Everyone Loves a Braggart...Right?

The Great Saunter a.k.a. My First Ultra-Distance Event a.k.a. Owwwww!

So, how was your weekend? Do anything fun? Have a good Mother’s Day?

Huh? What? No, I’m not just asking so I can tell you about my weekend. Geesh. I thought we were friends.

Oh, well, okay, if you insist.

I walked 32 miles on Saturday.

My Fitbit lies.
Shortchanged!

That’s how far it is, apparently, around the perimeter of Manhattan.

Even though I’d taken a break from running due to 30 extra pounds and a complete lack of natural running ability injury, I still fantasized about the Next Big Thing: ultra-distances (races greater than 26.2 miles, the length of a marathon).

Because I never really loved myself.
Because I never really loved myself.

Several months ago, someone mentioned to me that you could actually walk around the island of Manhattan. As in, there’s a continual path (more or less) that’s pedestrian-friendly (more or less) that circles the perimeter of New York City’s most famous borough. Upon Google searching, I found an event called The Great Saunter, hosted by the Shorewalkers club, where roughly 1,500 people gather annually to do just that.

Half sightseeing tour, half endurance test, the journey at Manhattan’s edge takes you into the shadows of 19 bridges, through as many parks and past art installations, city landmarks and 360 degrees of ever-changing views. – New York Times

Great-Saunter-saunterers
If by “ever-changing views” you mean this, I totally agree.

The Great Saunter isn’t a race or a fundraiser, and is in fact meant to be a saunter at 3 miles per hour, but seemed like the perfect opportunity to test my limits. Besides, even if I changed my mind, the registration fee was only $20.

I knew it was unlikely I’d find anyone equally eager to walk 32 miles, so I mentally prepared to go alone.

By mile 15, I really WAS alone.
Good thing, too. By mile 15, I really WAS alone.

In the days leading up to the event, the forecast was doom and gloom. Most people assumed I would bail, but clearly they had forgotten about my pride and boastfulness commitment to greatness. On Friday night, I borrowed a proper windbreaker and put everything I thought I’d need in Ziploc bags: Band-Aids, ibuprofen, Band-Aids, vodka, Band-Aids.

Great-Saunter-backpack
Project Management Professional, at your service.

I was probably more nervous about driving from New Jersey into New York City than walking around it. It was drizzling slightly, but stopped by the time I arrived. I found a nearby parking garage and headed to the starting point, a pub near Battery Park at the southernmost part of Manhattan. I saw more people than I expected, conspicuously outfitted in hiking boots and backpacks.

The official start time was 7:30 am, but dozens of walkers began early, including me, around 7:15 am. I was feeling anxious, antisocial, and eager to get to that evening’s Cinco de Mayo party.

Margarita Jell-O shots = the world's greatest motivator.
Margarita Jell-O shots: the world’s greatest motivator.

As I told my father the night before, it wasn’t a matter of wanting to quit along the way, but rather, how quickly that feeling would arrive. I knew I would suffer. I might not make it. I walked quickly, passing many Saunterers along the way. No one said hello. Eventually, I had nothing but my overstuffed backpack to keep me company.

Greaaaattt big lamp post. Teeeeeeny tiny Statue of Liberty.
Greaaaattt big lamp post. Teeeeeeeeny tiny Statue of Liberty.
George Washington Bridge.
George Washington Bridge.

My legs started feeling stiff by mile 8, which is when I conveniently remembered I hadn’t trained at all for this.  I promised myself a quick stop at mile 10 to pop some ibuprofen. The first of many.

Next time I'm bringing morphine.
Next time I’m bringing more vodka.

Around mile 18, still feeling optimistic that I would finish, and nursing only one blister, I met a woman named Grace, who was walk-jogging the entire distance. Grace had the inside scoop on the fastest walkers.

“Did you see the woman in pink?” she asked me.

I stared back blankly.

“Holding a plastic bag?” she probed.

“Ah! Yes! Bag lady!” I exclaimed. I tried not to sound out of breath trying to keep up with Grace. “How could she hold a plastic grocery bag for 32 miles? Why didn’t she use a backpack? And she was so fast! I couldn’t catch her!”

“I know! Me either!”

Brooklyn Bridge. (Okay, so my pictures aren't great. I was afraid to stop moving.)
Brooklyn Bridge. (Okay, so my pictures aren’t great. I was afraid to stop moving. Actually, this is kind of artsy. I should charge for this.)

I thought I’d been enjoying my solo trek, but by mile 25, I was eternally grateful for Grace’s company. It turned out we had a lot in common, and she shared kind words that had an effect more powerful than 6 months of therapy: she thought I was 22.

“I just turned 34,” I told her. “And lemme tell ya, I feel it right now.”

“When I signed up for this, I thought it would be so easy,” she said.

I looked at her incredulously.

“I can’t believe you’re holding up this well if you came into it with that mindset. I knew it would be awful.”

We shared an “I just want to finish” mentality and held our pace for as long as possible, our conversation wandering between divorce, dating, food, and spirituality. You can cover a lot of ground (pun intended) when you walk with someone for 4 hours.

We stumbled through the remaining few miles, feeling sheer delight when the numbered streets turned to names – that meant we were getting close. The last mile was the hardest physically, but by then we could already taste the beer victory.

South Street seaport, our victory apéritif.
South Street seaport, our victory apéritif.

We started celebrating as soon as we saw Fraunces Tavern, the [starting and] finishing point.

It was 4:30 pm, 9 hours later, when we crab-walked up the stairs and met a very cheerful woman, who took our names and presented us with certificates. We immediately asked about the plastic bag-holding woman in pink.

“Everyone keeps talking about her!” she replied. “I haven’t seen her. Only one guy finished the whole thing before you two.”

Grace and I let out a collective squeal and hugged. Sure, it wasn’t a race, but…

*mic drop*

Great-Saunter-Grace-and-Jules
Second and third finishers of the 630 who completed the full 32-mile walk. (And many will tell you it was 34+ miles. I think they’re very wise and should be trusted.)

After our single celebratory hefeweizen, Grace, who’d found street parking, drove me the 4 blocks to my parking garage, where the attendant said,

“You took a long time.”

“Huh?” I replied, suddenly remembering that I’d told him I’d be back by 5 o’clock. It was only 5:30! And did it really matter?

“That’ll be $45.00,” he continued.

“Huh?” I said again. “I must’ve misread the sign.”

“You went over 10 hours,” he explained.

“So that was a $55.00 beer,” I grumbled, reluctantly handing him a wad of cash.

Don't ever park here.
Don’t ever park here.

But I’d done what I’d come to do. I quickly recovered and drank patted myself on the back for the rest of the weekend.

Great-Saunter-taste-of-victory-beer
And by quickly recovered, I mean I’m still hobbling. No marathon, triathlon, or long-distance cycling has ever left me so sore.

So naturally…

I’m already looking for the Next Big Thing. Any ideas?? Have you ever done anything like this?

Bonus shot: Surreal view of the Freedom tower on the (painful) drive home.
Bonus shot: Surreal, undoctored view of the Freedom Tower on the (painful) drive home.

*GIVEAWAY WINNER UPDATE: Many thanks for your hilarious entries in the latest Go Jules Go giveaway! Babs (my mother) had a hard time picking a winner, but chose Misty from Misty’s Laws! Congratulations, Misty – your copy of Jen Kirkman’s memoir, I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself is in the mail!*

Everyone Loves a Braggart...Right?

I Tried My First GU! Oh And Ran A Half Marathon.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in so long, but I wanted you to believe running my first half marathon last month actually killed me.

Entirely possible.
At least I lived to see BaconFest 2014.

Actually, it did something far, far worse.

It hooked me.

Me. The blogger with a penchant for vodka and chocolate-covered bacon everything.

Dependency? Moi?
Dependency? Moi?

This is my life now:

Note the deodorant-looking stick, Anti-Chafe. Its street name is "Chub Rub."
Note the deodorant stick, Anti-Chafe. Its street name is “Chub Rub.” This is seriously a thing.

Oh and see those little silver packets on the lower right? Those are GU brand energy gels. I don’t even like Gatorade, let alone creepy pudding packs with space-agey Nutrition Facts.

Finally, though, I listened to the advice of 10,273,047 seasoned runners and tried one during a recent training session, around mile 8, when I felt particularly sluggish. I went with the least offensive flavor I could find: Tri-berry. (Named so because GU berries run triathlons. Obviously.) Sure enough, 20 minutes later, I felt a sudden pep in my step that lasted the entire remaining 5 miles.

Fine, GU-lovers. FINE. You win this one.
Fine, GU-lovers. FINE. You win this one.

Speaking of winners, the rumors are true: I completed my first half marathon, The Wild Half, on Sunday, May 18th, in Wildwood, New Jersey!

Wild-Half-Wildwood-sign
I encourage you to caption this one yourself.

I chose the course because it ran alongside the coastline, i.e., it was FLAT. After 8 weeks of training, I still had no idea what I was doing, but my sister, a race veteran, was there to guide me every step of the way.

IMG_6715
Mostly we rode rollercoasters.

Her calming presence didn’t stop me from asking the obvious questions.

Wild-Half-Packet-Pickup
I can just hang it on the wall and say I did this? …Right?!

I was also careful not to disrupt my normal routine the day before the race.

Wild-Half-Hydration-1 Wild-Half-Hydration-2

The morning of, I lined up with the 10-minute mile pace group. My goal was simply to finish without walking, but I knew the faster I finished, the faster I could drink “celebrate.”

Stretching: More or Less Effective Than Vodka Shots? Discuss.
Stretching: More or Less Effective Than Vodka Shots? Discuss.

I programmed the 80’s cardio mix on my Pandora app and got ready to rock and roll.

I was feeling great until about mile 7, when the sun and endless stretch of pavement started to sear my soul. By mile 9, I hit the low point usually reserved for mile 10. Then, miraculously, I saw the mile 11 banner. I had missed the 10-mile marker altogether.

Wild-Half-thumbs-up
I was probably distracted by my sobriety.

Despite that mental boost, by mile 12, I was ready to stop running. Two of my oldest friends, shame and pride, pulled me through.

“But NOT finishing would make a much funnier blog post…”

With a stitch forming in my right side, I grimace-grinned down the home stretch.

The official finish line photo. I think I was disqualified for the rebellious-yet-jaunty placement of my race number.
The official finish line photo. I think I was disqualified for the rebellious-yet-jaunty placement of my race number.

I passed through a string of enthusiastic volunteers to claim my snazzy finisher’s medal.

Fried Twinkies here I come (thank you, Jersey boardwalk)!
Fried Twinkies here I come (thank you, Jersey boardwalk)!

So, not only have I become one of “those” people, I’ve also become one of THESE people:

Half-Marathon-bumper-magnet

To add insult to [inevitable knee] injury, what am I up to now?

Hamptons-Marathon-badge

If you were forced at gunpoint to run 26.2 miles, who would you drag with you?

chocolate-bacon***As promised, one commenter from my last post receives a Vosges Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon bar! The lucky winner is: WTF Elsewhere! Congrats, Lorien – I’ll be in touch via email to award your prize!***

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Blogging, Everyone Loves a Braggart...Right?

Guess Who’s Not Obese?!

You’ve heard of the Body Mass Index (BMI), right? A handy dandy formula for figuring out just how many bacon strips past healthy you are?

I didn't think it could get worse until I saw it in Comic Sans.
I didn’t think it could get worse until I saw it in Comic Sans.

Well, then, I’m glad you put down your vodka and Valium long enough to read this post, because: I know. That shiz is unforgiving.

July 2013.
July 2013.

This past summer, I felt compelled to finally take note. I’d been struggling with a 2 year-long weight loss plateau, and even hiking every mountain in New Jersey wasn’t helping.

Thanks to 1 FitBit (my pedometer on steroids) and 6 months, I realized vodka does, in fact, have calories…

This can't be right.
This can’t be right.

…and have gone from “obese” to “normal.”

Clearly this scale isn't measuring mental health.
Clearly this scale isn’t measuring mental health.

And you know what that means for Go Jules Go…

Jules-BMI-CU

Jules-BMI-full

In all seriousness, this blog has changed my life. I’m 100+ pounds lighter than when I started GoJulesGo.com in February 2011, and while weight may just be a number, I’m also lighter in spirit in ways that cannot be measured.

And that is invaluable.

So thank you.

Jules-Rainbow-Puke

P.S. – I can totally still celebrate with vodka, right?

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Blogging, Everyone Loves a Braggart...Right?

Let the Conversation Continue! Also the Drinking.

We are celebratin’ today, Chipmunks!

Hooooo yes we are.

Why? God you ask a lot of questions.
Why? God you ask a lot of questions.

And we’re making up for lost time, because I forgot to celebrate getting a new job on Monday! I know. After a 2 week-long interview process, you’d think a bit ‘o pink bubbly would be first and foremost on this Project Manager’s agenda. But no. I was so busy on Monday, it wasn’t until the following day, when Husband #3 asked how I planned to celebrate, that it dawned on me: For once, I had a valid excuse for the cheap champagne I already drink daily in moderation.

I hope my only decision today is which bottle to open... first.
I hope my only decision today is which bottle to open… first.

And that’s not all we’re celebrating – today I’ve been “Freshly Pegged”! My friend, the hilarious and multi-talented Peg, of Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings, is featuring a post I wrote in December about my writing process, and I’m thrilled – I really, really want to keep this conversation going.

So, I hope you’ll head over to Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings and join the party! 

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Blogging, Everyone Loves a Braggart...Right?, Giveaway Junkie, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Vlogalicious

It’s My Second Blogoversary!!!

You heard me.

Today is my 2-Year blogoversary!!!

Now enough with the words and the reading and stuff.

I love you, Chipmunks. Thanks for somehow making year #2 even more awesome than the last.

Bloggers: Do you have a favorite blogging moment (either here or on your own blog)? Bloggers / All: Anything you’d like to see more of on Go Jules Go in the next year?

To help us celebrate this most chipmunkiest of occasions, I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a pair of ‘stache glasses!

Blogging, Everyone Loves a Braggart...Right?

Bloggy Love: Who Inspires You?

Chipmunks. Today is a mind fur-blowing day indeed.

The Daily Post is featuring me in their new(ish) “Blogger Profile” series!

When they contacted me on Halloween, I leapt out of my hard, plastic seat. I was waiting for Chinese take-out with my family, obsessively checking my phone, like any good bloggette who hadn’t had power for a week [thanks to Hurricane Sandy] would do when she realized she had free wi-fi.

I attempted to explain to my parents, sister, niece and nephew why I was so excited.

“It’s WordPress’ blog!”

Blank stares.

“They like me! They really like me!” I tried.

A little drool. Eyelids drooping.

I finally resorted to shamelessness: “This is a BIG. DEAL.”

Babs offered a confused smile. The rest of the family was already back to talking about Dancing with the Stars.

Lackluster familial support understanding aside, I eagerly answered all of The Daily Post’s thought-provoking questions – all except one. There was one question I really didn’t want to answer. Because they wanted me to name my top 5 blogs.

Top 5 blogs? Have you seen my Blogroll? Even that’s incomplete.

I mean seriously.

I could no sooner name a favorite Hot Pocket variety.

I hate knowing I left so many wonderful bloggers and friends off that list, but it got me thinking:

I’d really like to know which bloggers inspire you. Not just the ones you ‘like’ regularly, or the ones who make you laugh, but the ones who move you. Was there a particular post that really spoke to you? Or caused you to take some sort of real-life action?

I hope you’ll share stories and links in the comments section below, and I look forward to hopefully meeting some new bloggers!

Thank you to Michelle and The Daily Post for making my day week month year, and to you, Chipmunks, a source of never-ending fulfillment and inspiration. I said in the interview that blogging changed my life. And I meant it.

P.S. – You are sooooo cute.
Everyone Loves a Braggart...Right?, Just For Fun, Uncategorized

The Greatest Thank You Note of All-Time

Dearest Loved Ones,

While I know it is usually you who expresses gratitude to me, for bringing such light and laughter to your dreary lives [filled with not loving chipmunks and eating calorie-conscious meals], let us take this time to acknowledge my appreciation for all you do to appease me, especially on my birthday.

To my husband, Peppermeister, with your unparalleled taste in spouses: You took it upon yourself to hire a man to put us in a basket tied to a balloon as a “gift.” Even though they have absolutely no control over where the basket will go, or land, I know this is your way of saying that our love will forever defy the odds. And not at all that you want to kill me.

By the way, GoGuiltyPleasures slap bracelets double as balloon weights. You're welcome.

To my wonderful mother, Babs, who finally got it right with her third child: You made a beautiful photo album, capturing the last 30 29+ years of my enviable life, because you felt visitors were not jealous enough of my current coffee table book, The Pop-Up Book of Phobias. Without your loving and watchful eye, these visitors might have left my home feeling like they had the upper hand – all because I serve White Castle and haven’t cleaned behind the TV in two years!

"I despise math, history bores me..."

To my genius father who still has all of his hair: I am willing to overlook those disturbing quotes from my college application essay that you included in the above album. I know that dredging up embarrassing memories is your way of trying to make your other children feel a little better about being constantly overlooked. You always try to be fair that way, even though it’s hopeless.

To my insane triathlon-competing sister: Thank you for wearing the dress I loaned you four months ago to my birthday dinner; you looked really great in it. It’s clear you wanted everyone to see what impeccable style I have, and I’m not jealous at all. But you should know that that one will be out of fashion soon, so you should just give it back. I wouldn’t want you to embarrass yourself.

To my adorable niece and nephew, who take after their aunt in looks: Thank you for giving me hope that someone I know will eventually join a glee club based on his top-notch jazz hands, thus exponentially increasing my chances of meeting Second Husband, Darren Criss. Also thank you for believing I’m famous because I refer to my “blog” as “a super popular website.”

To my completely normal and nice in-laws: I’m forever delighted by the ability of our families to get together without fights, tears or backhanded compliments. It’s like I didn’t even steal your only son away from you. Oh and that gift card is pretty sweet, too. Keep those coming.

To my best friend, Jenn: No one gets me like you do. Except for that guy who makes my egg sandwiches and puts way more cheese on them than is remotely appropriate. No, no one gets me like you do. And no one gets me flowers except you, either. Actually, that’s kind of a problem. Let’s talk about how to fix that the next time we get together.

I love that you love me, family and friends. Clearly loving me so much has made all of you better people.

But don’t worry about thanking me for that yet. Christmas is just around the corner.

Love always, or until all that champagne you got me runs out,

Jules

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What’s the most guilty pleasure-ful gift you’ve ever gotten?