A lot of people have blogged about what an ideal day for them is like, but since I’ve been self employed I can’t really say that many of my days are exactly the same as the others! I have so many different hats to wear (photographer, editor, blogger, bookkeeper, accountant, marketing executive, customer service, etc) that sometimes it doesn’t make sense for me to do a little bit of everything every day. Instead I prefer to look at my work a week in advance and schedule my “ideal week” out. This means instead of stepping in and out of one project to another, I complete one, then move to another. Of course every week won’t be the same…some weeks we have Friday weddings or sessions or rehearsal dinners to shoot. Other weeks I have appointments out of the office, or travel. And during off season, all bets are off and structured work times go out the window.

But in general, My ideal week looks something like this:

Monday: Cull and sort Saturday’s wedding. Edit wedding. That’s pretty much my whole day. It shouldn’t take me more than 6 hours to hammer out an entire wedding…and I’m working on getting that amount of time shorter and shorter. Hopefully with a new computer this will go even faster!
Tuesday: Office work day. Meaning album design, pre blogging, bookkeeping, accounting, etc. All of that fun stuff:)
Wednesday: Marry and Bright day. I use this time to go through submissions and approve and deny them, answer emails that pertain to me and my responsibilities, any bookkeeping, blog maintenance, etc.
Thursday: Office errands, packaging client gifts, post office, etc
Friday: Day off! Rest up for wedding the next day and prepare by recharging batteries, packing bag, cleaning glass. And then recharging MY batteries by enjoying a little bit of time off from the business.
Saturday: Shoot a wedding! Boom.
Sunday: day off…or travel home from wedding.

Obviously I handle emails, social media, and sending invoices, contracts, etc on a daily basis, but for me, structuring  my weeks this way has worked really well. It’s something I started back when I was working full time and running my business full time on the side as well…it gave me so much more structure and helped me be more productive! Within any of those workdays, I try to be in my office around 9 am or so and work until 4:30 or 5pm. But sometimes I start earlier or later and finish up earlier or later depending on what’s going on. I try to give myself a little lee-way too as long as my work is getting done, because hey, being self employed has it’s perks:) Sometimes that means watching netflix while I edit…and sometimes that means answering emails on my laptop in bed in the morning! #selfemploymentperks

Anyone else out there in internet-land prefer to schedule week to week instead of day by day? Also, I’m so excited to share a fun wedding with you all soon, here’s a peek at what’s to come!

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My off season ends this weekend, so I thought I’d go over my off season goals and see how I did!

Try out some new ways to deliver my images to clients. I tried a couple of different companies, and Pixieset ended up meeting my and my clients needs best! More on that soon.

Update client lounge. I didn’t do this…mostly because I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to change! I’m still keeping it on my to-do list though.

Revamp packaging. Yes and no. I think I’ve come to realize that I’m always going to be adding things to my packaging or tweaking it a little bit. I just love packaging so much and I really enjoy making custom, FUN packages for people to open from me.

Learn the ins and outs of Pixifi. Sort of?? I’ve figured out a lot of what I need from Pixifi, but the thing is, there are so many features, I’m constantly uncovering cool new things it does. And they are always MAKING new things too!

Refresh the images on my website. Yes! Done. But I’ll probably be updating it again and again as the year goes on. Luckily, since I have a Showit site, it’s literally only a couple seconds out of my day to make the changes!

Shoot video. Yes. I’ve been having fun taking video of Lucy for a personal project I’m working on…hopefully I will be able to put it together into something to share with you guys soon!

Paint a chalkboard wall in my office. Yes! There are some things I need to do to the office to finish it up, but once those are done, I’ll photograph it and share the results with you guys!

Host Envision. I still can’t believe this happened! It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget! Read more about that here.

Cook dinner 3-4 nights a week. You know what? I don’t know if this is even realistic for me, and that’s okay. I love cooking, but I’m just not a cook 3-4 nights a week person. I’m a take out person. Or heat something up person. Or maybe I just need to be better at time management? I always feel like cooking for us is the last thing on my list! I’d be a terrible housewife! But you know what? I’m okay with that! We all have our strengths and while mine may not be in wifely duties, I’m good at other things! I mean, I just ran a marathon, does that count for something?? Haha.

So excited to kick off our 2014 wedding season with these two tomorrow!

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I’d say I’ve been pretty lucky to get to know so many awesome people since I’ve been running my business, and Michelle Amarillo is one of them!! She and I met for the first time a few months back and immediately hit it off over Mexican food! This girl works so hard to create great experiences for all of her clients (and OUR clients…we get to work together twice this year!!). I’m constantly impressed by both her work ethic and drive and the way she manages to have fun no matter what she’s doing!

I dropped by her office last week to take a few headshots of her for her soon-to-launch new brand! I got to take a sneak peek at it, and it’s AMAZING!!! I’m so excited for her to reveal everything! Make sure you check Michelle out:


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Ahhh so I got the idea for this FAQ post while I was figuring out what I wanted to do for my hair and makeup for some headshots I’d wanted to have done today…but as it turns out, this endless winter STILL isn’t over, and we decided to postpone my pictures. Ugh. At least I get to share these tips I came up with while preparing for the shoot with you guys today!! I’m by no means a professional at makeup or hair, so take my tips with a grain of salt. These are all things I use when I have my own pictures taken, so hopefully they’re helpful!

Q. How should I wear my hair for pictures? Should I do anything special for makeup?? 

A. My first answer to this question is, if  budget and time allow, you should invest in having your hair and makeup professionally done! You’re already investing in having pictures taken, and whether that’s your wedding day images, an engagement session, or another portrait session, you want to make sure you look and feel your best. Engagement sessions and bridal sessions are also a really great opportunity to have makeup trials to test out how your wedding day look will come together!!

If having someone do your  hair and makeup for pictures just isn’t quite in the budget, that’s okay too! I have a few tips for you guys to make sure you’re looking your best in your pictures!

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Start with good products. I suggest investing in some quality cosmetics that are going to be good for your skin and are things you can use over and over again after the session date has passed. One thing I’ve learned about makeup is that for the most part, you do get what you pay for! I’ve started spending a little more money on my makeup and I’ve noticed that not only do the products work better for their intended uses, but they’ve also improved the quality of my skin! Some of my favorite brands: Urban Decay, Smashbox, Bare Minerals, Philosophy.

Prep your skin correctly. When I worked full time in an office, I would wear makeup every day to work. I worked in a corporate office, so it wasn’t professional to not wear makeup and at least look somewhat like I tried to put myself together. I’d wear foundation every day, and by lunchtime I’d notice that most of it was already gone! Or that my forehead was gross and shiny! After I started using a foundation primer every day with my foundation, I no longer struggled with either of those things. I suggest wearing a foundation primer as a base when you’re having your pictures taken, because it helps keep your skin more matte looking and provides a great base to help foundation go on more evenly and last longer. This is especially important when you live in humid Virginia! My favorite primer is Smashbox Photo Finish Blemish Control. If you have extra oily skin, definitely consider bringing blotting papers to your session to get rid of any shiny spots:)

Go heavier. When you’re having pictures taken, you want to wear more makeup than usual. If you don’t wear much makeup on a daily basis, it can feel weird to add extra the day of your portrait session, but you will want that extra bit of definition to really make your features stand out! So it’s a good idea to go a little darker and heavier with your eye makeup and blush or bronzer.

Wear fake eyelashes. Fake eyelashes open your eyes up in a way that almost no other eye product does! If you only do ONE thing differently for your pictures, make it fake eyelashes!! I’d definitely suggest trying them out before the day of the session if you haven’t used them before.

Don’t forget about the lips. I usually don’t wear anything on my lips on a day to day basis, but when I’m having my picture taken, I love to wear lipstick or balm sticks because they really add a little bit of extra interest to my overall look. I used to be really intimidated by lip color, but I discovered these amazing balm sticks by Revlon that are so easy to apply and come in a bunch of gorgeous colors. They’re more of a crayon-like application, so much more idiot proof than a traditional lipstick. Right now I’m loving the Matte Balm!

Or your hair, either! Make an appointment at a blow dry bar or a salon that offers blowouts for the day of the session! I wouldn’t necessarily suggest getting a haircut or a bang trim the day of the session, but if you can get your hair professionally styled, you’ll feel so great about yourself and you won’t have to stress about whether or not you’re having a good hair day.

There you have it! My best tips for ensuring you look your best at your session! Let me know if you have any questions or are interested in specific products I use by emailing me or commenting on this post!



Today I’m sharing an easy editing tip with you guys…if you edit all of your images in Lightroom, this is something you should be doing to all of your images! Especially if you’re a wedding and/or portrait photographer or you just take lots of images of people…The Lens Corrections tab in Lightroom (it’s in LR 3, 4, and 5) is a tool that makes specific corrections to each image based on the lens used. This is especially important to use when you’re using a wider lens (like a 35 1.4, which I shoot with a lot) because wider lenses have a tendency to distort subjects more, especially when you shoot relatively close to them. To use this too, go to Lens Corrections in the toolbox on the right side of the window, select profile (which opens by default anyway), and then check Enable Profile Corrections. Lightroom will read your image’s metadata to figure out what lens was used to take the image and then apply corrections for that specific lens!


Here’s an example! The first image without profile corrections is more vignetted and distorted. Because of the vignetting, the image itself is darker and just not as flattering (though I mean, Michelle always looks adorable, am I right??)

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In the second image, with profile corrections enabled, you can immediately see a difference! There’s less distortion, the vignetting is pretty much non existent, and the image itself is brighter and cleaner. I didn’t make any changes to these two images other than clicking “Enable Profile Corrections”.

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I use this tool all the time! When I import a new set of images, I select all of the images I’m working on, check only the profile corrections, and then sync all of them. After that, I go back through and make the rest of my normal edits! Easy as pie. It only takes me a minute to enable profile corrections, but it really does improve the images!

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After this simple process is done, I go through and edit the rest of the images the way I normally would! Easy as pie! Hope this small little tip was a little helpful…if not, at least you got to see a sneak peek at Michelle’s images, that are coming to the blog this week! Have a good Monday, guys!



500th Post!

The other day I noticed I was getting dangerously close to 500 blog posts published…I couldn’t believe it! Time really does go by so fast, because it seriously feels like it was just yesterday when I started blogging with just a hope to one day be able to maybe go full time and maybe make a living doing this, something I really love! As my business has grown, I’ve continued to keep up with this blog because I really genuinely love it, and also because it’s been such an invaluable tool for growing my business so quickly. And, a perk of having written so many posts over the last almost 3 years, is that looking back through my old posts is kind of  like looking back through an old journal!

So today, I thought I’d share with you guys a few of my FAVORITE posts…and to celebrate give something away!

When I announced I was going full timet
The post I wrote about marriage on my first anniversary
What I wrote about my sister surprising me in time from the Army…that still makes me cry!
That time my husband wrote fitness tips for the blog…haha
One of my most pinned posts (and most awkward faces) – My OCF setup
What is simultaneously the most hilarious and embarassing post on the internet – 2012 Outtakes!
That one time I compared weddings to the Rules of Zombieland (aka I am crazy)
When our apartment flooded…the same day I had a wedding two hours away!

There are dozens more posts that I loved, but those are just a few highlights that were fun to look back on this week as I was prepping this post:) Thank you so much to everyone who has read and supported me and this blog! Whether you’ve been with me since the beginning, or you came in somewhere between now and then, or even if today is your first visit, I’m so glad you are here, and I hope you continue to come hang out with me here!

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I’d love to give one person a $20 gift certificate to Rifle Paper Co! Which I love! Just leave a comment  with your favorite post of mine, and I’ll select someone randomly on Monday!


Q. Do you eat at weddings? If so, what do you eat? And when?

A. YES! We always eat! Or at least, 99 percent of the time we do.

Usually we eat lunch before we arrive, but after 5-6 hours on our feet carrying heavy gear and running around, we are normally ready for some food! We aren’t picky about what we eat at all! Nine times out of ten, we are treated to whatever the guests are eating, whether that’s a place at the buffet, or a plated dinner. We are always so appreciate of this. At most weddings, by the time it’s eating time, I could eat ANYTHING set in front of me, but a hot meal is always such a welcome treat! When couples have a buffet, we usually try to join the line after the bridal party. When the dinner is plated, we ask our couples to ask their caterers to serve us early, after the bride and groom.

We normally try to eat when the bride and groom eat. Why? Not because we think we’re special, or that we think we should eat first, but because for the sake of practicality, it makes the most sense. We don’t photograph people while they are eating (those are never flattering photos, am I right??) so this works out best timing wise. We’ve worked with caterers in the past who prefer to feed all of the vendors last, and while I can understand where they’re coming from with that, I also know that if I don’t get food until the last guest has been served, I probably won’t get a chance to eat at all (sadly, I know this from past experiences). By the time the last guest has been served usually the dinner portion of the evening is starting to wrap up. Lots of couples choose to go from table to table visiting their guests at this time, and we’ll take the opportunity to shoot some candid images of them. Or other times the first dance or the toasts happen while guests are still eating, and obviously we are going to want to shoot those.

John and I are so lucky to have had so many amazing clients who treat us like friends rather than hired help. So many of our couples and their family members have been kind enough to not only make sure we ate, but to come up to us to see if we need anything, and if we’re okay, and even offer us cake or pie, or encourage us to take home favors! :) We’re so grateful to work with such kind people…and to get to fill our tummies with delicious meals while we work!

I hope this post was at least a little bit helpful…I’m writing some more FAQ posts answering a few questions we get quite a bit….I’ll be sharing them soon!

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You guys.

I can’t even describe what it feels like to sit here and write out this post. I mean, I knew that training for and then running my first marathon was going to be a huge undertaking, but I didn’t realize how much of an emotional journey it would be. Since deciding I wanted to run a half marathon last summer when I couldn’t even finish a three mile run around my neighborhood without several stops to walk and gasp for air, I feel like I’ve experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows in regards to not just running, but how I feel about myself as a person. I went from feeling so disappointed in myself after bad runs to feeling the most incredible highs after good ones. I ran in the rain, feeling like a serious bad ass, and struggled to get myself motivated in the heat, cold, wind, etc. At one point I wrote on instagram “I just don’t know if I have a full in me”. Well, it makes me SO incredibly proud to tell you guys today that, yes, I had it in me all along.

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At the starting line, I was SO anxious. I cried during the national anthem, and just tried to keep breathing in and out to calm down and get my head in the game. I said goodbye to John and before I knew it, it was time to go! I was feeling AMAZING when I started out (race day adrenaline will do that to you!) and had to keep reminding myself to slow down. I felt like I could have busted out into sprints at that point, but I knew I needed to save my energy. I kept up my slow pace pretty well even though it felt like a bajillion people were passing me by. I just kept repeating to myself “Run your own race!”. That’s something I’ve learned to try to apply to my entire life…including my business! I sometimes get caught up in trying to keep up with the joneses (who doesn’t?) and remembering to run my own race is so important.

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The race course itself was so much fun. There were live bands, DJs, lots of spectators offering encouragement and high fives, and a ton of runners with cool outfits/shirts to just stare at. For the first 9 miles, I was pretty much just chilling….even the first time I realized I could eat a GU packet, I was like “Oh yeah, I get to eat a gu now!” normally when I’m training on my own, I can’t wait to get into a gu to give myself something to do or to give me that extra push. The BEST part of the course was running through Camp Pendelton during the 7ish-9ish. A ton of the soldiers were out cheering on the runners, so I pulled out my headphones and just listened to them cheer for us and high fived as many as I could. All I could think about was the sacrifices they make for us every day and how incredibly strong each of them is. Thinking about their strength and courage, and in particular my sister, who is in the Army, really inspired me. It was just so awesome and it was incredibly motivating! I kept thinking, if they do all of the amazing stuff they do, I can beast out on this one run. I mean, come on. That gave me a huge spurt of energy, and so did crossing the 7 mile mark, because I knew my bib would alert my friends and family I’d made it that far.

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I finally got to see John around the halfway mark. I was still feeling pretty good, but getting a little fatigued. My knees had started aching around the 9, but I just ignored it as best I could and kept trucking along. When I saw John, I was so excited! There was my person! I stopped to hug him and felt so excited after that I went on to run really well in my 13-18ish. At that point I stopped trying to really pace myself and just let myself run as fast as it still felt good. I was passing people (finally!) and that felt really awesome. My playlist was also perfectly timed to pick up at this point…and DMX in your ear will get you going like nothing else does! Besides my sore knees and feet, I felt AMAZING. I literally thought to myself “I feel SO good right now, today is an awesome day….I feel so happy right now”. Haha who seriously thinks “I’M SO HAPPY” while running on sore knees past 13 miles?? I might be a crazy runner now, you guys.

At some point between 17ish-19 it started to get really cold and cloudy…and somewhat lonely on the course. We ran through Fort Story and that was when the wind really picked up and I started to feel really tired. I tried to slow down to conserve some energy so I’d have some juice left for the finish, and just kept pace behind another group of runners. I stopped and walked to eat a gu. And then to eat a banana. And then to drink some water and gatorade. But I tried to keep running through the pain as much as I could, just repeating positive things to myself. I said things like “The hard parts like this are what makes this a marathon and not just some jog around the block. The hard parts like this are what make you tough and strong. The hard parts are what make you an athlete”. I thought about John. I thought about all of the friends who had wished me good luck and pictured a big group of them cheering for me really loud. I played Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry “Roar” even though I hate that song. I just needed any little bit of motivation I could get to push through and not stop to walk.

Eventually we got out of Fort Story and made it to Atlantic Avenue. Which is way longer than I used to think! I used yet another port o potty and realized that my mental clarity was just about gone. When you run really long runs, at some point, you’re not all mentally there. It’s kind of like being tipsy or just in a fog if that makes sense. I just kept moving and trying to pep myself up. I almost cried a couple of times because I was hurting and tired and just overwhelmed by how far I’d come. I saved my very last caffienated GU til the 23…I sucked it down, and then felt ready to bust out the last 3.2 thanks again to Miley Cyrus and DMX. When I finally turned the corner that led to the boardwalk and to the finish line, I started to feel relieved. Not too much longer and I’d be there! I slowed my pace a little bit so I’d have the energy left to sprint across the finish line. I told myself “When you’re three hotels away from the finish, you can sprint”. So I jogged and counted off the light posts til I got to the third hotel, and that’s when I started to get a massive cramp in my left leg. Great timing, huh? I started to sprint anyway, and at some point I saw my people on the sideline. Searing pain in my left calf, knees on fire, running as fast as I could being that tired, I crossed the finish line after 4:56 of running, literally screaming and crying. I DID IT. Me, who never ran a mile until I was in my 20s, who couldn’t run 3 miles back in the summer. Who though less than 10 weeks ago that I didn’t have it in me. More than anything, I felt so proud that I showed myself what I’m really made of.

When I look back at my experience running my first marathon, it isn’t necessarily the actual running I think about. Though I think I have grown to genuinely love running, I think that’s just a side effect of all the other good things it’s brought into my life. I always had terrible self esteem. I think part of that has to do with the fact that I always felt so different, like the proverbial square peg trying to fit herself into a round hole. I never felt like I belonged anywhere, and I hated both the inside and outside of my body, the way my face told the world that I was different and somehow made me feel not as good as the rest of my family and friends. Running, and training for this marathon taught me that my body is a wonderful thing. It is powerful, strong, and capable. It’s my mind that’s really weak…not my legs or my back, or my triceps. It’s my mind that tells me that I can’t, or that I’m not good enough, not my body.

Looking back on the race, I won’t just remember the marathon, and how it felt to finish, but the entire journey that led me there, and how much I learned about myself along the way. The finishers medal I received doesn’t just represent the 26.2 I ran on Sunday…it represents all of the hours of training through this horribly cold winter, through rain and wind, the sunburn, the windburn, the cussing as I got into each and every ice bath, the $$$ I spent on GU and training items, all of the aches and pains, and most importantly, the doubt I had in myself, and how I proved myself wrong.

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I want to thank everyone who supported me along this journey from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea what it means to me every time you text me, call me, comment on my post, like a picture or a status update, or just generally do something nice to encourage me. It seriously means the world to me. You guys are a huge reason that I didn’t quit back at the beginning or any of the other times that this started to get hard. Thank you for getting me to that finish line! Also, I couldn’t end this post without a shout out to my good friend Kim and her friend Christy, who finished their first half marathon at Shamrock on Sunday! I am so proud of them!!



I don’t know how I get so lucky, but I really feel like I have the BEST clients! One of the things that makes me feel like I’m really doing something right with the way I run my business and the way I put myself out there is when sweet brides like Emily email me TWO YEARS before their wedding date saying that she thinks we would be a perfect fit for each other….because we both love eating so much! I love connecting with my couples via our shared interests and really feeling like our personalities mesh well…I feel like I’m constantly making new friends through this business. By the time their weddings roll around, I feel like I’m shooting the wedding of two people I genuinely care about!

Emily and Cameron are easily one of the most loveable couples I’ve ever worked with…from Emily’s initial emails, to our first meeting over the summer, to spending an afternoon with them shooting their engagements in Georgetown, I can say it’s been such a joy to get to know them both! These two are so easy to photograph because you can tell no matter what they do together, whether it’s walking through a snowstorm in search of bacon or road tripping an hour for tater tots and cherry limeade, they’re always having a blast because they’re best friends! I love seeing that in these two, and I just can’t wait to shoot their wedding next spring!!
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If you’ve been following my Twitter or Instagram, you probably know I’ve been training for a marathon. My first!! I’ve posted about it on the blog a little bit here and there…I don’t want to overwhelm people with my running, but I don’t have any training buddies, so my Twitter/Instagram/blog friends ARE my support system!

My marathon is in TWO DAYS. I’m freaking out a little bit! This marathon is the first one I’ve ever done, and it’s also only my second “official” race. The first one I ever did was more of a “fun run” we did for free beers (aka the best reason to run)…and my first “official” race was a half marathon last Fall. I couldn’t have imagined back then I’d be running a marathon this Spring…heck, last August I could barely run three miles around my neighborhood without stopping or almost passing out. Now I’m about to go out and run 26.2. Whew.

I wanted to write this because I’ve learned so many things throughout the training process. I’ve learned that almost everything you set out to do is do-able with hard work and determination…and that 99 percent of what keeps us from going for whatever crazy thing it is we want to do is all in our heads. I noticed that if I had a really terrible, difficult run, it was because I was really negative about it in my head and/or didn’t prepare well enough in the days leading up to it. I sailed through a 20 miler four weeks before the race and struggled through a 22 about 2.5 weeks before. Why was two miles such a game changer for me? What made two more miles so much more difficult??I was negative about it!! In the days and hours leading up to it, I kept thinking “I can’t wait to just get this over with” and in my heart I was just dreading it because I knew it was going to take a really long time and it wouldn’t be easy. It’s amazing how your mindset affects your performance! And I think this applies to all aspects of life too!  We are really only as good as we believe that we are.

I was telling a friend of mine that I really wanted to get a tattoo after I finish the marathon and she said “You like running that much??”. It’s funny because, I still have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with running. I have good days and bad. For the most part, I’ve come to somewhat enjoy it. At least, I enjoy running more than almost any other form of exercise. But I think that people become runners, not because of the actual running…but because of all of the things you learn about yourself along the way. I was NEVER an athletic person. Always the smallest in my class, I sucked at gym class. I have zero hand eye coordination (this makes me bad at video games too) and I can’t catch to save my life. Running seemed so simple to me…you just put one foot in front of the other, right? While running itself isn’t that hard to pick up, I learned that so much of being athletic has nothing to do with physical attributes or even strength. So much of it is in your mindset. What gets you through 20+ miles isn’t your legs (though, yeah, they play a pretty key role) it’s your mental toughness. Training for this marathon has taught me to be strong and to persevere.

I’m so nervous, but so excited to do this! The anxiety is killing me right now! I can’t get this worried, anxious, excited feeling out of the pit of my stomach. Running a marathon has been on my bucket list for years…and I’m so pumped to finally check it off!! But I’m also really scared and nervous because I know how difficult it’s going to be. Even though I’ve trained for this, I know I probably could have trained harder…and I’m still a novice as far as running is concerned who’s taking on a ridiculously huge challenge. Plus it’s supposed to be cool and rainy on race day and I’m not feeling my best right now. Lucky for me though, I’ve trained through wind gusts, downpours, and bad menstrual cramps, so we’ll see how this goes Sunday! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me during this training process…for all of the kind emails, encouraging text messages on training days, FB and Instagram comments, etc. You guys have helped me get this far! I know I couldn’t have done it without you all! Also, if you’re interested or in town, I’d love to see lots of friends at the finish line on Sunday!! I expect to finish between 1:15-1:45. I’ll give you a sweaty hug and a high five!!

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