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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2017 in review

2017 in review

2017 is coming to a close and I’m sitting here trying to figure out how this year went by so fast, how I even survived this year to begin with, and how much I am looking forward to 2018.  2017 has been a year of many things: tumultuous changes, traveling, great trail racing, new ambitions, and faith in God’s plan.  There’s been a lot of good in 2017 and a lot of what-is-going-on bad.  2017 started off decent, went through a wild spiral from March until August, and finished….decent. I’ve cried a lot this year and I’ve been stressed a lot this year, but through it all I’ve grown a lot as a person this year.  Let’s review.

Josh & I started 2017 off with a run at Alapocas State Park.  It was a pleasant day and I remember seeing some people rock climbing.

I became a proud 2017 Altra Ambassador and I’ve done everything I can to promote the perfection of the zero drop and wide toe box that Altra’s offer.

It snowed a decent amount at the beginning of January so Gwin and I did a lot of off-leash snow running together.  She loves the snow and I love seeing her leap through the snow so excited!

We hosted a surprise 50th birthday party for my mom in January (her birthday is in April).  Family & friends brought over balloons that reminded her she was turning 50 soon.

I started training for the Hyner 25k on January 22nd.  I needed to do a lot of hill repeats to prepare so Josh and I did nighttime repeats at Brandywine (our go-to place for elevation).  One night in the beginning of February the weather gods gifted us with shorts weather which made hill repeats slightly more enjoyable.

My brother left for Air Force Basic Training (BMT) the day before Valentine’s Day.  We went out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory then we went to PetSmart so he could buy an I’m-leaving-you gift for Gwin.  He shipped out to San Antonio, Texas on February 14th.

I won a $25 gift certificate to Starbucks (note: I hate Starbucks) by reaching the most elevation logged on a treadmill within a 5 minute time period (note: I hate treadmills).

I began hating my job more and more.  I was working 4:45 AM shifts which was destroying my social life, causing me excessive anxiety & stress, and making me a miserable person.

On February 27th, Angela & I set out on a 3-day road trip from NJ to Colorado.  We vowed to run one mile in every state we drove through.  We ran 1 mile in my hometown in NJ.  We parked behind a McDonald’s and ran 1 mile in Milesburg, Pennsylvania along a farm road.  We stopped at a rest stop in Middleburg, Ohio and ran 1 mile around the rest stop.  We nearly missed our chance to run in Indiana so we made an impromptu stop at Indiana University Northwest.  In Marseilles, Illinois we parked at a gas station and ran 1 mile through a farmer’s field and on a road where people had strange address numbers.  We parked at a church and ran 1 mile on a dirt road in Earlham, Iowa.  Did you know that Iowa is known as the state with “fields of opportunities“?  We ran 1 mile at sunrise in North Platte, Nebraska before we left the La Quinta we stayed at.  My first ever Colorado run was in Frisco, Colorado which officially completed our goal of running at least one mile in every state we drove in.  Take a moment to watch my GoPro documentary of the entire road trip here!

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Frisco, CO – 9,097″

What did I learn from this roadtrip?  One: switching between 3 time zones within a three day time span is very confusing.  Two: the route from New Jersey to Colorado involves an EXCESSIVE amount of fields.  The landscape doesn’t change too much once you leave the mountainous part of Pennsylvania.  The mountains of Colorado were the best sight in the world after 2.5 days of fields (plus their natural beauty of course).  Three: our country is HUGE!  There’s so much to see, so much to explore, so much to experience!  Four: Colorado is BEAUTIFUL!  I loved Frisco, I loved passing through mountain towns, and I loved Angela’s hometown (even the sloppy mess of the Colorow Trail).

I loved Colorado so much that Colorado didn’t want me to leave.  I was about 15 minutes away from missing my flight from Denver to Philly thanks to a worrisome cop and Denver rush hour.  This was the first of several stressful travel experiences of 2017.  I sat on the plane facing the mountainous landscape (I was at a window seat).  I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to return to my stressful, crappy job.  I yearned to stay in the serenity of the mountains.  Ever since that plane took off, I’ve wanted to go back.  In 2018, I will.

I transitioned from the Altra Torins to the Altra Escalantes.  I felt like I was flying in my new purple Escalantes!

At the beginning of March, I started training my first at-home personal training client.

My first race of 2017 was the Xterra Brandywine 12k.  It was 23 degrees at the start of the race and I was feeling sick to my stomach.  I finished as the 2nd overall female.  Josh wrapped me in a blanket and I was walking around as if I was a brittle icicle.  It was so cold that their computers malfunctioned so they couldn’t give out awards.  They promised to mail us our awards.  I went home and slept for a few hours underneath blankets.  They mailed me my award a few weeks later.

I wrote a lot of snail mail to Angela, my brother at BMT, and other airmen who were also at BMT with him.

On the 1st day of spring, Josh & I got free water ice from Rita’s Water Ice.

Josh made me a homemade heart-shaped cookie cake on my birthday.  It was delicious!

I turned 23.  Yay.

I experienced some serious mountain withdrawal.

On April 5th, my family and I travelled to San Antonio, Texas for Michael’s BMT graduation.  It would be the first time we would get to see him since February 13th.  Our flight arrived late to Dallas so we missed our connecting flight.  Round two of 2017 travel stress began.  The airline offered us tickets on another flight but when the plane arrived, there was no pilot scheduled to fly the plane.  We were stuck in Dallas for a few hours at 11 PM.  After a 45 minute flight from Dallas to San Antonio (note: the flight was shorter than the time we spent waiting for a pilot to arrive…), we arrived to our destination city around 1 or 2 AM.  We struggled to figure out how to get our rental car because all the rental car companies were closed.  We finally arrived to our hotel just in time to get 3 hours of sleep.

On April 6th, I started the morning by eating a waffle shaped like Texas at 5 o’clock in the morning. By 6 AM, I stepped foot onto Lackland AFB (the 1st AFB I’ve ever been on).  We attended the Airman’s Run and Airman’s Coin Ceremony – both of which were probably the most “I’m proud to be an American” moments I’ve ever witnessed.  Michael got base liberty so we got to explore the base and see where he’s been living for 7.5 weeks.

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Lackland AFB

On April 7th,  Michael graduated from BMT.  We celebrated with town pass by visiting the Alamo, the Tower of the Americas, and attending a San Antonio Rampage AHL hockey game.  I can officially say I’ve been to a hockey game in Texas now.  I had pizza for dinner the 3rd night in a row.

On April 8th, I ran 3.5 miles in San Antonio with my dad.  The part of San Antonio we ran through was sketchy.  We also saw a few chihuahuas running along the road.  I cannot make these things up.  That day we went to USO to play games and eat lunch.  We also explored River Walk some more.  We went to Dave & Buster’s.  For food, if you’re ever in San Antonio, River Walk is THEE place to visit for food.  There is a lot of variety and authentic food for every desire!  I was determined to eat guacamole while I was in Texas and I finally got some at dinner!

We left to return to NJ on April 9th after our goodbyes.  Highways in Texas are confusing so we got lost driving to return our rental car.  We had a connecting flight home but we didn’t miss our connecting flight this time.  I returned home happy for my brother and determined to do something better with my future.  Seeing all the airmen dedicated to our country made me realize that I need to do something good for the world too.  I needed to do something good for me.

My job continued to cause me an immeasurable amount of stress, anxiety, and misery.  My boss wasn’t listening to my concerns and my stress was causing me sleep disturbances and problematic fatigue.  I yearned for change but felt stuck.

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the finish of Hyner 25k

After 3 months of hard training, Hyner 25k arrived.  Josh and I drove my brother’s truck to the mountains because we trusted the reliability of his truck.  We slept in a tent at the base of Humble Hill just like we did in 2016.  I finished the 25k in 3:54:16.  All race details can be found here.

After Hyner, I went through a running hiatus.  My legs were exhausted and my motivation to train was low.  I was feeling physically tired and mentally exhausted.

I started riding my bike more which took the pounding off of my legs while still maintaining my cardio.

I explored many new places with Jess (Josh’s twin) including Menantico Ponds and parts of the Pine Barrens.

I started mountain biking again.

I began trusting the advice of my closest friends and family members who did everything in their power to look out for my well-being when all I could see was a tunnel of misery.

So…..I decided I wanted to become an occupational therapist.

I officially resigned from my job.  Despite my worries about unemployment, my stress levels decreased significantly.  I was focused on my goals of applying for and eventually attending grad school to become an occupational therapist.  I was ready to leave behind what mental health effects that job caused me.  I was ready to set forth on my new ambitions.

I started training three new clients bringing my client count up to four!

I attended my first ever wine festival with Josh and tasted about 50+ different wines.

I started volunteer coaching at youth track again.  I also volunteered with NJ NICA at several NICA races as a course marshall.

My dogs became more and more adorable when they slept.

I became obsessed with watching the sunset along the river.

Josh & I built a garden.  I bought us soil and the guy gave us “special dirt” claiming it was the best dirt around.   We grew tomatoes, green bell peppers, long hots, jalapeños, and cucumbers.  Our summer salads were fresh and delicious!

I started my observation hours for grad school applications.  I observed 6-7 different OTs in multiple settings.  Each OT left a lasting impression on me and made me realize that my ambition to become an OT was the right choice for me.

I learned how to change a flat tire on a bicycle.

On June 11th, Josh & I completed our first ever mountain bike race (Ramsey’s Revenge) at Brandywine.  I did not finish last like I had anticipated.  This would be my first of three mountain bike races in 2017.

I completed my 2nd ever mountain bike race 6 days after Ramsey’s Revenge.  I got frustrated at a 65 year old man for causing me to fall.  I watched my mom complete her first ever mountain bike race.

Sneakers & Spokes hosted a vintage bike ride/throwback run to the local ice cream stand.  I wore my cross country shorts from 2012 and a sweatband.

I downloaded Strava and claimed some QOM’s.

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flying at the Pitman 4 Miler

I ran the Pitman 4 Miler.  I did not PR, but I wasn’t actually trying to PR.  I forget my time.  I remember that I enjoyed it because I didn’t go out too fast for the first mile.  I also wore my Altra Escalantes.

I missed Colorado and I missed Angela a lot.

On July 8th, I started training for my 3rd and final race of 2017 – Green Monster 50k.

Josh & I attended my friend’s wedding in Mifflinburg, PA.  This was 2017’s travel stress moment #3.  Let’s just say this… it was a really long drive to Mifflinburg.  We camped in our tent after the wedding.  The next day we stopped in Duncannon on our way home to hike on the AT.  It was refreshing to stand on a vista again.

I began helping out at Sneakers & Spokes more frequently.

Wanting less stack height, I made the transition from Altra Lone Peaks to Altra Superiors.  I began to love having more ground feel in the Superiors.  The Superiors are now my go-to trail running shoe.

Josh & I attended our first concert together – Philip Philips & The Goo Goo Dolls!  It was a perfect summer night with great music and good company (as always!)

About one week later, my mom & I went to a John Mayer concert.  We made it into the venue with minutes to spare before a huge summer storm rolled through.  I’ve lost count but I believe this was the 6th time I saw John Mayer.  He performed fantastically!

I completed my 3rd and final mountain bike race of 2017 at Fair Hills.  I didn’t come in last place but a lot of young kids passed me.  I have no shame and I’m proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone to even try mountain bike racing this year!

I attempted to train for my 50k with hiking poles.  This lasted about three long runs but eventually I opted to leave them behind so that I could fuel properly and depend on my legs for power.

I completed and submitted my grad school applications.  Application stress was over but now acceptance stress loomed over my head.

The country went crazy about the eclipse.  I wore homemade eclipse glasses that my dad made so I could also stare at the sun.

My family & Josh & I biked on the Michael Castle Trail on a lovely late-August day.  Then we ate at Grain H2O.  Yum!

I got a job as an assistant cross country coach at the community college I once ran for.  It’s weird how things came full circle.

I finalized a name & logo for my health coaching/running coach services.  I called it Better Strides Fitness and officially made the logo.  I created an Instagram, Facebook page, and Twitter for Better Strides Fitness too!

I was a participant in a 9/11 memorial run.   That was another patriotic moment of 2017.

I got stung by a bee on the back of my ankle during a long run with the women’s cross country team.  It itched for days!

Family visited us from California.  We talked about the Philadelphia Eagles a lot.  It was a pleasant morning.

I continued to crave returning to the mountains.

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Oktoberfest in Delaware

Josh & I attended Oktoberfest for the 2nd year in a row.

I worried a lot about getting accepted to grad school.

2017 travel stress moment #4:  driving to Wellsboro, PA for my 50k race.  Josh & I didn’t leave for Wellsboro until about 4:30 PM. It was a 5 hour drive to our campsite at Leonard Harrison State Park.  Once off the highway, we had to start driving on winding, pitch dark, mountainous roads.  It was terrifying, but we made it.

I sprinted down a mountain and ended up finishing Green Monster 50k in 7:58.  I achieved my goal of running under 8 hours.  I finished in the top 10 female finishers.  Three months of training were once again successful.  Check out the race recap here!

The night after my race we slept in our tent while a tropical storm passed over the mountain.  The next morning we stood at the top of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and took a picture in the rain.

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PA Grand Canyon

Josh & I dressed up as lumberjacks and won a Halloween costume contest.  This was our 1st costume contest we ever entered together.  We won a gift certificate to a local pizza shop.

I started working with two new health coaching clients – one of which is now 82 years old!  I realized how much I love helping others work towards their goals.  Helping others is my true passion in life and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

I got more and more excited about watching the Philadelphia Eagles games with Josh & I even learned the chant!  Fly, Eagles, Fly!

After districts in Rhode Island, the women’s cross country team won Regionals in Delaware.  I was a proud coach!

I got accepted to one of the grad schools I applied to.  A weight was lifted off my shoulders.  I am still waiting to hear back from two more schools (one of which is my first choice) but I am relieved and EXCITED knowing that I have the opportunity to begin my education to become an OT.

Gwin got bit by a dog on a 1.5 mile run we went on together.  This was an extremely stressful afternoon for me because I felt guilty she got bit.  We took her to the vet who assured us she would be ok.  Gwin wasn’t allowed to run with me for 1-2 weeks which made me sad.  I carry my pepper spray with me on every run we go on together now.

The cross country team traveled to Massachusetts for Nationals.  We played Cards Against Humanity for hours and came home with two new NJCAA All-Americans.  My first season as a cross country season had come to an end and I was proud of how the team had improved over the course of the season.  The season was nothing like I expected it to be but also everything that I knew I signed up to experience – the highs, the lows, and everything in between!

I got a new job working retail.  I HATE working retail but I needed a source of income to start saving up for grad school.  I remind myself daily that this job is temporary.  I remind myself daily that this is a necessary step in reaching my goal of becoming an OT.  Retail is not ideal.  Retail is not what I went to school for.  Retail is not somewhere I want to stay for longer than I need to.  This job is temporary aid in my ambition to achieve a bigger goal, a more meaningful future, & a lifelong career.

I celebrated my four year anniversary of vegetarianism.

I worked with Sparkly Soul at the Philadelphia Marathon Weekend expo.  It was a fun (and exhausting) two days but I came home with a Thanksgiving Sparkly Soul and Christmas Sparkly Soul so I was excited!

All of my clients ran PRs at their races and accomplished their goals.  I was once again a very proud coach!

I worked Thanksgiving night and I was very miserable.

My family hosted the annual Thanksgiving weekend nighttime trail run.

Josh & I built a snowman.  We had a perfect snow weekend that included homemade crockpot vegetarian chili, hot chocolate from the local coffee/donut shop, a snow run, a late night walk around town to look at Christmas lights, and a Christmas movie!

Two of my clients gifted Josh & I tickets to a Flyers game in club box seats.  I’ve never sat in club box seats before and I felt like I was being spoiled!  I had the biggest slice of pizza I’ve ever consumed in my life and the most expensive glass of overpriced wine.  Regardless, between the luxury of the club box and the Flyers winning the game, it was a perfect date night for Josh and I!

Angela came back to NJ!  We went for a 2 mile run to celebrate our reunion!  It was FANTASTIC!

On Christmas Eve, I went for a run with Gwin down our local trail.  I attached two bells to her collar so she sounded festive running down the trail.  I wore a Santa hat.  We would’ve easily won an award for being most festive on the trail if there had been a contest.

Holiday festivities were fun!  I was grateful, happy, and amazed of how much love there is in my life.

I began feeling excited for what 2018 has in store for me, for my family, and for my friends.  There’s a lot to look forward to!

Running Stats of 2017:

  • Total Miles:  1,505.0 miles
  • Highest monthly mileage: September (189.2 miles)
  • Three trail races – Brandywine 12k, Hyner 25k, Green Monster 50k
  • One road race – Pitman 4 Miler
  • Shoes worn:  Altra Torins, Altra Escalantes, Altra Lone Peaks, Altra Superiors
  • States I ran in (13 total) – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Rhode Island, Massachusetts

Biking Stats of 2017:

  • Total Miles:  1,103.4 miles
  • Highest monthly mileage: June (262 miles)
  • June, July, August – three consecutive months with 200+ miles
  • Total Road Bike Miles: 767.1 miles
  • Total Mountain Bike Miles:  336.3 miles
  • 3 races – Ramsey’s Revenge, The Challenger, Big Elk

After proofreading this blog post, I’ve come to realize that it lacks flow; however, this year hasn’t flowed smoothly either.  It’s been a challenging year for many reasons.  Both good and bad changes have tested me.  Running has tested me.  My body has felt exhilaration, exhaustion, and adrenaline throughout the year.  I’ve found enjoyment out of cycling and seeking new QOMs.  I’ve established a new goal for my future that will surely challenge me in new ways in 2018.

I’ve become a more resilient woman who learned how to stick up for herself.  I’ve become a more determined individual who is focused on goals for a better future.  I’ve become a more experienced trail runner who learned to push beyond comfort zones, to believe in herself, to race towards any finish line with a determined heart.

This 3700 word blog post doesn’t justify all the memories, experiences, and moments of the year but it does put it into words to reflect on in later years.

2017, it’s been a year.

2018, I’m ready.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…