Post of Positives

Post of Positives

Our media is constantly overwhelmed with an influx of negative stories meant to instill fear in our society.  So today, amidst copious negativity, I present to you a list of positivity, a list of good in the world, and a list of hope.

  • In the past few months I have endlessly practiced skills of determination. My current aspirations require determination but I am hopeful that hard work, perseverance, and focus will assist in the achievement of my goals. Determination is the key to success.
  • I have experienced the magnitude of community engagement.  It is enlightening to see a group of individuals come together to achieve a goal.  Comprehension of the significance of our actions as cycling community members is what fuels the group to spend a Saturday afternoon in the woods.  Teamwork is quintessential for community success.  The ability to unite under one common goal is paramount.
  • I have learned that reaching out to others for guidance is invaluable.  The people who want to see you succeed and who want to help you succeed are the people that will guide you whenever you need direction.  It’s okay to ask for help, advice, guidance, etc.  Reaching out to others is not a sign of weakness; it’s merely a sign of strength fueled by the willingness to be the best version of yourself.
  • I have learned to enjoy the little things.  Turn up the music in the car, roll down the windows, watch the sunset on a Tuesday night, stop at that restaurant on Main St you’ve been wanting to go back to, go for a hike, or send some snail mail.  None of these things take significant planning. Some of these may even be spontaneous choices.  Enjoy them.  Put down the phone and enjoy the moment.  Sometimes the little things add up to bigger things – when you save 100 pennies you have $1.00. Would you rather save 100 little things in your heart’s wallet or one big thing?
  • Extend the invitation, but keep it meaningful.  Invite the people who hold a special place in your heart.  This could be at a simple family BBQ or at a wedding.  The guest book doesn’t have to be long.  What’s important is the meaningfulness of the guest book.  Each relationship we create in our lives is unique in its own way.  Are “your people” family members, lifelong friends, a significant other, a co-worker, or just an acquaintance?  It’s great to have many bonds with individuals, but it’s the meaningful ones that fit life’s greatest purpose – love.
  • I’ve learned that nobody should let anyone else control their happiness. Speak up for yourself when necessary.  Put your foot down.  Chase your ambitions.  Let go of anything holding you back from happiness.  True happiness is molded through positive interactions.  React to negative interactions.  Don’t be afraid to take a risk – speak up for your happiness.
  • Challenges are great for self-growth.  Choose a path that frightens you. Make a right turn when everyone else is turning left.  Make your own path.  Create your own self.  Challenge the strength you already have.  Push yourself past your preconceived limits.  It’s amazing what you’ll learn about yourself when you challenge your body, mind, & spirit.
  • Smile often.
  • Ask questions.
  • Be pro-active with your future.

It’s amazing what life teaches you in the most ambiguous times.  Let life create it’s own chapters.  Follow your heart.  Learn from your mistakes. Never give up on your goals.  Most importantly, do what’s right for you. Be the person you were always meant to be. 

Oh, January..

Oh, January..

I can’t believe an entire month has already flown by.  It feels like the first day of 2017 was just yesterday but that’s hardly the case!  January hasn’t treated me poorly, but some days I wish that it would’ve treated me better.  In retrospect, I’m grateful for every day that has gone by, but at times it has seemed like a challenging month.  I can’t specifically pinpoint what has made it challenging.  It’s just been hectic and mind-boggling and wonderful all at the same time.

Let’s start with the lingering cloud over my head.  Let me explain.  I currently work a part-time job that has gone from 22 guaranteed hours per week to 32 guaranteed hours per week.  This I am content with.  I have more income to make payments on my student loans.  I have a little bit more flexibility in what I can purchase and spend money on.  However, there’s not a day that goes by that I question my employment choice.  I work every weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and have work starting at 4:45 AM two weekdays per week.  To begin, I absolutely hate working weekends.  I’m the only one out of all my co-workers that works both Saturday AND Sunday.  My family doesn’t work weekends.  Josh doesn’t work weekends.  I miss out on the weekend adventures I used to look forward to every weekend.  I’m stuck inside while the people I follow on Instagram are out on long trail running adventures.  On weekdays, my alarm goes off at 3:45 AM and I absolutely hate getting out of bed while the rest of the world is still dreaming.  I wake up cold and I wake up tired no matter how early I try to go to bed.  It’s misery to me.  I’m stuck, miserable, and regretting my agreement 5 months ago to work weekends and to agree to the early opening shift.  I’ve talked to numerous close friends about this.  My parents constantly remind me I have to start at the bottom of the totem pole.  But honestly, I can’t even see the top right now.  I have no idea how I’ll ever get away from the bottom of the totem pole.  I see nowhere to go.  I don’t want to work weekends while the rest of the normal work world gets to relax and enjoy their two days off.  I don’t want to wake up 3 hours before the sun rises.  I want something else. I want to be happy.  Out of the 32 hours I work in a week, I’m miserable for 23 hours of them.  So, with all this being said, January has treated my job choices like crap and produced much regret and second-guessing.

January has also made me want to work harder for a job that will indeed make me happy.  I want to be happy 32 hours of 32 total.  I want to wake up with the sun, not before it.  I want to have my weekends to spend with my family, friends, and my wonderfully supportive boyfriend.  These are the things I tell myself when I’m most unhappy.  I need to work harder in order to be happier.  I don’t want anyone to be controlling my amount of happiness.  I am in complete control of my future.  I just crave work-free weekends, no more early alarms, and overall job content-ness.

January has been busy.  With a combination of working, running, helping out with the family business, trying to start my own business, trying to organize my room so I can get rid of the childish pink covering my walls, and attending family gatherings, it’s been chaotic.  There’s so many good things that have happened in January.  I’ve been running more consistently which is great.  Being an Altra Ambassador has augmented my enjoyment of running and the running community.  I’ve tried to squeeze in more post-run stretching sessions (I’ve slacked toward the end of the month though).  I’ve celebrated four loved ones’ birthdays – my dad, my brother, Josh, and my grandfather’s.  I won a $20 Starbucks gift card for walking on a treadmill for 5 minutes (% grade was 30% so it was a tough 5 minutes!).  I’ve made people smile and laugh.  I’ve enjoyed many glasses of wine.  I’ve spent time with my dogs.  I’ve been invited to Colorado with Angela.  I’ve consumed pizza, delicious salads, and delicious desserts!  All good things.  All things that have kept me sane.

I’m overcome with negative thoughts when I have to go to work.  But then I talk to Josh or my friends and family and they tend to reset my attitude.  I go for a run and my mind becomes de-cluttered.  It’s a cycle of negativity and positivity that I can only hope becomes just positivity one day.

I’m hoping to stay mentally focused on my goal in February of starting my own health coaching services.  I’m hoping to repaint my room and redecorate my walls.  I’m hoping to run more miles and become a stronger runner.  I’m hoping to stretch for a minimum of 10 minutes per day to work on my flexibility.  I’m hoping to have more moments of happiness than moments of sadness and anxiety.  I’m hoping to become more confident in my choices.  I’m hoping to be the best Altra ambassador I can be to represent a brand I love.  I’m hoping to continue to be grateful for the days where I’m happy and even the days in which I’m unhappy.  I’m hoping to find new meaning and purpose through my goals. I’m hoping for the best in February.  I’m hoping for a change – a change for the best.

Goodbye, January.  It’s time we go our separate ways.  It’s time for a new month – a short month but a new month nonetheless.  Thanks for teaching me about adult life.  Thanks for teaching me to work harder.  Thanks for giving me happiness, sadness,  gratitude, and most importantly, love.  Thanks for propelling me into a new month with bigger goals so I can get closer to climbing out of the rut you put me in.  We’re one more month closer to spring – and spring means pure happiness, right?

 

Ultra Training Update

Ultra Training Update

This week has been my highest weekly mileage of my ultra training thus far.  The weather was absolutely BEAUTIFUL which made me happier, more motivated, and more energetic.  The week ended with day light savings which I am extremely excited about because now it will be lighter out later in the day.  This instantly makes me happier.  We survived winter!  As for training, I had a great week of running, biking, and spending time outside with my dogs.  Here we go:

Monday:  Today I ran 5 easy miles with Gwin (my dog).  No watch, just running.

Tuesday:  Tuesdays are usually my rest days but because I took a rest day on Sunday due to a schedule conflict, I opted to take an easy day of mileage instead of resting again.  I ran 4 miles with one of my best friends at an average of 8:37 pace.  I then walked the dogs to the post office which was 0.75 miles total.  It was a beautiful day outside so I wanted to stay outside as long as possible before going to work.

Wednesday:  I ran early this day because my internship and work schedule overlapped and left me with no time in between to get home and run a reasonable distance.  So I ran 6.2 miles in the early morning with my dad.  It was warm and I was content.  I also walked 3 miles in the afternoon and discovered new trails and a scenic lake!

Thursday:  This was the group run night at my dad’s running/biking store.  I decided to ride my bike to the group run – it’s 12 miles away from my house.  It was a very windy day but I was happy to have my mom biking alongside me.  The group run was 6.2 miles.  I was the only female in the group and all the guys are faster than me so it turned into a tempo run for me.  We averaged 7:51 pace (8:10, 7:41, 7:44, 7:40, 7:54, 8:00).  The last two miles were slower because I can’t run at 7:40 pace and have a conversation with someone simultaneously.  Overall, it was a great run with great company!  Running with fast people will only make me faster!  Also, this night felt like summer and I loved it!  I had to run to the nearby elementary school after the run to meet my dad who was teaching children the importance of bike helmets so I tacked on a mile cool-down at the end of the night.  Today’s bike total: 12 miles.  Today’s running total: 7.2 miles.

Friday:  Today I ran 7 miles with Angela.  Our pace varied throughout our run because we got slightly lost on the trails.  My legs felt dead by the end of the run which I blame on the biking and tempo run from the day before.  It was a good run nonetheless and the weather was PERFECT!

Saturday:  This morning I biked 19 miles during our group ride that leaves from my dad’s running/bike store.  Although we probably averaged 14-15mph pace, I enjoyed the bike ride and it was nice to spend a morning outside cross-training.  Immediately after finishing the bike ride, I went for a quick three miles.  My legs felt like they wanted to continue spinning in circles as if I were on a bike but they needed to run!  I didn’t look at my watch during the run so I was completely shocked at the end of my run when my Garmin Forerunner 10 told me that I averaged 8:18 pace.  And the funniest part of this whole situation is that it also turned into an unintentional three mile progression run (8:28, 8:17, 8:06).  Considering how crappy I felt during the entire run, I was utterly appalled at how quick my splits were – especially since I physically felt like I was running at 10-minute pace.  It was yet another great day of training!

20160313_101220Sunday:  Sundays are my favorite because it’s long run day!  Angela and I followed my dad and our trail-running friend through the ups and downs of Brandywine. We were at Brandywine one month ago and it was only 8 degrees out.  Today, it was a cool 53 degrees which made it perfect for two hours out on the trails. Because my dad and our friend are training for the Hyner View Challenge that is in a month and a half they wanted to run as many hills as possible today.  Angela and I basically just had to suffer through the torture; however, the hills will make us stronger runners too!  We ran 11.5 miles with 1500 feet of elevation – this is significant elevation for a run in Delaware!  It was a great morning out on the trails and it was an awesome ending to this week.

This week was jam-packed with running, cross-training, and pure enjoyment of the great outdoors! There’s one more week of winter and then I’m hoping the earth will bless us with a warm and perfect spring!

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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…

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.

Labor Day Weekend Recap

Labor Day Weekend Recap

Due to Labor Day this past Monday, classes were cancelled which left a prime opportunity for a long weekend of adventures. Since this was the one weekend for the next 2 months that I actually could go home, I opted to make the 3 hour drive home and spend the weekend in NJ in order to gather winter clothes (because I probably won’t be going back home until late November for the marathon) and other miscellaneous items I didn’t pack when I first moved back to school, spend time with family, and show one of my best friends from school where I love. So this is where the adventure begins…..

FRIDAY (the day everything broke except my heart):

My best friend, Sarah, and I departed Friday around noon in hopes of avoiding Labor Day traffic en route to the beach.  We had strategically timed out our departure, as our class schedule permitted, so that we wouldn’t get stuck in excessive weekend/rush-hour traffic.  We enjoyed 2 hours of lovely conversation and quality jam sessions until we hit traffic on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Upon slowing down to about 5 MPH, a strange rumbling noise began to erupt around us.  I was confident it wasn’t my car because I we had already driven 2 hours without a single abnormal sound coming from my car (with the exception of my out-of-tune singing voice). So I drove another 50 meters until I realized that the rumbling noise was indeed coming from my car.  We also predicted that something must be dragging from my car because there was also another unusual sound coming from beneath my car.  I instantly started to worry so we merged over into one of the right lanes to take the next closest exit (the shoulder would’ve been dangerous to sit in because people like to drive rather speedily down the shoulder when stuck in traffic).  So we exited less than a half mile later and pulled over into the shoulder.  I called my mom and dad who were busy working at my dad’s new business.  As I explained what was happening, Sarah hopped out the passenger side door and evaluated what could be making the noises.  Turns out, my entire exhaust pipe was hanging from beneath my car.  It was no longer attached at the front.  I forwarded the diagnosis to my mom over the phone and she suggested that we call AAA.  AAA told me that it would have to get towed because they “couldn’t touch my car” so I kindly declined the offer due to the expense of towing.  My mom/dad then suggested we tie it up with something like rope.  I didn’t have rope (of any sort) in my car.  All I had were my running shoes’ shoelaces and a drawstring bag.  So we opted to save my shoelaces and use the nylon string used in the drawstring bag. As Sarah attached the nylon string, a man pulled over and offered us a bungee cord. At the time, we thought this was a huge blessing.  We kindly thanked the man and he drove away as Sarah attached the bungee cord to the front of my exhaust pipe so it wasn’t dragging on the road.  So we continued off the exit in hopes of finding a parking lot.  Within 200 meters of attaching the bungee cord and nylon string the dragging noise started again.  We immediately found the closest parking lot which happened to be a hospital. The nylon string had burnt off and the bungee cord had fallen somewhere on the road.  So once again, I called my parents.  My dad had no choice but to come rescue us since towing it back to NJ was out of the picture.  I provided my dad with the address of the hospital parking lot we were now stuck in.  Later, to my amusement, my dad told me that my brother had taken our one and only GPS on his trip to West Virginia for the weekend; therefore, my dad was out to rescue us with the mere understanding of what highway/main road we were closest to.  In the hour’s time waiting for my dad, Sarah was making phone calls to her sister, her sister’s husband, and her parents – all of whom suggested potential options to solve the problem ourselves.  We didn’t follow through with any of the options though because I knew my dad was on his way.  My dad arrived about 90 minutes after this whole situation began.  He assessed the problem and decided to just break the entire exhaust pipe off.  To put this into perspective, the exhaust pipe basically runs from the back of the car to just about the back of the front tires.  He stashed the rusted exhaust pipe into the bed of his truck and told Sarah and I that my car was still drive-able, but would sound rather obnoxious.  So we continued on our way.  We sounded like a monster truck while we drove down the highway.  Sarah found this amusing.  I found it embarrassing.  But I am extremely grateful that Sarah was with me when this whole drama began because I probably would’ve been in tears without her.  My dad returned to work at his business while Sarah and I continued on our way to my house.

We arrived to my home 5 hours after we had departed from school.  We received the typical greeting from my two dogs who were excited to see both me and the new person I had brought home.  They love meeting new people! Considering we had had a stressful 5 hours of travel, I cooked us some pasta.  During my hour at home I also managed to break a small glass bowl that I accidentally dropped from our cabinets.  We had also already made plans with my parents to get ice cream at a nearby ice cream place we had never been.  So after finishing our well-deserved meal, we drove to my dad’s business to meet my parents.  They closed up shop and we travelled a mere 10 minutes to a delicious ice cream place.  The line was extended outside the door to the ice cream shop! This is an obvious sign that the ice cream must be delicious and well worth the wait!  I observed the menu searching for my flavor of choice.  Before I had reached even the middle of the line, the place ran out of my first choice of ice cream.  I ended up getting Sam’s Cake Batter Confection which was vanilla ice cream with cake batter pieces, a taste of chocolate fudge, and graham cracker crumbles.  My mom got white chocolate macademia nut.  My dad opted for lemon donut and Sarah chose a brownie and cake batter combination which she described as “a bunch of delicious uncooked ingredients”.  We returned back to my home after finishing our delicious ice cream choices.  This is when I discovered that the watch band of my Garmin had broken off.  This was item #3 that had broken in one day (if you lost count:  my car’s exhaust pipe, a small glass bowl, and now my running watch).  I came to the conclusion that the only thing that didn’t break on this Friday was my heart.  At least that was a good thing!  My dad fixed my exhaust pipe before the night ended which I am extremely grateful for!  This day was extremely eventful and I knew after a good night’s sleep that the rest of the weekend would be well worth the stress and drama of our Friday afternoon.

Saturday: (the productive day)

My dad’s business holds weekly bike rides for cyclists looking to meet up with others to get a good workout in.  I somehow managed to convince Sarah to participate in this outing so we woke up at 6:45 to go on a bike ride at 8 AM.  We rode 11 miles with my mom on a pre-planned route.  It was a beautiful morning and before the morning had even reached 9:30 we had already biked 11 miles.  This made us feel productive!  Upon returning to my house we discovered that one of my dogs had eaten Sarah’s toothbrush…..this was an “L-O-L” moment and one more thing to add to the list of ridiculous things that had already happened this weekend.  We did school work for about 2-3 hours and then decided to play Super Scrabble.  This is simply a larger Scrabble board with 200 letters and quadruple word score spaces. Our game took 2 hours and Sarah won by just a few points which would begin my weekend of a losing at games.

Also, during our time playing Scrabble we assisted two ultra-runner friends who were trying to run 12 hours on the trail next to my house.  When they arrived to my house, they were already 44 miles into their run and they were trying to reach 50.  Due to the heat of the day, I offered them our hose to cool down.  They unreluctantly took the hose to cool down.  In the meantime, I retrieved the two chocolate milks that my parents had stashed purposefully in our fridge for our runner friends.  I gave them the chocolate milk which would provide them with renewed fuel to finish their run.  After about 10 minutes on our front porch and rehydrated by chocolate milk, they continued on their way.  My dad would later meet up with them on the trail to help them finish their 50 mile run.  They finished in just about 10.5 hours.  Once again, ultrarunners never fail to amaze me and I can’t wait to become an ultrarunner myself!

My grandparents came over for a BBQ dinner.  We enjoyed hamburgers (or in my case, veggie burgers), various BBQ salads and watermelon.  For dessert, we had brownies and dirt cake….YUM!  Brianna also made a guest appearance! After my grandparents went home, Sarah and I decided to watch The Hunger Games while playing Mexican Train Dominos.  Now, let me explain something:  Sarah had never played Mexican Train Dominos before. We played throughout the entire length of the movie (another 2 hours worth of time) and Sarah won all but two rounds.  This was game #2 I had lost for the weekend.  And I had lost against a beginner….

Sunday: (a day of relaxation…kinda)

I began my Sunday at 5:45 AM because Angela invited me for part of her long run with her and friend/training partner Brittany on the trail that runs right next to my house.  Angela and I had decided to start running from different parts of the trail at the same time (6:15 AM) and run in the same direction so we could meet each other half way.  We met when I had reached the two mile mark.  My mileage for the day was scheduled to be 8 miles. We ran together and then “picked up” Brittany who was planning to meet us at 7 oclock. At this point I was 5.5 miles into my run.  We ran in the direction of my house so they could continue on their long run.  Angela had planned to run 16 for the day and Brittany planned on running 11.  We would perfectly hit our mileage goals for the morning thanks to our strategic planning.  I returned to my house with exactly 9 miles on my Garmin.  Here’s a picture of what I wrote in my Believe journal because I always enjoy catching up with both Angela and Brittany and talking about running and life.  They are both wonderful people and fantastic runners that I truly admire!

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20150906_163713Considering it was only 7:30 AM, I showered, ate pancakes for breakfast, and went to church with my parents and Sarah.  We also had planned to go the beach this day.  I texted my aunt/uncle whom I assumed would be down the shore with my cousin.  We drove to the beach, conveniently found a free parking spot after patiently searching for one and met up with aunt, uncle, a few family friends, and my 6 year old cousin who was extremely excited to have more people to play in the ocean/sand with.  We spent some time playing in the ocean with him, found some full, unscathed shells, and buried my 6 year old partner in crime.

After the beach, we were starving so we drove towards the boardwalk section of the beach.  This is where my parallel parking skills came into play.  Since I am stubborn and refuse to pay for parking when I knoooow there’s free parking available, I opted to continue searching for a usable parallel parking spot.  When we did indeed find a usable spot, I made a (maybe illegal) K-turn, and parallel parked like a boss (if I do say so myself).  This was extremely exciting for no reason in particular.  We walked about 3 blocks to the boardwalk and searched for a place to eat.  We opted for a food court so Sarah could get a non-vegetarian meal and I could get a vegetarian meal.  Of course, I choose pizza.  I ordered 2 slices of cheese pizza.  When the pizza came out and the man behind the counter sliced the pizza, apparently he didn’t cut it evenly.  The guy passing out the pizza to the customers told me that the slices looked small and that he would give me 3 slices instead.  HA!  Either A) I looked starving, B) he knew I really really realllly liked pizza or C) this was his way of flirting in a creepy-pizza-guy-kinda-way.  But hey, I wasn’t about to turn down an extra slice of pizza if it wasn’t going to cost me any more money. We ate our dinners and continued walking down the boardwalk.  We decided to play a game of mini-golf of Sarah’s choice (since I’ve played at basically every mini golf place the boardwalk has to offer).  I knew I was winning the game (by what I thought was a comfortable amount) so at the last hole in which there’s the chance to win a free game of mini golf, I jokingly told Sarah that if she makes the last hole she wins.  Just as I had finished my sentence, her golf ball made it into the hole and she won a free game. With that being said, (if you lost count) I lost game #3 of the weekend.

20150906_192105We continued our relaxing walk down the boardwalk on the beautiful Sunday night.  The air was warm but the breeze off the ocean made it cooler.  We stopped to take a few pictures, shop around, and get another dose of ice cream. This time I got banana peanut butter and Sarah got an ice cream called Muddy Sneakers (I forget its ingredients).  Before leaving the boardwalk I encouraged Sarah to try Johnson’s Carmel Popcorn.  It’s so tasty! Covered in sand and the ocean’s misty breeze we left the boardwalk content with the day’s smooth-sailing events and grateful for each other’s friendship.

Monday: (actual Labor Day!!)

This day I “slept in” and woke up at 8 AM to go for a 5 mile run with my dad.  We discussed my upcoming marathon training plan that he had completed while I was at school for 2 weeks.  I am very grateful to have my dad as my coach. Sarah and I cleaned up our belongings and packed up my car.  We planned to travel to her house which is half way between my house and our college.  So we drove to her house with no car issues whatsoever (thank goodness!!!).

Sarah has 8 siblings so when we got to her house we were welcomed by many smiling faces!  We helped prepare dinner (I had a homemade quinoa burger…YUM!).  After dinner and dessert we played a few rounds of Mexican Train Dominos.  I believe I was winning but then we decided to go outside and play wiffle ball.  It was a classic game of boys vs girls.  Sadly, in the last inning the girls lost their two run lead and ended up losing (this is game #4 that I lost for the weekend).  We ended the night with a bonfire.  Overall, it was a great Labor Day.

We travelled back to our college early this morning before our morning classes.  I am so glad that Sarah and I got to spend the weekend together.  I am so grateful for our friendship because we keep each other sane (even if we’re both super competitive and I lose games against her all the time).  I’m also glad I got to see my family and friends over the weekend too!  I am always sending my love back to NJ.  Now that summer is “unofficially-officially” over, we can all focus on the next few months of classes and enjoy the rest of the adventures to happen throughout the semester!

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