half. Might as well think about running while you’re running, right?!?!

I realized that if I wanted to run another marathon though, I had to make some big commitments. I really did not do my best training for CIM last year because of the fires in town. Those took up most of my October training because the air quality was so poor. It was a total mind boggle for me. I want to do better this time but I know that means a lot.

I have a few plans in place to really help me refocus and have a solid training plan

  1. I am going in knowing what to expect. My first marathon I trained on my own with some plan I found online. It was probably way too ambitious of a plan for me. I did not stick to it very well. During CIM, Coach Patrick was great with my plan but I did not execute as well as I needed to, looking back. I really was fearful after the fires and freaked myself out. You may remember I even tried to drop out of the marathon and went so far as to request a downgrade, but manned up and did it. Which was very rewarding.
  2. I am going to lean on others to run with. Yes, Vanessa “I only run solo” Wallace plans to find friends to run with. I have a few great friends who are also either training for a marathon around the same time as me, or just love running, who will do some of my long runs with me. I’ll also probably tack on to some friends to help get me through some of the mid-week short runs when my brain is totally toast and I wanna just skip it.
  3. I am going to write more about my training. I think I want to log and journal more for personal use, but also write more regular blog posts recapping things. I think that will help me with my accountability!
  4. I’m going to add in strength training to my routine. A strong core and upper body is going to help keep me up right for that long of a time. I think it will also help me have a little mental break from running. I am very fortunate that I have been given an opportunity to try out a new strength and conditioning gym for a few weeks this summer, so I’ll see how that works out for me!
  5. I have already planned some indulgences during training. I already know after whatever my longest long run is, I’m gonna go back to the float pod place and I’m having a milkshake that night. #treatyoself
  6. I am going to let this be a focus for me. I’m going to roll with the punches this time around on marathon training. My work schedule has become a little more fluid now that I’ve been promoted, so I will be doing less errandy stuff and more office stuff which means I am not tied to as many set events during the day as I was. I’ve been able to come in earlier than before and work on a more fluid timeline to get things done, which means running can totally fit in to my routine more than before when some really long days strained me.
  7. I am going to consider switching my long runs to Saturday’s. I’m not sold on this one yet, but part of me is considering making Saturday my long run day so I can recover and sleep in on Sunday’s. There’s literally no day during the week I sleep in. This would also mean I have to find a new weight watchers meeting to go to, since I currently go Saturday’s, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
  8. I am willing to get uncomfortable. The last two marathons I don’t think let myself get as uncomfortable as I should have. This time around, I’m gonna work hard. I’m gonna play hard. I’m gonna put it all on the line and go all in.
  9. I am going to find out just how tough I actually am. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I am ready for some self discovery. I’ve always learned something new about myself while marathon training. I look forward to seeing what I learn this time around.

So there you have it. I’m excited to tackle this again, though I’m also a little scared because it’s gonna be really hard.

I know I can do it. I look forward to seeing how it all goes!

Cheers to 26.2!

Vanessa

P.U.S.H. (Persist Until Something Happens)

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. It’s been pretty hot the last few days here. I wasn’t expecting that. Makes for some hot 😓 running.

It’s no secret to anyone who has been around Vanessa Goes from FtoF for a while that I’ve been having a mental struggle around my weight loss for the last year. There are many factors around this including when I started my new job last year and at the same time performing in two musicals, then the fires, then the marathon, then the switch to the new WW program. My mind has been distracted, and my body has paid for it to the tune of some extra pounds.

I know deep down though that I’m not ever giving up. Things are always going to have their challenges. I know that this is the time for me to persist and work hard until I align my head. As long as I keep trying, I’m better than if I quit.

Things have finally made a turn for the better. I’ve realigned my head and my focus and the pressure.

I only could get to this point if I let myself struggle for the last year. Forcing myself to come to terms with the things that sabotage me have been painful, but in the long term will pay off.

The few days before the Eugene Marathon I hadn’t weighed myself. I was traveling with no home scale. I tracked what I ate but indulged a little. I felt free from the chains of the scale because for once my focus was on something else. That race was great, but the photos after were greater. I saw a photo of myself from the Eugene Marathon finish line this week (previously shared on my Facebook and Instagram) and it was a turning point for me. It was a photo where I finally saw myself experiencing raw emotion of success. Often when I see photos of myself now, I see my double chin or my chubby belly, but this photo I saw nothing but a moment in time where I felt proud of my accomplishment.

Upon seeing that photo it reminded me that though I have had failed attempts at losing weight, I haven’t failed. I’ve PUSH-ed through. Persisted until something happened. And something did happen. I felt strong and I felt proud and I for just a few minutes, stopped thinking about the scale.

In the weeks after that race I’ve found a spark that I’ve been waiting for. It was a moment of so much success after what felt like so much failure on my weight.

I finally feel ready to make strides on my weight loss journey. Not because of anything other than the fact that I had a moment where I felt proud of my body again, and realized I have struggled for a while but those moments were all opportunities to learn.

My point in all this is that when things get tough, embrace the suck. Take the opportunity to learn from all the things that don’t work for you in order to find what eventually will.

As for me, I’ve found a lot of things that didn’t work and have finally found a routine that does. That’s because I persisted until something happened!

Cheers to persisting!

-Vanessa

Vanessa Goes From Fat to Float Pod

Hello! How are you? Me, I’m great. I’m feeling solid and recovered from my half marathon that took place weekend before last, and my mind is ready to tackle another! And a marathon!!

Mr. FtoF ran the marathon and I ran the half at the Eugene Marathon. I treated us to a post race indulgence, and the weekend after the race, we took our newly purchased Groupon’s to the local Float Spa*

(*this post is in no way sponsored or affiliated with the local float spa. I write it of my own desire and all thoughts are my own)

These pods are filled with warm water and tons of Epsom salt which makes you float. It is very relaxing and is supposed to help ease the left side of your brain so the right side of your brain can be unleashed. Or something like that. I’m not doing the description any real justice.

We each got our own rooms for this. Each room has its own pod and shower. Upon arrival we were given a tour and advised to turn the lights in the room off, shower thoroughly, but briefly, put in ear plugs and then get into the pod. You get into the pod in your birthday suit. I ready online you could get in in a swimsuit, though nude is advised. Their webpage also advises not to shave or drink caffeine before you get into the pod, and suggests eating a light meal or snack 45 mins to one hour before hand.

We were told once we got in, not to touch our eyes or the salt would burn.

Once the pod door was closed, it would start the timer on the pod and turn off the jet in the pod. There was relaxing music and a dim light. You could turn both off, turn either one off, or change the color of the light. It took a little while to settle into my choice but I went no light with music. Which Mr FtoF told me he did too.

I was afraid I would think the pod was too small but in the dark it reminded me of Space Mountain at Disneyland. Because it was dark and relaxing, I felt comfortable and had no real sense of space and didn’t feel claustrophobic.

My mind tends to be always running so it was hard at first to turn it off, which I never really did. But I allowed myself to just embrace the thoughts in my head and because there was no clock or sense of time, it was relaxing to be “off the grid” as they say.

Floating was really cool. I used a head support because I carry tension in my neck and found it hard to float without it. I also found myself feeling a bit like a small child, pushing myself back and forth between the walls and getting my wiggles out.

Eventually when it was time to get out after the hour, the jet in the pod came back on and the lights came back on to tell me it was time to get out. After some stretching, I opened the pod and showered again. I was covered in Epsom Salt water so it felt good to condition my hair and wash off and drink some water. I felt really relaxed.

The days following, I’ve felt like I’ve slept better and been more mentally relaxed. At work yesterday, I felt very “chill” for a Monday. I’m usually pretty wound up. Towards the end of the day though I definitely felt sleepy because I was so relaxed.

Would I go back? Definitely. It is surprisingly not something I thought I would enjoy but I totally do! So did my better half. He wants to go back too, when we can. I have a hard time calming my mind. I value what this did for me.

Cheers to floating!

-Vanessa

Eugene Marathon weekend recap

Hello! How are you? Me, I’m great. Mr. FtoF and I had the BEST time at the Eugene Marathon this weekend! He ran the 26.2 and I ran 13.1. It was a solid weekend which included lots of traveling and a mini racecation. He has some family that live in Oregon so we enjoyed the trip very much.

Let me just say, I’ve never flown to a race and I didn’t think it would be terribly different than driving to a race, but I am glad I sought advice from some running friends. They told me two things that were super important.

  • Drink LOTS of water because flying will dehydrate you
  • Pack your race day stuff in a carry on bag in case your suitcase gets lost

Fortunately we flew up Thursday, which gave me Friday and Saturday to rehydrate. I don’t fly often so I’m not in tune with how my body responds. I paid attention this time though because I was going to go to a Weight Watchers meeting Friday morning but my whole body was so swollen. My hands were so puffy and tingly. I skipped weighing in and had breakfast with a friend who lives in Oregon. Some things in life are worth skipping a WW meeting for.

Thursday night

After a long (and I mean LONG) day at work, I left with my head kind of foggy and tired. Thank goodness Skip was driving to the airport! He picked us up sandwiches, we stopped for last minute supplies, and drove to the airport for our 9:55 PM flight. When we were driving though, we got an alert our flight was delayed 45 minutes 😖 but we made it to the airport and just chilled and got to Portland airport around 12:30 AM. We got a killer deal on airfare which is why we flew into PDX instead of EUG. Thanks Southwest for your special deals!

We got our rental car and in a half delirious state, drove to my friend’s house who was hosting us for the evening.

Friday

Woke up and visited with my fabulous friend Marge who is the reason I joined Weight Watchers in college! It was so nice to see her. We enjoyed breakfast and a visit instead of going to a meeting. It was great to catch up and see her.

I certainly can’t wait to see her again whenever that may be again! Took full advantage of the need to carb load.

Then Squad Wallace began the trek to Eugene. Many of my husband’s family members would be coming in to town to cheer us on for the race! We had a singalong for a few hours. Lots of giggles. If you follow around this page, you’ll know that he works a lot so we rarely get a weekend together. This car ride normally would have bored me to death but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to just enjoy the ride.

When we got to Eugene we had a great dinner with family, visited for a good long while and tucked ourselves in to bed because we knew we needed a good night sleep Friday night since the next night would have an early alarm.

Saturday

Saturday I peeled myself out of bed at 6:30 AM, which is the latest I’ve slept in in a LONG time! I did my final shakeout run and the weather and view was awesome. I could get used to running in Oregon!

After showering and breakfast, we headed down to the expo. At the expo I met Kiana, the ambassador lead, and checked out some awesome booths.

I got this awesome jacket as a nice gift from the Eugene Marathon team, as well as a fabulous coffee mug and I bought a Eugene Marathon hat that I loved! I don’t think I’ll ever take this jacket off. I’m seriously in love.

We got our bib numbers and we were off!

Next stop was one of the most important. Voodoo Doughnuts 😍. Now, I’m not a huge donut fan and rarely eat them, but Voodoo Doughnuts has some of the most fun treats so we had to make a stop. I got one with oreos and peanut butter to eat then, and then another with peanuts and caramel and chocolate to take to go. So good!

This counts as carb loading, right?

We picked up a few sandwiches and salad for lunch, made our way back home and rested and hung out with family again for the rest of the evening. We were both a little nervous. The reality of 13.1 hit me. I hadn’t run one since August! Though I had run a marathon, a half is different.

I mentally prepared myself for the next day. I had been chatting with my friends from the Weight Watchers magazine and wanted to hold them close to me during the race. They all told me they wished they could have been there to cheer me on, so I put their names on the back of my bib ❤️

Then it was time to sleep. Big day ahead of me.

Sunday

Normally I have my own race routine and I call the shots but since Mr. FtoF was running the marathon and I was only half as dedicated as him 😂 I did whatever he said. I wrote this mantra on my arm to hold close during race day. Seeing that helped me when I was struggling.

We got up super early and got to the start line around 5:30. Race started at 7. I sat in the car for another half hour while he went to get ready and warmed up. Finally it was time to get up and moving.

I checked my gear and found the most glorious sight to a runner. The port o potties.

I found my corral and waited to start. I met another ambassador, Kerri while getting ready to start. Was so nice to meet her!

7:00, off we went. My wave started around 7:08, I think. Along the way I met a fellow WW member who had seen my ambassador post on Connect. She said she used my code. Thanks again! Another lady stopped me while I was in the early miles to tell me how cute I looked. I take my outfit coordination for races very seriously.

I had a REALLY hard time mentally for the first four miles. I couldn’t quite find a strong groove. I was keeping even pace wise but mentally it wasn’t clicking. I knew I just needed to keep going and I would get there. Then, this happened.

A man and a young girl were sitting on the side of the road playing the accordion. My Grandfather was a professional accordion player his whole life. I heard it played through my entire life until he passed. I even can play it, and he is the reason I got into it. It was like a little note of love from him, and I heard it right when I needed it. That was a very powerful moment, and a huge turning point for my race performance.

At that point, I fell into a groove. I could feel my run splits picking up pace (I was doing 2/1 intervals). I started passing people because I was staying consistent when I could tell others were slowing down, which was a good feeling. It meant I had paced myself evenly to start. The last few races I’ve run, though I finished them faster, I pushed hard at the start and walked a lot at the end. This time around I was very even.

Around mile 8, I felt good and knew the race was going to be a good one for me. My fueling and hydration were really good. I took in Gatorade when I knew I needed to, and didn’t wait too long like I sometimes do.

Let me tell you, this race has some of the best signs and cheering I’ve ever seen. My name was on my bib so people cheered for me by name! The signs were hilarious. It was awesome.

Towards the last few miles of the race my head started to lose focus. I had a feeling I would since I hadn’t run more than 11 miles this training cycle because of all my traveling. I spoke with a woman who grew up near the area I live in in California, and we talked about the fires from October and chatted back and forth a bit. She was very kind!

For the last 2.5 miles I thought about my awesome friends from the magazine and for every half mile, celebrated their story. For the last half mile, I thought about mine. I felt very proud, not only of my magazine and sharing my story, but for finishing my 11th half marathon.

I knew I would be finishing around the same time as some of the 3 hour marathon runners. So amazing to see their strength and determination. I wonder if I’ll ever be a super fast marathon runner. 🤷🏽‍♀️

When I got to the finish line, the reception was so warm and welcome. My name was said by the announcer, there was a huge crowd cheering for finishers, and when I crossed the finish line my hand was shaken by volunteers and I got my medal.

I figured I would finish around 3:03. Deep down I was hoping to finish under 3 hours but I just missed it. Official finish time was 3:00:23. If I had cut some tangents it looks like I would have made it, but it was really great I finished 2.5 minutes faster than I actually expected I would!

I always get very emotional when I finish a big race. I try to keep it to myself because one time the medic asked me if I needed to visit the first aid booth because I was crying so hard 😂. But it’s always a great reminder of determination and strength and how far I’ve come.

I enjoyed my pancakes, post race massage and waited for Mr. FtoF to finish the marathon. According to my tracking, he was on course to finish in the time he thought he would.

The weather was so perfect. I had been panicked over rain predictions and there was one brief moment when it rained but it stopped. I was worried that my poor little husband would be caught in the rain.

When I was waiting for him to finish I saw a 91 year old woman finish the half marathon and a woman with a prosthetic leg finish the marathon. I was so moved. They say if you want to be inspired, to go watch the finish line of a marathon. They are right. It will move you to see people of all ages, athletic abilities and mindsets finish a marathon.

Finally I saw Mr. FtoF start the trek into Hayward Field! He was kicking butt. I was screaming his name. He PRed his marathon time by something like 30 minutes. He is awesome!

Then he was a little loopy and trying to recover from what he had just put his body through 😂

But we celebrated, he ate a little and drank chocolate milk and headed back home. We had both had really great days!

I had made this giant head to have at the finish line but because I was afraid it was going to rain, it was back at the house to greet him.

More of his family came into town to celebrate the finish line and have dinner with us. It was awesome. We spent the evening eating, drinking, playing piano and singing and enjoying being together. It had been years since we were all together and so it was a glorious way to celebrate a super race day, and our first out of State race!

In short

We had a great weekend. I have been inspired by Mr. FtoF and the entire weekend to take on 26.2 again this year. I was going to wait but I’m excited to do it sooner than later.

Also, we are pretty sure we will be back for Eugene Marathon 2019. Though I think we might switch distances.

Eugene Marathon, thanks for hosting us. We had a blast and are grateful for the event. Until next time!

Cheers runners!

-Vanessa

The most expensive sports bra I ever bought

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. I’m getting ready for the Eugene Marathon this weekend! I’m running 13.1 and Mr. FtoF is running 26.2. Woohoo!

To prepare for this momentous adventure, I decided to spend my Title Nine gift card on a sports bra. There are no T9’s where I live but I was down near one last weekend so I decided to spend it.

Let me just confess… I buy my sports bras off the clearance rack at Target. Yes folks. I do. I pay usually no more than 9 dollars for a sports bra. Sometimes I pay attention to impact level and sometimes I don’t. It’s pretty bad. I buy bras with sizes like large and medium but apparently I should be getting ones with actual sizes. Oops. I also just assume that if the sports bra is a little tight it is the right fit. Nope! Can still have bounce and cause discomfort. I learned a lot on this experience!

I also have sports bras that are years old. Like your shoes, you’re supposed to rotate your bras out after a few months. Also, if you lose or gain weight you’re supposed to get new sizes.

I have done none of those things.

I’m

A

Horrible

Runner.

To be honest, the thought of trying on Sports Bras that cost ten times what I’ve paid for any other sports bra made me die a little inside. Thank goodness I had a gift card. I didn’t choose the one in the photo. I tried a few on and this was the last one.

It was my intention to review all the ones I tried on but I was a little overwhelmed. The woman at the Title Nine store who fit me was so kind. We talked extensively about underwires, racerbacks, colors, preference, impact levels and more.

(By the way Title Nine is a main sponsor of Mermaid Series! I had on my Mermaid garb and the sales ladies asked me if I was a Mermaid Athlete. You know it!)

She measured me and fit me and we walked through the wall of options and picked a few and the nice sales associate helped me get into my booby traps (see what I did there 🤣) and we talked about what I liked and didn’t like. It was kind of exhausting to wiggle in and out of so many. Be emotionally and physically prepared for when you go.

I was so nervous about my chubby runner belly and stretch marks and someone seeing me in all my glory, but the sales woman made me feel fabulous about myself. My grand total came to $75 and some change 😳. Thank you gift card. THANK YOU GIFT CARD. I could have signed up for a race with that much money!

I chose the Brooks Juno. I liked that it felt a lot like other sports bras I already own. I picked the bold print though cause that’s very me.

The next day I took it out on a long 8 mile run. It was so comfortable. I felt really supported. No bounce. Very comfortable and breathable. Something the Target clearance rack hasn’t given me.

So long story short, if the Eugene Marathon expo has a booth where I can more of these magical bras, I’ll need to get more.

I also am promising you I’ll throw out the sports bras I own that are older than the current presidential term by the end of next month.

I am very mindful of my shoes but I need to be more mindful of my back and this will be the way to do it.

I encourage you to go to your local Title Nine or running store to get fit for a good bra! I’ll likely go to my local Fleet Feet now that I have a better idea of my needs when I get new sports bras.

Do you have a favorite bra? It’s important!

Cheers to being supported! ❤️

-Vanessa

Being in the WW Magazine and How I got there!

On Tuesday, February 6th I was at work, when around lunch time I got a message on Instagram from Weight Watchers (in response to a post I wrote in October), which said they wanted to talk to me and could I please send an email to this staff member whose email address they listed. They have sent me messages before asking if they could share a quote I wrote for a weekly before, so I assumed it was something similar.

I emailed the staff member who emailed me back saying she worked for the Weight Watchers magazine and could we set up a time to talk on the phone. We set an appointment to talk the next morning at 6 AM my time, 9 AM her time. I was suspicious, but thought maybe they wanted me to agree to using a quote in the magazine.

The next morning she did not call me and I felt a little bummed. After some time went on, I emailed and checked in. There had been a schedule mixup so we agreed to chat on my lunch break that day.

On the phone she shared with me that Weight Watchers was writing an article on the “Me Too” movement and had come across this Instagram post I had written, and she was interested in knowing more. After a good long, hearty talk, I hung up and thought maybe they would share my quote in the magazine. I was excited about the possibility that my quote could be shared.

Time went on. I was hopeful that they would use a quote I stated in the magazine but a few days went by and nothing happened so I figured it wasn’t going to happen until…

Sunday, February 11th I got an email that she wanted to talk on the phone. And that call was summed up into this…

“So are you available to fly to New York City next weekend for a photoshoot and an interview for the May/June magazine issue?”

*HOLD THE PHONE HUBBA WHAAAAAT!!!!!*

After I said yes in a level of shock that I’ve never experienced before and hung up, I walked into the living room and wept to my husband. I was going to be in a magazine. I was in shock.

The entire next week was a flash of chaos. Emails being introduced to my four fellow members (Tracye, Jen, Megan and Peter), travel arrangements, emails for sizes, emails of photos, rearranging all the plans I had for the weekend and because I was keeping it all top secret “gotta reschedule because a business trip suddenly came up”.

On Saturday, February 17th after an 11 mile run, some last minute pampering, including getting a manicure and pedicure for the shoot and running out last minute to buy a duffel bag so I wouldn’t have to check a bag, it was time to go.

Mr. FtoF drove me to SFO at 9:45 PM to board my red eye flight. I chose a red eye flight to give me a full day in NYC on Sunday. As I boarded the plane for a 1:15 AM takeoff, I still was in shock. Maybe I would get there and this was a prank. Maybe I’m dreaming. But then I managed to fall asleep on the red eye and wake up in sunny, snowy, Newark, New Jersey at 8:50 AM. And after trying to find my driver in a half asleep daze. I finally located him and off we went.

Upon arriving at my hotel which was in Times Square, I was informed my room wasn’t ready yet but they would call me when it was. I left my bags so I could go exploring. The bag check staff asked where I was from and I told them San Francisco (and loved that the staff at bag check started calling me San Francisco 😂)

I left the hotel and found coffee and pizza. I also took a million photos in Times Square of Broadway musicals and selfies. I wanted to see a musical but I knew I wouldn’t have time.

Finally after a few hours of walking, I got a call that my room was ready, which was great because I needed a nap. Desperately.

I woke up a few hours later and met up with three of the photoshoot members and headed out for a run in Central Park. I had run an 11 mile long run on Saturday and my legs were toast but I didn’t care. I told Coach Patrick I wanted to run in Central Park so he put it on the calendar. If I didn’t have a photoshoot, I would have gone for many more miles, but I knew my little legs needed to be in good shape. Look at all that snow!

It was time to shower and get ready for dinner. We had a group dinner with some of the WW magazine staff. After hours of talking, sharing, laughing and nerves, my squad took a group selfie and headed to bed because we had a big day ahead of us.

And though I missed my husband and wished he had been there, getting a bed to myself was so delightful. 😍. With the exception of blue cow, the stuffed cow I’ve had for 18 years. Yes I’m 30 years old but she’s my good luck charm and travels to every race with me, so you bet she was coming on this trip!

Monday morning

The alarm went off at 6 AM because I told myself I would wake up early and walk to Grand Central Station. Unfortunately I was so tired from traveling and running I decided to sleep instead since I knew what was coming up. Finally at 8 I rolled out of bed, showered, packed my bag and checked out. My limo service was coming at 9:30. When he arrived we went straight to the studio where they fed us breakfast and the day got started.

Now let me tell you – this model business is exhausting. I am a musical theater performer so I’m used to outfits and changes and hair and makeup but this was something totally different.

It was both the fastest day of my life and the longest day. Fast in that it all happened so darn quickly. Long because it was a lot of sitting and waiting, or outfit changes, or being guided around to stay on schedule.

There were racks of clothes and piles of shoes and makeup and hair stations and changing areas and white robes. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

The starting point was that I had to go to wardrobe. I tried on many different outfits because we had to find the one that was just right. Thank goodness I didn’t get hair and makeup done before that because wiggling around in spanx was like a workout. I broke a sweat! It actually took a good long while to find the right outfit. There were two contenders but finally we settled on a third, unexpected outfit, the jumpsuit.

Now I don’t normally wear something like that so I felt totally out of my comfort zone, but everyone told me I looked great which gave me a higher level of confidence.

Being on set was crazy. I was so well take care of! They brought us some delicious, healthy meals. With the exception of the cake they brought out at lunch. It was darn good too.

At one point I wanted a bottle of water and someone just got one for me… like, they told me not to get up and get one because they wanted me to rest. Crazy, huh! Especially crazy since my day job involves so much of me tending to other people. It was strange that someone else was tending to me.

First up for me was doing group photos with everyone. They had all done individual photos but yours truly was saved best for last 😂. After our group photos, I did my solo photo shoot and then my video interview.

My video interview was probably what I was most worried about. I was afraid I would cry, or say something stupid. I was worried I would be caught off guard, or speak too quickly. But I just told my story. And it was empowering to speak those words out loud. I often type my story but rarely do I say it verbally.

Then all of a sudden it was time to pack it all up and get in the car to go to the airport. We said a very emotional goodbye and promised we would all meet up again someday and somehow.

On the plane ride home I reflected on the whole thing. I’m very grateful for safe platforms to tell my story and to be part of this really was a top notch experience. As I was running in Central Park with a sort of East meets West mindset, since I was wearing my San Francisco Marathon shirt on the east coast, a thought flashed into my head that losing weight has changed me. Before, I was just alive. But now I’m living. I’m living my best life, I’m living to the fullest and I’m living with enough bravery to face my fears.

I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity. It has been a life changing experience for me! I am honored that Weight Watchers took on such a controversial topic and I was part of the story telling. Cheers to new adventures!

-Vanessa