(almost) Wordless Wednesday — remembering every (long) mile.

Today, just days away from the Chicago Marathon and I’m sitting here remembering every single mile of our long runs. Runs I made sure to capture in pictures to help me firmly sear those moments, those miles, into my memory for good.

13, 14, 15, 10

16, 18, 20, 12

20, 22, 16, 10…

176 miles worth of long, long, (LONG) runs.

176 miles worth of proud moments.

176 miles, together — Team Sutera 4lyf ❤

12 miles in the rain. #badass

12 miles in the rain. #badass
(or totally stubborn. You decide.)

(do we look #badass here or just plain gross and sweaty and water-logged?? haha)

I have to be honest, this rain felt sort of ‘off’ from the start. Not sure why. But my head was all over the place for the first half. I made sure to whisper a few words of prayer from the start — you know we’re relying heavily on faith a lot these days in the Sutera household and all — which calmed me a bit but it somehow didn’t last as long as I’d hoped.

I think I was just tired. Yup, this drop-back week was definitely needed. 

The rain at first bugged me. I wasn’t prepared for it. Nor was I prepared for the sticky, muggy air that surrounded us.
…which could explain why I immediately felt ‘off’ about this run.

But we plowed along, even when it started to turn from a slight sprinkle to an all-out downpour.
…we kept going even when Scott suggested we cut this run short, running our 12 miles another day.

Nope. We’re out here already. We’re drenched. We’re sweating. Let’s just do this. 
…so we did. 

And even just committing to the rest of the run like that, being stubborn about cutting things short, and a light seemed to flip on for me. I was back in the game. The second half of our run went by MUCH better, much less ‘up in my head,’ much more joyfully (or as joyfully as one can run when giant drops of rain are pelting you in the face). 

We made these miles count today, in a big way. No junk miles. Just honest, real, hard working miles. Earned miles. Fought-for miles. 

All told? I’d give this run a solid B. Not a B+ or an A-. A solid “B” performance. 
…just 6 weeks (aka 6 long runs!) until Chicago and I’m running solid “B performances? I’ll take it at this point. (and I’m pretty sure Scott would agree…)

PS. I love, love, love my virtual run sherpas. SO much. They were out in full force this morning…on Facebook, on instagram, and on twitter. I felt surrounded by love, support and smiling crazy runner faces wherever I looked. It was awesome. Thank you Heather, Dorry, Jo, Spabettie, Sareena, Amber, Melissa, Lindsay (how could I forget our queen sherpa??) and Whitney

20 miles: fought, and won.

20 miles. 

20 MILES. 


…holy crap, we actually hit super-ridiculous double-digits this morning. 

Sorry — I had to repeat that a few times to literally remind myself that we just nailed our (first) 20 miler. 

Not that I need much reminding — my entire body is legit screaming at me right now, it hates me, I’m convinced. Everything. Hurts.
…but guess how much that pain was worth to me today? Every. Single. Mile — WORTH. IT. 

Now that I’ve had time to let the concept of running 20 miles digest a bit (and I’ve eaten my weight in oatmeal, thankyouverymuch), I am completely in awe. Not just of what our bodies are capable of if we trust them enough, but that once again, we did this together.

…and this time we had a TON of beautiful (virtual) sherpas with us. 
Case in point:

(what you can’t see is who commented on Heather’s post in particular – there was lots of love being shared around from fellow blog besties Dorry, Sarena, and my sister.)

I mean really — if that’s not enough to make a girl smile her silliest grin ever as she drifted off to sleep last night, I don’t what is. These ladies are seriously amazing. I sensed every single one of you by our side this morning. And in fact, I know God was working his wonders as usual when I saw not one, not two, not three — but NINE bunnies all in a cluster in one particular neighborhood about five miles into our run. To me it was as clear as day — God was showing me physical proof that my virtual sherpa friends were with us, cheering us on, running ‘beside’ us and giving us the extra strength we needed to push through the pain.

And we REALLY needed that support today. 20 miles hurts. It hurts a LOT. And lucky for me (lol), I totally hit a wall about 10-12 miles in. Not pretty at all. Thank God I had such wonderful virtual sherpa’s pushing us through, and the incredible love and support of Scott beside me pushing me with his words but also just with his sheer presence beside me — so comforting at times, and at other times seeing him struggle and overcome the urge to give up was all that I needed to keep up the good fight. He is so good to me, I just adore him.

So yeah — today, I’m feeling all over the place with my emotions, post-20 miler:

Joy — that we continue to learn so much about ourselves, about eachother, each time we set foot out there for our long run

Pride — that we overcame the dreaded wall today and pushed through all the way to the end. No stopping. No walk breaks. No nothing. The Sutera’s? We don’t give up. Ever.

Confidence — that we *will* make it all 26.2 miles on October 7 (though, to say that those last 6.2 miles is going to take sheer willpower to get through? Um yeah, cannot fathom how much *more* that’ll hurt…)

Gratitude — Scott and I are literally surrounded by virtual sherpas both near and far who love us, who support us, who lift us up just when we need it. I am thankful for each one of you. So much more than I could possibly frame with words properly.

Faith — I never, ever, ever expected to have my faith renewed the way it has through this journey. My faith in God is stronger and more apparent than ever. I see and sense Him so much more strongly today. And our faith in eachother? Again — I have no words. Through this journey, I have fallen deeper in love with Scott, more committed and dedicated to him and our relationship than ever, and more proud of how strong we are as a couple. Adoration, through and through. ❤

So even though we look rather beat up in this picture of us just after we got home after our 20 miler today? I’d call today’s run a fight worth fighting as hard as ever for. Worth it, worth it, worth it. 

We did this (18).

We woke up at 4:30.

We packed our fuel (healthy bites FTW!) and water.

We shuffled out the door onto the dark streets of our neighborhood.

We ran. And ran. And ran.

We watched the world wake up around us, the sun slowly rising. Shades of pink and orange. Beautiful.

We hardly spoke, but when we did, it was always words of encouragement, a quick “I love you” or a joke to break the seriousness of it all.

We saw one very beautiful butterfly flit by us (I whispered quietly “Hi Nonna…” and said to Scott “butterflies always remind me of her, she must be watching us…”)

We ran some more.

…until we suddenly were rounding the final turn towards home.

We were both surprised how seemingly quickly we were nearing the end. (Me: “can you believe we’re doing this??” Him: “yup, we’re almost done, too!”)

…and then, we ran (all 18 miles) home.

We did this (18). ❤

<<clearly I am one of few words today…I’m still pretty amazed by what we accomplished out there today, in awe really. And very, very proud…of us.>>

Sweatastic trickery (a running tip)

In case you’re wondering what running in 88% humidity looks like, here’s a good example for ya:

Hott, right? ;-P
(um, kinda hard to make my point when Scott’s all smiles in this pic tho, huh?)

But seriously, this past weekend was holy humid — starting out on Friday but really kicking in on Saturday…juuuust in time for a 9 mile 7 mile (more on this scratch out in a sec) training run. Excellent.

Let’s back up though…to Friday’s 7 miler. After teaching at barre n9ne at 6am, I was admittedly amped up and ready to run buuuut I went into it fully expecting the run to be totally hellish, for every single mile to feel like 10 miles and for my breathing to be labored and ragged.

Let’s just say I was more than surprised by how much the run didn’t suck. Or at least didn’t suck as badly as it normally would in such humid conditions. I’m gonna go ahead and chalk it up to two things — the first one is obvious: my endurance is vastly improved given marathon training. A realization that sort of snuck up on me somehow, I guess since being ‘in training’ it’s just sort of happened, been part of the process and been a slow and steady improvement kind of thing. But the other thing I realized after running in such humid conditions this weekend? I figured out a neat little trick…and I’ll tell you what it is and then you can be shocked at how simple it really is. (and then call me a dweeb for making such a big deal out of it. 😉 )

The (sweatastic) trick?
Get as sweaty as you possibly can, as fast as you possibly can. 

Yup, that’s it. Embrace the sweat and you won’t even notice how freakin’ humid it is anymore. You’ll BE the humidity. I’m half kidding but half serious here. For real, the more sweaty I got as we ran, the more I got into the run and focused less on the conditions around me. I mean, I had sweat pouring down my back, my hair was soaked, my face was beet red. I was a hot, hot, mess. But I loved it. Scarily. so.

Another tip when running in super duper humidity like we’ve had lately?
Be prepared to tweak your training. <—a hard one for me, admittedly

Yup, that’s right. Be ready to make changes…on the fly:
…slow down
…drink more water
…cut your miles down a bit.
…and be proud of yourself for sweating your ass off and getting those miles in, however many or few they may end up being.

So that’s my running tip for ya’ll today — embrace the sweatastic trickery (i.e. get as sweaty as possible as quickly as you can), and be ready to make changes to your training plans when 88% humidity comes knocking on your door. 

Because really — I think it’s damn badass to sweat like an utter pig and come away from it with a smile on your face.
Just sayin’ 😉

<< and um, hi, side note — we’re running 18 (!) miles tomorrow. OMG.>>

Of (fit) bucket lists and things

Hi friends! I’m baaaack! 🙂

And this pretty much sums up our glorious ‘lakation’ in Maine:

That would be me stealing a spot on my sister’s chair to lounge my legs on while we sat dockside for pretty much the entire trip up to the lake house. It was so perfect. Perfect time with friends. Perfect sister time. Perfect hubby time. Perfect gram and gramp time (complete with gram teaching us to make our first blueberry pie!) Perfect me time. So perfect I really can’t put words together to describe the trip properly.

…so I won’t even try. I hope you don’t mind.
(and for those of you following me on instagram, I apologize in advance for all of my annoying “omg it’s so beautiful here” pics, hehe)

In other news — I *did* successfully knock an item off of my fitness bucket list while we were away. A (fit) bucket list I’ve been keeping up with over on pinterest with lots of fun items on it, a few of which I fully intend on knocking from that list this year.

One of them is hitting that 26.2 goal of mine. 
…but you knew that already. 

The other one? Feeling confident enough to go for a run in just a sports bra and shorts. 
…seems pretty simple, right? 

But for me — this marked a pretty big milestone moment. Of me finally feeling comfortable enough in my own skin to not give a rat’s ass care what anyone thought of me (good, bad or otherwise) while I was out there running some miles. The confidence I’ve been working towards since the barre n9ne challenge first began for me last May, a confidence I’ve been chasing for years and years. A confidence in who I am today, tomorrow and forever — a confidence I’ve finally chased and snagged. And am holding onto for dear life.

So yeah, this happened:

With my sister and bestie Steph — two of my fit friends that have been right there with me on this journey of mine from the start. Quite fitting if you ask me. Also fitting? That it was muggy as all hell when we took off for our run last weekend in Maine. Holy sweatfest.

So how did it feel, you must be wondering?

To be honest, I was expecting to have some sort of an epiphany. To feel this giant rush of some sort. But instead, I felt…normal. As if I should have been / could have been doing this all along and why-did-I-wait-so-long-to-do-this sort of thing. It sort of felt like no big deal. But I guess that’s kind of the point, right? If it DID feel like a big deal, if I DID feel exposed or conspicuous or something then maybe it would mean I’m not quite ‘there’ yet. As in not quite as confident and comfortable being me as I thought I finally was.

I guess that’s my takeaway then. It was no big deal. But not because I had built it up way too much in my head and it was a giant fail. Nope. It’s because I really *am* that confident and happy person at last. I am who I am. And happily so. 

…and maybe this big 14-miler (holy PDR time!!) I have planned for tomorrow will be done sports-bra style too. Just maybe. 😉

Workouts *can* be fun (and still qualify as “badass”)

After last week’s very mental 9-miler, I’ve been trying to shift my focus a little bit. Sure, I’m in ‘training’ for my first marathon this fall, but does that mean my workouts — and really, my “me” time — need to be uber-serious and uber-structured all the time (if at all)?

I say, nope!

And this morning’s workout is total #PROOF that workouts can indeed be fun and still qualify as totally badass and totally sweatastic, too.

(note the barre n9ne sign behind us, hehe)

As you can see — we’re *still* smiling. Which is rather surprising given the workout two-fer we just put ourselves through:

— 6am barre n9ne fusion class with Julianna, who always seems to find a way to sneak in some new moves on me when I least expect it. Today was totally killer and I LOVED it. Fusion is a nice switch-up from the classes I’m used to taking and teaching since this is a barre-less class, relying on bodyweight-style moves coupled with resistance bands for strengthening while lengthening and the evil (but I love ’em) gray 1 lb balls. ❤ it.

— we oh-so-smartly followed this up by trying a new running route near the studio that would get us about 5ish miles of rundate fun in, directly after class. Rookie mistake on my part? *Not* bringing shorts to change into after class. I literally had to peel my Lululemon wunder under crops off before I could shower. Holy sweatfest.

What I loved about this workout? Sure, it was totally killer and badass and all of that good stuff, but really? It gave me time to catch up with my sis who I see a little bit less of now that she teaches in the barre n9ne studio near her and I teach at the one near me, so we don’t get nearly as many fun fitdates in as we used to. And I KNOW — 22 mins apart is TRULY nothing in the grand scheme of things, but when you’ve been spoiled by living a mere 5 minutes apart (or less) for years, it feels a heck of a lot farther.

I also loved that we were able to pull eachother up, running-wise. We’ve both battled a bit of the mental mind game thing lately so it was really good to shake that off together, chatting away as best as we could while “bunny creeping” as Jo calls it. (for the record: we only saw ONE bunny, two if you count the same bunny twice).

So this is just my little blogger PSA for ya’ll on this super-steamy winesday Wednesday: workouts *can* be fun (and still qualify as “badass”) — quit taking yourself so seriously sometimes. It’s kinda nice now and then. 😉 

A runner tempting fate

Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m a runner...tempting fate.

You see, I haven’t run since Tuesday.
…yes, TUESDAY.

And well, my legs are buzzing with energy. Sure, I’ve taken (and taught!) my fare share of barre n9ne classes this week.  And have gotten two good runs in this week so far (a speedy-Ima-puke-just-for-fun 5k with Scott on Sunday and a run-barre-rundate with this fit bestie on Tuesday).

BUT. I have yet to get that killer-good run in that will remind me that I am indeed back in training mode.
…just when I thought I was feeling bittersweet about saying goodbye to the last few weeks of un-training, and I’m sitting here actually really excited to get that “training” mode vibe back on up in here. 

I guess this means I’m ready to run.
…ready to train.
…ready to get this body ready to tackle 26.2 miles in 16 weeks, huh? <—eep!

But I digress. (I have a habit of that lately, such a spaz…)

The point of this post? To tempt fate.

I’m writing this post on Thursday night, while sitting on my nice comfy couch, eating the first cherries of the season (looooove cherries *almost* as much as I love watermelon in the summer), just thinking about my rundate planned for tomorrow with Steph.

…and I’m thinking it’s going to be a kickass, rockstar-style run.

I gotta feeling. 

And y’know what? I seriously hope I’m right or when I get back from my run to report back — with picture #PROOF of course — to ya’ll tomorrow morning (er, this morning), I’ll be really annoyed if I have to report anything less than badass status.

Maybe we should take votes?  Whatcha think? Will it be badass? yes/no?
Weigh in, please. 🙂

(and don’t worry, I won’t stretch the truth when I report back, I’m not *that* kind of blogger, trust me…far too honest for my own good sometimes!!) 

Rainy run-barre-rundate: #PROOF!

First of all – WOW am I blown away by all of your tweets, FB comments and blog comments on yesterday’s big reveal blog post. Seriously – you know how to make this girl blush like crazy!! You have no idea (or maybe you do!) how much guts it took me to finally decide to post the before/after shots all over the Internet for the world to see. I really battled whether or not I could do it / wanted to do it.

 But the bottom line for me? I wanted to show actual PROOF that hard work, lots of intention, and commitment to YOU can pay off in about five million ways.

So again, thank you for such support and love. You guys rock. ❤

While we’re on the topic of #PROOF – I couldn’t help but post about yesterday’s totally badass run-barre-rundate with bestie, Steph. It was seriously so fitting that we chose yesterday to conquer the run-barre-rundate workout on the same day that I’d recap what an incredible year at the barre I’ve had. I thought about it the entire time we were running, barre-ing and running again.

So – for those of you wondering what exactly a run-barre-rundate looks like? This is what a rainy one looks like, I’ll tell you that (kind of hard to tell where the sweat stops and the drenching from the rain starts, not gonna lie…):

This is the workout scheme we concocted last year as a way to get some running in while conquering a sweat sesh at the barre all rolled into one. I figured out that I live exactly 2.6 miles from the studio and thought it would be genius (and environmentally conscious!) to start running to the studio, taking class, and running home – when schedules (and weather) permitted.

I’ve done this run-barre-run solo but it’s way better with friends (and sisters! Miss you Jo!). And what way better than a run-barre-rundate with friends than a RAINY one, huh? Not gonna lie, it kinda felt badass. I was riding a serious barre-run high the entire day (a high that spiked every single time I read another comment from you on my post yesterday!).

Moral of this story? Even if it’s raining, get ‘er done. You’ll feel wicked badass (and WORKED) afterwards. And the post-workout shower will feel like heaven. Trust me on this one.

(Steph, really glad we did this even though we both thought about chickening out for about .32 seconds when we saw the “on-its-just-sprinkling-lets-do-this-no-wait-its-legit-raining” rain, hehe)

60 days…one year later (before/after)

This girl?

Sad. (but very few knew this)

Feigning confidence (that most mistook for genuine confidence)

Working harder, not smarter. (and getting nowhere fast)

Frustrated with her current “path.” (career path, life path, fitness path…all of it)

…I don’t even recognize this girl anymore.

This is me.

The “me” I’ve always dreamed of being but never quite got there.

The “me” that is joyfully confident and not afraid to say so.

The “me” that loves her path…career, life, fitness, all of it.

The “me” that works smarter (not harder), always.

The “me” that is the happiest she’s ever been.

…I love this girl.

Honestly – I can’t properly put words to paper to adequately describe what this past year has meant to me. And for my sis. And our sisterly bond since we set foot in the barre n9ne studio on May 12, 2011 as the inaugural 60-day challengers and barre n9ne spokesmodels.

It’s been life changing, transformational, joy-filled, intention-driven.

Sure I could sit here and tell you how many pounds I’ve lost, how many inches I’ve whittled away and how many classes I’ve taken in the past year to get me where I am today. But that’s not what this is about. The numbers part is the obvious part. You can see it in the before/after pics clearly. What’s harder to show and share is the way I’ve changed on the inside.

This picture (below) was taken on May 12, 2012, one year to the day since we started the 60-day challenge. The look on my face and my sister’s face says it all: pure joy, happiness, confidence, pride. We did this.

All I can say is this: I am blooming right where I’m planted. And loving every single fit-filled moment.
…and I owe it all to the barre (n9ne).