The Best Of Times…The Worst Of Times

As I have said many a times this year, 2011 has been very good to me.  I am very blessed and lucky.  But, unfortunately, things are not so good for people around me that I care about.

Let’s talk about all the good stuff first 🙂 

  • Florida-I DID just spend a long weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida 🙂  Seriously…most relaxing trip ever.  After we made it to the plane that is!  How’s this for excitement:  we leave Victoria’s house right on time and we are making great progress until we hit accident traffic that has all lanes shut down.  That’s right, completely stopped.  Once they had the accident moved to the side of the road we eventually got by but it delayed us about an hour.  At the point in which we got through the traffic we had about an hour to get to the airport and our flight was leaving in about an hour and fifteen!  To say we were crazed is an understatement especially when we hit some construction traffic.  Every minute that ticked by, we kept thinking we were done for; as if things couldn’t get worse, my GPS could not read the construction and took us down the wrong exit!  What a mess!  We arrived to the airport parking at 6:05.  Our flight was at 6:20.  We missed the shuttle.  Of course.  6:06…6:07…6:08…FREAKING OUT!  Finally the shuttle came and let me tell you…thank God we are runners- as soon as we got off the shuttle we booked it to security, which thank goodness did not have a long line and the people in line let us go before them.  Once we were through there it was another sprint to the gate.  We made it just as they started boarding.  Whew!  Our flight was completely uneventful, we landed and spent the rest of the vacation eating, drinking, beaching, running and sleeping.  And repeating as necessary 🙂  It was the perfect get-a-way; I am tan, got my fill of Vitamin D and ready to detox and get ready to train for 2011!
  • Training– the official training schedule is underway!  I know I said I was going with a no-plan-plan, but seriously…this is me.  I am WAY too anal to simply fly by the seat of pants when it comes to training.  So yes, I have a schedule.  However, I have also made it fairly flexible so I don’t feel stressed out if I cannot accomplish everything in one day.  The schedule works out perfectly; just about the time my tri season is ended, marathon training picks up.  I am really excited about this year and focusing so much on running!
  • R2– Yeah, so you might have caught it when I very super briefly mentioned I was dating someone.  Well, we are official 🙂  And in this blog, he will be refered to as R2.  He is an incredible guy and we have so much fun.  I look forward to seeing what is in store for us.
  • Boston 5k– I got in 🙂
  • What’s ahead- In two weeks from tomorrow, I will be heading down to VA Beach for the Shamrock 8K with my friend Nicole.  It’s just for the weekend but I am very excited.  I love road trips and appreciate any time I get away.  Then it is Boston time 🙂  Before we know it, Spring will be here and then Summer and the beach and all kinds of happiness!

And the not so good:

  • Today my roommate is putting her dog down.  She has had him for nine years.  To say that they are close is an understatement.  That dog is my roommates everything.  And not only am I so sad for her, but I am sad for me too.  I have some to love Bru so much.  I had a little sit-down chat with him last night to say my good-byes and I was a mess.  I was really hesitant to move in with Michelle because I didn’t think I would want to deal with a dog, but Bru is such a great guy.  I will miss our walks, playing and running around with him and most of all…I will miss him greeting me at the door. 
  • Tuesday night, the cuts from Chris Christie came down on our school.  If you politically affiliate with Christie, or worse voted for him, please do not leave me your comments here about that support.  Our school took away two jobs entirely and cut eleven people down to part-time with no benefits.  No benefits.  What a slap in the face!  And while it wasn’t me, and I am so thankful for that, it will be me next.  I’ll be next with no benefits.  And really, why would I stay at a job I hate so much, if I cannot even get the benefits.  Honestly, this is just their way of pushing people out without cutting.  But what is important to remember is that this is not a problem in just this town (although, if this blog wasn’t public I would have a lot more to say) it is a problem with NJ and NJ Education.  And Chris Christie.
  • One of my friends who was cut completely, is battling cancer. That’s right.  Cancer. With no benefits as of July 1.  Another friend who was cut to part-time with no benefits, currently has twin babies in ICU.  Both of these people and their families could really use as many good vibes, thoughts and prayers as they could get.  So if you have some extra time, send em along.

Last year was a really bad year for me.  Sure, it had is highs, but there were many more lows.  During that time, many people sent their good wishes to me and supported me.  I know how very lucky and blessed I am to have so much good in my life right now.  And I just want those around me to have the same good. 

As for reading all your blogs…I’m working on getting caught up! 

A Tale Of Two Runs & Off To The Sunshine State!

Tuesday Afternoon Run

  • Tuesday, when I was off for my snow day, I hit the gym for a run and some lifting. 
  • Short run; just a few miles.
  • Didn’t really want to run. Just wasn’t in the mood.
  • Did it anyway.
  • Everything was perfect (especially considering I was on the dreadmill) and I felt great!
  • When the run was done, I was sad.  I wanted to keep going.
  • Damn 10% rule!

Thursday Morning Run

  • Long run planned.  I should say “long” run since my mileage is generally still low.
  • Was excited and ready to go!
  • My legs were dead and barely moved.  I felt like I had lead weights around my ankles.
  • Everything hurt.
  • The excitement of the run was gone and I just wanted to be done.
  • I was sad, and wanted to stop.
  • Did it anyway.

Why is it that we can have such a great run one day and such a terrible run the next time out?  I mean, no run is ever terrible…I always feel good after getting my miles in, but some runs are a serious pain in the ass.  And it seems to me that a not-so-good run always follows an awesome run.  Frustrating!  

I think the lesson in the good/bad run, is that I get through them.  Even when we have bad runs, it is so important to get through them.  Especially since the mental game is definitely the hardest.  In fact, I tend to think of the mental aspect of triathlon as the fourth discipline.  We can swim, bike and run all we want…as fast as we want…as long as we want.  Unless we get beat mentally.  How do you overcome being mentally beaten?

________________________________________________________________

And for the best thing in my life right now:  I leave for Florida in a matter of hours.  My excitement is through the roof- not even sure how I am going to make it through my half-day at work!  It is rainy and gross in NJ right now and the perfect day to take a trip to the Sunshine state 🙂  I cannot wait to take a run down A1A!

I will be blogging here and there- some photos and I’ll post the MBE, but for the most part I will be too busy in the sun and sand with a drink in my hand. 🙂

Note: Skiing Uses Different Muscles Than Running

(FYI- MBE will be back next week 🙂 )

Seriously kids, skiing is intense!  I am more sore than after any race I have ever run!

This past weekend my teammates and I headed up to Elk Mountain in Pa for a weekend of skiing and some seriously needed relaxation and fun.  I had to work Friday night but was up and at em super early Saturday for the drive up.  There were six of us in two cars headed up to meet the gang.  Some of them were already there from Friday night and others would be on their way Saturday night.  In total we had about 40 people through the weekend.  And the trip wouldn’t have been the same without them!

We arrived in Elk around 9am.  It has been years since I skiied and the same was for two of my friends.  Additionally, my friend Lisa was going to attempt snowboarding.  Given that, we all decided on the beginner lift ticket which also came with a lesson.  I thought I would be bored  but I am glad I did it- I forgot a few things and it was a nice refresher. 

We skiied all day- afterwards, we had an awesome Italian dinner made by a few of our teammates.  And then the night got crazy!  We partied like we were in college- starting at 6pm and went all night.  We played poker, beer pong and spent some time in the hot tub.  It was an absolute blast and I am so glad that I went even if I was exhausted by the trips end! 

Photos of course 🙂

 Ready!

Snow Bunny

On the slopes with my girls ❤

Monday morning I woke up sore, sore, sore!  I had worked Sunday night which probably didn’t help but working Monday night actually did make my legs feel better.  Today I woke up not as sore and headed to the gym bright and early.  So far I have been doing really well getting to the gym two mornings a week- I really hope I can keep it up.  For right now, I am just working on cardio and strength until my actualy training schedule begins.  I like the ease of it and it reaffirms my decision to wait until later in the Spring to race my first half. 

Hope everyone is having a fabulous week!  I hate the winter but January has been super fun so far!

 

On Being Spontaneous

One of my goals for 2011 was to take opporunities as they come; if I can make something happen, I want to make the effort to see that it happens.  I want to be less of a planner and more of a “lets do it” in 2011.  Basically, I just want to really live life this year!

So far things are working out quite nicely.  On Wednesday evening, I was talking to my friend Victoria and she mentioned how bad she needed a vacation.  Coincidentally, I have two vacation days to use and could also use a vacation. 

In less than 24 hours we had a trip planned 🙂 In five weeks from today, we will be flying down for a long weekend in Fort Lauderdale.  Ahhhh….life is good!

Life’s a beach, I’m just playin in the sand!

2011 Race Schedule

Just because I have decided to take the pressure off when it comes to training and keep my goals more personal, doesn’t mean I don’t have a race schedule planned.  And here it is!

Shamrock 8K; Virginia Beach, VA- My first race of 2011.  My friend Nicole and I planned to do the half-marathon but did not sign up in time unfortunately.  Since we had already found a placed to stay, taken the time off work and planned the trip we decided to at least do the 8k and then just spectate the half and full.  I really wanted to run this race since I had to bag it last year after my injury, but I guess it is just not meant to be for me.  At the very least, I will enjoy 4 days in VA Beach 🙂 

B.A.A Boston 5k; Boston, MA- This is obviously assuming I get in on the day registration opens.  I know it is going to be a crapshoot since 27402378 are trying to sign up but hopefully I will get in.  Either way, I will still be in Boston for the marathon and I am way ridiculously beyond excited to reconnect with and meet new bloggers 🙂  It is going to be a super fabulous weekend.

Frederick 1/2 Marathon; Frederick, MD- I actually just decided on this the last week.  I wanted a May 1/2 marathon and this one fits best into my schedule.  Plus, since I deferred Baltimore to this year, I will get the Double Medal 🙂

Black Bear Olympic Relay; Poconos, PA- Despite the freezing cold, rain and getting sick in the water, I loved this race.  I was the swimmer last year with my friends Kurt and Brian and I am the swimmer this year with my friends Shauna and Lisa.  Hopefully we get better weather and I can get some revenge on that swim course!

Boilermaker 15K; Utica, NY- This race takes place the day after my 30th birthday so a few of my friends and I are heading up to race and party it up!  We are spending the weekend, including my actual birthday there and then running is specially made shirts!  Other than Boston, I am most excited for this race.

NJ State Sprint; Mercer, NJ- This is my “A” race for 2011…this is my favorite course by far and as anyone who reads my blog knows, run by my favorite RD’s, CGI.  I am not even kidding…this race is great!  Even in 100 degree weather last year it was enjoyable.  If you are looking for a mid-July tri, I cannot recommend anything more than this race!

Belmar Sprint; Belmar, NJ- This race is pretty simple but still one of my favorites.  I love the ocean swim, the simplicity of the looped bike course and the run along the beach.  This will be my third consecutive year racing this course and I look forward to getting even better this year than last year.

Timberman Sprint; Lake Winnipesaukee, NH- This is the only race on this schedule that I am still back and forth on; the entry fee is ridiculous and hard to justify but a lot of my teammates will be there and it will make for a fun weekend.  Plus…Chrissie Wellington.  Yeah, her.

Wildwood 1/2 Marathon- Wildwood, NJ- This is the newest 1/2 marathon in the CGI half-marathon series and I am very excited about this race.  Not only does it take place the same time I am on vacation in Wildwood, but so many of my teammates are racing this and with the entry fee you get a ticket into Morey’s Pier and water park.  So after the race we will be hanging out on the boardwalk and beach AND then back at my place to hang out.  It will be a most excellent way to end summer!

Baltimore 1/2 Marathon- Baltimore, MD- I deferred this race last year to this year and as much as I loved this race in 2009, Baltimore does not make it easy to stay overnight there.  The hotels in the area do not accommodate even though they are “race supporting” hotels.  I found it all to be very frustrating and if I run into issues again this year, I probably won’t bother with the race anymore.  Which would be a shame since I really do like it and they give out the coolest medals!

Philadelphia Marathon- Philadelphia, NJ- Yup. Giving it another go. I am unsure if I will ever attempt a second, so the first has to be Philly.  The half distance has my little racing heart and I cannot think of any other full that I would want to be my first.

I put a lot less on my plate this year than last but as you can see, I am also going to give the marathon another try.  My first attempt was a bust but I feel like this year could be my year.  Especially because I have full intentions of going into every race the way I did the Philly half this year.  And of course, at the end of the day, all I want to do is finish.

I am sure there will be some 5k’s and 10k’s dispersed in there but for the most part, I want to keep it more simple for 2011.  I am still toying with Steelman again if I can get a relay together but I don’t think I’ll be adding in any more big races.  I am excited for all the traveling I get to do with my racing this year and picked my races bases in large part based on that.  I figure, I got nothing holding me back right now…midas well get all the traveling I can get it while I can.

Will I be seeing any of you at any of the above races???

Sweetest Place On Earth

Yesterday, my mom and I spent the day in Hershey Park.  You know what is fun…not going to work and instead spending the day at Chocolate World. 🙂

Every year my mom and I take a hooky day from work and spend the day shopping. Some years we just do the malls, some years we went to Atlantic City; this year we had planned to go up to the Hershey Outlets.  I say had, because it wasn’t long before we decided to ditch the shopping idea and spend the day at Chocolate World instead!

We headed down as soon as I got home from work on Monday night.  The drive was harrowing to say the least!!!  Look, I am from South Jersey…hills don’t exactly exist here and winding roads aren’t all that popular either.  Oh, and here, we light our roads.  So yeah, I was more than happy when we finally made it to the hotel!

So we get to the hotel and as we walk in, I see this display and notice it has my mom’s name on it!  Turns out, my mom was Guest Of The Day 🙂  We got our room upgraded to a suite!  And because my mom and I are total dorks, we totally took pictures!

Once we were settled in, we headed out to get some dinner; we were both totally starving and on a recommendation we went to the Chocolate Pantry.  This place was super cute and the food was delicious!!!  Our eyes were WAY bigger than our stomachs and we ended up with an appetizer of crab fries, side salads and our meals.  Our amazing meals- italian chicken and pasta for me and crab cakes for my mom.  (We later left these meals in the fridge at the hotel 😦 )  We really enjoyed our dinner and the place; I would highly recommend it!

From dinner it was back to the hotel and bed in preparation for a fun day at Chocolate World.  Let me just say, that from the time we stepped foot in that place on Tuesday morning we were like two little kids.  We were so excited we didn’t even know where to begin!  The last time we were in Hershey, I was about 12 and things have changed quite a lot!  Thankfully, the world’s nicest people work at their front desks and were happy t0 give us some direction.

We decided to first make our own candy bars.  This was a blast- it was only my Mom and I, so our tour guide Kim was our personal guide 🙂  Kim was awesome- so sweet and friendly (and origonally from south jersey!!) and you could tell she really likes her job.  Making your own candy bar is some serious business;  you are in the real factory so you have to wear hairnets and aprons and take off all jewlery.  You start with a plain chocolate bar (I chose dark) and then you get to choose three inclusions and a topping.  My inclusions were white chocolate chips, pretzels and toffee with Christmas sprinkles as my topping.  After you program your bar, you get to watch it be made.  And from there you get to design your wrapper.  The whole process takes about 30 minutes and is so much fun.  I highly recommend this for all ages 🙂

From there we headed through the free ride through how chocolate is made- its totally cute and you get free chocolate at the end 🙂  After that we headed to the trolley to take a ride through Hershey.  This was by far my favorite part of the trip; it was informative and fun.  We had a very charismatic trolley guide and again, like Kim, you could tell how much he liked his job.  While talking, you could see that he took pride in working for Hershey.  And even though I know quite a bit about Hershey, having done a paper my senior year on him, I really learned a lot.  Even with the rain, it was a great ride.  I especially loved being able to go through the Hersey School grounds and into the Rotunda building where we saw the gorgeous dome with all the flags.  Plus, the Christmas tree was up and it was beautiful.

After the trolley, we decided to round out our trip by seeing the 3D movie.  It was about 20 minutes long and obviously geared towards kids, but we still both really liked it a lot.  3D is fun!

The last thing on our list was to make the candy bar wrappers.  I made one for a friend and my mom made one for co-worker.  Then we made a Hershey Syrup bottle for my dad.  It was fun but it was also the one thing that could have been better; they really need a better system.  For one, they should take more than one photo and let you pick…we lucked out and got good photos but it still would have been nice to have a choice.  Additionally, the wrappers were not put on very well.  It’s a small complaint and it wouldn’t keep me from doing it again or recommending the activity.

When we were all finished with the days activities we went into the shops and spent way too much money on chocolate 🙂  Then we headed home, stopping on the way at Bertucci’s for dinner.  It was a super, much-needed, awesome overnight trip.

Oh…and if you are curious…in the world of working out…well, I have been absent big time.  I hope you will all stick with me through my off-time whilst I get my ish together!

North Carolina Trip Report- Kate Is An Iron(wo)man!!!

This past weekend my friend Victoria and I headed down to Wilmington, North Carolina to spectate the Beach2Battleship Ironman!

I was up at a very bright and early 5am to finish packing and was off to Vic’s house by 5:30.  As planned we were on the road by 6ish- grabbed some gas and coffee and we were on our way.  The ride was slated to be about 9 hours so we settled in for the long haul.  We were super excited and chatty and kept the laughs going the whole way.  We made a breakfast stop, some pee stops and a lunch stop and hit very little traffic 🙂  It was a smooth ride but we were super exhausted.

As soon as we got checked into the hotel we called Kate to see if she wanted to join us for dinner.  We ended up at Carrabas and I won’t lie, my meal sucked.  I am not the biggest fan of Carrabas in the first place and now I am even less of a fan. Erg.  Hey, at least the company was good!  🙂  After dinner we headed back to the hotel and went straight to bed…at 8:30pm!

IRONMAN DAY- 🙂

Wake up call was a bright and early 6am so that we could be down to the race start by 7am.  Victoria and I were almost jumping out of our skin with excitement.  I am sure most spectators have fun but I think for people who participate in triathlon it is that much more exciting!

As soon as we got to the site we found a great spot along the run in from the swim.  Spectators were not allowed at the swim start so T1 and the surrounding area was super crowded.  Luckily, I am short and Victoria is tall so we could stand in one spot and she could look over me.  Before we knew it, Kate was out of the water and running towards us.  She actually saw us before we saw her- she was smiling ear to ear and Vic and I were cheering like mad!  We ran next to her until she got into the T1 and then jetted over to the bike out to see her ride off.  We both almost missed her again, but I was able to grab a few shots from behind her as she mounted the bike and took off for 112 miles. 

Victoria and I decided not to go out to the bike course because we weren’t too familiar with the logistics.  And we wanted breakfast 🙂  Plus, we both had our own training runs to get in and we wanted to make some signs for Kate while she was on the run.  We grabbed a small bite from the hotel breakfast and then headed out on our runs.  I had 9 miles and Victoria had 13.  She is super speedy runner; we figured it would take approx the same time for us both to run our distances.  We had mapped out our runs the night before and decided to use the mile markers for the race to help guide us.  On my run out there weren’t any racers on the course yet but it was still cool to run through it- plus there were lots of people out there 🙂  I wish every training run had that many people along the way!  On my way back in from the run, I saw the first and second runners coming through.  It was really fun and exciting to be that close to them!  My run went pretty well- the first two miles my legs took some time to warm up but after that I ran really well.  If that is any indication of how Sunday will be, then I will be happy.  After our run, we grabbed lunch and chilled out for a while.  Before leaving to catch her on the run, we made our signs.  We had bought all the materials beforehand but we were too tired to make them Friday night.  Victoria and I are not very artistic but we were both very happy with our end results!

We had planned to see Kate on the run five times.  First we took the bus over to T2 to watch her come in on the bike and come out for the run.  Then we took the bus back over to where most of the run took place.  The run was a loop so we would see her around mile 3, looped back around mile 7ish and then after dinner we would come back to see her at mile 23 and again at the finish.  We did not take the signs with us on the bus so after we saw her come out of T2 we had to run back to the car to get the signs.  Except neither of us paid any attention to where we parked!  WTF!  So we were scrambing up and down streets to find the car in time to get back down to see her come through the first 5k portion.  Finally, we found the car…and not a moment too soon- as we were headed down the street, Vic spotted her.  We went running like lunatics (Kate later said: “you two came out of no where running with your signs”) and ran next to her screaming, cheering and being complete tools- but everyone loved us!  We were getting cheers from the runners 🙂  As soon as she was out of sight (and we kept up the yelling the entire time!) we headed into a cafe to grab some coffee and a snack.  Then it was back outside to see her again around mile 7.  This time we saw her coming and once again we jumped around like crazy girls screaming, hooting and hollering.  Trust me, we did Jersey proud 🙂 

As soon as mile 7 was over we headed back to the car to grab dinner and get ready to be back for the finish 🙂  Everytime we thought about her finishing we would get all giddy and excited.  As soon as we realized there was a Panera near us, we had dinner figured out!  And before we knew it, we were getting ready to head back down to the race.  We stopped back to get changed (we changed four times in the day!) and then grabbed a coffee (there were numerous coffee stops throughout the weekend) and parked ourselves at mile 23.  After a while had passed, I was getting antsy so I decided to walk back down to meet up with Kate- I ran into another girl looking for her sister and we got talking.  A few minutes into the convo I discovered this girl was Kate’s sister!!!  She was also looking for Kate.  And even funnier…at mile 23, we were standing next to Kate’s parents!  Small world!  We walked until we saw Kate and then began to run with her.  She was still so happy and smiley 🙂  It was great to find her in such great spirits.  We had about a mile to go before getting back to the 23 marker and we pretty much just chatted while we ran…asking her how she was and how the race was…etc.  At mile 23, I told Vic I was going to keep going with Kate and her sister and I would meet her across the bridge at Mile 25.  (Note: Vic was not wearing her running shoes, so she carried the bags on the bus, over to mile 25.  This was the same bus we took earlier in the day.)  Kate, her sister and I continued to run and in no time we were at Mile 25…Vic joined us (bags and all) and we all took Kate to Mile 26.  We left her to cross the finish line and met her as she came through.

KATE WAS OFFICIALLY AN IRONMAN FINISHER!!!!!

The whole day was amazing.  As I write this (over the course of a day or so) I find myself struggling to articulate the days events.  It was so busy and exciting and really…it is so hard to put into words.  Victoria and I had an absolute blast- we kept all Kate’s friends updated, met so many fun and exciting people and I cannot even tell you what it was like to run with Kate.  What an amazing opportunity to support my friend. 

Post Race- we celebrated with mini-wine bottles and headed back to the car.  Kate was cold and tired and honestly, we were tired too.  He hit up an IHOP, ate some pancakes and headed back for some much needed sleep.

Sunday morning we met up with Kate for breakfast (IHOP again, 10 hours later 🙂 ) and then took off for the long drive home.  And it was a looonnnnnnggggg drive!

Like I said, this report is not as detailed as I wish I could write it- I don’t think I could ever write out everything that went on, all the crazy fun we had.  From the trip down jamming to old school rap, to our million pee stops, to talking about “boys and fashion and nails…yeah right”, to ardvarks and buffalo’s, to Walmart trips, to young waiters hitting on us, to meeting people, to running with cowbells, to wayyyyy too many coffee stops, to pumpkin obsession, to our messy hotel room, to everything…the whole trip was just awesome.

You didn’t think I’d leave you without photos, did you?!?!?

Dinner- night before race

T1- look at all those bikes!

Out of the swim- just missed her!

Bike- there she goes!

Running out of T2

Still running…still smiling!

Finisher!!!!

Post-Race 🙂

And these were our signs:

 

If you ever get the chance to spectate an IM, I highly recommend the experience.