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 nΓΊmero 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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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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ xoxo

February 2, 2012

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Filed under: It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 10:21 pm

…than a) myself just yesterday, and b) the skinny bitch on the next treadmill over who kept glancing at my screen with the side-eye. More mileage, quicker pace, no lame-ass break for walking: I think it’s safe to say that I OWNED her. And for anyone who says that my first half isn’t really a race, that’s horseshit. LIFE is a competition. I might not lead the pack (OK, I most definitely will not lead the pack), but I’m gonna push it like Salt ‘n Pepa. There are lots of reasons for my taking on this challenge, but I really dig the idea of doing what was, not so long ago, the unthinkable, and there’s no other legit way to do the previously unthinkable than to go 100% BALLS OUT.

 

January 27, 2012

Truckin’

Filed under: Hawtness,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 2:08 am

…like the doo-dah man. Keeping up with my training schedule, but instead of tacking on some extra workout today, I did the standard 2 mile “easy” run (but pumped up the speed to maintain some sense of challenge) and then treated myself to some live music. “Bustle In Your Hedgerow” totally hit the spot, and BONUS: one Chuck Bass (a/k/a Ed Westwick) was in the house! Smokin’ hot. Unfortunately, we did not lock eyes. Had we done so, we’d be on our honeymoon as I write this. By the time I’m done with my training, I shall run into him again, and he will finally profess his love, so it’s all good πŸ˜‰

Happy Friday!!!

January 25, 2012

Mission #1 Accomplished!!!

Filed under: It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 9:38 pm

Unlike one moronic Dubya, I can say with both accuracy and humility: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! I am so happy to report that I have not only reached but exceeded my fundraising goal, which means it’s time to bump it up! My challenge is your challenge πŸ˜‰

Seriously though, I want to thank everyone who has donated (and anyone who plans to do so). I am incredibly touched and moved by your support and can’t wait to make y’all proud!!!

January 24, 2012

Wheeeee!!!

Filed under: It's All About Me,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 11:11 pm

Another lovely e-mail from RunKeeper today, letting me know that I’ve set a personal record for farthest total distance in a week. I’ve been an admittedly poor record keeper, but I did the math and after tacking on some extra to each of my scheduled runs, my week total was 13.75 miles. It only gets better from here!!!

That doesn’t count cross-training, and I’m really looking forward to getting in the pool and doing some deep water training, swimming, etc. on my non-running days. I SHOULD be skating in the mornings, but when you don’t go to sleep early enough, you don’t wake up to get in the good ice time. Wah waaaaah. Hope to do turn it around before the end of February when they take down CitiPond. Anyone interested in some pre-work skating? It’d be great to have a buddy who’d kick my ass if I didn’t show up πŸ˜‰

The fundraising is going great, but it’s stalled a bit of late. If you can, please consider a donation in any amount to Team Fox on my personal page. Much obliged!!!!!

January 22, 2012

Everybody Wins!!!

Filed under: Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 11:06 pm

Did my first 4 miler today, and accomplished it with happily relative ease. It may not sound like much, but it’s my first 5K+, so it’s a step in the right direction! Got an email from RunKeeper (great free iPhone app that tracks your activity via GPS and/or manual input) congratulating me on my longest run to date, which was a nice touch. Tried an amazing organic, low glycemic energy gel called Chocolate #9 for the first time. AMAZING!!! I highly recommend this stuff – I’d e-mailed the company with a question, and without my even requesting, they were nice enough to send some free samples. It’s made from two ingredients, high-fat/high quality cocoa and agave nectar, and it shot me through that run to where I was comfortably increasing my speed consistently over the last 2 miles. It tastes like chocolate frosting, and it’s so delicious that it seems wrong to use before/during a run, but it works so I’ll take it! A great stretch and a bit of pre-game Vitamin D therapy capped off a great day heading into the 6:30 kickoff.

Pretty sure I sweat as much from nerves during the waning minutes of the Giants’ HUGE o/t win as I did through my long run, but you know what?!?! That’s OK! An extra $20 in my pocket/Team Fox’s pocket (thx, JCM) + a sweet Super Bowl rematch = good stuff!!! GOOOOOO GIANTS!!!

January 19, 2012

Me 1, Gym Nazis 0

Filed under: bitchin' and moanin',Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 10:28 pm

Today’s training calendar called for 2 miles, but I wanted to push myself and do 3. Then a little thing called “work” and “being a grownup” intervened. That shit sucks. Didn’t leave the office until after 9, gym closes at 10. What’s a girl to do?

Bust ass, that’s what. Got warned by the above-mentioned gym nazis to “start wrapping it up and making my way downstairs” at 9:45. Screw you, THE GYM CLOSES AT 10. Kept running, got the stink eye and another warning. Did I stop? Hell no! Managed to squeeze in a cool two and a quarter before my third encounter with the savvy, motivated personnel at NYHRC who were clearly trying to get home early and couldn’t care less about members and their right to work out during full gym hours. You bet I shot them the death stare on the way out!

These are the days when I wished I lived closer to a well-lit path like the one off the West Side Highway. That thing rocks. What do you guys do when you find yourself in this situation? I don’t want to scrimp on my runs, but I don’t want to scrap with minimum wage gym employees either – it’s just not worth it. Running the streets is kind of a last ditch option, because traffic lights and pedestrians are just not cute. Any brilliant suggestions that are escaping me would be greatly appreciated!

January 18, 2012

Happy New Year, Happy New You (& Me)!!!

Filed under: Blog News,It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 10:15 pm

Hope everyone’s new year has started off well and that things are just chugging right along. My big news isn’t news to most at this point, but it bears repeating because it is HUGE: I’m officially running the NYC 2012 Half Marathon as a member of Team Fox. More info is available on my personal page at: http://www2.michaeljfox.org/site/TR/Sponsored/TeamFox?px=1005032&pg=personal&fr_id=1081

Training is going well so far, but the challenges have just begun. I’ve also decided, with the nudging, education and encouragement of my BFF, to go Paleo (translation: eat like a caveperson). For those who are unfamiliar, here’s a good jumping off resource: http://www.marksdailyapple.com

The juxtaposition of these two undertakings is a challenge unto itself, so things might get a little cranky and/or crazy around these parts. My hope is that it doesn’t last long, as I am really excited about what the next few months have in store. I’m going to try and blog as much as possible to keep myself honest and accountable (yeah, yeah…you’ve heard it all before) so feel free to call me out if I fall off the face of the blogosphere.

Welcome to my journey…glad to have you along for the ride.

P.S. Anyone who wants to join in the fun is welcome to run/train with me anytime. Hit me up!!!

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