15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 3 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 3 of 3)

If you missed part 1 and 2 check them out here and here!

#11:  Be yourself.  This seems pretty straight forward but I’ve seen people change they way they talk or act when they’re with others.  It’s extremely frustrating when dealing with someone with a double-sided personality.  The best thing to do for personal growth and life enjoyment is to just be yourself.  If someone doesn’t like who you are then so be it.  And if you don’t like how someone else is behaving or treating you, you have no reason to feel ashamed to cut them out of your life.  Cut out the negative people in your life and I guarantee your state of happiness will increase tenfold.  When you cut out negative attitudes in your life you’ll find yourself drifting more towards people who are like-minded.  These people are similar to yourself in work ethic, motivation levels, and approach to life.  When you embrace your own individual personality you’ll be happier and more truthful to those around you.  Don’t hide who you are because most likely you’re limiting your friendships and relationships with others.  Be yourself – you have nothing to lose!

#12:  Trail running is my favorite:  I think I’ve known this for awhile but this year I’ve become even more appreciative of the trails.  There’s something about being outside, breathing in fresh clean air, and getting lost in the woods that is mentally refreshing.  I’ve found it easy to lose myself while trail running.  I’m not sure what I’m thinking about during a trail run but when I’m done running I feel instantly less stressed and less anxious.  Perhaps I’ve become more appreciative of the trails this year because at college 90% of my runs were on the roads. There’s something special about the dirt shifting beneath your running shoes and leaping over roots and fallen trees.  I may not be a strong climber (and several of my trail running companions will probably agree with that) but I just love being outside surrounded by trees.  Here’s to hoping both me and whomever if reading this blog right now will find new trails in 2016 and that we’ll follow the trail where ever it might lead us.

#13:  I don’t like gambling.  This year I turned 21.  For my 21st birthday, I opted to visit Atlantic City’s casinos.  The appeal of possibly winning money seemed great!  Two of my guy friends and, unstereotypically, my parents came to AC with me to celebrate.  After dinner and some wine, we went to Tropicana to play the slots.  (I know nothing about table etiquette in casinos so we avoided the tables).  I didn’t win any money that night – I walked out with less money than I walked in with.  Granted, I don’t like spending money anyways so I really didn’t even lose that much money, but I was still unhappy that the casino “stole” my money.  That’s when I knew I would never have a gambling problem.  My brother and I also visited family in California this summer and one night we decided to go to a casino.  My brother is only 18 but we went to a casino on an indian reservation where the legal gambling age is indeed 18.  I don’t even think I spent any money that night because I knew that I would probably walk out with less money than I went in with.  On the other hand, I think my brother gambled $5 and walked out with like $30.  Just my luck.  He gambles for the first time in his life, at age 18, and instantly earns money.  This was the second occasion where I realized I would never have a gambling problem.  Casinos and betting of any sort does not appeal to me.  I can at least say I went to a casino to celebrate being 21 but I probably won’t be returning to the slots any time soon.

#14:  Make new friends and keep good friends:  This year, with so many new adventures, I got to meet a lot of new (and awesome) people.  A lot of new friends came from the running community.  As I’ve mentioned before, people from the running community instantly earn my stamp of approval because 99% of runners have the same work ethic and approach to life.  Runners are also extremely easy to get along with.  (That’s why I swear if I ever get married, I’ll probably be marrying a runner.)  There’s some special bond that runners instantly share whether you’ve ran with them once or twice or countless amounts of time.  I probably sound like a broken record, but I am extremely grateful for all my friends who I’ve met through running – you all have a special place in my life and I look forward to the miles that lie ahead of us.  Likewise, I’ve come to learn this year to keep my good friends.  These are the people that look out for each other, give you advice when you need it, and check up on you at random.  These are the people that made this year survivable because without them I would probably be mentally lost.  These are the people that I was excited to share good news with.  There comes a time in your life when friends you thought would be by your side for eternity are no longer there for you.  Or maybe these people were poor influences on your behaviors and actions.  It’s ok to say goodbye to these people.  You deserve the best life possible – after all, you only get one lifetime.  I’ll say it over and over again, I’m the kind of person that would rather have four quarters than 100 pennies.  Choose your friends wisely.

#15:  Be a goal-setter and a goal-achiever:  Thanks to my Believe journal (which I encourage all (female) runners to buy), I set and achieved all the goals I established for 2015.  I had a life-changing year of running that will be hard to beat in 2016.  After running the Broad Street 10 Miler, completing 73 miles on the Appalachian Trail in three days, and completing my first marathon in under 4 hours, I realize the importance of goal-setting.  It’s easy to say “oh I want to run a 10 mile race” or “I want to go on a hike this summer” or “I want to run a marathon one day”.  By writing it down, making a plan, and then actually doing it you’ll feel an irreplaceable sense of accomplishment the day you reach your goal.  There’s a lot of preparation that goes into achieving a goal but it’s the feeling of accomplishment that occurs in the days following a completed goal that make you realize how powerful goal-setting is.  A lot of people will start 2016 with New Year’s resolutions (me included), but by writing it down and putting it somewhere where you see it every day you’ll having a greater chance of sticking to that resolution.  Find someone to hold you accountable for your actions (or lack there of).  Find a new workout buddy or drag your family members into your goal to keep you in check.  And it’s equally important to remember that you can be flexible with your goals.  If an injury comes along, you can alter your goals and then come back to your ultimate goal when you recover.  Set goals.  Work towards your goal.  And achieve your goal.  Let’s make 2016 another great year of goal setting and achieving!

I hope you learned a lot about yourself and your life this year.  Don’t lose sight of your dreams and aspirations.  Love your friends and family and, most importantly, yourself.

Wishing you a very happy new year with many blessings and good health in 2016.

 

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 2 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 2 of 3)

If you missed Part 1 check it out here!

#6:  Your limits don’t actually exist:  This year alone I ran a 10 minute PR at the Broad Street 10 Miler in May, I hiked/ran the length of New Jersey’s part of the Appalachian Trail in three days (that’s 73 miles in three days), and I finished my first marathon in under my goal time of four hours.  With the exception of being running related, what do all of these things have in common?  Simply put, I pushed past the limits that existed in my mind and reached several goals I set this year.  While hiking/running the Appalachian Trail carrying 20 pounds of supplies on our backs, I had to push myself further than I ever had before.  The first day left me feeling mentally degraded and every muscle in my body hurt.  I hadn’t gone more than four miles ever before with 20 pounds of weight weighing down on my shoulders.  And here I was, somewhere in northern New Jersey in the great outdoors, moving forward for 12+ hours a day with only one goal in mind – get to that New Jersey-Pennsylvania state line.  My dad and I did indeed finish the trek in three days like we had planned but my limits were definitely tested during those three days.  Limits are boundaries you set in your mind.  Limits don’t exist in real life.  You can push yourself further than you can even imagine if you’re willing to ignore pain and ignore that whispering voice in your head telling you to stop.  Don’t let that whispering voice put a limit on what you can and cannot achieve in this world.  Your limits are endless.

#7:  Distance apart is just a number:  This past summer I was fortunate enough to travel to California for the first time ever to spend time with family members.  In my memory, I had never met my Aunt Mary.  The last time we were together was when I was christened as a baby and I definitely don’t have any recollection of that.  So my brother and I headed west for our first trip to the west coast.  We stayed with our cousin who gave us an amazing tour of southern California for the days we spent with her.  I am forever grateful for the time I spent in California with my family.  Since we live on opposite coasts we only get to see my cousins maybe once per year, if that.  My Aunt Mary can no longer fly so I am extremely happy that I got to visit her and listen to her stories about our family.  In the past year or so I’ve come to truly believe in the fact that distance makes the heart grow fonder.  I know this may sound cliche to some people, but I assure you that distance is just a number between two or more people.  Someone you love might live 3,000 miles away in a completely different time zone.  Maybe someone you love only lives 1,000 miles away on the same coast.  Maybe someone you love lives 100 miles away in the same state. Whatever the distance, it’s just a number.  Miles apart shouldn’t put a limit on how much you love someone.  Even though you may only see someone a few times a year, or maybe even once every 5 years, you can still love them.  As I grow up I have become more and more aware of the fact that you don’t have to spend every moment of every day with someone to love them.  I love my Aunt Mary who I have only met two or three times in the past 21 years of my life, but I love her because she loves me just the same.  Don’t let distance or time apart keep you from being close with someone.  It’s just a number, not a space.

#8:  Be happy for others:  It’s easy to fall into the feeling of being jealous of what someone else is doing.  I believe that social media fuels this issue because, as humans, we constantly feel the need to know what other people are doing. When we see what other people are doing we may become envious of their life. We may see pictures of someone on Facebook on an exotic vacation on some luxurious island.  We may see a tweet about someone expressing their love towards their significant other.  Maybe there’s even a filtered picture posted on Instagram of someone celebrating on a Saturday night with their closest friends. Whatever the case may be, I’ve come to the realization that when you see someone you love doing something they love you should be happy for them. Don’t start feeling sorry for yourself and resist FOMO (fear of missing out) as much as you can.  No human being on this planet shares the same life path.  Be happy for your best friend who is chasing after their dreams.  Be joyous for the friend who found out they just got offered a great job.  It’s okay to miss someone you love but don’t feel unhappy when you see them happy.  Share in their happiness, even if it means you have to sacrifice a little bit of time spent with them.

#9:  Don’t compare yourself to others (particularly in the running world):  As a runner, I’ve fallen in and out of the trap of comparing myself to other runners.  It’s easy to compare training schedules and the amount of miles you’re running.  You may compare yourself to other runners in attempt to evaluate your own personal fitness level.  As runners, we might tell ourselves, “well, she ran 50 miles this week and I only ran 40 so she’s obviously a better runner than me” or “he runs 7 minute pace all the time and I usually average 8 minute pace so I can’t keep up with him”.  As a runner who is immersed in the running community, sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in race results and posts about training.  There’s been numerous times this year that I’ve caught myself comparing myself to other runners.  I’ve sometimes questioned my own training routine because of this and second-guessed my ability to be a decent runner. But then one day I came to the realization that it doesn’t matter how similar or different my running routine is to other runners’ routines.  I am my own individual runner and what works for me throughout training might not work for other runners.  Likewise, what works for other runners might not work for me. There’s no reason to compare myself to others.  I am me.  I have my own special body type, my own unique feet, my own well-trained muscles, and my own strong beating heart.  I might not run 50 miles per week or be able to run four 1600m repeats at 6:30 pace – but I can run my far, my fast, and my race. When I run, the only person that I can compare myself to is me because every runner has their own unique journey that eventually leads to the same destination – the finish line.

#10:  Wanderlust hurts:  I am the kind of person that likes to go-go-go.  I don’t like sitting around for hours and wasting time but I’m constantly conflicted when it comes to traveling.  I want to go places, I want to explore the world, and I know that there’s so much to see on our planet.  More consistently in this year than any year in the past, I’ve been plagued by wanderlust.  I have never wanted to travel as badly as I do until this year.  I yearn for endless adventures but then reality crashes down on me.  I need money to travel and do fun things.  I need a job that pays well enough to go on these adventures but will also give me time off to explore for a week straight.  The picturesque places I see of mountains and lakes and open trails is calling out to me and I know deep in my heart that I can’t go to these places right now.  And that hurts.  Wanderlust seriously makes my heart ache.  When people ask me what I’m going to do with my life after I graduate undergrad I commonly answer with this sentence: “I have no idea, but maybe I’ll just go on a really long hike and never come back”.  I know this is unrealistic and maybe even me trying to avoid becoming an adult in the job world but I seriously just want to go explore.  I want to see beautiful places and meet super cool, cultured people that can share in my love for breathing in fresh air in the wilderness.  I probably sound like some crazy female bushmen or a weird tree-hugger right now but it’s the truth.  Maybe one day in the near future I’ll get to explore endlessly but for now wanderlust will stir in my heart as I await a new adventure.  After all, adventure awaits.

To be continued…

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

Simply put, 2015 was a year of limit testing, adventure finding, friendship making, friendship keeping, mileage logging, destination seeking, stress managing, misty-eye limiting, knowledge learning, wisdom gaining, belief persevering, goal setting, goal reaching, and love enduring.

In the last few weeks of 2015, I will be writing three separate blog posts that total fifteen (of the many) things I learned in the past 365 days (I don’t want to bore you with an extremely long list of 15 things; therefore, I’ll break it into groups of five!).  Here’s part 1 of 3 – let’s jump right in!

#1:  Don’t be afraid to fight for something you think you deserve:  I learned this in the beginning of this past fall semester.  I had already secured an internship in Delaware over the summer and was merely one step away from having it approved by my university.  To my surprise (and to the entire exercise science department’s surprise), I was not permitted to do an internship in the state of Delaware.  Instantly, an overwhelming amount of stress weighed down on my shoulders.  Upon being informed of this by the registrar’s office, I met with my advisor and our department chairperson.  They were equally baffled by this new “rule” that nobody had been informed of.  I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with the dean of the college of science and technology.  He informed me of this new “rule” which had not been formally announced to the rest of the university yet.  I was basically being punished for being a prepared and responsible student which I didn’t find to be very fair.  I exhausted every option I could possibly get my hands into.  My professors allowed me to exhaust every option even though they probably knew it was a lost cause.  I wasn’t about to give up on something I had earned.  I needed this internship in order to graduate.  In the end, even though I had to find a new internship because my university refused to implement a grandfather clause for me and a few of my fellow classmates, I learned that sometimes things in life are going to be unfair. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and fight for something you worked hard for.

#2:  Trust God.  He has a plan for you:  When things don’t work out the way you want them to or detours re-route your life plan, trust God.  Things may seem unfair in the present moment.  You probably ask yourself over and over again, “why me?  Why is this happening to me?”.  In the past year there have been many detours that have left me feeling uneasy, stressed, and overwhelmed.  The doubts and fears in my mind played on repeat for weeks on end.  But then, things got better.  The things I was worried about worked out on their own.  Yes, I had to find a new internship but maybe this is where I was supposed to intern all along.  Yes, my housing plans for the fall semester got screwed over but perhaps it made me a better person for learning how to deal with difficult situations.  Yes, one of my best friends moved away but maybe God did this to prove that there is no distance apart that limits the bond between two friends.  Yes, my dad quit his job to pursue opening a small business but maybe this was God’s way of bringing a new purpose and new friendships into our lives.  In life, there will always be obstacles that will set you back.  Don’t let them keep you from moving forward.  No matter how stressful it may seem in the present moment, things will get better.  God has a plan and I’ve learned to trust His plan because there’s a bigger picture in life than what we’re seeing right in front of us.  If it’s not meant to be, it’s simply not meant to be.  Likewise, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.  Trust God.  He knows what He’s doing.

#3:  Don’t be afraid to try new things:  I’ve always been the kind of person that is 100% content with staying within my comfort zone.  I know what I like and what I don’t like.  I will use the same things over and over again if they work they way I need them to work.  But this year I made decisions that broke some of my norms.  One of the changes I made (which took a lot of persuasion from others and personal courage) is that I decided to switch to wearing Altras when running.  For my entire 7 years of running, I’ve always worn Asics.  Every pair of running shoes that I ever trained in were Asics.  I believed in Asics because I never dealt with injuries wearing these shoes and because I knew the exact tread and shoe model I needed for training purposes.  After talking to a few running friends who also made the transition to Altras, I talked myself into trying a pair for myself.  My dad, as a running/biking store owner, switched me into Altra Torins and I’m happy to say that I’ll probably never wear another brand of running shoes ever again.  My toes have space to move around, my feet lay more naturally in the shoe, and my running form has probably become more efficient (I say “probably” because I’ve never actually analyzed myself running so I don’t know what “efficient” and “unefficient” running actually looks like).  There’s no way I’ll ever switch back to Asics!  This was a huge step for me because I always avoid stepping outside my comfort zone.  Now, Altras are my new comfort zone.  #EmbracetheSpace

#4: Hard work will pay off in the long run:  I’m not just saying this because I’m a runner and I appreciate the pun, but to everyone who has ever worked hard to achieve their goals and aspirations.  For the past 17 years of my life, I’ve been attending school (this includes two years of pre-school because I guess one year wasn’t enough for me to learn how to count to 10).  Just a few weeks ago I officially finished all my college classes required to earn my Bachelor’s degree.  The only requirement I have left to complete is my internship which I will be completing in the spring.  I received my semester grades just last night and I couldn’t be happier with them!  I earned four A’s, one A-, and one B+.  For a semester of stress, chaos, six classes (5 of which were core classes for my major), and 18 credits I was ecstatic about the result of hours upon hours at the library and re-reading over and over again lecture notes.  Honestly, I expected maybe one or two A’s and the rest of my grades to be B’s. I never expected such a good outcome for a semester of hard work.  (And I apologize to anyone who thinks I’m bragging but I worked hard for 17 years of my life so I think I deserve to brag a little). But this just proves that when you put every ounce of energy into something you want so badly to achieve that you’ll reach your desired outcome.  I put 17 years of education into earning the ever-so-desired college degree and I am now only one internship away from having that degree.  If you want something so badly that you’re willing to put continuous effort into it, I promise that’ll it will pay off in the long run.  No pun intended.

#5:  Make your own path in life:  There are no written rules that require you to start at a four-year college or university.  There are no written rules that require you to stay at one college for your entire secondary education.  There aren’t even written rules that say you HAVE to go to college.  I will happily say that I started my college education at a community college.  All my high school friends went off to their respective 4-year colleges and I stayed home.  I don’t regret this decision one bit because I was able to figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life, I found a part-time job and made some money, and I met a few of my closest friends who will be there for me through all the ups and downs of life (and who still today are my best friends).  Actually, these are the friends that inspired me to make my own path in life.  They might not even realize how much they’ve influenced my life but they have.  These people have taught me that it’s okay to take the path less traveled.  These people have taught me that you have to pursue that dream job you’ve always aspired to have or to cross that item off of a life bucket list.  After realizing that I can indeed follow my own path, I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not be attending graduate school after I earn my Bachelor’s degree.  People might view this negatively because young people these days are expected to get their Master’s degree to make themselves “more appealing” to employers.  Yes, I realize that this is a potential benefit of attending grad school but I feel at this moment in my life that I have other things to achieve and pursue than a Master’s degree.  I feel that the classroom limits how much you can learn and I’m excited to learn things in an applied setting.  This may be breaking the norm that society has created but there is a huge world out there that needs to be explored and fixed and I don’t feel that I can explore nor fix this world sitting in a classroom.  It’s all too common for people to fall into the “supposed-to” trap.  They might say “well now I’m supposed to find a job” or “now I’m supposed to get married” or “now I’m supposed to have kids”.  There is no “supposed to” for any of these things. I know plenty of people who haven’t followed such norms and these people are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met!  You don’t have to follow the norm of society.  Don’t let this crazy world determine what comes next in life just because “everyone else is doing it this way” – make your own path!

To be continued…

A month of thanks…

A month of thanks…

Although Thanksgiving is over a week away, in just this last weekend alone I’ve become thankful for more things than I can count on both hands.  The list will probably extend even further in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, but I wanted to become consciously aware of the things that I am grateful for so that when I become frustrated or impatient with something I can realize that there are a lot of good things in life that definitely outweigh the not-so-good things.

(Part 1)

  1. Good health.  Every night before I fall asleep I pray that my family and friends, from coast to coast, stay healthy and safe.  I pray for the people that are younger and the people who are older, and every age in-between, because poor health does not have an age minimum.  I am grateful for the health of myself, my family, and friends.  And I pray for those who are trying to overcome a health struggle so that they may find the strength to “power through” any difficulties they may face.
  2. A loving family.  Even though I’m three hours away from the home I grew up in, I am blessed with a family who only wants the best for me. My parents support me when I need a pep-talk.  My grandparents tell me how much they miss me every time we talk on the phone.  I can call up family members on the west coast and have conversations that make my heart feel rejuvenated.  I recently heard a guest speaker in one of my classes tell the class how dysfunctional her family was.  I remember not being able to fathom having a family who doesn’t know how to love.  I’m most grateful for my family because they will be there every step of the way, no matter what life throws at us.
  3. Friends.  I may not have a lot of friends, but I have a few friends that mean the world to me.  I’m grateful for these friendships because we all share common interests and values, and can laugh over the most ridiculous of things.  These are the people that have let me crash on their couch for a weekend, who brighten my day when I’m feeling down, who can turn a frown into a smile, who understand that you can’t just eat one cookie (6 cookies is acceptable, right?) or just 2 slices of pizza (3 is a good start obviously), and who can turn tears into laughter.  These friends include people who live a 5 or 10 minute walk away, those who live a 3 hour car-drive away, or those who are a 3 hour plane ride away.  No matter how close or far, these are the people I never want to lose.  These are the people who I care about, who I can turn to for a much needed girls-night-out, and who I would never want to replace.
  4. Running friends.  Yes, running friends will get special recognition.  And yes, some of my friends are also my running friends (there’s definitely an overlap!).  These are the people who understand the struggles of running, the sacrifices we sometimes have to make, the disgusting feet, and the lack of caring about sweaty hugs.  No matter the speed or distance of a run, runner friends are proud of you regardless.  I know these people will be there for me when I need a pep-talk or a gossiping long run.  I am grateful for the running community because without them I would feel like a lonely (and insane) runner.
  5. Knowledge.  I’ve been attending school for the past 16 years of my life. The amount of information that has been shoved into my brain is overwhelming but it’s culminating into a college degree.  Every bit of information that has been taught to me (even pre-school was important, okay?!) has helped me become the person I am today.  I’ve developed a wealth of information that soon will need to be shared with the rest of the world in whatever job I find in my future endeavors.
  6. Freedom and protection.  I live in a country where I can feel relatively safe.  I don’t live in a perfect country but I do live in a free country.  Every time I see a police officer or military personnel, I make it a point to thank them for all they do.  Without them our country would be much different. I am grateful to be an American citizen.
  7. Fate.  Everything happens for a reason.  Sometimes we don’t understand why certain things happen.  But if we trust in God and in the path that are lives are following, we will understand why we were put in the world, why things happened, and how life probably worked out just fine because of everything that happened.  Fate challenges us but it also rewards us.  I believe in fate and I will continue to believe in fate because we each have a purpose in this world.  We must trust that everything will work out and that we’ll become a better person for it; therefore, I am grateful for fate.

(To be continued…)

Look how far we’ve come…

Look how far we’ve come…

Last year at this time I was merely going through the motions of everyday life at school.  I missed my family and even though I thought that being on the cross country team would make the transition better, it actually ended up making it a lot worse.  We had cross country practice at 7 AM everyday and the coach didn’t care about the people that weren’t in his top 7.  Everyone ran by themselves. That’s not a team. We trained and trained for just 3-4 meets. That wasn’t worth it to me. I would wake up every morning, half-heartedly go to practice, and then go to the library to catch up on studying.  I missed my old teammates.  I missed my friends and family.  I wanted to be with people of similar values.  I needed to find some real friends who would be there for me when I needed it most.

But now one year later I am a MUCH happier person.

I’m mentally and emotionally healthier.  I wake up excited to start a new day.  My group of friends here are the people that I know will be there for me when I need a good pick-me-up or a good laugh.  I not only have a support system in my hometown, but I have a support system here now that wasn’t here at this time last year.  It’s hard to be sad or upset here now because I know that I’ll always have people to turn to for advice and guidance.  And yes, life can get stressful sometimes, but by surrounding yourself with good people you can find a way to manage the stress in a healthy way.

I’m also physically healthier than last year.  Since I am training for something I actually want to train for, I have found myself looking forward to going out for a run everyday.  I’m embracing the challenge of the hills around here instead of letting them defeat me.  I enjoy every mile whether it’s uphill or downhill because I am grateful for every day I get to go for a run.  My mileage may not be as high as some other runners and I may not be able to average sub-8 minute miles around here but I am happy with my own progress.  There’s no purpose in comparing myself to others who are training for the same race that I am.  Everybody has a different approach to training.  And my approach is what works best for me.  That’s the beauty of the running world.  We may all take different approaches to training for the same race but on race day we all have to cover the same distance and follow the same course to reach the finish line.  

So here I am, one year later, content with every part of my life.  I’ve gained true friendships that I know I can depend on.  I have surrounded myself with people who truly care about one another’s well-being.  I have found my place on this campus and I have found my happiness.  Of course I still miss being home and spending time with my family and my dogs, but my friends here have eased the difficulty of being so far from home which has made living here enjoyable and memorable.  I don’t think I have to state who these people are because you probably already know who you are.  But I just wanted to let you know how important your friendship is to me and that without such an awesome group of people who I can depend on for guidance, support, and prayer, I probably would be going through the motions instead of living out the memories.

What a difference a year can make.

Goodbye, summer 2015

Goodbye, summer 2015

Earlier in the summer, when I first started this blog, I published a summer bucket list (here).  Sadly, this summer has quickly come to an end as my fall classes start on Monday.  But after quickly looking over my summer bucket list, I am excited to confirm that most of the stuff on my list got done!  And there were are A LOT of other great things that happened this summer that I never would have predicted.

Let’s begin with recapping my summer bucket list!

  • volunteer at a local Youth Track Camp for the 3rd year in a row:
    • I was able to do this earlier this summer, but unfortunately due to storms that repeatedly occurred on the nights we were scheduled to coach, we only actually had one full night of coaching.  The second week only lasted 20 minutes before lightening forced us to send the kids home with their parents.  But I am grateful that I at least got to spend one week with the kids because I aspire to be a coach one day and this is always a good (and laid-back) coaching experience!
  • run a local 4th of July 4 mile race with friends and family:
    • This is a tradition for my family and friends.  This year was no different and I finished the race with a 87 second PR.  I also was able to achieve my goal of finishing in the top 70 and improving my overall female finish (I finished as the 7th overall female).  For more details, here’s THAT blog post I wrote earlier this summer.
starting line
traditional Fourth of July crew at the race
  • make some $$$$:
    • yes, I worked this summer.  I was given a little more responsibility at my job than I got paid for but at least I was able to make some money!
  • take an online summer class:
    • I took an online summer class through a nearby college.  By doing so, I am now scheduled to be done classes by the end of this semester.  I also now have my CPR/AED/First Aid certification through the Red Cross!
  • take part in a local running club’s weekly runs (AKA make new running friends!):
    • I also became a member of a nearby running club this summer.  All the people I’ve met through the running club are so friendly and uplifting.  Every week that I was able to attend the fun runs, my love for running and other runners only grew because we all share a common interest and understand the ups and downs of running.  It made me realize that runners will always have a certain special bond that most other athletes will unfortunately never get to experience.
RRCW
The running club I became a member of this summer
  • 20150710_085033_HDR
    On the AT with my dad with High Point Monument behind us

    hike/run the entire length of NJ’s Appalachian Trail with Dad:

This was completed in early July with my dad.  We hiked/ran the entire length of NJ’s Appalachian Trail in three days.  It was an amazing experience and I’m grateful that I got to do this with my dad.  I learned a lot about myself out on the trail too which I find irreplaceable. I now know that a human’s limits need to be tested in order to understand how far they can be pushed.  We averaged 25 miles per day which not only tested the body but the mind’s ability to ignore pain and push on.  Here’s a link to the video we created using our GoPro on the trail! (click to see video!)  All in all, this was an amazing experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

  • take day and/or weekend trips to the beach/boardwalk:
    • I went to Wildwood earlier this summer for a weekend with a few friends to run some races.  Although I didn’t step on a single NJ beach this summer, I was able to enjoy the beaches during a somewhat spontaneous trip to California!  Just the other night, my family also went down to the boardwalk for pizza and entertainment.
  • help pace my Dad’s running friend in his 24-hour ultramarathon in the wee hours of the night:
    • Yes, my dad and I paced our ultramarthon-ing friend at 4 AM on a Sunday morning in July.  This was a great experience and I absolutely love pacing runners, especially ultramarathoners.  I was inspired by our friend and I hope that one day I will be needing my own pacers for an ultramarathon too! (I blogged about this too)
  • go on long bike rides:
    • This didn’t happen.  But my dad is opening a running/biking store so I guess that counts for something!
  • run LOTS!
    cooper river park john and tyler
    One of the many post-race pictures of the summer
    • Of course this happened!  I was able to run with a variety of people this summer which I am forever grateful for.  I ran with friends, friends of friends, my dad, our dogs, trail runners, slow runners, fast runners, all types of runners!  And I was able to participate in local races (free to students!) and win three new drinking glasses that I will be using in my apartment this semester!  It was a great summer of running and now I move onto marathon training!
  • watch my brother graduate from high school
    • Yup, this happened.  He graduated!  I was a proud sister that night!
  • visit the 9/11 Memorial in NYC:
    • My family and I took a trip to NYC one day in July to visit the 9/11 Memorial/Museum.  It was an extremely solemn day and I recommend that everyone visits this memorial at least once in their life to understand more deeply the impact 9/11 had on people in 2001 and still today.
  • see a movie at the drive-in movie theater:
    • This didn’t happen.  Life got too crazy.
  • bonfires!
    • This didn’t happen either.
  • read books that aren’t school-related:
    • I read all three Hunger Games books (I read the third one in less than 24 hours).  They’re amazing.  Enough said.
  • buy a food processor and experiment with new healthy/vegan recipes:
    • I did buy a food processor but I did not experiment with healthy/vegan recipes.  There just isn’t enough time in the day.
  • visit Sarah for Music Festival:
    • I did not visit Sarah during Music Festival, but I was able to visit her for a weekend and take a tour of Bethlehem with her and her sisters. This was a great weekend and we even spent a day at Dorney Park which was fun!
  • go to Dorney Park:
    • As I just explained, I went to Dorney Park with Sarah. I do not recommend going on a beautiful Saturday though because it will be extremely crowded!  All the rollercoasters get a thumbs up though!
trophy
Trophy I won for the 5k I ran

So that was my summer bucket list!  Below are some of the other exciting things that happened this summer that weren’t on my bucket list but were accomplished successfully!:

  • I attended a wedding.
  • I started this blog.
  • I finished as the third overall female in a 5k in Wildwood.
  • Two months later they sent my an awesome trophy for winning third place.
  • We lost electricity for 3 days after a 30 minute storm.
  • I went cherry-picking!
  • We hosted my brother’s graduation party.
  • My brother bought fireworks and shot them off with his friend on 4th of July in our backyard.
  • I found the internship I will be doing in the spring.
  • I watched two old seasons of The Amazing Race as a way of “studying film” and preparing for when they decide to cast me on the show.
  • My dad and brother are opening their own business.
  • I painted a huge American flag (that can be seen in the business).
  • I visited California for the first time ever to visit family.  We went to a lot of beaches and took a trip to LA one day.  It was so much fun!
  • I watched all three Hunger Games movies with my best friend in one afternoon.
  • I went trailrunning.
  • My dad and I applied to The Amazing Race.
  • My friends and family and I went to Trapped Philly and didn’t get out within the hour.
  • I was reunited with my high school friends ❤
  • I spent a lot of time with friends and family members that made me realize that there is so much to be grateful for in this world ❤

trapped philly    last day lunch at Peohe's  wedding brunch

Thanks to everyone that made this summer spectacular!  You all have a special place in my heart.  Goodbye, summer 2015.  Hello, fall and last semester of classes!

Friendship is a two-way street

Friendship is a two-way street

Friendship is one of the most valuable aspects of our lives.  We turn to our friends for support and guidance.  We spend time with our friends laughing, reminiscing, and planning new adventures.  We ask friends for advice when we need the honest (and sometimes difficult) truth.  We look to our friends when we need reassurance.  Whatever the case may be, a friend cannot be a friend by themselves.  In order to be a friend you must be willing to start and maintain a friendship.  And that friend in return must do the same.  Therefore, friendship is a two-way street.

visit with sarah

In the past week I’ve been able to re-connect with five of my best high school friends (see the beautiful pictures below!) Despite the fact that we graduated high school three years ago, all went to different colleges, and have experienced life in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, we are still able to come together and catch up with each other.  Sadly, due to time constraints, other “adult” responsibilities, and our varying semester schedules, we are only able to re-connect about twice a year (in a good year). Regardless, we still care for each other and still can laugh about ridiculous things together.  We make sure that our own individual lives are headed in some sort of direction.  We find ourselves reunited again over our future and what life has in store for us next.  Since graduating we’ve had different pasts, but we are able to rekindle our friendship when we DO spend time together which I find irreplaceable.

trapped philly  flash pool party

Referring back to the whole “street” analogy:  think back to when you have driven down a dead-end street.  If you are an observant driver, you probably saw the “no outlet” sign warning you that the street would soon end.  When you got to the end of the street, you probably had to try to find a driveway to turn around in.  Or maybe you made a 7-point k-turn. Whatever the case may be, your drive would’ve been a lot easier if the street wasn’t a dead end.  The same goes for a friendship.  But in a friendship, there should never be any dead ends. Why?  Because a friendship’s street should extend beyond what the eye can see. It should extend beyond a sign warning you that there’s “no outlet”.  No matter if your friend lives two miles away from you or two-thousand miles away from you, this street shouldn’t end.  The language of speaking or writing doesn’t change – you can still communicate to each other.  Life may get hectic but in this current world you can easily send someone a quick text asking “hey, how’s your day going?”.  The person might not be able to respond for a few hours but what’s the rush anyways?  Eventually you’ll probably get a response.

Friendship is a two-way street because it takes two people to form a friendship. One must communicate to the other when they need guidance, reassurance or just someone to talk to.  Not only does it take two people to form a friendship, but it also takes two people to maintain a friendship.  Sometimes life gets in the way of constant communication with a friend.  We may go days, months or even years without seeing a close friend.  But we must all understand that even if life keeps friends physically apart from each other for days, months, or years, a true friendship can withstand days, months, and years of separation.  

I myself must be reminded of this sometimes.  And I hope you, the reader, are able to comprehend this too so that you can treasure your friends.  May you always value the friendship that can last through the most brutal of storms. May you always rekindle old friendships and hold tight to new ones.  May you be patient with the changing tides of life so that you can develop a closer bond with the ones you’ve learned to love.  May you reach out to a friend in need and lend a shoulder to cry on in desperate times.  May you realize that friendship, no matter how near or far, can withstand even the strongest winds.  May you value your friends eternally so that you can learn to love yourself as much as you love your friends.

4th of July Weekend

4th of July Weekend

This weekend in particular seems to be worthy of its own blog post for many different reasons.  I spent the weekend surrounded by plenty of friends, runners, and family members which always makes me so happy because these are three things I value in my life the most.  I guess I should start from the beginning.

I’ll start the weekend at Thursday because this day was a particularly good day in my opinion.  I would like to thank my best friend, Brianna, for being my go-to girl for life chats and gossip.  She may not realize how important her friendship means to me even though we acknowledge its importance regularly.  Without her I would go insane.  We make sense of each other’s highs and lows.  After a stressful week between losing electric for a few days, preparing for my brother’s graduation party, and balancing work, running, and a social life, I was in much need of a few hours with her.  So thanks for making me realize that life will be okay because our chat refreshed me for the weekend ahead.  I LOVE YOU! ❤

RRCW
Me and a few other new members of the running club :]

On Thursday I also became an official member of a local running club which I am extremely grateful for.  All the people are so friendly and it makes me love the running community even more than I ever thought I could.  Everyone is just so supportive of each other.  Runners have a way of bonding with each other no matter the age, gender, or speed.  We’re all runners.  We understand each other and that’s what makes the running community so perfect.  Through this club I know that my love for running and the running community will continue to grow beyond what it’s already been so far.

On Friday (as it is our tradition), my dad and I went to pick up our race bibs for our traditional 4th of July race.  We did our pre-race run, had pasta for dinner, and set out our racing shoes and race-day outfits.  Before falling asleep I remember going over every mile of the race in my head to visualize the race course and mentally prepare for the race.  I felt ready and I knew I was ready.

Saturday morning I woke up a little before 7 oclock, ate my usual pre-race meal (toast with peanut butter and banana) and put on my “galaxy” spandex and a purple shirt (I would later change into a blue-ish tank top for the race).  We got to the race and met up with a few friends and did a 2 mile warm–up.  During this 2-mile warm-up we also found a few other friends we knew which was exciting!

starting line
Runner friends. Runner family.

The race started at 8:45 so we got to the starting line around 8:35 and claimed our spot.  This year I decided to sneak a little closer to the front so I wouldn’t have to weave through baby strollers or kids that had sprinted the first 100m of the race.  I stood about 5 rows back and could see my dad and former coach in the very front of the running field.  A four mile race was ahead of us with uphills, downhills, sprinklers, and plenty of local spectators.  And then the race official counted down “3-2-1-GO!”

The field of runners took off.  I settled in with my friend, Catherine, who also decided she was going to pace me during the race. (THANK YOU, CATHERINE, FOR BEING THE BEST RACE PACER EVER! – I LOVE YOU!)  Since the first mile is mostly flat (and maybe even slightly downhill) we went out a tad bit faster than we probably should have.  We crossed the mile marker at 6:29 and a huge hill was waiting for us a half-mile down the road.  We both knew the first mile was extremely fast but we didn’t say anything to each other.  In our heads, we just pretended we didn’t even see 6:29.

Then the hill came. This isn’t some miniature hill that only takes a total of 6 second to climb.  This is a quarter-mile hill to nowhere.  Luckily, thanks to former cross country speed workouts I was used to this hill.  This is the hill we did 800m repeats on.  This is where we all became stronger hill runners.  So I felt mentally prepared for this hill and knew that at the top I would have a 200m downhill to recover.  At the top, I took a deep breath and used the downhill to catch my breath.

Mile 2 we ran a 7:05.  This is proof that we went out too hard.  But I knew that if I could hold this pace I would still PR by a lot.  Mile 2 to mile 3 is also a slight uphill.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, this is the hill I always forget about because the only hill I “worry” about is the big hill.  This is where I really started feeling that 6:29 first mile.  I complained every so often to Catherine that I felt horrible.  But she got me to the top of the hill and got me refocused to finish the race strong.

Mile 3 was even slower than mile 2.  7:35.  Well, shoot.  I made some noise of recognition that I was dissatisfied with a 7:35 mile split.  But we had a mile to go.  A mile left to break my time from two years ago.  A mile of people lined up along the race course to cheer on runners they knew and runners they didn’t know.  And that’s what got me to the finish line.  That finally turns onto Broadway sends a rush of adrenaline.  Yes, there’s still three-quarters of a mile left when you make that final turn but you also know that the finish line is closer than it was 2 miles ago.  So Catherine and I picked it up a bit.  And then maybe some more – I don’t really remember.  We crossed over the railroad tracks which is when you have a direct view of the finish line 200m in front of you.  The end was near!

Something in my head, or in my legs, or maybe even in my heart told me to give it all I got.  To sprint.  To push beyond what I thought were my limits.  But limits don’t really exist.  Because I told myself that I wasn’t going to let the guy beside me beat me.  And he was telling himself that he wasn’t going to let me beat him.  So we sprinted.  And I pushed beyond the limits that I thought were in my head.  And I out-sprinted him.  And THANK GOODNESS I sprinted.  Because by out-sprinting that guy by miliseconds, I achieved my goal of being in the top 70.  I finished exactly 70th.

outspring
The finishing stretch!

I don’t remember seeing the finishing clock.  I forgot to stop my watch.  I was just excited I out-sprinted someone for once in my life.  I was handed a water bottle which I think I took rather drunkenly because I couldn’t catch my breath.  I finally looked at my watch and saw 28:12.  That’s a PR!  I thanked Catherine for pacing me and being awesome as usual. Teammates look out for each other and I wouldn’t have ran so well if she wasn’t by my side the whole time pushing me beyond the limits in my head.

yay running
Post-race happiness with Angela :]

I found my mom and mommom who had been anxiously waiting at the finish line.  And we cheered in all the runners we knew.  Even my five-year old “cousin” finished.  And he was smiling the whole time!  Overall, the race was an awesome experience.  My official time (since I had forgotten to stop my watch) was 28:08 which is officially a minute and 27 seconds faster than my previous best time.  This is a goal I had control over because this goal depended on my ability to push myself beyond what I thought was possible.  And I was able to do just that by focusing on the goal and believing in my strength.  Two of my other goals were to improve my 12th overall female placing from last year and be in the top 70.  Both of these goals were completely out of my control because there was no possible way for me to count 69 people ahead of me or how many females were ahead of me.  But I knew that if I ran a PR, I would have a chance of achieving both these goals.  I finished as the 7th overall female and 70th overall (out of 831 finishers).  Therefore, I achieved all my goals which is the best feeling in the world!

I ran another 2 mile cool down discussing the race and life with Angela.  This was a perfect way to end the morning and celebrate our running success for the day!  That night we had family and friends over for our traditional 4th of July BBQ. So too much food.  Lots of fun.  And some illegal fireworks.

Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays and every year brings something new.  Whether it’s new friends, old friends, family inside jokes, or just plain ‘ol new memories this weekend always makes me appreciate everything that I have in my life.  I’m extremely grateful for all my friends for always being there for me.  I love the running community that I am a part of and will continue to be a part of as it continues to expand.  I love my family more than anything and without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  And I have a love for this country and my freedom to make all these memories.

I hope everyone had a safe and memorable 4th of July weekend!  Until next year, folks!

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 :]

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?!?!
  • BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: HAVE PLENTY OF FUN AND MAKE LOTS OF MEMORIES! ❤