Just Different

I didn’t solemnize this day with a moment of silence. I chose to honor the day with a hard, fast run. I am not even going to put a qualifier on that sentence like, “fast for me” or “relatively speaking”. I ran the exact same route I ran on 4.15.13, and just like a year ago today, I was inspired by Boston. One year ago, I posted the run to my DailyMile account, happy with a fast run on a cool cloudy day, thinking of Boston and wondering about the two American women elites that I was cheering for were doing. Today, I posted a run to my account, with similar themes, fast run, cool and cloudy, and it was all about Boston.

Just different.

It’s one year later and everything is a little different, except the route. It’s a familiar 5k route that tracks north and west of my office through the City before coming straight east back on Main Street to my front door.

How I think of Boston is different. Last year, for me, it was all about Shalane and Kara, the hype, their rivalry, their friendship, and their potential to win. This year, I think of the non-elites, the spectators, the first responders, and the hallowed ground that is a finish line of a race.

How I think of running is different. Before Boston, it was my time. My headspace. My freedom from my desk. My adrenaline rush. My solitude. This year, I recognize that I am a part of something that is the opposite of solitude. I am part of a community. Meg’s Miles reinforced that for me. Being a part of something greater than myself is a very gratifying feeling, but it comes with a personal sense of responsibility. I have to DO something when the community is assaulted like at Boston or when Meg Menzies was killed. You have to give back; I donated to the Boston One Fund and I donated money to Meg’s family. And I ran; however meaningless it might seem in the face of terror and death, those miles mattered to me and to the running community.

How I think of spectators is very different. Before Boston, I never gave much thought to the random strangers standing alongside a race route, cheering, clapping, ringing cow bells, holding clever signs. Now I thank them as I run. No one would have ever thought that cheering on runners in a race could be a potential risk to life and limb. Boston changed that, too.

Boston isn’t on my “Bucket List” or anything. I am not training to earn my “BQ” and I don’t feel it is something I will ever want to go chase down. But I don’t think any distance runner out there doesn’t feel that there is something special about Boston.

A pair of angry extremists tried to take away the magic of Boston. They left a mark, to be sure, but if their goal was to scare us all into submissive hiding, they utterly and completely failed.

Boston is too Strong for that.

#WeWillRun

In honor of the survivors, the wounded, the maimed, the dead, the first responders, the good samaritans, the finishers, the runners that couldn’t finish, the City of Boston, and the entire worldwide community of runners who came together to fight back against terror by the simple act of lacing up our shoes and putting miles on our soles, I plan to run 26.2 miles between tomorrow, April 15th, the one year anniversary, and Monday, April 21st, Patriot Day and the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

#WEWILLRUN – Boston from JJ Miller on Vimeo.

Going To The Sun*

I know I talk a lot about the tough side of running. When things go wrong, physically or mentally, it tends to wind up here. Let’s shift gears away from that, at least for today.

Today seemed like an ordinary enough day. Work at my desk job for about 4 and a half hours, then head to the ladies room and change from business casual into tech-fiber casual. Hair goes up, hat goes on, headphones go in (all the purists now have a case of the hives over my iPod), and down the elevator 10 stories to the city streets.

It is finally, for real and for true, warm here. 76 degrees out, reasonable wind speeds, clear skies, low humidity. You know, like it’s Spring or something. A warm, sunny day called for bared arms and a route with no shade. I headed for the Richmond Floodwall Park. On the Floodwall, I have seen a bald eagle, a black king snake sunning itself in the path, countless Great Blue Herons and dozens of Peregrin Falcons. I don’t run this route as often in the winter, and I don’t think I have run the floodwall at all since late last Summer. This winter was just too brutal to face the very cold harsh winds coming off the river, and there are spots on the top that drain poorly, so with all the rain/snow, it would have been half a log flume up there. I just avoided the route, but I have missed it.

So today was the day and it didn’t disappoint. The sun was warm without being burning. Sweat poured without leaving me feeling light-headed with dehydration. I had a falcon take interest in my neon green tank top and follow me at distance for a bit. The music on my iPod was perfect for my mood. I added “Let it Go” from Frozen to the playlist last night, and that was like fuel on a fire for me today. Topping the stairs of the floodwall, the roar of the rolling river over-topped the sound of my music, and it was glorious.

The world around me is just starting to take on that lightest shade of spring green; it is also still brown and twiggy, but there is promise springing up all around. We’re still a long way from the emerald green of summer, but also the wicked heat and humidity that summer brings along with it. It was a perfect day and a perfect run.

It is days like today, miles like today’s, that remind me why I do this thing. Why when so many people make cracks about “being chased by a bear” or reproach me about destroying my joints, or warn of the risk of unknown heart problems, I can let all of that roll off my back, lace up my trainers and go out and log some miles anyway.

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

*The title of this post is a reference to Going To The Sun Road, on my Bucket List as a place to go for a run before there aren’t any glaciers left in Glacier National Park.

Doubts

While we were at the Shamrock race expo, they were registering people for the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon, which is scheduled for the first weekend of October. I knew I had wanted to run that race, and Byram said “Go ahead and register today! Sign me up for the 5k while you’re at it.”

Well, two problems occurred. I had an account with the race production company (imATHLETE; also puts on Shamrock), but it was set up by Byram and he didn’t remember the password. Second, they were doing registrations on iPads, which I am not proficient in the use of. After 10 minutes of not even getting past the log in, I gave up and said I would register from home.

Three weeks later, being yesterday, I did. Byram had forgotten all about it, so I wanted to surprise him and sign him up for the 5k on Saturday, and I signed myself up for the “Shell Yeah” challenge, the 5k and the 13.1 the following day.

I kept waiting on Byram to check his email and was sure he would find a “Registration Confirmation” email and be so surprised, but apparently it only came to me. I waited a whole day before I sprung the surprise to him on FaceBook, and then forgot it is April Fool’s day, so he didn’t think I was serious at first.

Ah well, way to blow the wind out of my surprise sails.

In the meantime, I am contemplating three letters. MTT. That is Sports Backers’ speak for Marathon Training Team. $165 will get me 24 weeks of supported team training, my race entry fee, and ultimately a Richmond Marathon finisher’s medal (it really is all about the bling, I suppose).

It isn’t a question of can I do it. I know I can if I stick to the training plan. It isn’t a question of is my family okay with it. Byram (and Grace) have both thrown in their encouragement to the idea (I don’t think they realize how many hours I will be out of the house on runs in September and October). The question is all about my mental ability. Am I mentally tough enough?

Right now, all I have are doubts. 5+ hours of running, stuck in my own brain for that long? I get mentally weary at the 12 mile marker in a half. That will never do.

I trust my legs. I have doubts about my brain.

But I know of only one way to remove those doubts.

Shamrock Half Marathon 2014

Sherpa. The word specifically refers to the ethnic people of Nepal. It evolved to refer to the mountaineers who act as guides for people climbing mountains in the Himalayas. They go up the mountain first and make a way for those ambitious and less experienced people to make their way to the top. Among runners, you will hear it used as slang for the person who takes care of you so you can go race.

Byram is my sherpa. The week of a race, he takes care of logistics, planning, organizing, and communication. The night before a race, he takes childcare duties, and leaves me all to myself if that is what I want. The day of the race would never happen if not for my sherpa. He gets me to my starting line and is with me in spirit the whole way. When I get done with a race, he is there to greet me, schlepping all my post-race necessities along with him so I don’t have to worry about checking a bag or anything.

He makes a way for me to achieve my goals. I couldn’t do it without him.

It has been a crummy winter. The Winter That Won’t Die. It’s snowing like crazy, right now, on St. Patrick’s day. I have known I have a race on the calendar since January 7th. Did I really train for it? Sorta. I only got serious about it in the last 4 weeks. And every other week has been snowy and icy; treadmills have been in short supply and sidewalks have been essentially nonexistent for long stretches at a time.

The Shamrock Half was a gift, and it was one I treated a little shabbily in the weeks leading up to it. We went down to Virginia Beach on Saturday afternoon; it was a beautiful day and we spent several hours at the beach after packet pick-up and seeing the expo. We got a really good deal on compression socks, so I broke a cardinal rule (never try something new on race day) and put my new green socks into the clothing plan for the next day.

I had requested phở for my pre-race dinner and we got a recommendation for a place not far from the oceanfront. After a bit of confusion, we lucked into finding it, and I can say without reservation that Phở 79 has truly excellent broth. We made our way to the home of our friends Rich and Genie and Ian, and we settled in for a wonderful evening of catching up and reminiscing about the old days. The kids played until very late in the night, and the grown-up sat up chatting until very early in the morning. We trundled off to bed around 2am; it was a great evening but it set up a rough start when the alarms (I set 2!) went off at 4:30. Duane let me sleep as long as he could, but he wasn’t going to let me off the hook for a race just because I chose to stay up all hours of the night. I love him for that.

He got us to the oceanfront with no drama and we found a parking spot right off of the interstate and in a spot that would allow us to get right back on the interstate to leave with only two left turns. I didn’t mind the mile and a half walk but I felt bad for Byram. The weather was crystal clear; we started under the full moon as just before sunrise. The change in lighting was so gradual, I was startled when I realized the sun was up and we were running in full daylight.

The Shamrock Half route is very very simple. You start at Atlantic and 42nd Street and you follow Atlantic until you turn north west onto Shore Drive. Shore Drive is trees and swamp; not especially inspiring. Around mile 5.5 you turn right into Fort Story back on Atlantic Avenue and you officially “inbound”. I have been on Fort Story before a couple of times, but I didn’t remember it being such a bleak and stark place; particularly the northern end. Maybe it was partly because of the harsh winter we have suffered, or maybe I just went there later in the year when things were greener, but Fort Story as it appeared yesterday seemed to have all of the color drained from it. Everything was beige. It felt like we were running through a relic of another time, like World War II hadn’t quite ended for this place. It didn’t help that in the Fort, all of the intersections were guarded by mostly unsmiling, uniformed soldiers. I always try and smile and wave and say thank you to race volunteers, but the soldiers didn’t really respond. It felt a touch unfriendly and after a while, I just gave up on them. Thinking back on it, they probably weren’t “volunteers” in the traditional sense. They were on duty. At work. On a beautiful Sunday morning.

The sight I had looked forward to the most was in Fort Story though, which made unsmiling soldiers worth it. I got to see the two Cape Henry lights. There was a sundog in the sky and the morning was beautiful and clear, and the lights were there, solid and strong as ever. I have climbed the 1792 Light twice. I love it. The lights are at Mile Marker 8, and I was feeling great at that point. I was drinking water at every station, I had taken a gel around the 5 mile point, and all was well.

We continued on through Fort Story for another mile, which was a slightly less depressing section; there was some base housing, a few spectators, a few new and really expensive homes (clearly for top brass types), and after Mile Marker 9, we exited through the gates where I got the only friendly experience with any of the military types. The MP at the gate was smiling and giving out high fives to anyone in reach. I got one. I needed to see a smiling face and to shake the depressing dust of Fort Story from my heels.

Back into Virginia Beach proper, we completed the “loop” around the base and were back among the civilians. There weren’t lots of spectators, but those who were out were enthusiastic, several of whom had set up beer stations. It is always amusing to see beer being offered along a race course, amusing to see who chooses to take the offerings, and what the offerings are. The highest class of beer I saw being passed out was cans of Rolling Rock. It wasn’t even up to Pabst Blue Ribbon standards. No thanks.

I made a terrible mental mistake while we were running back to the ocean front. I noted the street number when we first got back in to Civilian Virginia Beach. We were at 89th Street. And I also knew that the finish line was at 30th Street.

I started doing math.

With 4 miles to go.

This was NOT the best idea ever. All of the sudden, in my mind, I knew I had almost 60 full blocks to still run and I started counting them down. This was BAD for me. I started tuning out my music and tuning into numbers. I was not disassociating from the normal late-race aches anymore. A few blocks from Mile Marker 11, at 67th Street, I heeled up for a one block walk break. I took another one block walk break between 50 and 49th Streets. After that, I was afraid if I walked anymore, I wouldn’t start up again. Seeing Mile Marker 12 cleared my head a lot. I plugged back into my music and told myself I had maybe 12 minutes left to go. It was better.

When we veered left on Atlantic where it splits from Pacific, we turned right into heavy and frigid winds. The wind gusts between intersections were spectacularly powerful and cold. I had stopped counting street numbers, so that was a good thing. I knew we were almost there because I could hear cheering.

The cheering was at 37th Street; a huge group of LiveStrong folks were set up where we turned off Atlantic and onto the Boardwalk. At the same time, we were turning into some hardcore wind and people were cheering and there were encouraging messages written in chalk on the sidewalk, and I was very tired and a little emotional. The wind was so strong and cold it literally took your breath away. Also, as I got around the corner and onto the boardwalk, I saw how far away the finish line still was (7 more blocks, but I didn’t know that number at the time). I got a bit teary for reasons I still don’t quite grasp. Fortunately, Thrift Shop by Macklemore came on my iPod and that song just cracks me up.

I know it wasn’t that far, but that boardwalk stretched on for what seemed like an eternity. The concrete hurt to run on. I was freezing and all I wanted to do was get through that finish line. As I approached Neptune, I took off my hat and gave him a little salute and plowed on through the finish line. I noted the clock time, knew it was not my chip time, and didn’t have any feelings about it one way or the other. I was just happy to be done. I felt like I had run a really good race despite a couple of rough miles near the end (they always happen, I think).

Taking off the hat was a mistake. Byram was looking for that hat, not wet red hair, and so he missed me when I passed him (I didn’t see him either). The chute stretched on a whole block and it was not easily navigable. I got my enormous medal from the most unenthusiastic volunteer ever, which felt odd. A long walk brought me to a station where they were handing out hats, then another long walk to water and Gatorade, then another long walk to the beach towels, then a granola bar stop; I mean it just went on forever. Then there was this enormous crowd of people coming and going to the beer tent up a fairly narrow set of stairs to the beach. I wanted nothing to do with the beer tent, I just wanted to go meet my husband at the arranged location.

Our reunion got all dorked up because I don’t carry my phone with me and he hadn’t seen me cross the finish. But that was just a sidebar to everything.

Shamrock was a really awesome and fun race with a touch of odd and awkward. Logistically, it was not easy, but like the other 30,000 participants, we managed. The course was fast and flat, and that was a nice change from moderately hilly Richmond, and the trail terrain of Instant Classic. The atmosphere of the party at the end would have been awesome if it had not been so bitterly cold that it felt like all 30,000 people were crammed into the beer tent. It did not have that friendly, whole town turns out vibe that Richmond does, but then I think the race must be an enormous PITA for the people who actually live in the area. It definitely lacked the mutual goodwill between spectators and runners of Richmond. It was cool to run along the beach. It was a great weekend to be with my family and play at the water’s edge too.

I keep getting asked if I would run it again and today my answer is I don’t know. If my March race choices come down to Instant Classic and Shamrock, it is tough to call between them. IC is 15 minutes from home, inexpensive, low key, calm and small. Shamrock is the opposite of all of those things, but Shamrock comes with the Big Race amenities like portajohns and freebies and swag bags and such. Not so with IC. Shamrock is flat and fast. IC is, well, not. Shamrock is pavement and concrete (to say, hurty), and IC is a trail (less hurty).

I don’t know and right now, it doesn’t matter. I am going to register for the Crawlin Crab half marathon in Hampton, running the first weekend of October. For that race, I am chasing down the King Crab challenge and will do the 5K with Byram on Saturday and the Half on Sunday.

Thank you to my best friend, love of my life, and sherpa, Byram, for making a weekend of incredible memories for our family.

One final note, added post script. As an indication of how much I just ran this race for the fun of it, I forgot to mention my final time. I shaved 2 minutes off of my last PR in November. 2:33:48. #ShamrockOn

#MegsMiles

Last week, my thoughts were heavily dominated by the news of a local mother, marathon runner, and apparently all around good woman, was hit and killed at 8:15 on her Monday morning run by a drunk (and possibly texting) doctor.

If you are in the US and you are a runner, I would bet there is a 99% chance you heard something about Meg Menzies and #MegsMiles last week.

I hadn’t heard about her death until after I got back from my lunch run that Monday. A run where I narrowly missed being hit by a driver who deliberately ran a red light. I saw the car sitting in the intersection at Adams and Cary Streets, I had the green light to cross over the Adams portion of the intersection, so I proceeded. Apparently, the driver had been tired of waiting for the light, and I suspect he or she looked left and right to make sure there was no traffic (or police), and then proceeded through the red light without apparently looking straight ahead. It was a close enough call that I could put my hands on the car and shout.

I got back to work, opened the internet and saw the news about Meg and forgot about my own close call; a close call is nothing compared to what her family is suffering now.

As the week went on and Meg’s passing went viral, I remembered my own near-squashing and I got angry about it and about how drivers imperil the lives of pedestrians every day. Thank God I had been paying attention and had been quickly able to jump out of the way of that impatient driver. From the photos of the scene, it looks like Meg had nowhere to go to get out of the driver’s way who killed her.

The victim blaming made me angry, too. Comments ranging from “She shouldn’t have been running on the road.” to “Why not just run in a gym?” to “Were her clothes bright enough to be seen?” made me want to shake people (particularly the clothing one, which is too similar to blaming rape victims for wearing “provocative” outfits). Admittedly, there were fewer of these comments than the ones expressing sadness over the situation, but why were there any at all?

Even Hanover Public Works joined in the victim blaming by pointedly stating that “The shoulder is not an official pedestrian path.” Forgive my harsh language, but No Shit, Sherlock.

For most of the Richmond Metro Counties, there ARE NO official pedestrian paths. I know; I live in a county.

I am fortunate because I have three schools within 2 miles of my house, and near those schools are short stretches of sidewalks. For my favored 5.2 mile route in my neighborhood, I have less than 2 miles of sidewalk to run on. When I am running distances like 9-13 miles, I still only have those 2 little miles to work with to put some safe distance between myself and the cars on the road.

Worse than the lack of safe pedestrian paths are the hostile or distracted drivers. By and large, most drivers are fine. Some are even wonderful enough to move over in their lane a bit, change lanes when there are two lanes to work with, or even move a little over the yellow lines if there is no oncoming traffic. To those drivers, I always mouth the words “Thank you” and give them a little wave. I appreciate their care. Most drivers are just oblivious. They are fine too as long as they stay between the white and yellow lines and ignore me.

I can’t stand the openly hostile drivers. The jokers who think it is funny to slightly swerve at me like they are going to hit me. Ooh, funny! Thank God your dumbass didn’t slip on the wheel and not manage to correct course. A broken and possibly dead runner across the hood of your car would be hysterical, right? Police reports and insurance company law suits are a flipping riot, right? Then there are the folks that scream obscenities or sexually suggestive words at you as they pass you. They are less of a physical threat, but they are actively trying to steal away my joy. Thanks a lot.

But the scariest drivers are the distracted drivers. I see them texting, or on their cell phones, or eating, or looking away from the road; I see this far too much. And they don’t see me no matter how day-glo orange my shirt might be, or electric blue my pants are. They pass me by and never even know I was within 3 feet of their car.

I have heard the phrase “Runners need to be vigilant” a lot in the past week or so but generally runners ARE vigilant. Anyone who has run a single mile outside on the streets knows the inherent risks and that there is a lot we as individuals can do to mitigate those risks; we take out our earbuds or leave one out or keep the music level low; we wear obnoxious colors and patterns to be seen; we run against traffic; we wear blinking lights and reflective gear. But drivers have to do their part, too. Put down your phones, watch the road, and for the love of little kittens, if you’ve been drinking, call a cab, a friend, or just stay home, but please stay out from behind the wheel.

4 Year Anniversary

Happy Surgiversary to me. 4 years ago today, I went under the knife to undergo RnY Gastric Bypass, willingly undergoing a life altering surgery with the hopes of getting a new grip on my weight and my overall health and well-being.

Since then, I have run over a thousand miles, 4 half marathons, a handful of 5ks, one 10k, and a few adventure/mud runs. I am training for my 5th half marathon, and so far, that is going fairly well. I logged 7 miles on Saturday morning, which was my longest run since the AmFam Half Marathon (at least I think it was). My IT band did not give me any trouble. My GI tract did unfortunately, but that isn’t unusual given that 7 feet of my intestines are not in use and at the best of times, things can be unpredictable.

Since my surgery, I have cut certain foods out of my life for good. Fast food hamburgers and fries? I don’t think I have had such a meal even once in 4 years. Anything that has to be consumed through a straw (e.g., smoothies, frosties, frappachinos, etc.) has been stricken from my diet. I have not consumed a single ounce of a soda, diet or otherwise, in 4 years.

Then there are things that I know I simply cannot eat or I will find myself shaking, sweating, heart racing, nauseated, and all around miserable. Cake. Pancakes or waffles. Commercially made biscuits (I can get away with a really tiny homemade one on very rare occasions). Ice cream in any serving larger than maybe a tablespoon or two. Fried chicken in anything larger than a kid’s size portion (Chik-fil-A’s 6 piece nuggets are the limit for me; I refuse to eat those fake nuggets anyone else serves). Honestly, deep-fried anything is a high risk for making myself ill; I just don’t go there except on the rarest of occasions (usually while traveling and there simply aren’t any good options). I can have one or two pieces of bacon, at most. I prefer to use it for cooking with these days.

Then there are foods that surprise me that I cannot eat very well. Salads are not easily digestible and tend to fill me up too quickly leaving no room for protein. That really doesn’t work for me, so they tend to be rare and almost like a treat.

Chicken breast is another surprising one. When I cook with chicken breast, I do best if it is cut against the grain, shortening those long muscle fibers, and then cooked with lots of veggies or a sauce to try and put some moisture into the meat. Otherwise, swallowing plain chicken breast is akin to chewing and swallowing a cotton ball, only it sits in my pouch, painfully holding up anything else that wants to go down.

Hard boiled eggs. They feel like I am digesting a blown up rubber glove. Scrambled is okay, but I get off-put by the texture these days. And frying an egg tends to leave me feeling not awesome, but I eat them anyway. I have to eat something on weekend mornings.

Nuts. Well, it isn’t that I cannot eat nuts, but if I do, the aforementioned “unpredictability” of my GI tract suddenly becomes VERY predictable, but not in a good way. I only eat nuts when I know I am not doing anything very active within the next 24 hours.

Pulled pork BBQ. Byram makes amazing smoked BBQ and every time I eat it, I feel sick no matter how small my portion is. I suspect the combination of the sugar in the rub with the higher fat content of the meat come together to make me miserable.

Oddest of all things I think is oatmeal. I love a bowl of oatmeal, though I prefer mine savory with a touch of butter and salt. That said, if the only thing I eat for breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal, within 2 hours my blood sugar crashes to the floor and I become a shaky mess. If I have it with something else, like string cheese or yogurt, it is normally fine, but I don’t usually have room for oatmeal AND anything else. It is perhaps the one thing I miss eating most regularly.

Dining out is a completely different experience post-gastric bypass. Everyone knows that by and large, restaurant meals are vastly oversized, heavy on oils and fats, salt and sugar. Most chain restaurants do not serve very high quality meals, as well. So for me, dining out just anywhere has lost much of its allure. Visiting any buffet is a rare thing anymore, but if we do, we usually go to Chinese buffets. I aim for sashimi and sushi, maybe some soup, and a small amount of any dishes that don’t look too oily. If I am forced to darken the door of a Golden Corral, I go for a rare cut of steak, any veggies that don’t look drowned in oil, and a cup of their chili. Pro-tip: chili at most restaurants is a great fall back for gastric bypass patients. It typically isn’t horribly fatty, it is full of protein, fiber, and lots of flavor (most of the time). I used to go for New England Clam Chowder, but now I know better that the fat to protein ratio is really not in my favor.

I check appetizer lists in menus a lot of the time. It is very rare to find much that is decent in appetizers, but seared ahi tuna has become very popular and in a typically sized appetizer, it is a perfect meal for me. Some places are featuring “Hummus platters” or “Mediterranean Plates” which work very well for me too, and are often large enough that I can share with the table and still go home full. Hummus, some feta cheese, olives, tomatoes and onions, some pita bread (which I eat very little of), and I am good to go.

I love tacos. There is no getting around it. But not tacos like Taco Bell; I like the awesome taquerias that have begun to pop up all over Richmond. An order of three tacos, with fillings like al pastor, carne asada, and even lengua (ooh, scary!), are all delicious and in small enough portions that their fat content doesn’t tend to bother me. These authentic style tacos are not like American tacos that are loaded with sour cream and cheese. These just have their meat, cilantro, salsa, and typically some pico de gallo or just diced onion. And I usually tear off some of the tortilla, or don’t eat all of the tortillas, just the filling in one or two of them.

Pho is a recent culinary discovery for me. Delicious broth, fairly lean meats, and yes, lots and lots of noodles, but I can eat as much or as little of the noodles as I want. Yes, the serving is typically massive (like measurable in gallons, right?), but something everyone should remember is that while we were all taught how bad it is to waste food, it is FAR worse clean your plate and then find all that food on your waist.

Four years on and I am far from perfect. I do eat and drink the wrong things, I slack off of my work out routines, I screw up. All. The. Time. But that doesn’t mean I quit. That I say “Well, I’ve gained back some weight, time to throw in the towel.” I fight. I am fighting right now. I consider my surgery a gift and it is not one I am willing to relinquish.

I write about my surgery to remind myself where I came from, why I do the seemingly crazy things I do (like go run in the pouring rain at lunch today?), and why it is so very important that I don’t stop. I write because I know a lot of people think about this kind of life-style change, they have questions, they wonder if bariatric surgery is right for them, they wonder what life is like on the other side. There are tons of bari-bloggers out there, I am just out here offering just another perspective.

So here is to 2014. I have big plans so stay tuned to see what comes next.