Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Very Own Fitness Family

Just like any other hobby or sport, it’s nice to know people who have the same interests as you. In my case, I find it comforting and motivating to know that there are other people who like torturing themselves as much as I do. That being said, we runners and triathletes really do need each other – for a pat on the back, the occasional thumbs up, a yell of encouragement (nice or not) as we approach the finish line or a salt tablet midway through the worst race ever. They feel your pain, understand why you do what you do, look past the bad races and failed attempts at PRs, celebrate your accomplishments and love every minute of it.

Back when I was slightly larger than life, yes, I was ‘not cute’ as I often put it, I did not want to go to the gym and see people I knew. It was awkward and chances are I said ‘hi’ to them even though I didn’t want to. Well, now that I spend more time at the gym than I do at home, I LOVE seeing people I know at the gym. Granted, they aren’t the same people I used to avoid, and instead they are, indeed, my gym/runner/triathlete friends. We pretty much have synced gym schedules (or close to it), so it makes gym time even more fun. Like I described earlier, being able to relate to someone who has a crazy obsession like no other is GREAT. I mean it. It’s actually part of the fun to see who is going to come in next. We talk about past races, upcoming races, new workouts – all that fun stuff that I can’t talk to most people about. Just last week I was talking with one of the personal trainers and got suckered into attending an advanced boot camp class tomorrow. Of course, I’m going to drag along a friend, one that knows who to call in case I drop midway through. Nah, I won’t drop, but this is what I’m saying! I wouldn’t have wanted to go to the advanced class with out suggestion from a friend.

To continue on with this friend theme, back on July 4th I ran the L.L. Bean 10K with Danielle. I should post a picture of us there, however, this one is way more fun, and this post is about race communities (here it is, Jingle Bell 5K):

Going in I wasn’t feeling it, my foot, which I thought had a stress fracture (but does not!!!) was bothering me a lot and it was hotter than hell. Things continued along those same miserable lines for the entire 6.2 miles and up to the finish. When I finally did look at the clock, which I knew would read a time I wouldn’t approve of, it indicated I was eight minutes slower than my PR. Super. Even post-race sucked – by the time our slow selves got down there, the food was gone. Food tastes so good after a run, especially after a miserable one and there was none to be had!

Here we are post-race with THE @mainerunnerguy, Jake. He PR-ed and we did not. Another good reason to have running friends – you get to celebrate their accomplishments when you can’t celebrate yours!

Why is this throw in here with all this positive stuff about running friends? Well, for that very reason. While the race itself was not too fun, I had a great time being with friends. I saw tons of people I knew, had my second tweet-up, took a salt tablet from my boss’ father, worried about this pregnant chick and obviously Danielle and I shared tons of fun laughs. Without my fellow running friends, I would have been miserable.

To further illustrate my point, remember my Sugarloaf post? About how I would have run the opposite way come race time if it weren’t for the amazing support I had from friends and family? Not to mention its WAY more fun to take pre- and post-race pictures with people feeling and looking just like you:

(Jenn, on the far left, also ran her first marathon that day. I had barely known her 24 hours and gave her a HUGE hug when we met up post-race. Point proven?)

Speaking of tweet-ups and running friends – Tentatively, I am planning on venturing out to California for the L.A. marathon in March 2011. I will be signing up in the next couple of days and booking a hotel shortly thereafter. If everything goes as planned, hopefully I will meet a good deal of my LA-running-Twitter friends who have encouraged my participation in this race for a while now. Some of my very non-running friends also want to join to lend their support which I am also pretty excited about. We will all be running the 5K the day before the marathon, which should be lots of fun. Little do they know that they might actually be carrying me onto the airplane come Monday. So much more on this to come!

I’ll end on this. Throughout these last two-ish years, I have developed so many friends and acquaintances that continue to help me achieve my goals. Whether it’s an old friend from high school, a former teacher, a family-friend, someone old enough to be my parent or the competitor I am forever trying to catch, together they all make up my fitness family. I have accomplished more things than I could have ever imagined and I’m so thankful for the people who have been there to share them with me.
(Side note and shout out to Danielle for her mad picture taking skills. I NEVER have pictures of other races unless she is there. Triathlons come with water and it is far too hard to bring my non-waterproof camera along. So, Danielle, start coming to my tris!)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy, Happy Birthday to Me!

The past few weeks have been, well, busy as usual. BUT. SO. MUCH. FUN. I have not had time to write at all, so you’re gonna get a lot of old stuff in the next couple of posts.

If you recall from a couple of posts ago, my birthday was three weeks ago today. Turned the big 22 and so far (knock on wood), it is already off to a better start than 21. I did have a friend tell me that 22 was the best year of their life and so I’m hoping it brings the same for me. It did, however, bring me lots of fun gifts. Take a look:

Coach sneakers from Mom and Dad!! Yeeeee! I have always wanted Coach sneakers and while I have been told they resemble clown shoes, I think they are absolutely adorable. I wore them for the first time yesterday and while they do look very cute, they squeak! Ugh. Everyone can hear me coming from a mile away.

Mom and Dad also got me a sweet orange running tank, a Jillian Michaels/Biggest Loser ‘Last Chance Workout’ DVD, a Red Sox shirt and Patriots long-sleeve. I’m not spoiled or anything, right?

Obviously, everyone knows how much I hate anything workout-related and so my sister continued the trend with a Nike Sport Band. It’s yellow and black and matches my Livestrong bracelet perfectly. I have used it on a couple runs so far and I really like it. Not sure that I calibrated it correctly, but it’s pretty close nonetheless.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better – it did. On the way to our July 4th 10K (a huge fail, which you will hear all about in the next couple of days), Danielle gave me a Victoria’s Secret bag full of stuff. Not the kind of stuff typically found at VS, but maybe even better. First came the Honey Stingers energy chews, which I will try out on Monday’s 15-miler, and my stand-by Clif Shot Blocs. Then, some new Feetures socks (I love these!) and some Secret Crush lotion from VS … and then … THE BEST MAGNET EVER!!! Look at this thing:

You may not appreciate it like I do, but seriously. I say ‘glam’ all the freaking time and I sweat A LOT when I work out. Not sure that it is glitter oozing from my pores, but I certainly do glisten. Just look at it again, such prettiness.

Obviously since Andy, who also runs, and I are such closet fat kids, he broke the workout gift-trend and got me a 1-pound bag of M&Ms! Two fun stories behind this delectable chocolate morsel. 1) I complained to him daily about how there was a 5-pound bag sitting on my desk that I couldn’t keep my hands out of. 2) Andy and I also talk about dessert all the time, and before he knew about my peanut butter allergy, he made me the most delicious-sounding cheesecake ever… With, you guessed it, peanut butter cups. So, since that failed big time, the M&Ms were a last resort, but such a great one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shipping Down to Boston!

I would like to start off by introducing my cousin, Tyler. You met him in my previous post in which I labeled him as ‘the coolest cousin ever.’ He still is, actually. He is here to help me co-write this post which documents our family trip to Boston nearly two weeks ago. Our parents have dubbed us ‘the happy couple.’ Don’t we look great?:

We like to plan. You know, the Venga Boys Like to Party, well we LOVE to plan. So, we had this thing down to a science. We knew what was happening when, who was going where and exactly how much fun we were going to have – right down to the minute. And 45 minutes in, we hit our first of many accounted-for speed bumps. Clearly the truck driver, whose rig went up in flames and caused a major traffic jam didn’t realize we were on the road. Otherwise, it would have happened in the Northbound lane. All jokes aside, we are glad to hear he is okay and instead, we took the scenic Route 1 to Kittery, where everything went down without a hitch.

Nine dollars in toll money later, we were basking the shadows of the beautiful Green Monster. But first, we needed food, and if you know our family, or even one of us – that was a top priority. Cask’n Flagon here we come. Took a couple cute family shots in the restaurant. Here are the ‘adults’:

And the ‘kids’:

Food was great, we cleaned every plate. We enjoyed pretending to be the host of the TV show ‘Man vs. Food” on the Travel Channel. After all, it was the only competitive thing we’d be doing all day. After lunch we took a quick trip the Prudential Center. No one got lost and we all had DELICIOUS desserts – ice cream, cheesecake, candy – (we are healthy people, believe it or not). Here is a great picture of all the cousins:

On the way back to the Fens, we saw the apartment where we think Tom Brady and his supermodel wife Gisele dwell. After successfully sneaking our food and drinks into the park (but not without some flirting by Andrea and Michelle), we ran into Larry Luchino, and he gave Cameron a sweet keepsake:

Our first mission once we got to our seats was to take the perfect family photo to give to our beloved Mem and Pep. Well, we all looked great, even the friggen guy who found a way to sneak in and ruin it. Our first encounter with a crazed fan of our future TV show (and we are still taking title suggestions)… we’re sure he won’t be the last.

Finally, at 7:10 SHARP (*ahem*, take note all you late-comers), we were nestled into our seats with visions of a Sox win. (Didn’t happen, let’s be honest, Dice-K was on the hill and Pawtucket headlined the line-up.)

We tried to keep a running diary of our thoughts as the game progressed:

Top 1st – Close one! PHEW! Nearly got into a mess twice, but Dice-K, with help from Cam, gets out untouched
Bottom 1st – Tyler and I invent a new pool game (swimming, that is). It’s a new twist on the oldie-but-goodie called ‘Marcooo’-‘Scutaro’
Top 2nd – Shelley touches up my hair, Dice-K is at 49 pitches ALREADY and Tyler very much enjoyed the in-between-innings music.
Bot 2nd – Youk comes out to a new song – ‘Not Afraid,’ by Eminem, we decided we hate girls wearing all pink, that the lemonade looks good and made fun of Uncle Dave for calling Jerry Remy ‘Jeremy.’
Top 3rd – First 1-2-3 inning and only six pitches. “Must be a record for Dice-K” – Tyler quipped. Wave also started here – way too early and super annoying.
Top 4th – Two runs score on a double – Dice-K acting like his old self, Dice-K cuts off throw to home and another run scored.
Mid 4th – Finally got the perfect family photo. Background looks fake, but we look great. Take a look for yourself:

Bot 4th – WE NEED A RUN! But Youk strikes out with Ortiz on – best chance of the game. Shelley not-so-patiently waiting for a hot dog and some cotton candy.
Top 6th – Finally, hot dogs and cotton candy for everyone! (Clear highlight of the game – oh wait – the ONLY highlight thus far)

Oh, have I mentioned, I HATE THE WAVE!!
Ortiz doubles off the wall, hit in Patterson and the ‘Let’s Go Red Sox’ (I know you can hear it in your head) begins. However, Youk once again dashes our hopes and pops out to second.

Bot 7th – Spot a vintage Manny jersey a couple rows down. Seriously, whooo wears that now? However, made me feel a lot better after I thought of how we SWEPT those guys a month ago.
We just established ‘Mike-Cameron’. My dad is Mike, and my cousin is Cameron. Get it? Mike. Cameron.

Tyler ingeniously recognizes ‘7:10 as our 4:20’ you know, some people enjoy the time 4:20, well, we love 7:10 – game time.
Bot 8 – Insane fan want to start wave again, crazy dancers not coming out of woodwork. Ortiz 2 RBI double – has knocked in all runs for the Sox thus far. Rally caps are out (Dad, Cam and Tyler):

And that’s where the live diary stops. Manny Delcarman got shelled, we mean SHELLED. Game went on forever and that’s pretty much that. Made our way back to the cars, stopped at Sonic (a first-time experience for all), celebrated my birthday at midnight and called it a night. Yeah, there were some speed-bumps throughout the trip, but we still had a blast and you can bet we’ll be back next year… at 7:10 sharp, of course.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Everything under the sun

Couple of fun things from the past week or two …

I am proud to say that I have the coolest cousin ever. His name is Tyler and he is a 16 year-old high school junior. Ever since he has been little, I mean little, like five or so, he has been a Weather Watcher for a local news station here in southern Maine. Needless to say, they love him there – the meteorologists, sports guys and news anchors – all of them. He was a part of their early morning broadcast from 6:30 to 7 a.m. and so I tuned in during my workout. Obviously, I told everyone I knew that was there what was going to happen and so we were all focused on the screen when my cousin appeared. I was completely surprised because he was on not just once, but twice! They also let him do the entire forecast by himself. I expected it to be a quick appearance like he had made in the past, but he stole the show! It was so cool and he did such a great job. I’m pretty sure I was smiling the whole time he was on. I couldn’t be prouder. Here he is with one of the head meteorologists:

This year, my mother’s birthday once again happened to fall on Father’s Day. (This is especially weird because my dad’s birthday fell on Mother’s Day this year AND they were both born at 9:21 p.m.! Guess it was meant to be.) Anyway, my sister and I both reserved the day to spend with the family so we headed down to Portsmouth for the day. I’m not going to chronicle the entire day, but I do want to mention where we ate lunch. It was formerly known as Muddy River Smokehouse, but has recently changed to Portside Seafoods. Rachel Ray’s ‘Tasty Travels’ inspired our visit and we did just like she suggested – order crispy fried pickles. Great suggestion indeed. I know it sounds absolutely terrible, like they would make you instantly sick, but they were a hit with us. Just don’t overdue it, otherwise, I’m sure you’ll get some sort of sick. After our pickles, we proceeded to the main course. For me – baked haddock, Mom – lobster pie, and for my father and sister to split – The Captain’s Platter. This thing was enormous – the plate was wider than my sister and the food was about a foot high! Take a look for yourself.
My sister and I also had way too much fun trying on hats in this toy store. Probably should have bought these:

My BFF, Jessica, and I also hosted our first Silpada Designs jewelry party and had such a blast. We were able to reconnect with so many of our friends and family and got a ton of free jewelry. Sounds like I can file that under ‘huge success.’
It’s racing season and everything is in full force! I guess you could say I ‘competed’ in a practice triathlon this past weekend. It was just for fun really, and to see how I matched up with my age group. It was timed and turns out I did pretty well – second in my age group to be exact! However, everything was done by hand, no chips and it was just practice – but I’ll take it. … Missed the first 5K my sister and I were going to do together EVER last Saturday because I was quite sick race morning. I was so excited to run with her and to support a local high school scholarship named after a fallen soldier, so I was bumming. I felt really horrible about missing it, but my sister didn’t feel like she was ready, so in the end, it all worked out. Little does she know, I’m planning on conning her into another … Next race is 4th of July. Should be B.R.U.T.A.L. It’s the L.L. Bean 10K, which is normally a fine distance for me, but its going to be 90 degrees and humid out. Awesome. Not to mention the course is full of hills and I think I’m nursing a self-diagnosed metatarsal stress fracture. Race day isn’t even here yet, so I can’t justify complaining, BRING IT Freeport!
Next post preview … Tyler will be joining me to co-write a post all about our family trip to the Red Sox last Wednesday. Should be pretty awesome! Stay tuned for that and be sure to read yesterday’s post about turning 22 (it’s a favorite already).

Friday, July 2, 2010

One year older, ten years wiser

Yet another birthday is upon me and as I look back, I can’t believe the whirlwind that has been my 21st year. You want to talk up and downs? I have all day, folks. No need to relive the downs though, just the ups, so that’s what we’ll do. I’ll throw in a couple of lessons learned, too, because through it all, I have learned a lot in the last 365 days. (Pardon my use of clich├ęs, but its necessary.) Here’s a favorite pic from last year’s birthday:

Lesson No. 1 – Don’t give up.
No matter how much it sucks, keep going, don’t stop and continue working toward the future. Now, by ‘it,’ I mean everything – your daily workout, getting through a day where nothing goes right, applying for that new job, repairing a relationship, etc. I had one of the busiest years I can remember and thinking back, I accomplished a whole lot. I consider one of my biggest achievements – not in just this last year, but in my whole life – to be the Sugarloaf Marathon. I’m not talking just the actual race either – training, nutrition, injury, all of it. So many times during my 18-week training I wanted to quit. 20-mile runs in the chilly air sucked. Oh wait, even three-mile runs in the chilly air sucked. As I had previously mentioned in post No.1, even the morning of, I was looking for every reason not to run. I don’t know if it was the fact that my family drove all the way up to see me, my sister would be waiting for me at mile 25, or that Danielle was sitting right next to me and could easily do some damage. But, I did it and when I was done, I felt like I could take on the world. I still kind of do, I guess. One of my several post-marathon pics with the sister:
Last fall, I also completed my first Olympic-distance triathlon – the Mighty Hamptons Tri. Like the name says, it was mighty, but so much fun. My friends and I had a fun road trip down, didn’t sleep at all the night before, woke up at 3 a.m., I got sick TWICE and then had a fantastic race. Insane? Ya, it was. My friend Lee had to drag me to the transition area, then back to the start line and I’m pretty sure I actually said, ‘I can’t race,’ at least once. BUT, I did and I’m so glad. We won’t even talk about the fact that I got a bad chip which only recorded until my run portion.

Anticipation for anything is always the worst, but I believe nothing is truly accomplished without a little fight. I keep going back for more, so it can’t be that bad, right?

On a side note: my friend Lisa is also trying to get me into these fitness bodybuilding-like competitions, so who knows what my 22nd year will bring. The things they do are so crazy, I don’t even know why I am considering this, but I’m sure it will be just as rewarding as all the other things I thought about giving up on.

Lesson No. 2 – Hard work pays off.
This goes along with Lesson No. 1 quite well, but I struggled to merge them together, so it became Lesson No. 2 all on its own.

Hard work is not easy, otherwise it wouldn’t be called ‘hard work.’ (Makes sense, right?) I have worked my tail off this past year and I’m just starting to reap the benefits, which I hope are just beginning. Between training, school, work and the attempt to have a small social life, I was a running around like a psycho and looked a lot like this woman below:
I felt like I spent all of my spare time immersed in school work. I wrote papers in my head while I lifted weights, planned workouts while I wrote my papers, and made mental to-do lists at work. I had no life and I was not happy about it. Yes, I like to have a set schedule (I stay on track that way), but this was ridiculous. But, in the end, while lots of time and effort were put into achieving these goals, I did it all. A month after the completion of my junior year, I can breathe a bit easier. 3.95 GPA – check. First marathon – check. Internship (and a sweet one at that) – check.

Lesson No. 3 – Above all else, do what makes YOU happy.
I saved the best two lessons for last. As one of my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions, I made a commitment to myself that 2010 would be about me. I know it sounds conceded, but all my life, I tried to make everyone around me happy. Well, this year, I wanted to be happy first. Slowly, I mean sloooowly, it happened. Not that I wasn’t happy before, because I was, it just took some time to realize who and what truly added to that happiness. Putting myself first also took some practice, but I have to say, I am pretty darn good at it now. I used to drop everything for every one of my friends, family members, co-workers, you name it. I’ll gladly lend a hand when needed, but it feels really good to be able to actually do something for myself and I highly recommend it for anyone in need of some ‘me-time,’ – at least that’s what Danielle and I call it. We just might even share with my friend, Jessica (on the left).

This past year I have gained friends, lost friends, grown closer with some and lost touch with others, but that’s life. I know who I can count on and who I want to put effort into. Sometimes there are just people you have to kick to the curb like a Gatorade cup at the last water stop. Trust me, it feels good. Yes, I may workout a lot, enjoy trips to Whole Foods more than the average person and don’t behave like your average, crazy newly-22 year-old, but I don’t care because I’m happy.

I’ve also started this new love affair with Food Network – kind of contradicts the one I have with Jillian Michaels and The Biggest Loser – but, next to ESPN, it is my television channel of choice. It’s slowly helping me learn to cook and actually want to cook (my mother loves this). Couple of favorite chefs, who I have become mildly obsessed with are Guy Fieri and Duff Goldman. Guy hosts Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Guy’s Big Bite. His exciting personality, wise-guy remarks and culinary talent have him at the top of my in-case-they-happen-to-get-divorced-watch list. Doesn’t really look like my type, but I love him anyway!

Duff, who is founder of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, MD, is featured on Ace of Cakes. With the help of his best friends, they create some of the coolest-looking cakes in the country. You better believe he will be making a cake for me in the future (or at least I hope so!) Here is one of my favorite cakes – it looks like my old crayon box, but its cake!! So awesome.

Lesson No. 4 – Sometimes, you’ve just got to get a grip.
I have taken life way too seriously for way too long. I guess you could say that I have been sewn as tight as an early 1920’s corset. While I admit I still need a lot more work in this area, I have greatly improved. Working out, cooking and an earlier bed time have helped me ‘chill out’ (another one of my resolutions) a lot. Life is supposed to be fun and damn it, I am going to have fun.
My best friend and I even started the year off with a trip to Los Angeles. A reward for hard work, and most importantly to spend some quality time with my BFF. Oh, and there was this other guy we were visiting, too. His name is Chris and he did his best to keep us entertained. We had lots of fun and want to go back with all of our girlfriends someday, when we need to get a grip, yet again. Here we all are looking quite glamorous at the Chinese Theater:

Just for fun, I lalsoooked up my horoscope ( and forecast for the next year and found out some interesting things:

- “A busy year is ahead for you. You are likely to form or cement positive bonds with others, particularly with people who help you to assert yourself in a positive manner. You are learning to go after what you want with more confidence. Teaching, learning, and the exchange of ideas are likely to be strong themes in your life this year.” (Does this mean I did not have a busy last year, astrologically speaking?)
- “Self-confidence and action are highlighted in the year ahead. You tend to instinctively know the right course of action to take in most situations. Your desire nature is strong, and increased physical activity, is likely. Independent work is favored and competitive activities may also thrive this year.” (Sounds like a plus to me! Can I get a PR?!? Or two?)

Even provided me with these ending thoughts:
- “It's also a good year for expressing your creativity. Advice - reach out, but avoid scattering your energies.”
- “This is an excellent year in which to build and develop for the future. Advice - be patient, be receptive, enjoy the peace, collect.”

Special shout-outs to Liv Tyler, the late Princess Diana, Carl Lewis, Estee Lauder and Pam Anderson, all of whom I share my July 1st birthday with.

And with all of that being said, bring on 22!