365 Days Later – Living the Dream of Being on The Race

365 Days Later – Living the Dream of Being on The Race

teams clappingExactly one year ago, which also happens to be Phil Keoghan’s birthday, my mom, my mommom and I ventured into NYC at 1 AM to watch the filming of the start of the 25th season of The Amazing Race. This was a complete spontaneous decision as we contemplated our trip for less than 12 hours. Let’s start from the beginning to clarify this adventure!

The days leading up to May 31st, 2014 the official Amazing Race Twitter page was inviting TAR fans to NYC to watch the start of the 25th season. No details where provided except that the filming for the race would start at 3 AM. Since NYC is only a (somewhat) short train ride away I was instantly attracted to the idea of going to witness the start of a historic season. TAR producers had NEVER let other people watch the start of the race so I felt like this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For a few days I was trying to find someone to come with me. I asked my friend who I’ve watched the past 3 seasons with if he wanted to go knowing that he would be up to a late night in NYC, but he had prior commitments. So I asked my mom and dad since they also avidly watch the show. My dad wanted no part in pulling an all-nighter in NYC. He also thought that the whole filming would last about 5 minutes total and that it wouldn’t be worth it. My mom felt the same way too but understood how bad I wanted to go just to see what it was all about. And we invited my mommom to tag along too because she had previously pulled an all-nighter in NYC with my mom and I when we went to a free John Mayer summer concert hosted by The Today Show. Just consider us experienced when it came to spending time in NYC from the hours of 1 AM to 6 AM.

At 6 PM on May 30th I still couldn’t make a decision as to whether or not I should definitely go. Details still were very limited as to where the actually starting line would be. I knew that I would’ve regretted not going so by 6:30 my mom put down her foot and said “we’re going and there’s no turning back”. I quickly found poster paper to make a sign. One side of it said “Happy Birthday, Phil!” and the other side said “I don’t want a drink on my 21st Birthday – just a race application” because it was the truth. I was counting down the days until I was old enough to apply!

train selfie
On the train to NYC – 11 PM

We took a train that left the station before midnight but not without some transportation drama. Due to construction, we ended up on the wrong side of the tracks when the train arrived and had to basically run across the overpass of the station onto the train (I don’t think the conductors were very happy with us but we were extremely grateful that we got on!) We arrived at Grand Central Station by 1 AM and were surrounded by intoxicated party-goers who had just left the nearby clubs of NYC. We hustled through the station and out onto the streets of the city. It’s also important to point out that I spent the train ride checking and re-checking Twitter to see live updates from fans who were already at the starting line. The starting line was located in the central part of Times Square at the infamous red bleachers.

By foot, we made our way to the starting area. By this time it was probably close to 2 AM and we stood on the sidewalk with about 100 other TAR fans. I saw a former racer, named Luke Adams, who had raced on a total of 3 seasons. Because I was so star-struck it took me awhile to approach him. I was greeted by him and his interpreter. I showed him my poster & he gladly autographed. We also got a picture together. It was awesome!

with luke
Luke and I (with my sign!)

We then found a spot along the fence that separated the crowd and the camera crews. At this point the racers were no where to be found. There were several camera people who took a picture of me with my sign – they loved the fact that I wanted a race application instead of a drink on my 21st birthday! I’m hoping this is a good sign because maybe one day when they’re looking through applications they’ll remember “the girl with the sign” and cast me on the show.

Phil was rehearsing his lines that he would say to the racers. I also got to see one of the producers, Bertram van Munster, who was there to witness the season’s start. Phil came close to the fence and I joyously yelled a personal “Happy Birthday, Phil!” which got his attention! Now we were approaching the 3 AM mark & the crowd was getting anxious!

Each team arrived in their own individual taxi and the crowded erupted in cheers every time a team exited their cab. The teams lined up in the classic TAR semicircle and Phil did his usual introduction.

There were multiple times in which the racers looked like they were about to start, but it was only for editing purposes so the camera crew had multiple angles of the start. But soon they would be on their way around the world.

As we were waiting for the official start, I got to talk to some fellow TAR fans about our initial predictions for the season’s winning team. It was fun to discuss with other fans our predictions! When I rewatch the videos I can honestly say that we didn’t predict the winning team accurately at all (sorry, Maya and Amy!)

teams lined up 5Finally, around 3:20 AM, Phil sent off the racers with the classic “the world is waiting for you….GO!”.  The racers sprinted to the top of the red bleachers to grab their backpacks.  One team, turns out it was The Cyclists (Kym and Alli), couldn’t initially find their bags so they were sprinting back and forth at the top of the bleachers as other teams read their clues.  (They eventually DID find it, but I’ve taken a mental note to remember what color my bag is and/or chose a brightly colored unique bag when I race)  The first team to sprint back down the steps and onto the streets of NYC was the orange team (Shelley and Nici).  The crowd erupted!

The other teams followed closely behind and sprinted right past us in the crowd!  It was AWESOME!  Each team had their own camera man who also had to sprint around with them.  It was so insightful to witness what happens at the start and how chaotic it truly is.  The racers immediately hailed their own taxis and off they went!  We heard rumors about where they were going but we didn’t have the opportunity to follow stalk them on their journey.

selfie with phil

Now that the excitement had died down and the teams were on their way around the world, I got to meet and take a selfie with Phil himself.  I patiently waited as he went down the line of onlookers and fans.  He kindly took the time to take a selfie with every person that wanted one.  I thought this was great because that means he appreciates the fans who have been loyal to the show for the past 25 seasons.  When he finally got to me, I showed him my poster (both sides), wished him a happy birthday, and told him that one day I plan on being on the race with my dad.  He wished me luck, took my phone and took a selfie (IT WAS THE BEST MOMENT EVER!)

Since the excitement had concluded, my mom, mommom and I walked back to the train station discussing all that we had witnessed.  We arrived in the train station by about 4 AM but the next available train back to NJ wasn’t scheduled to come until 6 AM.  So we found the designated waiting area and I looked through my pictures and videos over and over and over again.  I was WIDE awake despite the fact that it was 6 AM and I still hadn’t slept in my bed.  I was in complete awe that I had witnessed the start of the race and had the opportunity to meet Phil and Luke.  My mom and mommom were feeling sleepy but happy nonetheless.

Every time I think of this night or rewatch the videos, I am reminded about my dream to be on the race one day.  I want to be on that starting line with 12 other teams.  I want to have Phil standing in front of me telling me that the world is waiting.  I want to sprint to a line of backpacks, rip open a clue, and sprint to find the best form of transportation to my destination. I want to feel that excitement again.  The next time I ever witness the start of a new season, I want to be on that starting line.  I want to know how it feels to race around the world…and hopefully avoid getting Philiminated!

7 Miles at 7 AM

7 Miles at 7 AM

This morning I decided to run prior to going to work because I have discovered that I am a much more pleasant person when I have already finished my run for the day.  I wanted to run 6-7 miles and still have plenty of time to shower and refuel with breakfast before leaving for work so I woke up at 6:30 and was out the door by 6:50.  There’s not much going on at this time of the morning near my house which makes morning runs extremely peaceful and allows a lot of time to think to yourself.

Here are a few things that happened during my 7 mile run at 7 AM:

  • There was a dog who had wandered from its yard that greeted me not even half a mile into my run.
  • A woman was walking her dog on the trail – we exchanged “good mornings”.
  • I saw a toad cross the trail in front of me at mile 3.5
  • Same woman told me it was a good idea for me to run so early to avoid the heat.
  • I thought to myself “well, it’s still pretty hot out”.
  • I couldn’t decide what side of the trail I wanted to run on.
  • I thought about how I need to look up plane tickets/expenses for Florida for the winter.
  • I thought about how I want to go on endless adventures for the rest of my life.
  • I thought about how I’m grateful I have a trail that I can run on without ever worrying about a car.
  • I thought about how only 2 people were using the trail at that hour of the morning.
  • I thought about the weekend.
  • I thought about the summer class that I start on Monday.
  • I realized my legs were moving pretty slow but LSD (not the drug, non-runners) is supposed to be slow.
  • I ran past my house in order to get 7 miles.
  • I finished my 7 miles about 100 yards from my house so I just walked back.
  • I really wanted a Gatorade.

And now I want to go back to sleep but it’s almost time to leave for work!

Reminiscing Last Summer’s Trip to Bermuda

Reminiscing Last Summer’s Trip to Bermuda

First, I would like to begin by saying HAPPY 26TH ANNIVERSARY to my wonderful and loving parents!  I hope you have a great anniversary day and continue to have many more years of happiness, memories, and love!  You’re the best!

Last summer, my family took a trip to Bermuda to celebrate my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary.  After marrying on May 27, 1989, my parents traveled to Bermuda for their honeymoon.  Twenty-five years later, they decided to take my brother and I back to the island that they enjoyed together on their honeymoon.  This was the first time we had ever taken a vacation to an island so this was super exciting!

Prior to landing on the beautiful island, we could tell from the plane that the water was crystal clear and NOTHING like NJ beaches.  The airport was tiny and after going through customs we got in a bus with an extremely friendly driver who would take us to our hotel.  On the drive to our hotel, our driver told us some history and fun facts about the island.  He told us where all the rich and famous people live/vacation and how their colleges differ from the US. 

Beautiful Bermudan water

Bermudans rely heavily on tourism for their country’s income so everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming.  But it’s also important to realize that Bermuda is also a very expensive island as it is the custom to give tips to nearly everyone that does something for you.  Despite the expenses, Bermuda is a beautiful island and the residents are more than willing to answer questions or tell stories!  We didn’t meet a single person that was rude (which I must say was a welcoming difference compared to spending the morning in the hustle and bustle of the Philadelphia Airport).

Exploring Bermuda in style

We had planned for months that we were going to rent mopeds and drive all around the island.  And that’s what we did!  Prior to departing the moped rental area of our hotel, we were given a brief lesson about the rules of the road and how to drive a moped.  I was a little hesitant because in Bermuda you drive on the left side of the road and I had never driven a moped before.  It took awhile to get used to but we figured it out!  Also, in Bermuda tourists and residents have different colored licensed plates to basically differentiate between the people who actually knew how to drive around Bermuda and the ones that didn’t (aka us).  So we set out on our mopeds to explore the island in its entirety.

We explored everywhere!  Since Bermuda is a small island, technically we could’ve made it from one end to the next and back to our hotel in one day.  But we took many stops at quaint overlooks and beaches that we came across while driving around so we didn’t have enough time to go from one side to the next (plus one end is more so for the cruise ships and we were told that it’s overcrowded and not worth traveling to).  Our beach stops usually included swimming in the beautiful Bermudan waters and pink sand (yes, Bermuda is known for its pink sand!).  After swimming in Bermuda’s waters I never wanted to take another step in NJ ocean waters again!

We stopped for dinner at a well-known place called The Swizzle Inn which is known for its walls of business cards.  It’s a custom for people to leave their business cards anywhere in the restaurant.  Upon walking in, the walls were covered with various people’s businesses/information.  My dad, since he has a business card for bike repair, left his business card in this restaurant and it will probably remain there for years and years.  I ordered a delicious Tree Hugger Nachos – so yummy!

All in all, renting mopeds for a day was awesome!  And I would do it again in a heartbeat if I ever go back to Bermuda!  If you plan on traveling to Bermuda in the future, renting mopeds is a must!  It opens up a lot of opportunity for exploration and you’ll most likely get to see things you’ve never would’ve saw if you took a taxi/bus!

jet skiing
Jet Skiing – that’s me, I promise!

Also while in Bermuda we decided to go jet skiing!  This is the first time any of us had driven a jet ski so I was excited!  We got 3 jet skis total – one for me, one for my brother, and one for my mom and dad to share.   In order for this story to continue it’s important to point out that we went jet skiing with the only company that was open that day – all other companies weren’t sending people out because the ocean was rough and choppy.  (We like to live on the edge so we went for it!)  Because we were jet skiing in open ocean water, we were instructed to go FAST.  Why?  Because in order to not hit every wave crest, you have to skim over the water and in order to skim over the water you have to hit the gas and keep it that way.  It took awhile for me to get used to just flooring it, but my brother had no problem with it at all!  He was keeping up with our guide just fine!  My parents on the other hand weren’t have such a great experience (I love you, Mom!)  My mom was terrified and my dad was stuck with my mom screaming “ohmygosh” over and over and over again!  Needless to say, my mom will never ever EVER go jet skiing in open ocean water.  My brother and I had a lot of fun though.  I would do it again in a heart beat!

family in Hamilton
Night in Hamilton ❤

We also took a trip to Bermuda’s main “city” called Hamilton.  This time we relied on public transportation.  We took a ferry to the city which led us past many harbor-front houses with beautiful views.  In Hamilton we went to an Italian restaurant that served a variety of pizza and pasta.  I got a zucchini pizza which I finished completely (and then regretted because it was a lot….but I can at least say that I finished an entire 8 slice pizza all by myself!)  Bermuda doesn’t really have a “night life” so by 8 o’clock all the stores were closed.  We took a bus back to our hotel which was fun.  The bus was very crowded but everyone was friendly and willing to help us figure out when our stop was. 

Of course, vacations wouldn’t be complete without some running.  To my surprise, although Bermuda is an island, there were hills…plenty of hills!  Our hotel was actually perched on a hill so that meant that every run ended with an uphill.  On our last day my dad and I went for a run on the beach and then found some pretty awesome beach-side trails.  I didn’t want to leave Bermuda without saying that I ran on Bermuda’s pink sand beaches so we went for a wonderful run and enjoyed our last morning on one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever seen. 

All in all, Bermuda is a BEAUTIFUL island and I would recommend to anyone that they should go at least once in their lifetime.  The water and beaches are picturesque, the people are friendly and more than willing to help with anything you need, and there are plenty of opportunities to do adventurous things.  Unlike many other islands, you can go anywhere on the island without accidentally entering a dangerous neighborhood.  Bermuda is one of the safest islands you could travel to!  I hope to return to Bermuda in the future and I am forever grateful that my parents wanted to share the beauty of Bermuda with their two children for their 25th wedding anniversary year.  It was an amazing vacation and we still tell stories about it when we need a good laugh (usually to my mom’s expense…sorry, Mom!  Love youuuu!)  Add Bermuda to your bucket list of places to visit – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

waves crashing         family beach

SPOILER ALERTS: TAR26 and Survivor30 Season Reviews

SPOILER ALERTS: TAR26 and Survivor30 Season Reviews

In the past week, two of my favorite reality TV shows have ended.  Surprisingly, I was happy with both of the season finales, and my top choices for winners won on both shows!  Overall, I believe that both shows had memorable contestants, realistic-unrealistic drama, and noteworthy reality TV show twists that made these seasons unique and entertaining.

The Amazing Race – Season 26

This season’s noteworthy twist:  Five of the 11 teams were blind date couples that were paired up based on common careers, personalities, and hometowns.  This was the first time that TAR producers put together teams themselves as people were casted as individuals rather than teams of two.  The season preview used the phrase “the most extreme blind date ever” and I couldn’t agree more.  I would never even consider applying to this show as a “single” applicant.  The risk of not knowing who your partner is when you show up on the starting line is bizarre to me.  What are his/her strengths/weaknesses?  How does she/he communicate under stress?  Will he/she take just five seconds to calm down, reevaluate the situation, and create a game plan rather than haphazardly rushing through things inefficiently?  These are all things I would want to know prior to starting the race; therefore, I, personally, would never apply to this show as a “single”.  Ironically, three of the top 4 teams were blind date couples who had only knew each other when they started in California twenty-one days prior to the final leg of the race.  The producers probably didn’t expect that to happen!

Realistic-Unrealistic Drama:  Upon finding out that this season would contain teams “searching for love” I predicted that the season would contain plenty of corny lovey-dovey drama.  I’m not into chick-flicks and I’m constantly rolling my eyes when it comes to drama between couples on TV.  The season started with what I would call “forced dates” in which teams had to participate in certain Roadblocks that set them up for romantic opportunities (i.e. In Japan, teams had to feed each other noodles.  In Germany, teams had to serenade their partner in song while standing on a ladder leaning against a balcony (sounds very Romeo & Juliet, right?)).  I also predicted before the season even began that there would be at least one mid-race proposal.  By Leg 3, in Thailand, Matt popped the question to his girlfriend of three years, Ashley.  (I swear I can write this show!)  Although the season was A LOT better than I ever expected it to be, I still miss the typical parent-child teams, best friends teams, etc etc.

Memorable Contestants: To begin, a HUGE congrats to TeamSoCal, Tyler and Laura who reached the finishing mat in Dallas, Texas first after traveling around the entire world together as a blind date couple.  They were a strong team from the beginning and their athleticism, stress management skills, and attention to detail brought them to the finishing mat before the other two blind date couples.  I idolize their teamwork and success in the Roadblocks and Detours and I believe they enjoyed their trip around the world as much as they focused on the competition itself.  Tyler and Laura are officially members of the elite Amazing Race winning circle and I can only dream of joining them on the list of winners in the future.  The majority of the drama came from one particular blind date couple – Hayley and Blair.  Hayley was constantly yelling and critiquing Blair, oftentimes blaming him for the team’s mistakes.  She repeated multiple times throughout the season that she was always right…until the final leg when she made a million dollar mistake (she jinxed herself!).  Although their relationship seemed more like brother and sister with their constant arguments (they were appropriately nicknamed, “The Bickersons”), they claim to still remain friends and have weekly FaceTime sessions to chat.  There were multiple times throughout the season where I would have personally eliminated Hayley and substituted myself in to be Blair’s partner.  He seemed like a guy that deserved better than a nagging blonde girl he didn’t even know.  Regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hayley and Blair returned for an All-Stars season because of their bickering – after all, they add drama to the show which is what producers of reality TV shows are alway looking for. 

TAR26 Grade: A

Although this season exceeded my expectations, I do believe that the producers tried a little too hard to push the whole relationship-lovey-dovey stuff.  There were too many instances where the teams had to do “typical date stuff” and there were times where I accurately predicted what was going to happen – but perhaps that’s just because I’m a super fan!  I am glad that #TeamSoCal won because I believe they were the strongest team of the entire season despite being one of the 5 blind date teams.

Survivor 30

This season’s noteworthy twist:  This season began with three tribes – no collar, blue collar, and white collar.  I instantly began to relate to the blue collar tribe because they seemed to have a good work ethic, weren’t too cocky like the white collar tribe, and weren’t too laid back like the no collar tribe.  After a few episodes I began to pinpoint specific members of each tribe that I approved/disapproved of.  There was also a first-ever advantage given out at the traditional Survivor Auction – an extra vote that could be used at any tribal council.  Dan bought this advantage but his advantage actually sent him home after Mama C (Carolyn) used her Immunity Idol to save herself from her torch being snuffed – the tribe had spoken.

Realistic-Unrealistic Drama:  The discovery of immunity idols always seems to be way too easy and convenient for the people who are at risk of getting voted out.  Mike, who was repetitively at the bottom of his alliance(s), found the Idol when he needed it the most.  Coincidental?  You make that call.  There were also far too many sexist jokes for my comfort level which resulted in uproarings on the beach and at numerous tribal councils.  Rodney’s constant whining about his “worst birthday ever” and how he never got to participate in a Reward got old really quick.  He whined too much, spoke too much, and oftentimes caused way too much unnecessary drama.  He also wasn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch.

Memorable Contestants:  I was pleasantly surprised with the final three (I had predicted either Mama C or Mike, Will, and Rodney).  In awe it actually ended up being Mama C AND Mike, and Will.  I chose Mike to win because he played hard, he won challenges when he most needed it, and somehow deflected multiple times in which his torch was at risk of being snuffed by Jeff.  He also made the risky decision to split the vote between Mama C and Rodney which caused them to make fire to determine who would stay in.  If I was Mike, I would have voted Mama C off in a heartbeat because she had the greatest chance to win the jury’s votes.  Like they all said, “do you really want to sit next to someone at the final tribal whose nickname is “Mama”?”  So, congrats, Mike!  You definitely deserved the win!  I was also thoroughly impressed with Joe from the no collar tribe who was a very strong competitor.  Luckily, he was voted into Survivor’s future season of Second Chances (I really hope that Joe and Spencer form an alliance because I love them both!).

Survivor 30 Grade:  A-

This season contained a lot of unnecessary whining, sexist comments, and personal attacks towards fellow competitors, but the final two or three episodes were entertaining and intense.  There were plenty of “ohmygosh” and “what just happened?!” moments.  I was extremely happy with the end result of the show since my choice of winner won.  I was also ecstatic that two of my top choices for Survivor Second Chance were chosen;  I’m looking forward to seeing Spencer and Joe play again!  Who will outwit, outplay, and outlast their tribemates next?  To be continued…

Wildwood Weekend Recap

Wildwood Weekend Recap

So I spent a few days in Wildwood this weekend with some friends, which was a much needed mini-vacation to officially start the summer.  We were all in Wildwood for the races taking place throughout the weekend.  The “headline” race was the Wildwood Half-Marathon, which two of my friends raced.  Due to the fact that the Broad St Run was just two weeks ago, I opted to cheer on my friends in the half-marathon than run in it.  As tempting as running 13.1 miles sounds, I am a firm believer in training for one particular race, succeeding in said-particular race, than allowing my body to recuperate.  Two weeks was just too soon to even THINK about racing in a half-marathon.  But, due to the perks of signing up for one of the three races Wildwood had to offer this year, I registered for the 5k just to get the pier passes that were included.  With all of this in mind, here’s some noteworthy moments from this weekend:

  • stayed in a friend’s condo for the weekend with three other friends (shoutout to John and his family for allowing us to stay there free of charge!!)
  • made a lovely pizza for Friday night’s dinner (pizza = my choice of carbo-loading!)
  • watched the season finale of The Amazing Race (and my choice for the winning team won!)
  • sleeeeeeep
  • ran to the start of the 5k (this is the first time that I’ve ever been able to warm-up to the start line from a house/home/place of stay, so this was exciting!)
  • ran…I mean “raced”…the 5k.
  • took 3rd overall female in the 5k (I would consider my time “decent” considering I haven’t actually trained for a 5k in the last 8 months of my running life…it definitely wasn’t a fast time, but considering I signed up for this race just to get pier passes, it is what it is) (Shoutout to Brianna for finishing 1st in her age group!)
  • didn’t receive my medal for placing 3rd because they were extremely disorganized with the medals (but apparently they’ll be sending it to me in the mail!)
  • had a lovely conversation with two runners after I asked them, “where’d you get the Johnson’s popcorn from?!?”…this conversation lasted at least 15 minutes…they must’ve really liked talking to us three!
  • ate more pizza….this time we got it on the boardwalk!
  • went on some of the rides on the piers
  • made a delicious vegetable and pasta dinner for my two friends who were racing the half-marathon the next morning (CARBS!!!)
  • watched Godzilla….(mixed reviews, but I say it was good!)
  • sleeeeeeeeep
  • early morning, considering the half-marathon started at 7:30
  • biked along the course to cheer on fellow runners (I think I probably ended up biking a half-marathon!)
  • saw a lot of runners I knew – runners I knew from high school races, runners I met at Broad St, and, of course, my lovely running friends (Shoutout to John and Brian for awesome races!!! – I had so much fun cheering you guys on!!)
  • cheering on runners I didn’t know and seeing a girl go from walking to running after I told her to take a deep breath and start moving again!  It’s a good feeling knowing you’ve helped someone do well in their race! (Note:  It’s a known fact that cheering on races is always a lot more fun than running them!)

It was just a great weekend full of friends, running, and lotssss of sass :]

It Surely didn’t Start as a Fairytale – My Year Away at College

It Surely didn’t Start as a Fairytale – My Year Away at College

Last spring, prior to earning my Associates Degree in Exercise Science at a local community college, I remember being extremely excited for the new chapter in my life that would begin in just a few short months.  Although I had never lived anywhere but my small town for 20 years, I was excited to live in the beautiful mountains of Pennsylvania on a college campus. 

I had heard two years worth of “college life” stories from my high school friends who raved about living away from home – the freedom, the opportunities, the fun.  But little did they know I had freedom at home because my parents trusted me.  I had opportunities that hardly anyone can say they ever had (after all, I witnessed three national championship wins with my team – two of which I was a member of.  Not many people can say their team was #1 in the nation, right?). (Please excuse my bragging.  I’m just super proud of my team!)  And we DEFINITELY knew how to have fun.

I had made amazing friends at my community college who still ARE my best friends even after two semesters apart.  The majority of us were also making the transition to “real” college.  We never wanted to leave each other and part ways – but community colleges were intended only to last two years.  So after a summer worth of memories and late nights, runs and get-togethers, beach trips and sunshine we had to say goodbye. 

At the time, only two of us were going far away for college.  Everyone else stayed closer to home.  Saying goodbye was hard.  We were starting a new chapter in our lives without each other.  We had known nothing else for two years.  But I knew deep in my heart that we would be able to pick up right where we left off when we all got back together.  After all, that’s what friends do best.

knoebels group shot
Family weekend with my future roommate, Jill.

So the morning of move-in day I was lucky enough to have both my parents, my brother, and two of my friends help me with the move-in process.  It was both a happy and sad day.  It was a happy day because I was starting at a new school – it seemed to be a fresh start.  It was a sad day because I had to say goodbye to my dogs, to my parents, to my brother, and to my friends.  I would be lying if I said tears weren’t shed that day. 

Being a transfer student straight up SUCKS.  Imagine yourself making friends for two years, leaving them all behind, and having to start ALLLL over again in which people have already made 1, 2, or 3 years worth of friendships.  I called home and talked to my friends or family nearly every night.  And sometimes we would talk for an hour or more.  This is what truly got me through those first few months.  (So thanks for that, everyone!)

PLP iceskating
Iceskating with one of my future roommates, Toni.

Thank goodness I was part of a scholarship program where I met amazing people and one of future roommates.  I knew that the program would introduce me to people with similar work ethics and morals so I was excited to get to know everyone and enjoy all the opportunities the program had to offer.

I was also on the cross country team but I didn’t like it at all.  It wasn’t a team.  Everyone was selfish.  The majority of the team came to long runs hungover from the party they had the night before.  I would wake up on meet days and not be mentally focused.  One morning I actually almost forgot I even had a meet.  I was never excited to run anymore. The only meets I enjoyed were the ones that my old teammates were also at.  The coaches only cared about the fast runners.  There was never any time to do anything but run, study, and run some more.  I can honestly say that those few months of cross country made my first semester miserable.  I hated everything about it.  It just wasn’t fun.

But then my cross country season was over.  I was finally FREE!  FINALLY.  FREE.  I was then able to expand my social circle.  The moment my semester did a complete 180 degree turn-around was when I decided to go on a trip to a indoor trampoline park with Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM).  Yup, you read that right – an indoor trampoline park became the location of the turning point of my semester.  The people were friendly, welcoming, and just like some of my friends at home.  I don’t think I realized how important that night was at the time.  But reflecting on it now, that weekend made the last month of the fall semester the best month of the entire semester and paved the way for an amazing spring semester.  (Shoutout to all my lovely CCM friends!!! – you guys are the best!)

I met my newest best friend (that’s you, Sarah!).  She was also a transfer student so she understood the struggle.  She kept me sane that last month.  We learned a lot about each other in a very short amount of time.  People think we look like sisters but we’ve pinpointed some obvious differences.  People think we’re roommates but due to our late-developed friendship we won’t even be living with each other next year (although we’ll have plenty of sleepovers!).  We both agree we wouldn’t know what we do without each other.  A simple CCM event made us best friends.

volleyball tournament with sarah
Twins? You decide.

So the fall semester ended and I was ready to spend some time at home and catch up with family and friends.  Winter break was amazing and although I now had true friends to return to school with, I was still sad to leave home for another few months.  And it was the dead of winter – my first cold, windy, snowy winter in Pennsylvania.  Thank goodness for soup and hot chocolate!

The spring semester seemed to be a thousand times busier than the fall.  The Big Event was held on a morning that saw sub-20 temperatures.  There were multiple ice skating trips and game nights.  Relay for Life was the only all-nighter I pulled for both semesters.  I re-visited a quaint running trail with my best running buddy.  Springfest/Block Party weekend wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be considering the thousands of extra people flocking into town.  And there are too many other fun times to even list without boring people!

Classes were going well.  I met plenty of people in my major.  We kept each other sane.  We complained about this test and that quiz.  But we survived.  We made it through the semester in one piece and that’s what matters most.  I wrote a total of 6 lab reports which were usually between 10-15 pages each.  I developed a year-long exercise program that was a required project for one of my classes (that’s another 50+ pages).  I did a total of 25.5 observation hours which helped me determine what I wanted to do with my life.  And I wrote a 23 page paper on the kinematics of downhill running.  Needless to say, the library became my second home.  But I learned A LOT this semester.  The semester ended with 2 A’s, an A-, B, and a B-.  Considering the amount of class stress that I dealt with this semester, I’ll take it!

I was grateful for the weekends I returned home because that meant I got to spend time with my family and friends.  It’s always much easier to COME home then LEAVE home that’s for sure.  But I was grateful for the fact that I got to return to school and be immediately surrounded by amazing friends. 

By the last few weeks of classes, the sun was out consistently which (finally) meant warm weather.  We no longer had to carry around our winter jackets or gloves.  Finally we could sit out on the Quad and soak in some Vitamin D.  Those are the days we waited months for.  Finals week ended as quickly as it started.  And just like that it was summer!

So although my first semester started rough, I can honestly say that I’m happy I chose the school I did.  It’s a beautiful campus, a beautiful town, and is surrounded by beautiful mountain landscapes.  With the exception of the team I was on, I have met so many genuine people that I look forward to spending more time with in the fall.  This story may not seem like a fairytale from everything that happened in the first few months, but it does seem to have a happily ever after – and that’s always the most important part of a fairytale anyways!

Official Summer Bucket List

Official Summer Bucket List

  • volunteer at a local Youth Track Camp for the 3rd year in a row
  • run a local 4th of July 4 mile race with friends and family
  • make some $$$$
  • take an online summer class
  • take part in a local running club’s weekly runs (AKA make new running friends!)
  • hike/run the entire length of NJ’s Appalachian Trail with Dad (73 miles)
  • take day and/or weekend trips to the beach/boardwalk
  • help pace my Dad’s running friend in his 24-hour ultramarathon in the wee hours of the night
  • go on long bike rides
  • run LOTS!
  • watch my brother graduate from high school
  • visit the 9/11 Memorial in NYC
  • see a movie at the drive-in movie theater
  • bonfires!
  • read books that aren’t school-related
  • buy a food processor and experiment with new healthy/vegan recipes
  • visit Sarah for the Music Festival
  • go to Dorney Park
  • Anyone have suggestions for anything else?!?!
Why I Decided to Start a Blog

Why I Decided to Start a Blog

At the end of my spring semester, in the midst of training for the Broad Street Run, I told myself that I would start a blog in the summer months to come.  I’ve been continuously inspired by a former coach, who also happens to be one of my biggest role models, who also has a successful blog (Be sure to check it out at http://theroadlessrun.com/).  Her blog indirectly made me realize a lot about myself.  It also gave me the motivation to share what I have to say with others!  As much as I love to run and talk about running, I decided against making it primarily a running blog.  Instead, it would be an “everything” blog.  And so I began brainstorming.

I’m extremely grateful for the many experiences I have been a part of with my family and my friends – after all, they’re the ones that give me things to talk about!  There are far too many good (and sometimes bad) memories to list with this first blog post.  That’s why I’ve decided to dedicate this entire blog to sharing past memories that I hold close to my heart and present/future experiences that I’m enjoying and/or looking forward to.

I may be a young 21 years old, but I feel like I’ve learned so much in the past few years that I feel I need to share with the world!  And I realize that I’m not a keeper of all knowledge.  There is not one person on this planet that can say they know everything.  But I believe that it’s the knowledge you do know that can get you far in life.  It’s always just a matter of applying your knowledge, having the confidence in your skills, and believing in your ability to succeed. 

I’m excited to get this blog in motion!  And I hope you, the reader, are looking forward to reading it!  And if you’re already bored out of your mind just reading this post, feel free to never read another blog post of mine again – I won’t be the least bit offended!  After all, I’ve learned that if you don’t enjoy something, just don’t do it!  So do what makes you happy!  

And one more thing!  Michael, if you made it to the end of this post, I hope you now understand why I decided to start a blog :p