A look back at 2013

I know I’m not the only person who said this, but 2013 flew by. It was an incredible year for me and I’m a little sad to say goodbye to it. To honor it, I’m looking back on all of the amazing (and sometimes sad) things that happened during it, complete with lots of photos!

2013 started with this guy. At the time, we had been together a whopping 5 months, but I already knew he was a different kind of special.

The first moments of 2013!
The first moments of 2013!

I continued to work for Boston.com as a sports production intern, covering everything from football to hockey, including the Bruins playoff run. Watching games from the TD Garden 9th floor Press Loge is something I will never forget.

I miss these passes.
I miss these passes.
I also miss this view...
I also miss this view…

I went to my first Muse concert and loved every second of it.

May or may not have had many beers at this concert.
May or may not have had many beers at this concert.

covered the Boston Marathon and left the finish line minutes before the bombings. Thinking about that day still shakes me to the core.

<3
Boston Strong

I ran 1 single road race: the Beach-to-Beach 5K in Marblehead for my third year in a row. Not my best, not my worst, but my only. Running and I weren’t close this year apparently.

Nice bright red face there.
Nice bright red face there.

I danced in my 5th DanceWorks Boston show and choreographed my 5th piece, “World Spins Madly On“.

My beautiful dancers.
My beautiful dancers.

I ended the internship I loved on a high note and accepted my first full-time “big girl” job offer a few weeks later with premium chocolate company, Lindt & Sprungli, working in their USA headquarters in Stratham, New Hampshire. Yes, there is chocolate around me all day, every day.

Lindt USA.. where it always smells like chocolate.
Lindt USA.. where it always smells like chocolate.

BUT I managed to not gain weight in the 6+ months I’ve worked here. Happy dance.

We knew each other a whole year… and that same weekend, I shot a gun for the first time. Irony?

<3
Nice knowing ya for a whole year!
Pretty cool even though I didn't hit anything.
Pretty cool even though I didn’t hit a single disk thingy.

4th of July was complete with this awesome ‘Merica flag cake.

I can't wait to make this again!
I can’t wait to make this again!

I turned 25 in true 25-year-old fashion. On a party bus with my friends.

Party bus!
Party bus!

I moved to a different state (New Hampshire) and in with this guy.

Putting in contact paper like a pro on our first night!
Putting in contact paper like a pro on our first night!
So cute & crafty. Salt dough!
So cute & crafty. Salt dough with help from Sean’s mom!

And celebrated being together a whole year.

Roses. My fave.
Roses. My fave.
#mush
He’s my fave too. #mush

We road-tripped to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit Sean’s sister Chelsea and her boyfriend Scott. And had an unbelievable time.

Only 4 more hours to go ...
Only 4 more hours to go …

I went on my first real business trip to Savannah, Georgia.

View from my hotel room.
View from my hotel room.

I dressed as a shark to Sean’s Sharknado for Halloween.

"You are the shark to my Sharknado."
“You are the shark to my Sharknado.”

We went to the MSPCA at Nevin Farms’ “Cat Adopt-a-thon”, rescued a beautiful 3-year old tiger-striped tabby, named her Sophie, and fell in love with her.

How could you not love that little face?
How could you not love that little face?

My family went to my cousins’ new house in Maine to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time. Many hours of football and eating commenced.

My cooking and baking marathon for Thanksgiving! 2 pumpkin pies & honey oat loaf later...
My cooking and baking marathon for Thanksgiving! 2 pumpkin pies & honey oat loaf later…

I got into the Christmas spirit early with twinkle lights and an American Girl doll Christmas tree. Next year, it’ll be much bigger.

Twinkle lights & snow
Twinkle lights & snow

I had a wonderful Christmas.

Traditional Christmas Eve photo!
Traditional Christmas Eve photo! Also – I’m short.

And finally, we dressed up for New Years Eve (another big shout out to Sean’s mom for costuming us!) and attended a Gatsby-themed party. (And suffered no hangover the next day!)

Circa 1920s for NYE!
Circa 1920s for NYE! Hair courtesy of my new hair wand curling toy.

2013 was fast and fun for me, with so many memories, I probably missed a few. I danced, I laughed, I cried, I loved. I could not be more thankful or happy in the place I am in right now.

Cheers to you, 2014. You have some big shoes to fill.

A Special Offer for my [GIVEAWAY]

If you haven’t already entered my Lucy Belle’s Charms Giveaway, you still have plenty of time!  You have until Friday to check out her shop and tell me what you love in it for a chance to win a set of 6 blue beach-themed wine glass charms.

As something special to go along with the giveaway, Jessica has offered the readers of Chocolate & Wine a discount in her Etsy shop. When you’ve made your decision on what to buy and are ready to check out, use the code LOVECHOCO25 for 25% off your purchase!

In other recent news, I just signed up for my first 5K since last May. I have a little less than 3 weeks to get ready for it. This should be interesting…

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.

Marblehead Beach-to-Beach 5K Recap: One Year Later

If you asked me exactly 1 year ago where I think I’d be today, some of my answers probably would’ve included: “Hopefully engaged,” “hopelessly in love with the same guy I am now” and “planning my wedding.”

Silly 22-year-old me.

A year ago, I thought my life was perfect.  I was exactly where I wanted to be, with exactly who I wanted to be with, and I thought I was done changing, done growing.  My life was set: engaged at 23, career take-off at 24, married at 25, kids by 29.  It was what I wanted and I remember thinking “Thank God my life is not complicated.”

How quickly things change.

A year ago, I was incredible naive.  I lived in (what I thought was) a very safe and secure bubble and very little could deter me from (what I thought) I wanted.  I had a great boyfriend, I was about to start graduate school and despite the loans I was accumulating, I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be with my life.

Wrong again…. Anyone sensing a pattern here?

In March 2011, I decided that I needed a new challenge in my life and I started running.  I took on the Couch to 5K plan full force and though running was and is never something that is easy for me, I stuck with it.  On Saturday, March 15, 2011, I ran my first ever road race, the Marblehead Beach-to-Beach 5K with a time of 33:38.  It was incredibly difficult but one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Marblehead 2011!

So, let’s talk about this year’s run, shall we?

I didn’t sleep well Friday night.  After deciding against going out with my friends, I went to bed later than I probably should have and proceeded to toss and turn all night from nightmares.  Those are always fun.  I woke up late and my head not anywhere in the game (not even in the arena…)  I ate my 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter and headed to Marblehead a little after 8am.

I was nervous.  I didn’t have my Garmin and knew I’d have to run the whole race by feel alone, something I’ve never done.  (Side note: it was kind of awesome to not to be glancing at my wrist every 5 seconds…)  I knew I wanted another PR.  After last month’s race, I could feel my fiesty competitive side fired up for anything better than 31:44.

Lucky number 258!

It was a lot warmer than it was last year but the beginning of the course is pretty shady as it winds through a beautiful neighborhood right on the water.  It wasn’t until I hit the Marblehead Neck Causeway just after the first mile marker that the sun was more intense and I was thankful for the water stop that was set up at the end of the road.

I don’t remember the race being this fast last year, but all of a sudden, I was past mile 2, rounding the neck neighborhood and coming back up the causeway towards the finish line.  Right at the end, I pushed, hard.  I finished in 31:20, a 24 second PR from last month’s 5K as well as beating my previous time for this race by 2 minutes and 38 seconds.  If I hadn’t been so tired at the end, I would’ve done cartwheels from the sheer joy of it all.

Marblehead 2012! (Usual pre-race fake smile..)

If you had told me a year ago that today my whole life would be different, I definitely would not have believed you.  If you told me there is an terrifyingly exciting life outside of my bubble, I would’ve thought you were crazy.  Am I the same person I was when I ran Marblehead the first time?  Absolutely not.  Will I ever be that person again?  Absolutely not.  Am I okay with that?  Yes.

Am I happy?  I’m getting there.

Chase the Gorilla Down Argilla 5K Race Recap

Sooooo, hi.  It’s nice to see you around here again… so sorry I’ve been neglecting my little corner of the internet.  I’ll try to get out of the bad habit of starting a post and not finishing it til weeks later… like this one.

I ran this race on Saturday, April 14th and I’m just getting this recap up now.  I don’t think I’ve ever waited this long after a race to post a recap, but I’m a busy college kid with a lot on her mind, what can I say?

Let’s just start off this post with the best news of this race: I came away from it with a shiny new 5K PR!!!

It was definitely not easy and parts of me were definitely not cooperating but I pulled it off.  I was aiming for anything under 32:00 because my previous PR from last September was 32:46.  A new PR was long overdue at this point.

 According to my Garmin, I came in at 32:01 but when I saw the official race results, I saw a pleasantly surprising 31:44 with a 10:19 pace on the list.  Saying I was thrilled would be a huge understatement.  I could’ve done cartwheels.

6:31… that’s my surge at the finish line. Never thought I’d see those numbers on my Garmin!

I signed up for the Chase the Gorilla 5K just a few days before the race.  It was one of those “I really need a race this weekend” moments and since this one ran through Ipswich, I knew it’d be great.  I convinced my mom to come with me so we were up at the lovely hour of 7am (on a Saturday morning mind you) for some pre-race festivities.  And by festivities I mean I ate two pieces of light wheat toast with peanut butter, drank some (but not enough) water and got to the race to pick up my number and a bright blue technical t-shirt a mere 5 minutes before the gun went off.

Timing has never been a strong suit.

I knew I wanted a PR and after running my 10K without stopping and getting in a few solid runs since then, I figured I had it in the bag.  Still, I was nervous.  And sore.  The day before, I decided that doing a full gym workout followed by a 90-minute Vinyasa yoga session and a 2-hour dance rehearsal was a good way to prepare for the race.  My bum was very very sore.

It was a small race of 400 or so runners and of course, a gorilla.  Races nowadays are a little bittersweet for me.  As much as I love having my mom there to take pictures of me and hug me at the finish line, there was always a special someone there who I could literally collapse into.  It was one of those things that kept me going I guess.

But I digress.

For the first time since I started running/racing over a year ago, my legs felt like lead.  I only have myself to blame for not taking a rest day on Friday, but after the first mile, they loosened up.  It was warmer than I’ve been used to running in but managed to make it to mile 2 to the water station without wanting to die too bad.   I took a few sips, dumped the rest over my head and kept going. 

By the end of mile 2, I was ready to be done.  My breathing was really heavy, my face was on fire and my right shoulder had developed a strange twinge-y feeling that I couldn’t shake.  I kept saying “32 minutes, 32 minutes” over and over as I rounded the corner to the finish line.

With Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” blasting in my ears,  I surged to the finish line, and I-Kid-You-Not did a full on leap to the timing chip platform thing to stop my timer.  Embarrassed?  Nope.

I glanced down at my garmin, saw 32:01 and had to use what little energy I had left not to burst into tears.  My mom came over with water and hugged me and even though I don’t think she fully gets the whole “running thing”, I could tell she was proud.

I feel like my body looks really strange in this picture. I need smaller pants for sure. And a non-fake-I’m-gunna-puke-before-this-race smile.

Overall, despite being a little overheated and having dead legs for the first mile, walking away a new 5K PR felt incredible and I really enjoyed this race.  It’s always fun to beat your personal time and leave what you have out there on the course, even if it’s only 3.1 miles. 

The calorie burn doesn’t hurt either.

So, what’s next?  I’m signed up for one more race before the summer kicks off.  This Saturday, I’ll be running the Marblehead Beach to Beach 5K.  For those of you just joining us, this was the first race I ever ran, exactly a year ago.  I plan on being very nostalgic.  Of course you’ve probably figured out that I’d love to PR this race too but I’ll be content of beating my time from last year, 33:38.

I want to know!  Do you run the same races every year to kick your old PR to the curb?  What is your 5K PR and what is your secret to beating your time?  What mantras do you use to get you through a tough or not-so-tough race?

Life Lately

Hello!

I haven’t written a post in a while.  Life has been crazy lately.  Between school, dance, personal/emotional crap and just trying to get through each day, I haven’t had much free time for blogging.

But I do have lots of things to talk about… my most recent race (recap coming soon!), finishing my first year of grad school (done in 6 days!), dance (duh), plans for the summer (London), how I’m getting through each day (I’m sure you’re all dying to know the sad details of that part of my life…) So multiple posts are currently in the works.  I may even have a recipe or two up my sleeve.  (BTW – if you’re looking for an amazing hummus recipe, try this.  You’ll never want store-bought hummus again.)

And for a sweet sentiment that has everything to do with my life right now…

Happy Thursday!  It’s almost the weekend.. what are you doing to celebrate?

“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.