Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reach the Beach In pictures

Random Reach the Beach anecdotes and pictures that failed to make an appearance in my race recap…

Danielle pre-race at Starbucks … She loves, I mean loves, pumpkin spice coffee. Almost as much as Shipyard Pumpkinhead beer.

I’m pretty sure we probably had THE BEST race guide cover pages. (Thanks Jason!)

This woman was part of the team named ‘The Keg’ and she does not like Magic Hat No. 9. Weirddd.
At one point very early on we saw a van on the side of the road and I exclaimed … ‘HEY! They stole our team name!!’ I was not impressed. Well, turns out it was the rest of our team. Clearly should have taken a picture of this but didn’t. Whoops.

This was seriously stuck to our van at one point … Kind of clever if you ask me.

Misty and I found some carnival rides at one of the transitions and so I had to do my best Vanna White.

A bird ‘dropped one’ on Jason while we were waiting at the finish line.

And finally, this is Sarah … She saw my Twitter promo on the van and I asked who I was. Turns out she was looking for Danielle and since she wasn’t there, we snapped a pic together instead.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Running Faster to Finish Sooner at Reach the Beach 2010!!

I do believe I questioned my participation in this race more than once and even made it known a few times. But in the end, words can’t describe how much fun I had. (Though, I’ll try my best to do it justice here.)

What race you ask? The 2010 Reach the Beach Relay in which teams run 200-plus VERY HILLY miles from Franconia Notch, N.H. to Hampton Beach, N.H. Teams came in different numbers, different costumes and different intensities, for sure. We were a team of 12 and went by the clever name of Run Faster, Finish Sooner. I was assigned the fourth leg, which I thought would be a pretty easy 16 total miles, little did I know it was the total opposite (we will get to that later). I landed myself in Van 1 with a bunch of crazy, complaining, inappropriate-chatting, sleep-deprived, fantastic runners.

Van 1 plus Sandy (from Van 2) met up in York and to head to the start together. The adventure began pretty quickly when we heard Lee so calmly state, “I think our thing just opened.” That ‘thing’ he was referring to was our storage container on top of the van and our stuff that was in it … WAS ALL OVER THE HIGHWAY! Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself:

That provided a pretty good laugh once we had gathered everything back up and off we went to find a bathroom. This is what we found:

Believe me, the outside looks much nicer than the hole-in-the-ground we had to use. But, hey, at least it wasn’t the woods.

We eventually made it, with all of our belongings, to Cannon Mountain where we ate, took pictures and waited for our 12:40 p.m. start time to roll around. Here’s everyone pre-race – clean, showered and ready to roll:

While Danielle was out running our very first leg, I took it upon myself to decorate our mode of transportation. I won’t tell you the other things we considered writing, but it would have been pretty funny. We also added a 'you love it' on day two because obviously, we loved it.

At the very first transition I knew I was going to have fun when I met three triathletes (two have completed a full Ironman) who might have had smoother legs than I did! I’m not sure how exactly the conversation came about, but all three of them completely shave their legs during race season. They were pretty into talking about it and suggested I take a picture:

My first leg was an easy three. Sort of. If you like running down a really steep hill pretty much the whole way.

Totally trashed my quads and the water looked nice so I joined Jason for a chilly soak.

I met a sweet ultra runner mid-way through and he told me how this was his second of three consecutive legs. He was a part of a four-man team – so hardcore, so cool and I’m super jealous of their feat. We kept the same pace pretty much the entire way which made it really fun. Ask anyone on my team – I couldn’t get enough of these guys. Their youngest runner ended up going to the hospital after his third leg with bad dehydration so they finished as a three-man team. Wow.

After our van finished our first legs, we grabbed some dinner at a cute café and attempted to grab some shut-eye before our night of running. That turned into a whole lot of schoolgirl giggling and silly chatter. Super tired because of this, but it was well worth it!
My second leg proved to be pretty tough. I mean look at that elevation chart. Climbing nearly 1,000 feet in my first 3/4 of a mile was not ideal:

My legs were pretty sore from that downhill earlier and I felt it during that first hike and then again on the second. When my fellow runners pulled up alongside to see if I needed anything I let them know just how much fun I was having. (Note: lots of sarcasm here. I was angry! Haha.) While I didn’t really love the whole hiking up a mountain thing, I did enjoy running at night. I had done it a couple times before with one of my friends, but never alone, so it was cool. Even neat, if you will. This 6.54-mile leg nearly broke me, but I am actually considering asking for it again next year. I need to show those hills who's boss!

Once we finished up our second leg, we briefly, I mean briefly, slept at the local community college. I was lucky enough to score the couch for a whopping two hours of sleep. We actually slept this time. No slumber-party-esque behavior.

After a bit of sleep and a quick breakfast we were off for our final leg. Here’s what my third leg looked like. It was challenging, but not nearly like the previous near-disaster that was my night run. I ended up passing a handful of runners who were really struggling – one of their teams had been running since 8 a.m.! I was just pumped to be moving and stretched out after being cramped up in the van.

Unfortunately, Danielle had to depart early after her super hard third leg for her brother’s wedding (who gets married the same day as RTB??) and we definitely missed her. Our sleep-deprivation got to us and we shared lots and lots of stories. We laughed a ton and know more about each other than we probably ever imagined we would. We even decided to give each other mini adult-topic pop-quizzes during our runs. Here we are post leg three and waiting on Van 2!

And here we are at the finish. Down two runners, but looking good. Official time 28 hours, 51 minutes, 27 seconds!

Like I mentioned before, I had such a blast. I'll admit I was a bit concerned with the age difference in the van (I'm 22 and the oldest could have been my father!) but it seriously didn't matter. Can't wait for next year - be on the look our for the 'Vanpires'! Trust me, you'll be able to find us ... our van will most definitely have 'we will SHOCK you' somewhere on it.
Until next year ...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Running For Those Who Can't

Sure, I run to stay in shape.
I run because I love it.
I run because nothing will ever be as euphoric as runner’s high.
I run because it has become a part of my life.
And last Monday, I was reminded of another reason why I run…I run simply because I can.

For the past two years, Labor Day has brought the Annual 5K Labor Day Classic to my hometown. This year was my first year running it and it definitely will not be my last. This race was started by Brian Denger and Joel Croteau in 2009 and raises money to fund research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Both of Brian’s sons have the disease, which has essentially immobilized the high school sophomore and senior. They are confined to wheelchairs and so Brian has dedicated much of his life to doing something his sons will never be able to – run. He has run long and short distances, near and far from home, all the while fighting to find a cure for his two beloved boys. The Labor Day Classic hits a lot closer to home for me than most races because I have known the Denger family since I was five. I went to school with their sister and my mother used to work with their mother. They are a really strong bunch of people and as I have grown older, I have really come to admire their courage and respect their drive to find a cure. Here are the boys – Matthew and Patrick:

I’ve also recently been talking to Brian a lot via Facebook in regards to running. I sometimes feel like he’s my running father. No one in my family is a distance runner and he is definitely a seasoned runner, so I love getting his encouragement, feedback and advice. This was another one of the reasons why I signed up to run the 5K – why not support someone who has been supporting me?

Now, for the race itself. I did great! I usually hate the 5K distance and I anticipated this disaster in advance – so much so that I decided to run to the race. It’s only about 1.5 miles away from my house so it was a good warm-up. The temperature was perfect and despite my recent minor injury battles, the legs were feeling good so I decided I would run moderately. The only real hill is at the very beginning, so it’s a pretty easy course overall. I felt great through most of the race and was expecting a pretty decent time, but nothing like what I actually got. (Drum roll please) I got second in my age group! First time I’ve ever placed in a running race, so I was pretty impressed with myself. Check out the sweet medals age-group winners received:

Knowing what I know now, I guess I should have run hard, but it gives me a goal for the next one. Here I am receiving my award post-race. Cutest little guy handing it to me, don’t you think?

I also had a great conversation with Brian’s wife before the race and then after I finally got up the courage (stuff like this is hard for me to talk about sometimes) to tell her how cool I thought their family was. I can’t imagine dealing with 1/10th of the things she deals with on a daily basis. In the short conversation we had, she mentioned that I should run with the Parent Project for Muscular Dystrophy at the Disney Marathon. So, being the far too ambitious girl that I am, I approached Brian and told him I wanted to help. He seemed pretty excited – maybe even surprised – that I was interested. He suited me up with a PPMD shirt (even if I am swimming in the unisex XL), sent me some information via Facebook and pretty much gave me an offer I can’t refuse. I’ve got some technical details to work out, but if it all works like I hope, Disney 2011, here I come! I mean, I have been craving a big race, haven’t I?

For once, I thoroughly enjoyed this race. Couldn’t help but feel good about it all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Everyone's Favorite Season ... The NFL Season

Anyone who is any anyone in the world knows what today is and if you don’t, you MUST read on. Today marks the official start of the Patriots 2010-11 football season. While the Saints and Vikings opened the NFL season on Thursday, today is by far more exciting for me. The Pats are hosting the new-and-improved Cincinatti Bengals in a game that brings my three all-time favorite bad ass wide receivers together. Randy Moss will face off against Cinicinatti’s new Doublemint twins – Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens – for not only the best performance of the game, but the best nearly-impossible catch, most outlandish touchdown celebration and sweetest post-game press conference outfit. Take a look at some past outfits T.O. and Randy have sported: A bit much? Ya. Absolutely fantastic? Definitely.

Ochocinco is already expressing his excitement via Twitter. He posted the following early the morning:
Ummmm, I can’t wait for this. While I love both Ochocinco and Owens and have each of them on at least one of my three fantasy teams, I’ll obviously be rooting on Tom, Randy, Wes and the gang. Cinci should be pretty good and will definitely be an interesting team to follow, though. I fully plan on tuning in to their games throughout the season and I’d love to see them do well, until the playoffs, that is. Now that LeBron has made Miami his new home, the Bengals are pretty much the only hope Ohio has for even a close attempt at a title. And by that I mean, a division title.

The start of the season also brings me to another hot topic – Tom Brady. (yes, the ‘hot’ pun was very intended) While he has gotten a lot of criticism for his new ‘do, I think it’s great. I’ll even go as far to say that the extra hair just might have helped play into his walking away from a car accident early Thursday morning. No, concussion, right? He looks even more studly than before …

… more focused …

… even has the Papelbon stare going right here …

… and who doesn’t want to run their fingers through this?

Enough about Tom and his good looks for now. While I’m usually pretty confident that the Pats are going to absolutely annihilate the AFC East, I think we are going to have quite the race this year. The Jets (J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets! I can’t help but want to yell that every time I hear ‘Jets,’ even though I’m am very anti NFL green-and-white.) have locked up some pretty big offseason names and are expected to have a pretty good run. Antonio Cramartie, LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes give second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez something to work with offensively. Jason Taylor, coming from Washington, joins Mr. Holdout himself, Darrelle Revis, on the defensive side of things. Individually (with the exception of Revis) these guys have definitely seen their prime. Together, though, this could be different. Pretty sure the 2008 Celtics proved that and hopefully will again in 2011. Hope you ate an extra doughnut or two, Rex, this season could require a lot of energy and hard work.

I could go on about the upcoming NFL season forever, but I must get in a quick workout, throw in some laundry and possibly make some game-time food before the madness gets underway. Let’s be honest, I can’t be the only one dying to see if Ochocinco really fires a musket after his first touchdown, can I?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to School

I believe Adam Sandler puts it best in ‘Billy Madison,’ “Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight. Ohhhh, back to school. Back to school. Back to school. Well, here goes nothing.”

Just like Sandler, well not exactly, August 30th marked the first day of the 2010-2011 school year – my last year at the University of Southern Maine. EEEEK!! I can’t believe it’s here already. I feel like I’m still in high school sometimes, but I guess I’m not.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but I’m super excited about my classes this semester. And when I say super, I mean SUPER! It’s definitely going to be a lot of work, but if my upcoming assignments are as fun and challenging as I think they’ll be, it’ll be worth it. Just for kicks – here’s a little preview: planning the school’s first mud run, senior media project (my group is tackling a blog thanks to me), interviews with sports industry big wigs, a senior portfolio, radio show and social media project.

I’m also a Peer Advisor this year which I’m really excited about. While I haven’t always enjoyed my time in college (freshman year seriously sucked), I do feel like I can be of help to struggling students and/or incoming students. It will be a great opportunity to give back before I leave the good ole US of M.

And now to begin the grad school application process…(Gonna be long and intensive, but I’m so pumped.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

So Long Sweet Summer

While I’m quite depressed that my summer is officially over, I love looking back at all the fun I had. It was by far the busiest ‘summer vacation’ I have ever had, but I got a lot accomplished and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The weather was great, the fun was never-ending, the friends and family were always there and the new experiences were like none other.

Run, Run, and Run Some More
As you all know, I started off the summer running my first marathon. Best choice ever! I was on my post-race high for days and it was such a fun way to start off the racing season. As expected, the Beach to Beacon 10K was by far my favorite, and the L.L. Bean 4th of July 10K was beyond miserable. Without those yucky races you’d never know what a truly enjoyable race experience is, though, right? Sadly, triathlons took a backseat to running this summer, but I’m not complaining. Training for Maine has gone far better than training for Sugarloaf. I am nursing some minor injuries, but nothing that I hope I can’t overcome come race day. Got a 20-miler in the books already and I’m hoping to do a 22 and/or 24 before the marathon. Official countdown – 28 days!!

Supporting the Sox
Five Red Sox games this summer and heading to my sixth this week – Sox vs. Rays with everyone from work. I have most certainly blogged the crap out of my Red Sox trips this year, so I’ll just get to the point here. Through five games, I’m 3-2! That’s a new record and a great one at that. Last year, I went to six games and they lost every. single. one.

Never gave proper blog attention to my most recent trip, so here’s a short synopsis. It rained, but Dad and I had seats under the roof, so we were nice and dry. They won and Papelbon pitched the ninth and didn’t blow it. Basically, this means that we got to dance and sing ‘Sweet Caroline,’ ‘I’m Shipping up to Boston,’ ‘Dirty Water’ and ‘Tessie.’ Success. Pre-game, we met former pitcher Chris Howard, who had the most team appearances in 1994 and was also Roger Clemens’ roommate back in the day. When I found this out, I obviously asked him for a picture, told him I blog and asked if he had any fun stories for me. He was so nice to talk to and even gave me his phone number if I wanted to hear more about Roger. Here we are in the Red Sox souvenir shop:

Remember, back a couple months ago I said I wanted to be a ‘dirt-fluffer,’ once in my life. Well, I definitely don’t want to be a ‘tarp-puller.’ Dad and I watched them move, fold and roll this thing in the rain and it just didn’t look as glamorous as dirt-fluffing.

This next kid had the sweetest balloon-shape thing ever. I couldn’t help but think about the bicycle Vince Vaughn makes the bratty kid in ‘Wedding Crashers’ when I saw this:

Back to Boston
Every year my friends and I venture off to Boston for the weekend and like always, we had an absolute blast. Usually, we go for two days and one night but this time we decided two nights was a must – one for the game and another to paint Boston red! Night one was the game – my first rainy experience at Fenway. Seriously, check out the sky behind us!

We had one massive downpour and a little bit of light rain even though it looked tornado-esque. Oh, and they lost. I’m not surprised. Keeks and I did not bring our raincoats, but at least we’ve got beer!

Is this not the perfect Fenway Park ad? We think so.

Day two took us shopping and to the Boston Public Garden – don’t we look cute?
JPell and Keeks had other plans for the night so Jonna and I went off for some fun. At Kitty O’Shea’s before the dancing and jeep ride really messed our hair and outfits:
I could definitely make an entire post out of only this weekend, but that’s just not necessary. We had fun – lots of fun. You get the idea.
If they weren't my family, I'd still pick them!
Even though I had a million other things going on this summer and so did my family, we still made time for some quality together time. We are really lucky that we are so close with my mom’s side and so while everyone is still around, I’m a firm believer we should take advantage it. Here is the winning volleyball AND baseball team with Memere and Pepere at our most recent barbeque:
My sister and I also took our cousins to Water Country for a day. The day started off early with wonderful weather and ended with a little thunderstorm late afternoon so the park closed early. We were pretty bummed, but got free passes for next year! We essentially had a full day at the park since it only closed about two hours early, but still get another day on the house! Here are Tyler and I waiting in line:

And my sister, Cameron and Ryan!

The Intern Life
I spent most of my summer interning at a race management company and while it was a boatload of work, it was so much fun! I had only ever been on the participant side of races, so it was really cool to see all the planning and preparation that goes into them. It’s a fairly small company, so they gave me a lot of responsibilities from the get-go. I did all of our social networking, in addition to coordinating volunteers and doing various other things for events. I had a lot of fun, learned tons about the sports business world and most importantly – my desire to pursue a sports business career was confirmed. My time at the company got extending, so I’m still interning in the office once a week during school until mid-October. So glad about this because, honestly, I’ll miss it when I’m done.