Thank you.

Since my previous post, I’ve received a tremendous outpouring of love, support, and insights from so many people. Believe me when I say that, aside from the day of my wedding, I have never felt such love and gratitude for all the people who share in our life.

My closest friends reached out and reassured me of their loyalty. Family members and relatives shared their inner demons and marriage struggles. Other couples (married or not) have reassured us that what we’re going through is not abnormal and worth fighting through.

Even people who lie on the peripherals of our social sphere have offered companionship, coffee dates, kind words, and a glimpse inside their own hearts.

To all these people and more, I can only say:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(And also, here is a photo of Grand Traverse Bay for you. It is one of my favorite pictures and it fills me with joy:)

Grand Traverse Bay Travers CIty Michigan Lake.jpg

Your words, gestures, and vulnerability make us feel less alone. You encourage us to turn towards each other and ourselves. You provide a safe haven during a very rough storm.

One thing I feel I must say, though.

Continue reading “Thank you.”

Ragnar Cape Cod: A Long Recap of a Really, Really, Really Long Race

Ragnar Cape Cod - We Survived!

We did it! We shoved ourselves into a minivan with strangers (whom soon became friends), ran three times in less than 20 hours, and traversed the length of Cape Cod as RAGNARians. It was a whirlwind of an adventure, and one I hope to do again someday.

It’s hard to describe RAGNAR with words and photos. The entire aura of RAGNAR is unlike anything I’ve ever felt, whether at a race or at any other event. Our team—one of the 500 teams taking place in this epic logistics whirlwind—was split between two vans with six runners in each van, but we competed as a whole unit. While I strived to do my best as an individual runner, I was equally invested in cheering each of my van-mates at the start and finish of their runs. It’s a team event, but so much of my time was focused on preparing myself for my solo runs because I never knew exactly when I’d be running again. It’s more mental than physical, and that was a challenge for me.

Continue reading “Ragnar Cape Cod: A Long Recap of a Really, Really, Really Long Race”

Boston Bound and Ragnar Ready

Boston Bound and Ragnar Ready - Mo Stych Travel Blog

The time has come! This Friday, we depart in our van with four other people and begin our RAGNAR adventure. We’ve spent the last four or five months training (with a half marathon squeezed in there, too) and at last, we are heading to Boston.

Am I nervous? Absolutely. In fact, I am incredibly nervous. I’ve never really run at night before and my second run is likely to start around 11 pm EST. The good news is I’ve run in the dark plenty of times–as a die-hard morning person, those 5 a.m. marathon training runs were some of my favorites–but my body happily starts shutting down around 9 p.m. Instead, I’ve got to convince my body to run five miles after running eight miles a mere 12-ish hours before that. I guess it does take a bit of crazy to want to compete in this sport.

Continue reading “Boston Bound and Ragnar Ready”

Whole30 – Week 4 Recap

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I thought we’d never get here: Day 31. The other side. It’s intimidating, a relief, and a tease all at the same time.

It doesn’t help that Week 4 still held a lot of challenges for us, including a near-quitting day for me and a work conference filled with the most beautiful vegetarian and vegan options I’ve ever seen in my life. Week 4 also had major breakthroughs for us both and we feel like we really did need a full 30 days to “see the light.”(Tiger Blood still feels like a myth, but that’s ok). My awareness about how food interacts with my body is at an all-time high, and I won’t be able to forget the things I learned on this journey.

OBSERVATIONS

 

  • I feel too touchy-feely saying Whole30 was “life changing,” but the truth is that I will never be the same. My life is different now, and I can’t view food the same way: even the foods I really, really love and truly cherished before I started this. Do I still want to eat muffins and pizza and cheap Mexican food? Well….I do, but I also kind of don’t. I know too much now, and I know what it feels like to fuel my body with real food sources. It feels good. It feels so good that it may counteract the temptation of foods I know taste delicious for a few minutes but make me feel crappy later. Time will tell.
  • We’re doing a slow-roll reintroduction plan. This means we’ll reintroduce certain food groups for one day, then two days of W30 so we can evaluate how the reintroduced foods made us feel. After investing this much time into cleansing our bodies, it seems like a waste to skip this step. We’re excited but a little nervous about this part, since it’s going to teach us what foods work well with our bodies and which don’t. What if I discover some of my favorite foods (hummus, quinoa, oats) actually make me feel like crap? There could be hard decisions to make. Anyway, for the next 10 days, our food schedule looks like this:
    • Day 1: Non-gluten grains (rice, quinoa, corn, etc.) followed by two W30-compliant days
    • Day 4: Legumes (soy, chickpeas, peanuts, etc.) followed by two W30-compliant days
    • Day 7: Gluten-containing grains (bread, pizza crust, waffles, oats, cereal, etc.) followed by two W30-compliant days
    • Day 10: Dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.). I’m already pretty sure that dairy screws up my system, so I asked Sam if we could do this one last.

Continue reading “Whole30 – Week 4 Recap”

Whole30 – Week 3 Recap

WOWOWOWOWOW. Somehow we’ve made it to Day 25! I can’t believe it! This month is definitely one of those “the days go by slowly but the weeks go quickly” scenarios. We’re a mere 5 days away from completing our Whole30 challenge. Spoiler alert: it’s still really challenging. Read on for more about our third week, and make sure to check out the short video!

OBSERVATIONS – WEEK 3

  • SO. MUCH. FLOSSING. Normally I floss before bedtime, averaging 5-6 times a week, but now I’m flossing after practically every meal. Chai seeds, salmon, spinach, apple…it’s like I’m storing my next meal in between my teeth.
  • My sense of smell is driving me crazy. Even though I’m 75% done with this challenge, it is still agonizing when someone eats warm, delicious, gluten-chewy pizza right next to you. Or even across the room. My nose is picking up all kinds of smells, and smells from foods I really crave are sensory explosions in my mind.

Continue reading “Whole30 – Week 3 Recap”

Whole30 – Week 2 Recap

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Well, we made it through two weeks on the Whole30! Halfway there! There were a lot of things on our minds this past week, so I’ll do my best to recap my observations. If you’re interested in learning more about Whole30 and my experience so far, check out my week 1 recap.

OBSERVATIONS – WEEK 2

  • Getting the Whole30 book is definitely worth it. Even in college, I used any excuse to not buy a book. Unless it was a textbook I would need every day, I put off buying (or renting) a book as long as possible, and sometimes I wouldn’t buy a required book the entire semester. I found a lot of great Whole30 resources online—enough survival tips to get me through the program—and I assumed it was enough. But you know the gym guy that Sam says I spend way too much time talking to? Well, he gave us the Whole 30 book, and it’s made this whole past week a lot easier. There are two great resources in here: 1. a fundamental breakdown of why the program is designed this way and why it will change our lives; 2. a calendar of what feelings to expect on each day of the program (and it is really on-point). To be totally honest, I wish I had this book before we started the program.
  • It turns out our first week was pretty normal for active, healthy eaters (but we didn’t know it until we had the book). We were hungry, irritable, and eating a billion nuts…well, at least I was eating a billion nuts. We wanted to quit on the exact days (days 10 and 11) that they estimated we would quit. We didn’t experience any of the major withdrawals of unhealthy eaters, but we still had the peaks-and-valleys kinds of energy levels they outlined in the book. If nothing else, I wish I’d known to expect these feelings during my first week —ESPECIALLY on day 10 for me—instead of feeling isolated and alone in my angst. 

Continue reading “Whole30 – Week 2 Recap”

Whole30 – Week 1 Recap

week-1-whole30-recap

On New Year’s Day, Sam and I started the Whole30 challenge. If you’ve not heard of Whole30, there’s plenty of information available online but the rules sum it up best.

Essentially, Whole30 is a strict Paleo diet geared towards clean-eating. The idea is to cleanse your body of sugar cravings, fuel your body with real food, and eliminate common inflammatory foods so you can determine what types of processed food groups aggravate your system. By enforcing strict eating rules for a full 30 days, you detox your body from all the gunk in there and, supposedly, have “a life-changing” experience (according to 88% of people surveyed people post-W30).

We’re on Day 9, or just over a week in. The first week is commonly called The Detox Week, because your body is adjusting to using the fuel you provide—fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats, and a few other hippie-like foods—and coping with the loss of foods you can’t consume for 30 days. Here’s a brief list of what we’ve sacrificed eating for 30 days (text in the parentheses is pulled verbatim from the Whole30 website):

  • No grains. (This includes [but is not limited to] wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on.”
  • No legumes. (“This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).”)
  • No dairy. (This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream”
  • No alcohol of any kind.
  • No real or artificial added sugars of any kind. (No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc.)

I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a commitment, and if it’s something you’re thinking about doing you’re going to need to plan ahead. But, it is something I’d recommend thinking about if you’re interested in trying it. Since we’re a week in, I thought I’d share some of my motivation to try Whole30 and what my initial reactions/thoughts are to the program.

Continue reading “Whole30 – Week 1 Recap”

Maui: The Hardest Run of My Life – XTERRA Kapalua 10k Trail Run

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Sam and I purchased our tickets to Maui back in May. We were invited to join Sam’s folks, Fred and Ruth, for their 41st wedding anniversary celebration in paradise. Even though Sam and I have never talked about going to Hawaii, we didn’t take a lot of convincing. Hanging out in 80 degree temps for ten days, surrounded by the ocean and a billion tropical plants? SOLD.

In an effort to get in beach-bod shape, we signed up for the Milwaukee Marathon. The marathon would take place about three weeks before our Maui vacation, which allowed the perfect opportunity to work our asses off before chilling oceanside and reading books for hours on end.

The problem with marathon training is that it makes me do crazy things. A month or two before the marathon, on a whim, I decided to research races in Maui. Running is my favorite way to explore about a new place, so why not take advantage of our predetermined vacation to race in the most remote island chain in the world?

Oddly, there was only one race that caught my attention: the XTERRA Kapalua 2.5k / 5k / 10k trail run. Oh, I thought, we can totally do a 10k. We’re training for 26.2 miles, so 6.2 miles won’t be a big deal. I’ve run very few trail races, but I was curious enough to read the course description:

Continue reading “Maui: The Hardest Run of My Life – XTERRA Kapalua 10k Trail Run”

Why I Run: Part 3

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If you’ve read part 1 and part 2 of my running story, you’re probably curious about why I’m still running. I never felt naturally inclined to run as a child, and there isn’t enough ballistic emotional shit still going on in my life to carry forth the trend that motivated me to run in college.

When I first started, my goal was to run X number of miles and finish. I ran another marathon after my first marathon and it sucked. My body and mind were exhausted, and I wasn’t ready to commit to another training cycle…but I did it anyway. It was slower than my first race, and I felt more miserable for a greater portion of the race than my first marathon. I swore off running another marathon when I finished.

By this time, I’d met my to-be-husband and got him hooked on running, too. He’s been a lifelong athlete (baseball, football, basketball) and went on weekly jogs, but he didn’t take running seriously as a stand-alone sport. Just like when I started, running was a means of getting better at some other sport.

Together, we ran around our hometown, college campuses, and so many places in-between. I’m happy to report we’re still running together now. We make a good pair: on days that I struggle getting out the door, Sam pushes me to go faster than I’d go on my own. I’m a morning person and often convince him to get up and run with me at the crack of dawn (or earlier).

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Continue reading “Why I Run: Part 3”

Why I Run: Part 2

Why I Run: Part 2 - Mo Stych // mostych.comSince I’m not a natural runner, it should come as a surprise that I wasn’t fast when I first started running. And I lacked endurance. And I didn’t really know what to do to improve either of those things.

It didn’t stop me from running, though. I slogged through laps around the track outside Couzens Hall a few times a week, running a mile (or maybe two if I felt ambitious). As winter set in, I found myself enjoying my running routine and going a little bit farther each time. Instead of one or two miles, I ran two or three, or sometimes five miles.

My mom, seeing my interest in running, proposed that we both take on a race together. I agreed it would be a (potentially) good idea. We don’t do a lot of things together, just my mom and I, so maybe this could be something we shared. Feeling empowered by our consistent mileage and perhaps a little too ambitious, we signed up to run a half marathon on Memorial Day weekend in 2009. It was two or three times further than any distance I’d ever run. I was terrified to race, but also invigorated by the challenge.

Thankfully, the track path stayed plowed during the winter months, so I kept running. On days when it was too cold or snowy, I moved to the indoor track at the gym and ran there. I felt physically better than I had at any other point in my life. Nothing made me feel as joyful and bubbly and ready to take on the world as running did.

Running did so many other things for me, too. I took chances during my sophomore year of college that I wasn’t brave enough to do my freshman year. Longing for a news room, I joined the Michigan Daily and was elected Co-Managing Design Editor after only a semester on staff. I also ran for a position on the executive board of the Arts Chorale choir. I was voted in as Secretary (and held onto my position through senior year). I also finally decided on a major, which was stressful until I realized I loved learning about art more than anything else. I tried dating some guys during my sophomore year, but all I really got out of that experience was some awkward date stories. Despite being successful in some ways and unsuccessful in other ways, it didn’t matter. The important thing was taking risks and trying new things, and my running dedication fueled these actions.

Continue reading “Why I Run: Part 2”