Jack Kerouac 5k... again

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

You may remember that last year the first race I ran when returning from Dublin was the Jack Kerouac 5k in Lowell.  Since I now live about two minutes from the starting line, I figured that would be a perfect race to run to measure my progress over the past year.  I was running it alone this year and I was also nursing a sore IT band but I figure I'd be able to at least finish the race, even if I didn't beat my time from last year.

Well, not only did my IT band hold up, but I took 4.5 minutes off my time!  Last year I finished in 32:26, this year was 27:57.  4.5 minutes for a 5k is pretty awesome-- to me at least.  The best indicator for me was how I felt after the race.  Last year I really thought I was going to throw up.  I was light headed and did not feel great.  This year I felt almost nothing (other than my leg).  I grabbed some water and a big cookie, watched a few others finish the race, and then strolled back to my apartment.  No pain, no dizziness.  Really a world of difference.

Unfortunately, I have bad news about the B.A.A. Half that I am supposed to be running this weekend.  My IT band injury put me out of commission for the two peak weeks of training (I missed my 11,12, and 9 mile runs).  Now that my leg is starting to feel better (though it is still questionable) I'm suffering from an awesome cold and possible case of bronchitis.  In summary, there is just no way I can run this race this weekend.  If I had missed a few long runs maybe, if I had hurt my IT band but still managed to get the runs in maybe, if I had a cold but hadn't missed any runs maybe, but all three of those combined?  I think it would just be foolish of me to try.  On the bright side, I did raise $550 for Dana-Farber/ Jimmy Fund. As disappointed as I am that I won't get to run, I am very happy that I was able to raise something for the group.

Hiking to Kinsman Pond

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I tend to mark time in my life based on experiences.  I generally can only remember what age I was at a certain time because I remember what may have been going on around that time.  I only remember that I was 14 in 8th grade because that was the year of 9/11 (yes, people, my birthday is tomorrow!).  I turned 21 in Russia and I only remember this because I was able to legally drink for a while before my birthday actually happened.

One event that I know will be marker for the future is the hiking trip my cousins and I took this past weekend.  I'm sure I will remember that it was just before my 26th birthday (mainly because I was scrambling to renew my license and get signed up with my own insurance after being kick off my moms!).   This experience though is basically unlike any other I've had in the past.

My family has always camped.  We've "roughed it" compare to the many people around us in luxury style campers, but nothing could really prepare me for this hiking trip.  We were carrying everything we needed with us.  My pack was the lightest (probably around 20 lbs.) but my cousins' were 45 and 55, respectively. I don't have a final number, but I'd say Kenny's was close to 100.

Our plan was to hike two miles to Lonesome Lake in Franconia.  It was a crisp fall day and it was perfect for hiking.  It took a little over two hours to reach the lake, however upon our arrival we found out that the actual place to camp was a further two miles up the mountain, to Kinsman Pond.
There was a two and a three mile route and we decided to take the shorter path since we didn't want to cut our day light short.  I had Mac with me and he was an absolute champ.  He was in his element and I really think he loved it all.  There were certain areas where we were basically rock climbing (not so great for the dog.)  My cousin would climb up, I'd throw her the leash, and then she would pull while I pushed Mac up the rock face.  It got kind of scary at times but we did it.

Overall it took about 5 hours to get to the top and we were all exhausted.  It was also very cold so we quickly bundled up, spent some time taking in the view, cooked up some food on our little sternos, stored spare food in the bear box, and then got into our sleeping bags for warmth.

It was a rough night.  It took me a while to get used to the sleeping bag and I don't think I slept for more than 20 minutes but it was worth it.

The next morning we decided to take the longer route down.  Thankfully it was MUCH easier than the way up so I didn't have to worry about my dog dangling off any cliffs.

All in all it was about 10 hours of hiking... around 9 miles total.  I've been off the mountain for three days now and I am still sore all over.

Even with the stress, cold, pain, exhaustion... we all agreed that we couldn't wait to do it again next year!

What Are You?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm sure you've all seen these "You know you're an introvert when..." / "How an extrovert feels..." lists floating around.  When I read BuzzFeed's introvert list I started thinking, "yeah but isn't that really how everyone feels sometimes?"  Then I went and read their extrovert list and almost vomited from the anxiety of just reading it.

Ok, maybe we are different.  It's so hard for me to relate to the extroverted side and I'm wondering if they have as hard a time relating to the introverted side. Does BuzzFeed's list accurately reflect how you feel?  I mean don't you ever just want to not see people for an entire week?!

Also, the thought of "recharging" at a party or in a massive group of people just does not compute with me.

On the bright side I often feel like I am just boring or lazy but in reality I'm just doin' what I gotta do.

My friend Laura shared this Huffington Post piece.  Not that I don't trust BuzzFeed's depiction of people, but it was nice to see this backed up somewhere else.  It also provides a little more "you're not a loser, introvert" support.

The one that most jumped out at me was  #8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterward.

I don't love public speaking, but I also don't mind it.  One of the first things we had to do in my Masters program in Dublin was take a presentation workshop.  It seemed like a majority of people were severely uncomfortable doing it and more than one commented on how calm and collected I was.  A lot of them thought it was a special skill that I could smile through the whole presentation.  I didn't even know I was doing it.

I thought this meant that I was just the lamest extrovert ever but after reading that piece it makes sense.  I can give the speech but have me mingle or network after? Uh uh.

So, what are you?  I'm 100% and introvert but I'd love to hear from a few extroverts!

Wordless Wednesday

Camping, Camping, Camping

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I hate doing delayed posts but I'd rather write certain things down late rather than never.  A few weeks ago I went on two weekend-long camping trips that were almost polar opposites of each other.

First was a weekend with the friends.  We stayed at a friend's aunt's condo/camper.  This was really as far from camping as you can get while still calling it camping.  We slept in air conditioning, had a nice hot shower each night, cooked on a massive grill, watched some Game of Thrones, lounged at the beach, and rented paddles boats to go out on the lake.  While I would barely call this camping I cannot deny the convenience of not having to set up camp and all of the other little things that come with it.  It was such an easy way to get away for a weekend with out having to do a ton of work.

The weekend after was the complete opposite.  My cousins and I camped at Lost River Valley Campground and it was pretty much the quintessential "camping" experience.  We have all been camping with our families since birth, but this was our first "cousins" trip.  We set up camp along a beautiful babbling brook and were at the end of a road so it felt like we had the place to ourselves.  We cooked everything we ate in one cast iron skillet that we placed over the fire.  I didn't shower the entire weekend but could easily jump into the stream if I wanted to.

I'll never get over this view

Food storage for the weekend = my trunk
Two completely different experiences but both perfect in their own ways.  We had such a great time on our cousins trip that we've decided to attempt an overnight hiking / camping trip.  Something none of us have done!  Oh, and I'm bringing Mac.  Yes the dog the that is afraid of puddles is going to hike a mountain with me.  I actually think he's going to love it.  He already loves his new hiking pack.

25 in 25: Start A Garden

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I am glad that I wrote down "start" a garden and not keep a garden alive and thriving.  I did exactly what  said I was going to do and I started a garden.  Then I moved into a new apartment and essentially abandoned my little plants entirely.
Everything started out great.  I'm not sure where I got the seeds or the soil but I went though all of the effort of perfectly placing them, adding the right amount of water, and put them in an area where they would get just enough, but not too much light. 

Then I moved away and asked my family to take care of them.  I think they forgot.

This was after a month or so when I remembered to check in on them.  

Like I said, I'm glad this goal was to "start a garden" because I certainly did that.  I think my gardening days are over until I'm done with apartment living but at least I know I have a lot of room to grow!

25 in 25: Start a Skin Care Regime

Well I'm less than a month away from my 26th birthday and it's time I start wrapping up some of the more long running goals.

Starting a skin care regime was one of my more lame goals but it was something that unless I wrote it down I knew it was never going to happen.  I've been very lucky to have decent skin but I know I can't assume it will stay that way forever.  I'm not really worried about wrinkles and all of that, but I want to do what I can to keep my skin healthy before it's too late.

So what did I do?

Not much.

I made a point of buying some facial moisturizer that I tried to be good about putting on each night.  I've also become almost obsessive with sunblock this summer.  I've always been a big sunblock user but this year I made sure to buy a couple new bottles (I've had a horrific experience with an expired bottle that magnified the sun instead of protect me from it!).  Even with half a dozen applications in a day I still managed to get a few burns this season but generally much better than I've been in the past.

I've also been big on the aloe after the sun and I even stocked up on body creams from Bath and Body Works (but really that was just because they were on sale and I like to smell fruity.)

So, not a very exciting post but I think I can cross this off my list.  Now the hard part will be actually keeping up with it without that ever nagging knowledge that I'll have to blog about it!

Montreal Bachelorette Weekend

Monday, August 5, 2013

In just a couple weeks one of my best friends will be getting married.  Since she is the first in our group of friends to do so, she is kind of acting as the test subject for how all of these events will go.

For her bachelorette party we decided to take a long weekend in Montreal.  Other than my road trip to Alaska, I hadn't been to Canada since sophomore year of high school.  We left bright and early on a Friday and started the trek.  I actually enjoy long car rides as long as I'm not driving.  It took about six hours with a few pit stops and some traffic at the border and getting into the city.

We were staying at the Holiday Inn in what I believe was the Chinatown of Montreal.  There was a koi pond in the lobby so it was pretty legit.  At this point we were all starving but there were some troubles at check in which resulted in us grabbing Subway which was the first place we walked by once we were all settled in.

We had dinner at a pizzeria called Bivo.  We had delicious pizza and even more delicious wine.  From there we headed out in search of a karaoke place.  It took a while and a few taxi but eventually we found it.  Anyone who knows me will know that drunken crowds loudly singing is not my thing but I was proud of my ability to hang in there.

On our second morning in the city we ended up splitting up for breakfast.  A few wanted crepes and a few of us wanted anything that would stop the hunger so we stopped in a Starbucks-like shop for a sandwich and coffee.

From there we took a stroll through the McGill campus and then headed up a small mountain.  I of course can't think of the name of it, but it provided a great view of the city.  We wanted to check out a church that was a bit of a walk away, but it was essentially just a massive park between us so we continued to stroll.

The church was interested but a little more modern than I like my churches.  It did provide another nice view of the city though so I would recommend checking it out if your ever in the city.

Later that night, and only after some fun and games and drinking in the hotel room, we headed to Bonaparte for dinner.  This was one of those fancy places with multiple utensils and more than one course.  I had the most delicious food I have ever tasted there.  I would go back to Montreal just for the mushroom ravioli.

We had plans to go out that night, but when our waiter (at this very classy establishment) heard that we were there for a bachelorette party, he said that we HAD to go to what he describe as a place for "adult" fun.  Basically a male strip club.  No, not basically, definitely a male strip club.  We of course agreed that we HAD to go.  It was by far the best part of the trip.  Pretty much the entire weekend was planned down to the minute, and yet this one random spontaneous side trip was the highlight.

It ended up being a late night so the next morning was pretty relaxed until we all clambered back into our cars and made the long journey home.

Now bring on the wedding!

Beach Running

Monday, July 29, 2013

This morning it was cool and overcast.  Unfortunately it didn’t seem like it was going to be a great beach day, but it was the perfect day for a run.  Sunday is supposed to be my rest day, but since I’m still in the first week of my training, my long run was only 3 miles the day before.  I have to say this was one of the best runs I’ve had in a long time.  It should have been an easy run but the beautiful sea breeze motivated me to push myself a little more than usual.  I didn’t realize until I hit the turn around point that the first half of the run was gradually up hill.  There’s nothing better than making the second half of your run all down hill!  I finished the three miles in 29:59 minutes.  I know doing 10 minute miles isn’t exciting for most, but comparing that to the early days of my last training cycle where I was averaging around a 12 minute mile for the same distance, I couldn’t be more happy! 

I Have Forgotten How To Relax

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I’ve made it to the beach!  This is the first time since I started at my job last September that I’ve taken a full week off of work.  The forecast looks perfect and I couldn’t be more excited to be here.

I have, however, realized that I’ve almost completely forgotten how to relax.  As soon as I got unpacked I started thinking of all the things I should do.  Catch up on writing blog posts, catch up on the 500 blog posts I haven’t read, read my book, write my script, get down to the beach, eat all the junk food in the cottage.  Those are all great things that I’m looking forward to this week but what I’m forgetting to do is to do nothing at all.  I can take a nap if I want to.  I can watch whatever is on tv just because.  I can sit on the porch and smell the salt air.  

I’m sure tomorrow I’ll wake up and be as relaxed as ever but right now my mind is still racing as if it’s just a regular weekend. 

LoziLu Mud Run

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Let me start by saying, if this run comes to a town near you, go out and do it!  It is a women’s only mud/fun run.  Myself and my girlfriends all signed up as soon as we heard about the race.  We spent Friday night decorating t-shirts, eating spaghetti, and watching a few movies (Pitch Perfect and Magic Mike).  We were signed up for an early wave of the race so it was a fairly early night for all of us.

The check in process and bag check were a piece of cake.  We were all amazed at how much more calm and organized an all women’s event is compared to others.

After a quick group warm up we were off!  The race was a 5k, weaving through the fields of a farm and along the Merrimack River.  Some of the obstacles we hit were tires, wall climbing, several mud pits, and a massive blow up slide that (of course) ended in a pool of muddy water. 

I’m glad we chose to do an early wave because the sun was hot beating down on us.  Luckily we had the regular doses of muddy water to cool us off. 

At the finish there were dozen of hoses to clean off at the end and a changing room for us to get out of our mud soaked clothes. 

Overall it was a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it to everyone!

(I'm posting this from my phone right so check back later for when I add some amazing pictures!)

Up Next: B.A.A. Half Marathon

Friday, July 26, 2013

When I started thinking about my next half marathon I was torn between half a dozen different races.  Then I got an email from Dana-Farber and it seemed to make the decision for me.

The race is October 13, 2013 in Boston, MA.  I will be running for the Dana-Farber/Jimmy Fund team.  My goal is to raise $500 for the charity. (If you’re interested in donating, go here!)

Aside from the amazing work that this charity does, one of the best parts about running for the team is that we get a training plan designed by Jack Fultz who actually WON the 1976 Boston Marathon!  This training plan is a little more detailed than my previous one, but I think adding in cross training and more timed runs is important for me this time around.

I started the training plan on July 22 and it will run for 12 weeks. Knowing that it’s physically possibly for me to complete a half marathon, I’m excited to see how much I can push myself to improve my performance.  I still haven’t set that goal yet but I think I’ll come up with a number in the next week. 

Check back regularly if you want to follow my training!

10. Go Skydiving Again

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I just searched my blog for a recap of the first time I went skydiving but it looks like I never did one!  In summary: I loved it.  The moment my feet touched the ground I started thinking about when I would get to do it again.

When I saw a Groupon for the same skydiving place on Christmas morning last year I knew it was a sign and I quickly bought it for myself as a present.  None of my friends wanted to join but I was completely fine going alone.

Then my sister decided that for her birthday she wanted to go skydiving and lo and behold there was another Groupon the next day!

When my other sister found out we were both going she decided she wanted in, too. I was a little worried about this one.  At almost 23 years old she is still afraid to go into our basement alone because of the "nuns" that live down there... don't ask where the nuns came from... for some reason we convinced ourselves as kids that they were there.

After a couple of reschedules due to weather we finally got to jump on July 5th. It was about 95 degrees out but I figured, what better way to cool down than to hurtle yourself through the sky?

Other than the heat it really was the perfect day to do this.

After a short training/warning video we met our instructors, suited up, and squished into a plane that could make tighter turns than my own car.

I don't know if people believed me when I said this after the first time, but I really wasn't nervous.  Sure there's a pretty high risk of death, but it would probably be quick and painless. I think what it really is, is that my body doesn't understand that adrenaline often signifies fear and it just reads it as pure excitement instead.  I'm not going to argue with it.

Anyway, the climb up in the plane was long and hot and I literally had a man sitting on my lap, but the jump was exhilarating. We were jumping from 10,500 feet.  I forget how long we were in free fall for but once the parachute opened we glided around for a few minutes.  It was so clear out that day that we could look to the horizon and see Boston and then spin around to see the mountains of New Hampshire. I really can't think of anything to compare the feeling to but I think it is something everyone should experience at one point in their lives.

Get Busy Living

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How on earth has it been over a month since my last post!?  I'm sure most of you know the feeling of being too busy living life to document it.  This, of course, is great... but I keep a blog to remember all of the wonderful moments and memories of my life.  There has been so much going on lately but I still want to write it all down so you'll have to bear with me while I play catch up (and hopefully don't fall behind again!).

So stay tune for some of the following:
- My New Job
- My (Wonderful) New Apartment
- My New TV (is it bad to devote a post to a tv?)
- Jumping Out of A Plane (again)
- Camping With The Friends
- Camping With The Cousins
- A Bout of Shingles (apparently I'm a 65 year old unhealthy woman...)
- A 25 in 25 Update
- The Start of My Half Marathon Training
- The LoziLu Mud Run (which hasn't happened yet but by the time I get to that post it will have happened)

And because I don't have any good closing remarks... here is an adorable picture of my niece saying goodbye!

A Beautiful Weekend

Monday, June 10, 2013

This was a busy but beautiful weekend.

Saturday started with a leisurely walk with the pup followed by a graduation party for my cousin.  I always love getting a chance to catch up with family that I do not get to see too often.

Following that I joined my friends for a trip up to Newburyport to celebrate a few birthdays.  We had a great dinner and a few drinks at Oregano and then walked down to the water where we just enjoyed the scenery.  We finished off the evening with some dessert at Caffe di Sienna.

On Sunday morning I got to wake up to this beautiful face. I love when she sleeps over!

My mom and I went to some yard sales.  She was looking for a large frame and I had hopes of finding a trunk but I have no expectation of finding one... I definitely had no expectation of finding one for $20!  I also got this clock thrown in for free.  Overall, a GREAT success!

Later that afternoon myself and a friend went shopping where I found two adorable dresses and got my self a cookware set and a plate/bowl set for the apartment.

I'm exhausted today from going non stop all weekend but it really was a perfect weekend!

My New Office!

Friday, June 7, 2013

As of Monday I officially took over as the Training and Development Specialist at my company.  I'm sad to be leaving behind my old job but this new job comes with more responsibility, money, and most importantly... my own office!

Because my boss's last day wasn't until today I had to spend the first 5 days in my new position at my old desk which was pretty difficult since I need access to files that are in another office.

I was planning on waiting until Monday to move since I thought my boss would stay for most of the day, but he left around noon today though so we all quickly started shuffling around.

I have now gone from this:

To this:

Please excuse the clutter in my cube... I was in the process of packing for the move.

I lose my nice window but I gain a door.  It'll be an adjustment but a good one, I'm sure. ( I did not mean to make that rhyme!)

I just need to find decorations now.  I was thinking about getting my Master's Degree framed but I haven't really decided just yet.

Best part about moving today?  I don't have to worry about trying to get it all done on Monday and then jumping right into work!

One Year Runningversary!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's my one year runningversary! And, yes, that is totally a thing.  It was exactly one year ago today that I was sitting around my apartment in Dublin and said, "I want to become a runner."  I had been reading running blogs for a long time and was always amazed at how much some people loved running and I really disliked how much I disliked it.

So how am I doing one year out?  Well, I'm still running!  I trained pretty consistently during my time in Dublin and then came home, ran a 5K and then took some time off.  It was around then that I started a new job, got a puppy, etc. so I think taking time off running was just what I need.

After a few months of not running I realized that I wanted to get back into it.  This was really important for me because I realized that I actually missed running when I wasn't doing it!  As a self proclaimed running hater, this was a big deal.

Signing up for my first half marathon was a huge turning point for me.  I got a running buddy and mastered the art of running at a conversational pace and suddenly I was actually really looking forward to my long runs.

I went from never having run more than 3.5 miles to doing a half marathon in a matter of 10 weeks!

Since my half I've only run a few times and I'm realizing how valuable having a race to train for is (for me at least).  I think I've pick out my fall race and I'm already getting excited about hanging my training schedule up in my office. (I still haven't been able to take down my old one just yet).

So, one year in and I'm doing great!  I still don't know if I can call myself a "runner" just yet but I'm enjoying whatever it is I am.
A picture from Day 2 of my running challenge a year ago