Today was supposed to be the last Monday before I ran a marathon. I should be excited and tired of spaghetti. Instead, I’m munching on carrots and writing a blog post about my adventures with a sort-of broken ankle and the most comfortable pair of workout shorts I’ve ever owned.
To tell this story, we first must travel back in time to April 21—I was still looking forward to running the Big Sur 21-miler on April 30. I was going entering taper-land and Greenstyle creations opened their tester call for the Moxi Shorts—so of course, I applied.
I make no effort to hide how much I love Greenstyle and its Angelyn, and this isn’t my first adventure testing for them. Part of what makes Greenstyle patterns so great is the care and devotion Angelyn puts into making sure the pattern is perfect before releasing, which is why it took a month of testing to get these shorts perfect.
There were a lot of adventures along the way--especially for the plus-size testers like me. I'm picky about the shorts I wear. In normal shorts, I have adjust between reps, if I can wear them to work out at all—thigh chafing is the worst. In an early stage, Angelyn and I had a conversation about potentially dropping the size 16 and 18 from the pattern. I am so grateful she didn't because the end result is by far the most comfortable shorts I've ever worn.
The inseam is long enough that my thighs don't rub, and there's enough room in the legs for my quadzillas (Thanks, CrossFit!). They are easy to adjust based on what your body needs: if you have a muscular bum, the pattern shows you how to adjust for that, as well as if you have skinnier thighs. (You lucky duck, you.)
Despite my love of these shorts, I only made two pairs of shorts during testing—which is about what I make during a normal weeklong testing period, let alone one that lasted a full 30 days. I promise I have a good reason: the same day testing started for the Moxi Shorts, the Sort-of Broken Ankle Adventure began.
You see, over the past month, I’ve had an X-Ray, an MRI and two sessions of physical therapy, all trying to figure out what's wrong with my ankle. Depending which medical professional you talk to, I either have a fractured talus, a talar dome or gnarly tendinitis. No matter what the cause, I’ve been unable to run for a month and missed out on Big Sur and the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon, and will be missing Mountains2Beach on Sunday. I’ve spent the last two weeks re-learning how to walk and discovering that I have a lazy right foot, hip, and glute that must be re-taught how to function.
As you can tell, it’s been quite a month, but a symmetrical one. Both the shorts and my ankle need continual adjustments and made major improvements. While an arduous process, today makes it all worth it. Today, the Moxi shorts are officially released—and I get to go on a short run for the first time in a month to test out the ankle, with my PT’s blessing of course.
When it was time to sew my final pair of shorts, I knew what I wanted the final outfit to look like—months ago, I decided I was going to run Mountains2Beach in a Moana-inspired outfit. Since I already had the supplies, I decided to sew the outfit with the Moxi shorts. After all, while I have to relearn how to walk and run, I’m still determined to run a marathon.
Want the Moxi Shorts pattern for yourself? Grab it here (Affiliate link).
During my yoga class yesterday, my teacher asked us, “What is your body telling you today?” While she asks this same question frequently, I usually don’t listen to her or my body. I go through class doing what I feel I should do, rather than what my body tells me I can do.
But yesterday was different.
Yesterday, I listened to the story that my legs and feet were telling me. They reminded me of my falling over during a box jump two months ago and showed me the scars of my determination to connect five double unders consecutively. My feet whispered that they haven’t had a break in a long time, specifically pointing out the black toenail I have from a race in December.
The most important stories my legs told me yesterday, though, came from the arch and ankle of my right foot. Last Sunday, my ankle gave me stern warning to stop by seizing in pain while I was doing food prep. My arch and calf joined the fray on Monday and by Wednesday, I had a knot in my calf the size of a golf ball. Hours of stretches and massage by me, Hunter and my massage therapist followed and by Friday, the knot was gone. I set out on a 3-mile run on Sunday to determine how I was feeling. I only made it two-thirds of a mile before my ankle screamed at me to stop.
This all led me to yoga class yesterday, where I dejectedly sat on my mat, heard what my legs were telling me, and set my intention: It will be okay.
Some of you may recall that a year ago, I dropped out of the Big Sur Marathon and made it my goal to finish the 21-Miler this year. The race is on Sunday--I think you can probably guess where this is going. I went to the doctor earlier this evening and was told that I can’t run for at least two weeks and need to complete a round of physical therapy over the next four weeks.
In short: although I’ve spent the last four months of my life devoted to training for the race, I can’t run Big Sur this weekend.
Obviously, I’m disappointed and sad, but I know it’s for the best. I’ll lose Big Sur, likely the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half in May, and possibly the Mountains2Beach Half on Memorial Day weekend (I had already downgraded from the full I was training for two weeks ago). However, as sad as this makes me now, it’s nowhere close to how devastated I would be if this injury made it so I can’t run the Dopey Challenge in January. After all, while I’ve been working towards Big Sur for months, I’ve been working towards the Dopey Challenge for years.
I bought this bracelet a few weeks ago from Etsy to where during Big Sur to remind me of the things I’ve overcome since last year’s race. When it finally got here yesterday, it became clear that this bracelet wasn’t just a reminder of how far I’ve come, but that I can keep going. I can keep going through the Spin classes I’ll have to force myself to in the coming weeks. I can bear modifying every CrossFit workout that’s programmed for the next month. I survive doing running workouts on an elliptical. My boss said it best today when I told her: “I hope you won’t stop. You get so much out of running.”
I want to close this out by saying thanks to everyone who supported me in this journey over the past year. I know I’ve been absent on social media for the past few months and don’t post much, but trust me, I see what you say and it motivates me. Thank you for the advice, the guidance, the motivation and the kindness. Thank you to those who have listened me whine when I was sore, those who forced me to train through a historically rainy winter, and those who have accepted the fact that I now have donut leggings that I will wear around the office.
A year ago, I trained for my first marathon. It did not end well. In the eleven months since that failure, I've had a lot of time to think about what went wrong, and the thing that I kept coming back to was how I did not train properly--if you can consider what I did training at all.
In December, I realized that I need to figure out how I was going to train for the Big Sur 21-miler this time, as well as coupling training with my goal to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year. After doing a lot of research, I choice Hal Higdon's Novice 1 program, coupled with Jeff Galloway-esque run/walk intervals, and 2-3 CrossFit WODs a week.
I know there may be purists who disagree with this approach, but my decision was based on continuing my current level of activity, layered with a practical approach to balancing marathon training with my regular life.
I officially kicked off training in January, and since then, I've been on a constant roller coaster of fatigue, soreness and constant discovery of clothes that don't fit me anymore. On Saturday, I ran what I am calling the inaugural Half Mere-athon (or as most people know it, a 13-mile training run), which gave me a lot of time to think about how the first half of my training has gone. I decided to make a list of the things I've learned in the last few months in the off-chance that there's someone else out there is like me.
You know those days when you just feel like "Blah?" That's me today--I skipped my 6AM run this morning to read and don't plan on working out today (save for my yoga video tonight). It's days like today where you just need something comfy to pull on, and automagically look adorable. And it's not easy finding that type of comfy cute look when you're plus-sized. Things that make other girls look cute make you look like you're in a muumuu or a tent.
When Greenstyle Creations announced a tester call for the new Scarlet Swing Dress (affiliate link), I applied to test. I make no secret out of my love for Greenstyle--it's kind of like Angie has this magical power like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Her patterns look good on every body.
The dress is a simple swing dress, with (we think) 110 options. I did the math on it, but I majored in anthropology and have a master's degree in humanities--I make no claims to be Will Hunting. That being said, there are tons of options, and no matter what build or shape your body has, this dress has a flattering option for you.
Besides the whole "looking good" thing, the pattern is also amazingly simple to cut and sew. I started my final version at 11AM on Sunday morning and was all done and taking pictures by 2. (And that's with cutting in my workspace across town and sewing at home.)
My version is the above-elbow length sleeves in the shorter length with a scoop neck. Since I'm always either coming from a workout, going to workout or sore from a workout, my intentions for this dress--and it's many future iterations--are to be the hug I need when I'm tired, the dress I pull on when I simply don't want fabric touching my skin because everything hurts (I'm looking at you, Murph), and the easy-to-pack option for the many race weekends ahead of me.
Plus, it makes for a pretty dope curtsy, if I do say so myself.
You can get your copy of the Scarlet Swing Dress today for $8.50, but after Wednesday, February 8, the price goes to $10. Get it today, because as Scarlett O'Hara would say "After all, tomorrow is another day."
You can get the pattern here. (Affiliate link)
My dress is made from Double Brushed Poly from Pretty Posh Prints. I got the pattern for free for testing. The total cost of my dress was $22.75.
While it's technically not my blogiversary for another couple of days, the idea was born about a year ago and Google Domains renewed my URL on 1/31, so I'm calling it my anniversary.
While I'm still not established enough to do any of those cool giveaway things that a lot of bloggers do, I did want to celebrate by writing a blog post about the biggest thing I learned in the last year of attempting to have a regular blogging practice:
It's easy to be fake when you write a blog.
You may think that's obvious or you may be shocked, but either way, it's true. I've found myself pretending to be someone I'm not several times. This forced faux version of myself has made it hard for me at times to write posts, which in the end make it so I don't write at all.
I've had a lot of time to think about this. After all, my full time job is in social media. I think we all like to pretend that we are happy, put-together, superheroes on social media, but in real life, we're stressed out balls of weirdness. And there's nothing wrong with that if we embrace it.
I don't know if anyone reads this blog, or if the tiny bit of traffic Weebly tells me it gets every week are spambots or Google. But what I do know, is that if I want to keep doing this, I need keep it real.
So, to celebrate the first anniversary of this blog post, I'm making a promise for year two:
I will be appropriately authentic on this blog.
I've been guilty of posting things on Instagram that I don't know that I believe, as well as sewing things that I don't love or registering for races I don't really want to do, just because I think that's what is expected of me.
I haven't told the stories of the pattern test photos where skirts are pinned on to me, garments aren't hemmed or with upside down waistbands. I haven't shared the runs where I sit down and give up because my body is beyond tired or the mornings when I wake up sick or ravenous because I didn't eat like a real athlete.
I recently heard Shonda Rhimes' 2014 Dartmouth commencement address (below) and realized that I want to be a writer, and to do that, all I have to do is write. To write, though, requires an honesty and transparency with yourself, and I simply haven't been doing that. I'm not a good runner and I'm, at best, a mediocre sewist. But what I am good at is being a nerd, loving pop culture and winning at trivia. I'm great at making messes, watching movies and buying fabric I never intend to use because I don't want to "hurt it." (And yes, that is an actual quote I've said.)
If you're reading this blog, I assume that you're okay with meeting the real me. And if not, well, I'm glad you're on the Internet and probably not someone I know in real life.
It's been a year since I started sewing again and in that year, I've started testing for a bunch of different companies. Usually, I only try to test one pattern a month because pattern testing eats a lot of fabric and time. (Don't get me wrong, I love it, but I want to be open and honest.)
My plans for December were to do one pattern test and then complete the evergrowing pile of Christmas gifts I needed to finish. So, imagine my surprise when Jessica of Lil Luxe Collection tagged me in their testing group asking if I (or any of the other 2XL testers they have used before) could step in and test the new women's version of their Hideaway Hoodie.
I'm going to be honest: I initially ignored the ask. I had three other projects that had to be finished and shipped by last Thursday to make it to Tennessee in time for Christmas. But then, all of the other testers declined and I finished my other projects to a point where I knew I had the availability to test for Lil Luxe again.
Now that I've tested the hoodie, I can't believe I ever considered not doing it. I love this sweatshirt. I've been jonesing for a new post-workout seatshirt and this totally fit the bill. I made it with a French terry I got for $1/yard during Girl Charlee's Black Friday sale and an Art Gallery knit I won for free in a contest in March. Basically, the whole thing cost me $3.
From the outside, the construction looks difficult, but once you start sewing it, it's actually quite easy. The key to making the pockets look perfect is to topstitch the seam allowance to the outside of the pocket. If you follow the instructions given in the pattern, you'll have a super comfy hoodie in no time!
Plus, because the bodice can be sewn three pieces, the options for paneling and colorblocking are pretty much endless. You can do a solid color fo the bodice and sleeves, add a peek of color in the cuffs, or use up your scrapbag and make everything different!
You can get your own version of the Women's Hideaway Hoodie here. Plus, it's 30% off until 12/27.
Let's not mince words here: I haven't done a good job of updating this blog. I've done a LOT of sewing since August, but I couldn't bring myself to write. I guess I had this feeling that whatever I would write just wouldn't be good enough.
Then, this morning, we got the news that one of my husband's aunts passed away. This aunt was the type of person I aspire to be: loved by everyone who knew her, a writer, and dedicated sewist.
She was one of the people who firmly believed I could be a writer if I wanted to, and encouraged me to write more. I guess getting the news this morning forced me to realize that I needed to stop worrying that I wasn't good enough and start trying to write.
As Rio celebrates the closing of its Olympic Games, we reflect and celebrate the athletic accomplishments of the last two weeks. The athletes parade into the stadium wearing their medals, dancing and smiling, and we watch from home, proud of their endeavors and the way they represented their countries.
But—when is the last time we’ve celebrated ourselves similarly? We celebrate the accomplishments of Olympians, people we will never know personally, yet go about our individual lives not truly celebrating or recognizing the amazing things we’re doing—or that those close to us—on a regular basis.
While on my run this morning, I had an epiphany that four years ago—the last time I watched a Summer Games Closing Ceremony—I was unemployed, new to California, and had never run longer than three miles. Since then, I’ve started and completed a Master’s program, run 15 half marathons, toed the line of a marathon, and have a job that I love 90% of the time.
While these things may not be as amazing as becoming an Olympic champion over the course of four years, for me those things are as valuable as a gold medal. I know that I have friends who have defeated cancer, found their life partner, had a child, graduated with their PhD, ran a marathon, written a book, lost huge amounts of weight, or landed their dream job, all since London closed its games in 2012.
I guess this all boils down to the question: when was the last time you celebrated yourself? If it hasn’t been recently, take a moment from your day and recognize the amazing things you’re doing, no matter how small they seem to you in comparison. It can be as simple as knocking out an extra workout during the week, making a dish you’ve never cooked before, finishing the book that’s been on your to-read list for months or even taking the leap to ask a question you’ve been afraid to ask.
To put it into Olympic terms, we’re all competing in its marquee event: living a happy, passionate life and the only way we’re going to stand on top of the podium at the end of it is to celebrate the little things.
So ask yourself—how can you celebrate yourself today?
I come from a family of sewers. Both of my grandmothers sew, and my mother was a professional seamstress for a while, making prom dresses for girls in our area. Notice that grammatical tense: was. Today is the seventh anniversary of my mother's passing and I'm struggling really hard today.
I think part of the struggle is because this is the first year I'm not denying the fact that I'm not okay and a lot of it has to do with sewing. Last year was the first year since 2007 that I let myself sew clothing to wear everyday. Before then, the last thing I made was my senior prom dress. I think it was an emotional wound that I didn't want to open. My mom used to make us matching outfits for holidays and helped me make a 4-H project every summer. Wearing those clothes was a point of pride for me, but after her death, I really just couldn't bear it. Every time I pressed on the presser foot of a machine, I think of her giving me "Mom speeding tickets" to ensure my stitches were straight and I didn't go too fast. Picking out patterns reminded me of the hours spent in Jo-Ann picking out 4-H projects. In short, I couldn't come near a sewing machine without feeling tremendous loss.
When I started running four years ago, I soon found out that people ran half marathons in costume. Of course, I wanted to run 13.1 miles dressed as a Disney character, so I began flirting with the idea of sewing again. At first I hand-sewed things, but eventually my husband got to the point of saying that I should just get a machine since it would mean less curse-words. I bought one and then a serger, but still refused to sew full articles of clothing for everyday wear. I'd sew running costumes and wear them once, but that was it. I wanted to avoid the conversations about how I learned to sew because I didn't want to talk about it.
Then, a year and a half later, I couldn't find a dress for my brother's wedding. He was getting married in St. Louis at the end of July and I wanted to be comfortable and nothing at the stores fit the bill. So I decided to sew something for the wedding. Admittedly, I didn't know what I was doing, and I ended up making a pretty terrible SUAT Brazi dress. And the compliments came, but since it was my family, everyone already knew how I knew how to sew. The awkward questions didn't come, and the dress was amazingly comfortable given how hot the wedding was. I felt a part of me come back to life.
I've sewed a lot more in the past year and started this blog. There's no hiding from it anymore when people ask me how I learned to sew: I learned from my mom. The awkward conversation of me explaining that my mom passed away in 2009 always happens, but by not avoiding it, I'm finding that I'm finally healing. I still think about "Mom speeding tickets" and wish I could call her when I have to insert a zipper, but I've stopped running away from the memories I have sewing with my mom, even if it's just one stitch at a time.
It's been two weeks since I failed at the marathon. A lot has happened, both externally and internally. Over the weekend, I decided that I might need to do an update to my blog post about failing the Big Sur Marathon.
Be warned, though. This blog post is filled with references to musicals. You'll understand why in just a bit, I promise.
Who am I? Can I conceal myself forevermore?
Since the failed marathon attempt, I've had to do a lot of soul-searching. I've asked myself why I run and what my goals are. I flirted with running throughout college, but I was never fully invested until I moved to California and signed up to run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2013. Then, after I finished my first half, I became "running arrogant." I knew I could finish a half, so I stopped trying so hard. I debuted at a 3:11, and my PR is currently 2:52. For as much as I run, the difference should be a lot more than that.
This led the to the question that I've been afraid of asking myself for a couple of years: what type of runner do I want to be? At the Captain America 10K in 2015, some woman came up to me and told me if I could get my endurance up, I'd be a force to be reckoned with. I was angry when she told me that, but some time and distance made me realize that I have the potential of being a faster, stronger runner, but in order to get there, I need to wean myself of walk breaks, which leads me to point two.
With the chance I've been given, I'm gonna be driven as hell
Upon that realization, I hit the ground hard last week. I did three CrossFit three times, ran five times, went back to Spin and drastically changed my diet. It ended up about as well as you could imagine: I ended up hurting the arch of my left foot and am currently on my second day of full rest.
There's a delicate balance between anger and determination. I was angry, and to be honest, I still am. I'm angry about my failure, I'm angry that I may not get a second chance, and I'm angry that it is totally my fault. Last week, I took out that anger on my body. On Saturday, I took that body out for what was supposed to be an easy 10K along the coast. It was anything but--my body told me that what I was doing wasn't sustainable and literally stopped working. My foot started dragging, my calf started seizing again, and my shoulder hurt at the same time the tide came in. What resulted was me finishing the race barefoot while trying not to cry.
Something has changed within me. Something is not the same.
Beyond my disastrous 10K on Saturday, this past weekend was also notable for something else: my thesis was approved and I will be graduating with my Master's Degree in Humanities in a couple of weeks. (The thesis was on the cultural impact of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, thus the musical references. Bonus points if you can name the shows.) These two events coupled together over the weekend led me to another question that I didn't want to ask myself: How can someone so smart be so stupid? I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious: pride.
Will I lose my dignity?
I run for the bragging rights and the bling. Somewhere along the way, I lost my love for going miles on my own feet. I'm a big girl and when I started running, it was a point of pride for me. I was a former hammer and discus thrower was running half marathons--for fun. But then, I got my first taste of bling and braggadocio and was never the same again. In retrospect, I think the Big Sur disaster happened in large part because I was too proud to admit that I wasn't ready for a marathon, at least not Big Sur. People tried to tell me, and I bristled. I was prideful, and I think that makes me the most angry.
So here it is, my digital mea culpa: marathons are hard and I tried to run one before I was ready. If you are planning on running a marathon, let me ask you one question: why do you want to run one?
Do you want to run a marathon just so you can say you did? Are you doing it because it's the next logical step in your running progression? Let's think about that logic for a second... What would you say to someone who wants to get married just to say they did? Or because it was the next logical step? You may think the comparison crazy, but in reality, training for a marathon takes the same level of commitment. You lose a lot of sleep, your diet is weird, your lifestyle changes drastically, you lose your social life, and it costs a lot of money.
Look at you where you are. Look at where you started.
A couple of weeks ago, I cheered on the runners in the SLO Marathon and Half at the 10-mile mark. One of my rallying cries was "Do you remember when a 5K was a long time?" Other than the one cantankerous guy who yelled back at me "It still is," the runners got the point. At some point, we all were beginners. We struggled to run for more than a few minutes at a time. A 5K seemed crazy. And then a 10K seemed hard. And then a 15K. Then a 10-mile run. Then a half. Then a 20-mile run. Then a marathon. And so on. I had forgotten what it felt like to run my first 5K. I had forgotten about how scared I was and how I didn't even know what to do with my car keys, so I bought a bag at the race and ran with it. It's crazy how things change, but I really needed the perspective.
To get back to what I originally asked: What comes next?
I'm taking two months off from races. I'll run a local 5K on the Fourth of July, then take another two months off and run the Jackson Hole Half with my sister in Wyoming. For those four months, my focus will be becoming healthier, but not just in the faster and stronger sense. I want to be in this body for another 50+ years, and to do that, I need to take care of it now. I'm cutting back on carbs. I'm drinking less. I'm writing down everything I eat. I'm listening to my body when it says it's tired (which it's saying right now).
I'm stuck like a dope with a thing called hope.
Essentially, I'm spending the next four months falling back in love with running and appreciating my body. My hope is that between now and Labor Day weekend, I'll lose 10 pounds, drop a bit of time off of my pace and get back to where I should be four years into my running journey.
I'll close with a simple question: is the flame that made you start running burning or has it been snuffed out?
Hi there! I'm Meredith and a dork who happens to be bad at running and mediocre at sewing, but in love with both of them.