2019 in review

2019 in review

Here we go again! The annual yearly review. I feel like this year has flown by….yet it has also felt like a lifetime. A lot of things happened but because grad school has consumed my life I feel like my life is mundane. Perhaps composing this post will help me reflect on all that HAS happened. If it doesn’t help me this year, I’m sure that in the future I can look back on this post with some appreciation. Let’s begin.

Josh & I kicked off 2019 with a trail run at Brandywine. Typical us!

I was accepted as a member of the Altra Red Team for the 3rd consecutive year! My favorite Altras are still the Superiors and the Escalantes.

I did a chocolate tasting with my mom, granny, and mommom. The chocolate was so so good!

My second semester of grad school started and I faced two pediatric courses, neuroscience, research, a mental health course, and my first Level I fieldwork. Yikes!

Sneakers & Spokes had some great nighttime group trails runs (even in cold temps!)

Michael & Savannah got engaged.

Emily, Megan & I planned a fun Bachelorette weekend for Bridgette! I took the train into Philly, met them at their Airbnb, walked around the city searching for brunch, and then surprised Bridgette with an Escape Room experience! Let it be known that we did indeed escape the Thai prison!

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We escaped the Thai prison!

A week later, Josh got to experience an Escape Room for his 30th birthday. This time around we escaped The Lost City! (pretty sure the guy gave us wayyyy too many clues though)

It snowed frequently in January & February so I got a lot of fun snow runs in solo and with Gwin. Gwin loves running through the snow!

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My favorite running pic with Gwin

I volunteered first to led an adult behavioral health group (to get it done & over with) but it snowed on the day I was supposed to present so my presentation got pushed back 3 months (THREE MONTHS!) which I was extremely unhappy about.

I ran 10 trail miles on the first Saturday in March and woke up feeling horrible on Sunday.

On Monday, the doctor told me I had the flu after sticking something up my nose (thanks, classmate). The doctor advised me not to go to school for a week to prevent spreading the flu to my classmates. Despite knowing I would miss an entire week of class and lose an excessive amount of points on a research quiz, I obliged because I myself am considerate towards others.

Josh also got the flu a few days later because I spent the majority of the weekend with him. (forever guilty)

I quarantined myself in my room for six days because my parents were flying out to Utah the following week for Michael’s wedding. I would only leave my room to walk 3 steps into the bathroom. My mom would hand me food when I cracked open the door. Tamiflu is the WORST medicine – my stomach hurt every time I had to take it and I had no appetite. Flu week was the worst week!

Flu week was followed up with mid-terms week. My parents were in Utah with Michael  for the wedding so Josh stayed over a few days to keep me company.

Michael & Savannah got married.

Spring break came along. I hosted an Altra demo day with NJ’s awesome tech rep, Luke.

Just like last year, I craved ultramarathons.

Bridgette & Bryce got married! Josh & I got to celebrate at her wedding with Emily and Megan and their men. After the wedding we went to a bar in town and just hung out for a while. It was so much fun and so refreshing to be back with lifelong friends!

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Celebrating Bridgette & Bryce!

Level I fieldwork in the school-based setting went smoothly. My FW educator was nice and I enjoyed getting to know the kids she worked with. I don’t envision myself working in a school-based setting though.

My birthday landed on the same day as a lab regarding feeding for the pediatric population. Jess fed me a spoonful of pudding on my 25th birthday.

The S&S red, white, and blue van was brought into the world.

Josh took me out on some White Clay mountain bike adventures. I snagged some segment PR’s as my confidence grew.

Josh & I went on many double dates with Brianna & Luke this year. It was always a fun time!

Neuroscience and research was killing my cohort slowly.

We took Mom axe throwing on her birthday. We were pretty good at it even though none of us won the tournament.

Josh & I both finished as the 2nd place male and female, respectively, at the Sasquatch 5k.

I brought Gwin with me to the FACES 4 Autism Walk which was chaotic because the walk ended up being inside instead of outside…. apparently people melt if little raindrops fall on them.

I published blog posts for the “ABCs of OT“. It was tedious but I hope people learned something from it!

My research group “presented” research on the effectiveness of alternative and augmentative communication systems for facilitating functional communication in children with autism. I feel like nobody but students attended the research symposium so there weren’t really people to present to….. oh well!

I finally led the behavioral health group I was supposed to lead three months prior. I stressed so so much after I failed to conclude my group as instructed. I felt so angry and frustrated after this and cried to Josh on my way home…… plot twist: I still got an A.

Instead of studying for exams, I went for a run during a tornado watch and severe thunderstorm warning. YOLO.

I finished my second semester of grad school with four A’s and an A-.

Josh & I celebrated three years together by going for a mountain bike ride at Fair Hill. Josh cracked open a beer at a stream stop. It truly was the best way for us to celebrate together!

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Three years!

Josh and I planted our garden for the third summer in a row. We hoped for lots of cucumbers, crispy bell peppers, tolerable long hots & jalapeños, tasty tomatoes, and refreshing watermelons!

I worked wine festivals again. Drunk people are…. interesting.

We also attended a wine festival with Josh’s family. Wine is good!

Our two-week summer class was basically a waste of time but my groupmates made a pretty cool story spinner for our project. Unfortunately, the attendees of the fair weren’t as impressed. Oh well.

Josh & I raced the Race to Save the World 10k at White Clay. I finished as the 4th overall female and Josh finished as the 1st overall male. After, we got brunch on Main St and then went mountain biking with a group of S&S folks! What a day!

I accompanied Josh to many mountain bike races as his crew member. I perfected water bottle hand-offs and cheered loud for him as frequently as possible! Pride filled my heart every time he stepped up on the podium (which was frequently because he’s amazing).

I ran to the Elmer Memorial Day parade to see my parents driving in the S&S van. Then I hustled off to work at the winery.

Uncle Eddie passed away. He was remembered through a beautiful military ceremony with the Fraser’s remembering him as a strong, resilient, and caring human.

Josh & I camped at Lums Pond for a night. We mountain biked and went to Grain for lunch. This was the only time we camped this year but it was fantastic!

Gabriele Grunewald passed away and the running community grieved. I did mile repeats for Gabriele and Justin (#BraveLikeGabe) a few days later using their strength to push me along.

I decided to register for a duathlon – my first duathlon ever – so that I would be motivated to train for something.

Michael & Savannah came to NJ to celebrate 4th of July! We went blueberry picking at Mood’s. We went to the boardwalk and played mini golf. We went to a mountain bike race (where 95% of Team S&S got lost – it was not a good day). And we celebrated 4th of July with fireworks.

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OC Boardwalk with the fam

I raced the Pitman 4 Miler as usual. It was tough but I didn’t throw up. Afterwards, Josh & I got to the Woodstown Parade to ride along the route with the Reactors and the S&S van. It was so so so hot out (cars were overheating) and everyone was drenched in sweat.

I started working as a classroom aide during extended school year at a special services school nearby. You can read more about that here.

Josh & I made friends with a neighborhood cat he decided to call Milford. Milford is a lovebug!

I tried racing a mountain bike race at Granogue – I walked my bike for most of it….

The morning of one of Josh’s mountain bike races, I spotted a dog abandoned and tied up to the gate of an animal shelter (which wasn’t open yet) which made me both extremely sad and angry. We tried calling the county police (who weren’t helpful) and then left a message with the animal shelter (who had opened 30ish minutes later & had taken the dog in). That same morning my mommom’s dog passed away sending me into even more devastated tears. Josh had a rough race that morning and ended up breaking something on his bike. It was just a really rough day.

Our garden produced great cucumbers, iffy bell peppers, lots of long hots & jalapeños, and…. no ripened watermelons.

I logged several 50+ mile bike rides throughout the summer which was AWESOME!

Josh & I had date night at Auburn Winery while Lauren Hart performed. It was a perfect night of pizza, wine, and great music!

I made it my mission to strengthen the running community in Salem County and initiated group runs/walks and 2nd Saturday trail runs.

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Our first ever 2nd Saturday trail run was a success!

Training was going great for the duathlon I signed up for. I was feeling strong both running and biking and was practicing transitions weekly.

I stopped using Twitter. I started unfollowing accounts on Instagram and defriended some folks on Facebook. It just felt like it was time to simplify and declutter my social media accounts. Living in the present, not attached to the phone, is so much more enjoyable anyways.

Sneakers & Spokes celebrated its four year anniversary!

Hope passed away on August 23rd after 15 loving and playful years. This was by far the hardest day of 2019 and I miss her everyday.

Josh & I started making rice bowls together which are so delicious and (relatively) healthy!

I started my last year of grad school and had to tackle adult classes, clinical research, foundations of OT, an assistive technology course, and my second Level I fieldwork (in hand therapy…)

I ran the 9/11 Memorial Run with runners from Sneakers & Spokes and other runners from the south jersey running community.

 

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Never forget.

Josh & I continued our tradition of attending Oktoberfest together. It was fun as usual!

I completed my first ever duathlon finishing as the 3rd overall female. Team S&S also won 2nd overall team. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the challenge! I am grateful for the team I got to do the duathlon with. I hope we conquer more dus together in 2020!

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Team S&S with all the hardware

I organized a Ride & Wine with Monroeville Winery. It was successful but improvements can definitely be made.

I volunteered at the “calf-way” stop at the Cow Run 10 Miler with S&S. Two skunks decided to cross through our water stop just as the first few runners were passing through. It was terrifying.

I raced (and volunteered) at the Shred the Edge MTB race for the second consecutive year. This year I bumped myself down to the novice race and finished as the 2nd overall female following a sprint finish. Grad school legs and lungs did me in. I helped with registration and timing too – it was a fun day!

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Shred the Edge volunteers

My mom started fostering animals from South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter. The first dog we fostered, named Cookie, we ended up adopting (#fosterfail). My mom renamed her Zoey and she has been with us since the end of October. We have also fostered one kitten and two dogs (Sheepy & Douglas). All of them have since been adopted!

 

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Gwin & Zoey love snuggling!
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Running with Sheepy
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Douglas, Zoey, & Gwin

In my assistive technology course, we got to work with 3D printers. My group designed a bottle cap opener with a built up handle for individuals who have difficulty pronating.

Patti, Colin, & Tammy visited from California. We went out to eat and a magician (who will be on AGT this summer) visited our table. I hate magicians yet somehow I ended up being the person chosen for all the tricks.

I miserably raced the Ghosts of Granogue 5k. That’s all I have to say about that.

My assistive technology group also designed “The Mailman’s Basket” for an individual with a C6 SCI who worked as a mailman at a university. We designed the basket to swing to the side from behind the wheelchair for him to easily deliver mail. We presented our assistive device to students in Colombia, South America who also designed assistive devices from the same case studies. This project was a lot of fun!

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Assistive Technology course!

I did not enjoy my fieldwork in hand therapy and I don’t foresee myself ever working in this setting. It’s just far too redundant and unexciting.

Josh & I began planning for The Ultimate Woodstown Scavenger Hunt which we are directing in January 2020. This will be our first time as race directors and I am beyond excited!

Josh & I made tater tot nachos for the first time ever and they were DELICIOUS.

Gwin & Zoey really loved snuggling together. They’re so precious!

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I celebrated my 6th year of being a vegetarian.

I submitted both my case studies before Thanksgiving break. The first case study was 29 pages which I spent 21 hours on. The second case study was 31 pages which I spent just over 10 hours on. These case studies challenged me beyond belief but all the determination paid off as I got 100s on both of them. HOOZAH.

We had our annual Thanksgiving weekend nighttime trail run. It was freezing that night.

My research group presented on ayurveda and chronic pain. I hate ayurveda and don’t want to say anything more about it.

I finished my 3rd semester of grad school (THANK GOODNESS THE END IS GETTING NEAR) with four As and one A-. It was a tough semester. Practicals stressed me out. Research stressed me out. But there’s only one more academic semester to go. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting slightly brighter. I can’t wait to be done!

Josh & I ran our 2nd annual Christmas lights run through his town. We saw a lot of greatly decorated houses!

Angela came back to visit NJ and we got in a lot of good runs together! I am extremely grateful for the miles we got to share!

My parents took Granny & Mommom on a Christmas lights tour. We visited the Griswold house in Mickleton which was awesome!

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with Cousin Eddie

I directed the S&S Santa Run with a mission in mind – to collect as much dog/cat food and litter as possible to donate to SJRAS in memory of Hope. This was my way of paying it back to the shelter that gave me Hope for 15 wonderful years. This was my way of paying it forward to the animals still looking for their forever homes. We collected 1,426 pounds of food to donate. My heart is still so so grateful for the generosity of the running community.

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Santa Run 2019
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1,426lbs of food & litter

For the second consecutive year, my family cut down our Christmas tree from the front yard.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day traditions remained the same. The Palmieri’s tricked my family into believing we were calling NORAD when in reality it was Micheal pretending to be NORAD.

Mommom adopted a dog from Salem County Humane Society. His name is Bashee and he’s a chocolate lab!

I got to reunite with Bridgette, Bryce, and Megan during Christmastime. It was so nice to catch up with them!

I ran 6 miles in under 50min to close off the 2019 running year. Four of those miles were with Zoey (Gwin wouldn’t get out of bed), averaging 8:30/mile. Zoey loves to run!

Running Stats of 2019:

  • Total miles: 1,025.1 miles
  • Highest monthly mileage: May (103.5 miles)
  • Three trail races: Sasquatch 5k, Race to Save the World 10k, Ghosts of Granogue 5k
  • One road race: Pitman Freedom 4 Miler
  • One duathlon: Parvin Anniversary Duathlon
  • Shoes worn: Altra Superiors & Altra Escalantes
  • States I ran in: New Jersey, Maryland, & Delaware

Cycling Stats of 2019:

  • Total miles: 1,111.7 miles
  • Highest monthly mountain bike mileage: May (93.5 miles)
  • Highest monthly road bike mileage: August (287.9 miles)
  • Highest monthly combined mileage: August (325.4 miles)
  • Total Road Bike Miles: 739 miles
  • Total MTB Miles: 372.7 miles
  • Mountain Bike Races: Fair Hill Classic, Escape Granogue, & Shred the Edge
  • One duathlon: Parvin Anniversary Duathlon

Total woman-powered miles: 2,136.8 miles

2019 brought fewer running and cycling miles; however, I am proud of what I was able to accomplish while balancing the demands of grad school. Squeezing in runs mid-semester has been challenging but I’ve learned to adapt in order to overcome.

Because running is such an integral part of my overall physical and mental health, I have come to recognize its importance in keeping my stress levels in check.

I learned that I am more likely to run if I run before the demands of the day begin. Throughout the fall semester I would head out the door at 6 AM with my headlight on and log 3 miles. I hated doing this but the rest of my day tended to be better because my run was done and my stress was manageable.

The races I did weren’t at optimal fitness. My grad school lungs often limited how fast I could go or how much I could push myself. I still miss ultramarathons like mad and I hope that in the coming year or so I can make my ultra comeback.

A year from now, my yearly review should say “finished grad school” somewhere in it. I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life in 2020 when school is officially done done done and I can start working towards an established career.

Another year has come and gone. It’s been a year of highs and lows. It’s been a year of new and old running friends. It’s been a year of academic stress. It’s been a year of falling in love with so many dogs. It’s been a year of learning to simplify and balance all that life throws at me.

I hope everyone can find joy in the coming year. Reflect on what you have accomplished.

Set goals that scare you. Set goals that will make you stronger.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year (and decade).

Much love,

-L

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2018 in review

2018 in review

Every year I start my yearly recap with intentions of making it flowy and descript. As I try to recall everything that has happened this year, it’s quite a blur. However, I can testify that 2018 has offered me travel experiences, running memories, cycling achievements, and new beginnings (GRAD SCHOOL!) that have continuously shaped me into who I will be starting off as in 2019. This year has gifted me new friendships and strengthened existing ones. I’ve become a more grateful, more mindful, more persistent, and stronger person because of my experiences and support systems. Without further ado, let’s review…

Within the first week of January, southern NJ was hit with something they call a “bomb cyclone”. I still don’t know what this weather term defines, but I do know that I went out for a run in it. Classic me.

Being a Philadelphia Eagles fan in January became a very exciting time. Nick Foles became our hero.

I was picked as an Altra Ambassador for the 2nd year in a row. Altras are my favorite!

Josh got a new bike – the Rocky Mountain Element in smoke-on-the-water black. I’ve yet to be able to compete with the affection he shows for this bike.

I was offered an interview to my top choice for grad school which I scheduled immediately and as soon as possible. One step closer to following my dream.

On February 4th (everything good happens on the fourth day of each month & I have a whole list to prove it), the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl for the 1st time in team history. Completely shocked because these championships are few and very far between in Philly, I cried, I screamed, I banged pots & pans outside of Josh’s front door. What a time to be alive!

Four days later, I called out “sick” from work to go to the Super Bowl parade with millions of other Eagles fans. We parked haphazardly in some random grassy area we discovered. We went into a Dunkin Donuts that was sold out of 75% of their stock. We stood along Broad Street and watched people climb trees, drink beer, and wait anxiously for the team caravan to pass by. It was the best morning ever for Eagles fans! Later we went home and watched Jason Kelce’s historical speech on the art museum steps from the comfort of our couch. Still to this day, I believe that his speech was the most relatable speech ever for Philadelphia sports fans.

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Eagles Super Bowl parade!

I attended my interview for grad school and prayed that they would accept me.

Josh & I passed the time by going for trail runs in the cold.

I also took Gwin on a hike with Jess & McGee. Gwin prefers running, not hiking.

I decided not to train for an ultramarathon this year because I felt that my life schedule was too busy and unpredictable to fully dedicate to a long race. Instead, I opted for a nearby trail series in hopes of becoming a Regional champion for my age group.

By the end of February, I received my acceptance letter to my top choice for grad school! This was the best day ever because I was finally on the path of my dreams! I remember calling Josh to tell him first. Then I called my mom, who shared the news with my dad. I called my grandparents. I called Angela. And then I went for a celebratory run. Classic me.

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The day I got accepted to grad school

Josh & I attended more Flyers games together and ate big slices of stadium pizza.

As usual, I celebrated the first day of spring with a free Rita’s Water Ice.

On the second day of spring (my birthday), we had a huge snowstorm so Josh couldn’t come over. I made the most of the snowy birthday inside by playing board games. Once the snow slowed, I convinced my parents & Gwin to come out for a snowy trail run. We made it 1.5 miles from home, posed excitedly for a snow selfie, and 5 seconds later a snow-covered tree branch snapped, hit my back, and slammed me to the ground. Hello, 24th birthday! We spent the 1.5 mile run back towards home in fear of more falling branches/trees. The welt on my shoulder blade stayed for a few days. Nothing out of the ordinary for my life. Perhaps even an exaggerated metaphor.

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Infamous selfie before the branch hit me

I competed in the Xterra Brandywine 12k for the 2nd year in a row and defended my 2nd place finish on the podium.

I missed training for ultras.

I started a new blog section called “OT Chronicles” to document my experiences through grad school and beyond!

I raced a 5k for the first time in 3+ years and shared the #1 podium spot with Josh as the male & female winners of the race.

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Our 5k winnings

I really missed going to Hyner for race weekend.

Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon in epic weather conditions. Sara Sellers came in 2nd and everyone in the running world was wondering who she was. Now she’s a sponsored Altra athlete!

I raced the Xterra Lums Pond 12k and finished 3rd overall female. I also fell ½ mile into the race and ran the remaining 6+ miles with bloody knees and an achy elbow. The paramedics took care of me at the finish line (infection prevention, people!). Josh & I then hustled to the NICA race the local mountain bike team was hosting and I hobbled around for the rest of the day while cheering the kids on.

I worked a race expo for Sparkly Soul all by myself for the first time ever. I even got interviewed by NBC 10 because they loved the unicorn headbands (which I absolutely hate so it was ironic). My interview was shown on TV and Josh came to the realization that he was dating someone famous.

I started working at wine festivals with a local winery. They were very fun but very exhausting to work. My right arm hurt after my first ever wine festival day from pouring so many tastings repetitively for 5 hours straight.

I attended the wine festival in Josh’s town with his family. Good company and good wine indeed!

Josh and I mountain biked together as much as possible. Trail therapy is the best therapy.

I continued to miss training for and racing ultras.

I ran the Xterra Wetlands 10k. It was muddy and I finished as the 3rd female. This was my least favorite race of the trail series.

Sneakers & Spokes hosted an Altra demo day and we had 15 people attend! It was great and my Altra heart was happy!

I stopped working in retail.

Josh & I flew out west and explored! We visited Angela & Phil in Colorado, explored Moab on mountain bikes, and visited Michael in Utah. I could go on and on about everything that we saw and did because it was truly the greatest six day adventure ever! But I won’t go on and on because I have two separate, lengthy blog posts about it on my blog already. Go check ‘em out!

I am still eternally grateful that Josh & I got to go on our Colorado-Utah adventure together. I am so glad that we got to see so many beautiful mountains with our hosts – the Dunn’s and Michael. We got to run and hike in places that were absolutely breathtaking. We got to mountain bike on trails that were challenging yet had rewarding vistas. I will also remember our trip together and the experiences we shared!

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Running in Colorado
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Mtb in Moab
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hiking in Utah

With altitude training on my side, I snagged some QOMs on my bike.

I started working at the winery’s tasting room once a week for the remainder of the summer. I worked one of the more quiet days of the week but I enjoyed the atmosphere and my responsibilities.

Josh & I planted our garden together for the 2nd year in a row. It was a sad garden this year because the wind destroyed half of our plants during a summer storm and nothing grew too well. I guess we needed to replenish the “special dirt” we got in 2017. Maybe next year.

I continued to coach runners and do personal training sessions with clients.

Lance, Josh’s dog, who was 15 years young passed away. His snuggles, prances, and love of human food will be cherished forever.

I also finished the 4th and final race of the Xterra series. I finished the Big Elk 1/2-marathon as the 4th overall female and 1st in my age group. I had achieved my goal of becoming regional champion and the long-sleeve they sent me a few months later was totally worth it! However, I’m going to give this series a rest for some time because 1) grad school and 2) I want ultras back in my life.

After the race, Josh & I ate brunch with Jess & Steve on Main Street. Those breakfast tater tots were the best!

Within less than two months, I started to miss Colorado and Utah.

I organized a road bike ride to a local Alex’s Lemonade Stand. We enjoyed water ice at 10 AM and got to enjoy a long bike ride on a perfect Saturday morning!

On July 4th, I ran the annual Pitman 4 Miler as a family tradition. My Altra Escalantes helped me run my 3rd fastest course time, finish 3rd in my age group, and finish in the top 7 female finishers. I also didn’t feel overly nauseous after I finished which is always a good thing.

After racing the 4 miler, Josh & I drove to the Woodstown 4th of July parade to ride in the parade with the Salem County Reactors. I felt sort of out of place but it was fun nonetheless!

Less than one week later, I raced my first mountain bike race of the 2018 and finished on the podium for THE FIRST TIME EVER! This was the highlight of my cycling year because I had never been on the podium at a mountain bike race before! Finishing 2nd was an awesome feeling, especially since I started in the back of the pack. I hope that in 2019 I can improve on my 2nd place and step up on the podium again!

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My 1st mtb podium!

I cheered Josh on at many mountain bike races and I took my job as his crew very seriously.

Josh & I attended a local food truck festival. We ate delicious tater tots!

I biked to a winery with the Sneakers & Spokes crew, did yoga in the vineyard, enjoyed a glass of wine, and then biked back to town.

I got really pissed off at township workers for talking down to me when I questioned what they were doing to a local trail. Idiots!

The Altra Superiors became my go-to shoe for trail running. I love them!

My dad hosted a women’s mountain bike clinic and it was so awesome! Fourteen ladies shredding the trail together?! It doesn’t get any better than that!

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Girl power!

I started riding in the faster group for group rides. The first time I attempted I only was able to hang on for half of the ride. The second time I attempted, I was able to hang on for all but the last 3 miles of the ride. I was so happy that I could keep up with “the fast guys”; this was an accomplishment for me!

Josh & I biked to a food truck festival at Fort Mott. Typical us.

I attended grad school orientation where I got to meet some of my classmates and professors. It made me very excited to start the semester!

Josh & I went for an after work trail run and got stuck in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm. No worries, we took shelter at The Loufa Hut.

Sneakers & Spokes celebrated its 3rd anniversary!

I ordered a total of 10 textbooks for my 1st semester of grad school. TEN!

I was offered a position as a graduate assistant to offset tuition costs. Thank goodness for financial aid!

I volunteered Angela to be a guest on a podcast and somehow then got persuaded to be on the podcast myself. It was fun and I really enjoyed talking about running and cycling with Diz Runs Radio!

I raced my 2nd mountain bike race of the year. My bike wasn’t shifting right but I got to crew Josh’s first endurance race which was more fun than racing myself!

Josh & I spent a staycation weekend together. We went mountain biking, had a lovely night out in Chesapeake City, and went trail running/hiking at a state park we had never been to before – Susquehanna State Park! It was a great way to end the summer!

I still think that my dogs are the most adorable dogs in the world.

On September 5th, I started grad school. My parents were in Utah visiting Michael so Josh stayed over the night before and took my 1st day of school picture! We also took a selfie together before he left for work. I was officially “a first year”.

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1st day of grad school!

After a very long Twitter hiatus, I decided to tweet once per day until I graduate from grad school. Some days I forget though but I always make it up by combining two days into one tweet….

I participated in a local 9/11 run for the 2nd year in a row. I wore my purple Altra Escalantes and red, white, and blue socks – a colorful combo.

School took over my life and I spent less and less time running and riding and a lot more time sitting and studying.

The Flyers hired Gritty. I still have mixed feelings about him….

Josh & I attended Oktoberfest in Delaware for the 3rd year in a row. I am always the DD.

I became more and more grateful for the time that I did get to spend running or biking, even if it was only for 30 minutes every other day.

I raced Shred the Edge – my 3rd and final mountain bike race of 2018. I crashed really hard within the first 1.5 miles. I spent the next 11ish miles in pain and I came in last; however, I did have fun! It was a good day for the local mountain bike race!

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Shred the Edge

The next weekend, I raced my first ever cyclocross race. I finished as the 3rd female and had a lot of fun! I hope that I can do one or two cyclocross races in 2019!

I made two new friends while writing a 26-page group paper on obesity with them! We promised each other brunch for a job well done on our paper.

My car surpassed 300,000 miles.

My family celebrated my cousin’s marriage. There was good wine and good dancing!

My car got flooded out on my commute to school after I drove through a very deep puddle in a jug handle. Classic me. That was an extremely stressful morning but luckily my dad was able to fix it. I only got to class an hour and 15 minutes late…

I attended the AOTA Student Conclave conference in Atlantic City in November. I learned a lot about occupational therapy practice in a variety of settings and with a variety of populations. I really really enjoyed learning about travel therapy! I also got to reconnect with a classmate I attended undergrad with who is also in OT school in Delaware! We got to meet Amy Lamb, the AOTA president, and attend sessions together. The Student Conclave was an awesome experience and I am so grateful that I got to attend both days because I learned so much and fell more in love with the profession.

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Student Conclave

Josh & I attended a Flyers game and tailgated beforehand with good drinks and frisbee. The Flyers lost that game but we had a great date day nonetheless!

I analyzed a video of my dad clicking a computer mouse for far too many hours. That project was the worst!

I celebrated my 5th year of vegetarianism.

On Thanksgiving day, I bundled up in 5 layers and ran 6 miles. Then Josh and I went to dinner at Jess’s with his family and then had dessert at my house with my family. I played Bananagrams with my cousin.

Classes got very stressful, but by one project at a time, assignments were being crossed off the list.

I made more OT friends.

I twisted my ankle trail running at night. I was very unhappy and my ankle was very swollen.

My mom and I volunteered at a Flyers charity event for military families. We got to meet a lot of Flyers and we helped military families celebrate Christmas together!

I was given my Level I Fieldwork placement for the spring semester. I will be in a school-based setting.

I survived finals week without becoming too sleep-deprived. Study groups kept me sane and I made more friends in the process!

Part of my class celebrated the end of our first semester by having brunch (the promised brunch from the obesity paper group) at IHOP. It was nice to bond with classmates outside of the classroom and to celebrate surviving our first semester of grad school together!

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IHOP with friends

School ended and I felt free to run and bike whenever I desired! It has been the best feeling ever to run guilt-free!

Josh & I went on a Christmas light run together through his town.

I organized a Santa run through Sneakers & Spokes. It was a success because 58 people went running festively through Woodstown and everyone had a fun time!

I supported local businesses while shopping for Christmas gifts. 85% of my gifts came from local businesses which I am super proud of!

My family cut down our Christmas tree from the front yard.

I got a new bike for Christmas and I love it!

I got to reunite with friends from high school while they were back in NJ for Christmas.

Angela came back to NJ from Colorado so we got to run together!

I initiated a shoe recycling program for retired shoes as a fundraiser for the local mountain bike team. I’m excited about this because I feel guilty throwing my retired running shoes out. I’m glad that my collection of shoes can have a second home now.

I got to ride my new bike at Fair Hill with Josh!

Running Stats of 2018:

  • Total Miles: 1,064 miles
  • Highest monthly mileage: March (136.1 miles)
  • Five trail races – Brandywine 12k, Sasquatch 5k, Lums Pond 12k, Wetlands 10k, Big Elk Half-Marathon
  • One road race – Pitman 4 Miler
  • Shoes worn: Altra Escalantes, Altra Superiors
  • States I ran in (5 total) – New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Colorado, Utah

Biking Stats of 2018:

  • Total Miles: 1,257.9 miles
  • Highest monthly mountain bike mileage: August (76.3 miles)
  • Highest monthly road bike mileage: June (248.4 miles)
  • Highest monthly combined mileage: June (324.1 miles)
  • Highest weekly cycling mileage: 105.2 miles
  • Total Road Bike Miles: 832.7 miles
  • Total Mountain Bike Miles: 425.2 miles
  • Mountain bike races (3) – Fair Hill Classic, Big Elk, Shred the Edge
  • 1 cyclocross race – Salem County Witching Hour

2018 brought fewer running miles but more cycling miles. All these woman-powered miles make me excited for 2019’s miles. Running & cycling were not prioritized once grad school began, but I am determined to integrate running/cycling into my daily & weekly routine once my spring semester begins because these activities are important to me.

These statistics are merely numbers. These numbers were oftentimes accumulated side-by-side or stride-for-stride with others. For that, I am grateful. The running & cycling community I am a part of has grown immensely in 2018 and I hope that it continues to expand in 2019.

I am proud of my race performances this year and I hope that I can compete in both running and mountain bike (and cyclocross?) races in the upcoming new year. With my dependable Altras, my loyal Fuji Finest, and my new Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt I am motivated to put forth solid training and determined racing.

This year has been full of amazing experiences and fresh starts. I am grateful for all the opportunities that have been given to me this year which makes it somewhat difficult to put 2018 to rest.

However, I know that 2019 brings me one year closer to achieving my goal of becoming an OT. I know that 2019 will bring me stronger friendships. I know that 2019 will bring me adventures on my own two feet and while balanced on two wheels. I know that 2019 will be a year of great challenge yet great victories. I am excited to see what 2019 will bring and how I will become a stronger, more determined person.

I am thankful for all of what 2018 has given me. I am excited for what 2019 will become.

In good health….happy new year, everyone!

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Diz Runs Radio Podcast

Diz Runs Radio Podcast

I had the opportunity to be a guest on Denny Krahe’s Diz Run Radio podcast last week and I’m here to share my experience with you!  The podcast is available at www.dizruns.com/612

The podcast aired yesterday and I am thrilled with the final product!  I was nervous agreeing to the opportunity because I thought my life wasn’t interesting enough to be broadcasted on a podcast.  I procrastinated for a week or so before committing to a date and time to record the podcast.  Turns out, just like everyone always says, when it comes to conversations about running, you can talk for hours!

So there I was, mid-Thursday morning recording a podcast with Denny Krahe.  We talked about how I fell in love with trail running, cycling, the importance of progressive training, goal setting, and cross-training, and even my ambitions in occupational therapy!  Forty-five minutes flew by and before I knew it we were wrapping things up.

In retrospect, before the podcast aired, I was analyzing how much I thought I rambled or how my sentences seemed unstructured.  In reality, after listening to the podcast in its entirety, I’m proud of myself for trying something outside of my comfort zone.  I’m still definitely not the most interesting person in the world but, nevertheless, I enjoy sharing stories about running.

I am looking forward to doing another podcast in the future about running, cycling, goal setting, etc, because I feel like I have so much more to share!  We only graced the countless running experiences I’ve had.  Luckily, I have a blog where I can share stories whenever I feel like it.

If you or anyone you know loves to talk running and would like to share their stories, comment below!  I would love to continue to connect with the running community so we can all support and share our experiences!

For now, Diz Runs Radio Episode #612 is available for listening.  Check it out and let me know what you think!  I’m just proud of myself for doing something so outside of my comfort zone!

 

Vacation Part 1: Colorado

Vacation Part 1: Colorado

At the end of May, Josh & I embarked on our greatest adventure yet – a trip out west to Colorado and Utah!  We packed every day with as many vistas, breaths of fresh air, and places as possible and came home exhausted, sore, and full of wanderlust.  Colorado took our breath away – literally.  Like most adventures, I will blog about it to reminisce in the future about all the amazing places we visited.  Perhaps by doing so, it will keep the wanderlust at bay.  Honestly though, I think it will just remind us of how wonderful, beautiful, and “us” these mountain states are.  Without further ado….

Day 1 (Tuesday):

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3 AM at the airport

Our flight departed Philadelphia in the wee hours of the morning.  We were on our first plane to Chicago by 5 AM and after a short layover we would fly from Chicago to Denver.  Once in the air, somewhere above Pennsylvania, we were able to see the sun rising behind us and the moon still ahead of us.  This was an interesting sight and made the thought of a 5 AM flight a little less bothersome.

We landed in Chicago and tried to patiently wait for our second flight of the morning.  Shortly after boarding our flight along with 90% of our fellow passengers, the flight attendant announced there was a hydraulic leak in our plane and we all had to get off and wait for another plane.  Annoyed and frustrated, we shuffled off the plane and waited for an alternate plane to arrive.  Our flight left nearly an hour later than it should have and I felt shorted for time I was losing.  We occupied ourselves with in-flight episodes of Modern Family and rest.

We finally arrived in Denver, successfully navigated the chaos of the airport, hopped on a shuttle to the rental car company, and picked up our rental car.  Within less than an hour of landing, we were driving away from the city and towards the mountains.

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Frisco, CO

I persuaded Josh to stop in Frisco which was the first Colorado mountain town I had ever visited in Colorado back in March of 2017.  Surrounded by mountains we parked and walked to Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe on Frisco’s Main Street.  We were seated immediately and were excited about finally eating a real meal.  I was thoroughly impressed and satisfied by the veggie hummus wrap with a side of quinoa that I ordered and Josh enjoyed “The Frisco” – a turkey bacon sandwich.  With full stomachs, we planned our 1st vacation adventure – a hike up Mount Royal.

We drove less than a half mile to the trailhead, put on our hydration packs, asked a local which direction to link up to the trail, and we started hiking up… up, up, up.  The hike was 1.4 miles to the peak from where we parked.  The entire hike is uphill and we were quickly out of breath from the altitude difference.  We kept trudging along and a local trail runner passed us with ease.  As we approached the peak, the wind picked up.  We got to the top and the wind was brisk.  We admired our surroundings, wandered around the peak, took PLENTY of pictures, and then decided to descend.   The hike down was just as interesting as the hike up.  Loose stone required that each step be carefully planned.  We each slid a few times but arrived back to the trailhead without injury.  Our first Colorado hike was complete!

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windy hair on top of Mount Royal

Our next destination was Angela and Phil’s!  We continued our drive until we got to our stay for the next few days!  We were welcomed happily by our friends, went on a search party for a missing neighborhood dog, and ate nachos for dinner!  Our night ended shortly after dinner and showers.  Josh and I had been awake for nearly 22 hours and we knew we needed rest for the next day’s adventures!

Day 1 stats:  2.8 miles, 1,312 ft of elevation gain, max elevation was 10,465 ft

Day 2 (Wednesday): 

Thanks to the time difference between the east coast and the mountains, I woke up pretty early Wednesday morning.  Luckily when I realized it was still dark out, I was able to force myself back asleep.  Josh & I had a relaxing morning before heading out for a hike in New Castle.

We hiked up to the Mount Medaris trail system.  We passed cacti, lizards, and plenty of wild flowers.  We had a lovely view of the surrounding mountains, the entire town of New Castle, and the river down below.  It was calming to be atop such a small town.  Part of the trail was steep but we took our time and took plenty of pictures!

 

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coming down Mount Medaris

For lunch, we walked to Hogback Pizza.  It was a cozy pizza shop – perfect for a small mountain town!  Interestingly, even though the pizza was round, it was cut into squares.  The uncanny shape of our slices didn’t effect the taste in any way!  Our cheese pizza was absolutely delicious – pizza stop #1 of the trip got an A++.

Later in the day, we decided to drive to the Hanging Lake trailhead.  The hike up was enjoyable and we continued to ascend into land that reminded me of the Grand Canyon (although I have never actually been to the Grand Canyon…).  At the top, we scrambled up some rocks protected by a guardrail to our right.  The water was so pristine and blue and the waterfalls were peaceful.  There were a few other hikers at the top and a kind mom offered to take our picture (see below).

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After taking in Hanging Lake for awhile longer, we continued a short hike up to Spouting Rock.  We had no idea what Spouting Rock was, but it was quite a sight to see!  A waterfall was literally spouting out of the rock face.  For no reason visible to our eye, water was just spewing from the huge rock wall in front of us.  We walked behind the waterfall for fun and then continued on our way back down the trail.

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views from Hanging Lake Trail

After we returned from our hike, we went out to dinner with Phil & Angela.  They chauffeured us to BrewPub in Glenwood Springs.  The restaurant was huge and the staff was friendly.  I ordered a spinach salad with walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette and Josh enjoyed a burger and an oatmeal stout.  Both of us enjoyed every bite of our meals.  Another meal success!

We went to bed that night pretty worn out from hiking in the heat but we were excited for another day of adventures to come with the Dunn’s.

Day 2 stats:  5.8 miles, 1,922 ft of elevation gain, max elevation was 7,306 ft

Day 3 (Thursday): 

Thursday morning we woke up pretty early to get a jump start on the heat of the day.  Josh drove us all to Snowmass Village.  We parked and took a shuttle up to the Rim Trail trailhead.  This particular trail was absolutely breathtaking – both literally & figuratively.  The singletrack we ran on was so perfect and picturesque.  The ascents kicked my butt, but the views throughout the entire run were incredible.  We saw snowcapped mountains in the distance, a lake, and the village of Snowmass.

About half-way through the run, we approached another long ascent.  Feeling extremely short of breath, I opted to powerhike most of the 2nd climb.  Josh joined me as the mountain folk (Phil & Angela) charged ahead.  It was a long climb but the view up top was awesome AND we got to enjoy a wonderful downhill lasting at least 2 miles.

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Our Snowmass run totaled 8.1 miles with 1,077 feet of gain, averaging 11:40/mile.  Our max elevation was 9,178 feet above sea level – quite high for us east coasters.  This was probably my favorite adventure in Colorado and my favorite run of our entire trip.  I still can’t get over the beauty of the singletrack we ran on.

After leaving the beauty of Snowmass, we made a pitstop at Red Rock Diner in Carbondale for lunch.  I ordered a veggie quesadilla with guacamole and Josh had a BLT sandwich with fries.  We were both quite satisfied with our meals.  Luckily, our next hiking stop was a mere half mile from the diner so when we got done we made the quick drive to the Mushroom Rock trailhead.

The Mushroom Rock trail was copious with red dirt and great views of Mount Sopris in the distance.  I felt entranced by Mount Sopris – which was still snowcapped when we were visiting.

Hiking along the ridge was slightly frightening at times and we kept questioning if Mushroom Rock actually existed.  We made it to the top and Josh & Phil fearlessly made their way out to Mushroom Rock.  Angela & I hung back, afraid to make the commitment to venture out any further.  Eventually we mustered up enough courage to crawl out further (key word: “crawl”).  We all sat and took in the surrounding views before heading back down to the parking lot below.

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peak of Mushroom Rock trail with Mount Sopris in the background

After losing Mushroom Rock Trail halfway down the trail, we ended up on Blue Ribbon Trail.  Luckily, Blue Ribbon was further away from the ridge so I was slightly more comfortable hiking down.  We all made it back to the parking lot quite exhausted from so much activity in our day so far.

We arrived back into town covered in red dirt and sweat.  Angela left for a town gathering and Josh and I began planning for adventures in our next state – Utah.  We went to visit Angela and met her co-worker.  They convinced Josh to visit the Black Dog Saloon so we walked there and Josh ordered some brews.  Uniquely, there was money pinned to the ceiling.  I was intrigued & Josh continued to enjoy his brews.

Our third and final hike of the day was Prendergrast Hill Trail with Angela.  Adopted by New Castle Running Club, we enjoyed a peaceful sunset hike up to the peak.  Our legs were tired but more time spent outside in the mountains was time well spent for us.  We felt like we had been fully immersed into the mountain town and we loved it!

We enjoyed pasta prepared by Chef Angela and then went to bed shortly after – completely exhausted from such an adventurous day!

Day 3 stats:  12.1 miles, 2,013 ft of elevation gain, max elevation was 9,178ft

Day 4 (Friday): 

We departed early Friday morning for Moab.  We were sad to be leaving the Dunn’s (and their cats) but we knew we couldn’t stay forever.  However, we do indeed know that we will be returning as soon as possible!  We left the mountain town at 7:15 and began our drive to Moab, Utah.

As we were driving, Colorado transformed from lush green mountain landscapes to desert.  We stopped at the Target in Grand Junction for a sheet, a blanket, two pillows, gas, and donuts – all necessities for our adventures in Utah that will be described in a blog post titled “Vacation Part 2: Utah”.

Colorado was beautiful, memorable, adventurous, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, enchanting, and unforgettable.  Even weeks later we are both still dreaming of a day that we come back.  We are forever grateful for good friends willing to open their home up to us for a few days.  We feel more connected to the Colorado lifestyle after they shared stories of their experiences thus far.

In our 3-day stay in Colorado, we covered 20.7 miles on foot with a total elevation gain of 5,247 feet.  Our max elevation was in Frisco, Colorado at 10,465 feet above sea level.  Our days were packed with miles and long climbs and rewarded with spectacular views and cautious descents – all of which we are grateful for.

We know we only saw a minuscule amount of what Colorado has to do, see, and experience.  This gives us so many reasons to return to such a beautiful fragment of our country and we can’t wait to return.

Nevertheless, as we crossed the Colorado-Utah border we knew that more adventures awaited us.

Colorado Stats:

  • Running miles:  8 miles
  • Hiking miles:  12.7 miles
  • Elevation gain (combo of running & hiking): 5,448 feet
  • Max Elevation:  10,465′ above sea level (Frisco/Mount Royal)
Race Recap: Xterra Lums Pond 12k

Race Recap: Xterra Lums Pond 12k

This past Sunday I raced at Lums Pond State Park in Bear, DE for the first time ever.  I knew of some people that had ran and mountain biked at Lums Pond so I kind of knew what the terrain was going to be like ahead of time – flat, non-technical, but with a few scattered rooty sections.  None of these characteristics of the course played in my favor.  Truthfully, I have a better chance excelling on a hilly, technical, rocky course.  I wasn’t looking forward to this race at all and, honestly, I regretted even signing up for it.  I only signed up for it because it was part of a series of trail races and back in January/February I was desperate for some motivation to get myself out for runs.  So here I was on race morning, standing in a state park parking lot trying to find an inkling of trail serenity in a road-runner dominated field of runners (sorry, roadies).

Josh selflessly chauffeured me to Bear, DE so I was thankful to have him there to be my morning company.  I picked up my bib number and race swag and got back into Josh’s truck.

The morning was chilly but warmer than usual so I was trying to figure out what I wanted to race in.  I went for a warm-up with 3/4 length capris, an Altra sweatshirt, Sneakers & Spokes long sleeve, a base layer long sleeve, gloves, and my Team Altra buff.  I warmed up on the road for 10 minutes than discovered a trail that ended up being the last 1/4 mile of the race course.  By the end of a 15-minute warm-up, I decided I need to shed my base layer for the race.  I also decided I wanted to race in shorts and ditch the gloves.  Wardrobe malfunction!  My Sneakers & Spokes long sleeve was so long that it covered up my spandex shorts making it appear that I wasn’t wearing shorts.  DARNIT!  I tried pinning the bottom of the shirt up but it was a lost cause once the race started.

The race started on time and we ran across the parking lot towards the path.  We would be running one 6-7 mile clockwise loop around Lums Pond (literally, I giant pond).  I navigated around some racers and I could see 2 women in front of me.  I hoped to keep them in my sight, but that didn’t last long.

1.5 miles into the race I found myself pancaked on the ground.  My memory fails me, but I’m assuming I tripped on a root.  I had no chance to catch my fall.  One second I was running, the next second I was on the ground, and one second after that I was back to running.  The men behind me asked if I was ok.  I said bluntly, “yes, I’m fine”, as they sprinted around me.  Nothing hurt but I could see some blood on my thigh.  Not exactly how I wanted to run the next 5.5 miles of the race but oh well.

The course wasn’t exactly scenic.  There were a lot of little turns, some rooty sections, and very small “hills”.  The “hills” were basically speed bumps that slowed racers down a little but they took about 3 seconds to get up and 2 seconds to get down.  Not impressed.  I had lost complete sight of the women by this point, men were passing me left & right, but I just kept chugging along.  I was more focused on where I was putting my feet and less focused on catching anyone ahead of me.  My elbow started to sting but everything else felt fine.

I remember crossing a 200m mini bridge which was pretty cool.  I jumped over a few muddy spots to avoid soaking my Superiors.  We passed through a field.  Then we reached the part of the course I had ran earlier for my warm-up.  I knew I was almost done.  I heard Josh to the right and caught a brief glimpse of him with his phone out snapping pictures.  I crossed the finish line and they handed me a medal.

I looked down at my knees for the first time since I’d fallen and both were bloody.  My thigh looked like a bear scratched it up.  My elbow was still stinging.  I knew I needed to get my cuts cleaned up so I looped back to find Josh, told him I needed to clean my knees (which is actually when he even noticed my knees were scraped).  We walked over to the ambulance parked in the lot.  I asked them for some peroxide and they gave me saline water and a towel to clean myself up.  I sat haphazardly on the asphalt as I cleaned up.  They didn’t have any normal sized bandaids and I could tell that my right knee was still bleeding so the paramedic wrapped me up with gauze and medical wrap.  Josh told the paramedics, “she runs 50ks up mountains and doesn’t fall but here she is after a 12k…”.  Yes, the irony of it all.

31234945_2028515467407407_1324880377252151296_oI finished in 57:28 as the 3rd overall female and 25th overall out of 98.  The course was shorter than a 12k so technically it’s not a 12k PR.  I stayed for the awards ceremony and then left for the 2nd race of the day – spectating the NJ NICA race held in Alloway.  It was a busy but great Sunday.  I didn’t do a cool-down after the race because I spent my time with the paramedics, but I ran around the NICA course with Josh to cheer on the racers.

Would I race this again?  No.  The course wasn’t hilly or technical (despite the fact that I tripped on a root).  I thrive on challenging trail courses.  This was more so a cross country style race and those days of xc racing were over after college.  I don’t have the speed to keep up with those xc-type of racers.  I would rather go a little slower and be able to bomb some descents.  I still have a good story to tell as I take care of my knees.

Would I go to Lums Pond again?  Yes.  I would like to mountain bike there because I prefer non-technical trails for mountain biking (my mtb skills are lacking).  If I’m looking for a flat trail running loop and want to drive all the way there then I would run there again too.  But I’m not interested in racing there.  One and done!

Training for October’s Ultra

Training for October’s Ultra

Training for an ultra is not easy.  As a matter of fact, training for any race that you set a goal for (of any distance, short or long) is not easy.  Training requires discipline, resiliency, and mental determination.  Training can be extremely rewarding but it can also be exhausting.  Runner’s highs are just as common as mornings when you force yourself to stop hitting the snooze button on the alarm.  The physical training is just as tedious as the mental training.  Doubts, fears, and confidence levels are constantly fluctuating.  But if the goal is significant enough to you, you’ll find a way to overcome the obstacles you are bound to face.

This morning, the first of September, with a cool, crisp air that signals fall is coming soon, I was planning on doing hill repeats.  I had everything ready to drive over to Delaware and run up and down Rocky Run and Bicycle Trail for 7 miles.  But my body had different plans for me last night.  I was awake for at least two hours feeling sick to my stomach.  *(prepare for unnecessary details)* I threw up twice and just couldn’t seem to settle back in to a slumber.  I knew even before the sun started to rise that I wasn’t going to be able to get my workout in.  When the alarm went off early this morning, I just stayed in bed.  I still had a weird feeling in my stomach.  I was tired from being awake at 2 AM. My body was drained of fuel & liquids.  Those hills would have to wait for another day.

It would’ve been ideal weather for a morning out on the trails.  Disappointment still lingers in my head and mentally I know I need to get out and run those hills. Yet, I’ve learned through the years that listening to my body is imperative.  If I were to force myself through the workout, my body would’ve fought back.  I would be miserable.  I would be weak.  I would be hindering my goal rather than facilitating it.  So here I sit, writing a “confessional” about a workout I couldn’t do.

Training for October’s 50k has met its fair share of challenges in the last 7-8 weeks.  I’ve been overwhelmed with other life stressors – applying to grad school, applying to jobs, helping the family business, working with my clients, the list goes on.  I’m not upset that all these things have accumulated over the past few months.  Life happens.  I constantly preach to my clients and other runners that flexibility is essential when it comes to training.  You must be willing to be flexible with the training plan in order to achieve success.  Sometimes we cannot control what life throws at us.  However, we can control how we react to what life throws at us.  I try my best to react by “going with the flow”.  Be flexible with yourself.  Life is rarely a smooth ride but the destination is always worth a bumpy journey.

I have exactly one month and 8 days until my race.  The next month and 8 days will include new beginnings – happy beginnings – , new challenges, and new ambitions.  When I wrote up my training plan, I didn’t seem to schedule in life’s non-running plans.  Even though the schedule has been and will continue to be altered, the end goal has remained the same.  I want to finish this 50k.  I want to embrace its challenges and learn from whatever the course throws at me.  At the end of the training when I reach that finish line, I want to be a more humbled, grateful, and motivated person.  I want to proudly say “I ran my best and I am a better person because of it”.

 

My Running Hiatus

My Running Hiatus

The Hyner 25k was just over one month ago and ever since then my running has been off. My weekly mileage hasn’t exceeded 17 miles. Actually, it’s been a struggle for me to reach a total of 17 miles.  I took off my normal amount of time for post-race recovery and, instead of running, I started cycling more both on and off the trails to maintain some fitness.  The runs I did complete were typically 3-4 mile runs at a sluggishly slow pace. On my runs, my mind would often wander to a desire to stop running and just walk or find a bicycle to ride back to my house instead (both of which I never actually did).  As much as I wanted to take off from running and try to maintain my fitness through cross-training instead, I kept trying to go out and run in hopes that during one of these runs I would feel less sluggish. That feeling never came.  Despite the short distance of my runs, 3 miles started to feel like an eternity. I would get to my half-way turn-a-round point and think “I really have to go all the way back now??“. A few weeks before I’d completed 16 miles up and down mountains and now a 3 mile run on a flat trail became a challenge unlike Hyner View Challenge itself.  Maybe I was physically broken down from the 25k.  I know I felt unmotivated because I didn’t have anything to train; I didn’t have a race to look forward to.  I know I felt lonely on my runs because my running partners either weren’t able to run because of injury or had moved 2,000 miles away (you know who you are).  Maybe I was going through race withdrawal.  Actually…maybe I was going through mountain withdrawal.  Regardless of this list of retrospective excuses, I tried to get over these boundaries.  People told me to take more time off. I felt like I was indeed taking time off by running low and slow mileage but my body ultimately won the battle. I needed more time. I needed to stop running completely.  So this is my running hiatus.  I will probably run a few miles at tonight’s group run because I am obligated to as the shop owner’s daughter. I assure you that it won’t be fast and it won’t be strenuous in any capacity. I will ease back in to running as I prepare to start training for my fall ultra. I hope that I’ve given my body an appropriate amount of time to recoup itself. I hope that I return to running with some new found motivation. What ever the case may be, I now understand the importance of ample race recovery. Even though I didn’t run a marathon or ultra, my body was so strained by the race and the three months of training leading up to the race that it needed a break.   It needed a hiatus.
Race Recap: XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail 12k

Race Recap: XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail 12k

This past Sunday, I ran my first race of 2017.  I hadn’t specifically trained for this race, I just integrated it into my training for the Hyner 25k – my real focus of 2017.  Here is my race recap of a greatly organized, fun, and challenging trail race I recommend to all my trail running friends!

The alarm clock woke me up at 5:30 AM on Sunday morning.  The instant the alarm started beeping, I became mentally unprepared.  It was the morning of Daylight Savings so I had lost an hour of sleep despite going to bed relatively early the night before.  I was lying in bed, underneath a warm blanket, with my face smashed into a pillow wondering why anyone in the entire world would want to schedule a race for the morning of daylight savings.  I also wondered why anyone in the entire world would want to sign up for a race on the morning of daylight savings.  What was I thinking back in December when I had signed up for this?!?!  Nevertheless, I grumpily forced myself out of bed.

The morning’s temperature was a brisk 19 degrees when I woke up.  By 8 AM, at race start, it was predicted to be a much “warmer” 23 degrees.  This is also probably a factor that played in to the fact that I was completely mentally checked out of the race.  My brain was telling me to stay inside, to stay warm, and to go back to bed.  I was not in a mood to race on that morning.  I wanted sleep and warmth.

But instead, thanks to Josh, I got myself ready.  I had my normal toast with peanut butter and banana for breakfast.  I put on my insulated tights, a high pair of Smart Wool socks, two Under Armour long sleeves, my Sneakers and Spokes long sleeve jersey, my lobster gloves, two ear warmers, and of course, my Altra Lone Peaks.  That would be my race apparel.  I layered up with my Sneakers & Spokes sweatshirt and my ski jacket as well, which I would shed right before the start of the race.

We headed out the door by 6:35 AM.  We made it to the race start by a little after 7 AM.  I picked up my race number and swag bag.  We discussed with the brave volunteers (kudos to you all for willingly standing out there in 20 degree weather!) that Josh needed to transfer his bib to my dad due to an unforeseen injury.  They luckily made that process quite easy!  I was planning on doing a 2 mile warm-up but the freezing temperatures kept me warmly inside Josh’s Jeep instead during the minutes leading up to the race start.  I managed to get in 0.80 miles of a warm-up with my dad wearing my ski jacket.  I was just too cold to shed layers.

Most of the racers remained in their warm cars leading up to the race start.  I only saw a few racers attempting to get in a warm-up.  By 7:55 a lot of the racers began to meander towards the unofficial starting line.  We simply lined up at the top of the hill.  I inched toward the front of the crowd so I didn’t have to spend my energy trying to navigate through people.  We started the race a little after 8 AM since racers were still slowly meandering towards the start.  I just wanted to get running so that I could get warmer.  Josh and my mom stood to the side bundled up in their jackets.  I was grateful for them coming out to stand in the cold to watch us run down the hill and into the woods.  Trail races typically aren’t very spectator friendly.  The race director yelled “ready, set, go” while standing on top of a brick wall.  And before I really had time to process that the race was actually starting, we were all pounding down the hill and running towards the woods.

After the downhill, we made a left into a double-track trail.  I remember seeing one woman in front of me.  I hoped to keep her in my sights the whole time. The first mile was mostly downhill and flat so we all started out very fast.  I eventually caught up to the woman on one of the smaller, more gradual uphills.  I knew I had an advantage on these hills and I knew the hills that were coming up in the race.  Josh and I had done many nights of hill repeats on these hills.  I knew what to expect in the next 7 miles of the race. I passed the woman and I became the lead woman in the race.   I wondered how much longer it would be until another woman came up behind me.

We crossed the Brandywine Creek and started up a climb that Josh and I call “the unknown trail”.  I’ve done this hill many of times and it’s a tough one.  I had promised Josh that I would not walk or powerhike any of the hills during the race.  Not only was I racing for myself, I was also racing for him.  I tried my best to “speedily” get up the hill but my “speedy” on hills can sometimes be slower than a powerhike.  But nevertheless, I kept my running form the entire way up the hill.  A woman came up behind me (that didn’t take long) and asked to pass me on the left.  I willingly allowed her to.  We began our descent down “the unknown trail”.  Next, we would be ascending Rocky Run.

After about another half mile, we crossed a stream which lead us directly into the uphill of Rocky Run.  They had kindly strung a rope across the stream to make crossing easier, but I had stupid-ly crossed on the wrong side of the rope which then required me to step over the rope when I got to the other side of the stream.  Stupid me.  We then immediately began our ascent of Rocky Run.  I had run up this hill many of times before too so I knew exactly what kind of pain my legs and lungs would be feeling.  A lot of racers around me broke their running form and started power hiking but  I tried my best to keep powering up the hill.  When I finally got to the top, I took one big deep breath.  The trail would flatten out a little bit until we descended the other side of Rocky Run.

This is where Josh and my mom randomly appeared in the woods!  They were hiking towards me in attempt to see my ascend Rocky Run but I had beat them to it (I guess I was just running too fast for them to make it there in time!).  They cheered me on and Josh told me that Rocky Run was “just a little hill”.  Little was an understatement at that point.

Shortly after seeing them, we started the descent of Rocky Run.  I’ve been told by Josh that I am a strong downhill runner.  In that moment of time, I felt invincible going down that hill.  I passed a gentlemen that was being much more cautious than I was.  I was weaving from left to right on the trail in hopes of finding the best (and smoothest) line down the trail.  I was leaping from point to point.  I felt like I was flying!  I wasted no time going down Rocky Run and running that hill so many times in the past gave me a huge confidence boost during the race.

We crossed Brandywine Creek again and ran on singletrack for about another mile before being led to a fielded area.  On the singletrack, I tried my best to hold a faster-than-normal trail pace for me.  There were muddy spots on the trail and I tried my best to avoid getting my feet wet – my toes would’ve froze! – but I also didn’t slow down in the muddy parts; after all, I was in a race.

When we turned out of the singletrack and into the woods, we were instantly greeted by the sights of a very large hill.  I commented aloud, “oh my goodness”. The man behind me commented back but I don’t remember what he said exactly.  We ascended the hill.  The course leveled off, went downhill, then uphill again.  The last mile of the race became a gradual uphill that went on, and on, and on.  I had no idea where the finish line was or how much further I had to go – I refused to look at my watch the entire race.  I tried my best to just keep moving forward.  My body hurt and I felt exhausted.  We ascended one last final hill and were gifted a downhill to the finish.  I was so relieved!  I crossed the finish line as fast as I could and as strong as I could.  The clock read 1:06.  This, I was content with.

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When I finished, I was handed a medal but I was too cold and too sore to process it all.  I tried my best to walk past the pavilion so that I could find Josh and my parents.  Josh was holding my ski jacket (best boyfriend ever!) which I instantly put on.  My body hurt so bad.  They told me that they thought I might have finished as the 2nd female finisher – I agreed with them since I only remembered seeing the one woman pass me near the top of “the unknown trail”.  This made me happy!

After a brief talk with my parents and Josh, I told them I needed to go get on dry clothes so I wouldn’t freeze in my own sweat (sorry for the gross image of that happening).  I slowly walked towards Josh’s Jeep while clinging to his arm, hoping to steal some of his body heat.  I got in the Jeep and exchanged my race shirts for dry shirts and a sweatshirt.

We walked back the finish area hoping they might have the awards ceremony soon.  The race director eventually announced that due to the frigid temperatures their computer systems had basically froze so they weren’t able to host the awards ceremony without seeing the official results. I was bummed that I wouldn’t get to be announced as the 2nd place female finisher, but I also was content because I wanted to go get a hot shower and just lie in bed.  The race director announced that awards would be mailed instead.

When we got back to Josh’s I took a hot shower.  I had no appetite, my body ached, and I was still cold.  I turned down scrambled eggs that Josh had cooked as a 2nd breakfast.  I just wanted to take a nap.  So by 11 AM, I was laying in bed wrapped in a blanket.  I didn’t move a single muscle.  I eventually fell asleep for about 2 hours.  Josh continued with his day and did things around the house but I was so ache-y that I just needed to stay still.

Eventually I forced myself to eat a piece of toast and real food later on. Due to losing an hour of sleep, being freezing cold for 2-3 hours in the morning and racing a challenging course, my body felt broken.

It took me some time to recover that day, but I looked back on it and was very happy with my race. It was a great course – about 100 feet of gain per mile which is pretty challenging for a trail race in Delaware – with some great ascents and descents.  It’s exciting to see my name in the top 3 female finishers.  This is the first time I’ve ever seen that.  My average pace (8:53/mile) was the fastest I’ve ever averaged at a run through the trails of Brandywine.  All of these factors combined have boosted my confidence a little bit for Hyner in a little over a month.  I know I’m not the fastest trail runner, but I know my strengths and weaknesses on the trail.  I feel strong, I feel more confident, and I feel like I’m getting more and more prepared for all the trail races ahead of me.

Huge shoutout to the race director of such a great race and all the volunteers who stood out in the freezing temps on a Sunday morning.  Shoutout to my dad for placing 15th overall and 2nd in his age group.  Shoutout to my mom for supporting me and my dad always in our races – no matter the temperature. And lastly, shoutout to Josh:  for pushing me to do hill repeats to make me a stronger runner, for supporting me always despite my complaints, fears, and doubts, and for bringing my jacket to the finish of the race knowing that I would be shivering uncontrollably without it – thanks for being my best friend!

Onward and upward to Hyner!

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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?

 

I’m setting goals, not resolutions.

I’m setting goals, not resolutions.

As defined by trusty ‘ol Google, a resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something”.

On the other hand, a goal is defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or a desired result”.

We’re only four days into 2017 and I’ve heard the word “resolution” too many times.  Four days into 2017 and I’ve heard that people’s new year’s resolutions have already been put on the back burner.  I’ve never been someone who set a new year’s resolutions and I’ll tell you why now.  To me, resolutions are simply attempts to achieve a short or long term goal.  There seems to be no backboard for holding you to your resolutions.

I personally believe that goals have firmer foundations for achieved success compared to resolutions.  The definition above states it simply:  goals are ambitions, efforts, and a desire for results.  Goals provide you something to work towards, something to strive for, and something to hold you accountable for your actions.  Goals provide a deadline for your actions to be completed. Goals are continuous efforts that can be extended and grown upon.  Goals teach you to work hard for something you want to do.  Goals help you reach limits you never thought possible.  And once you reach one “limit”, a new limit can be set until you realize limits truly don’t exist.

So what are my goals for 2017?  I’ve set a goal to race the Hyner Trail Challenge 25k for the first time ever (I’m already registered in this sold-out race).  I’ve set a goal to thru-hike the Loyalsock Trail with Josh.  I’ve set a goal to race another ultramarathon in the fall (specific race is TBD, but most likely I’ll be registering for the Green Monster 50k once registration opens).

These three goals aren’t merely resolutions because I have ever intention of achieving these goals.  I won’t change my mind in a week and throw in the towel like most resolution-ers do.  These goals are set, published to the Internet, and have been shared with running partners.  Not only will I hold myself accountable to my goals but now I have my blog readers and my training partners to hold me accountable too.

Will you resolve to take action this year?  Or will you take action to achieve goals?  

The choice is yours.

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view along the Loyalsock Trail