New Year, Same Me

Oh hello 2021!

It’s that time of year when everyone reflects on the year and talks about how they are going to improve themselves the upcoming year: going to the gym more, working out, being a better person… whatever that may be.

I’ve never really been one to make resolutions in January. If I have a goal I’m thinking about, I don’t wait. Whatever month I am in, I just think about a plan of execution and go for it. Rarely is it in January. That is not to say that everyone who makes resolutions in January is doing it wrong. There is no wrong way to make goals. 🙂 I do however end up reflecting a lot in January. Part of that is because everyone else is. I see people doing recaps of the the year and seeing their own reflections of their lives so I end up getting reflective myself.

2020 threw us all for a loop. There isn’t one person who posted on January 1, 2020 that could have predicted what 2020 was going to bring. We posted about goals. We posted about our travel plans. We posted about all the things that we wanted to do in 2020… But surprise to us all, that didn’t happen. The inner battles we all fought and kept quiet will stick with us until we mentally deal with what we went through. Our human emotions are complicated and complex. While we know deep down that 2020 brought on external factors that kept us from doing what we wanted it, it’s still really hard mentally to accept the fact that we set out to do something and couldn’t. Even though we know there was nothing that we could do about it. We still blame ourselves. (At least I know I do.)

And it doesn’t matter to what extend that goes. A small goal and a large goal are relative. Whether it’s eating healthy, working out more, traveling to X amount of countries, trying to be a more patient person, stopping/cutting down on drinking alcohol, reading X amount of books, saving money, making your bed every day… what is a small goal to one may be a large goal to another. Regardless, not hitting a goal of whatever size, quite frankly, sucks. No one likes making a goal and not hitting it. We all needed to adapt in some way, shape, or form this year.

As we were living through 2020, it may have seemed like the worst year we could have ever lived through, but I’m going to try to choose to remember the good. Key word: try.

  • I started of New Years at my sister and BIL’s house with news that she was pregnant with their third. Wednesday morning breakfast club runs were in full swing, and I even started 5am weight training workouts at Westosha on Thursdays. Monday nights I was signed up for a run/yoga class at the Y which helped with my interval training.
  • February we had our KRC winter party and drank a bit much and danced the night away like there wasn’t a care in the world. I was consistently going to my nieces swimming classes Wed nights. I loved seeing their progress. I also started going to vinyasa hot yoga regularly and fell in love with the practice.
  • In march, I went with a friend to get her first tattoo. I went to my first ever swing dancing lesson in Milwaukee. And then in the middle of the month, we went on lockdown. It was then that I started a snapchat streak with my coworker Lisa. We joked that we should do it until we were back into the office again… (As of 1/15/21, we are on day 295). Joke’s on us right?
  • April brought on my 34th birthday. And while celebrated physically alone, it was my first zoom party. We had about 30 people in and out of zoom meetings… a bunch of us got waaaaasted. And thankfully no one had to drive home. It was an experience I never thought that I would have. Lizzie ran her first marathon, which we socially-distanced and supported her by driving on her route and waving. I also started my house buying journey.
  • May brought warmer weather and the first time I could see Ian in 2 months (since he was locked on base since March). We spend every day together for 2 weeks before he had to go back to base for lockdown for another month. While I was sad to see him go, I was just grateful for the time that we had. Along with the availability of online communication. I had also video chatted more people than I ever thought I would. I was able to reconnect with friends.
  • June was when I finally found a house that got an accepted offer. It was quite the journey, (I had put in offers 2 times and lost before getting this one accepted), so it was a huge weight off my shoulders to finally find something that I was excited to call home. June was also when I found out that my sister DeAnna was pregnant. Volleyball league was still going on despite COVID, but it was outside and I welcomed it. My nephew Jonah was born on June 21st.
  • July was Melissa’s first marathon, and I was so happy to be a part of running that distance with her and planning a surprise finish line. I was also grateful during this time for everyone who donated boxes so I could pack up my apartment life and get ready for homeowner life.
  • August brought on some interesting challenges. I needed to move out of my apartment at the end of July, but my house wouldn’t be done getting repainted for a few weeks. Ian was ever so grateful to let me stay with him and it was during that time that we realized we wanted to live together. My nephew Grayson was born on Aug 3rd. I also ran my first ultra on Aug 7th. There are no words to describe how thankful I am for the support I received during my run and my training. I had people hop in and out to run with me, or just to drive by and honk, but Lizzie biked the entire 50K with me and Melissa biked the last 20 mi. I value these friendships so much. A week later, Richard ran 50 miles and I was his bike support for 30 miles of it. I realized how much I enjoyed doing bike support!
  • Ah September. My least favorite month (even pre-COVID), but this time around, it was also one of favorite months. Least favorite just because it is a crazy work month, but my favorite for so many reasons. Ian and I officially officially moved in together, and I was able to surprise him for his 30th birthday with his family and best friend who came out from Cali here to Wisco. It’s the best surprise I’ve pulled off yet. And to top it off, I was able to celebrate one of my best friends Melissa finish her first ultra. Lizzie was a champ again and rode her bike for the full 35 miles. And I was able to help make her laugh the last few miles of her race. It made me sooo happy to see her accomplish that.
  • October was another long month with long work hours, but I still got in a few socially distance nights with some wine and friends. October was also when I decided to run 35 miles for my 35th birthday in April. I needed something to keep me going during the winter. I didn’t want to rely on a race to keep e motivated when 2021 may still have cancelled races due to COVID. So doing it on my own terms felt like my best (and more fun) option.
  • November I finally got to see Sokhon after lord knows how long… over a year? I’m not even sure. Too long that’s for certain. But I was happy she got to see the house!
  • December was a bit more of an emotional roller coaster that I would have liked, but the holidays made it better. Ian and I celebrated our one year together. We got a real tree. I may have nearly had a heart-attack while watching him climb on our roof to put up Christmas lights, but they looked so pretty.

Funny enough, after I wrote this entire blog above the separator line the first week of January, I told myself that I would finish it up and get it posted and make sure to start posting regularly. Somehow it’s January 15th, and I hadn’t finished it so here we go.


New year, same me. I still can’t keep to my blog schedule, but I’m keeping to my running schedule. Progress, right?

I need to look back at 2020 and not think how much it sucked that so many things I wanted to do were cancelled. Three trips: Montana for a half marathon with Kristy in June, a Trail Sisters retreat in Colorado in August, and Georgia for my ultra in September. And so many other things cancelled: girls night, wine and pasta nights, just hanging out at Captain Mike’s for a beer after a long day in the office, time spent with family, birthdays and weddings missed, not being able to go to my mom’s doctors appointments that she had to go alone for, not getting up to Door County, no mini-weekend adventures… and the list goes on.

I was still able to get outside. I got to run safely with my friends (even if we were on the opposite sides of the street). I video chatted more often than I ever thought I would, which actually helped my fear of being on camera. I was really able to connect with more friends on a deeper level because we were all going through nearly the same thing. I learned more about myself. I may not have read any books like I planned to, but I did learn what not to do with weight training.

Circling back to what I said earlier in my post, “While we know deep down that 2020 brought on external factors that kept us from doing what we wanted it, it’s still really hard mentally to accept the fact that we set out to do something and couldn’t. Even though we know there was nothing that we could do about it. We still blame ourselves. (At least I know I do.)” (yes I quoted myself.) I feel like I’m still working through a lot of 2020. I’d like to not carry that over into 2021, but it’s hard not to. We are what we experience. And we take those experiences with us. I just need to be able to get to the point of “Okay. I’m good. I am mentally ready to just tuck 2020 into bed and leave it alone.” I know I’ll get there, and I have enough friends who will run with me to keep me focused. Running has been such a great outlet for me since 2015, but most specifically, through 2020.

So with that… cheers to 2021 and the hopes that I will maybe, for once, keep an actual good log of my ultra training progress. I’m already at 22 miles tomorrow so we’ll probably have one more longer update to “catch up.” And then we can just hope for smooth sailing from there.

Happy 2021.

Cheers.

-Megs

Bump In The Road

I’ve always been a planner. Your typical “Type A.” I could never pretend that i don’t have all these little lists of things that I need to get done – ranging from simple grocery store lists, to future home project, and more serious lists like life goals. I’ve learned how to navigate the twists and turns of my plans going awry and needing to adapt and remake my list.

The thing about me is that while I have things planned out, I’m also ready to adapt and be a little spontaneous.
Plans are just outlines.
A rough draft.
Something that can always be manipulated to get back on track.

But none of us were ready for 2020.

How could we learn to deal with a pandemic? None of us have lived through anything like this. How is it possible to adapt when there are so many unknowns? Spontaneity got dumped right out the window when our safer-at-home orders came through.

It will come as no surprise, but our first few months of this hit hardest for me. For most of us, really. We couldn’t see family or friends. Restaurants closed. Wisconsin bars closed! (Yes this is serious!) We couldn’t travel. All our plans got cancelled. All of them. It felt like there was no end in sight.

But one thing remained a constant in my life.

Running.

I started my ultra-marathon training in January. For a race in September. Official training started in April, but I needed to “pre-train” to get to the level I needed to be to just start training. Training for an ultra-marathon was something I never thought I would do. Even though I did a lot of running by myself in those first few months, it was that ONE thing in my life that didn’t change. Running was one thing I wasn’t afraid to do. For the first time in my life, I was afraid to see family and friends. I didn’t want to get gas in my car. I didn’t want to go grocery shopping. I even had a quarantine birthday. But running kept me sane. As best it could anyway.

That’s the thing about plans though. They always change. No matter what you think that constant is. Something is going to sweep you off your feet and force you to change. Even if you think you are standing on solid ground. You’re not.

May 9th. This was the last time I really ran through trails. I pulled my groin muscle. I can only assume it was from the constant dodging back and forth over rocks and leaping over tree branches. At first, it was what felt like a little pull. It didn’t hurt during my run. I described it as, “It feels like my quads after I run. They are sore after a run like the usual expected fatigue. No shooting pain during or after a run.” I decided to stop trail running, but continue my training on pavement for now. I could handle that. A small change which kept me away from some of my running partners, but a necessary change as to not aggravate muscles any more than I needed to.

May 23rd. My 18 mile run went so smoothly. I had continued my training on pavement. I needed to keep some sort of normalcy in my day to day life. I made sure to ice and stretch and really stay in tune to how my body was feeling. There wasn’t anything more than a little soreness which would last for not even a day, and then I felt as good as new.

May 26th. Plans. Out. The. Window. My 6 mile run ended abruptly 3 miles in. I tripped over an uneven sidewalk, and as I stumbled forward, catching myself from falling on the pavement, I jammed my leg into the ground, sending a shooting pain down my leg and my groin that had me stop running and walk the 3 miles home. This wasn’t the rough draft of an outline that I thought I’d ever have to rework. I didn’t want to not be able to run. I walked a mile, and tried to jog a little bit. Nope. It hurt. I wished in that moment that I would have just let myself fall. A bunch of scrapes on my arm would have been better than a jammed leg, right? This bump in the road wasn’t a contingency I planned for.

I stopped running for a few days. I felt a little lost without that one thing in my life that I could always count on being there. It forced me to learn even more about adapting to change, even if I didn’t want to. I attempted to run June 3rd, but that was a mistake. After talking with a few friends who had groin injuries before, I decided that I needed to just take the time off. Pounding the pavement wasn’t what I needed. I tried a test run with my bike to see how I would feel. I figured that there wasn’t as much impact on my legs with bike riding than there was with running.

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To my surprise, I felt great. I went into the bike ride thinking that I would need to walk it home. I wanted to have low expectations in order to not be disappointed. I think the hardest thing about training for anything is when it gets derailed. To know the limits between pushing yourself hard and pushing yourself to prolong an injury is a hard line to find. But I took a step back from running and hopped on my bike.

It was such a pleasant surprise how much I enjoyed biking. I used it as a second form of transportation, but really, it was my source of cardio. Between June 1st and June 17th, I put in 150 miles on my bike.

I never once experienced any pain. Soreness, yes, but that’s expected. And it was mostly in my quads and calves. Not anywhere else. I was learning more limits for myself and taking steps out of my own comfort zone:

– My first 30 mile bike ride
– Riding down busy roads isn’t as scary as I thought it would be
– Riding at night is way more fun than nerve-wracking
– Being more comfortable alone
– Finding out that a 13-20 mile bike ride day didn’t knock me out
– Not caring about random ass sweat marks in public 🙂
– Embracing some serious tan lines

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I found a love for biking that I never thought I’d have. To be fair, the bikes I have been on before were not my own and not as nice, so the seat hurt. A lot. It turned me off to biking. No one wants to go on a bike ride and not be able to sit later. But that didn’t happen.

Between Jun 17th and the 25th, I did some yoga and a handful of runs: a few 2 milers to start, then two 6 milers, a couple 5Ks and a 4 mile. I never once felt any pain. It was such a relief. I was starting to second guess how long I would be out.

My running buddy and I have both been out on injuries, but doing so well. We have a planned marathon on July 4th. Both of us really wanted to get on track with training for our ultra again and decided to take a shot and see how a 20 miler would do. We got up early Friday morning (Jun 26) and ran 20 miles, and both felt great during the entire run! It’s such an accomplishment to run 20 miles in the first place, but we’ve dealt with some serious wrenches in the training plan. I’m really proud of both of us.

I’m pretty sure I stretched for the entirety of Friday and Saturday. And iced more times than I could count. Was I a little afraid I took it too far? Yeah. Kind of. At this point I started planning for the worst case scenario. How could we not after the year we’ve been having? After all, my last long run was a month prior. I kept telling Melissa that we would be alright. That muscle memory would just kick in. And we would just stop if either one of us felt like we were pushing too much. We dialed down the pace and talked the entire time.

And just like that, the bump in the road that I thought would end up derailing my entire training, ended up not being so bad after all. To be able to pick yourself up from whatever situation you are in and rework that life list and get back on track… it’s such a proud and happy moment. Especially when there are so many unknowns.

I should have ran 150 miles in June. RAN. 150 miles.  I ended June with 50 running miles, and 160 biking miles (which is about the cardio equivalent of roughly 54 running miles) To me, that’s a big deal. It feels so far off my training plan. I’m sure by now, there have been a few thoughts from readers (if they even got this far) of, “Really? But it was an injury that barely took you out from training. It could have been so much worse!”

Of course it could have been worse. No matter what situation you’re in, something is always worse. But what does comparing do? Honestly. Think about that. What purpose does comparing have? Our ups and downs in life shouldn’t be measured against someone else’s ups and downs. Who is to say what is worse and what isn’t worse? Feelings are feelings and those are valid. That constant need to one up each other is the reason I haven’t really talked about this… until now.

Since March and the start of coronavirus, I started to surround myself with a true tribe of badass women, and yes, men too. While my change in plans may have seemed small, it had a huge impact on me.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to have to rework your plans as many times as you need to.
It’s okay to not even know what your plan is going to be.
It’s okay to change your mind about how you feel about a certain topic after learning new developments.
I learned a little bit of confidence in some of my decisions.
I’ve spoken out a little more about what I want, which has probably turned some people off to me, but I’ve gotten closer to some of my friends because of it.
It’s okay to want to be alone. And there’s no reason to make up an excuse to not hang out or go to an event. “I don’t want to” is an acceptable reason.
It’s ok to talk about failures. It isn’t always meant to be taken as “please pity me,” but instead, “hey, you’re not alone.” You never know who is going through things.

2020 is not over.
And from what we’ve seen so far, I’m not sure what Jumanji level we will end up at in December.

I know I’ll be challenged again and again when it comes to life, and training, and work, an anything else that life decides to throw at me (but like, please murder hornets, stay away).

One thing I know is for sure: The only actual constant in my life… is change.

 

Find the Lessons

What shall we do with all this extra time?
But sit here and think.
We think about our past and our future.
If it’s where we thought we would be at this moment in time.
And maybe some of the possibilities that we missed along the way.
Those little moments we should have acted on.
The opportunities we passed up because we were too afraid of disappointing ourselves.
Yet.
We never gave ourselves a chance.
We allowed ourselves to believe that we would fail before letting a little fragment of glitter crawl into our minds and letting us think that maybe,
just maybe,
we could do it.
We let those moments muddle our judgment.
The murky confinement inside our thoughts creates doubt.
We forget our accomplishments when we distort our thoughts with “what ifs”
and all the “could have beens” or who we let slip through our fingers.
Dangerous musings pierce our delicate minds during our most vulnerable moments.
Moments that we don’t show to anyone.
We hide behind forced smiles and quirky laughs
and motivational memes and carefully edited photos.

So we just sit with our feelings,
intense emotions we cannot dissect
like some science experiment in high-school when there was a first step,
and a next step to follow.
In sequence.
A direction of which way to go.
We couldn’t get lost.
But that time has passed.
And the directions have faded in the rain that pours from the clouds that you knew where coming,
but chose not to move.

And we remain stationary
in the rain,
which always smells like the first day of spring.
So fresh and so new.
And takes you back to that time where you were carefree and let the water fall down your face…
the days you used to carelessly dance in the rain in your polka dot rain boots,
because a five year-old doesn’t care if her dress is soaked and full of mud.
The mud which clings to her dress like unhealthy criticism attaches to our personalities as adults.

So we’ll continue to sit there.
A long while.
Or even a few days.
and overthink.
Investigate every decision.
Rip apart every emotion that we ever had…
until our guilt makes us numb.

These wasted thoughts take up space in our minds.
We know it will pass, but we stumble around in them anyway.
Because honestly,
the only way we can walk through the dark forest of regret
is after a double shot of that top shelf whiskey we can’t afford,
but pretend we can
Because we need to keep the fantasy that our lives are untroubled
and can support our cravings for likes and comments off carefully calculated photos of fabricated realities
even though we are crying out for the comfort and care for someone
who can help carry us through life.
But we can’t admit that.
Not yet anyway.
Not until the timing is right.

But the timing is never there.
We make excuses.
We fall over every decision as though someone put rocks in our shoes to remind us where we came from.
We’re unstable.
Insecure.
Tipsy.
It’s too cumbersome to take a moment to empty our shoes,
but instead move forward with the understanding that the rocks will create calluses to prevent us from feeling the realities of our falsified existence
because we buried our dreams in the soil of dead flowers we let rot in the garden where we got lost.
We thought those dreams were lost forever.
But nothing lasts forever.

Except the truth.

It’s in those revelations that we thought we knew what we wanted
Or who we wanted to be.
But sometimes,
well, most times,
the truth can get in the way of this.
We don’t actually know what we wanted or who we wanted to be.
If we can find the courage to look truth in the eye,
then the person we are is finally exposed.
The naked bits and pieces we buried deep within our graveyard of secret love letters we wrote ourselves that we swore we’d never read again.
These truths come with consequences though.
It comes with resentment.
and it comes with pain.
But it could come with comfort.
Living our own truths aren’t supposed to be comfortable.
It won’t wrap us up in our favorite blanket on a cool autumn night
as we sink our marshmallows into the fire, hoping it doesn’t burn,
but it always does because we are too mesmerized with the heat and the flame
And letting the smoke settle into our hair for us to remember in the morning.

The truth just takes us to where we want to go.
To where we need to go.
So in those moments we realize
we outgrew what we thought we once couldn’t live without.
We try to fall in love with the things we didn’t even know we wanted.
Things that may have surprised us.
Shocked our hearts.
Flipped our entire lives upside down.
Life is leading us on a journey we would never have chosen for ourselves.

We could keep ourselves stranded in our anxious illusions,
which are only waiting for us to fail,
Or we cannot be afraid of time.
The numbness we once felt melts away as we become aware we have more choices.
Choices to let go of the missed opportunities,
wipe the mud off our dress,
take the rocks out of our shoes,
reread our old love letters,
And breathe in the smell of the rain.

And find the lessons.

Queen Of Control

The truth is that we all want to be in control of our lives. To be able to determine how things are supposed to turn out: that vision we had when we were younger.  It’s normal to want to feel like you can have control over everything. It gives us a focus. A sort of balance in our lives that we strive for. That control that we want will eventually consume us. It becomes a race to perfection. To accomplish something first. To present the appearance that everything is perfect.

Even when it’s not.

Life is daunting. And social media feeds into our insecurities, which only further pushes us into the deeper fears of failure. Until reality slaps you in the face, it’s hard to recognize that we are tying to just conform to what we think people want to see.  The slippery slope of trying to balance real life, but, you know, don’t share too much because no one wants to hear your whining, but yet, keep it real; however, don’t share too much… it’s wild. There’s no middle ground.  So we hide behind perfect photos. We can control that. We control what people see. We control how we want people to perceive us. Until we get lost in trying to keep up with a fake image, we don’t realize how NOT in control we are.

Last year my near seven year relationship ended. And the majority of people that I knew were shocked. Why? That perfect image that was constantly displayed. Of course I blame myself for that. I’m the Queen of Control.  I liked hearing that I was lucky.  I wanted to have something that mattered. Something that people could point at me and say “you know what, I want what you have.”  It’s a good feeling when someone is striving for something you have. It makes you feel accomplished. Capable. Adequate. As though you checked off a life goal.

On New Years, I wrote this:

With the end of the year quickly approaching, everyone starts reflecting: the lessons we’ve learned and reminiscing about how far we’ve come. But this year is different. It’s not just the end of the year, but the end of a decade…

My journey is no different than anyone else’s. We’ve all loved and lost and traveled and learned lessons. We’ve made new friends and lost others. We’ve reached goals, but fell short with others. A decade holds so much history. We are not the same people that we started out as on this decade.

What I do know is this: you are not responsible for other people’s life choices. I’ll say it again. You are not responsible for other people’s life choices. Family, friends, significant others, acquaintances or coworkers … Their choices are theirs. And your choices are yours. Sometimes those two don’t align and you’ll find yourself at what you think is an impasse. Choose you. It’s not your responsibility to fix anyone. Don’t put that on yourself. You can be empathetic and show compassion and be a guiding light, but don’t run yourself to the ground trying to fix someone.

Our jobs are to love people, not change them.

Over the last few years, I lost myself. While I was *IN* those years living, I didn’t feel that way. “Hindsight is 20/20” rings true once again. The control that I thought I had in those years slipped through my fingers, and I was forced to find myself again recently.

Writing has always been something that I enjoyed doing. It was my passion that I lost. “Are you really going to write that” stuck with me. I became shy of what people would say of my thoughts and ideas. I second-guessed my short-stories and poetry.  I have 37 drafts sitting in my blog, never posted. Not finished. I haven’t posted since June 2019. I changed who I was in order to appease someone else and look like I had control of my life.

While the split was not initiated by me, it has slowly turned into the best thing that could have happened. I will not sit here and tell you that my time was wasted, even though in anger I may have said that to my inner circle months ago. I take that back.

I cannot control the past. I cannot control the way that I thought my life was going to be right now at the age of 33.  I cannot control other’s feelings towards me. What I can control is the understanding that this is where life has taken me and to do with it what I can. To move on. To be happy and live in the moment. I have created a safe place for myself in an apartment that I live alone and finally feel good enough about it to call it home.

I chose me.

I made some bigger goals this year so I can focus on myself. One of them is to write more. And an other is a 35 mile trail run in September, which is an entirely different post of how I got to that point.

But I’ll leave you with this: Be you and don’t lose sight of that. You’re in control of more than you realize.


Megs

 

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I’m A Marathoner

It’s been one month since I crossed the finish line.

One. Whole. Month.

 

The emotional roller-coaster I dragged myself on kept passing by the station. I sat frozen in my seat.  I couldn’t jump off. I’d see my friends off in the distance. I’d try to yell out to them, but they couldn’t hear me. I forced myself to smile – to have the appearance that this constant up-down-up-down had no effect on me. I couldn’t pinpoint when it happened, but the roller-coaster slowed down enough for me to attempt to get my footing. The ground felt unstable. My legs felt like bricks.

My legs still feel like bricks.
One month later.
I keep looking to see if someone told their toddler to wrap themselves around my legs and not let go.
No one is there.

Everyone talks about the hardships of training for a marathon. You carve out so many mornings. You skip out on a lot of Friday night drinking plans because, “Sorry, I have a long run Saturday morning.” Instead of your friends asking, “So what are you up to this weekend,” they’ve learned to ask, “How many miles do you have?” And each and every time you answer that question, your friend gasps at the amount you’re doing each week.

“Are you sure that’s good for your knees? Your body?”

Yes.
Yes we are sure.
There’s a reason why training programs are designed they way they are.
Trust the training process.

I knew what I was getting into when I decided to train for a marathon. At least I knew what I needed to give up. I prepared myself for what training would look like. My support system astounds me. I feel so thankful to have these people in my life. From family to friends to “IG friends.” We are just all here to support each other. I had some of the best cheerleaders around. People got up to start a run at 0500 with me. Once I started getting beyond the half-marathon distance, people would plan to split runs with me so I would never be alone. People texted making sure I ate enough and drank enough water. People messaged asking how training was going. The actual training process is something that I will always look back on with such a grateful heart. I would never have been able to get through this alone. I cannot tell you how much the “I am so proud of you” messages really kept me going.

I leaned on people a lot. I had to. I don’t know what I don’t know. And everyone was always so willing to talk with me. I asked for advice with stretching and hip strengthening exercises. I asked for advice on the best types of foods to eat. I asked for advice on fueling during a run, and what types of things to bring with on a long run. I asked for advice on the training process.

But you know what I never asked for?

How to mentally be “okay” after my marathon.

I have never felt so emotionally challenged before. When people say “Want to change your life? Run a marathon” or “If you are losing faith in humanity, go watch a marathon” they really aren’t joking. I just did not understand the magnitude of this until I was knee deep and couldn’t look back.

It felt like I was out having celebratory drinks that I had one more month left of training, and the next day I woke up getting dressed to get ready to become a marathoner. I don’t know where time went. But there I was getting ready to start. I was so nervous that I barely slept the night before. I am an anxious person, and not someone who particularly enjoys the fear of the unknown. It’s very hard for me to just JUMP right in. But every year I challenge myself to do something new despite how much of a nervous-wreck it makes me.

 

I had a lot of things to distract me until my own race day.  I had friends running a race in my hometown the day before. I stayed up late to make signs. I got up early to cheer them on. It was a great time!  I still didn’t feel like my own race day was coming when we were on our way to Kalamazoo. It just felt like a little road trip.   You’d think that after getting my clothes together, I’d feel like the race was coming.  Nope.  It wasn’t under after we got to the race and went to take our group photo. After we took it, I was surprised with a sign that everyone signed for me. I found out later that people were passing it around at a KRC event – THAT I WAS IN ATTENDANCE for might I add – and I had no idea it was happened. Kudos guys. But that’s when it hit me. I was about to run my first marathon. It brought tears to my eyes seeing the support from everyone. I attempted to read what people wrote, but all I could do was stare at it in awe.  I know sometimes when I talk about KRC, I joke that I make it sound like a cult. But these people have become like family.

I pulled myself together and got to the start corrals. The first three miles I enjoyed so much. I ran with Janet, who was participating in the Mittens Challenge – Half. She made it her goal to take photos of me, to which I am forever grateful for. She yelled to a few people “IT’S HER FIRST MARATHON!” It still hadn’t quite sunk in that I was in the process of running a marathon…

… It didn’t hit me until three miles in where Janet and I ran through Kalamazoo’s super cute downtown, and up head I see the split ahead.  “Half goes straight. Full to the right.”  I felt ready. “YOU’RE DOING IT!” Janet yelled.

 

 

And I was off. The rest of the race was by myself. 23.2 more miles!

I trained for this! “The race is a celebration of all the miles you put in during training,” I could hear Abby’s voice in my head. “You’ve already put in the work. Enjoy it!”

64 training runs
85h 40min total
411 miles
10,554ft in elevation

“I DID train for this” I kept reminding myself. I course was very diverse. We went through all different parts of town. I kept a slow and steady pace. Mile 8 presented itself with a lovely hill. BUT I DID HILL TRAINING!  It could never have been more proud of myself. I took the hill slower since I knew I had so much more mileage to go, but it was nice knowing that at mile 11 was the downhill for that same hill.  I was tired, but knew I needed to press on. It was getting hot. I was tired. And I was only just about half-way done. To my surprise, as I was just down that hill and turned the corner, I see some familiar faces! Josh, my mom’s boyfriend Loren, and my half-brother Chad. (My mom was volunteering at the finish line, otherwise she would have been there as well.)  I had thought about quitting so many times at this point. I threw my arms out and ran to Josh to give him a hug. I was SO happy. I felt like I got a little energy boost from them.  I found out later that they had JUST missed me as I went up the hill (at mile 8) and they were driving around looking for me, but blocked off roads and timing wasn’t in their favor. But it worked out for me! I NEEDED that boost right when I saw them, so it was meant to be.

 

I still had ~13 more miles to go. I didn’t feel terrible, but I didn’t feel great either. In hindsight, I could have used a little more sleep, and a LOT more water in the days leading up to the race. I passed all sorts of signs that gave me a good laugh. “Way to go Team Poor Life Choices” was one of my favorites. Someone also made a sign that said “Here’s some photos of my dogs” so naturally I stopped to take a photo of that sign. I sent it to a few people. I jokingly said “Look I stopped for puppies!” Little did I know that one of the KRC members Lisa wrote on my card “Don’t stop for puppies.” Whoops.

Mile 18 came and I began to feel emotions that I wasn’t ready for. I was ready for the hills and ready for how much my legs hurt. I wasn’t ready for the wall. I thought I had hit the wall before. Oh how wrong I was. I started to feel down on myself. “You got farther than this in training! And faster, too!” I was trailing a little behind of where I was for my 20 miles run. I needed to keep myself in check. Of COURSE I could go faster during my 20 mile run. I WAS DONE at mile 20. Not this time.

I hit mile 20 and had tears in my eyes. “This is it,” I told myself, “You’ve come this far. You are not quitting. It’s game time now!” 20 miles was the farthest I had run. I wanted to quit. My legs hurt. My hips hurt. My brain hurt.

I had so many people following me through the tracker. “You can do it!” “Drop the hammer! Go go go !” “It’s smooth sailin’ now!!” And my favorite “THIS IS WHAT YOU TRAINED FOR!!”

My friend Kristin ran her first marathon the day before. Her emotions from the race were so raw that I felt like I had a friend RIGHT there with me. We were not physically together, in fact, we didn’t run any of or training runs together. But the entire time, we had the same distances on the same week. The feeling of support from someone who has already ran a marathon and someone who hasn’t ran a marathon and is just so proud of you isn’t quite the same as someone who is balls deep with you. Feeling the same things at the same time for the first time. And I by NO MEANS ever ever mean to say that the support from other people meant less – furthest from the truth. But hey, It’s 2019 and the Internet all hates each other sometimes. I LOVE YOU ALL!! It was just in THAT moment. Mile 20.01 when Kristin texted “this is what you trained for” I about lost all hold of my emotions. She was right, though.

But I wanted to quit. I faked a jog for mile 20. At that moment, the pacer I was trying SO HARD to stay in front, passed me. The 16 min/mile pacer was now in front of me. My confidence dropped. I could feel the weight of my legs. I walked damn near all of mile 21. I passed a couple who were walking. We high-fived each other as i fake jogged by them. “GREAT JOB!” they yelled back. It looked like the the woman had hurt her ankle. I picked up my feet and trudged along: not quite slow enough for a walk, but a struggle to call it a jog. I texted Josh nearly in tears, “I feel like I’m letting everyone down. Everyone is just sitting around waiting for me.” I hated that feeling. I hate when people are waiting on me. He reassured me that it was okay. That there was no pressure to finish quickly. And that he was proud of me.

My calves kept seizing up.
My hips tightened.
I couldn’t feel my feet.

I rounded a corner to just about mile 22… TO A HILL. A BIG HILL. What kind of a sick joke was this? I stood there, right at the bottom, with the two ladies clearing up the water table. I started up the hill. One lady handed me my water, took my other hand and said, “You got this. You can walk up that hill. But you got this. You are so close!” All I managed to get out was, “This isn’t fair.” before the three of us busted out laughing. I was pretty delirious at this point. I’m not sure if they were laughing out of awkwardness because I started laughing first, or if they really thought I was funny. I’ll never know.

You bet your ass I walked right up that hill. It was near a half mile long. After the hill, the route switched from residential to go into a park. Right as I was passing mile 24, a truck pulled up and took the mile marker down. My heart sunk. I wasn’t fast enough to have them keep the mile markers out. I asked him if the signs of where to go would still be our. He assured me the directional signs were out, but he was just picking up mile markers. He wished me luck and I was on my way again. I get to a point in the road where it looks like I could veer off from the driving road and go onto a path. BUT, written in chalk it said “Not this way.” I wish I had taken a photo of it, but I hadn’t. I had to focus all of my energy on not falling over. I kept looking around for a sign, but didn’t see anything. There weren’t any volunteers around. I heard from close behind me, “Hey! Are you in the race?” I told him “I think so. I feel like I’m going the wrong way.” He said “Don’t worry you are RIGHT next to the path where all the runners went. They followed the walking path here instead of the path for the cars.” So i quick shot over to the path and followed it. It was eerie. Taking directions someone a random group of fisherman. I was on a paved path. It reminded me of some of the paths back home. I rounded a corner and thankfully saw some volunteers packing up the last water station. They had music going and cheered me on as if I was the first person through their station. I put my sunglasses on and tried not to cry. I was so close yet felt so far away.

 

My feet were dragging from under me. I could barely feel my legs. I rounded another corner to a hill – smaller than before – but I reached the top. Mile 25. ONE MORE TO GO. Austin and Robert were there waiting for me. Another very needed surprise. I fake jogged again. My jog was so slow that they could walk next to me. (Hey it’s ok to joke about now.)

One more mile.
Two more corners to go around.
I had to finish the few blocks of residential-ish area.
Take a left.
few blocks on the coned off area for a small stretch.
Then a left into the finisher’s chute.

I see Josh and Chad just before the first left. I now had Robert, Austin, Josh, and Chad jogging along side me. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about someone carrying me. I was done. I kept going back to all the signatures on my card of people telling me that I could do it. I had to finish now.

We take that first left. And I can see it. Just ahead. I can see the finisher’s chute. It’s RIGHT THERE. I tried to pick up the pace, but I was pretty sure someone tied bricks to my legs. As I was nearing the very last left, the guys broke off so I could finish the race. Janet and Roy were at the beginning of the finisher’s chute. She was videoing. You can watch it here on IG. I see Molly… and Jen and Patrick… and right there at the finish line is my mom. I hear the announcer “Hello Megan!” I waved.

And I ran.

I wasn’t going very fast, but I was pushing it as hard as I could to get across that finish line. I could almost reach out and touch it. Just a few steps in front of me.

And there it was.
I was a marathoner.

My mom gave me my medal. I cried. SHE cried. By the time I managed to pull myself together, everyone was around me hugging me. Of course the first words out of my mouth are, “people chose to do this more than once???”

 

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I don’t think I could thank people enough for sitting around and waiting for me to finish. I can’t put into words how much all the support had done for me: whether it was in person or messaging me along the way. I needed it all more than most people know.

Being a part of the Kenosha Running Club has been life-changing for me: the friendships, the inside-jokes, the camaraderie, the unquestioning support. I often wonder “what would I be doing RIGHT NOW if I didn’t know anyone from KRC?” It’s so much more than “oh that group of people I run with.” We laugh and cry together. We share secrets and inside jokes. We drink beer and a lot of coffee. We challenge each other to be better both in running and in life. We pick each other up when we fall down. We have way too many FB group messages. But mostly, we are all better for having known each other.

So for now. I’m navigating this whole marathon recovery process. I still can’t watch Janet’s video without crying. I’m keeping busy with volleyball three nights a week. I’m not running more than 3-4 miles at a time. I don’t want to start to hate running, so I’m taking it day by day. I know I am not mentally in the place where I was before marathon training. Or even when I finish my mile 20 training run. I’m not usually an emotional person so for all this to be happening — it’s emotionally exhausting.  I find myself struggling to get out of bed at 7am to run 3 miles when I was fine waking up at 4am to run 18 miles. I don’t know how to answer “So you going to run another marathon??” Some people have told me it’s normal to not feel normal right now. I just need to give it time.

Despite the struggles, I am so proud of myself for finishing my training and becoming a marathoner. It’s something that I’ll always be able to reflect on. All of the memories that I created along the way and the friendships that became stronger because of it I will cherish forever. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much to the family and friends that have been there for me. It will not be forgotten. 

“I dare you to train for a marathon, and not have it change your life.”
– Susan Sidoriak

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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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