am i a unicorn?

Am I a unicorn?

After six months of sending resumes to every media outlet within a 60-mile radius of Fort Campbell, I joined the Kentucky New Era as a staff writer in September 2013. The local daily served a city of 35,000 and a tri-county area of about 125,000 people. Like all entry-level reporter positions it paid peanuts, but it was exactly what I always dreamed of doing. I love news and struggled with leaving once orders dropped.

Three years later, I’m still struggling to find a media outlet that will take me. I get that I chose a profession with pre-existing struggles and dumped a whole other set of obstacles on top of it.

And don’t get me wrong, PCS Life is hard for everyone, but it wasn’t until we moved for the second time that I realized how difficult it would be to continue pursing reporting. Journalism was always the plan before the Army, and it’s hard to accept doing anything else.

At NAS Pensacola I spent the first four months after the move counting down the days, weeks and months until our future move to journalism mecca. I just had to hold on for three more months and we’d be in the D.C. area for good.

Or so I thought. Paperwork sat on a desk, and seven months turned to a year. I took a job through a temp agency at a local radio station so I didn’t murder my husband for self-fulfillment.

Packing up every two to three years, setting up a new house and maintaining a career through it all can seem impossible when you first start the military life journey. You go to school with one plan in mind and then life turns around and craps all over it. Good prep for military life I guess?

Well, sometimes it seems impossible. Disheartening. Defeating.

That’s why being surrounded by military spouses of all professions and backgrounds Monday afternoon was so uplifting. Co-hosted by Starbucks, the first meeting of In Gear Career’s National Capital Region chapter kicked off over free coffee and cake.
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IGC is a networking group for professional military spouses in pursuit of career advancement, not just a job. I first found the group at Fort Campbell when I wondered, “Could there be other spouses established in their careers and unwilling to let them go?”

Surrounded by about 20 other resilient, hard-working, eager spouses the answer was clear to me.

Yes, we’re here.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of In Gear Career. As always, the opinions and text are all mine. Photos by Sandy Davis Photography.

nyc marathon packing list

It’s almost here! After more than three months of training I can’t believe I’m headed to NYC for the race of my life. I usually put stuff to the side throughout the week so that I don’t forget it and pack basics from a list the day of or night before a trip. We’re leaving in three-ish hours or so and I’m just getting started but luckily my go-to strategy means packing everything I need only takes me about 20 minutes.

I usually go through and layout all the outfits that I’ll need so that I don’t under or overpack. Both can be bad.

For NYC, I’ll need something to sleep in tonight and tomorrow night, something to wear during the day tomorrow, my race clothes and comfy clothes to wear post-marathon. I’ve found it saves space to have your clothes do double duty so I’ll sleep in the next morning’s (clean) gym clothes and wear a sundress for sightseeing because I can keep it on for that night’s dinner.
NYC Marathon Packing ListOnce we get to NYC I’ll stop at a grocery store and pick up a couple of bananas, and I’ll go to a Goodwill to get throwaway clothes for the start to avoid taking up space in my bag. I like a really big puffy jacket when I can find it (because Floridian) and that pretty much takes up my whole suitcase if I were to pack it.

There you have it!

Ah. Now to put all these things in my bag. (Pro tip: roll your clothes). Two sleeps until race day!

Anything I’m forgetting? Last-minute packing tips for me before we head out?

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army ten miler 2015 recap

I love this race. 

It’s my second year running it, and it was everything I remembered. From the perfect race day temps to running past all of the best monuments to the Hooah tents at the expo and everything in between. It was great.

Have I mentioned I love this race?

Saturday morning J and I made the four and a half hour drive up to Atlanta to fly to D.C. with points (Flights out of Pensacola both with dollars and points are outrageous). It was a quick, overnight trip so we headed to the Westin in Georgetown to drop off our bags before taking the Metro to the expo/packet pickup.

But first, lunch.

  
The expo:

DOD ID card holders have priority pickup coming through the expo. My favorite thing about this race is that unlike a four-month wait for class start after a rushed PCS everything else in the Army, it’s impeccably run and organized so well. Bib pickup is organized by numbers and you quickly show ID with minimal lines for pickup before getting your ATM shirts.

After a quick loop of the expo, stocking up on #allthegu and a stop to break the Nothing New on Race Day Rule at KT Tape we were ready to go.

We made a Whole Foods stop for morning iced coffee and instant oatmeal, walked down M Street for dinner and headed back to the room for an early bedtime. We’re old. I’m over it.

But first, cupcakes.

  
Race day:

As part of my marathon training plan I needed 20 miles this weekend. I planned to get in 10 before the 10-miler but miscalculated a little thing called sunrise. I woke up to darkness and could hear my marathon training coach’s voice telling me to wear reflective clothing I didn’t have so I headed to the Westin gym to dreadmill it for six miles.

Around 6 I got J up and we ate before taking the Metro to the Pentagon.

One thing I definitely suggest for the wait at Pentagon City is throwaway clothes. We learned from last year that it can get pretty chilly while waiting for the start so we bought $3 sweaters at a local thrift shop before leaving for D.C. We made long but efficient lines at the Porta Potties and headed to the corrals. A cannon start sets waves off every five minutes and around 8:25 it was go time.

  
10.25 beautiful miles in the nation’s capital:

Although spectator support is spotty at this race there are sections where they line up in droves. The first two miles or so along course, the finish and underneath any bridges are where you’re bound to see your fair share. The ones that do show up are more than enthusiastic.

Last year I loved a man who played the flute for the entire race while maintaining just under a 10-minute pace. Flute man wasn’t anywhere to be found this year, but I kept my music off and enjoyed the slow, marathon pace crawl through one of my favorite cities along the east coast.

  
I didn’t need to use them but one of the things that struck me most about the difference between this race and my terrible experience running the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in April was the number of aid stations, stocked water stops and bathrooms along the course. Seriously, CUCB can learn a thing or two.

  
Since I wasn’t shooting for a PR after already running six miles that morning, I ran a super comfortable 10:45ish stopping for pictures along the way and high-fives from spectators. 

 
   
 I hit 10 miles about a quarter mile early but I could honestly run this course twice and be ecstatic (Might there be an MCM in my future? Hmm.).

I crossed the finish line, got my $60 banana, found J and this lovely human

 We only had a few more hours in D.C. so we headed to the hotel for showers before checkout.  

But first, brunch.

  
I’m sad the trip was so short but I’m crossing my fingers and toes that many more trips to D.C. are in our future after this next PCS. I’m not done with you D.C. and can’t wait until next time.