Friday, August 17, 2012

How Did We Get Here?

August 17.
How did we get here? As you can see time has been flying, and I’m having a cringe-worthy moment looking at the date of my last post. The crazy thing is I’ve had tons of material; SO much has been happening it’s almost hard to decide what to recap first.  It’s hard to believe I’m recapping a majority of the summer (which I refuse to believe is because it’s almost over), but here it goes:
-News of the big engagement has kept everyone excited, and the next big to-do is the big day! The way the summer has progressed, June 8 will be here before we all know it.
-Working backwards a bit, my sister moved… TO HAWAII! While I’m totally jealous (naturally) and visions of coconuts dance in my head, it’s been an odd adjustment getting used to her being so far away. While she was just a hop, skip and a jump away in Baltimore before, we saw very little of one another until her last few months on the mainland. But to know she’s happy, bronzed, and finally reunited with her other half, takes the edge off missing her so much..
-Oh yeah, I’m employed! I started a new job where I’m lucky enough to feel increasingly comfortable each day. Some days are more stressful than others (is there anything that makes you feel MORE in the way than starting a new job?), but all and all a great environment that I totally lucked out scoring.
-My smiley, amazingly beautiful niece (she must get it from her godmother, ahem) turned 1! One year old! Seems like it was just yesterday she was an even littler nugget and I was imagining who she’d become..
-My boyfriend and I were a traveling duo up and down the northeast coast. Home a few times, to NYC to visit my one and only grad school bestie (she knows how to treat me: please see the alcoholic popsicle floating in a pool of champagne below), but my favorite, by far, was getting back to my childhood vacation spot in Connecticut, even if only for the weekend. And the best part, my boyfriend was able to join me this year!

What a summer, and so much left on the horizon! A trip to Texas to visit my college BFF with my other college BFF (San Antonio will never be the same), my brother and soon to be sister-in-law’s engagement party (a double treat as I’ll get to see my nieces and brother and sister-in-law as well), hopefully a half marathon in the fall, and much, much more.
But first, a much deserved vacation. In a few short hours I’ll be off to Wilmington, NC for a weekend of beach, booze, food, and lots of laughter. And the best part? This time, I’m ditching the 8 hour car ride; 90 minutes to paradise.
So, honestly, I don’t know how we got here. BUT I’m going to try to enjoy it before it passes.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Everyone Loves An Engagement!

What have I learned this week? Everyone loves an engagement. And of course, for good reason!

Before I get started, everyone cool your jets, this is not my engagement. Last week we got great news that my brother (and soon to be sister-in-law) are engaged! Its funny how such great news creates a certain euphoric state amongst everyone, not just the future Mr. and Mrs. Kind of like the indescribable baby high I felt when my nieces were born.

Growing up, trailing behind my brother by just two years, we shared a lot without even knowing it. He went off to college; I followed two years behind. He went off to grad school; I followed two years behind. He secured his first job; I trailed a year behind. As we both became older, and that baby gap began to close, we even shared friends, experiences, and dare I say, laughs. Without knowing it, he's paved "the way" for me in many ways, and to see him (and his fiance) so happy, so content, and so crazy about one another, makes me so excited to again follow the example he's set.....eventually!

And so with another wedding comes another welcome member of our constantly changing family, no longer defined by Mom, Dad, Andy, Katie, and Kevin. When all is said and done, my family won't just double in size, but as I've learned with the introduction of my nieces, and sister-in-law, its bound to triple, maybe quadruple in size by the time we're all accounted for.

So congratulation again to the happy couple, we feel very lucky to have you both!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Off The Wagon

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It's been....two three four weeks since my last real run...


With the exception of maybe 3 or 4 running-walking-running miles, I have been out of commission. And yes, it feels exactly how it sounds. Gross. 

How could it be? How did this all happen? Well kids, coming down from my post-half marathon high (I have to stop milking this, its been over a month already) I have seriously fallen off the exercise wagon. Hard.

Technically speaking, I would classify my last real run as my race. That's right, my May 6th race. What started out as a little post-race reward has turned into an out of control, spiral of lazy.

It started out harmless enough. Post-race I was feeling great. Not only had I finished my third half, but I had beat my personal best time when I was expecting to do much worse. School was over. I was temporarily unemployed on vacation. I could finally relax with nothing on my plate. Life was good. I had previously read that following a long race, it is customary to take a day off for each mile completed. 13.1 miles = Roughly two weeks. Typically, I had taken a little less than two weeks, but time moved quickly and before I knew it my two week "get out of jail free" card had expired. I gave myself a serious mental pep talk that the 13th day would be the day; the day to get off my ass start moving. Back to routine, enough of the lounging, eating, drinking, and sunning (well...temporarily, of course). 

But, conveniently, things kept getting in the way of my fitness dreams. The bad weather, the beautiful weather (ironically enough), evening cocktails with friends, reality TV, the usuals. Before I knew it, 6:00pm would roll around with no run completed for the day, and I'd be headed somewhere else, making it impossible (but not really) to get a workout in. 

As you can see, I am not short on excuses for this behavior. But not-so-deep-down I know that's just what they are; excuses. I feel tired, and gross, and so not my usual Victoria Secret self. I know that four, ok FIVE, weeks ago I completed a huge fete. That a few weeks of consistent exercise and I'll be back to 5-6 miles easy. But, the inner toddler in me keeps screaming I JUST DON'T WANNA!!!!

So today, the day I swear to be the last day off my exercise wagon, I am looking for a new challenge. Something to get me going. Spinning? Swimming? A new class? Join a gym? A 5K? A 10K? Something to get me moving and give me something to look forward to in the next few months. 

So as I sit, butt planted firmly on the couch, I welcome your suggestions openly...

...just don't wake me from my Kardashian-induced TV coma.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Welcome Surprises

Well, we did it! Graduation is finally behind me and it still doesn't feel totally real. My parents were in town to support me, and I was actually excited to walk and attend my graduation. Surprisingly, walking to receive my masters, in a way, felt like a bigger accomplishment than my undergraduate degree. I'm sure part of this was due to the fact that I was one of five students receiving my degree that day. 
The countdown to graduation had been never ending (can we say, Am I There Yet?). It was one thing after another, this due, that event, this deadline, blah, blah, blah. In the days leading up to graduation, I found that I was forgetting that while I would be staying in Philadelphia post-graduation, this would be the end of the road for some of my friends. While I was so excited for graduation, I wasn't ready to see them go. I was so focused on graduation that I forgot that this anticipated, oh-so-exciting event was also a marker for some of my friends'  dwindling days in Philadelphia before moving, starting jobs, beginning new chapters, and leaving me. 

This sad-yet-happy feeling really began to weigh heavily on me in the past few weeks and got me thinking about my expectations upon arriving in Philadelphia almost two years ago. I had left a great group of friends, both at college and at home, and expected that graduate school would be filled with acquaintances; school friends, part-time friends, as terrible as it sounds to say, non-substantial friends. I don't know if it was the expectation that more students would be working full time, or that graduate school would be more work than undergraduate, and in turn, less fun than undergraduate, but I was convinced that graduate school would be a "nice to meet ya, see ya later" type of environment. 

Two years later, I have to say this couldn't be further from the truth. Some of you will stay, and some of you will go, but many of you have become lifelong friends and will always be just a phone call away. We've navigated one another's stresses (personal and professional), lamented and worried about the same deadlines, projects, internships, and directions our lives were heading (personally and professionally, again). Our time together has been highlighted by an immeasurable amount of laughs, weekend trips, lazy days, wild nights, and calorie filled frozen yogurt, late night pizza, and taco night binges. These two years together have surpassed my wildest expectations, and I've created a whole new group of friends that I cannot imagine moving forward without. 

Who knows where the shuffle of our lives will take us in the next few months, let alone the next few years. But, my welcomes surprises, I know you'll all still be there. 

Until next time.. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Marathon Mania

And so, the marathon has come to an end. Figuratively and literally. 

This past weekend I was back in Pittsburgh (where it all began) to complete my second Pittsburgh Half Marathon, my third half to date. Per my usual self, I was nervous, but this time I was more "laid back nervous" (what does it say about you when you have varying degrees of neurosis)? This laid back nervousness consisted of being unsure of whether I was properly prepared, but too tired, lazycranky, short for time, to do anything about it. As finals and final projects wrapped up I couldn't decide where to focus my energy; graduating or crossing the finish line. As it turns out, it was a bit of a split effort. My training schedule took the biggest hit though, as failing there wouldn't result in lack of a degree.

So, the big day arrived Sunday and it was ready or not. My unspoken goal was to break 2 hours 10 minutes. At my last half I had shaved 7 minutes off my original time and hit 2:13, so I figured breaking 2:10 was the next logical goal for someone who was half heartedly training. To be honest, I was prepared to be disappointed and meet my November time of best. 

As my sister-in-law, boyfriend, and I woke at 5:00 a.m. I was as ready as I'd be. Obnoxious green shorts (to identify me in a sea of 25,000 runners), check. Bib, check. Sporty hat, check. Entering the city I felt the same rush and sense of excitement as before. It did something for my confidence, but I was still concerned.

As the gun went off, I wished my sister-in-law well as she darted ahead of me, and settled into 2+ hours of conversation...with myself. Around mile 3, the day grew hot and it seemed the water stations were moving further from one another. Turns out I had only prepared about 90 minutes of conversation between me, myself and I, and at mile 9 I hit a big wall. An, "I may actually have to walk this out" wall. But I carried on, scolding myself for getting myself into this yet again. As the miles hit the 10, 11, 12 marks the hills were steeper and more frequent. I knew the last mile was all downhill, and thank god, because it was the only thing getting me to that bright yellow mile marker. I imagine I looked hilarious moving at a pace which could only technically be classified as still "running." But at least I was moving.

As I hit mile 12, I checked my time and was still in line to finish close to my 2:10 goal if I hurried. Thank god I could see the finish line. My legs felt like jello, I don't even think my mouth was producing saliva at this point, but I went as fast as my legs (and Eminem) would carry me. 

To my surprise, I crossed the finish line with a final time of 2:10:17. Easy to be disappointed that I didn't break my goal, but still in shock that despite my worrying, and lack of training, I had still improved by 3 minutes from my November time. 

It was only after I was back at my brother's house, relaxing from my grueling day at 11:00 a.m., that I finally realized what I'd accomplished. For the first time in months I felt totally relaxed. I had not only surpassed my goal, despite my self doubt, but I realized that I had accomplished something not many people do. Not just with my personal goal that morning, but elsewhere. Not everyone runs a half marathon, or elects to continue their education. Not everyone can push through their training, whether it be 12 weeks, or 2 years, or the 6 years it took to get me where I am today. Not everyone can conquer a marathon, let alone what can feel like multiple marathons at once. 

I felt a sense of relief, and accomplishment, that in one week I had continued to test a major personal challenge (becoming a runner), and would walk across the stage to receive a masters degree, a major professional accomplishment. A tale of two marathons if you will; one literal and one figurative. 

Crossing the finish line on Sunday wasn't just about the running, it was about realizing I was a successful finisher. Not just on the course, but elsewhere. Other challenges will surely present themselves, but today I can breathe easy. The marathon is over. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dr. (Self) Diagnosis

It all started yesterday. In my scheduled dedicated  training for the impending half marathon (May 6, eek!), I started to notice that my body may not be the temple that I once imagined it was.

It started first, with my hamstring. Friday was a hectic day; I was on campus in the morning, home in the afternoon packing for my girls weekend in DC, and knew I had to get one more run in before leaving for 2 days of what I knew would become an eating and drinking binge (understatement of the year). My dehydrated self (who realized only after her awful run, that she had only ingested coffee and diet coke that day) felt like crap after my 10 6 4 miles and had to hop in the shower immediately to catch the bus and get moving. Meaning, I did not follow my own golden rule; I didn’t stretch! Some people can get away without a post-run stretch (I’m looking at you boyfriend), however, I do it religiously to avoid feeling all knotted up and tight the next day.  And what do you know. The next day, which included copious amounts of walking in my less than supportive $5 Old Navy flip flops, my hamstring was allllll sorts of messed up. Tight. Sore. Inflamed. I kept stretching and pulling and relaxing, to no avail. Immediately, I self diagnosed myself; I’ve torn, pulled, ruptured (insert scary word), my hammy. Bye bye half marathon. 

Upon returning home on Sunday I iced, I elevated, I rested, Ibuprofen-ed, made my boyfriend throw me a pity party. And by Tuesday, I was back to normal. Imagine…

Cut to Tuesday. I’d been entertaining as part of my internship, showing a reporter around the city all day. Art Museum. Walking tour. Here, there, everywhere.  I put on my best walking shoes and was ready to take on the day. About halfway through our trip my TOES were killing me. My shoes had plenty of room, were flat and comfortable; now what? The only way I can explain it, is my third and fourth toe felt like one was on top of the other. Have you ever not cut your toenail once, and the sharp edge dug into your other toe in too tight shoes? Kind of a sharp, sting? No? Anyone, anyone? Bueller? Well that was EXACTLY it. Except my perfectly manicured toes were the picture of perfection. No sharp outliers. Nothing. As the pain persisted through the day, I did something you should never do. I began Web MDing. By the time I arrived home, I walked through the door and told my boyfriend:

“I have bad news…I have Morton’s Neuroma..”

Yes folks, I’d Googled myself into a self diagnosis. Morton’s Neuroma. I then continued to spout off the following, to a rolling set of eyes, my voice inserting an “OMG this is so me” to every symptom I was experiencing:

(Ahem) "Patients with this problem frequently say they feel like they want to take off their shoes and rub their foot. This pain may occur in the middle of a run or at the end of a long run. If your shoes are quite tight or the neuroma is very large, the pain may be present even when walking."

While the pain is quite annoying, especially when one is trying to train for a long race, it got me thinking; was it Neuroma or just (my) neurosis?

There was the time I was convinced my shortness of breath was some sort of heart problem at age 23, my sore leg must be the result of a blood clot, and my previously explained overreaction that my slightly worn hamstring would in fact require amputation.

Only time, open toed shoes, and a few Google suggested remedies, will tell.  In the meantime, I’m open to suggestions about my Neuroma…or neurosis.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Will-ing and Won't-ing

I have been in a major slump. To think, I thought a whole month without a new post was bad (cue April 1), but when I realized I was approaching two months, I had to put an end to it.
These last two months have been wilder and crazier than even I imagined they could be. Remember my last post, where I vowed to become a morning runner, commit to my training schedule, and kick this half marathon’s ass in May? Well, much hasn’t changed.
I am, however, slowly gaining the confidence in myself that I knew was in there somewhere. When you go through the motions for so long, school, work, running, etc., it’s just one foot in front of the other. One step at a time. Left, right, left, right. But some days, you step out of line. You upset the ebb and flow of the routine that’s holding you together, and you panic. Everything becomes questionable. What happens if one foot just won’t move in front of the other? What if there really just aren’t enough hours in the day. To finish the work? To find a job? To cross the finish line? *Insert panic attack*
As illogical as it sounds (illogical, me?) there have been moments in the last 8 weeks where all of my fears, all of my insecurities, were very real. I was won’t-ing more than I was will-ing, experiencing a very real physical reaction to the weight of all my won’ts. Down and out, suffocated by my worrying, my stressing…my won’t-ing.
In the last week, however, I experienced something very uncommon for me; a moment of Zen. A confidence boost. An “everything will be ok” moment.  And I can’t put my finger on what exactly triggered it.
Maybe it was my weekend with my family. The carefree stress of seeing my beautiful nieces, my brothers and sister, and knowing I could have a beer at 4:30 p.m. and eat as many meatballs as I wanted, if even just for two days.   
Maybe it was relaxing with my best friends, who know me better than anyone, and who constantly prove to me that this hard work pays off.
Maybe it was finally listening to my boyfriend, who kept reminding me I was weeks from never having to do this again.
And as simple as it sounds, I began will-ing. I just realized that I will, because I never wouldn’t. I would never not finish.  
I will finish my work because I will graduate.
I will become employed because I will find a job.
I will finish the race because I will follow through.

And just like that, all the anxiety and stress has flat-lined. Turns out I just had to be willing to stop won’t-ing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Running Out of Time

I’ll admit it, I’ve been MIA. Big time! You probably read this title and think, “we get, it, we get it, you’re busy—more like, are we there yet?!”  (Is this really how you treat me when I’ve been gone so long? I expected more of all of you…). Deadlines, time crunches, and papers aside, I have a bigger problem than school/work/real life (pick one). I am running out of time. No, really! Or maybe I should say, I’m running out of running time.
Remember my running relationship? It’s the classic story of girl-meets-Nikes, conquers more than she can ever thought possible, and the two live happily ever after. I’ve completed two half marathons; running makes me feel strong, and healthy, and on top of the world (and slightly more confident come bikini season). All that “I am woman hear me roar” bull shit. That’s me! So naturally, fresh off my latest accomplishment in November, it seemed natural to sign myself up for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Back to where it all began, but this time, with my boyfriend, sister-in-law, and brother. Ahh, to be young, naïve and full of hope.
If my presence here is any indicator of how upside down my life has been this semester, you can imagine that my last two months have been fueled by buckets of coffee, a roller coaster of emotions, and many a 'breathe in a paper bag so I don’t pass out' moments.  I have a new appreciation for those who work full time, attend school, and manage to weigh less than 350 lbs. My “training” (I don’t even think you can call it that) has been dwindled down to a mere 3-4 days a week, 2 of which typically fall on Saturday and Sunday, so we all know how that goes.  I’ve tried many a morning to drag my butt out of bed just an hour early so I’m not left with the 5:45pm guilt of knowing that my muffin top is getting larger, and my goal time is dwindling towards just “completion.” But, guys, nothing will get me out of bed.  Coffee ready and brewing? Nope. Alarm clock on the other side of the bed? Get up, snooze. Have to get up to go to the bathroom anyways? Pee and its back to bed. I’m a lost cause and may never be that morning goddess who radiates sunshine at 6:00am during my 8 mile morning jog.
But, the reality is, I don’t have a choice. I’m running out of time. As my calendar displayed that scary number this morning ,“1”, I knew that I had been shoved stepped into a new month; I’m officially 9 weeks out. Getting back here is a first step of sorts; making time for the things that matter, the things that make you feel good, which writing here does. 
So here it goes, my 9 week resolution to GET MOVING!! Because, so help me God, if I’m passed by a pregnant woman or a woman with a baby stroller again, things are gonna get real.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Showing Up & Shutting Up

As December casually breezed into January, before we knew it, January drifted into February (evident by my last blog, posted around mid-January..where has the time gone!). While the passing days bring me closer and closer to a new chapter, a post-school (forever.. and I mean forever) chapter, I find myself 30% excited and 70% terrified for whats to come.

But its not what you're thinking. Its not due to the newness of it all, but rather, due to the growing list of shit things that need to be accomplished by May 10th.


1. Complete semester long project.
2. Complete and document (not to mention impress) while at semester long internship.
3. Ace Pass my last real class.
4. Complete yet another group project.
5. Network, network, network.
6. Apply for jobs.
7. Train for half marathon.
8. Remain sane.
9. Neglect none of the following: boyfriend, friends, family.
10. Learn to be more
11. Blog.
12. Complete half marathon.
13. Get a job.
14. Avoid becoming a total terror to be around.
15. Complete Operation: Washboard Abs.


16. Graduate.

These next 12 weeks are going to be, well, awful. But the light shines somewhere at the end of this tunnel, even though my eyes are straining to see it.

While some of these are more important to get checked off the list (please see #3, #13.....#15), and some more realistic than others (please see #8, #10, and #14 specifically), the only way to survive it is to show up and shut up.

So, I'm here--but I can't promise total compliance with that last one..

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why Are Smart Girls So Stupid?

I know what you're thinking, this could go a few ways. But, I have one smart-girl-gone-stupid habit in particular that's been irking me for the last few weeks. And the worst part? I'm one of the worst offenders..

I've recently come into the home stretch of my school year, and with that I've started a new internship. Being the perfectionist, Type A maniac, overachiever, someone who strives for success in anything I do, I am constantly afraid of failing. Of screwing up. Doing something wrong. Starting a new job, or internship (for those of you, like myself, still delaying your entry into the real world), is always stressful. Am I doing this right? How long is my grace period? Why didn't I know how to do this? Isn't anyone going to tell me where to find this? How many times is too many times to ask a question? And on, and on and on (note: for those of you more in touch with reality, please feel free to cut your string of questions in half for greater accuracy). 

Anyways, while I refuse to lump us all in one, I have a friend who can relate. Who goes through the same motions as me. So then I did this, and I totally screwed up. Or, so then I did this instead of this and she wrote me this email correcting me, and I think she's really disappointed..While we both comfort each other by telling the other that these are totally normal mistakes and we're both new at this, etc., it begs the obvious question: why can't we think these logical thoughts for ourselves? Why can't we see the logic that we present to one another? Why can't we think like the smart girls that we are? Why are we, as smart girls, so stupid sometimes?

What it comes down to is really a good thing; taking pride in the way we present ourselves in any situation, whether we have all the pieces of the puzzle or we're trying to work with the ones we have and expect, (unreasonably) to complete it just as perfectly. Its just not possible, and any smart girl would tell you so. 

I see this as a great challenge that lies ahead, unfortunately not just for me, but for smart girls everywhere. To condition ourselves to be the smart girls who don't focus solely on trying to do everything perfect, without any error or fault, the first time; but to be the smart girls who think smart, act smart, use logic and own the confidence that we've earned these last 18 years of working hard.  

So next time you think about beating yourself up over this, that, or something else no one will remember tomorrow, just think.. what would a smart girl do?

Friday, January 6, 2012

To 2012

There's no way around it. Everyone has resolutions. Even you, and you and you who say you don't, everyone has something they want to better, whether it be January 1st or June 1st. 

As the calender changed, and I traded in December 2011 for January 2012, I got thinking about my own. And while I know you're all thinking there couldn't possibly be anything I'd want to change about my life in 2012, I actually couldn't settle on just one. Mine reads more as a resolution list, and let me tell you 2012--you've got your work cut out for you:

*Get off my fat ass Get back on the wagon. My registration (and $85, ouch that hurts) is submitted for my second Pittsburgh Half Marathon, May 6th 2012, and I'm going to be ready. More ready than last year, and more ready than Philadelphia. In fact, I'll be breaking 2:08 this year.. 

*Neglect less. I have been a neglectful parent; blog parent that is. I look back at my posted history and see how excited, how full of ideas (or problems?) I was at this time last year, and ultimately how it slowly weened off as the months progressed. I'll be here, releasing my stress in a healthy way electronically. Sharing and (hopefully) being read on the other end. 

*Remember my stock pile of stuffed shells? 
While "procrastinate less" should have really made the cut on this list, lets face it, I'm a realist. Instead my stock pile will have more variety. I'm going to try a new recipe every week 2 weeks month .... the details are still being worked out. This week on the menu? Homemade chicken pot pie 

*Talk less, listen more (in my real live life that is).. 

*See my family more. With two beautiful nieces growing every day and a sister who may be moving half way across the country later this year, there's plenty to catch up on. Visit, call, Skype, whatever I can fit in. 
*Learn how to be a big kid. Finish school, find a job, become a productive member of society, pay my own cell phone bill for starters. Earn an actual paycheck. This falls at the bottom because while most important, it still scares the bejesus out of me.
Well 2012, there is it. Its crazy to think about what this last year brought. Hell, I can just look back here to see. But as each year is, 2012 will be uniquely different from last year and the year to follow. Between the goals I've laid out for myself and the curve balls I know unfortunately lie ahead, its going to be one interesting year.

So? Let's do this.