A Look Back on 2014

So, we are within the last 24 hours of 2014. This time of year is always full of hustle, bustle and sometimes a good amount of stress, so sitting in silence and thinking about everything that has happened this year is strangely relaxing. 

2014 was a powerful year. Not in the fact that I broke records, or gained Hulk-like super strength powers. It was powerful because I showed myself what I was capable of, if I made myself a little uncomfortable.

It was the year where I became a marathoner. I ran two marathons, one where I got freakishly ill, and one where I was recovering from an ankle injury. I found myself bargaining with my body, my brain and anyone who would listen to me. My favorite sign from the Marine Corps Marathon still remains, “You want to get fit, run a 5K. You want to talk to God, run a marathon.”

I learned what it was truly like to push my limits. On Killington, I found myself jumping into freezing water, running/hiking/walking 17 miles in slightly above freezing temperatures, and in the company of some of the most amazing people I have ever met. This year, I pushed myself out of my “I’m just doing this alone” mindset, and met some incredible people. From flying out to Vegas to race before a conference, to Killington, to flying to DC to run my second marathon – I would not have been able to do it without the people I have met along the way. 

I also learned how important rest is. By the time Marine Corps Marathon arrived, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. Why was I exhausted? Well, this was my year of races (not including the 100s of miles in training):

  • February 15, 2014: Cupid Chase (3.5 miles)
  • March 29th, 2014: Gator Gallop 5K
  • April 5, 2014: Spartan Race Super Las Vegas (8.5 miles, OCR)
  • April 13, 2014: One Run For Boston (13 miles)
  • April 28th, 2014: Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC (13.1 miles)
  • June 22nd, 2014: BAA 10K
  • June 24th, 2014: JP Morgan Corporate Challenge Boston (3.5 miles)
  • July 25th, 2014: Marathon Around the Lake (26.2)
  • August 2nd, 2014: Viking Assault Evansville (3 miles, OCR)
  • September 12- 13th, 2014: Reach the Beach NH (18 miles, 24 hours)
  • September 18th, 2014: Thompson Island 4K
  • September 20th, 2014: Spartan Race World Championship Beast, Killington VT (17 miles, OCR)
  • October 27th, 2014: Marine Corps Marathon (26.2)
  • November 16th, 2014, Spartan Race Fenway Sprint (3 miles, OCR)
  • December 6th, 2014: Frozen Frolic (3.5 miles)

The plenty of back to backs, plus the increasing milage, took it toll. Yes, I managed to nab a few PRs (5K pr is now 26:45!!), pushed myself to new distances and had the chance to travel to race, however, I didn’t take enough time to recover (physically and mentally) in between. 

The biggest highlight of the year? I learned to love my body.

I never have been a super skinny girl, and my thighs and butt have always been a little larger than life. However, this year, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t focus on the pudgy parts. I focused on what my body was able to accomplish. If you had told me 4 years ago, that I would run a marathon (let alone two in one year), i would have laughed, or rolled my eyes. If you would have told me that I would have completed a Spartan Race Trifecta, and completed the 2014 Killington Course, I would have told you that there was no way my jiggly butt would make it. 

And in the process, it may have gotten a little less jiggly.

I’ve learned that my quads love the rush of tacking a hill (or mountain), and will keep me going much longer than I thought possible. That my feet might no longer look pretty, but they get me where I need to go. I might not have six-pack abs, but they are strong enough to keep me standing tall.

For that, I thank you 2014, and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has to offer. 

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A Year In Review – 2013

I’m sitting here, on my couch, with a cup of coffee and a need to truly reflect on everything that has happened this year. 2013 was a year I will never ever forget.

I don’t really know how to write this years review any other way, than doing a month by month break down… so here we go:

January 2013: I declared that I would run at least one race a month. Little did I know, that simply declaring that goal, would truly change the course of how my year went. It started out as something so simple, and suddenly, at the end of the month, I ran up 52 floors at the Prudential Building in 14:00 min. I also was recognized at work with the “Unsung Hero” award.

February 2013: Not only did I experience running in the snow for the first time (Super Sunday 5 Miler), my boyfriend and I had decided to move in together when our leases were over. Instead of lashing out over small things, I started doing yoga more regularly.  

March 2013: I ran a hilly St. Patrick’s Day run, and decided to start a boxing bootcamp at the beginning of April. March was also the month where I consciously decided to start drinking less (this sounds silly, but when you work at a brewery, it’s pretty hard), and to try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.  Personally? I also had started to look for other jobs at this point in time. It finally dawned on me that I wasn’t going to go anywhere with a company who didn’t trust me enough to take a chance with me. I joined the Compete Every Day team as a freelance writer, and am happy to announce that I am now part of their Catalyst team for 2014 . I also joined the EnergyBits team as a brand ambassador. 

April 2013: This month was truly the game changer for the year. April 1st, I started a boxing bootcamp that taught me discipline and self defense. I loved every second of it. On April 14th, I completed the first race of the B.A.A. Distance Medley, the 5K. I crossed the Boston Marathon Finish Line as the finish line for that race, and basked in the Marathon weekend atmosphere.

April 15th changed everything. You can read my detailed account of what I experienced in an earlier blog post, but even now at the end of December, the mention of April 15th brings back a flood of memories. The sounds of sirens and being in a crowd running towards the Common still haunt me. I came out physically unscathed, and I am very lucky for receiving a perfectly timed text. I felt guilty that so many people were hurt, and that I wasn’t, even though I had been there for 3 hours. I felt angry that someone would do that. Then, I felt that I just needed to run and cry. And I did that a lot for the rest of the year… just ask my boyfriend.

May 2013: I joined a movement that changed the course of my year – One Run For Boston. Organized by three Brits, this transcontinental relay was organized in early May, and I signed up right away. Even though the final leg that I would run wasn’t until June, the support from the community was amazing from day one. I can’t wait until I run this again. Also, my sister graduated the top of her class from UC Berkeley. Seeing my family so soon after April 15th was amazing. I realized that I am truly blessed with a supportive family, who will always be there for me. In May, I also got to be part of a special moment – my friend Sydney ran her first 5K with me in South Boston. Not only was it her first ever race & 5K, it was the first run in Boston after April 15th. It was an emotional run. Personally, it was also the first time I cracked 30 minutes in a 5K, coming in at a quick 29:03. New PR!

June 2013: I ran the second B.A.A. Distance Medley run – the B.A.A. 10K. The first B.A.A. run since April. As we lined up at the start line, with the American Flag from the Boston Marathon finish line above us, I cried. Not going to lie. It was a hot and hard 10K, but it felt good to finish. June was also the month when a recruiter from my new company reached out on LinkedIn, asking me if I was interested in a new opportunity. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction. I started slowly working up my milage in preparation for my first half marathon in October, and quickly fell in love with morning runs around the Charles River.

July 2013: I met his parents. We went to Indiana for the 4th of July, and I got to experience a part of the country that I never had experienced before. The pace of life was slow, the hills were rolling and the corn was growing and it was beautiful. When our flight was cancelled due to weather, we stayed an extra day in Indiana, where I received a call – I had gotten the new job! When I got back home, I had to give notice, tie up all my loose ends and get ready to not only start a new job, but move from Boston to Wakefield.

August 2013: This is the month when “Life Happened”. I started a new job at the beginning of the month. On the 12th, we moved into our new apartment in Wakefield. The next week? Our friends got married. Week after that? We had to unpack, try to get settled in and figure out where everything in town was. August was a whirlwind of life and stress… and yoga and running helped me keep a solid head on my shoulders. 

September 2013: Half Marathon training forced me to be very disciplined. I learned to say no (quickly) to long nights out, because 10 mile runs after a night out are not fun. I learned that getting up a little bit earlier wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought, and that seeing the sun rise over the lake was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I loved the quiet of running around the lake at 5:30am… and love the camaraderie of all of the other runners doing the same thing. In September, I also learned the hard way that I had to rely on myself during my runs – as my running partner told me she was dropping out of running the half marathon.

October 2013: Not only did I work my first work conference in Washington DC, I also finished my first half marathon (while suffering from a bladder infection). Seeing my boyfriend a mile away from the finish line made me smile and dig deep, and crossing the finish line of the B.A.A. Half Marathon was one of the highlights of my year. After crossing that line, I swore I would be back, and that this was not the last time I would run that distance. I settled into a new routine, of running regularly in the morning. This was made also possible, by joining the group I Run 4… I Run 4 Tyler, and cute 8 year old Illinois boy with Autism. My boyfriend and I also settled into a more familiar routine of living together. He’s my best friend and I am so lucky to get to live with him. 

November 2013: At the beginning of November, I got a new PR in the 5K distance during the Run for All Ages – with 28:30! I also got 3rd place in my age group (still in shock about this!)

Two weeks later, the One Run For Boston community came to my rescue again in November, and I found a great new friend. We ran the Spartan Race Fenway together and I shaved over 35 minutes from my time last year. Running through Fenway Park was not only awesome, but also emotional, as we ran around the “B Strong” logo on the field. Plus, we got to run around Fenway just 2 weeks after the Red Sox won the World Series. I crossed that finish line with pride, while wearing my One Run for Boston shirt. I felt like nothing could stop me, and that all the work that I did this year finally paid off.

Then Thanksgiving came around, and I signed up for the Wakefield Turkey Trot… where I SHATTERED the new PR I had just set for myself, and finished in 27:33. Maybe I am a cold weather runner after all. This also marked day 1 of #RWRUNSTREAK, where I pledged to run at least one mile every day from Thanksgiving until New Years Day.  

December 2013: And here I am, in December looking back on everything. I have run for 34 days as part of #RWRUNSTREAK, and my last run of the streak will be tomorrow morning. I just came back from California, where I spent a wonderful week with my family. I don’t get to see them very often, so every time I get to see them is extra special. Not only that, but at my new home, we also celebrated Christmas with decorating our first tree, and hanging stockings. Keeping old traditions and starting new ones make the holidays my favorite time of the year. I am looking forward to seeing what 2014 has to offer!

Sorry this got long… and if you are still reading this now, I hope you had a great 2013 and I wish you only the best for 2014!

<3 The Road To A Healthy Life

March 2012                                                      December 2012

Now that we are firmly in 2013, I wanted to take a brief moment to reflect on 2012. 

In February 2012, I decided I wanted to be healthier. First, it started off with what I thought was a lofty goal of running more than a mile. Seriously. I wanted to get in shape. I wanted to lose weight.

What did I gain in 2012? I gained a new found self confidence. I worked hard. I ran. I ran when it was cold. I ran when it was hot. I started cooking real food again. I started dating the most wonderful man ever and I got to meet his adorable 2 year old son. 

It made me want to work harder. 

If you would have told me this time last year that I would have run 10 races in 2012. I would have laughed. If you would have told me then that I would enjoy running 3+ miles in the freezing cold, I would have pounded another beer. I would have said that the longest I would run was to the bar and back.

2012 had some of the best highs and some of the lowest lows. Running and working out was my way to both celebrate and lift myself up. 

What did I find in 2012? I found my health, my love and a new lease on life. I can honestly say that I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life. 

What are my goals for 2013? I want to run one race a month. Starting today, with a virtual 5K. Also at the end of the month, I will be running up all 50 flights of stairs at the Prudential Center – but a separate post on that later. Also, I want to run a ½ Marathon in May.

Weight wise? I’ve really stopped weighing myself, but I’m down a pant size and I think 5lbs in total. However, I’m much more proud to say that I completed a Spartan Race where I carried a 60lbs sandbag up and down a section of Fenway Park. Or that I cut 4 minutes off my 5K time. That’s what I’m most proud of.

Happy New Year!