What If?

What if?

What if I can land that dream job and salary?

What if I meet that perfect guy and find my happily ever after?

What if I get that one chance to prove everyone wrong?

What if I achieve those huge goals?

What if I make the seemingly unattainable…attainable?

We’re all plagued with, “What if?” scenarios raging through our daydreams and thoughts. Repulsed by reality, we retreat to these pleasant moments that our subconscious conjures up, ones where everything goes right… The perfect day is had. The victory is won. The meeting gets cancelled. Everyone gets to have class outside. Work is cut short so everyone can play with a pile of corgis.

With the sigh of disappointment, we come off our clouds and back into reality, where life is grounded, familiar, real, stale. A snoozefest. Corgi-less.

But sometimes, you latch onto that one hypothetical memory, the one that keeps playing on repeat. It comes alive any time you are in a familiar room, a favorite song is playing…then you start to time travel…and your imagination soars to the future. Every move that is occurring in the hypothetical becomes more vivid, more vibrant; you can feel, taste, hear exactly what is going on as if it is happening right then.

You can’t escape it. It becomes consuming. You can’t imagine yourself NOT doing what your subconscious is hinting at you to do…


I told myself after the Marine Corps Marathon that I was done with marathons. Done. Donezo. Finir. End game. I did four marathons. Four is an okay number; it’s more than one. I was happier with shorter distances. I was starting to fall in love with 10Ks, possibly moreso than half marathons. I wasn’t stuck on some course trapped in my feelings of grumpy misery hoping that the finish line would come at mile two of 26.2.

Settling on my 99% done with marathons mindset, I ran through my runner thoughts: Giving up now means not reaching Six Star Status with the World Marathon Majors. Means no Edinburgh Marathon in Scotland (but there is a half!). Also means not claiming my deferral for Chicago 2018, which I purposely deferred because of life (like so many of us have had to do in the past).

(…frankly, I was repulsed by reclaiming my Chicago entry because it meant repaying $195…)

That’s a fifth of my rent! And I’m not making $14/hr on 42 hours a week like I was in D.C.

But that “what if” was nagging at me.

What if you put your name in for one last lottery, just for shits and giggles? If you don’t get picked, then you can retire from marathons!

Then the logical side of my brain jumped in with:

Buuuuuut if you get picked….ya gotta run it and eat your words after telling everyone you were done with them!

So this battle went back and forth for awhile. I was eyeing the Berlin Marathon, which I had been denied for previously. Its lottery window was still open, and its price manageable.

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Ah, what the hell. I’ll give them my info.

And so I did.


Time passed and the lottery closed. I went back to my normal routine. Pushed it out of my head.

In that time, I had found a song that I couldn’t stop listening to. I had set it as my alarm on work days. Something I could listen to on repeat and not get bored, a theme song of sorts. I discovered “Back 2 U” by Steve Aoki & Boehm ft. Walk the Moon on YouTube when watching various sorority bid day videos. There’s a lot of references to running in the lyrics…and it made me start daydreaming about my races and running in general…

So now I’m running like you set me free out in the wild
I know you want me to come home, but it might take awhile
I’ve got my heart in my hands while my head’s up in the clouds
And only heaven knows if I will make it back to you

So I, I just keep running…

Pairing this song to my recent submission to Berlin, I started dreaming…

About making my way to the airport, passport in hand.

Staring out the window as we fly over the ocean, clouds passing by.

Various Germanic scenes of villages, monuments, landmarks.

Starting that marathon at the pop of the gun with 44,000 other runners.

Racing 26.2 miles to the crowds of over a million, to the wall of cheers slamming into me each step of the way, the ensuing adrenaline propelling me to push myself more than I ever had.

Turning the final corner and racing that straightaway through the Brandenberg Gate to the finish line.

It was like one of those freakin’ montages that you see of an elite just before the beginning of a Marathon Major on TV.

Vivid. Vibrant. Real.

And I would tear up every time that I thought about it. For days. Because, “What if? Like, holy shit, what if this actually happens? It’s like I’m clairvoyant. I’m seeing all of this unfold in front of me. I’m getting goosebumps.”


I had a trip to Washington, D.C. planned at the end of November for the Cherry Blossom Kickoff Party. It was two days full of fun and friends while exploring around the city, like I always did when I lived up there.

During all of this, I was refreshing my email. Results would begin the 30th and would take several days to finish…but would they start midnight Germany time, or when their offices opened up the in morning at 9AM Germany time? Honestly, they never gave us direction on the timing. Just the date.

So I waited. And waited. Refreshed my email a million times. Checked my credit card statement (and got fooled into thinking it was the amount taken out. Nope. Just a payment I had made that was so close to the actual amount. Damn.) I tried to stay distracted by not constantly refreshing every five minutes. So I did some laundry, some cleaning, took my cousin’s dog out for a walk, watched some TV…

I was texting Chris when I popped over to my mailbox again for the 593rd time.

There was something new. I looked.

Congratulations!

My eyes went wide. Oh, my, goodness. I clicked open the email and read it. And I started crying.

I. Was. In.

I’m not sure if it was good vibes and good thoughts, or the runner gods wanted me to do this one last marathon, or what was going on, but holy shit. I couldn’t believe it.

My, “The Simpsons are going to Germany!” moment had arrived.

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Now, typically when I apply for lotteries, I blast it all over my social media. However, after proclaiming that I was done with marathons, I didn’t want the word to get out that I had entered yet another marathon lottery. I told just a couple of confidants through twitter DM, but I knew would have to be sneaky about it. At least for a little while.

Chris was ecstatic, as were Adriane and Robert (cousin/cousin-in-law), and my confidants. Social media was erupting, but I resisted jumping in on the party. Instead, I walked down the road and attended the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Kickoff Party, which was the reason I had flown up to D.C. in the first place. Not only did I partake in meeting up with my friend, Heather, and meeting her husband, Roswell, but I got a T-shirt preview, lots of delicious garlic knots and salad, met other runners (including the race director for Marine Corps Marathon, Rick Nealis), and landed a guaranteed entry for CUCB 2018. So see ya in April, D.C.!

As I posted the news on socials and got on the plane the next day to return to Orlando, the fantasy montage that I kept myself entertained with for the days and weeks leading up kept rolling through my mind. Only this time, it felt concrete. Secure. My subconscious fantasy daydream stuff had been right. I’m not sure what good vibes the universe was giving me, but I wasn’t going to complain.

I got in.

I am going to Berlin, Germany.

My marathon journey is not yet over.

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Berlin-Ville

I was a child walking with giants a hundred feet tall
Out in the wild, you wouldn’t believe all the things that I saw
I took a high road out in the open under those stars
And all the while, I just got closer to going too far…

So now I’m running like you set me free out in the wild
I know you want me to come home, but it might take awhile
I’ve got my heart in my hands while my head’s up in the clouds
And only heaven knows if I will make it back to you

So I, I just keep running…


Now, fast forward to the present day. There’s one teeny little detail that I have left out of this entire monologue. Until now.

Whilst on the plane heading to D.C. the day before lottery results began, I pulled out my travel journal. I often write when I fly, as it calms my nerves and gives me a fantastic distraction.

I got my song going, cracked open my pen, and started writing….

Berlin results will be announced shortly, starting tomorrow. I’m tellin’ you…being selected will change so much. Having #BQinBerlin on my mind and striving to achieve something that perceived to be unattainable by so many will shatter that misconception. I want to make the seemingly unattainable attainable. Part of me wants to be that role model for others, to show that determination, discipline, and dedication are all required—not optional—to achieve the biggest dreams and goals.

That third line. The little tidbit that I have held from the internet:

#BQinBerlin

You read that right.

I went into this process with a mindset: if selected, I would be going out with a bang. I would be attempting to BQ. To train for, and to qualify for, the Boston. Freakin’. Marathon.

If Berlin truly is destined to be my last marathon, I am going to go out having put my best foot forward. If I qualify, then I’ll pull a Shalane and scream, “Fuck yeah!” I’d wrap up my marathon career on the biggest stage in the running world at Boston. If I fall short, then I know I had the best race of my life and I can retire happily having completed at least one World Marathon Major, and an international marathon.

No matter the results, there will be plenty of beer and bratwurst consumed post-race. And maybe some cake.


Welcome to my 2018 goal. There are many miles yet to be traversed, and it’s not going to be easy. Grab your running shoes and passports. The world is waiting.

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Welcome to #BQinBerlin.

2017 Year in Review — Running

This year was…quite something. I think out of this year, more than any other, each race has its own specific story to tell. These range from the dramatically emotional (RnR DC) to elation (Clyde’s 10K), from observing the goodness of the running community (WDW Half) and sheer perseverance (MCM). Let’s dive into the review…


January: Goofy Challenge

WDW Half
Nothing like starting out the racing year with a cancelled race! Due to storms, the WDW Half was cancelled and we were issued refunds in a variety of forms for our registration. (Anyone else still using their gift cards?! I am!) However, it didn’t stop many of us from trekking around the hotels and parks to get that mileage in! Cast Members and other runners set up makeshift water and candy stops along loops where runners were getting their laps in. Cheers from guests and runners alike pierced the air through the parts as we donned our bright yellow race shirts and ran circles around World Showcase. Social media support was intense, and we couldn’t stop clamoring over how one event brought out the best in the running community, and how we were all a part of this history.

WDW Marathon
-So Mr. Cold Front came through, and I was fortunate to have brought cold weather clothes to Florida. It was 35 degrees with 15 mph winds. Official Florida winter. Never had I felt this cold during a race. Even with the sun, I was still freezing.

My race was awesome, though…for the first five miles. I was pacing to hit a 5:24 marathon (which would have been a 1.5 hour PR). But once I hit that stupid Cone Alley at Mile 6.8, that went out the window. I turned it into a fun run, rode on Everest, and grabbed a margarita to finish my third marathon in 7:30.

Then I went back to my hotel, wrapped myself in my space blanket, and thawed out.

February:Glass Slipper Challenge

Enchanted 10K
-The entire weekend I was plagued with side stitches. I could barely run any of the 19.3 miles for these two races. But I did PR in photography, running into social media friends, and watching a kick ass sunrise over Yacht Club and Boardwalk.

Highlight of the race: I MET MY RUNNING TWIN, LINDSAY!!!!

However, if you looked around, you could tell that runDisney was pulling back on a lot of our favorite things. For one, the Fairy Godmother didn’t wave us away, nor were there characters at the beginning. That’s been a pre-launch tradition for as long as I can remember.

My fastest mile of the weekend was Mile 1 with a 10:47. Fabulous.

The 10K medal is definitely my favorite of the four 10Ks I’ve run thus far.

Princess Half Marathon

-This was my fifth Princess Half, so I knew exactly what to expect course-wise. The course map has remained unchanged from when I ran my first in 2013. Due to traffic, the race was actually delayed by a couple of minutes as they waited for all of the elites to arrive. Once we started moving, I made the decision to not chase a sub-3 PR, and just to focus on photography, just like the previous day. I finished in 3:34, definitely not my best performance. But I did get my GSC legacy shot (which prompted a lot of, “Shut the front door!” from those watching me layer on 12 medals), and met social media buddies Ian and Keith!

March

Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon That Wasn’t

-Easily the most frustrating race I have ever taken part in. So frustrating that I have declared a boycott of all RnR DC races and RnR marathons. Lack of course split signage and course officials directing runners to said split caused Chris and I to finish just the half, not the marathon which we paid for. Having NO idea what was going on, I cried just before the finish line, looking around like a lost puppy dog. I blew a sub-3 chance with my little tantrum, but I couldn’t help it. Any race that goes against what is written in the race instructions online gets no respect from me. I have now coined the term logistical ignorance to describe the experience.

It was also the coldest! I thought WDW was bad. That didn’t hold a candle to DC.

Some good stuff happened though: I met Meb, and Chris and I got new half marathon Prs with 3:02 on a very hilly course (and I got to ring my first PR bell!). Also, there could always be Hamilton tickets at the finish…you have to cross the line to check!

April

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

This race definitely falls under the Prettiest Race of 2017 for me. DC got nailed with a cold snap that killed off a lot of the cherry blossoms in March, and the little guys were struggling to bloom as the Cherry Blossom Festival was getting underway. Somehow, a warm front came through, and we had blossoms for race day!

This was my first 10 Miler, acquired through the lottery, so it was an automatic PR. While this international field is intense (anything run in the DMV will have an intense field, because competition), there is still plenty of opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Trending with WDW and RnR, this race was also cold as hell. It’s just been the year of cold! I swapped out my original outfit for thermal tights and sleeves.

This was also the first race where I wasn’t hell bent on taking pictures. Starting in the last corral, I had roughly an eight minute buffer between the pace vehicle and myself, so I was more focused on keeping that barrier. (CUCB requires proof of time upon lottery entry for corral seeding purposes just like runDisney.) It took me five miles to finally pull my phone out and snap a course picture. The course reflected all of my other DC races, so I knew what was along the route. CUCB does have a time limit of 2:20:00, Finish past this and you will not be listed as an official finisher. I finished in 2:10, just barely making it!

Clyde’s 10K

And another PR! Getting closer to that sub hour 10K!

Having worked for the Clyde’s Restaurant Group at the time of racing, I was granted a comp entry for the company 10K. Taking place in scenic Columbia, MD, it was a 10K of extremely hilly proportions (and the crazy Route 108). Afterwards, a delicious brunch catered by Clyde’s of Columbia was consumed. I was disappointed that there was no medal for this race (making it three 10Ks so far that remain medal-less), but I am very happy with my 4 ½ minute improvement from the Hot Cider Hustle 10K from the previous year.

And then we go into hiatus…until…

October

Marine Corps Marathon

Ahhh, my revenge marathon on the same course that gave me my first DNF in 2015. I was also running with Chris and Lauren, who were out to crush their first marathons. It was hot, it was brutal, I got diverted at Mile 17 because I arrived thirteen minutes too late to Charge the District. I still found my way to the finish line and got a medal…and a lot of Shake Shack the next day.

I told myself no more marathons after this. Then I put my name in for Berlin…

…and now I’m eating my words. I’ll be writing a more in depth post on this whole topic coming soon. 🙂

December

UO Fun Run 5K

Company race through Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Slowest 5K so far, but a PR in character stops with 11!

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So this year by the numbers:

-9 races
-117.2 miles traversed
-10 Medals
-4 locations (FL, DC, MD, VA)
-3 Personal Records (MCM should’ve been #4 with a PR by 9 minutes, but only after hypothetical times were calculated by the timing company)
-2 Marathons
-2 Disney challenges
-1 New Distance (10 Miler)

2017 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I didn’t enter Marine Corps Marathon weekend with high expectations. With my resentment towards the 26.2 distance aggrandizing since the WDW Marathon in January, I honestly just wanted to get in and get out with minimal injury. Having flashbacks of my 2015 experience in DC still fresh in my mind, I didn’t care what my pace was. I wanted to cross that finish line and be done.

I slept terribly the night before, getting about four hours total. Chris and I woke up around 4:45, and before I knew it, it was 5:45 and we were out the door, heading to the Metro. I swear, no matter how much time you give yourself to get ready, it’s never enough!

We arrived at the Metro slightly after six. I was sort of excited to ride, as MCM partnered with WMATA to open the Metro two hours early to accommodate the runners, with extra Blue and Yellow trains to the Pentagon station. Okay, so we’ll have trains operating every five minutes or so, easy peasy. I won’t have to freak out about being late.

I should’ve known better. This is DC Metro, after all. The first train didn’t arrive until 6:30 AM.

We arrived at Pentagon station by 6:45, and it was a madhouse. With each arriving train, the platform got more crowded. The crowds were moving at a snail’s pace to begin with, probably due to those not being prepared in advance with their Metro cards to tap out of the station. It took us about 15 minutes to exit.

Following the swarm of runners to the starting area, the sun started to cast a beautiful yellow and orange glow in the sky. Rosslyn was off in the distance and its buildings were reflecting the rays as a sort of welcoming beacon for us. The weather was slightly chilly, but that was going to change quickly once the sun peaked. After walking roughly over a mile, we came upon the UPS drop off location.

Over the booming speakers, we heard: “If you’re here and running the 10K…ouch!” -announcer guy

(The MCM 10K, which is also on my list, was taking place IN the city as the last 6.2 miles of the marathon course. If a 10Ker was at the Pentagon, well…)

Chris and I found our other Kappa Kappa Psi brothers and running buddies, Lauren, and her husband, Patrick (who was playing support crew with our other friends Chris and Ema). After a quick picture, we headed to the starting area.

With the fear of being swept fresh on our minds, and after careful analysis of our previous races and paces from this year, we decided to line up around the 5:00 area. We’d have a somewhat decent barrier between us and the sweeper vehicles, and be in the vicinity of the 5:00 and 5:30 pace groups in case we wanted to join.

The parachuters did their performances, and the Ospreys did their flyover to the cheers of the crowds. At 7:55, the Howitzer fired, and the race began!

Sort of.

Any Marine Corps Marathon veteran will tell you that it takes, on average, twenty minutes from the time the Howitzer fires until you cross the start line. So it’s a perfect representation of the military: hurry up and wait.

Around 8:17am or so, the three of us finally started our journey! First stop: Rosslyn.

I posted several times on social media that the first 5K for this race is the worst. It has the most elevation changes, and staying conservative will be beneficial in the later miles. The crowds were ample and puppies even moreso. We stayed steady, walking the hills and running the flat areas. The energy was amplified, and, trust me, greatly appreciated. We hit the 5K mark and descended into Spout Run along miles 3.5-4 on the GW Parkway. (This turned out to be my best mile of the whole damn race.) The views of Georgetown University were gorgeous as we headed towards Key Bridge.

The crowds started to thin a little as we ran down M Street in Georgetown and flew down Wisconsin Ave.

Our next stop was Rock Creek Park, and I was starting to feel a little fatigued. Lauren and Chris were definitely faster than I was, whether running or speed walking, so I tried to keep up the best I could.

RCP was shady and pretty as always. Having run the same route during several other DC races, I knew what to expect. The turn around at mile 7 led to a nice downhill (same downhill as NAFHALF and halfway up the evil hill from RnR DC), and back into the shade. As we headed past mile 8, we saw the sweeper busses coming up the other side. Already?! There’s no way in hell I was getting on that bus this year.

My lower back was starting to hurt, and it was getting harder to keep up with Chris and Lauren. I didn’t want to bog them down with my slowness, so I told Chris to just go ahead without me. He didn’t want to leave me behind but I didn’t want to screw up their race plans. I watched them get farther away, and I had no doubt that they would finish their first marathons strong and in one piece.

The sun was starting to rage around mile 10 as I headed toward Hains Point. I was starting to feel dehydrated and weak, and slowed to mainly walking with some running bursts in between. My new friend, Christine, whom I met post-expo and is also Ms. United States: District of Columbia, caught up with me around mile 11.5 and we shared some encouraging words before taking off for the Blue Mile at mile 12.

I’m glad I wore sunglasses for this race; I got really emotional watching other runners stopping by the signs of their loved ones and just pausing to reflect.

I also got a lot of high fives in this section, which was great because I was about to fall over.

I wasn’t planning on taking Run Gum until the halfway point, but I took it just before I entered this section. Holy crap, was that a bad idea. I didn’t have water to wash the flavors down, so the sugars coated my mouth and throat and felt thick and suffocating. This error would affect the rest of my race as the ensuing dehydration made me feel sick and gross.

My half split was a 3:09, which is surprisingly decent compared to some of my other half splits over the years.

The second half of the race was torture. My stomach and back weren’t cooperating, the sun was blazing, and I was so ready to be done. However, just past the halfway mark was the Funny Sign Mile. I was SOOOOO happy that they didn’t take these down prematurely, unlike in 2015 when everything seemed to disappear after all the faster runners went through.

The objective here to focus on was making it to the “D.C. Gauntlet” at Mile 17 by 12:33. I had about 45 minutes to make it three miles. Not an easy feat when you feel like dying and are walking the entire distance. The pace car (white car with colored handprints) was annoyingly riding alongside of us (and we honestly didn’t know if it was the official pace car or what it was doing), but I was just happy to not see those stupid sweeper busses riding my ass.

I saw fellow Kappa Kappa Psi brother Katelyn at Mile 16! 💙💙💛

I came up on mile 16 and, after taking liquids, thought I had to go to the bathroom. I stepped in and tried to go. Nothing happened. At this point, I knew I was going to be diverted past the first gauntlet and to the bridge. I took a moment, gathered myself, and got back on the course. Even with the copious amount of liquids I ingested, it still felt like it wasn’t enough. It would actually be several more miles before I saw water again.

I missed the cutoff for the D.C. Gauntlet by 13 minutes, and to be technical, I’m not considered an “official finisher” due to this. Cutting across Jefferson Drive and right to the Beat the Bridge portion at mile 19.5, we slowpokes merged in with the bulk of the other runners here, and rejoiced over the fire hydrant that happened to be open and spraying water about. I also heard my fellow Team Shenangians member, Meghan, cheering me on as I went to the bridge.

The 14th Street Bridge…I had no doubt I’d get over this, as I started around 12:50-ish. Still walking, the sun was beating down on us, and its effects were affecting all of us. Still feeling ultra dehydrated, I was very tempted to ask another runner if they had water I could take a quick sip of. Embarrassing as it was, I ran around asking random support groups if they had water. One of them—I didn’t quite catch a name—actually seemed reluctant to give me a bottle, but they did. If it wasn’t for that water, I probably would have dropped on the bridge…or over the bridge.

I got over the bridge and into Crystal City at 1:36, 13 minutes before that cutoff. As I was heading in, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was Chris! He was soooo confused as to how I got ahead of him, and I told him I got diverted. Still confused, I told him I’d explain later, and he started getting ahead of me. He was a man on a mission at this point, and I knew he’d finish. I asked where Lauren was, and he said she was behind him a ways.

During the Crystal City section (and at other points on the course), I had other runners come up to me and ask if I was @runDisneyBelle, seeing as they had seen my flat runner on social media. One of them was @runnerchick29! Trust me, I am ALWAYS happy to meet other runners on course. Look for the bow and say hi 🙂

Having run MCM before, I can tell you that no matter how many fire hydrants and hoses were open, Crystal City is awful. It’s neverending, and runners drop like flies. The crowds were really good this year, had lots of food, and I caught quick glimpse of the medal from a distance. I knew had to finish (and to justify buying the jacket prematurely!). I swing around Mile 23, and saw Lauren on the other side of the road! I ran over to her and we were just like, “…mehhhhh….when’s it gonna be overrrr?”

Yeah. We were so over it by this point.

The last 5K was just as brutal as the first 5K, but with water and animal crackers, and more sun. By the time Mile 25 arrived, we had swung back to where we had started about 6.5 hours prior. This time, we’d be taking the hill to the Iwo.

I ran into fellow Shenanigator Kristin here, and it was a great boost to get us to the finish!

Left up the hill…

Support crew selfie!


So I crossed the finish line for my fourth marathon, if you can even call it that. Due to being diverted from those miles in the city, the Xacte splits actually calculated predicted pace for the 30K and 35K marks for me. I appreciate its generosity as it gave me 12:33/ppm and 13:17/ppm respectively.

I got across that finish line and my “time” was a 6:41:43. To me, that’s all that matters at this point. Mission Accomplished. Woohoo.

I’ll jump on my soapbox for a moment and shout I AM SO PROUD OF LAUREN AND CHRIS FOR FINISHING THEIR FIRST MARATHON! Chris kicked my ass by twenty minutes and Lauren finished just a couple minutes behind me. I am SO proud of my fellow brothers for accomplishing their goals.

Christine also came over and celebrated with us!!


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

1. I say this after every marathon, that I’m done and completely over the 26.2 distance. Then I find myself toeing the line for another full. But after this one, I feel like I am truly done. I got my “redemption” by crossing the finish line for this race. I didn’t get swept, nor did I die due to the heat. Calculating the miles from Metro excitement and heading to the start line, it gave me roughly 27-ish miles post race, according to my Garmin pedometer. I will call that a win.

Getting back to future marathons…I am supposed to do Chicago next year due to deferring this year. However, I would have to repay $195 just to claim my deferral. That’s literally a fifth of my rent and over two days’ worth of work! With this being the biggest reason to skip, and the ever growing resentment towards the distance, I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Chicago 2018. Let me also remind you all that I will also not be running in Disney in January for Marathon Weekend. I ran the last two years and abhor the course. Why continue doing a distance that I cannot stand, and dealing with the, “I’m so done with this.” angry feeling before, during, and after the race?

2. Weather all around the nation has been obnoxiously hot this year. I suggest to race officials that an additional water stop be put on the bridge for future races. For those like me who got diverted at 17, we did not get the convenience of the two water points that were in the D.C. Gauntlet. We went from the mile 16 water stop to mile 21.75 without water in the blazing sun.

3. Major thanks to everyone who came out and cheered for us during this race, even for us turtles in the back. Trust me, we greatly appreciate it. Cheers are not reserved for just the fastest runners on a course.

4. I was disappointed to see so many vendors packing up their stuff as I made my way into the Finisher’s Festival. I understand y’all have places to go and things to do, but we turtles would like to partake in what you have to offer, as well! I wanted bacon and watermelon.



Congrats to everyone who finished this weekend! It was an arduous course, and the weather moreso. Great job of Charging the District, Beating the Bridge, and Taking the Iwo. You ran with purpose and finished with pride. Extra confetti to the first timers! You deserve it!!

Thanks for a great racecation, D.C. Until next time…

Happy National Coffee Day!

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For coffee fanatics and lovers everywhere, it is National Coffee Day!

Call me basic, but I love taking artsy fartsy pictures of coffee. I’ve collected my favorite pictures from over the years for today’s compliation post. Mugs, latte art, quotes…I’ve got it all here. Enjoy, and Happy Friday!

{Affiliate links are also below for some of my favorites!}

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Camera lens tumbler here!

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Interested in coffee history and fun facts? Coffee Nerd is the book for you!

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Mmm…donuts. Get this BigMouth Inc. donut mug to add to your collection!

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One of my favorite sightings from grad school. 

 

 

It’s the Autumnal Equinox!

Happy First Day of Fall! For me, this is my favorite time of year: cooling temperatures, hot beverages, foliage peeping, the smell of apple cider, Halloween…the list goes on. This will be my first fall not in an area up north. I am quite happy to be in Florida, but I really wish I had a vacation house in New England. I would retreat until the first snowfall and then come right back.

So in the spirit of the season, here are some of my favorite pictures that I have taken:


The locations of these pictures range from New England to Washington D.C., with the majority at Edinboro University, my alma mater. 
I know they’re pretty, but please do not use without my permission, and always give credit if you do. Each one has a unique story and technique that cannot be replicated through the eyes of another.

My Parting Letter to Washington D.C.

Dear Washington D.C.,

You pulled me in with your siren song three years ago. I will never forget stepping out of the National Archives metro station and basking in the grandeur of the Archives staring right back at me. It was spring 2014, and I had no idea that my journey to live in one of the most bustling cities in the world would begin right then.

I would be back, more often than I thought. Marine Corps Marathon, pet sitting, Marine Corps Marathon again, more pet sitting, Rock ‘n’ Roll DC 5K. I was lucky to only have been five or six hours away in Pennsylvania, because I could easily make your trip in one shot.

I finally made the move in 2016. I got a job (surprisingly, since apparently Higher Education didn’t—and still doesn’t—want me in their ranks), packed up my stuff, and traded the sleepy little hometown I grew up in for the lights and noise of the nation’s capital.

At first, I was like a kid in a candy store. So many places to explore (and revisit), so many things to see, so many things to EAT! With the distractions of the pretty things, there was also the issue of moving to a new residence, navigating the Metro, and figuring out my new job.

Soon the luster was gone, and reality kicked in. My presence from your city streets diminished as weekends were spent number crunching, as my current wage wasn’t cutting it. I spent those days in blissful silence, away from the district, only to be hit with a blow on Sunday evening that screamed, “Work week starts tomorrow! Welcome back to Hell!” and accompanied by crowds, screeching train brakes, car horns, and sirens. And, of course, the occasional rainstorm that greeted me the moment I emerged from the underground chasm of death known as the Metro. (Safetrack? Don’t even get me started.)

I do have to thank you for not killing me on your semi-unreliable transit system whose temperament reflected that of a hangry, tired toddler on an almost daily basis. I was only offloaded once in my fifteen-month tenure, and living on the Green/Yellow lines felt like a luxury. Also, thanks for the twice daily rush hour entertainment via Twitter. #wmata for the win.

As the seasons turned, my attitude toward you also did. Going into battle twice a day, five days a week against the city elements wore me out faster than I thought. I was trapped in this vortex of constant noise, noise that I wasn’t used to. I though that I could adapt and conquer, but I became more introverted and miserable. My annoyances aggrandized: Why were there so many people? Why were the trains never reliable? Why does it take an hour to drive nine miles? Where the hell did these tourists come from? Why are things so goddamn expensive?!

Oh, let’s talk about your pricing for a moment. I’m not sure who you’re kidding, D.C., but the average person cannot afford you. I don’t care how shiny the labels are advertising for locally-sourced, organic, gluten free, carb-free, blah blah food…you’re still charging $15 for a slice of “artisinal” bread. Who the hell are you? There’s a reason why Whole Foods is called Whole Paycheck around here. Honestly, your pricing me out is the number two reason why I’m leaving you. I feel like I didn’t get the full city experience because I couldn’t afford to do most things in your presence. Any time I did try to indulge in something like a “normal” resident would, my wallet was not happy and I would hold my breath ’til next payday, hoping to make it. Granted, I had many friends who offered to pay my way because they understood my financial woes, and I definitely appreciated the help. But financial anxiety is not worth nights of endless worrying, stomachaches, and tears, trust me.

A note for those who are considering moving here: if you’re not banking a $50K starting salary, don’t bother coming here. Seriously. DC is one of the most overpriced cities ever. It’s not quite as bad as Silicon Valley, but it’s up there. Apartments in relatively safe areas start around $1900/month, for maybe 600 sq/ft. The closer you get to the center, the more expensive it’s gonna be. I was fortunate to be just beyond city lines in Maryland, but when rent and the Metro were added together, that was half my paycheck. Going out after work? Ehhhhh. Hand-crafted cocktails start around $12 each (on average, about $15), same with appetizers. And brunch is still a phenomenon that I haven’t wrapped my head around. I mean, I did brunch a couple times with my cousins, but that was it. No big group outings or brunch parties or anything. Bottomless mimosas seem to be the cocaine of Saturday and Sunday morning brunch-goers, and I found by working in hospitality that if your establishment doesn’t offer them, you get ripped a new one. (Trust me on this…when I got questions about whether we were “bottomless” or not, and I said no, whoever was on the other end of the line would get so pissy. Newsflash: It’s not the end of the freakin’ world. If you’re so concerned about your precious mimosas, then buy the damn champagne and orange juice yourself. It’ll probably be cheaper.)

I guess I have to thank you for exposing me to a whole new variety of people, culturally and otherwise. The cultural aspect was definitely a shock sometimes, but it just goes along with your melting pot atmosphere. But upon observation, I noticed your typical city dwellers (“Washingtonians”) would fall into one of four categories: sincerely sweet (the rarest), utterly stupid, total snobs, or smart (arrogant or legitimately smart, mind you). The middle two (most common) were the reason why I didn’t go out of my way to make friends. All conversations seem to revolve around careers and politics. Snoozefest. If you don’t work the “right” job, or do anything “right”, you were promptly judged and smushed into the pavement. I knew was an outsider. I tried to fit in, but knew I failed that miserably. Thanks for increasing my awkwardness and reassuring that I was no city slicker.

Even though there was a lot of negativity surrounding my experience, there was some positivity that shone through, and not just through your brilliant sunsets. You are full of hidden treasures, whether it’s a cafe tucked away or a new eatery that’s not a chain; little-known historic sites or a back way to walk to the waterfront. Duck watching at the Lincoln Memorial became a weekly engagement, and people watching even more often. I could enter the Library of Congress and be surrounded by the most brilliant minds in history; it was the one place where I could go and feel intelligent, and be enveloped with that same energy. Walking in silence among the tombstones and untold stories at Arlington National Cemetery gave me a new sense of respect and appreciation for our young nation. Taking part of your race traditions during Rock n Roll DC, Marine Corps Marathon, and Cherry Blossom 10 Miler weekends showed me what DC truly has to offer by way of community and support. Sometimes all you need are a few good races to bring out the good in almost everyone you encounter. You are full of stories and history, and that’s one of your best attributes.

My love/hate relationship with you will continue to linger far beyond the city limits. When I travel to Florida tomorrow to begin the next chapter, your lessons, both good and bad, will follow me there, as they have shaped me into the person I have become today. I may still be awkward and introverted and hate excess noise and unreliable transportation, but you also taught me how to fight for my career, to never settle or stand for mediocrity, to dig a little deeper for excellence, to keep your friends close and your enemies far, far away…and that there is better coffee out there than Starbucks.

So to you, Washington D.C., I thank you. I will return in due time.

Florida Countdown: Two Days! ☀️🌴🏖


It’s almost time! Two days to go! 

It has been very sunny this week, perfect for walking around and playing tourist. I’ve been getting more of my favorite places checked off my list before I leave. While there are many things I won’t miss, there are just as many things that I will miss, and I didn’t really have that realization until I started taking the scenery in. I’ll be composing a detailed “Letter to Washington D.C.” blog post shortly!