Saturday, November 30, 2013

What Running is Teaching Me

We just got back from the pasta feed/inspiration dinner before the half marathon tomorrow. Matt spoke at it and needless to say, now I'm all fired up! The clothes are all laid out, the weather forecast has been checked (50 and raining), and jitters are setting in...

So here's what running has taught me:

-I am strong

-I am also weak, but I can keep going

-Nathan likes to talk while we run…me? Not so much.

-We always start and end in the same place, what that means is a net zero elevation gain. I try to tell myself that when we’re running uphill that means that later we get to run downhill but it sure doesn’t feel like it evens out.

-I also tried to tell myself that the uphills are a gift because they make me stronger and the downhills are a gift because, well, they’re downhill. The problem with that is my bad knees make the downhills pretty painful. And who am I fooling? The uphills are NOT a gift. The Hills of Seattle and I are not friends right now.

-Cute running clothes are sometimes the only thing that gets me out the door on those cold, rainy days.

-Nathan is an excellent running buddy/coach. He could easily run faster than me (those long legs just aren’t fair) but he doesn’t. He runs with me. We were on an 8 mi. out and back and unfortunately the out was mostly downhill so the back was, yup…. We were on our way back I was staring up at the hill and it was the first time so far that I’ve said “I don’t think I can do this” (aloud, I’ve thought it plenty). Nathan was right at my elbow telling me, “head down, dig in, almost to the top, power through, use that mutant lung capacity” (it’s true, I have a measured outrageously large lung capacity)

-It’s been really awesome to have something that Nathan and I are pursuing together. Yeah, we have the Sounders and leading youth group and many other shared passions. But it’s fun to mix it up sometimes. Try something that we’re maybe not great at and encourage each other as we get better.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Why I Run

Whelp....we attempt the Seattle half marathon on Sunday. I wrote this latest post on the plane to New York but wanted to sit on it for a bit. As always, going back and reading my writing I find it falls short but the point is still valid so up on the blog it goes!

Here's what I want  you to get out of it: We have some incredibly people in our life going through really difficult stuff. I don't feel like it's my place to share the depth of their journey these last few months so this post is a whitewashed 1000-foot view off their story, but their example has inspired and motivated me and THAT is why I'm running.

Why I Run:

We’ve recently started training for the Seattle Half Marathon on December 1st. And by recently, I mean we’re on a seven week training schedule...not what most people recommend but it’s been working for us so far. Here’s how this little adventure all came about:

I come from a family of runners; my mom has WON the Seattle Marathon before, my Nana is a runner, my brother, I think even my dad has run a marathon or two. Hjorts are just built to go the distance. I was on my school’s cross country team when I was younger but I’ve had knee problems ever since so I tend to stick to lower impact exercise. Still, I’ve always wanted to do a long race. My mom would finish one of her marathons, I’d get all inspired and think “I could do that!”, look up a training schedule, realize I’d have to run at least five days a week and then my dreaming would go dormant as the reality of our busy life took over. 

Our pastor Matt was diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia almost exactly a year ago. Thankfully this is a very treatable kind of leukemia with a very high survival rate. I’m sure he certainly wouldn’t call it a good time, but within a few months we were all celebrating because he was in remission. He volunteers his time as a track coach and used to run with his wife before they got engaged (there’s a pretty funny story there). So Matt and my mom decided to train for the Seattle Marathon this year and run it with Team in Training which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The team is full of leukemia survivors or people who have lost someone to various types of cancer. 

Well things don’t always go as we plan them (ha!) and in September Matt received a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Hairy cell is like a warm fuzzy teddy bear compared to AML and the chances of one person getting both in their lifetime are literally astronomical. So it’s September, Matt’s not running. I’m praying and worrying, worrying and praying (which I know aren’t supposed to go together, but I’m only human). I was kind of taken aback at how much his diagnosis affected me. I’m a pretty easy-going person and wouldn’t normally categorize myself as a “fixer” but I just felt so helpless and REALLY didn’t like it.

I was having lunch with my mom in mid-October. We were talking about Matt, her half-marathon training, how much the team was missing getting to run with him, etc. And I don’t know…I just…wanted to run. So that night Nathan and I did just that. I had no idea how far I was capable of going…apparently 3 ½ miles. It was slow but I finished in one piece and from there we decided. We’re doing this.
I’m not under any illusions. I know that my running is about me, it's just a way for me to feel in control and that it has no material impact on Matt’s health, but as much as it’s wrecking my knees, it is healing my heart. I’ve been really intentional about not running with any headphones in, which on a long run is a lot of quiet time with my thoughts.  A lot of time to pray, and think, and question, and wonder.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Playing Catch-up

I think we hit the human limit of activity, we're just hanging around the apartment this morning until we go grab lunch and then head downtown to 30 rock for Jimmy Fallon! So here's been our trip so far:

Day One:
We got in to the city and settled into our apartment. It's really cute and old and shockingly large for New York, it's felt like a really luxury to have so much space to spread out in. We got lunch at this awesome Belgian bakery called le Pain de Quotidien. I'm not one who usually takes pictures of my food, but just look at this tartin!

After lunch we took the subway all the way down to Brooklyn and walked back across the Brooklyn bridge towards the city which put us right in the heart of the courts and financial district. The streets were relatively empty on account of Veteran's Day but there was a fun street fair leading the way to the bull of Wall Street. I don't know why I thought the bull was at least 20 feet tall, but I did, and it's not!

We kept walking just a couple of blocks more to the water and BOOM! Statue of Liberty! (well, maybe not "boom", she was pretty far away) By this time the sun was starting to set so we decided to save her for another day and wandered our way back uptown to Little Italy. We had dinner, it was okay, the food was super boring but the restaurant and ambiance were beautiful and by that time we were just thankful to have a warm place to sit down!

To cap off the night we took the subway up to Times Square, and people, it looks JUST LIKE THE MOVIES! It was breathtaking and bright and loud and busy and so much fun to experience in person. Probably my favorite park was all the Buddhist monks walking around taking pictures on their iPads.

Day Two:
Snow, snow, snow, snow, SNOW! Let's be real, nothing stuck at all...but we still got to go on our morning run in Central Park with the snow falling down. I kept wanting to pinch myself, it was too perfect!

After putting in a good five miles (not advisable when you're spending the entire day on your feet). We headed over to the Met for our museum hack tour. I've never been a tour person, in fact, I don't think I've ever been on an organized tour my entire life. I'm a saver, not a spender, at heart but the Met was so huge and I wanted to get a creative take on it. We had a blast, it was just us and five other people paired up with a guy who was an undergrad art history major and just finished his master's degree in museology (?) at the UW of all places! He was quirky and edgy and definitely showed us a good time. They had an actress stationed at different parts of the museum and she would do these little bits to tell the backstories behind the pieces we were seeing. We didn't see much of the famous stuff and we really only saw a few things, but it was more about learning how to experience museums in a new way. All the things I usually blow past had such amazing tales to be found out. We did "power moves" (dance moves) cheers (all hands in, 1 2 3...MUSEUM!) and played the party game. We were instructed throughout our tour to hunt for something that epitomized our "party personality", take a picture of it, and at the end of the tour we had 10 seconds to defend our choice, Nathan won the contest and got a small blue hippopotamus (the museum's unofficial mascot)

After the tour we grabbed burgers at Shake Shack and took the subway down to Times Square to get in line for our broadway tickets at the TKTS booth, which opens at 2 pm. We ended up with second row center aisle seats to Newsies! The way they did it was really interesting, they basically take the median ticket price and then take 50% off of that, but they give you the best seats they have available. 

Well by this point we were exhausted so we went home to nap and refuel for our inaugural Broadway experience. I know I wrote about this last night but Newsies was just unbelievable, the singing and acting were of course fabulous but the set and dancing were probably my favorite part. The set was just bunch of scaffolding and metal staircases but it was split into five individual towers that would move and rotate to make different configurations while the cast was running up and down them. Sometimes the cast would be running up a spiral staircase but it would be spinning in the opposite direction which made for a really cool optical illusion. And the dancing, oh, the dancing! Here's the best number from the show being performed at the Tony awards, when they threw the newspaper it all fell on us, it was incredible.

Day Three:
We started out our day taking the subway down to Columbus Circle and from there we explored Central Park. It was the coldest day by far but it was so clear and crisp and beautiful, I was surprised how many of the trees still had their leaves on them.

From there we went downtown to the 9/11 memorial. It was a strange thing, I had never been to a memorial for an event that I actually remembered. It was beautiful and peaceful and sad, but I'm really glad we got to see it in person. The reflecting pools are massive. Probably the coolest thing is the survivor tree. It was a stump that they pulled out of the wreckage and nursed back to health and now it's planted in the middle of the memorial.

We decided our poor little feet just hadn't had quite enough punishment so we decided to go back to the Met and see some of the highlights. I'm glad I went back and saw them but it really reinforced how great the tour was. Van Gogh's Cyprus Tree is Nathan's favorite painting so we spent a good long time enjoying it. I think a lot of times art needs to be digested in one big piece, I get so much more out of it when I can compare lots and lots of works side by side. Out of all the frenchies I decided yesterday that Van Gogh is my favorite too. Seeing his paintings in person takes it to a whole new level with the depth of paint and texture, very cool.

Alright, finally! (are you still reading?) We had our all out crazy splurge dinner at NoMad last night. It was quite the experience! The best I can describe the interior is sumptuous. It was a fun combination of very trendy (you definitely got the sense that this was the hot ticket) but also incredible food and service. They do this thing to order drinks, they bring you a deck of cards and you choose a type of alcohol and then three cards with illustrations on them that describe how you're feeling (batman, indiana jones, a rockstar, oscar the grouch, a fancy lady, mermaid, etc.) And they make you a cocktail based on the cards you picked. I ended up with what they called a Necromancer (gin, absinthe, cointreau, lemon, and a bunch of other stuff I didn't know what it was) YUM!

 The couple at the table next to us were a hoot and when they found out we were from out of town they woman started rapid-firing recommendations at us for where we had to go to eat, but they were really warm and fun. We got the chicken for two which is a whole roasted chicken, they plate the white meat with foie gras and black truffle and then bring out the dark meat in a little cast iron skillet with a soft boiled egg, which they then break up and mix all in the dark meat. It was hands down the best chicken (possibly the best meat) I have EVER had. We were just giddily devouring it and enjoying the atmosphere.

Nathan can be kind of impossible to go out to meals with. Since he used to work at Canlis he notices EVERYTHING, but even he was impressed with our service last night, it was flawless. Nathan got dessert and I ordered some scotch for my dessert. Asking for the scotch menu definitely got the respect of our server and by this time we were the only ones left in the restaurant so we had a fun little chat. They even had one of our favorite scotches, Springbank 10. The night lived up to our expectations and then some, it was one of those lifetime experiences.

I don't blame you if you're not still reading this, but now that I see it all written out I don't feel so bad for being so exhausted. Up next, Jimmy Fallon...stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The City that Never Sleeps (and apparently walks alot)

I can't believe we've only been in New York for 2 1/2 days, it feels like 2 1/2 weeks! We've been out at about all day everyday, sometimes stopping at the apartment to nap...but that's only so we can be out late at night. I'm doing a short little post because we've got reservations tonight at NoMad at 10:30 (I'm surprised we got a reservation at all). We decided to eat pretty inexpensively while we're here and splurge on one big fancy meal and that's tonight! Daniel Humm is the chef/owner of Eleven Madison...and NoMad is his new baby, can't wait to let you know how it is.

There's lots to fill you all in on but without a doubt the highlight of the trip so far has been getting to Newsies from the second row last night. It was INCREDIBLE. I had a goofy grin ear-to-ear the whole show. We got super discounted tickets from the TKTS booth and had such a great time I think we might try to fit another show in before we leave.

We feel so lucky and blessed to be able to take a trip like this. And I'm even more thankful to have Nathan by my side to enjoy all the experiences we're having. Longer post later...Ciao!

Newsies! Winner of Best Choreography so it was right up our alley

Nathan enjoying a Manhattan

Central Park, freezing cold, but lots of fall leaves still hanging around!

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Friend Like This

We've had our first day in New York and it's been a blast,but I'm exhausted! I pretty much spent the last twelve hours walking around alternating between having my mouth hanging open and giddy little jumps and skips as I pulled Nathan around the city.

We are warm and snug in our cute little UWS apartment...that's upper west-side for you non-initiated ;-) Hopefully I'll write a post tomorrow about our adventures but for now enjoy this little bit I wrote on the airplane on my way out to Princeton. Now it seems a little sappy, I'm not in a sentimental mood very often, but that doesn't make it untrue:

This weekend I get to go see my friend Liz. Liz and I lived together in college and were also in small group together. She and her husband are now living and going to school at Princeton Theological Seminary (smarty pants). My heart has been so excited to get to see her. She is one of those people that just make you feel loved. We don’t get to see each other much, or even talk all that often, have you ever had one of those friendships where none of that really matters? I smile to myself just thinking about seeing her and getting one of her back-breaking hugs. She is kind, compassionate, goofy, warm, honest about both you and herself, and she loves Jesus. Maybe she’s not like this with everyone, but I really value that in our relationship there has never been any sense of competition. That is sadly a very rare find in friendships between women. We are happy for each other when good things happen, and sad when they don’t. We can encourage each other’s marriages and are lucky enough to be friends with each other’s husbands.

I don’t mean to make her sound perfect, she’s not, but that’s what grace is for. And the funny thing is… it’s not like either of us would call each other “best friends.” “Dear friends,” sure. “Beloved friend,” of course. That’s not the point. The point is that these types of relationships are rare and I know that I’m lucky to have more than one in my life. I hope that everybody has a friend like Liz. I hope that I can be a friend to others like Liz. 

There was an awesome article about comparison which made the rounds the other day. If you haven’t read it yet, definitely food for thought. I want to be a safe place, a truthful place, a place where there is not a hint of competition (I’m especially bad at this), and a place where I can eat lots of macaroni and cheese and watch White Christmas, because that is the final thing that makes Liz so great! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Princeton Girl

Ahh...the end of our Sunday at Princeton and I can barely move...

Liz set the course for our 9 mi. training run this morning for our half marathon. Can I just say that I'm a fan of the flatness of New Jersey? Our average mile time was almost a minute faster than normal, still slow, but an improvement. It was BEAUTIFUL, everything here is. We ran through crunchy leaves, a revolutionary battlefield (which was just a big field, I don't know why I was expecting more), along a canal with the crew team practicing and all up and down Princeton's humongous campus.

Poor Dexter had to work today so we had Liz all to ourselves and after a recovery icing session and some delicious paninis, we wandered all over the campus marveling at the beautiful architecture. I kept asking Liz, "Are you SURE they didn't film Gilmore Girls here?" The pictures don't do this place justice, it's incredible, and I feel smarter just being here.

Princeton has a pretty legit art museum, it's not huge but they had a Monet, some Cezannes, and even a Van Gogh. I wasn't super gungho to see the museum because my experience with UW's museum is that it is mostly a bunch of lame totem poles, I guess that's what the ivy leagues get you!

Our day was capped off with some of the best pizza I've EVER had at a place called Nomads and some ice cream that was quite delicious. They have this weird thing where they don't give out very many liquor licenses in any given county so most of the restaurants are BYOB. I felt kind of strange walking into the pizza place with my bottle of wine... until I saw the table with the Igloo cooler!

Tomorrow I get to attend my first ever masters class. We're going to sit in on Liz and Dex's church history class before catching the train up to New York. First day of school at Princeton, y'all!

Emily and Nathan vs. the East Coast (www dot Emily’s Thoughts dot com backslash Emily’s Thoughts)

The Grimms are embarking on their next grand adventure! We left this morning for our trip to Princeton and New York City. I’m currently writing this in a word document (or as Nathan called it: Creed’s blog) to post into the blog later. I’m hoping to keep you updated on our adventures, our escapades, and even our shenanigans.

We’re going to spend the first few days with some friends, Liz and Dexter, who are both getting their Masters in Divinity from Princeton and after that we go to New York where we will go ice skating, sight-seeing, get to attend a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, see a Broadway show, broaden our minds at some museums, and let’s be honest, probably reenact the Central Park scene from Enchanted!

 There’s not much to report about our trip so far, except that I’m a terrible packer (so what else is new?) but I AM dominating this whole flying thing! I packed my slippers and some of my own tea (because Lipton is gross and not real tea). So now I’m flying in style. It’s actually a pretty empty flight; Nathan is taking up two seats. Well, three is you count that he’s using my lap as a pillow. Cheers to flying the friendly skies!

P.S. consider me converted. This is my first ever non-stop flight of any meaningful length and it is AWESOME!