Summer Running

It’s summer 2022 and life events are back in full swing – weddings, graduations, college reunions, birthday parties, the list goes on and on. I find that the pause we experienced the last two years has made me all the more grateful that I’m able to celebrate these occasions. Still, the one thing that I’m struggling to find an appreciation for….summer running. 

Here on the east coast, it’s felt like we’ve been in a heat wave for months. I know it’s August, but cooler weather seems to be ages away. Quite frankly, I’m sick of ending every easy run drenched in sweat. Living in a place with seasons, I have to learn to embrace the suck of summer running. So here are my tips and take-aways from my past few months of running in the heat:

Be humble. It’s no secret that it’s harder to hit faster paces in the heat. I’m usually pretty good about adjusting my workout paces for the heat, but when it comes to easy running, it’s hard for me to be humble. I was doing my winter easy runs at 9:10 pace or faster, with a HR under 155 BPM. Now, my heart rate spikes if I try to push under 10 minute pace. So I’m learning to slow down and respect the heat. I’ve found that if I run slower on my easy runs, I don’t have to scale back the pace as much on my harder workouts. It’s the same principle my coach totes year-round, “Run slow to run fast.” But I didn’t realize what a big difference that could make, especially in the brutal summer temperatures. 

Get out early. I’ve almost always been a morning runner. I like getting up, having a cup of coffee and a slice of toast, and hitting the road before the rest of the world is up and moving. I’ve found this to be an incredibly important habit to keep during the warmer months of the year when it often hits 80 degrees by 8 am. Unless you want to melt, or bring buckets of water, you have to get out the door early. Yet, during the summer is when I want to stay up later – I love summer and I want to make the most of it. And that leads me into my next tip…

Be consistent, but be flexible. We all know consistency is key when it comes to running, and we need to get our summer runs in to prep for fall races. But if you’re like me and you want to make the most of the summer, you have to be flexible. I want to go out for ice cream at night, have a beer on the deck, or stay out late at a baseball game. But it’s hard to do all of those things when you have to be up at the crack of dawn for a long run. So I’m learning to compromise. Sometimes that means saying no to plans, but more and more it means saying yes to plans, getting a little less sleep, getting up early, getting my run in, and then taking an afternoon nap if needed. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling, so I’ve moved some of my morning runs to the evenings to accommodate an early drive. Sometimes I’ll even cut a run short if I’m too tired or just not feeling it. I try not to do this very often, because I do think there’s value in finishing runs that feel hard. But I think sometimes a run feeling crappy is a sign that you need some extra rest. So if I was out late, and spent the day by the pool, and I felt a little too drained to finish my 5 mile run, I might just do 4. And that’s perfectly okay. 

Lounge. Yes, I absolutely want to make the most of my summer, but sometimes I’m just tired and need to rest. One of the things I’ve struggled with throughout my running journey is knowing when to take a break. It’s hard for me, especially during the summer when I want to be outside and soaking up the sunshine, but the sun can be draining. So if I’m tired after a sweaty, sunny long run, I’ve started giving myself permission to lounge on the couch and enjoy the AC for the rest of the day. Or, if I feel like getting out of the house, I’ll go to the movies. Taking time to rest is all the more important during the summer when the heat and humidity are taking their toll. 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This is probably an obvious one, but it’s one I’m constantly working on. If it’s hot and I’m running for more than 30-40 minutes, I’ll bring my hand-held water bottle along. Some long runs I’ll plan a route where I loop back by my car or apartment in the middle so I can refill my water if needed. After the run I always always always have a nuun tablet. The lemon lime flavor has been my favorite for years. A nuun tablet dissolved in ice water at the end of a hot run is just *chef’s kiss.* I’ve also started buying watermelon to snack on when I’m feeling dehydrated throughout the day. Tasty and refreshing!

Ultimately, I think the key with summer running, as with most things, is balance. There’s no perfect formula for successful summer running, all you can do is get out the door as much as possible, and have fun doing it. 

Love & Relationships – Partners & Patience

I want to preface this post by acknowledging that I wrote this a few months ago when I was feeling really lost and anxious when it came to love and relationships. I was putting a lot pressure on myself to make “progress” in my dating life. I felt like to make “progress” I needed to get into a relationship, or at least get closer to one. But I couldn’t control who I was meeting, and how we felt about each other. Ultimately, I decided to take a little break from dating. During that time I started to realize how much progress I actually had made. In dating the “wrong” people, I learned what I don’t want out of a partner, and, consequently, what I do want. I also learned that I don’t need to sit around waiting for a partner to bring romance into my life.

I decided to share this post now, because while I’m feeling much less angsty about my dating life, a lot of the sentiment still rings true. I have good days and bad days, which usually correspond with good dates and bad dates. Love and relationships is also something back in the forefront of my mind, with Valentines day right around the corner. In the spirit of not sitting and waiting for a partner, I decided to be my own Valentine this year. I bought myself flowers, and chocolate and bought myself gifts. It feels good and empowering to be able to do these things for myself, and it makes me a little less impatient.

I don’t know if there’s anything more profoundly frustrating than being single in your mid-late 20’s. 

Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Sure, there are plenty more objectively aggravating aspects of life, but being single and dating in your 20’s has to be up there. Especially as someone who considers herself a strong, independent woman…and a bit of a hopeless romantic. 

There’s a part of me that’s content with my life. Actually, I am content with my life. I have a great apartment in a fantastic city that I’ve only begun to explore. I have friends nearby that I’m lucky enough to see regularly, and other friends farther away that give me an excuse to travel. I’m healthy and running regularly, and I’m fueling my body right. I have somehow begun to find little joy in each and every day. I have a good life, and I am happy. 

But still, I’m single. 

I have been enjoying going on dates every now and again. Dating hasn’t been high on my priority list, but it’s been fun, and a great way to explore different parts of the city and to try new and different things. I’ve gotten to a point where going on dates is pleasant and not painful. So that’s good, right?

Still, I go through periods where I feel hopeless, like I’ll never meet quite the right person. I think maybe I should be less focused on having fun and more dialed in on finding “Mr. Right.”

I know no of that is true, and that the right person will come into my life at the right time. I also worry that if I do meet someone I like, I’ll lose my sense of self, and I feel that I need more time to define myself on my own terms. Then I think that if I do take the time to work on myself and I become even more independent and self-assured that then no one will want to be with me. But, then again, why I would I want to be with anyone who felt threatened by someone who is secure in themselves. Better to be alone than to be stifled by the patriarchy, right? 

Or is it?

I’m getting to a point where all of my friends are coupling up, if they haven’t already. Some of my closest friends who I leaned on as my “single friends” pre-pandemic have now found themselves in serious relationships. While I am happy for them, I can’t help but feel jealous and impatient, because it feels like it’s never going to happen for me. And not only that, but as my friends couple up around me, there’s an unspoken pressure for me to do the same. 

Maybe it’s ridiculous and I’m just being dramatic (Me? Dramatic?!), but I have moments where I feel self-conscious and guilty for asking some of my coupled friends to hang out. Sometimes I just want a friend to get coffee with, or come over and watch a movie. Those things feel easy to do with my single friends, but when I look at my coupled friends, I see that they have someone to do those things with all the time, especially now that the more established couples are moving in together. Being in a relationship means having an automatic partner for all the little things in life. 

For the most part, I’m content to do things on my own. I’ve reached a point in my self-love journey where I can finally appreciate my own company. I enjoy my Friday morning walks to get coffee while I listen to one of my favorite podcasts. I even find joy in a quiet Saturday night, getting takeout and watching a movie or show I’ve probably seen a thousand times before. (Watching A Cinderella Story and falling asleep on my couch is one of my favorite hobbies).  

Most of the time I don’t even crave a relationship, I just don’t want to always be alone. 

Ultimately, I do want to be able to share my life with someone. I want to share the joy and happiness I find in each day with a partner who does the same in return. And so, as I tip into the latter half of my twenties, I begin to lose patience and wonder if I’ll ever find my person – my partner. 

I’ve seen how wonderful and full life with the right person can be, I’ve seen it happen for my best friend and her college boyfriend, now husband. I wrote a similar post over a year ago when she got engaged, and now I write again as I just attended her wedding. 

I wrote a year ago that I was okay with where I was in my life, that I was happy for my friend being in love and engaged, while also being happy and content with going through life solo. And that was true, and it’s still true. 

What’s changed in the past year is that I’ve begun to crave the kind of companionship my friends have. I spent over a year “working on myself.” I didn’t date, I wasn’t trying to meet anyone. I spent my time doing the things that bring me joy, like running, writing, exploring, taking pictures and videos to capture the little but very important  moments of life. As a result, I have a stronger sense of self and identity, and I’m happier than ever. 

So now I face the fears and frustrations of dating and seeking out a relationship in your 20s. 

The scary part about that is, it means I have to feel things. It means subjecting myself to potentially getting hurt. When I meet someone I connect with, I get my hopes up that this could be something real.

The problem is, I have yet to establish a connection where those feelings are reciprocated. It’s frustrating to put yourself out there, see the potential and hope it turns into something just to have those hopes crushed over and over again. I often leave a situation wishing I never met this person or I didn’t feel the things I do.

I’ve continued to see guys I don’t feel a strong connection or attraction to because it feels safer. I guess the hope is that feelings will develop over time, but in truth, I just don’t want to risk get hurt. 

Then, out of the blue, I’ll meet someone who makes me feel something special, and I rethink things. Sometimes I want to run away when I feel my heart skip a beat when he looks at me, because pursuing feelings like that means risking getting hurt. 

But, at the same time, I’d give anything to feel that way every day. To be inspired by someone. To feel heard by them, understood. To have someone special to share those mundane but beautiful moments with. Someone who sees life through the same beautiful and broken lens that I do. 

So I don’t give up. As frustrating and disappointing as it may be, I won’t give up. I believe in love. I believe that life can be incredibly special when shared with another person. And just because I haven’t met him yet, doesn’t mean he’s not out there. 

So I have patience. I trust in the universe, and I hope that my future partner is out there being patient too. 

Typically I write and share this posts with my friends, with the intention that they will relate. But this time I write because many of my friends don’t relate. Still, I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. If you’re reading this and you relate to the impatience, frustrations, and loneliness of being single in your 20’s, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And if you ever want someone to get a coffee with, I’ll be there, even if it’s just in spirit. 

I think that knowing you’re not alone makes the trials and tribulations of dating in your 20’s a little less painful. Because, at the end of the day, that’s all we really want, isn’t it? Someone who understands us and who we can share and experience life with. So, for now, we’re at least in it together. 

Long Live 2021

I’m not usually one to make a big deal out of New Year’s. I’d rather be up early on New Year’s day than up all night tossing back tequila shots or sipping champagne. New Year’s just isn’t my holiday. Yet this year I felt like I needed to sit down and reflect on 2021. 

This was a transformational year for me. Not in the one big pivotal moment that changed it all kind of way, but in the each day was an opportunity to change my life and took a chance on myself kind of way. 

From the outside, it might look like I made some drastic changes this year. I decided to leave behind my life in San Francisco and moved back to the East Coast permanently. I got my own apartment in a new city, I bought my first car, I started a new job, and I travelled to new places. It sounds like a fun and exciting year, right?

“I said, remember this moment, in the back of my mind”

Long Live by Taylor Swift

It was, but those big moments aren’t what defined my year.

The moments from this year that mean the most to me are the little ones. The walks I took to explore my new neighborhood. My best friend dropping off coffee and pastries to me after that marathon I ran. The drives around town with my sisters where we belted out our favorite Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo lyrics.

This year I built a life I love, a life I am so extremely proud of. Yes, those major life changes were instrumental in getting me here, but the little moments, the ones that often go un-noticed, those were just as foundational and all the more meaningful. 

So that’s really my takeaway from this year – appreciating the little everyday moments,  the ones were no one is watching – that’s what makes life so special. 

A Holiday Romance – for one.

I love Christmas. There’s something about pine trees, snow flurries, and seeing the whole city lit up in festive lights that makes my heart smile. It’s a time of love and romance. The chilly weather makes you want to cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie, or curl up with a good book. But for some of us, who don’t have someone to share it with, the holiday’s can be lonely. 

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a good Hallmark movie. Yes, they are objectively terrible and overly predictably, but I think the bad acting and simple plot line is all part of the draw. I know what I’m getting into when I watch a Hallmark movie, and I know there’s going to be a happy ending.

I love the idea of a holiday romance. I think that’s the reason I enjoy the movies so much. I really find the holiday’s objectively romantic. Maybe it’s the twinkle lights that cover the city with a romantic glow, or the horse-drawn carriages that popped up at the park across the street. Or maybe it’s that I want someone to wander the holiday shops with, or to share a hot chocolate with. Or maybe it’s that nearly every Christmas song is about falling in love, finding someone to love, or spending time with the one you love. At this point, love and romance are synonymous with the holiday season. 

This will be my third consecutive year spending the holiday’s unattached. In the past, I fantasized that I was the main character in a hallmark movies. I think I used to develop a crush on nearly anyone who talked to me during the entire month of December. I let myself get pulled into the belief system that you need a partner in order to have romance at Christmas. But this December, that’s not going to be the case. I’m determined to have a holiday romance…with myself. 

I find that too often we believe that the only way to have romance in our lives is to be involved in some sort of love affair. But I don’t think that’s true. I think that we can find romance in many aspects of life. So this holiday season, I’ll be romancing myself. Here are a few ideas for how you can do the same: 

Buy yourself flowers. There’s nothing more romantic that receiving a fresh flower arrangement. Why do we have to wait for one to arrive on our doorstep from some mysterious admirer when we can go out and buy the flowers ourselves. I’m sucker for a nice holiday poinsettia, but roses are also festive and classic.

Go ice skating…or maybe just watch. Where I live, in Center City Philadelphia, an ice rink just opened at City Hall. I’ll often walk by to watch the skaters and get caught up in the holiday magic. I’m a little wary to get on the ice myself as I wiped out pretty badly the last time I went skating, but maybe I’ll talk some friends into joining me for an evening skate one night this month.

Wander a Christmas Tree Farm. Where I grew up there are many beautiful tree farms, and I love going and shopping for the perfect tree. I think there’s something so warm and romantic about wandering a tree-farm, the scent of pine filling your heart with holiday romance. 

Romanticize your holiday shopping.  It’s no secret that shopping is one of my favorite things to do, and I love it all the more around the holiday’s. To romanticize my shopping trip I’ll put on a cute and festive outfit and wander around the city shops. If you’re lucky enough to live in or near a big city with a Christmas market, that’s the perfect place to wander and shop. Or, if you live in a small town, try the local shops there. My hometown has a beautiful Christmas gift shop that I love browse this time of year. My goal this holiday season is to buy all, or nearly all, of my holiday gifts from local places around where I live in Philadelphia, and just enjoy the process. 

Wrap the gifts. I absolutely love wrapping presents. Part of my Christmas shopping routine is find the perfect wrapping paper, ribbons, and other accessories. Once my shopping is done, I’ll pick a night to put on a favorite Christmas movie, light festive candles, and wrap all of my gifts. Then I’ll fill in the base of my tree with the wrapped gifts. It’s an art, really. 

Spend time with the people you love. Just because you’re not in love doesn’t mean there aren’t people you love and enjoy spending time with. I feel very lucky to have a wonderful group of friends where I live now and I’m looking forward to spending time with them this holiday season. I’m also lucky enough to live close to my sister. It’s simple, but the two of us are going to get festive manicures together this weekend – I’m really looking forward to it. 

Take yourself out on a date. Eating alone can be incredibly scary and intimidating if you’ve never done it before. I like to bring a book to read, or my notebook to journal. Sometimes I’ll just sit and enjoy my own thoughts and company. Taking myself out on a romantic date for one is one of my goals this holiday season. I think it’s even more romantic to sit and enjoy your own company than trying to make conversation on an awkward first date. 

Be a tourist. I love spending a free weekend being a tourist in my own city. For the holiday’s I enjoy getting a festive drink from Starbucks and exploring a new neighborhood, or wandering the same ones I typically frequent. I adore walking Walnut street in Philly, and sitting in Rittenhouse Square with a warm drink. There’s something so incredibly romantic about a warm drink and sitting in a city park. If you don’t live in city, driving around to see the neighborhood lights and decorations can be just as magical. When I’m home my sisters and I like to put on our favorite holiday music, get lattes or hot chocolate, and drive the scenic roads around where we grew up. It’s simple, but it makes my heart happy. 

Take a day-trip. Where I grew up in Connecticut was just two hours from New York City, so my favorite thing to do around the holiday’s was to take a day trip into the city. Whether we saw a show, or went shopping, or just wandered by the tree at Rockefeller Center, I loved spending time in NYC at Christmas. I truly don’t think there’s anyplace more romantic than NYC at Christmas. Even if you don’t live close to NYC, there are so many magical places around the holiday season.

Treat yourself to a holiday brunch. I used to think I needed an excuse to indulge, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t make yourself some cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs and spend a morning watching your favorite Christmas movie. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the holiday season so I think we could all use a slow morning to rest and re-fuel. 

No matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you do, there are endless possibilities for having a romantic holiday season. And learning to find romance in being alone takes a lot of the pressure off finding someone around the holiday season.  

Loving Him Was Red (Taylor’s Version)

Heartbreak is a funny thing. It’s not fair. It’s not kind. It’s not predictable. It comes to you in waves, some shallow and manageable, others difficult and devastating. Heartbreak isn’t something easily moved past, many carry it with them for years on end. Sure, the pain eases with time, but, like a once broken bone, sometimes it still aches a little. 

We know going into new romantic situations that we may get our hearts broken, yet many of us still take the risk. For us, the potential of falling in love is worth the risk. Being in love can make it feel like the rest of the world doesn’t matter. It’s an incredible thing to feel seen by someone, to feel like they understand you in a way the rest of the world can’t. 

We never saw it coming

Not trying to fall in love

But we did like children running

The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)

I think that’s why Red (Taylor’s version) hits so hard. Sure, there was the months long build-up to the release, but there’s much more to this album than media hype. It’s the devastating relatability of the lyrics to the ten minute version of All Too Well. It’s the way your hearts sinks when Dylan drops Sadie’s hand in the dinner scene of the short film. It’s the fact that too many of us have been right where Taylor was in 2012 when she wrote these songs and we can feel her heartbreak radiating from the lyrics. 

But it’s also the way we can feel a resurgence in love in the lyrics to Begin Again or Everything Has Changed. It’s the fateful optimism of Message in a Bottle where you can feel the excitement of meeting someone special and the hope that they might just feel the same way. 

These songs validate our feelings – both the broken hearted, and the optimistic and romantic. They make us realize that it’s okay to feel the way we do – to feel like a crumpled up peace of paper lying on floor after a heartbreak, or to feel like starlight dancing with someone we love. Whatever it is we’re going through, her lyrics remind us that we’re not alone.

I find the Red album special because it encompasses a wide range of emotion. For me, I treated Friday November 12th as an emotional “holiday”. I listened to the album and let myself feel my way through the music. I watched the All Too Well short film twice and found myself more emotional each time. I felt the hope, and the heartbreak, and cried as needed. It was, quite simply, cathartic. 

How can a person know everything

At eighteen, but nothing at twenty-two?

Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)

This is why I love Taylor Swift. I find her music, as a whole, to be relatable. Sure, I can’t connect to every lyric is every song, but I think it’s the way she expresses emotion through her lyrics that make her music so intriguing to me. I feel deeply, I over analyze, I romanticize life, and I remember things all too well, and Taylor validates that. 

So, while my experiences might be different, she makes it okay to express the way things make me feel. Ultimately that’s why I started this blog – to write about the way I see the world and express how I feel going through different stages of my life. Taylor Swift remains inspiration for me to do that. I’m not musically inclined so I won’t be writing music anytime soon, but I’ll write these blogs and share them with you in hopes that even a few people can feel validated in what they are going through. 

It’s too hard to pick favorites, but let’s just say I’ve been listening to Babe, Message in a Bottle, and The Very First Night more than the other vault tracks. 😉

What are your favorites?

Hartford Marathon 2021 Race Recap

It was somewhere around mile 11, when the half marathoners broke off and headed toward the finish, that I started thinking to myself, I am never doing this again. My body was already hurting and I still had another 15 miles to go. 

Last weekend I ran my third full marathon in Hartford, CT. I picked Hartford for convenience more than anything, I didn’t know where I’d be living when I registered, but my hometown is just 20 minutes outside the city, so I knew I’d be able to stay with my parents and they’d be obligated to come out and cheer me on. 

Between registration and race day my plans for a “convenient” race grew into something much more fun and exciting. My two childhood best friends wound up registering for the half marathon. Neither were crazy enough to join me for the full, but it would be nice to have a few friendly faces on the course.

My cheer squad grew too.  It was my middle sister’s fall break so she was home from college. My brother happened to have a free weekend and decided to come down from Boston. My youngest sister still lives at home so she was obligated to come regardless. My parents, my most loyal fans, would also be around. It would be the first time my entire family would be able to watch me run, which was incredibly exciting. 

I woke up early the morning of the marathon, put on the race outfit I’d picked out weeks ago, and made myself a cup of coffee and toast, my usual pre-run breakfast. I did my best to stay “in the zone.” My mom was nice enough to get up early and drive me to the start, the rest of the family would sleep in a little and join the fun later.

Thanks to a slow moving line at the port-a-potty, I slipped into my corral just before the starting gun went off. There was no more time for me to be nervous, I just had to do what I’d been training my body to do for months – run. 

The first few miles I just tried to find my rhythm and not waste too much energy weaving through the mass of runners. By mile three, the crowd had thinned and I settled in with the 3:35 pace group. The first half cursed us with rolling hills, but I’d prepared for that. I took the uphill slow and relaxed, and let myself glide on the downhills. I’d made the mistake of taking the hills too hard in my last marathon and my quads paid for it dearly in the end. I learned that lesson the hard way, and was playing safe and smart this time around. 

The first few miles were some of the more exciting of the race, weaving through the streets of downtown Hartford. My cheerleaders yelled my name and waved around homemade signs as I ran by. I fist pumped as I passed, filled with the energy of the race environment. 

I let the race-day adrenaline get to me a little, and I knew I’d taken the first few miles a little too fast. I slowed a bit and focused on staying with the 3:35 pacer. My big, lofty goal was to run 3:30. So I figured I would stay with the 3:35 pacer for now and if I felt good at the half, I could pick up the pace from there. 

I breezed through the first 11 miles, but as the half marathoners veered left and headed toward the finish, I could help but envy them. I felt okay now, but would I still feel okay for another 15 miles? Why would I put myself through all this pain? Is it worth it?

It was in that moment I decided that this would be my last marathon. I would do more half marathons, but this would be my last full. And if that was the case, I had to give it my all. 

As I passed the half-way marker, I assessed how I was feeling. Good, but not great. I decided to stay with the 3:35 pacer. I felt challenged, but relaxed cruising along at 8:15 pace, so I stayed with the group. It was nice to run with other people. The morale was high and I fed off that energy. I chatted with a few of the guys about another race they’d done recently – a Spartan race where runners completed challenges while climbing Mount Killington in Vermont. I told them my brother had done the race, but went into it completely unprepared. He and his friends hadn’t realized it would take 8 hours and require climbing the mountain multiple times. They didn’t bring any food or water, and I’m really not sure how they survived. I joked with my new friends that this marathon would be a breeze in comparison. I wasn’t sure I really believed that, but it was nice to know we were all in this together. And at least I’d prepared for this. 

We worked our way through the later miles and a few folks dropped off – some sped up ahead of the group, and others succumbed to the pain. But I stayed with it, for now. 

Why would I put myself through all of this pain? Is it worth it?

The way the course was designed, around mile 18 or 19 we could see some of the elite runners headed toward the finish. They had about 2 miles left while we had another hour of running a head of us. I tried to be inspired by their speed instead of feeling discouraged by how far I still had to go. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of fans who came out and supported us through the later miles, including my dad who ran alongside the race course shouting words of encouragement. My sisters showed up with some signs and my brother gave me a high five so aggressive I nearly fell over. Still, I fed off the fans and their energy. 

Or at least I tried to. The little water bottle I carried with me ran dry around mile 20 so I just focused on making it to the next water stop. I felt tired and dehydrated and I wanted to take another gel to boost my energy, but I knew I needed water first. It felt like forever, but eventually the water stop came and I was able to suck down some hydration and refill my bottle. It was the first water stop I’d actually slowed to a walk for and that may have been a mistake. Thanks to the brief walk break I could feel my legs cramping up. They were tired and heavy, but I had to put it out of my mind. I just had another four miles to go, I could do this. 

For the next few miles I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. It wasn’t my fastest, but I kept a good pace and I was just ahead of the 3:35 pace group. That was until the final hill. It was only really a slight incline over the bridge and back into downtown Hartford. I was only a mile from the finish, but my legs had never felt heavier. I made a deal with myself I would walk for just a second, then finish strong. And that’s what I did. My dad appeared as I slowly climbed the hill, cheering as if I had a shot at winning the race. As I crossed the bridge I started running again and my dad jogged alongside me, just like he had done during my high school cross country races.

As much as I wanted to stop and walk the last mile to the finish I told myself I couldn’t do that. I thought about the 16 year old girl who hated running but joined the cross country team anyway. I thought about how badly she wanted to quit during her first practice, but she stuck with it and somehow running had changed her life for the better. It occurred to me that now, ten years later, that same girl was running a full marathon at a faster pace than she ran her best cross country races in high school. So I dug deep for her. 

I sped up as I crossed over into Hartford. The remainder of the 3:35 pace group passed me during my walk break and I couldn’t quite catch them, but I kept a good pace as I headed back into the city and towards the finish. Someone yelled, “Only a quarter mile to go!” Which I knew was a lie since I couldn’t even see the finish yet. Then, it came into view. The Arch. The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch marked the finish of the race. I picked up the pace and gave it everything I had to get to that finish. I crossed the line in 3:38:33. More than 10 minutes faster than my last marathon. 

I was deliriously tired and everything hurt. I stumbled through the finish where I saw and thanked the 3:35 pacer for helping me get through the bulk of the race. I got my medal, mylar blanket, and a bag of goodies then found a bench where I could sit down. I reunited with my friends and loyal cheer squad somewhere in between the finish line and the beer garden. We took some time so celebrate our accomplishments and complain of our achy muscles. I vowed that this was it, this was my last marathon, I was never going to put myself through that again. I was sure I didn’t want to do 26.2 again. 

Now, however, as I reflect on the race, I think I will do it again. Yes it hurt, and my legs will be sore for at least another week, but there’s something about the marathon that keeps me coming back. For one, I know that I have more to give. I want to run a race where I’m mentally strong enough to push through when it hurts and not walk up that last hill. I want to take what I learned in this race and apply it to another one and see how much faster I can go. I want to see if I can nab an elusive Boston Qualifying time. I’d just have to shave another 10 minutes off my time. I think it might be do-able?

I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m sure I’ll be back. The marathon and I still have some unfinished business. 

Why am I doing this?

Why would anyone run a marathon?

Training for and running a marathon is a grueling process. You really only know how truly grueling it is until you’re in the thick of it. It’ll test you mentally, as well as physically. The marathon will force you to explore the limits of your body and, most often, push past them. 

As I begin my fourth* marathon training cycle, I am already being tested. 

*This is the fourth marathon I’ve trained for, though I’ve only completed two thus far. The last marathon I trained for I decided not to run last minute due to a nagging ankle injury. Marathon training is tough on the body!

Today I had a long run on the calendar. 16 miles. A doozy, especially given that the temps have been creeping up past 90 all week. Thankfully it had rained overnight bringing relief to the unbearable heat, but still, I wanted to get up and out early so as not to get stuck running in the mid day sun. Not to mention that a 16 miler would take up a good chunk of my day, well over 2 hours for sure. 

So I got up and got going early, or at least somewhat early. 7am was late compared to the regular 5:30 wake up calls of previous marathon training cycles, but it was a Sunday and I did need my sleep. I started my usual pre-run routine with a cup of coffee and some toast. I journaled a bit while I nursed my cup of coffee, only half procrastinating my run. Eventually I got around to lacing up my sneakers and doing my warmup drills. I packed up a small bag with water, electrolytes, a towel, and a few other things I thought I might need for the run. I drove just a few minutes down the road and parked along one of my favorite trails. I surely could have just run from my apartment to the trail, but today I felt like starting my run on the trail. The vibe just felt right, so I rolled with it. 

I did a few more warmup drills and contemplated a trip to the port-a-poty before taking off down the trail. Aright, I thought, this isn’t so bad. I kept the pace nice and relaxed to start, easing into the repetitive motion. One foot, then the other. I had plenty of miles ahead of me to pick up the pace. Just as I felt like I was hitting my groove I felt my ankle twist and went straight down to the ground. 

“Are you okay?” A lady called from a car in the nearby parking lot. It took me a second to realize what had happened. “Yeah, I think so.” I quickly assessed the damage. It hurt, but it didn’t seem too bad. “My car isn’t far,” I replied to the kind lady who’d offered to help. I sat on the ground for another minute, before scooping up my phone and water bottle that had scattered on the sidewalk. 

Thankfully my phone only had a few minor scratches. I’d had the phone for months and still hadn’t bothered to get a new screen protector. I could hear my mom lecturing me. I stood up to better assess the damage. My knee was scraped up but not badly and elbow had a small cut, but that barely hurt. I was more worried about the ankle that had rolled. I put a little weight on it and then a little more. It felt surprisingly okay. I must have just caught a rock and lost balance, I didn’t really roll my ankle. Thank god. 

I exhaled, grateful things weren’t worse. 

I knew things could have been much worse. I had a history of breaking my wrist during simple falls like this. So I was thankful for a few simple cuts and bruises. 

Still, I wasn’t sure if I was okay enough to finish the run. I was barely a half mile in when I fell, so thankfully my car really wasn’t far. But, I did have a long way to go if I was going to complete my mileage for the day. 

I jogged back to the car cautiously. 

I used the towel I’d packed and a little extra water to clean up my wounds. It really wasn’t that bad, seemed like a pretty standard scraped knee. I was cautiously optimistic, but my ankle seemed okay too. 

I could finish the run. But did I want to?

There was part of me that just wanted to get back in my car and go home and skip the next 15 miles. Or tell myself I’d go home and get cleaned up and finish the run later. But I knew that if I didn’t do it now I definitely wouldn’t do it later. 

I wanted to cry. The scraped knee was dumb, I was fine, but I was tired. I didn’t really want to run 15 more miles. In that moment all I wanted was someone to feel sorry for me that I’d scraped up my knee. Was I just a five year old kid on the playground? 

I think I really only started running again because my choice was either run or pout like a little kid. No run is perfect, I told myself. 

I got into a flow. The cuts on my knee stung for a while, but eventually the pain subsided and I actually felt okay. I somehow finished the 10 mile trail loop and made it back to my car, yet again. 

Just six more miles

I remember telling myself that at mile 20 of my first marathon. “Just six more miles, just a 10k, you’ve done that a million times, you can do it.” It worked wonders for me then. I’d never run a marathon before at that point, so breaking it down into easily digestible chunks, like “just one more 10k” made it seem possible, and it was. I finished that race in just about 4 hours 20 minutes, very respectable for a first go at the marathon. 

Today, six more miles felt more daunting. I was tired. It was warm and humid. Thankfully the sun hadn’t decided to make much of appearance, but still, I was tired and sweaty. I thought about calling it there, but I didn’t. Overall, I felt okay, so I pushed on. I got a second wind in the next few miles, and I breezed through to mile 13. Then I started to not feel so good. 

I should have had a second piece of toast. I could feel my stomach aching. Really all that was in there was some water and the two gels I’d had gotten down thus far. My stomach was saying that it needed sustenance, but I wasn’t sure if it could take another gel. Since I was low on energy and I had no other options, I took the third gel. And it did not sit well. The nausea came first, then the cramps. I tried just slowing down, but the cramps only got worse. I hated stopping during a long run, especially so close to the finish, but I felt like I couldn’t keep moving like this. 

I paused and took a few deep breaths. I didn’t want to start running again, at least not yet, so I walked for a few minutes. 

What is the point? Why am I doing this? Why did I sign up for another marathon?

The negative thoughts didn’t just creep up on me, they surrounded me on all sides.

I was happy running 5k’s and 10k’s last year, and I never felt like this. So why am I doing this? Why?

I didn’t have a good answer for myself, but I knew I wasn’t a quitter, so I started up a jog again to quiet my thoughts. Somehow the 16 mile mark came and I finally got to stop. I felt accomplished sure, but that wasn’t enough to keep the ultimate question at bay. 

Why the hell am I running (another) marathon?

I told myself it’s because I want to qualify for Boston. But then the devil on my shoulder came back with the “why the hell would you want to do that?”

Even if I did qualify for Boston, who knows if I would make the registration cut off. And even if I did make the cut off, I’d then have to run another marathon, Boston. 

Sure, yes, I have this lofty golden goal of qualifying and running Boston. But I could have other goals, that are just as impressive, that don’t require me to run multiple additional marathons. 

So I thought back on why I started running. Or at least, why I started running half marathons/marathon. Something that was a big factor in my decision to run so many of those early races that I wanted so badly to impress people. I felt like I’d been overlooked for so much of my life, my accomplishments paled in comparison to those of my siblings and my peers. Or so I felt at the time. So the marathon was a chance for me to prove myself. None of my siblings had run, or probably ever would run a marathon, and it wasn’t something many of my peers chose to do, so it was something that could be mine. Plus, it was impressive no matter what time I ran, just so long as I had run a marathon. 

The accomplishment factor just didn’t ring true for me anymore, at least not in the same way. In training for and running my past marathons, I’d also learned to run fast at shorter distances. Not incredibly fast, but fast enough to be the 2nd place female in a local 10k, and win $50, which felt pretty cool to me. I didn’t need the marathon to be impressive anymore. I’ve also now made peace with myself and my accomplishments and I don’t feel the need to do things just for the attention or the “wow” factor. 

So then, why was I doing this?

I then thought that was because I wanted to escape. Which is, or was, somewhat true. Between work and school and social media, running was a chance to spend a few hours outside not looking at my phone or checking my email. Especially when work was stressful, or I wanted to try and forget that I was waiting for a text from the guy I had a massive crush on, running was an excellent escape. 

I still feel that way, at least to some extent. I don’t feel the need to run away from my problems anymore. And I don’t feel like I need running to put away my phone and unplug. I now face my problems head on, and deal with them in a healthy way. I’ve also gotten much better at setting boundaries with work and various aspects of my life so that I can unplug when I need to.

What I do still enjoy is getting outside and spending a few hours appreciating all that mother nature has to offer. I feel a little less appreciative when it’s 80 degrees and humid, but I do still appreciate it. I also appreciate the movement. I appreciate all that my body can do for me, like running 26.2 miles consecutively. 

I then thought back to why I started running at all. I wasn’t much of a runner growing up, and I definitely wouldn’t have considered myself an athlete, but for one reason or another I found myself showing up to cross country practices my junior year of high school. I remembered how I felt then, especially in those first few practices. My mindset was much the same as it was today.  Why am I doing this? 

I’ll never forget how badly I wanted to quit during those first few cross country practices. I wanted so badly to feign an injury so that I could stop running. But I didn’t. I didn’t have a good reason for why I was doing it, other than I didn’t have a good enough reason to quit. And I’m so glad I didn’t quit. 

Running has given me so much. It’s given me strength, both physical and mental. It’s given me confidence in myself and my ability to do just about anything I set my mind to. It’s given me an appreciation for my body, and for the world around me. 

Running has made me an all around better person, as so I guess that’s why I don’t quit. And sure, I could run 5k’s, 10k’s, or even just half marathon’s and see those benefits and avoid torturing myself with 16+ mile runs. But I don’t, and not just because I don’t have a good enough reason not to. But because days like these, days where it feels like everything is going wrong and I want to quit, those are the days that make me stronger. 

Also because, I’m so grateful that I laced up my shoes for that first cross country practice, so I’m sure I’ll one day be grateful that I laced up my shoes today. 

Join me on Tik Tok for more real-time run recaps.

I used to be a dreamer.

My sister recently pointed out to me that I am a realist. I was taken aback, I’d always thought of myself as more of an optimist. I felt like for most of my life I generally saw the best in people or tried to make the most of bad situations; I was a positive person. It occurred to me, however, that somewhere down the line, that stopped being the case. I stopped seeing the world with a rose-colored tint, and began seeing things for what they were. I used to be a dreamer, but I’m not anymore.

I used to be a dreamer. I fantasized about the future, about what my life would look like, about what the world would be like.

But the world can crush dreamers; reality will eat you up and spit you right out if you’re not careful.

I wasn’t careful. For a long time anyway, I wasn’t careful, and and the world ate me up and spat me right out.

It took a long time, but I picked myself back up. I was shattered, but slowly and surely I began to put the pieces back together. Eventually though, I made the mistake of dreaming again. Then, as history repeats itself, reality took hold, and my dreams were one again nothing but dreams.

I had dream of what my life was going to look like in 2020. It was my year to get my life together. I’d finally picked up the pieces of heartbreak, work burnout, and personal insecurities, and I was piecing myself back together with glue and a careful hand. It seemed to be holding. So I began to dream again, I dreamt that I would once again be whole and functional. My dreams were less crazy than they were before the world broke me down the first few times, but they were still there.

Then, suddenly, the world stopped. Not just for me this time, but for all of us. My fragile pieces hit a brick wall and my cautious dreams came to a sharp halt. I didn’t shatter this time though, not completely anyway. I just new that if I wanted to get past this metaphorical “brick wall” I needed to leave my dreams behind. I couldn’t carry them with me. Not when I was still rebuilding myself to begin with.

So I did it. I climbed over that brick wall. I figured I’d find new dreams on the other side. And sure, there were fantasies there, but the climb left me too weak to pick any of them up. I couldn’t trust that I’d be able to carry them with me. I didn’t know if I was strong enough to deal with the fall out of inevitably having to drop them.

Now my life is changing again. As the world reopens post-pandemic, so do the possibilities for my life. This time however, I’m taking small cautious steps to a goal. Not a dream anymore, a goal. A desired life, but a real one, not a fantasy.

The difference between fantasy and reality is that I see the problems I will face. In a fantasy we don’t think about the downside, the risks. That is why I fell so hard when I came down to reality those first few times. No, now I see the obstacles. This is life, not a dream.

Still, I work towards my goals. Though, at times, I’m not sure how I feel about them. They are as bright and shiny anymore; they don’t look the same as they did when I was a dreamer.

I don’t get excited about things the way I used to because I’m terrified of being disappointed. My fragile state can’t take another blow. There are too many obstacles on the ground that might trip me up. I can’t risk leaving my head up in the clouds for too long, or I might stumble into something greater than I can handle.

It’s not fun to live like this, I don’t really like it, but it’s my reality right now. I’m pushing through, logically assessing situations, and still working towards my goals. Risks scare me. I don’t want to take risks, but sometimes I have to. I have to trust that I’m strong enough to risk dreaming again, even just a little. I have to trust that I can handle a fall and that, worst case, I now know how to put the pieces back together.

Moreover, I have to trust that the risks are worth a fall and that, overall, I’m on the right path. I have to believe that the universe has something amazing planned for me; something greater and more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed.

Thoughts on Creativity

As we grow up we lose our creativity, much as runners loses strength and speed as we age. As a child we aren’t limited by knowledge or practicality. We know what we like and what we don’t, and, naturally, we pursue the things we like and avoid those we don’t. However, as we get older, and “wiser,” our knowledge and understanding of the world begins to limit us.

Over time, we get caught up in the practicality of things. We have bills to pay and need a stable job to support that. We learn that we need to allocate certain amounts of time to spend with family and friends, because maybe that’s what makes us happy, and maybe because that’s just what we feel obligated to do. We learn that, to stay fit and healthy, we have to exercise regularly and eat nutritious foods. Every day we wake up and we have this pre-determined schedule that’s ingrained within us – eat breakfast, go to work, go to the gym, make dinner, go to bed, and get up the next day and do it all over again.

This life leaves little room for creativity, or joy. Of course, some people are naturally more free-spirited than others and have more hobbies or exercise their creative muscles regularly by way of their job, should they be so lucky. But for many of us, myself in particular, creativity evades us on a daily basis. 

This is not to say that I don’t like my life, I do. I have a job that I enjoy doing, I have hobbies that keep me healthy and happy, and I have enough money to live a comfortable life. There are times, however, when I wish I had been a bit more daring; I wish I were a dreamer. 

When I was younger I loved to write. I was a shy, quiet child, so when we began writing little stories in first grade I was thrilled – I loved it. From then on, I became a “writer.” Or at least that’s how I internally branded myself. I found it easier to communicate my thoughts in writing than to speak them out loud. I loved books, particularly fiction and fantasy where I could get lost in a world that was similar enough to our own that it felt real, but different enough that I could get lost in it. When I was around ten years old I began writing my own stories. I had a notebook where I would write down story ideas and draw pictures of the characters and setting. I had a dream that one day I would write and publish a novel. 

Then high school came around. I still enjoyed and excelled at writing, my favorite classes were English and French where I could read and write freely. However, the reality of my future began to set in. I had come to think that I would major in either French or English in college. Maybe I would spend a semester abroad in Paris, drinking espresso and writing poetry at a sidewalk cafe. But, college is expensive. And so is Paris. And English majors aren’t known for making a lot of money. 

I found my dream school the minute I stepped on campus, and was accepted early into their Honor’s program. I was thrilled. Still, it was expensive and the reality was that I would have student loans and I’d need a stable job to support myself after graduation. And, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure I could make it as a writer. I didn’t have a defined career path to follow as I writer and I wasn’t sure what I would or could do as a writer after graduation. Plus, it would be competitive and I was terrified of failure. 

So, I went with a sure thing and transferred into the business school. Many of my college friends were like me, they had dreams, they liked to write (that’s pretty typical of a college honor’s program), but they were also practical, and going to business school more or less guaranteed a job after graduation. And so, fast forward to now, several years after graduating college, and yes, I have a good job and generally a good life, but I’ve lost my creative edge. 

I want to sit down a write most days, but there’s just not enough hours in the day. And many times when I do sit down to write the creative nerve endings in my brain just can’t seem to connect. I think about what I have to do to continue being productive and building a good life for myself. It takes effort to think creatively now, just as it takes effort to run a marathon or become a CFO. And just like our physical muscles, our mental muscles, specifically our creative muscles, begin to deteriorate as we age, and they do so much more quickly and often more rapidly than our physical muscles. However, also like our bodies, we can build our creative muscles if we take the time to exercise them. 

And so, here I am, attempting to exercise my creative muscles. I’ve begun trying to write down my thoughts when I become inspired, which I’ve found is much easier said than done. In my head these thoughts flow freely, often when I’m on a run or out walking the dog, but when I sit down to put them to paper I draw a blank. My creative muscles are there, but they are weak. I have to force my self to flex them and put my thoughts on the paper; my paint to the canvas. 

Just as I train for a marathon and build physical stamina, I’ve begun to build my creative stamina. I train regularly by doing the things that help to inspire thoughtfulness and day dreams. I look often to nature for inspiration, or to books, and other things that inspired me as a child. I try to think of who I aspire to be, or even who I aspired to be as a first grader when I began writing, rather than confining myself to the box of who I am now. 

I am not going to pretend as though my dreams are nearly as big and crazy as they were when I was ten, but they’re also not quite so far out of reach.

Tips for exercising your creative muscles:

  • Meditate or do yoga
  • Go for a walk and just think
  • Journal; write down your thoughts and let them flow freely.
  • Doodle!
  • Paint; build an image from memory, let your mind recall what it would look like, even if it’s not perfect
  • Take a dance class or put some music on and just let it flow
  • Have a deep and contemplative conversation with friends or family
  • Let yourself dream – don’t let reality limit you – what would you be doing if money didn’t matter?

—– some doodles —


Even if you don’t have a desire to become a professional artist or writer, it’s still important to be in touch with your right-brain. In my full-time job in accounting, arguably the least creative profession, I still have to problem-solve. Creativity helps me to think outside of the box and understand why a journal entry might be off, or the expense is too high. 

Creativity also makes me happier. It’s good to have a dream. To not be limited by reality, but think about the potential of what might be so I’m consistently motivated to work hard and put my best foot forward so that one day my dream might be my reality. 

What other ways are you creative? Share in the comments below!

The Perfect Galentine’s Day

I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s day. To some extent I love it, but I also kind of hate it. I am a hopeless romantic at heart and I love the concept of a day reserved for love and affection. In reality though, it’s just another day. Being the dreamer that I am, I find that Valentine’s day is often disappointing. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t met my person yet, but I have yet to have a Valentine’s day that lived up to my admittedly ridiculous high standards.

Still, I reserve February 14th as a special day…even when I’m single, and especially when I’m with my girlfriends! Because Galentine’s day is everything Valentine’s day is not.

This year I’m particularly excited because I have two friends coming to spend the weekend with me. So I figured why not go a little over the top and brainstorm my perfect Galentine’s day.

Brunch. Is there anything that a group of girlfriends can do better than brunch? And, I mean, is there a better meal than brunch? It’s no secret that I love breakfast food. So I’m happy to lounge around and drink mimosas and eat pancakes until 2pm, sure, especially while gossiping with my girls.

Chocolate, Cup Cakes, and Chocolate Cup Cakes. What goes better with pink mimosas and pancakes than heart shaped chocolate? Honestly, I think the best gift I’ve ever gotten for Valentine’s day is chocolate. I mean, chocolate will never let you down the way a man does. So, naturally, when you find cute little Galentine’s day cupcake toppers on Etsy you have to get chocolate cupcakes to go along with your chocolate hearts. Duh.

“Men Ain’t Sh*t” Sign. Would it even be Galentine’s day without some angry single women? I try not to be spiteful or vengeful, but, honestly, this sign speaks the truth. Girl power, all the way baby. There’s a reason Valentine’s day always disappoints and Galentine’s day doesn’t.

The Anti-Valentine Piñata. I guess this is the part of the day where we cross over from fun girl-time to angry single women. While I don’t feel the need to pin my ex’s face to the piñata, whacking a giant candy stuffed heart a few times does sound pretty therapeutic.

Rom Coms. We’ll be pretty tired after an afternoon of pinata whacking and cup cake eating so it’s best to settle down with some of your favorite Rom Coms. Valentine’s Day is an essential. That is where I got the whole pinata idea, after all. Plus, who doesn’t want to watch cringey scenes of Taylor Swift and Taylor Launter as an infatuated high school couple. I might also throw in A Cinderella Story because I’m an absolute sucker for that movie. I mean, “Waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought. Useless and disappointing.” That line is absolutely everything.

Sushi Take Out. If we’re starting the day with Brunch, then we must end it with Sushi. And probably some wine. But mostly sushi. If you’re in the Philly area, like me, I just got a rec for a sushi spot with great veggie/vegan options. Fat Salmon Sushi in Old City Philly came highly recommended. Plus, they deliver through Doordash and Uber Eats, so what more could a gal possibly want?!

**Disclaimer: For any men reading this – you are more than welcome to get your own piñata and smack the crap out of it. Crazy ex-girlfriends are far worse than crappy ex-boyfriends…I should know.