2018 Princess Half Recap

Sunday. 2 AM.

Happy five-year runnerversary to me! Happy tenth half marathon! Happy I’m Getting My Perfect Challenger Status Today Day!

No matter what my finish time was going to be, I knew the day was going to be celebrated. I packed up all my Princess medals the night before, knowing that I would add three more to the collection for a grand total of fifteen.

I woke up with my strategy of sticking with the 60/30 pace group in Corral E and aiming for a 2:30. I arrived at EPCOT in plenty of time, like always, to hang around and slowly warm up. While en route to the security checkpoints, I ran into Ashley, who is one of the best wheelchair athletes runDisney has! We had been social media friends for quite awhile and it was awesome to finally meet in person!

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I checked in and meandered around. Not too long later, I met up with Christine, who I met during Marine Corps Marathon weekend!

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We journeyed over to the corrals way earlier than usual and we were there around 5. I found my way to Corral E (highest corral ever, yay!), and stretched out, talked to some people, listened to the pre race stuff. You know, the usual. The same scenario on repeat from the last five years…

At some point I stood there, absorbing my surroundings. The cheers, the crack of the fireworks, the buzz of nerves and excitement…and I felt utterly surreal.

If this was my last Princess Half, I would be completely okay with it. I know I had been talking about it on the downlow, but honestly….I’m so over this.

We inched closer to the starting line, and I took a look around to figure out where the pacing group was. Oh, they’re behind me. I’ll get started and drift back towards the once we get going.

Three…two…one…GOOOOO!

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The journey of 13.1+ Princess miles began once again.

Pairing up with that pace group for the first two miles felt great. My times were steady, around 12:30 and 11:30 respectively.

Then it all fell to shit. I lost my group.

Too narrow of a course coupled with WAY too many people running, walking, and intervalling became an absolute nightmare.

On the bright side, I was on par for incredible sunrise pictures, and talking with other runners! Around Mile 4 in the TTC parking lot, I started taking in my surroundings and enjoying the scenery. I could still hear the fireworks being launched around 6:30am from all the way over there. The weather was calling to be extremely hot later on and I felt quite grateful for my 5:50-ish start time.

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The Princess Half course itself has remained unchanged for the last nine years (as far as I know). However, this year featured a small yet unique difference: instead of making Mile 5 right by the down and back by Space Mountain after the Contemporary Cone Alley, it curved to the left just prior to that, and took us right in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance!

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Now THIS was a special treat. The Main Street citizens were up on top cheering down at us, and being able to enter from the very front of Main Street U.S.A felt SO magical.

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And this sunrise…. I could NOT get enough! You could tell by looking at my splits where I stepped aside for optimal photo ops!

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Now the second half of the race…

*brain goes dead*

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Once you hit the curve after Mile 6.8, and you’re not in the front corrals with open road, everything just falls apart. It’s hot. You hit Cone Alley after Cone Alley. So many cones.

And so many people.

I try my best to stay to the farthest left that I can in this area. There’s no point in running, because you just can’t.

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I started cramping up around Mile 8. I knew had a ton of time on the sweepers (over 45 minutes), and I decided just to walk the rest of the race from this point. My pace fell into the 16-17 minute range…but that’s so typical of a runDisney event, especially given the logistics and conditions of the course.

The rest of the race had me mentally counting down the miles. The EPCOT geosphere kept getting closer and closer, and I felt relieved and content about the thoughts going through my head…

-I want my runDisney career to be over.
-I want to be off this course with all these people.
-I want to be in my bed after taking a shower.
-I am so tired of this repetition, year after year.
-Couple more miles? Sure, I can do that. Get me out of this sun.
-All this money in registration fees and all we challengers get is a bib designation and a lanyard? Not cool, runDisney. Y’all can do better…

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Descending into EPCOT, the crowds grew and their cheering moreso. I hustled my butt over and around to the final down and back loop and straight on towards the finish line.

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My time? Ha. 3:35. Two minutes faster than my all time slowest half and definitely my slowest Princess Half. But I didn’t really care. I finished. I was a 5-year Challenge legacy runner. I had completed my sixth Princess Half, and tenth half marathon. All reasons to celebrate.

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I collected my medals and legacy lanyard and made a beeline for some shade. After downing some electrolytes and water and that super tasty banana, I layered up for my legacy shot (and found Ian in the process!).

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I also ran into the Princess Men, whom I had met at the Enchanted 10K the previous year! Props to them for running in those costumes in the heat!

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Five years. Ten Races. Fifteen Medals. What. A. Journey.

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Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

At the time of this writing, it’s been almost two months since this race day. Yes, I’m happy to have celebrated all of the personal milestones that came with the weekend. I’m excited for those that completed their first races or earned PRs on this course. All finish lines should and will be celebrated.

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However, after much contemplation, I have reached an impass with runDisney. No longer has the registration fees yielded the results that I wish to receive from a race company. I have calculated paying over $1700 in the last five years just for registration fees for the Glass Slipper/Fairy Tale Challenge. I understand permit fees and other administration/logistical things on their end obviously cost money….but what we get in return in terms of a race experience isn’t worth it.

I’ve received questions and inquiries from other runners on my socials about what all the perfect Challengers received, like sashes or different medals or whatnot. Unfortunately, what I mentioned earlier about the bib designation and lanyard is 100% accurate. I’m super proud of the Perfect Princesses getting their sashes….but c’mon runDisney…couldn’t you have splurged on something cool for us?

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I also have running goals that simply cannot be met on a runDisney course. As someone that is striving to run faster, trying to dodge 25,000 other people on a tight course where many do not adhere to the runner’s etiquette of going two-wide or less when walking is just a buzzkill that I wish to not battle with anymore. Until the day comes where I can earn an A corral status, my time with runDisney career is on a permanent hiatus.

While I won’t run the races, I will be here to support all of you who do! I’m here for all of your questions and 100% honestly blunt answers about Marathon and Princess weekends. Who knows, you may spot me at an expo or I may be on course acting as a cheerleader!

See ya at the finish line!

Fairy Tale Challenge

Next up: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

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.

30th Birthday Disney Adventures!! đŸ’–âœ¨đŸŽ€

June 19th was The Day.

I turned thirty. The big 3-0.

And I was going to Disney World. WOOHOO!

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The plan was to do Animal Kingdom first (because Avatar-Land), then hop over to EPCOT. We didn’t make it quite in time for rope drop, and I had issues getting my printed ticket to scan and converted to a normal ticket, but eventually everything got situated. AND I got a Disney birthday button at guest services! Woot!

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Chris and I headed over to Pandora first and jumped in the FP line for Na’vi River Journey. The standby line was at 40 minutes, but we were in and out in ten minutes. While the ride was gorgeous, it was waaaaay too short. Honestly, if you’re waiting in standby and that wait time is over twenty minutes, it’s really not worth the wait.

We had some time to kill before our Everest FPs, so we hit up the Satu’li Canteen for breakfast! Their menu focuses on American cuisine, and I settled on the cinnamon French toast and some coffee. Oh my goodness…absolutely delicious. And there was hardly anyone in the restaurant! I HIGHLY recommend going for breakfast if you get the chance.

Once happily full of food, we hopped on Expedition Everest (and reconfirmed my hatred for roller coasters). Happy to say we didn’t spew on the ride 😛

Since this was my second legitimate time in AK (first visit being in 2010), and I wasn’t running a marathon, we took our time walking around and exploring…and, of course, taking pictures of the Tree of Life carvings.

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We were also keeping an eye on the wait time for Flight of Passage (which was at 180 minutes and fluctuating because of something or other going down). Chris and I have a pact that unless a ride time is quoted at less than 120 minutes, we won’t stand in line. To kill some more time, we headed to Festival of the Lion King (my first viewing!). The line was extraordinary, and we were one of the lucky last 35 that snuck in for standing room.

After Festival, we headed to FOP, which had gone down to a 115 minute wait. I had been apprehensive about potentially spending so much time waiting, but we entered the queue at 12:00 on the nose, and found ourselves going through the pre-ride sections at a blazing speed. (I think the notification of the ride going down deterred a lot of people from sticking around.) Once inside, we were surrounded by bioluminescent beauty:

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Then we got to the lab attraction in the queue, where the actual avatar is located:

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At one point, the cast members came on the speakers and reminded everyone to, “Please fill in the available space to keep the wait times down.” It was THIS ROOM that we observed people just standing around taking pictures and not moving. There was a massive gap between the small section of people near us and the rest of the line. I’m not sure if families were planning their reunion pictures in this room or what, but for the sake of sanity and respect to the other hundred people behind you, quit holding up the line with your paparazzi tendencies.

The ride itself: fantastic. It’s like Soarin’, but you’re on the back of an individual banshee. (It’s like riding a motorcycle, honestly.) If you have a fear of heights…well, there’s a lot of height-related things on this attraction. Tip: look straight ahead and not straight down. It won’t be as scary.

Time entering the queue: 12:00 PM. Time done with the ride: 1:07 PM. Total time = 67 minutes. Win.

I definitely had to get a new Disney mug to commemorate the weekend, and I settled on the Floating Mountains mug. This is definitely the most creative and intricate mug in my collection!

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We headed back to the Satu’li Canteen for lunch. Couldn’t resist! My lunch ended up being dessert:

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Blueberry cream cheese mousse.

Also, on your birthday, you get a birthday cupcake!

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Birthday cupcakes FTW.

It was a tad more crowded for lunch, but we still found seats inside. This was another win, as it had started pouring outside (and we didn’t have proper rain gear). We monitored the radar and enjoyed our food as the heaviest rain subsided. Then we took off for the parking lot for the second half of our adventures in EPCOT!

Along the way, we passed under a bridge, and the musicians started an improvised version of “Happy Birthday” for me. Normally I’d be scared shitless by being serenaded to, because I don’t like attention and I hate the song with a burning passion, but I rolled with it and it was a lovely time had by all.


EPCOT

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By the time we got to EPCOT, it alternating between drizzling and raining. We camped out in the parking lot for a bit to dry off from AK and to determine what we were going to do. Chris somehow, some way, scored FPs for Frozen. We planned our first three hours around that, starting with a visit to Club Cool.

Did you know you get a free slushy on your birthday?!

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We hit up Soarin’, Living with the Land, and the Pixar Shorts before heading to World Showcase. We spent a bit of time in China exploring; there is an exhibit about Shanghai Disneyland that caught our attention, and now we want to go!

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We doubled back to Mexico and had dinner…

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We started traversing the rest of World Showcase and got as far as Italy before it was time to turn around again and head to Norway for Frozen! En route, we got notice that the ride broke down and it stayed broken for the rest of the night. Bummer.

We made up for it by heading to Spaceship Earth (a classic!), and our running friend, Ian, showed up to EPCOT! That was a nice birthday surprise! We went back through World Showcase in the opposite direction (to grace the other lonely countries with our presence, haha), and stopped in Italy for gelato before Illuminations!

I had missed out on Illuminations the last couple of times I’ve been to EPCOT, and I wasn’t about to miss it again. We camped out by Norway (torch 3 is a great viewing spot) and watched the show:

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We agreed that the speedboats need a feature. Maybe an illuminated “Thanks for Watching Reflections of Earth” banner as they speed around the lagoon?

It was a fantastic way to kick off my next decade. Here’s to another thousand circles ’round the sun, and many shenanigans to come.

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Soundtrack of Our Lives

Our favorite lyrics and songs serve as the soundtrack to our lives.

These melodies can change from months to month, year to year. Whatever we hear on the radio in the Top 40 can become fixed with a location, a certain environment, a group of people. Once we buy the album and listen to what else isn’t playing on the radio, the little known songs that aren’t as popular yet still packs a punch when we can make that connection.

Over the last decade I have bonded with so many artists, whether it be on a road trip, a vacation, at the current place of work, a bar, or the quiet solitude of my room. My go-to genre is country (ranging from classic George Strait/Garth Brooks/Alan Jackson, to modern Dierks Bentley/Jason Aldean/Zac Brown Band). I could make this analysis go on for pages and pages, but I will stick with the one artist with whom I’ve developed a deep love and appreciation for, and who is constantly spinning in the CD player.

That would be Kenny Chesney.

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I purchased his When the Sun Goes Down album in the summer of 2004 when I was on vacation with my family in Ocean City, MD. The beachy theme of the title track served as a solid foundation to the week; the Atlantic waves crashing against the shore, lightning zigzagging across the sky on stormy nights, the smell of the Mango Mandarin and Juniper Breeze products I bought at a nearby Bath and Body Works…it was amazing. And that album takes me back there. Years later as I started my next decade, my “Roaring Twenties”, Chesney produced more albums and I made it a point to purchase each one. Every couple of years, there would be more lyrics, more choruses, more everything that reflected exactly what I was going through.

I mapped out the last ten years of my life, from 2007 (my junior year in college) to present 2017, noting the major and sometimes minor events that have shaped me into the woman that I am today. While there are so many songs that speak volumes about me, I have selected the best.

“We all have a song that’s somehow stamped our lives, takes us to another place and time…” -I Go Back


Who You’d Be Today
“It ain’t fair you died too young, like a story that had just begun. But death tore the pages all away…”
My 20’s started out with a shock to the system as I lost three family members within a span of three months. While I had expected my grandparents to pass due to declining heath and age (and I had mentally prepared for that), I was not prepared for my cousin’s suicide. The funeral was a flood of tears, kitchen towels and toilet paper for tissues, and many heavy metal T-shirts. Almost ten years later, I still sit back and wonder…who you’d be today?

Note: This is one of the two KC songs that I actually try not to listen to, because the story behind the song to me and the ensuing feelings that follow. It’s just like listening to, “It’s Quiet Uptown” from Hamilton…too many feels. The second song, well, that’s a story for another day.


In a Small Town

“Sometimes it was heaven, sometimes hell, kinda like church, kinda like jail. There’s a water tower says ‘Welcome to nowhere’. As soon as I could I was long gone, my jeans were torn and my hair was long. Now I can’t believe I wanna go back there, to a small town, to a small town…”
I never really had homesickness when I was in college. I was happy to leave behind the drama-filled small town that I had called home for so long. But as I got older, I started appreciating coming home every now and again; the farmlands, the brick buildings, the openness and smells of corn and cow poo will always take me back to seemingly simpler times before adulting and responsibility set in. After having lived in Washington, D.C., I can appreciate its beauty and tranquility, and knowing that there are decades and centuries of stories and history hidden behind every corner and every name, constantly being written.

Never forget your roots, and don’t be afraid to go back and visit. You may find yourself renewed and regenerated.


Better as a Memory/Save It For A Rainy Day

“Goodbyes are like a roulette wheel: You never know where they’re gonna land. First you’re spinning, then you’re standing still left holding a losing hand. But one day you’re gonna find someone, and right away you’ll know it’s true, that all of your seeking’s done. It was just a part of the passing through. Right there in that moment you’ll finally understand, that I was better as a memory than as your man.”

Romance. Love. Relationships. Flirtationships. Been there, done that. I started my 20’s out in a relationship that led into an engagement in early 2008. Lasted for a semester, but it was a big step in realizing what I want and don’t want. This song served as an “on repeat song” during that summer. My 20’s have been marred with failed relationships, but many lessons learned along the way. (Major lesson: bubble gum vodka is not your friend after a breakup. It just isn’t.) The end of something significant in your life may seem like a call to fall into abyss of doom. Be grateful for the good times and the lessons learned, give yourself time to grieve (longer the relationship, longer the grieving process). Move on in your own time. The sun will be shining on the other end.

But today, the tears ain’t gonna hit the floor
’cause the boat’s in the bay and it’s calling my name
So I’m heading on out the door ’cause the sun’s too bright, the sky’s too blue
Beer’s too cold to be thinking about you
Gonna take this heartbreak and tuck it away
Save it for a rainy day


Out Last Night/You And Tequila/When I See This Bar

“Oh, we went out last night. One thing started leading to another…” -Out Last Night

The good ol’ 20’s is a time when all kinds of vices are developed! Personally, my party instincts has come and gone in waves: sometimes I was out all the time and giving my liver a great workout, other times I would go months without drinking. When I was in undergrad I didn’t turn 21 until my senior year, and in grad school I was in and out of the party scene so much it was hard to keep track.

“It’s always your favorite sins that do you in.”
“One more night could kill me, baby. One is one too many, one more is never enough.” -You and Tequila

I’ve had my nights, as many of us do, when enough was enough. There are certain smells I cannot smell without retching and locations that I simply won’t go to. Life advice: as you get older your hangovers really are two days in length, and it takes a weekend of silence and electrolytes to recover.

But with all the negative connotations that are associated with drinking and bars and whatnot, there are plenty of positives: silly memories, reunions of friends, trading of life stories and advice, meeting strangers who turn into friends and colleagues, singing popular bar songs at the top of your lungs and feeling like you can take on the world with your best friends over a pitcher and a slice of pizza at 1AM.

“I wonder where we go from here
(That’s what I see when I see this bar)
Life ain’t over but it’s always near
(That’s what I see when I see this bar)
I think about all the good times that we had
(That’s what I see when I see this bar)
Makes me happy and it makes me sad
(That’s what I see when I see this bar)
How could we be so close, now so far apart
(That’s what I see when I see this bar)
That’s what I feel, that’s what I see
Yeah we were living like pirates and wannabe stars
That’s what I see when I see this bar.”

-When I See This Bar

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It may seem foolish to stay out all night until the sun rises the next morning, but sometimes those impromptu decisions could be the most fun you’ll ever have.


’til It’s Gone/Don’t Blink

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“One life, one chance, one ticket to the big dance.” -’til It’s Gone

“So I’ve been tryin’ to slow it down. I’ve been tryin’ to take it in
In this here today, gone tomorrow world we’re livin’ in. Don’t blink.”

These two songs go hand in hand. Simply put: You get one chance. That’s it. Savor every second, because before you know it, it’s gone. Get out and write your story, as it won’t write itself. I feel like every day just goes by faster and faster. I keep prefacing my Weekly Review posts with, “How can it possibly be halfway through 2017 already?!” because I truly can’t believe that it’s going by so quickly.

“Don’t Blink” reminds me when I’m feeling down and out that I actually have accomplished a great many things in my life: academic trips to Antietam battlefield and Scotland, PA Intercollegiate Band twice, two degrees, chartering my fraternity, running for my fraternity’s National Council, moved to New England straight out of grad school, roadtripping halfway across the country for fraternal activities, numerous musical opportunities in choir and band, showcasing my PR skills during a battle with the university to keep our music program, having the bravery to change my course of study in graduate school, having the opportunity to teach K-12 and serve on staff with marching bands, the list goes on. I’m grateful for partaking in those opportunities, all because I said yes.

Life is not about paying bills and dying. Life is meant to be lived. Live your legacy.

“ ’cause when your hourglass runs out of sand, you can’t flip it over, start again.” -Don’t Blink


Be As You Are (entire album)

Out of all of Chesney’s albums, the one that has imprinted itself on my heart and brain the most has to be his 2005 Be As You Are album. I didn’t love this one right off the bat; honestly; I downloaded it just to say I had the album. There were a couple of hit songs like “Guitars and Tiki Bars” that I liked, but for the most part, it didn’t resonate, and I didn’t appreciate the laid-back, tropical-esque style that Chesney brought to life until much later.
I finally bonded with this one during my 2012 Spring Break trip to Daytona Beach, FL. It was the first time that I could completely relax and forget about the stress and responsibility of graduate school and my never ending debate over whether I was going to stay in school or go. I had made a KC playlist on the iPod, and those songs kept coming up…

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“I’ve had it up to here with this rat race, need a smile on may face. I wanna go where I could lighten up the load, drive a little while on the wrong side of the road, get this laying low off to a flying start…” -Be As You Are

“It wouldn’t take much for me to up and run to another life somewhere in the sun.” -Somewhere In the Sun

“With his eye set on a Southern star, got the courage to follow his heart, and set out for a brand new start.” -Island Boy

These songs, even now, serve as such motivation for me to make the move to Florida and live that dream. It won’t be easy, and I really have a feeling I’m just going to have to throw everything into my car and just…go.


The Road and the Radio
“Clarity and inspiration, happiness is a destination that’s hard to find. It may take some time. But in my mind there’s something more, and I’ll open up a brand new door, and find the strength to close the ones I’ve left behind. And I’ll get there leaning on some friends I know: the road and the radio.”

Hands down, the number one song that could encompass the last ten years has got to be the title track to Chesney’s second 2005 album, The Road and the Radio. I didn’t really pay attention to this song in the beginning; many of the more upbeat songs like “Beer in Mexico”, “Summertime”, and “Livin’ in Fast Forward” occupied my listening time. I am glad I took the time to develop a solid relationship with this song. I’m fairly certain that it came right around that Daytona Beach spring break when all of the Be As You Are songs were making themselves known, sort of like a cosmic sign. When I came back to campus, I typed out the chorus with all kinds of nice-looking fonts and stuff, and slid the sheet into my binder cover so I could read it when the stress levels were amping up. Even now, five years later, it serves a predominant role in any road trip playlist I make. (Most of my road trips are solo, so being able to bond with the song, whose point of view also comes from a solo traveler, makes it that more relatable.)

The best life lesson I gathered from this song is that happiness does not happen overnight: it does take time! There is ALWAYS something better out there. Taking the steps to move on is a scary thing, and it is easy to relapse and find those old demons who give you comfort. But when you lean on those friends who won’t give up on you, you can make it through anything. Once you find what makes you content with who YOU are, it is up to you to get there.

The Weekly Review

Hello again, readers from everywhere. Time for the Weekly Review!

So it’s day 19 of “funemployment”, and I am starting to get very anxious. No word from Florida at all on ANYTHING, my financials are starting to nosedive so slightly (A. Ham would be appalled), and I am falling into depression where I stay awake for hours during the night, and I sleep through half the day. My Chi Marathon training plan started this week, and while the first day was good, I’ve backslid horribly. It’s difficult being a runner with depression, let me tell you.

Minus the crappy mood, some good stuff did happen. Such as…

  1. Subway’s Carved Turkey Sub

    After my first day of training, I was rungry and set out to find grub. The mall where my Planet Fitness is at has a Subway, and the carved turkey option caught my eye. It is seriously the best thing I’ve ever had from Subway. It’s like Thanksgiving turkey! I paired it up with a ton of veggies and yellow mustard. It is a limited time offer, so get it while you can!

2. Nuun’s Family and Friends Discount!

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Stay hydrated this summer! Offer expires June 23rd.

3. Caprese Boats

When I was cat sitting last we talked, I had a huge obsession with caprese salads. I’m sure I made about five of them during the week I was there. I transferred this idea when I got back into little caprese boats using Romaine, grape tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic, sprinkled basil and cracked pepper. They’re a tad messier than salad, but they’re like eating tacos, so it’s a win!

4. Picnic on the Mall

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On Saturday, a bunch of Kappa Kappa Psi brothers and Tau Beta Sigma sisters gathered on the National Mall for an afternoon of food, fun, friends, and awesomeness. It was great catching up with old friends and making new ones at the same time.

 

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Lauren was there! Yay! Our cornhole team name was Team Shake Shack. 😀

 

5. 30th Birthday Countdown

By now, I have started my countdown towards my Pearl Jubilee on my socials. (Traditionally, the number 30 is associated with the pearl!) The two trips on my radar are my 30th Birthday Eve at Universal on the 18th, and my true 30th Birthday on the 19th in Disney.

The last time I had a milestone birthday, my 25th, I threw a Silver Jubilee which was filled full of things that, well, would probably kill me know that I’m almost five years older. My liver definitely is not like what it used to be! But I lived to tell the tale and to share my lessons for future generations to come.

I am closing in on my final week of my 20’s, and I know there will be much to say and reflect. The real question is…should I write, or should I Vlog about it? Or maybe both? No matter what, there will be much to celebrate!


If you have any questions for me that you would like me to answer, or any advice about turning such an age, send them my way!

Two Weeks Later…

It has been approximately 14 days since I clocked out for the last time.

14 days since ringing telephones and cacophonous nonsense filled my eardrums as the soundtrack of my days.

14 days since I last had to fight the rolling dumpster fire that is the D.C. Metro to make it to the city.

14 days since this journey to self-discovery and happiness began.

 

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source: lessonsfromcountry.tumblr.com

 

Personally, I’m doing okay. Not completely depressed, not completely overjoyed, just okay. Neutral for the time being. Trust me, it’s hard as hell to be overly excited about self-discovery journeys when you have no income coming in, your money stash is slowly dwindling, you haven’t heard back from the places you’ve applied to; you’re sure your application got lost in resume purgatory, and you want to move so badly yet are paralyzed with fear that you won’t get a job in your field and will have to settle, yet again, for a “survival job” that pays pennies when you have $163,000 of student loan debt whose looming presence suffocates you during the day and keeps you up at night .

That’s my professional life in a nutshell at the moment. So much fun.

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However, I do have my birthday weekend coming up (which I have saved for and am getting many things comped for, thanks to Florida buddies!). The only thing I’ve had to pay for so far was my flight, which was incredibly reasonable (thanks, Jet Blue!). Now, I’ve only bought my flight down. Have yet to buy my flight back. Who knows…maybe the stars will align and something good will happen when I’m down there.


There are some happy things that are happening, such as…

I started Chicago/Marine Corps Marathon training yesterday. That’ll keep me occupied, and back into a fitness regime! Having a desk job caused me to gain between 10-13 lbs in the past year; when I was seating on the restaurant floor as a hostess, I clocked in around 10 miles per shift, and that went out the door two months later. I don’t fit into the cute summer clothes that I have, so all the more motivation to get back in the weight room!

 

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3 mile run to start!

 

I’ve also been asked what time I’m aiming for, and since Chicago is my focus race (as I am pacing three of my friends for their first full during MCM and just want to finish and gain redemption from 2015), I’m shooting for a sub 4:30. My previous three marathons (MCM 2014, WDW 2016, and WDW 2017) were all between 6:50-7:30. I was on track for a 5:24 during WDW this year, and I ended up wussing out after mile 6 when I hit cone alley. A 4:30 would be fabulous. Anything faster, well, even better!

I’ve also started a Disney Countdown on my social media accounts. I love doing this starting from ten days out, but I’m so excited that I started it from 15 days out! I pair one of my own pictures with a Disney quote and add the countdown to it. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram for the latest!

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14 days: “You’re never too old to be young.” -Snow White
13 days
13 days: “To all who come to this happy place: welcome!” -Walt Disney

The sun and sand are still vivid in my mind, the echo of crashing waves and scent of salt air enticing me. I know it won’t happen tomorrow, but I know where I need to go…

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Hello, June

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Happy June, everyone! I keep reiterating this on my posts from time to time:

Where has 2017 gone? What is life? Why is time moving so fast?

It’s true, too! Seems like just yesterday that it was New Year’s, and now we’re almost to the summer solstice.

This June is a tad more special to me this year, as I will be celebrating my 30th birthday on the 19th. (I’ve seen a bunch of you post on the socials that it is also your birthday month, too! Hooray, June babies!) I know that reaching this milestone will evoke new emotions, new thoughts, new goals, a new age bracket for running. I’m scared, yet excited, as my twenties have truly given me the tools to navigate my thirties and beyond with confidence and dignity.

 

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I have a plethora of “You’re Turning 30, Read This!” articles bookmarked on Pinterest and on the web. I’ve been slightly obsessed with reading about others’ journeys into their thirties so far this year, and I’ll have my own deep thoughts on the matter coming up soon. Many of the things I’ve read I can relate to instantly, others I haven’t even reached yet. (Money matters and 401Ks? Yeah, right. I need a big girl job with benefits first…)

I know I’m still a solid 2.5 weeks away from this milestone, but I still can’t shake the feeling that I haven’t got my shit together yet. I just left my previous position and am keeping one eye on my bank account and the other on job boards/email. I have five applications out there for jobs in the Orlando-ish area, and am hoping for quick replies and good vibes.

June plans consist of my Chicago Marathon training plan beginning Monday, and I have another FL trip lined up for mid-June (provided I don’t already have a lob landed before then). In between? More job apps, more blog posts (let me know if you want me to write about anything specific! I’m always taking requests!), and trying to be in the moment and assuring myself that everything is going to work out and will be okay.


What are your plans and goals for June? How are you kicking the summer off?