Recapping 2012… A Year I Never Expected

I had much of this post written before December 17th. I am going to leave what was written originally as is but add a little something up here first to give a little more context to my 2012…. I feel this post is better late than never.

On December 17th, my grandmother passed away. It was sudden, unexpected, and devastating. Mere days before Christmas, a fatal heart attack that no one saw coming was ultimately to blame. Surprisingly, I managed to keep myself together for most of what followed, only breaking down in the hardest moments, trying with everything I had in me to keep my tears hidden.

My Nuna was the most generous person I’ve ever known. Anything I ever wanted, she was willing to supply. She was the reason our Christmas tree had unnecessary but always welcome mounds of presents under it on Christmas Day, why I always had an “emergency $20” in my wallet (that was almost ALWAYS spent on non-emergent things) and why I had a life-size princess Barbie doll (remember those things?!)

She was also stubborn, but in the kind of way that made you thankful for traditional things, like the exact right way to make a turkey on Thanksgiving and why, to this day, I sit closer to my steering wheel in the car than is really necessary because “it’ll protect me.” No, it will probably make things worse, but things stick when you’re a little kid.

I miss my Nuna more than I can possibly say. I am thankful that I had her for almost all of 2012, but 2013 and on will not be the same without her.

My little sister, Nuna and me... Little kid fro and all.
My little sister, Nuna and me… Little kid fro and all.

Now, onto what I had written before. Happy New Years everyone!

Remember when I wrote the post, “2012 Will be Great?”  Well, it was.

But not before it was absolutely horrible.

2012 became a year that I never expected. Last December, I had my whole life planned out. A special relationship to me ended and I thought things would never be the same.  They aren’t – they’re better. Things change, people change, and everything happens for a reason. I think I’ve finally grasped that concept.

But 2012 had many great things. Many amazing things. Allow me to tell you about them.

– I ran my first 5-miler.

First 5-miler on New Years Day 2012.
First 5-miler on New Years Day 2012.

– I ran my first 10K.

First 10K, March 2012.
First 10K, March 2012.

– I spent my summer at the London Olympics.

London2012... The best summer of my whole life.
London2012… The best summer of my whole life.

– I turned 24 on the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Happy 24th Birthday to me!
Happy 24th Birthday to me!

– I watched two of my childhood friends get married.

Photo courtesy of the Groom's Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of the Groom’s Facebook page.

– I met a guy I would get to know while I was away for 7 weeks… and fall for him… hard.

This is my boyfriend, Sean. I suppose its time for all of you to be introduced.
This is my boyfriend, Sean. I suppose its time for all of you to be introduced.

– I was in 2 DanceWorks Boston shows and choreographed 2 routines for it.

My routine, "Deadly", featuring the 7 Deadly Sins.
My routine, “Deadly”, featuring the 7 Deadly Sins.

– I finished my Master’s Degree. (FINALLY!!!!!! Master Torto has a great ring to it.)

The face of a Master.
The face of a Master. You know you’re impressed.

– I got a part-time, paid internship as a Sports Web Producer at Boston.com.

I changed in a lot of ways.

When I look back on 2012, I realized how much my life has changed and I honestly don’t think I’d change a single second of it. Even though parts of it were incredibly difficult and there were times when I wanted to give everything up and just live in my own misery, I pulled through it. I am happier than I have been in a long time.

Here’s to 2013 and everything it brings. I haven’t really made any New Year’s resolutions but here’s one: blog more. Good plan.

“Slow and Steady Finishes the Race”

Do you like my new motto?  I feel like it sums me up as a “runner.”  I’m not fast, I run for distance over speed (at least for now) and fun fact about my childhood: Tortoise was my nickname from first grade until I went to high school.

 

Turtle charm = my reward to myself for running the 10K. The camera charm is from my parents because I'm a Broadcast Journalism grad student. How fitting.

 

I was not the most athletic kid growing up.  I played soccer for 5 years from age 5 to age 10, but wasn’t great at running around the field because I’d get side cramps and be winded in a matter of 3 minutes.  I started dancing when I was 7 but wasn’t good at that either until I got older.  I was always the kid picked last in gym class when we played cool games like kickball and capture the flag and it wasn’t until high school that I became a fan of professional sports and started understanding why I couldn’t keep running around the bases in baseball if someone out in the field catches the ball.   And that was only if I happened to got lucky enough to hit it that far… which was rare.

My first dance recital. Do I look like a diehard athlete to you with my large red bow? No, I didn't think so.

When I started running about a year ago, it was during a time when I needed a new challenge.  I chose the Couch to 5K plan and stuck with it.  Now, a year later, my personal life is in complete disarray (notice how I said disarray and not something dramatic like “OMG MY WORLD IS FALLING APART” … baby steps, people) but my running mojo has never been better.  Funny how life works that way, huh?

I ran my first 10K that morning... notice how fake happy/ready to puke I was!

I think the reason I was able to run my first 10K a few weekends back without stopping was because of the emotions I used to push myself.  Anger, for example, can really go a long way when you want to prove something to yourself.  Regret is another.  I’m not saying that it’s necessarily a good thing, but at the time, it helped.  I was able to run those emotions out of my body, at least temporarily, and finally felt like running could give me clarity when I needed it most.

But even after I finished the 5K training and got a few races under my belt last year, I wasn’t the type of person to just go out and run.  Sure, it’s become my cardio of choice at the gym (sorry elliptical, I like you sometimes too, but you can be a one-way ticket to SnoozeVille) but I’m not one to wake up at 5am and go running every day.  Still, it’s become a time when I can just listen to my music and think.

It’s me time.

Me time, oh yeah!

Since I’m spending 7 weeks in London this summer (God help me as I try to navigate those streets while I’m running) and do not plan on racing there, I want to get a few more races in between now when I leave at the end of June.  Unfortunately, almost every single second of my June calendar is filled with some sort of dance something so we’ll have to figure it out when June rolls around.  Until then, here’s what’s coming up:

Chase the Gorilla Down Argilla (Saturday April 14th, Ipswitch MA) – Tentative.
Yup, that’s this upcoming Saturday.  I’m also competiting with Unyted Stylz that day so I’m still trying to figure out if this race is doable.

Marblehead Beach to Beach 5K (Saturday May 12th, Marblehead MA) – Registered.
I’m very excited to say that I’ve registered to run this race for the second year in a row.  This was my first ever road race and I’m determined to crush my 5K PR.

Beach to Beach 5K - Round 2!

Krit Classic 5K (Sunday June 3rd, Andover MA) – Tentative
Just gotta find some funds for this one and I will be running it.

Ideally, I’d love to do another 10K before I leave for London.  Still looking for one of those that doesn’t conflict with dance, but if you know of any, please send them my way!

I wanna crush that 10K time.

And in other, completely unrelated news…

– The DanceWorks Boston show is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday June 6-8th at the BU Dance Theater.  If you love me, you should come.  I’m literally in every other number (7 total including the finale) so I promise you won’t be bored.  If you’d like ticket info, leave me a comment or visit www.danceworksboston.com!

– Similiarly, Unyted Stylz is having a performance at the BU Dance Theater on Saturday, June 16th.  You should probably come to that too.

– I’ve lost about 8 more pounds and feeling good about myself right now.  Thanks running/million hours of dance every week!

– I have 24 days left until the Semester from Hell ends.  Oh dear God, get me to May 2nd!!

Oh anchor desk. I love you, but we need some time apart...like the whole summer while I'm covering the Olympics in London. I'll be back in the fall, promise.

Tell me!!  What spring races are you planning on running?  Do you a good 10K near me that I can run before I peace out to Europe?  Do you use your emotions to push yourself when you run?  Do you want to borrow my first dance recital costume because I guarentee my mom still has it somewhere.  Will you come watch me dance? I’ll love you forever.

That time I signed up for a 10K

So remember that time I was going to run a 10K and then totally chickened out?  Then there was that other time when I accidentally registered for a 5-miler instead of a 5K, but got through it without dying?  Well, my friends, two nights ago I clicked a pretty little PAY NOW button and officially registered for my first-ever 10K road race.

Holy. Crap.

The race: The 9th Annual Malden Rotary Road Race 10K

Where: Malden, Massachusetts

When: Saturday, March 24th… a mere 5 and a half weeks away.

But at a $10 student race fee, I couldn’t turn it down.  Plus, the prospect of some sweet race swag had me giving them those ten dollars even faster.

I can’t say no to free stuff, especially when it has to do with running (or dance.)  The awesome bright green gloves I got from that 5-miler say “Shamrock Running Club” on them and I won’t lie – I love wearing them.  I feel like a runner or something.

I may or may not wear these everyday.

So where does that leave me training-wise?  Well, I’ve got the 5-miler and a few 5Ks under my belt so I already know I can complete the extra 1.2 miles without dying.  Will I enjoy it?  Probably not at the time, but I’ll do it.  Since I kept putting off registering, I now find myself with only 5 weeks to formally train along with a full course schedule, TA-ing and 12 hours a week of dance (oh, did I mention that even after dropping Wednesday night at DanceWorks, I somehow managed to add an additional 4 hours of dance a week?  I didn’t mention that?  More about that in a different post….), it leaves little wiggle room for hours of running.

So I found a plan that fits just right.

I can totally handle this.... right?

So obviously this plan does not come complete with almost 12 hours of extra cross training per week but as is the life of a dancer/wannabe runner.  I’ll be running various mileage 3-4 times a week, totaling from 14-17 miles per week.  This is by farther most miles/week I’ve ever done and I’m super excited to start!  I’m not going for speed, just endurance and a strong finish (aka don’t collapse at the finish line.)

But let’s be real here… I need some advice.

I want to know…. what advice do you have for me as I train for my first 10k?  What works best for you when you train?  What should I wear (keep in mind, the race is at the end of March).  Share your 10K stories!  Any and all advice is appreciated!

Still lookin’ for a February race

I got a book for Christmas called Women Who Run by Shanti Sosienski and it is one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read… and I’m only on page 49.

Go buy this book! It is a much better read than the two embassy/diplomacy books underneath it.

When it comes to running, I am not an every.single.day runner.  In fact, I don’t even really consider myself a “runner.”  I run when I want to.  I run for fun.  I run for fitness.  But most importantly, I run for me.  I honestly cannot say I love it.. yet.  And I’m not yet disciplined enough to lace up my sneakers each day because I know I should.  But I do enjoy it enough to register for races and spend money to do something I could do for free.  I feel that the bragging rights (more like I-Ran-A-Race-So-I’m-Cool rights) and t-shirt are worth it.

So back to this book.  It is full of stories of incredible women runners.  Marathon-running mothers, adventure racers, 50-somethings who can run a sub-seven-minute mile.  And as different as each of them are from one another, they all have the same message – they run because they love it.

So I get to page 49, right at the beginning of a new chapter and I decide that it would be a good idea to look for more races between the end of January and April.  So far, I’ve come up with 3 definites and a big empty calendar for the month of February:

February: HELP.

March: Hibernian 5K in my hometown (Lynn, MA).  Woo hoo!  Finally a race in the city I grew up in!

April: Energize the Earth 10K (Beverly, MA).  My first 10K.  Gah.  Who’s got a rockin’ training plan for this one?  Anyone?  E-mail me and we’ll be best friends.

May: Beach to Beach 5K (Marblehead, MA).  This will be the anniversary race of my first race ever back in May 2011.  I can’t wait to crush the crap out of last year’s time.

So, who out there has a fantastic race (5K, 4M or 5M.. ya know, since I run those now..) for February that they are dying to tell me about? (2 catches: It cannot be for Saturday, February 11th… I take the Foreign Service Exam that day(!) or any Sunday morning because I dance.)

Logging the Miles

When I started running last March, I never expected that I would continue with it.  I did the Couch to 5K plan to prove to myself that I could complete something that was completely out of my comfort zone.

Back then, I ran in ancient (AKA gross) sneakers with no knowledge of pace or technique.  I just got on a treadmill three days a week and followed the plan.  When my first 5K race  rolled around, I did it and enjoyed it but not enough to keep track of how many miles I was running.

Now, 10 months later, I have 5 races under my belt and my cardio of choice is running.  Though I’m not exactly speedy or particularly great at it, I have come to (mostly) enjoy it.  Do I get up at 5 am and pound out 7 miles every morning?  Well, no, not yet.  But maybe someday.

This year I am adding a resolution to my list.  I want to log my miles and maybe even have a goal mileage in mind.  But since dance will take over my life once again very soon, I don’t need to resolve to run any crazy number… just enough for me.

I want to know:  Do you log your miles?  What’s your mileage goal for 2012?

Run Your Hangover Off 5-Miler Recap

Hello 2012!  It’s nice to meet you.  My name is Marie and sometimes I do silly things.  Like take 3 hour-long workout classes at the gym back to back to back and expect to walk to the next day, or register for a 5-miler instead of a 5K for the first day of the new year when I’ve never run more than 3.1 miles in my whole life.

I’m sure we’ll be great friends.

On Friday night, I was sitting in front of the TV with my parent, laptop open, researching the my first race of the year.  I was naively looking for the starting line address when I noticed that the January 1, 2011 race was 5 miles and the accompanying walk was 3.  In a panic, I searched for the January 1, 2012 race and there it was: 5 MILE run.  Not a 5K, a 5-miler.

Oops.

I immediately panicked.  Things like “I can’t run 5 miles!” to “How could I be so STUPID?” came out of my mouth more than once.  But the fee had already been paid so instead of throwing 23 precious racing dollars out the window, I opted for my only other choice: run the 5 miles.

And to my utter surprise, relief and joy… it was great.

Hi, I'm Marie.. I don't always pay attention when I register for races..

The Highs:

Inexpensive, local race.  A $20 race fee for a 5-miler is great, especially when you get a shiny PR and some bright green running gloves.  Plus, Woburn is only 20 minutes away so I got to sleep in, eat my toast with peanut butter, and warm up without having to rush.

First race with the Garmin.  I’m hooked.  I knew when to slow down after I went out way too fast (seriously, seeing a 8:10 on the watch within the first .25 miles was SCARY!!) It also let me see how much longer I had to go which made it less daunting.

Friendly, helpful volunteers.  Because the course went between Woburn and Winchester, there were volunteers stationed at the various streets to point runners in the right direction.  And at the halfway mark, a nice man shouted your time too you.  And every clapped and waved.  It was reassuring to hear “you’re doing great!” on practically every corner.

My cheering squad.  Both of my parents came to see my race.  It was the first time my dad has been to one and only a second for my mom.  It was so great seeing them as I rounded the corner after that last hill and I almost knocked my mom over when I hugged her.

The weather.  Partly sunny, 50 degrees with a nice, cool breeze.  A-mazing.

Automatic PR.  First 5-miler equals 5-miler PR.  55:23 on the Garmin.  Not too shabby!

Distance = 5 miles. My longest run ever!

The Lows:

Only 1 water stop.  I really didn’t need water during the race because I never felt dehydrated but having some to splash in my face, especially towards the end would’ve been nice.

So. Many. Hills.  I’m happy to report that I made it up most of them without having to walk but the last hill right before the finish line was a BITCH!

Overall, I am a happy happy girl.  I keep thinking, “I can’t believe I ran 5 miles today.”  And I realized that I’d rather run longer distances at a slower pace rather than wanting to die from going to fast after half a mile.  Great lessons, great race.

Great way to kick of 2012!