Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back to Fenway

Ever since the 2010 Boston Red Sox schedule was announced, I made it my personal goal to attend a game in the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Like I previously mentioned in last week’s post, MANNY RAMIREZ was returning to Boston for the first time since his cross-country trade. There was no way I was going to miss my chance to tell the man who formerly donned a red No. 24 exactly how I felt about his departure. So, I bought Dad and I tickets for his birthday and off we went to show our appreciation for the now No. 99-wearing, previously-suspended-for-steriod-use, dreadlock-sporting Ramirez. Sure, in his eight-ish years in Boston, when he was good, he was great. I loved how he was so carefree – talking on his cell phone inside the Green Monster, rolling around in the outfield and pointing to the sky when he knew it was gone. I still have a huge picture of his homerun reaction in the 2007 ALDS against the Angels (hypocritical, I know). But, when things didn’t go his way, Manny let it be known. He performed poorly on the diamond, made outlandish statements to the press and told everyone that would listen he wanted out of Beantown, breaking the hearts of fans over and over again. That my friends, is why I wanted to witness Manny’s return for myself. Ninety-nine percent of me planned on boo-ing the hell out of him at every opportunity, but then that other one percent remembered how much he helped bring two World Series rings to hungry fans. When push came to shove, though, I joined the majority of fans and threw out a boo or two, or ten. Before the game, WEEI and at&t provided us with some sweet signs:

Usually, finding a fan of the opposing team at Fenway Park is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Not this time. Much like when I saw the Mets roll into town, there were Dodgers’ fans everywhere. I’m not sure if it has to do with Interleague Play or what, but the royal blue at the Fens was gross. Take a look at the picture I snapped outside of the park:
Worst part of the overwhelming number of L.A. fans, aside from the fact that the Lakers had just beaten the Celtics the night before, was seeing ‘Ramirez’ jerseys and t-shirts everywhere. I mean everywhere. This girl was nice enough to let me use her back to illustrate my point:

Celtics’ loss the night before also sparked some cool posters from Sox fans and bragging rights for L.A. fans. There actually were people wearing Lakers gear and they heard about it. Granted, Bostonians had no leg to stand on. Found this poster, which is Shrek-themed, I’m guessing for the new movie release, but either way, it says ‘Beat L.A.’

As always, Dad and I met some pretty sweet people before the game. Below is a former Boston coach inside the Yawkee Way Souvenir Shop signing one of our signs. (His named has totally slipped my mind and I can’t read the autograph, go figure.) When I asked him if he had any good Manny stories, I believe his exact words were, ‘not ones that I can share,’ which obviously means they were good. Please, also take notice to the enormous World Series rings he has:

Much like the World Series rings the above man had, the next person we met has something I definitely want. Her name is Bertha, (yes, Bertha) and she has MIKE LOWELL! Ever since he joined the team in 2006, I have had the hugest crush on him. I love him, I miss seeing him at third and back when I first discovered him, I Googled his wife to scope out the competition. Well, I got to meet her first hand on Friday, and she is quite nice. She was working with a charity that benefits young girls in and around the Boston area. I won’t be marrying Mikey anytime soon, but from the 90 seconds Bertha and I spoke, I approve. Though, if this picture says anything, its that the former 2007 World Series MVP and I would look much better together … hehe.

Now, for some actual game stuff.

I had two hopes for Friday night – that the Sox would finally win when I was at Fenway (I went 0-for-6 last year) and that Manny would absolutely blow it at the plate. Who would have thought that both would come true? I certainly did not. Anyway, Boston got off to a great start and took an early lead before LA tied it up in the third. A strong inning in which the Sox scored seven runs put ‘em up for good and the rest is pretty much gravy. As far as Manny goes, the boos drowned out the few applauses and ‘Man-ny’ chants he received at every appearance at the plate. The ‘Manny haters’ at Fenway were all over him every time he stepped out of the dugout and made the Dodgers’ intro impossible to hear. He had five at bats that went like this: groundout, fly out, single and two strike outs. Here No. 99 is in his final trip to the plate in which he struck-out with a full count to end the game. Fitting end I would say.
As much as I was happy to see him go a whopping 1-for-5 with two strike-outs, I really wanted to see him hit one over the Green Monster. Not because I wanted him to actually have success against my beloved Sox, only so that I could watch him do some sort of ridiculous-ESPN-not-top-10-esque trot around the bases. That did happen in the second game of the series, but sadly I have yet to see the replay. Also, big ups to new guy Darnell McDonald, who replaced J.D. Drew mid-way through the third. He comes to the plate to ‘I Made It,’ by Kevin Rudolf and Lil Wayne. Since that was the theme to my marathon, I immediately have some sort of love and respect for the guy. Not to mention every one of his at-bats makes me want to dance. This next picture is thanks in part to the random thoughts that fill my brain throughout the day. When the dirt-fluffers (as I like to call them) came out onto the field to do their thing for the second time, it got me thinking, ‘someday, I want to do that.’ Oh ya, I’m talking about exactly what you think I am talking about. Just one time, I want to experience the great privilege of fluffing the Fenway dirt in between innings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not announcing my dream job, here, just a small addition to my ever-growing bucket list:

Here is my dad and I with our usher, Bob. He was the nicest, sweetest, funniest ushers I have ever met. He is the greatest photographer and he takes his job quite seriously. Anyway, Dad and I had tons of fun with him.

You better believe I didn’t leave Boston without picking up some new anti-Manny-go-Boston schwag. Best $15 dollars I’ve spent in a long time:

Aside from our unplanned tour of Boston due to my poor sense of direction, great time had by all. Ate at our favorite Thai restaurant, took a walk to the Prudential Center, grabbed pre-game drinks and finally saw the Sox win again! Here Dad and I are before the game:

I know this is quite long, but really, it was all worth telling. Bet you can’t wait for my next!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Marathons, Triathlons and Manny, Oh My!

To say this post has been a long time coming would be quite the understatement. The start of my summer has been everything but relaxing – early morning training, interning, working, double workouts and I have even made a bit of time for some fun! But, without further introduction, here’s a ton of random thoughts (in no particular order).

… Well, 16 days after running my first marathon, guess what? – I started training for No. 2! Call me crazy, but in those two weeks of random tri-training with no set schedule, I was a total mess. I would get to the gym and not know what to do – weights, cardio, spinning – couldn’t make up my mind. Needless to say, I am happy to back to training and I’ve taken on the assistance of Hal Higdon once again. I used one of his training plans for Sugarloaf and have decided to go with it once again. I picked a different one with a higher weekly mileage and intensity which allows me to run four or five times a week, bike twice a week and swim three days. Gotta stay in tri shape, too! Also started to keep a food journal to help keep me on the right nutrition track. Don’t really like when I have to record the afternoon M&M binge, but hopefully that will eventually stop. I have found that eating the right way really helps me train and race so much better – not to mention I’m getting pretty jacked. The goal of my first marathon was to finish, but this time, I want a PR (which shouldn’t be too difficult considering it took me four and half hours the first time around). Oh, and I also want to get under four hours. That, however, poses quite a challenge, but one that I’m so ready to take on!

… I am officially into the fourth week of my internship and I am glad to say that (so far) I’m having a blast. I’m working with a sporting event management company, planning and organizing triathlons and road races, marketing and managing sponsorships. Everyone I work with is pretty much a hardcore health freak and endurance athlete – basically, my match made in heaven. My first week we put on a trail running festival consisting of canine, barefoot 5K, 5K, 10K, 25K, 50K and 50 mile races. The hours were quite long, but being at the event really sparked my interest in trail running and I have set a new goal for myself – the 2011 25K race! It seems ridiculously challenging, but I think I’ll be up for it come next May. I just might have to waste some more money on some new fitness/running fad: the Vibram 5 Finger: (admit it, they look sweet)
Oh and something else excited, finally met one of my fellow running Twitter friends – Jake, or @mainerunnerguy in Twitter speak – at the event! I believe that deserves a ‘neat-o.’ This past weekend, we put on a pirate-themed triathlon and I was all over it. You better believe I was sporting the pirate look, or trying to anyway. It was more like Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-meets-Brett-Michaels, but, hey, I tried. Arggggghhhhhh. Aside from the greatness of the day’s wardrobe, the actual event was awesome. My friend Jason, who I met just over a month ago – he was a real trooper and joined our Polar Bear tri team at the very last minute – completed his first sprint triathlon and did great! He says he officially has ‘the tri bug’ and can’t wait for his next. However, he hates the swim portion, but (little does he know), I’m gonna change that. So proud though! Also, got to see several of my friends compete, including one of my former high school teachers. It was different just being there and not participating. I really got to help them celebrate their accomplishment rather than focusing on my own race. No matter what vantage point you are taking in the tri from, it is so much fun. Here is the first wave of men heading into the water:
… Last Friday, mid-bike workout (it was raining, booo), a woman came up to me and told me that I inspire her! I thought to myself, ‘WHAT?!’ and I’m pretty sure it showed on my face, too. So, she went on to explain that every morning she watches me workout and tries to mimic what I do – from running, to lifting, to swimming. I couldn’t believe it and I still can’t. While it may sound kind of stalker-ish, I am pretty flattered. I just do my own thing and I’m really glad I helped someone else stay motivated doing it.

… For the last couple of years, I have been taking my father to a Red Sox game for his birthday. Lucky for him, I have always played two roles - Daddy’s Little Girl and Daddy’s Sports-Loving Son. I tell him he got the best of both worlds because, while I love to get all dressed up in a cute outfit and paint my nails all colors of the rainbow, I absolutely love everything about sports. As I have grown up and time has gone on, my father and I have been able to share a lot of moments together because of sports and I am so glad we have that common bond. Here we are last year (Mets vs. Sox; Johan Sanata vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka):
Why am I telling you all this? Well, on Friday, my father and I will once again make the 90-ish minute trip to Fenway Park to watch the beloved Sox take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. I am so excited for this! Yes, I love baseball and I love the Red Sox and I love spending time with my dad, but, I also have developed this un-love of Manny Ramirez over the past year or so. Since the day he requested to be traded from Boston, I have been waiting for the day of his return. Well, it’s here! Friday will mark his first game back at Fenway since his cross-country move to ‘Mannywood.’ Should be a great game, and I hope it is. I highly suggest you tune in – you may even be able to hear me boo his first appearance at the plate.
… Oh and how about them Celtics?! I don’t want to say too much about them yet, but I’m pretty pumped they got it together for the postseason. Game 6 of the NBA finals tonight from Los Angeles – another must-see this week.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Biggest Winner

(OK, so this has been written for about a week now and I have yet to post it. Might not be the timeliest thing on the planet, but bear with me, I have the busiest schedule ever.)

For the past five or so months, NBC and I have had a great love affair. While I’m not a big TV junkie, I do have a small obsession with the network’s feel-good, look-good show, ‘The Biggest Loser.’ Okay, a huge obsession. I follow the contestants on Twitter, I have a Jillian Michaels workout DVD, the ‘Last Chance Workout’ DVD is on my birthday list and Bob Harper’s Web Site is my homepage. Needless to say, I love everything about the show. I just can’t get enough of the physical and emotional transformations brought about by the most intense gym sessions. Not to mention Jillian’s in-you-face approach and Bob’s total opposite warm, fatherly love.

Seriously though, three weeks ago I was swamped with homework and overwhelmed with marathon taper, so I taped the episode and planned to watch Wednesday night. Well, Wednesday morning I’m at the gym getting ready for the day when I hear one woman ask another women what she thought about the recent transformations. Instinctively, I start humming loudly so I wouldn’t hear the results. Well, both women turned to me and asked if I was okay. I could feel my face getting redder by the second and tried to explain my way out of that one. Well, lucky for me they both understood and kindly tabled their conversation.

Anyway, last Wednesday marked the start of my NBC/’The Biggest Loser’ love affair hiatus. Season nine wrapped up with the finale last Tuesday and unlike it has in the past, it didn’t leave me feeling all that great. I didn’t even cry and believe me, ‘The Biggest Loser’ ALWAYS makes me cry. But, it was different this time. Michael, who lost 50.19 percent of his body weight, took home the grand prize of $250,000. He came into the show weighing 526 pounds, lost 264 and looks great. He went through sooo many ups and downs throughout the show and it is awesome to see the progress he made. Seriously, he looks fantastic. You can totally see how much happier he is as half the man he was before.

However, despite all this happiness I feel for Michael, I can’t help but feel bad for my man, Koli, who was one of my favorites all season. He lost 215 pounds, but was booted from the competition after losing America’s vote in the final week and was unable to compete for the grand prize. Instead he went home with the ‘at-home prize’ of 100,000 dollars. Keep in mind, the competition is based on total percentage of weight lost. Koli’s 215 pounds accounted for a percentage of weight loss of 53.35. So, technically, had he won the hearts of America like runner-up Daris did, he would have won the whole thing! Can’t imagine how he feels today, but I’m guessing he wishes that he has said a little something extra in his plea. I am disappointed for him! It shouldn’t be about a popularity contest and letting America vote turns it into a weight loss ‘American Idol.’ Numbers don’t lie and that’s what they should continue to follow through the entirety of the show. It’s about weight loss. End of story.

I have to admit, I may not have gotten as fired up about this had it happened to Daris. I am a big fan of the guy – after all, he did run a marathon in 4:02.00 and his girlfriend is smokin’ hot. But, from the beginning of season nine, I was in love with the gray team – Samoan cousins Sam and Koli. They were so passionate, goal-oriented and focused, always standing by and making sacrifices for each other. They worked so hard to lose that weight and brought an intensity to the show like none other, so it really bums me out that they made it so close. (Sam left in Week 16 after only losing two pounds) Sam, who I had previously claimed as my future husband, found love on the show with fellow contestant Stephanie. Ya, I guess I’m happy for them. No, really, I am. The show truly changed their lives. But, if things with Stephanie don’t work out, rest assured, I’ll still be here!

Below you will see two of my other favorites – orange team and mother of Daris, Cheryl, and pink team and mother of runner-up Ashley, Sherry. Those two women were so motivated and clearly still are. Just look at them! Below, Sherry is pictured at the finale and Cheryl is shown at the mid-point of her weight loss journey. Couldn’t find a finale pick for her, but still, looking good, ladies!

While I still think that putting the last spot in America’s hands is unfair to the contestants,
I am so happy for the 22 contestants that were able to take charge of their lives and journey down a healthy path. Seriously, if you don’t watch this show – watch it! Season 10 starts up in the fall and it’s obviously going to be great. I introduced my mom and Danielle to ‘The Biggest Loser’ and I am happy to share my NBC love affair with anyone else who wants it.

While I anxiously await season ten to begin, I will most definitely be entertained by NBC’s new show, ‘Losing it with Jillian,’ which starts tonight! Wohooooo! Oh and, in case you’re wondering, marathon training part two started today (obviously, that requires a separate post, soon to come!).