Nicole In A Nutshell

August 11, 2013

Inspiration, Move Me Brightly

Filed under: Blog News,It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 2:58 am

The other day, as I looked down the barrel of 35, I knew big things were on the horizon. The first thing I did was, unsurprisingly, flip out. The second thing I did was get over it, take the bull by the balls, and start doing things to make my future brighter. First baby step: add some fresh blood to the running playlist.

Anyone who knows me knows how huge a role music plays in my life. It’s only recently that I’ve realized how much it impacts EVERYTHING. Obviously, going to shows is my happy place. This is not news. But life does happen off-tour, and we have to find a way to make the best of it until the next. Music is the most consistent and pervasive element in my daily life. It wakes me up, it’s the first thing I deal with in the car, it keeps me company when I’m on the move (be it on the road or in the gym), it soothes me to sleep. It makes me smile, it makes me cry, it makes me think. So, given the fact that biggest ticket item on the “big things horizon” list (the NYC Marathon, which is indisputably nĂºmero uno) involves a whole lot of time in which to listen to tunes, things haven’t been as brutal as they could. That being said, I’ve been training my ass off, and (shockingly!) keep very particular records and notes for every run. As I looked over splits the other day, I literally saw with my own eyes how much music impacts a run. As soon as I got home, I took to Spotify to infuse some fresh blood into my already awesomely eclectic playlist.

When I went out tonight for my longest run yet (since my last half marathon, which took place last April (yikes!)), one of the first songs that came on totally knocked me out. At first, I said to myself “why did you put this on here?” It took mere seconds to realize that holy shit, this is a powerful moment. I didn’t even make the connection when I tapped the song into the playlist, but it spoke to me on the trail tonight in a way I was completely unprepared for but totally in love with once it went down.

I pondered and pushed throughout the remainder of that 10 miles and decided that although I love me some tweeting, sometimes 140 characters just ain’t enough. This was a shareable moment and an interactive topic, one of so many I hope to write and talk about in bringing this blog back from the almost-dead.

What does music mean to you? I’ve already (barely) touched on where I stand, and I love hearing stories about how it moves others. When I run, it literally moves me. Here are a few reasons why (drawn from the aforementioned badass playlist):

“Olympic Fanfare” – Boston Pops

http://open.spotify.com/track/4Pb6k4u8M8k442e2LzJk5q

Cheesy starter? You bet. I’m OBSESSED with the Olympics. Seriously. Like, “will watch synchronized swimming” obsessed. Will I ever be an Olympic athlete? Never say never. Let’s err on the side of caution and say “unlikely.” Either way, this flashes me back to every medal ceremony I’ve teared up at, every NBC Sports human interest story that’s given me chills, every shot or story of a competitor who legitimately understands the enormity of their experience and does more with it than s/he ever could have expected. I think about that against what I’m doing now. This is my Olympics. For now…

“Touch Of Grey” – Grateful Dead

http://open.spotify.com/track/5YzzWlWfAVNvtduNDHKhHc

When the going gets tough, the hippie tough get going. I’m a multifaceted person to the extreme, and I wear a ton of different hats. All of my hats miss Jerry. This is one of the easiest examples of the intersection of my first truly soulful musical influence and the experience of training for something I could have never dreamed of for most of my life. It’s a lot to process. It’s also awesome. Good pace, but more importantly, it boils down to “Shit happens, but whatever – you got this.” I’ll take it.

“Enter Sandman” – Metallica

http://open.spotify.com/track/1hKdDCpiI9mqz1jVHRKG0E

Any real Yankee fan (or let’s face it, real baseball fan) knows that this is THE CLOSER. No exceptions. To me, it goes beyond. Every fan has memories of special people and special experiences at the rink, ballpark, whatever. This brings me back to the old Yankee Stadium, where I went to countless games with my dad. We had some of our best times in “The House That Ruth Built.” All of the bullshit would melt away, at least for a few hours, when the sea of pinstripes emerged on that field. I learned a lot of lessons at those games with my dad. One: ice cream tastes better when eaten from a little plastic helmet. It’s science, and I dare you to prove me otherwise. Two: parents are human. It’s sometimes hard to remember, but it’s something you don’t want to forget. Three: I had the best dad ever. I miss him every day. His spirit is with me on this journey, and that gets me through.

“2001” – Phish

http://open.spotify.com/track/1GhOiBrglutzTd9dc3V6ZX

Been through a LOT with The Phish From Vermont, and they have brought me, above all, tremendous joy. To the surprise of no one, they occupy a few spots on the playlist (but not nearly as many as one might think). Right here is a musical manifestation of “hold on, here it comes.” I can’t explain it better than that, but it’s the perfect soundtrack to significant and positive life changes. I feel like I’m breaking through something, in a great way, every time I hear it while hitting the trail.

“Thunderstruck” – AC/DC

http://open.spotify.com/track/4HlTpTQBXBfzAKntqP00ee

I’m embarrassed to say that this is a recent add. How the UVM Women’s Hockey “taking the ice” song didn’t make it on the list until now is something that will forever remain a mystery. What’s important is that it’s on there now, and it’s not going anywhere. Hockey has played a significant and often tumultuous role in my life. This track makes me reflect on that, let the bad shit motivate me, and look forward to the cross-training I’ll get in the net as soon as I have some free time for pickup.

“Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley

http://open.spotify.com/track/26JRni5Lqiyd9GNnlaz6DI

Sometimes a song’s pace is less important than its message, which is especially true during the rough moments of a run. This one is fairly obvious in that regard, but it has a more personal meaning to me. When I had surgery in October 2010, this was the very last song I heard before I went under (actually, it was the B-side, which is an amazing version – just not the one I run with). All of the doctors and nurses loved it and were totally jamming out. I knew I’d be fine, and I drifted off content, knowing my life would be forever changed when I awoke.

“Girl On Fire” – Alicia Keys

http://open.spotify.com/track/3XyMPyuWwHcGMvXeJY6Qt0

It was a toss-up, and “Brand New Me” gets an honorable mention, but circle wins the square on this one. I know things don’t change overnight, but I’m making strides and in so doing, I’m kicking ass and taking names. I’d rather focus on the drive behind the brand new me and keeping that fire burning. However, writing this all down has me thinking: perhaps a mash-up is in order (“This Brand New Me Is On Fire”?!?)…

“Till I Collapse” – Eminem

http://open.spotify.com/track/4xkOaSrkexMciUUogZKVTS

26.2 miles. Duh.

“Praise You” – Fatboy Slim

http://open.spotify.com/track/21RDsw7wzUJNl2FbWTgEfJ

The song that spawned this post and the resurrection of this blog. As I set out on my run tonight, knowing it would be my toughest in recent history, I spent the first few minutes mentally preparing. I decided not to dick around with skipping songs and instead focus on form, keeping the abs tight, yada yada yada. After two songs, this little ditty popped up on the shuffle. I thought back to a few days ago, when I brought it and a bunch of other songs into the fold. I thought, “I must have been in a very Fatboy Slim mood because is this really a running song?” Dumb question. Half of my songs aren’t “running songs.” I took a second to listen to the lyrics and slammed into a wall of “wow” – it was totally unreal. For the very first time in my life, I immediately thought of my body as something to praise. The strange part was that it felt natural. I realize now that that’s not strange – it’s fucking amazing. This body and I have been through a lot together. I’ve never given it enough credit. I’ve always seen it as a huge burden to overcome rather than something to be thankful for. But, in that flash, I appreciated it for hanging in there during the really dark days, and basically saying, “it’s ok – we got this.” I’ve been really bad to it, and it is forgiving me by recognizing what it is training for and doing what it takes to get there. Although we don’t always get along, I’m pretty sure there’s some stuff that I can do to make our relationship a bit more symbiotic. So, thank you, body, for pushing when I’m over it. In return, I will start drinking more water (and on a bigger picture scale, I will quit my nasty soda habit). Thank you, body, for letting me know that I can do this by getting stronger every day. In return, I promise to improve the quality of everything I put into you…because you deserve it. Thank you, body, for seeing no limits. In return, I pledge to listen to you more and respond the right way.

The full playlist is here – feel free to pick through and trade recommendations. Let’s talk.

http://open.spotify.com/user/suzysneurologist/playlist/6juLTEPZfNvTcbsaPD2UDQ

Happy running. Happy living. Till next time…

April 17, 2012

I’ve Created A Monster

Filed under: Good Times,It's All About Me,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 9:50 pm

She is a cuter Frankenstein. She is a little bit Martha Stewart, a little bit FloJo, a little bit Sara Blakely (with whom I imagine you may not be familiar. She is the entrepreneurial founder, creator and owner of Spanx, a/k/a a goddess amongst mortals).

She is me.

Things have been NUTS. I ran my second half marathon on Sunday. Being sick really knocked me off the training horse, and I definitely felt it come race day, but I finished, so yay!

I have a few black tie weddings coming up, and since my love of sparkly things knows no bounds but my budget unfortunately does, I decided to go all DIY Judith Leiber on a couple of clutches. Here are the results:

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20120417-214601.jpg

Been busy in the kitchen too (thanks Pinterest!), having just made a few batches of homemade frozen fruit pops to cap off a week full of experimental cookery. Next up: an attempt at habanero konjac mac and cheese…

Between all this and the actual important stuff in life (like the playoffs, obvs. Go Rangers! Go Red Wings!), it’s been tough to catch up on the blogging, but here I am. Nice to see you again :)

March 28, 2012

A Perfect (Sub) 10

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Nicole @ 7:52 pm

OK, so it wasn’t quite perfect, but I’ll take it…just finished my first full run at a decent distance with an average pace under 10 minutes!!! 5 miles in 49:02, pace of 9:49 per mile. Amateur hour to some, but I feel like Carl motherfucking Lewis (plus a whole lot of estrogen).

This comes after a very “REALLY?!?!?!?” day chock full of bullshit, not to mention the fact that I’m still hacking up a lung and the current poster child for allergy misery, so it is a breath (albeit congested) of fresh air.

Bonus: finally didn’t get lost in the park!!! What an indescribable pleasure to hit the lake/fountain/angel and not have to consult a map or a passerby like a fucking tourist. Forget Carl Lewis: you can call me Magellan…

March 21, 2012

Back On The Train

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Nicole @ 5:47 pm

After a particularly lovely rest day on Monday, yesterday was time to get back on the horse – April 15 is rapidly approaching!

Had a great 4+ mile run in Central Park and got in an amazing stretch by the lake and Bethesda fountain (which has quickly catapulted to the almost-top of my “favorite places in NYC” list). Was planning to do a DIY boot camp there today but didn’t get the memo that the weather ain’t what it was yesterday. That being said, gym time!

BTW, since jumping right back into training so quickly, I can’t get the “Happy Gilmore” scene out of my head where he’s taking batting cage balls to the chest and tells the awestruck little kid standing by, “364 days till next year’s hockey tryouts…I gotta toughen up!” So true, Happy. So true :)

March 18, 2012

Yeah, That Happened

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Nicole @ 11:17 pm

I’m still not quite sure that I believe it myself, but yeah, that happened. I ran a 13.1 mile race today. It may be amateur hour to some folks, but to me, it’s a HUGE FUCKING DEAL.

When I told someone the other day that I was getting nervous, he didn’t understand. “It’s just a run,” he said. “It’s not like you’re guesting with Phish.” Ironic, because one of my favorite sayings about Dead and Phish shows is that “if I had to explain, you wouldn’t understand,” and I think that holds true in this situation too. The reverse is true as well though: “if you don’t understand, I can’t really explain.” Not just the run, but the run along with everything I put I to it and coming from where I’ve been…HUGE FUCKING DEAL.

I get that most people won’t grasp the enormity of what I’m feeling or why it’s such a big thing, and that’s fine. It’s my deal, and it doesn’t mean to anyone what it does to me. I appreciate the outpouring of support and love I’ve seen in getting ready for this challenge – it has meant the world. But maybe the fact that I and I alone did this and feel this are a sign that I am meant to be reflecting on it tonight in solitude. So, I bid you goodnight – see y’all soon.

P.S. T-minus 28 days until Half
Marathon #2!!! ;)

March 14, 2012

The Home Stretch

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Nicole @ 10:09 pm

Just a few days to go till zero hour, and I am a bundle of nerves, excitement, and a whole bunch of emotions that I can’t even think of right now. As I literally write this from the back of a cab, I just saw a commercial for the Half for the first time. This thing is on tv. Shit just got real.

The amazing support has really helped me along, and it’s something I’ll keep with me as I grind out those last few miles. Something else I’ll take with me? The vision of post-race cocktails dancing in my head :)

2pm – Upstairs at the Kimberly (the roof bar). Come on out and celebrate with me!

March 8, 2012

Sitting Here In Limbo…

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Nicole @ 6:56 pm

…getting my highlights did. Lots of time to kill, so I figured I’d post since I’ve dropped that ball so badly in recent weeks. Time is marching on and the half is fast approaching – just a week and a half to go! Would be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to get nervous, but there’s no turning back now. Last week’s long run was a successful 10-miler on a spectacular spring-like day, so I’m hoping for a similar situation this weekend when I do 11 (last long run before the big day). Have been feeling sick for the past few weeks – timing is a bitch! Hoping to will whatever this is away…

Have to give a shout out to my friends who got royally screwed this afternoon. My thoughts are with you guys, and I wish you the bet of luck in your pursuit of bigger and MUCH better things. Stay strong…

February 19, 2012

8 Mile (Insert Eminem Reference Here)

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Nicole @ 9:15 pm

Today’s long run was, well, you can pretty much guess what I’m up to now. Did the Rockland Lake loop twice then doubled back a mile, turned around, and ran the same mile back to the car. Set a pace record, ran a few sub-10 min miles (another first!!!), and got the benefit of a surprise agility drill in the form of sidestepping a whole lotta goose shit. I’d like to call that bonus action goosestepping, but for obvious reasons, it doesn’t quite fall on this side of appropriate (thanks Nazis!!!).

Anyway, nice little retreat up to the old stomping grounds. Errands run, friends seen, fresh air breathed. Every weekend should be a holiday weekend, amiright?!?!?

February 14, 2012

Cupid Can Kiss My Ass

Filed under: bitchin' and moanin',It's All About Me,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 10:40 pm

What a day. Worked until 9, not without incident, then closed down the gym (dodging the tumbleweeds, because it was a flipplin’ ghost town up in that bitch). Squeezed in 3.5 miles, which was my scheduled run (and all I had time for), but it felt weird that for the first time I didn’t push the mileage beyond what was on my training calendar. I did throw in some intense sprintervals (whoa to those!!!), so I still managed to challenge myself and I guess I can live with that.

All in all, a good workout, but a rough Single Awareness Day. I love me some flowers, but if I see one more rose, I’m going to shove it down the bearer’s throat. The fact that there is no natural law written in stone that ensures no overlap between VDay and PMS just proves to me even further that THERE IS NO GOD. On a related note, I hope that little fucker Cupid shoots himself in the ass with his own arrow. Screw that guy.

I may be a Bitter Betty at the moment, but I do love y’all and I hope all everyone who celebrated had a lovely day/night with their significant other :) xoxo

February 12, 2012

So Emotional

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Nicole @ 5:23 pm

Just finished a very sad, very Whitney-heavy 7 miles. Need to go wash off and do some errands before tonight’s Kleenex-fest (a/k/a Grammy Awards), but instead of a long hot soak, I think I’ll just take a shower. Between WH and Jim Morrison, I may never take another bath again. Jesus…

Anyway, I’m now past the halfway point mileage-wise in terms of training for the half. It feels good, but it’ll definitely feel better when I get my shit together and eat like a runner should…

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