Why, hello there. The following is an email I wrote a few days ago to the Regional Manager of Swirlgear (an amazing company for women, by women. I will be talking a great deal more about this in the future) to provide a greater degree of information about myself upon becoming an ambassador. However, I feel that this (admittedly long-winded and in-depth) survey of my life will provide the perfect entré for you all a) to my background and a sense of who I am as a person, b) some of the topics that I will likely be dedicating my writing to, and c) why I am, after thinking about starting a blog for probably close to 2 years now, finally doing the damn thing.
So, yes, it is addressed to Amy and Swirlgear, but just [insert your name here] for Amy and [insert whatever you would like, madlib-style] for Swirlgear. First a Picture, courtesy of the AMAZEBALLS Chelsea Patricia:
“Amy, so good to cyber-meet you! I too am excited to join in on the Swirlgear adventure. I hope that I will be able to play a beneficial role in getting the word out there about the company. A few things about me, oh, where to begin? Be careful what you wish for!
I guess I will start with the basics: I am 25, married (as of May 26th this year), and a newer resident of Chicago, though originally from Atlanta. I was the every-kid–I played soccer, did ballet, karate, piano, violin, sang, etc, but my passion was of the four-footed and hooved variety. I grew up riding horses competitively–they were my life until a few years ago, when I went to graduate school. I took my horse to college (UVA) and competed up and down the east coast with my trainer and as part of the team. I went from UVA to graduate school at Columbia in Manhattan, where I earned my Masters of Science in Historic Preservation, a degree that I believed would take me to a very different place than where it has led.
Always active, I started to get serious about running longer distances my 4th year at UVA. After cheering my mom on at the VA Wine Country Half Marathon (the first year it was held), I decided to train for my first half. The next January I started training (having never run farther than 6 miles before), and I firmly believe that training myself for that race not only got me mentally and emotionally through writing my thesis, it saved my relationship (Alex and I were long distance), my body, and my mind. I STUDIED the sport, dove into blogs, and really became a runner. I loved it.
I graduated, ran my first half (was TERRIFIED the night before that my stomach wouldn’t hold) and blew it out of the water. I was the kid who finished last in the mile in school. And I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease one month to the day after Sept 11, 2001. I had a doctor’s note excusing me from running because of the site of some surgery scars and the fear that it would over-stress my body. I have been overweight because my body put on 20 lbs in 3 weeks for now reason, underweight because after 2 years of hard dieting and diligent working out, I flared and the weight dropped. The lovely quasi-Type-A personality that I have has led to disordered eating, something I have battled for probably about 8 years now. But running, and training for these races, in particular, heals me. ONLY by fueling and properly caring for my body can I achieve and accomplish these feats that I would have honestly laughed in your face if you had told me I would be striving for even 2 years ago. My hormones are basically all synthetic. My ankles pronate, I am prone to peroneal tenonitis, and (as made apparent by this marathon season) prone to ITB issues because my glutes refuse to fire. Which is ironic, considering I rode horses for 20 years, owned the hills in VA, and trained in Central park. But whatever. My body would prefer that I just give up, but I say nay (neigh, for my horsey friends?).
As a final anecdote, before you run away screaming, I want to share how I arrived in Chicago: To summarize my May-June, Alex (my husband), graduated on Sunday the 19th, we packed up and drove our life from Charlottesville, VA, to Chicago over Monday-Tuesday, unpacked, slept, Thursday we flew to my parents’ home in Atlanta, Friday-Sunday was our wedding weekend, and Monday the 27th we flew to Europe. Where we didn’t spend more than 3 nights in the same place either! Thursday June 6th we flew (an 11 hour flight) back to Atlanta, Friday the 7th to Chicago, and on Saturday June 8th I ran the Allstate 13.1 as a proud member of Team Challenge Georgia. And PR’d, baby. We spent the next 10 days buying and building furniture, changing bank accounts and the like, and then Alex started residency at Northwestern. Go big, or go home!
I am still trying to find my place/niche in Chicago. I am currently a waitress at a trendy, high-volume, upscale restaurant in River North. The fact that I had to “recover” from my long runs in converses, concrete floors and over 10 hour shifts probably didn’t help my various ailments. But I wore my best compression socks. I am someone who is incredibly driven and (admittedly) very good at a great deal of things, but I am not any ONE thing in particular. And that is very hard in this job market. Running now, as when I was writing my thesis, has given me structure, support, pain, and pure, unadulterated happiness. It is much like my equestrian career: study, dedication, high-highs, frustrating lows. There are times when you do everything right, like I have done with my academic career, and expect a particular result, only to bonk or have horrific pain in your ITB 7 miles in. But the experience teaches you that a single race does not make a runner; a certain job title does not make the (wo)man. Ultimately, you simply have to appreciate every mile. And the really, really cute clothes that you ran them in.
Thus concludes my life story. It is more than a “little” about me, but to be honest, I do not regret the over-share. This is a community that I feel safe in, and my goal as a Swirlgear ambassador is to share that feeling.”
Thus why I am here. I hope you will oblige me and return for seconds (I don’t mind if they are sloppy), thirds (get it, gurl), and so on (who are you??). If I am not your cup of tea, I respect that. But I think that this could be the start of something beautiful. Or at the very least, a realllllly good story.