Marathon Training: 18 Miles

I always have to get prepared the night before. I realize I pack a little more than what I need to, but when you’re running from point A to point B and ending 18 miles away from home, well, yes, I needed a few extra things.  I was very thankful that I was able to pack a bag on Thursday to give my Mom though. She works blocks from my house. I packed a fresh set of clothes, my travel skincare, protein powder and nuun for after my run, and a towel for my hair. I realize it seems silly that I packed a towel to go to my Mom’s. I mean, obviously she has towels a plenty in her house. But I have a microfiber thing hair towel that I like to use on my hair, so I brought it. Ha. Could I do without? Absolutely. But I was packing a bag anyway, so I figured I’d just throw it in there.

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Friday night rolled around and I was getting really nervous. 18 miles would be my new farthest distance. Last year when I ran to my Mom’s house, not only was I with friends, but we were nonchalant about it – taking as much time as we needed, including stopping a few times along the way. We went 17 miles.  Because I am now marathon training, I really wanted to make sure that I was pushing myself for time. I can’t even compare the 17 miles run last year to the 18 mile run this year. I’m in a completely different placethan where I was. I actually feels weird to put that in writing. It’s only a mile more. I can see people thinking.  Sure, it might be, but there’s also so many other factors in there. One, I did 18 miles alone (for the most part. I did meet my sister at mile 14, but more on that in a bit). Two, I was trying to go for time and push myself. Three, I was way more exhausted at this point in training. I barely followed any sort of a training plan when I went to my Mom’s. I realize that isn’t the smartest thing to do, but that’s what I did. I ran on the weekends and maybe once or twice during the week, and definitely not as intense as I am running now.

But I digress.

To get ready, I needed my fuel, ID, some cash, Noxgear and headlamp and my hydration vest. Plus my keys to get back into my house. I set out the clothes I am going to wear too – that way I’m not stumbling around in the morning looking for things. I plan to have a dedicated post to how I get ready, so I’ll leave it short and simple here.

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0445 rolled around – I found myself hardcore dilly dallying. It’s really nerve wrackinggoing a distance you’ve never done before. It was also really early so I wasn’t fully awake. I spend some time making sure that my Garmin LiveTrack feature was working. Josh gets a link every single time I run, but I also had my Mom added since I was running towards her house. I texted her making sure she got the email, snapped a photo for her so she knew I had my Noxgear on and was able to be visible when running, and then I headed out the door. I walked for a block or two: I really needed to mentally prepare myself for leaving south Kenosha to run to north Racine… no turning around. “I gotta just go,” I told myself. I knew I needed to start off slower or I’d lose steam. I was proud of myself for not busting out some fast pace that I couldn’t handle for 18 miles. Starting off slow is harder than you’d think, too. But I kept a steady slow pace, making sure to just put one foot in front of the other.

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Before I knew it, I was to the start of the trail. It was just starting to get light out. Dusk is always a comforting time of day for me. I actually hate wearing a headlamp. I have tohave it tight on my head so it doesn’t bounce, but then it just hurts and feels weird… like my head is being strangled. It is not something that I have gotten used to. There are some areas where I run where I don’t need my headlamp because the streetlights are enough. But I knew I would need it today since there were a few stretches of pure darkness.  I do really like running in the dark. Well, for the most part. I wouldn’t ever run on some secluded trail by myself. I mean, what if I fell? The places I run still has some sort of car traffic,even at 0530. I’ve never felt unsafe before.  In any case, I was glad it was getting light out since my Noxgear started to flash red (meaning my batteries were almost dead). It was light enough out to be seen so I wasn’t really worried about it.

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It wasn’t until I was 8 miles in (around 0700) that I saw my first signs of humans. Which, yes, is actually rare. In the areas I normally run around, I see a handful of people running. But not so much on the trail! I really was surprised. It made me a little more aware of my surroundings. Every squirrel I heard bustling about got my attention. I don’t run with headphones in so I hear everything.  

At 0718 I hit the county line road between Kenosha and Racine. Soon after, at 0729, I hit halfway through my run. It was the point of no return. It is hard to not want to turnaround sometimes, but at least when I got halfway, I knew I didn’t really have a choice. I had planned to do the last 4 miles with my sister. She was going to meet me and run the rest of the way to my house. So I let her know when I hit 12 miles. I got to mile 14 before she was there, so I paused my watch and did a few stretches. I needed some sugar anyway, so I got out my trusty Honey Stinger Waffles.  I really like this. They are a bit messy though so unfortunately I don’t have them often. My sister got to our meeting point, and we headed out.  I knew I had 4 more miles left to go. It was hard pushing through those last couple of miles though. I really just wanted a nap.  My quads were holding strong. My my calves were tightening up more than I anticipated they would. My hips were started to tense up. DeAnna kept encouraging me that I could do it and keep going. 

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The hardest part about the run was needing to run right by my Mom’s street and keepgoing for another half mile out. I hit her road around mile 17. I wanted to just be done. Having DeAnna there really helped. So instead of turning down her road, we went a half mile down and turned around. I pushed with everything I had in order to finish the run.  I get so overwhelmed with emotions when I accomplish something I didn’t think was possible. We walked a few blocks before going back to the house. I knew that I needed to stretch. My whole body felt really tight. I hold a lot of tension in my back when I run. I’m working on a more proper form, but old habits are hard to break.

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As soon as I got to my Mom’s, I pulled out my protein powder from my my bad and had that right away while I was stretching. I took close to 15-20 minutes to stretch before taking a shower.  My original plan was to drop my car off at my Mom’s on Thursday night and have Josh drive me home, but my Mom told me that she would just take me home after my run. So I was very thankful for that since I knew I would be really tired.   That shower felt so relaxing. It was like I was washing away all the doubts I thought I had about the run. I finished it. I was still walking. And I didn’t tripall once. Ha!

As soon as my shower was done, I started getting really hungry. We decided to go to Meli’s Cafe. If you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend. The food portions are HUGE. I usually get 2.5 meals out of it. The omelet is basically the size of my head, and it comes with a side of pancakes… which are also the size of my head. I always get an omelet and pancakes because I eat the pancakes at the restaurant, and i pick at the omelet a bit, but take most of it home. Omelets and potatoes are MUCH easier to reheat then pancakes, so I save those for later.

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I was really thankful that my Mom had offered to bring me home. I would have been awake enough to drive myself home, but I’m not the biggest fan of driving, so it was nice to not have to do that. Thanks Mom! 

It made me a little more confident in my training, but also still really nervous. This run was 18 miles which was hard enough already, but knowing during the race I will have 8.2 miles more? Yikes.

Cheers to nap time.

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Oh We’re Halfway There

At this point, I definitely feel like I am living on a prayer…

 

But let’s back up a bit.

JANUARY

January seemed to creep up on me. It was as though from Sept 28th, the day I signed up for the marathon, to Dec 31st, just flew by. And all of a sudden it was January and I now had a specific schedule to follow. January didn’t seem as daunting as I thought it was going to be. I kept up my running through the end of the year – doing running between 3 miles to 5 miles max. I tried to find a balance between not wearing myself out to not January“losing my base.” I also very much so enjoy running and my running club, so it was easier to keep going through the holidays. I felt prepared for January. There were a few days in the middle of the week that I was unable to run – or even truly think about reworking my schedule – so I didn’t feel all that guilty about it. In the past, I beat myself up if I didn’t follow my schedule exactly. I found that I would let that affect the rest of that week and I would miss even more running. I swore not to do that this time.  I had an important two-day work conference. Life happens. I didn’t let myself miss any of my long runs. I typically run Sat morning – in fact, about 90% of my long runs are on Saturday morning – but if something came up, I would do it on either Fri or Sun. As long as I got the long run in, I felt great.

It is really hard to not get caught up in the numbers game. I try to have a minimum of 80 miles per month; however, I ended January with 51.90 miles. I reminded myself what more frozenoverwas to come in March and April… more than I have ever ran, so I let myself not be so focused on the number.

January had it’s challenges though. Cold weather running is a beast all on its own. I had to learn what worked and didn’t work for laying my clothes. The photos looked pretty, but it was chilly.   (Photo Frozen Over. ) We even hit some Canadian-cold weather with a -21 degree day… before windchill. And no, I did not run outside. In fact, I didn’t even get in my car to go to the gym. Our “feels like” temp was -50.  Frostbite in 5 minutes. No thanks. But alas, this was during the week so my long run wasn’t moved around.

FEBRUARY

Now, I know that this is Wisconsin, and I know what winter in the Midwest means. I’ve lived here my entire life. Snow. Cold. Dark. I was prepared for that. Well. I was more prepared for the cold than I was for the dark. The thing is, I’m actually a morning person. But there’s quite a difference in “Oh it’s 0430 and I can’t sleep, so I’m going to lay in bed Februaryand scroll through Facebook and scowl at the fact that Josh is a heavy sleeper and still sound asleep” to “Oh my gosh is 0430! I need to get out of bed and find my 576439 layers of clothes and get out the door and START RUNNING by 0500/0530.” It’s a way different feeling. The darkness made it very hard to get up.  When I was asked, “How did you get up?” “What was your motivation? It’s so early!”  Part of it is the fear of “well if I don’t slowly increase my mileage, I could overexert some muscles and pull something.” And it’s true. There are reasons that professional lay out a training plan they way they do. Slowly increasing mileage is the safest way to train. So part of my “motivation” was fear. May sound silly I realize this, but it’s the truth.

Another part is having accountability buddies. It really makes such a huge difference. I will not cancel a run if I know I’m meeting someone.  Plus, sometimes my work days are just too unpredictable. I cannot always guarantee that I can run by a certain time, so early morning plans were necessary. Did I whine about it? Absolutely. It was barely 0 degrees. We are allowed to whine about it.  I truly tried to give myself the first few minutes of running to whine about how cold it was. But that was it. Why focus on it? Unless I plan to move, this is what I get. (Let’s be real though… if I move more south, I’m going to whine about the heat in the summer…)

February is the shortest month, yet I somehow jam packed a lot of things into my month.hearthimom I started doing more cross training – which included lifting weights at the gym and snowshoeing.  I had done weight training in the past, but just never kept up with it.  Snowshoeing is a new adventure that I am learning to love. If it’s going to snow, I may as well enjoy it right?? I planned a Valentine’s Day run with the Kenosha Running Club. It was another early morning run but I have to say, making fun shapes really helps the time go by quicker!  I planned a weekend get-away in Galena with Josh the last weekend of the month (it was our 6 year anniversary), which prompted me to have to run on a Friday instead of the weekend. So I created a route for my mom as a surprise. I mapped out a “Hi Mom“- it truly helped get me through when I just wanted to be done. I closed out February with 91.60 miles. 

It might look like I have it all together. I’ve been asked for advice, “So how do you do it? How do you fit it all into your schedule?” And the truth is — I don’t. I have inner struggles every day that I don’t always advertise to people. Some days I do. Some days I don’t. I’ve had to rearrange social events. I’ve had to tell people “no you can’t come visit in March and April because I will be too exhausted to actually hang out with you.” I have really long days. I typically work 45-50 hours a week, so in order for my work to not suffer, I NEED those 0500 or 0530 runs.  I try my hardest to commit to hill training with the running club, but being somewhere by 1700 on a weekday is incredibly difficult. I’ve had to tell people “No I can’t hang out Friday night – Sat is my long run.” more times than I can count. And now, Wednesdays are up to 7 miles… starting 8 miles next week.  I’ve pushed off cleaning my house, which was NOT a good idea. It stressed me out even more.  (Don’t worry, it’s clean now! Josh and I spend 4 hours cleaning last Sunday.)  Finding a balance it really difficult. I’ve felt like I needed to apologize to people for not being around… and I’m only half-way through this journey. The next two months are going to really pick up.

Fitting in time for Josh, my family and friends, running/working out (including Hot Yoga and cross-training), my job, including some social media work on the side, meal planning and keeping up with the house and the dreaded laundry, it has left little time for blogging – which I really love to do – but most importantly, just me time. I need a mental health day.  I am trying some new time management tactics this next month, which is starting with taking a mental health day on Monday. No work. No running. No social hanging out. My plan is to go to Hot Yoga in the morning (I will need it since I’m running 15 miles on Sunday), then get my office at home organized, and then just catch up on some TV shows. Knowing myself, I will probably only be able to sit on the couch for two hours, but hey – baby steps.  Whiteboards are my new best friend and I have ordered one for my office… I’m slowly putting together a post of what’s been working and not working for time management, so after a month, I should have something ready. Boom.

“So if it’s that much work and you don’t have time for it, why are you doing it?” (Yes, I’ve actually been asked this…)  Because it’s a challenge. Because it’s pushing my beyond a point I’d never thought I’d be. Because it’s helping me grow. Because it’s helping me better my time-management. Because I’m healthier at nearly 33 than I was at 23. Because it’s teaching me discipline. Because I am capable.

Because. I. Can.

As of March 3, 2019, I am halfway through marathon training. I’m halfway there. HALFWAY! Livin’ on coffee and dreams (and carbs and Honey Stingers and protein powder) over here.

Here’s what’s to come:

March

April

(Special thanks to Molly who put together this calendar!)

On that note, Happy International Women’s Day! And thank you to everyone who has been supporting me along the way!

Cheers to early morning and frosty hair.

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New Challenges. New Beginnings: Marathon Training – How I Got Here

The second I crossed the finish line for my first half-marathon in 2016, people started asking me, “So, when’s your marathon?” Running a half-First Half-marathonmarathon for the first time was so emotional. My family was there at the finish line. I kept telling myself to “keep it together,” but I could feel my eyes started to get watery. And from so much mental fatigue, I just let it happen. A few tears had started falling down my face: first because I was just so happy to have crossed the finish line, but second because I was laughing at myself for crying in the first place. And my niece was the cutest. I wanted to hold her, but I was so exhausted, so a photo on the ground was the safest.

I did not think I’d run a marathon.

At the end of July 2016, I did one of those Inflatable races in Madison and jammed my knee. You’d think it was because of the running — nope. It was because I slid down a slid and the ground just came up too

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quickly and BOOM. My knee jammed when i hit the ground.   I did some PT stretches and weights for my knee, and I was cleared to run my half-marathon at the end of August. I knew I wasn’t going to be going for a PR, but I had already signed up with my work, and we were sponsored. So I ran it, well, I walked most of it.

I definitely did not think about running a marathon then.

I’m pretty sure I had some major runner’s high in 2016, and not because I had racked up a ton of mileage, but because I was doing new things. I had signed up for 3 half-marathons. I couldn’t tell you now what possessed me to do that. I do remember that I had signed up for these right away, not realizing how close the dates were to the last two, but I was just really ready to take on the challenge. The 3rd one was in September 2016. This half-marathon went pretty well, despite the rain. The scenic route made it easy to forget how far I had left to go.

Third Half-Marathon

Even though I had a 4 minute PR, I still didn’t think about running a marathon.

2016 running season ended. Not a marathon thought passed through my mind. It only came up when other people would ask me about running a marathon. I had zero intentions of it. “You really want me to run 26.2 miles? I think not.”

May 2017, I ran a half-marathon by myself. And, by that I mean, I trained for it alone. I drive up there alone. I had no one waiting for me at the finish line. I grabbed lunch Kings&Queens Half-Marathonby myself. And drove home by myself.  Any race that I do, I typically end up running by myself, even if I come with other people. I know everyone is at different places in their running journey, so I can’t expect someone to run NEXT to me the whole time. But Pewaukee, I was literally by myself. It was something new for me. Not having anyone around to celebrate. While that may seem sad and depressing, it was a really powerful feeling. Doing my absolute best with no one watching was oddly satisfying.

I still didn’t think about training for a marathon.

My 5th half-marathon was in Colorado. I did want to train to actually run it, but my friend was nervous about the altitude change, so we agreed ahead of time to walk it. This particular race didn’t have a time-limit, so it was perfect for that. I brought my camera and took some breathtaking photos in the mountains. It was amazing to have finished my 5th half-Colorado Half-Marathonmarathon, but there was also this feeling of “did I REALLY finish it?” just because we didn’t run it. It didn’t feel as much like an accomplishment as the rest of my races, but I was still really happy that we did it.

I most definitely didn’t think about training for a marathon after this.

October 2017 was the most emotional race I have ever run (even to date.) My brother-in-law’s grandma had passed and running was something he turned to. He expressed interest in running a half, so I said I would do it with him. He trained with his daughter Baylee, pushing her in the stroller every mile. He was THE ONLY one who pushed a stroller in the

screenshot_20190211-165931.pnghalf-marathon.  This race wasn’t even my best time. I actually got sick half-way through it (pretty sure it was from what I had eaten the night before). So not only was there a ton of emotion from pushing through a stomach ache, but seeing my family and Chris at the finish line… I don’t think there will ever be words to describe that.  This could be an entire blog post as it is, so I’ll leave you with our photo.

And, yup, you guessed it — I still didn’t think about a marathon!

 

 

This was of great surprise to a lot of people. I had finished 6 half-marathons with no intention of running a marathon.  I wanted to set some more challenging

2018

goals for 2018, but a marathon just wasn’t one of them. And I was 100% okay with this decision. It wasn’t something that weighed heavily on me. Not one bit. No one was going to make me feel guilty for not running a marathon. I decided to do Ragnar, so that was a huge step for me. And I also wanted to beat my half-marathon time.  I knew I would need to change what I was doing for training. I had slacked on cross-training: whether it was weight lifting or swimming or literally ANYTHING else other than running. My friend Sarah convinced me to sign up at the Kenosha YMCA with her, so I did.  I also signed up to run 2,018 miles in 2018 with my friend Sokhon as a team of 2. (So 1,009 miles a person).  My highest mileage ever for a year was around 650 or so. So shooting for 1,000 scared me.

March 3rd, 2018

My first run with Kenosha Running Club. And the day my life changed — I just didn’t know it yet. I felt so accepted. The first thing I told Josh was, “I found my people.”  I made more and more friends who I eventually opened up and shared my goals with:

  • Running 1,000+ miles in a year
  • Running Ragnar
  • Getting a half-marathon PR
  • Running from my house in Kenosha to my mom’s house in Racine.

I will save the anticipation — I accomplished every single one of these goals. Every Single. One.

My half-marathon was May 5th. I shaved off another 3 mins from my PR time. screenshot_20190211-171855.png

I did not think about running a marathon.

Ragnar was May 18th-19th. This should really be another blog post as well.  My three legs weren’t very long, but running on no sleep, and not a lot of food was challenging! screenshot_20190211-172032.pngI did not think about running a marathon..

Looking back, though.. the next few months is when the seeds started to get planted. I just didn’t know it yet.  Throughout the next few months of making friends in KRC, I had expressed how I wanted to run from my house in Kenosha to my mom’s house in Racine — and some of my friends hopped right on board! 17 miles. It would be the longest I had ever run.  Also during these few months, I was asked to do the Ragnar Trail in Sept. It would perfectly align with running to

my mom’s  so I hopped on board to that too!

When the day came to run to my mom’s I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going 17 Miles to be. But there was just not any pressure to be done by a certain time. The day before, I dropped my car off at my mom’s along with everyone’s bag for a change of clothes. I planned the route, including where all the gas stations were for water and bathroom breaks. I was prepared. It was the most fun run I have ever done. We even joked about how we weren’t that far off from the marathon training plan.

For the first time ever, I toyed with the idea of running a marathon.

Ragnar Trail

Ragnar trail came and went, and marathon training was in the back of my head.

“You know, when you train for a marathon, you only run up to mile 20. You’ve ran up to 17 miles already. That’s only 3 runs that you haven’t run the distance for yet.”

 

 

 

And that’s how it happened.

Three weeks after running to my moms and running my second Ragnar trail, it hit me. I COULD do this. I knew I had the support system. I had so many people I could run with. Okay, so there were also margaritas involved.  BUT, whenever people ask me why I decided to run a marathon- it just isn’t quite a simple answer. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around running a half-marathon, and here I am training for a marathon.

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I’m going to honest though, It still doesn’t quite feel like I am training for a marathon yet. The distances I’m running now are all for a half-marathon. I think my mind is secretly tricking me, but I’ll figure it out real quick after the end of this month when I’m not stopping at 13 miles…

I plan to post more of my marathon chronicles every Monday. Time got a little away from me, but better late than never!

Cheers to sore legs.

 

 

According to Megan

I’ve been trying to revamp what my blog is for me for the entirety of 2018. I like a lot of things so it’s always been hard to try and have a “brand.” Well, I’m semi-throwing that out the window and doing what I want.

I’m changing my Facebook page and this blog from “Creative Imaginations” to “According to Megan.” Creative Imaginations just wasn’t fitting anymore for this blog. I used to do a ton of poetry and short little excerpts. So it made sense then. I created this blog in 2011 and picked a title on a whim, never thinking too much about it. I didn’t know a lot about social media. I didn’t understand much about marketing.

Oh times are a-changin’.

I have found myself always getting asked for recommendations, whether someone is going on vacation to somewhere I have been, or what local spot to try out, or what festival is going on, or even what wines would be the best for them. I really enjoy doing that. It didn’t really dawn on me that I could just be making my posts more about this. Especially because it is very easy to add links and have it be a very nice reference.

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I started to put some of my recommendations on Instagram — that’s where this idea started to blossom. At first, I was going to try and just stick to Kenosha, but that’s not me. I love travelling. Josh and I go somewhere every year. We do a few-mini weekend road trips, but we fly one place every year. There was no way I could just market myself to just Kenosha.

Plus, I know a few amazing Instagramers and bloggers who already do that.

Two other passions of mine are photography and running. I joined the Kenosha Running Club this year and PhotoKenosha last year. KRC has been just absolutely life-changing. (That is another blog itself… so stay tuned!!) And I’ve learned so much in photography. (Even more blogs to come!) I couldn’t pick just one of these to talk about!

I tried thinking of a name, but I didn’t want to try and get “trapped” with only writing about one thing. I even tried combine a few names together – like running and photos. I didn’t like that either. There was no way that I could combine all the words that I could use to describe this blog.

“According to Megan” was born.

What you’ll expect to find me writing about:

  • Running
  • Photography
  • Kenosha
  • Travel (tips, places, recommendations along the way)
  • Wine (and other alcohol related things)
  • Relationships (i get asked this a lot because Josh is introverted and I am not. Among a few other things as well, but that’s the biggest one.)
  • … and who knows what else!

What will remain the same:

  • My photography blog (click) and my photography IG (click) will both remain under “Creative Imaginations” since that is what makes the most sense!
  • This blog will keep the same url, but I’ll be revamping the photos at some point.
  • #Caffeinatedopinions (click) will still be active, but with no set schedule. I don’t have near the interest that I thought I would. And that’s totally okay! Live and learn!

I have my first official post as “According to Megan” set to go up Sunday. ❤

XOXO,
Megs

The Art of Maybe

Do you know how many drafts I have saved for blog ideas? Or actual blogs I just never posted?

Go ahead. Take a guess.

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32!!!

Thirty-two blogs.

I never realized how much I’ve wanted to say, but just don’t say until I look at that number. I’m sure there will be people out there who say, “well, why won’t you just post it then?”

See, here’s the thing.

We have freedom of speech. Everyone knows that it’s supposed to be a right.  BUT. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without consequences. You can’t just go around saying whatever you want to say and expect nothing to happen. Do you have the right to say it? Sure of course you do. However, once you put something out on the internet, it is there forever. Forever is a long time. And ONE thing… some simple thing…can change someone’s perspective on you.

“But Megan, stop caring what other people think about you.”

Honestly, that’s bullshit. It’s so easy to say for people who have anonymous blogs. I do think the majority of us deep down care what other people think about us. I sure do. I have opinions. LOTS of them. But is it worth sometimes coming off like a jerk just to exercise the freedom of speech? Not really, no.

Okay, I hear ya. “Well, if you aren’t even saying what you want to say, then are you even being real? Is this your fake personality.”

No. No it isn’t. I don’t write about things that are false. I don’t fake an opinion. I just chose what to write about and not write about… publicly. I have had plenty of conversations in person with family and friends that I would never post on my blog. It’s censorship of my blabbering mouth. Not a fake personality.

I’m not here to talk about huge world issues, specifically politics or religion. And I do think it’s very easy to stay away from those topics if I’m being truly honest; however, I think that fear still trickles down into the rest of my writing when it shouldn’t.

Maybe it is because I grew up before social media.

Maybe it is because I don’t really believe in my writing.

Maybe it is because I’m afraid people don’t really know my sense of humor.

Maybe I’m just straight up lazy.

Maybe I’m out of ideas.

I don’t know. But year after year I have some sort of an excuse to not keep up with my writing. (Or I do keep up and just not post it.)

There comes a time where all the maybes start defining who you are as a person. And it defines your writing style. All the maybes start becoming a firm no. “No do not post that.” “No you cannot say those things.” There are no longer any debates about what to do.

And you know what the irony is?

I like to write about wine, food, running, and travelling. And the occasional poem, which I haven’t shared in a very long time. Literally none of that is political or racial or controversial. Will people have opinions on it? of course. It’s the internet and people can’t scroll passed a meme about peanut butter and jelly without complaining about it. I do have thick skin when it comes to comments and corrective criticism. In fact, I always embrace it. When corrective criticism is actually that, and not “i’m going to tell you something mean just to be an asshole,” it really does help us grow.

What I’m saying is that maybe I just really don’t have an excuse as to why I’m a terrible blogger. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Hopefully I can pull myself together at some point to actually write from time to time!

Until then!

Cheers.

Happy One Year, Prius! 🚗

Happy belated one year to my car! ✌️ I’ve done so many fun things this last year! I put about 15K on my car and I’m not even mad about it:

I started off my New Year in January with a trip to the Dells with Sokhon, Monica and their girls.

In March, I drove to Madison with Ally and DeAnna to meet up with Sokhon to run the Shamrock Shuffle that kicked my ass. ☘️

In May I drove to Pewaukee by myself to run my 4th half-marathon.

In June, I drove to Chicago with DeAnna for Emily’s bachelorette party and then the longest road trip I’ve ever taken: Ally and I DROVE to Denver, Colorado Springs, and Georgetown, CO. Nebraska is booorrringggg. Yes we drove the whole way. We toured around Colorado and even walked a half-marathon in Georgetown. Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs was gorgeous. But lemme tell ya, DRIVEing down the mountains was SCARY! 🏔️🗻

In August, I drove to Mackinac Island with Justin, DeAnna, and Josh to surprise my mom. She had no idea we planned to come to surprise her. Such a fun family vacation! The very next weekend, Josh and I drove to Door County to celebrate Janelle and Andrew’s wedding. 💍 I was so honored to be a bridesmaid!  And the next weekend after that, Sokhon drive down from La Crosse and then I spend to the Metra station so we could get to Chicago for LADY GAGA.

In September, Josh took me to my first metal music festival: Sonic Boom in Janesville. 🤘

In October, i drove to Milwaukee to run a half-marathon with my brother-in-law Chris, who was running his first. Such an emotional race! I also drive to Chicago with DeAnna to run the Hot Chocolate 15K race. Her longest race length to date! So so proud of both of them! 🏃

In November, Josh and I drove to Chicago to have a date night and watch the Packers win against the Bears.

This month in December, we drove to Door County to have a relaxing night away and stock up on wine. 🍷

From Oct – Dec, I completed a Photography Certificate from UW-Parkside. 📸

So many fun things happened this year!!  And the above are the ones I used my car for!! Crazy! Josh and I also went to St Louis for his 30th birthday to see Iron Maiden, but we took his car. DeAnna and I drove to La Crosse to go camping, but she drove. I attended a few more races, planned a few girls nights, and made many many many trips to the grocery store.

But the biggest thing… NO MORE METRA!!! This was the first year in a very long time that I haven’t been on train time. And it’s been amazing!

Can’t wait for 2018. ❤️🍷✌️

“Creative Imaginations Photography” Officially Launched

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For as long as I can remember, I have always loved photography. I never took the time to really learn the craft. As a child, I had a disposable camera that I would take photos of my dog Abby. Yes, the ENTIRE roll was of her: dressing her up and trying to get the perfect shot. I should dig up those photos at my mom’s to share. They are quite comical. 

Quite a few years ago, my sister Adrienne received a nice DSLR camera: Nikon D3000. I took a slight interest in it, but I was in college at the time. I didn’t live at home. And, to be honest, I did not have the disciple to learn. I had a post back in 2011 of some of the first photos I ever took with my sisters camera. You can see them here. We all have to start somewhere, right?

While I loved borrowing my sister’s camera from time to time — Thank you, Adrienne!! — I still did not really know what I was doing. I knew nothing about photography. I shot in fully automatic mode. I got mad because “the camera didn’t work right.” Aka, user error.  I put “learning photography” on my bucket list and never pursued it.

Until this year.

A friend of mine and I planned a road trip to Colorado. I knew this was just the PERFECT time to learn. We officially booked the trip early 2017. Our trip wasn’t until June.  I spent nearly 4 months researching cameras and another month researching about lenses. I finally decided on the Canon T6i. Of course if I had a few extra thousand bucks in my back pocket, I would have picked the 5D Mark III. And you know what, even if I did have that extra money laying around, I would still start off slower. What if I ended up not really liking it? I know there’s always an option to sell a camera, but what a hassle. I do want to capture a lot of life moments so at least if photography didn’t end up being a huge passion of mine, the T6i didn’t break the bank.

In any case, I found myself in the internet black hole with watching countless hours of Youtube videos. It’s all so fascinating to me. I love learning the reasons why the camera functions the way it does.

Colorado was beautiful. Although I hadn’t taken any official classes at that point, I did get some beautiful scenery shots while we were there. But it piqued my interest even more.  I enrolled in a Photography Certificate through UW-Parkside. 20 class (40 hours), plus an additional 2 classes (4 hours) of a Lightroom workshop.  I had saved up the money to do it so I jumped into it head-on.

I am currently just over halfway through my classes. I went from shooting in fully auto mode to shooting in manual. I have learned SO MUCH about my camera. More than I ever would have by myself. I fell more in love with photography that I quickly snagged up my friend’s children to practice taking their photos. I was also taking photos during my lunch breaks. I have my camera with me all the time.  My camera has already been to Denver & Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mackinac Island, Michigan, and St Louis, Missouri — all done in three short months! June, July, & August were some very busy months! 

I even started up a separate website for my photography. It took me over 2 months to really start setting everything up. I’m happy to announce that it is officially launched!

I’d be honored if you hopped on over to check it out!

 

Creative Imaginations Photography

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This was the first photo I took of the rain while trying to get that bokeh effect. I loved how it turned out so much that I have ended up using it on my website.

There are still a few updates that I will be doing on my photography page, but it’s at the point where people have asked to see more of my photos and to start booking with me so I wanted to get something together. I can’t wait to learn more and more about the craft!

Thank you!

Megan Elizabeth

#BloggingFundamentals – Day Four: Identify Your Audience

Day Four: Identify Your Audience

We often create posts hoping that a specific person (or persons) will see our work. Who’s your ideal reader?

Today, publish a post you’d like your ideal reader to see, and include a new-to-you element.

Here’s how:

  1. First, brainstorm the kind of person you hope will read your blog. What do you want to say to them?
  2. Next, start your new post by clicking on the button below. Remember to include a media element (an image, a video embed, etc.) you haven’t experimented with yet.
  3. Finally, give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

Writing with a specific person in mind is a great way to focus your thoughts and goals. Exploring new media elements adds more tools to your storyteller’s toolbox and helps engage your readers.

 

I decided to join “Blogging Fundamentals.” to try and challenge myself to write more and learn more about the WordPress community.  I did not do the first two days. Day One was a “why are you here” type of entry, which I have done in a previous WordPress class. You can read that here.  And Day Two was to create a tagline. These two are more geared to people who have never blogged before, so I skipped them since I already had that part done. Day Three was about connecting more with other bloggers. So the last two days I spent time searching through blogs and finding other people with common interests. I followed quite a few bloggers and commented on a lot of posts.

This brings us to “Day Four: Identifying the Audience.”

This is something I’ve always struggled with, since I never really had an audience in mind. I started off writing poetry, which was mainly for myself. I started writing about running a lot in hopes to connect with other runners. And then I started #CaffeinatedOpinions recently, which I am really enjoying so far.  I took a leap of faith that this would be something that people would be interested in reading so I hope to not be too boring. 😁

I can’t and won’t try to categorize my ideal audience. But instead, I want my audience to be respectful of others and open minded. People are too offended by everything these days. I of course everyone is entitled to their opinions – I have enough of my own – but I also do not ever want to see people others down for their ideas and opinions. I want to create an open and safe place for people to respectfully discuss topics.  I realize that this is nearly impossible to do, but I will always try my best to see every aspect I can. 

Until next time 

Megan Elizabeth 

When You Run, You Win the Day

Megan, that is some life you’ve already had for a young person. Judging by the progress on your bucket list it seems like you’re winning… Depression is, rightly, being more recognised and accepted as an illness. Have you found (or not) that your running helps you in this regard? Oh, and what’s your target time for your half-marathon?

Roy McCarthy
Blog: https://backontherock.com/

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Hi Roy!

Thanks for stopping by! I definitely feel like I’m winning at life, although, I cannot say that I always have felt this way. Our inner struggles might make us who we are, but understanding them is quite difficult. It isn’t until we truly understand and accept what lies within us, that we can overcome it.

I shut a lot of people out at an early age. I was seven when my parents got divorced, and, for a long time, I thought it was my fault. (Mom, I know you’re reading this, so don’t worry, I haven’t felt this way in ages. Love you!) I wasn’t one of those kids who turned to the school books to distract me. I was a very average child when it came to school. But sports kept me going. I started basketball in 5th grade and, while I wasn’t the best on the team, I certainly wasn’t the worst. Our practices in grade school weren’t very intense — I mean, we were in grade school, not in college — but going to practice and running up and down the court and learning the plays kept me occupied enough to not have to think about depression.

In every single stage of my life, running and sports have pulled me through. I have something to focus on. Something that didn’t necessarily require me to engage with other people emotionally. I had my teammates and while I didn’t trust them to keep any of my secrets, I trusted that they wanted to win as much as I did so we performed well as a team.

It was funny though… I always had this want to be around people. I didn’t like being alone. I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t know how to be alone. I would surround myself with my basketball or volleyball teammates, but not have any friends. They were my teammates. They were not my friends. I had a very very small group of friends once I got to high-school, but it was a very close-knit group of about 5 girls. And that’s it. But I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Now my experience and thoughts on my actual high-school days isn’t all that revolutionary. High-school is high-school. Filled with unnecessary drama and a lot of awkwardness. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of people in high-school have suffered depression to a certain degree. I was wont who turned to sports because of it.

Throughout college, I dealt with failing a few classes, switching majors, boyfriend drama, the death of my grandma and my grandpa within a year and a half of each other, learning the hard way how to handle money which lead me to $0 to my name, transferring schools and switching my major again. But through all of that, the one thing I really enjoyed was volleyball. I was on the Club Volleyball team at my first college, and then I joined an intramural team at the second college. Since I started volleyball in 7th grade, there had not been one year that passed where I didn’t play on a team. (Even to this day! I play sand volleyball every summer.) Going to practice and focusing on how to better pass the ball or how to serve in the spot I wanted to – those things kept me from falling into the trap of self-loathing. I have always had the tendency to get into a slump and focus on the bad things in my life. It wasn’t a constant throughout my entire college experience, but it happened often enough to affect my friendships and relationships. Admittedly, I wasn’t all that great at dealing with it in college. I thankfully have a few friends from that time in my life who stuck around. Most of my friendships from then faded away, but that isn’t something I dwell on anymore.

Ironically, I didn’t really enjoy running all that much until after college. I was a seasonal runner for the longest time. I would run only during the summer, and it was never consistent. About a year and a half ago, I really started getting into running. June 18th 2016 I ran my first half-marathon ever. I ran two more after that. And thus year, I have three more scheduled in the books. I finally call myself a runner. And not even a seasonal runner – I have ran in all of the seasons. The hottest it’s been was around 90 and the coldest has been around 15 degrees F. I’ve rain in pouring rain and snow. Not going to lie, I felt pretty bad ass running in the snow.

runRunning has become such a lifeline for me. And, to be honest, I really wish I would have started running sooner. Because running releases endorphins, it just makes me feel like a rockstar when I’m done running. And that will happen to everyone. I really believe it will. Now, don’t let running fool you. It is very much so a mental game. I can’t tell you how many times I have said “WHY AM I DOING THIS?” or “I HATE RUNNING” while I was running. But I have never once been done with a run and said “well that wasn’t worth it.” Because it’s worth it every single time. It’s almost like an addiction at this point. A healthy addiction. Now if that isn’t an oxymoron!

Running or any other form of exercise has been proven time and time again to help reduce stress levels and help lower your depression. The endorphins that get released while exercising interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

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If anyone is looking to start running, just know that it is never too late! I’ve read about so many 90 year olds, yes ninety, that still run – some of whom didn’t even start to pick up running until well after retirement. I encourage people to try the Couch to 5K app. It’s amazing. It helped me get started with running. You can find their website here for more information: http://www.c25k.com/ It’s a free app as well, so there’s nothing to lose!

When you run, you win the day.

Love always,
Megan
#CaffeinatedOpinions

P.S. My current half-marathon PR is 2:46:33. I have a half-marathon coming up May 13th that I’m shooting to shave off 10 minutes. Big goal for me!

 

 

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Thank you everyone for reading!

Feel free to submit your questions HERE (not in the comments)

How To Adjust Living With Your Significant Other

Dear Megan,

My boyfriend and I moved in together recently. About 4 months ago.  We have been dating for almost 3 years now and thought we should take the next stop in moving in together. We are having a hard time living together. We never really fought and now we do. Is this normal? I feel like all we do now is fight. And it is about the silliest things, too. I thought moving in would be like a fun little sleepover every day, but I don’t really want to come home now. What can we do? Is not getting along like this a sign?

Thanks for taking the time to read my pathetic question!

Anonymous-BW

BW –

First, your question is in no way pathetic. We’ve all been there! Second, it’s totally normal!  Think of it this way – you both had your own space for 4 years of your relationship. (Whether or not you had roommates, since i’m unsure what your living situation was current to now). But you had space away from each other.  Living together is a whole different ball game. Josh and I will have lived together four years this coming August and we are still learning things.

You really get to find out a lot of habits from your significant other that you might not have known before. For example: Dishes.  When Josh and I got our own house two years ago (we had roommates prior), I was pretty adamant that as soon as we were done eating, we would clean the kitchen. Josh on the other hand, would leave dishes for the next day… or two or three. It would drive me absolutely insane. To come home from work and see a messy kitchen stressed me out. Instead of talking about it, I just did dishes. While I was doing dishes, I would be super upset. I wouldn’t even want to talk to Josh, and let me tell you, if he even thought to ask me “What do you want for dinner?” I would have lost my cool. (more on this question later!) However, Josh would see me do the dishes and just think I didn’t mind doing them. And because I didn’t ask for help, well, I must be good. So he would do something else… Well, that caused fights. What I was interpreting as “ugh he never wants to help me – why can’t he just offer to help?” He was interpreting as, “Oh how sweet – she’s doing the dishes for me.”

We have to remember that we cannot read each other’s minds. After I asked him a few times to help me, he did without question. He just didn’t know that I would have preferred help. He assumed I was fine doing them alone. And I assumed he was being a talklazy brat. Since we’ve talked about it, he actually washes the dishes more than I do. I will dry them and put them away. It’s a system that works for us. I don’t particularly enjoy putting my hand in dirty water and cleaning food off dishes. Obviously I will if I have to, but it grosses me out. And don’t even get me started at how peanut butter smells after hot water ran over it. Plus, I enjoy painting my nails, so I have definitely complained about them chipping more often. (Yes I do actually wear gloves). So, he washes, I dry.

It’s been said time and time again, that communication is key. And it’s so very true. You should talk to your significant other about chores. It sounds juvenile, but I can bet that it will help. You each might have different ideas of what to do when.

Laundry schedule: This one can be tough depending on work schedules, too. Josh and I both have a Monday – Friday job. Although he typically has to work Saturdays for overtime. Josh will do his laundry during the week, and I’ll usually do mine on Saturday when he’s working. But definitely talk about if you will do each other’s laundry, too. Josh is not allowed to do my laundry and he knows that. I’m too particular. However, he doesn’t mind if I do his laundry, although he’s pretty good about keeping up with it himself.

Bathrooms: I highly highly recommend having two bathrooms, if possible, when you live with another person. It can be 1.5 baths, but just two places to go to get ready, especially if you need to get ready at the same time. Are you a night or morning showerer? I take showers at night and Josh takes them in the morning. If you are both on the same schedule, then make a plan.  Cleaning the bathroom. Not the funnest, but it’s gotta be done.

BILLS: this is a big one. A lot of couples don’t want to talk about money, but it’s one thing that couples argue about the most. Do you want to switch off months? (he pays one mmoneyonth then you pay the next). Does he put all the bills in his name and then you just pay
him half?  It’s easier to split bigger grocery bills since their registers can split it, but what happens if you go grocery shopping alone? Do you want to open an account together to dump money into and then use THAT for bills? Do you want to keep track of who spends what each month? If someone makes more money, will they take on a little more of the bills or is everything 50/50? Talking about bills can be an awkward conversation, but it needs to happen.

Days away: Always make sure to spend time with your own friends. Go out and do something – even if it’s just a short amount of time, or a weekend getaway. Don’t ignore your friendships. I know it’s super tempting to always want to hang out with your significant other, but you also can’t shove others aside.

Be courteous: Are you running late? Did you get stuck at work? Let them know so they aren’t worried about you. A quick “i’m running late” makes anxious people like myself feel more at ease. Just be mindful that if someone tells you they are running late or got stuck at work, to not grill them right away about why. You live together. Ask them later. Are you going to the grocery store without them? Ask if they need anything. Are you making dinner plans with someone else? Let them know so they aren’t expecting to have dinner with you.

Don’t stop dating. As lovely as it is to sit on the couch and binge watch your favorite TV show, it will get old after a while. Make a monthly date somewhere. It doesn’t need to be fancy.  Josh and I love going to Wine Wednesdays – a wine bar in our town does half price datingbottles of wine, so we will go there and order a few glasses (thank you Uber – please don’t drink and drive, guys!) and just talk and enjoy each other’s company. These are NO PHONE dates. If we are just sitting on the couch, let’s be real, we are both screwing around on our phones. And that’s normal and totally fine. Just don’t whip out your phone while on a date.  And wine not your thing? Do something else! Check to see what’s in your town. Do you have a place to place darts or pool? Josh and I don’t always go out. We have found some fun 2-player games and we will sit at home and play a game. But don’t stop dating.  Josh and i made that mistake and fell into the trap of “work-come home-cook-eat-clean up-binge watch TV-bed” and that’s it. Not only did we gain weight, but we got bored of each other and then we started into a routine of he did his thing and I did mine and I barely talked to him for months. That was not a good time.  So, definitely do one or two no phone date nights.

And to include in the dating part, try and surprise them every now and then. I’ve put little “hello handsome” notes in Josh’s lunch or just decided to do a deep clean on the house when he was gone working on Sat and I was at home and he came home to a nice clean house…. guess who got a foot rub then… I did!

You will eventually learn that “what’s for dinner?” is a dangerous question. I don’t know how many times couples fight about this. And it seems such a silly thing to fight about. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there, Done that. But I have a few ideas on how Josh and I have avoided this fight in a very long time.  The first thing to note, is that before you decide to surprise someone, make sure you know what they like and don’t like for foods. I definitely found that Dinnerout the hard way when cooking for Josh. He hates Thyme! Imagine that. It totally ruined the French Onion Soup for him. I thought it was great, but hey, it left him hungry. Oops. But second, have a no fail back up plan. My favorite food is anything Mexican. So, if I ask Josh “what would you like for dinner?” And he says “I don’t know,” then tacos it is. If he has a suggestion or something he wants, then we can go for it, but an “i don’t know” means tacos.  Now, if Josh asks ME what I want for dinner, and I don’t really know (or truly don’t care), then it’s Chinese take out. So if I don’t want takeout, I better speak up. That is our no-fail way to NOT fight about dinner. And for the love of goodness, please don’t say “I don’t care” when you actually do. If you say “I don’t care” or “I don’t know” and the other person gives a suggestion, you better not say “Well, no not that.” Sorry, you lost your chance by saying “I don’t know.” 🙂

I can’t reiterate enough about “we can’t read each other’s minds.” SO SO SO often when I’m talking with either my siblings or my friends, I hear situation get out of control for no reason:

“Oh my gosh, he hasn’t texted me back in a few hours so he must be mad at me. I don’t even want to talk to him now.”
–> He was at work and left his phone in the car. mind reader

“There’s all this laundry to fold and she decided to go out with her friend instead? This place is a mess! I guess I’ll fold this myself again.”
–> Her friend was having a bad night and she planned to finish folding laundry when she got home.

“Seriously?? Why are these empty cans just sitting here on the counter? The recycling bin is RIGHT HERE. ugh, i’ll just crush them myself I guess.”
–> He brought up the cans to crush later, but wanted to finish a video game first.

I could go on and on with those examples, but I think you all get the idea. It’s very very easy to jump to conclusions. We all do it. I’m very guilty of this. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Every single relationship is so different. If something is bothering you, talk about it. We all have good days and bad days. But it’s better to ask and then find out you’re overreacting than to sit and wonder.

I highly highly recommend reading “The 5 Love Languages.” You can even buy the book on Amazon, too.

Living together can definitely be like a sleepover every night. It took us about a year and a half to really figure it out. But I can honestly say that once we learned all those little things about each other, it turned into the “sleepover” kind of feel more often. Give your relationship time to flourish. Even though you’ve been together for a while, there’s still a lot to learn.

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Love always,
Megan
#CaffeinatedOpinions

 

 

 

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Thank you everyone for reading!

Feel free to submit your questions HERE (not in the comments)