2016

2016

1 year…

12 months…

52 weeks…

366 days (it was a leap year)…

8784 hours…

527, 040 minutes…

31,622,400 seconds…

All those numbers, just little moments of time, helped shaped one big number: 2016.

A year I will always remember.  A year that will always hold a special place in my heart filled with joy, fear, new beginnings, bigger aspirations, exciting adventures, friendship, family, and love.

To me, 2016 was many things.  There’s many moments of this year that will always mean a lot to me.  Those moments have added up to one unforgettable year and I’m writing this blogpost, my 20th blog post of the year, to tell you about it.

I started 2016 as an intern for a medical fitness facility 20 minutes from my house.  I needed an internship to fulfill my undergraduate requirements so on January 19th, I became known as “the intern”.

In early January I registered for two races – my first ultramarathon scheduled for May 15th and a half-marathon scheduled for October 16th.  I was drawn to a 50k race distance because I wanted to try a race distance longer than a marathon.  My intentions for signing up for the half-marathon in October were to potentially PR and to set a mid-point race for the Philadelphia Marathon in November which I planned on signing up for as well.  Not even a month in to 2016 and my race schedule was set for the year.

I started a new part-time job at an assisted living community in the activities department.  I really enjoyed creating bonds with the residents and my co-workers were really nice!

With a combination of working at my internship (unpaid) and my part-time job I was extremely busy all the time.  Life became crazy, but I was learning a lot and still tried to make time for things I enjoyed doing.

On February 14th, I went for a 13 mile trail run with four crazy trail runners in 10 degree weather.  I probably wore six shirts on that brisk Sunday morning.  We even crossed a frozen stream where I was wished a happy valentine’s day by the man that would become my boyfriend three months later.

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Altra Lone Peaks

I fell in love with Altra.  My toes adore the wide toebox and the zero drop is perfect for my feet!  The Altra Lonepeaks are my favorite, but on road group runs I always wear my Torins!  I also really like their slogan: “Zero Limits”. [Fast forward to December 28th and I was chosen as an Altra Ambassador for 2017!  YAYY!!]

On February 28th, I ran 19 miles with my dad in the Pine Barrens.  My love for trail running continued to grow.

I visited my best friend from Bloomsburg in the beginning of March in Bethlehem, PA.

I discovered a new park down the street from my internship because I was organizing a 5k for a group of employees from the corporation I was interning with.  Discovering new places is always a lot of fun!

On Easter day, I started to learn how to mountain bike with my brother.  I got off my bike a lot to walk across logs but I enjoyed finding a new way to spend time outside on the trails.  I remember being scared to death about crashing but for some reason I wanted to keep trying so that I could go out and ride whenever I wanted.

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White Clay with Josh

I began training with the man who wished me a happy valentines day on that frigid February morning.  He (Josh) led me around trails I’d never been on as I tried to keep up with him.  We learned a lot about each other on these runs and found a lot of similarities between our personalities.

I worked my first of four expos with Sparkly Soul with Angela on April 1st.  These expos were always an adventure.  During our first expo together (Hot Chocolate 15k), we lugged heavy suitcases up and down staircases because we couldn’t figure out where to go.  We also received a huge box of mini Apple Pie LaraBars that lasted me for the next 4 months.  Then we ran at 9 PM and I fell and scraped my knee on the sidewalk.  Blood was dripping down my leg.

I trained hard for my ultramarathon coming up on May 15th.  High mileage, long runs, and lots of mental preparation!  I even started teaching my dog how to run off-leash.

I ran a one mile race on a track in 6:24.  I was VERY happy with that time, although I was completely out of breath!

I organized and directed my first 5k walk/run in late April.  I concluded my internship and was given positive feedback about my work ethic and knowledge about the fitness world.  I was told I would’ve been offered a job if they had a position available, but unfortunately they didn’t have a position available at the time.

I travelled to Hyner, PA to spectate the Hyner 25k/50k with my trail running friends.  We camped in an airfield with a bunch of other rugged trailrunners in tents, campers, and big RVs.  We went to a church that provided a free spaghetti dinner to the racers.  I climbed Humble Hill at 7 AM alone in order to reach Hyner View before the racers did.  That hill definitely humbled me.  I waited at the top of a very windy Hyner View for over 2 hours waiting for the racers I was cheering on to get to the top.  I talked with some photographers and other spectators at the top and I rung my cowbell when my fellow trail running friends ran by.  I traversed down Huff’s Run to get back to the bottom.  I toted a beer in my CamelBak to the finish line for Josh as he requested.  We waited patiently for the 50k racers to finish.  I kept ringing my cowbell.  We ate free pizza and cookies and I attempted to drink beer at the finish line. I took one sip and called it a day.  I stargazed with Josh, sat around a campfire with about 15 other trail runners, and shivered in the chilly April mountain air.  But somehow, even shivering, I was perfectly content.

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The view from the top of Humble Hill

I became a Sparkly Soul ambassador in late April at the Broad Street 10 miler expo.  At this expo, the 2nd expo of the year for me, I met the owner of Sparkly Soul!  We also had a thief in our midst at this expo.

Josh made me dinner and asked me to be his girlfriend.  Of course I said yes!

I graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science.  I was awarded a plaque for earning the highest GPA in BU’s Exercise Science graduating class of 2016.  I was shocked!  I also officially became an adult because now, as a college graduate, I entered what people call “the job world”.

I started looking for a full-time job because I was only being offered about 8 hours per week at my part-time job.  I was applying to anywhere I thought I might have a chance.  I became frustrated with the limited job opportunities so after much thought I decided to pursue my health coach certification to make a future for myself.  I hoped to start my own health coaching services upon becoming certified.

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1st Ultra

I finished my 1st ultramarathon on May 15 side-by-side with Josh.  It was a perfect temperature for race day.  After running the first 25k loop in under 2:30, we knew a sub-5 would be in our reach as long as we didn’t slow down too much more.  We finished in 4:58 in 34th and 35th place.  I was the 3rd overall female finisher in the 29 and under age group.  I was awarded a German weather vane.  We had completed our first ever ultra together and dominated on the trails.  This was the start of our ultra running futures!

Since my legs needed a rest from ultra training, I started mountain biking more often.  Slowly but surely I was getting more confident.

I was offered a full-time job from another assisted living community as the activities director.  I resigned from my part-time job and started my full-time job in full swing.  For two weeks, I worked both jobs since I had submitted two weeks notice of my official resignation.  Life got crazy and hectic again.

I began liking wine more and more.

I explored more trails at Fair Hills with Josh on a steaming hot summer day.  We even decided to take a break and cool off in a stream.

Other than trail running, star gazing became one of my favorite summer activities.

I celebrated Global Running Day and National Trails Day.

I spectated my brother’s first ever road cycling race.  He didn’t win but he did great for a rookie!

I created a chair exercise routine for my residents at work to music from the 40s, 50s and 60s.  It was a lot of fun to apply my exercise knowledge in this setting.

Wanderlust hit me hard, especially on Mondays.

I did a lot of runs and bike rides at 6 AM since that was the only time I could get out and exercise.  It was a great start to my day!

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Patriotic

I ran the traditional 4th of July 4 mile race in a patriotic singlet from Sneakers and Spokes.  I didn’t run a personal best (I ran a 28:40), but I had a lot of fun!  I had to rush home to shower before my shift at work.  I didn’t enjoy having to go to work on a holiday.

Josh and I explored French Creek State Park.  We got lost but eventually found our way back to his Jeep.

I wrote letters to Angela who was spending her summer in California.  Snail mail is the best!

I began attending more and more Sneakers and Spokes group rides.  I only owned a hybrid bike without clip-ins but I tried my best to keep up with the rest of the group.  I learned proper cycling etiquette and how to ride in a pace line. Time on my bike became good cardio for me without the demands of running on my muscles.

Josh and I took our first official camping trip together at Worlds End State Park. We ran up trails that led to beautiful vistas.  We became intrigued by the Loyalsock Trail.  We camped at a campground in a tent.  We ran every trail in the park, crashed a wedding party, and dipped our feet in a stream.  It poured the entire afternoon after our run but we made the most of it.  We made a pizza over the fire.  On our way home we stopped at the boulder field at Hickory Run State Park.  Josh loved the boulder field!

worlds-end
Worlds End

In early August, I was offered a job by my internship site.  I was struck with anxiety, fear, and worry because if I chose to accept the job, I would transition from my current full time job to a per diem/part-time job requiring me to work every weekend, both Saturday and Sunday.  After talking it over with my parents, Josh, and Angela I decided to accept the job and leave my full time job.  I craved working in a fitness setting and my full-time job was a dead end job with no upward potential.  My new job would provide many options for promotions so I felt it necessary to accept the new job.  I once again submitted my two weeks notice to my current employer and started working two jobs again until my two weeks was up.  Since accepting the new job from my internship site, I’ve been happier and much more satisfied with the type of work I am doing.  I feel empowered.  I feel grateful.  I went from being “the intern” to returning as an employee within four months.

I learned trusting God is the easiest thing I can do.

I played many rounds of mini golf with my younger “cousin”.

I did my first ever road time trial “race”.  I finished a 10 mile practice time trial as the fastest female rider.  I was still on my hybrid without clip-in shoes.  I felt like I was going to puke, but I was happy!

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Appalachian Trail

I showed Josh part of New Jersey’s section of the Appalachian Trail.  We climbed to the top of Mount Tammany which overlooked the Delaware Water Gap.  We explored a lot of trails that day and I began falling in love with the peace of the trails even more than before!

I bought a new road bike since I was becoming more of a “serious” road cyclist.  I love my navy blue and purple Fuji Finest!

I participated in a paint party.  I discovered I’m not much of a painter.

Sneakers and Spokes celebrated it’s one year anniversary.  Also, Sneaker’s and Spokes won “best sporting goods store” in Salem County!

I became overly intrigued by the concept of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

I really liked eating pizza and nachos.

I attended my first ever Oktoberfest with Josh.  I didn’t drink from a stein but I had a lot of fun dancing ridiculously!

At the 3rd expo (Rock ‘N Roll Philadelphia), we were excited to see an Altra booth!  Nothing too overly crazy happened at this expo that I recall.

Josh and I travelled to the Cat Skills Mountains for his Cats Tail Trail Marathon. We camped in the tent for 3 nights and 4 days.  We explored the trail that started in our campground.  We explored the small town of Phoenicia.  It rained a lot.  I was stranded in an elementary school parking lot at 6 AM without cell phone service and then I ran down a highway just to get to our friend’s truck which I then drove up mountains just to cheer the men on with my cowbell.  I waited at the only road-accessible aid station for hours waiting for all our trail friends to come through.  I cheered Josh on and I was a proud girlfriend!  I waited in front of a parish hall for hours waiting for Josh to run down the street. I even witnessed a finisher who had punctured his forehead with a branch run towards the finish with dried blood caked on his face.  Josh finished in 13th overall.  I was so proud!  In celebration, I spent a late night with five grown men who were drinking beer in a mountain cabin.  I was the only female (drinking my Mike’s Hard Lemonade of course).  That weekend was quite the adventure.

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Runner’s World Half

I ran the Runner’s World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, PA in 1:43.  Although it wasn’t a PR, I was content with my time.  It was a hillier course than I expected.  I also got to say hello to Tiffany – our former Altra rep that had moved to Utah!  I felt prepared for my marathon but still knew I needed to put in hard work for the next month before my race.

I started paying my student loans.

I visited Smithville with my mom and my mommom for the first time ever.  I bought special peanut butter.

I visited a winery for the first time as a girl’s night out.  Wine is good!

I carved a pumpkin that simply said “run”.  I’m not that creative.

I handed out candy to eager trick-or-treaters for the first time in my life.  It was so much fun!

I struggled through a 22 mile run which left me feeling physically defeated but mentally humbled.  I knew I had what I needed to complete the marathon, I just needed to ignore the pain for as long as I could in order to race a PR.

I craved trail races and ultra-marathons.

My brother decided to enlist in the Air Force.

I became more and more grateful for my new job despite having to work weekends.  I knew I had made the right decision.

I earned my ACE Health Coach certification in mid-November.  I plan on starting my own health coach services in 2017.

At the 4th expo of the year (Philadelphia Marathon), we moved our booth three times before we were officially settled in and were given about 10 bags of Herrs pretzels!

I ran the Philadelphia Marathon on an extremely windy Sunday morning.  25-30+ MPH winds pushed against me during the last 10 miles of the race but I hung on to all the time I had banked during the first half of the race to finish 1 minute and 17 seconds faster than last year’s finishing time.  I was happy with my time (3:45:08), happy to be done, and happy to look forward to trail races in 2017.

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Last Sparkly Soul Expo
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Phila. Marathon

I celebrated my 3rd year of vegetarianism.

I towed a trailer of canned goods from Sneakers and Spokes to Xfinity Live in Philadelphia with a group of determined road cyclists.  We had collected 234 pounds of donated food for WMMR’s Preston and Steve’s Campout for Hunger for Philabundance.  I was terrified pedaling across the bridge and yelled at a lot of Philadelphia drivers who were threatening my safety.  I completed my longest bike ride to date on that day – 67 miles; half of which I towed canned goods with me!

I took Josh to his first ever Flyers game with my mom and one of my best friends.  I lost my voice within 5 minutes – the Flyers scored 3 goals in less than 90 seconds.

I celebrated an amazing Christmas with my family.  It was also Josh and I’s first Christmas together.  It was perfect.

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My Family

This is my 2016 – a year I will never forget.  2016 was the year I’ve had three different employers.  2016 was the year I ran my first ultra-marathon.  2016 was the year I yearned for trails, adventure, and mountains.  2016 was the year I truly found my best friend.  2016 was the year I pushed my limits and overcame my fears.  2016 was a year I could have never predicted.

There were times in 2016 when I felt weak.  I shed a lot of tears (both happy and sad) this year.  I became anxious and fearful of my unknown future.  I questioned where my life would be leading.  But I also felt strong at times – out on the trails, in the job world, and having day-to-day conversations with my closest family/friends.  It wasn’t an easy year, but in retrospect, it wasn’t a difficult year either.  Yes, I was faced with decisions that left me feeling lost but with the support system I’ve been blessed with, those decisions weren’t lonely. When 2016 ends at 11:59PM, I’ll have no regrets.  2016 was the year I learned to go with life’s flow; after all, fate is real.

Here I am, on the 366th day of the year, publishing my 20th blog post of 2016 about all the adventures, happy moments, and anxious times.  I’ve become a better person than I was on January 1st.  A stronger person.  A (slightly) more confident person.  A loving person.  And most importantly, a person with a purpose and a drive to do more audacious things in 2017.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Higher mileage, happier runner

Higher mileage, happier runner

Here is another weekly ultra training recap, as told in as few words as possible:

Monday – birthday run, group run, still sick, slower pace, 6.1 miles

Tuesday – sickness completely gone, 4 miles with my 4-legged running buddy

Wednesday – no watch, warmth, felt great, 6 miles

Thursday – 12 mile bike ride to the group run, SparklySoul, 7:35 mile, great weather, good company, gossiping, Angela, average 7:52 pace, 7 miles, socializing

Friday – 3 mile walk, long run part 1, Angela, more gossip, warm weather, average 8:18 pace, 10 miles, foam rolling

Saturday – early morning, chilly morning, long run part 2, getting lost, talking, good company, hills, slow trail pace, 10 miles, hunger

Sunday – 1st mountain bike ride in 10 years, need improvement, easy run home, 3.5 miles

Week in review:  awesome, higher mileage, happier runner, great company, loving running, 46.6 miles

 

Realizations

Realizations

In the past two weeks, I’ve worked back-to-back 50 hour weeks between my internship and my new job.  I am no longer physically attending Bloomsburg University since the only thing left to do before I can graduate is my internship. Despite the stress brought on by a 50-hour work week, I am the happiest I’ve been in the last year and a half.

I am no longer confined by the walls of a classroom.  I no longer have to sit at a desk listening to a professor lecture about the benefits of exercise.  Instead, I am teaching others the benefit of exercise.  The fitness center I am completing my internship at has become my classroom.  I have met people who have never exercised ever before in their life and it has become my responsibility to teach them how to exercise safely and effectively.  I am finally putting my knowledge to good use and it has been extremely rewarding.  Several fitness center clients have noticed my patience with teaching others and have complimented me on my knowledge.  It feels good to be appreciated.

Yesterday I came to realize many things.  First of all, I’ve spent 5 of my 8 semesters of college at home.  Four semesters were spent at home as I attended a community college before transferring to Bloomsburg University. Now, I’m back at home and doing my internship locally; therefore, I am once again spending another semester at home.  These five semesters, although separated by three semesters living in the middle of Pennsylvania, have been the semesters that I’ve been happiest with my life.  My two years at community college were by far the most memorable two years of my college experience. And now I get to spend my last semester of college completing my internship which has been far more enjoyable than being stuck in a classroom.  My level of happiness has been significantly, and more consistently, higher being at home than away at college.

My second realization is that I’ve had a part-time job every semester of college. During my two years at community college I had a part-time job at a craft store. In Bloomsburg, I was a student note-taker for two semesters, and I was a private tutor last fall.  Now, as an intern, I also have a new part-time job.  I feel like these part-time jobs have made me learn the importance of time-management and have also provided me with a source of income that can offset some of my college debt.

So here I am now.  Every weekend I see pictures of people on Facebook with wine glasses in their hands or drunken smiles.  I hear stories about the ridiculousness of a professor.  But here I am, a thousand times happier than any wine glass or college party could ever provide to me.  I’m loving my internship and my new job.  I love spending time with my family on the weekend.  I love having people to run with.  My dog is my favorite roommate.  I’m happy.  I’m enjoying life.  And every night I go to bed knowing I’m following the path that’s meant for me – and this path makes me happiest.

 

Within the chaos there’s peace

Within the chaos there’s peace

This last week has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, highs and lows.  But within all the stress and chaos, I’ve come to realize that there will always be things and people to be grateful for.  In the big painted picture of life, the small little stressors are just miniature droplets of paint mixed within the blur of other colors of happiness, peace, and positivity.  And I’ll admit it, two days ago I was seeing the big picture as one big mess of scribbled lines and colors.  I was stressed.  I was impatient.  I was every sort of anxious in the book.  But now, it’s ok.  As many times as I’ve tried mentally reassuring myself that it would be ok, there’s always that little whispering voice in my head that tells me otherwise.  So here I am blogging about the louder voice in my head telling me that life is bigger than that whispering voice and those scribbled lines.  Life is a masterpiece we are destined to paint ourselves.

**I helped my dad and brother at their new business and have spoken to a lot of people who are excited for the business to open.  This reassures me that overcoming all of the stress, work, and setbacks will be worth it in the end; therefore, the reward will be far greater than the stress leading up to it.

**My best friend (who was leaving for DCP at the end of the week) and I were able to successfully watch all three Hunger Games movies in one afternoon.  This was added to our summer bucket list after we finished all three books earlier this summer (because we are obsessed with all the characters in the books).  We also enjoyed some pizza that I made and brownies with icecream.  For the past 2 years of our friendship, pizza has been our go-to food because we both love it so it was appropriate for us to share a pizza before he left for 4 months.  As much as I’m going to miss him, I know that he’s going to cross something off of his life bucket list which makes me happy for him and we can still call each other like usual to complain to each other and catch up on life!

**I was able to re-connect with a few of my high school friends in a fun “game” called Trapped Philly.  Four of my friends, five of my family members and I were basically “locked” into a room and had to get out by solving clues and codes within an hour.  Unfortunately, our hour elapsed before we were able to successfully “unlock” ourselves but it was so much fun solving the puzzles and clues to get out.  It was basically a life-size, in-person, brain teaser.  I’m so glad I got to see my high school friends whom I only see about 2-3 times per year and also spend time with my family!

**I made myself a new CD to listen to in the car because the radio plays the same 10 songs over and over again and I really really reallllly like the variety that I put on it (not to brag or anything XD)

**I got to hang out with my cousins at my mommom’s birthday party which is always fun!  I’ve only seen them 3 times this summer so I always value spending time with them when we do get together.  It’s never a dull moment when we’re altogether!  Family is a huge part of my life and I’ve come to realize in the last few weeks that no matter what your family will be there for you.  I cherish the times we spend together no matter what we’re doing and I will miss them when I go back to school.

**Today I got a 7.5 mile trail run in with four other trailrunners.  Trail running has always been one of the things that makes me feel less stressed.  I think it’s because my mind focuses on the roots, the rocks, the trees and not getting lost in the woods rather than everything else going on in the world.  Trails provide an opportunity to lose yourself in the run. Although the pace might be slower than a run on the road, I would much rather spend 90 minutes on a trail than dodging cars.  I am also always amazed how trailrunners all have the same mentality.  No matter the pace or the experience level of the runner we all just love to run!  That’s why we always come back for more!

So with all these happy “moments” from the last week, my life masterpiece has been layered with positivity and things/people to be grateful for.  When life gets you down, pick yourself back up and look at the bigger picture.  We are the creators of our own masterpiece; therefore, you can choose to stay down and out on the ground or you can pick yourself up and charge forward with all the good things going on in the present moment.  The choice is yours!