Boston Strong

I wasn’t going to write this post.

I debated over whether or not to write it. But two days post-tragedy, as life begins to get back to normal, I, like many others working at that finish line, have a story.

I woke up at 3AM Monday morning to get ready for a full day of coverage for, beginning at the starting line in Hopkington and ending the day at the finish line on Boylston Street. I bundled up for a chilly morning, completing my outfit with my official 2013 Boston Marathon Adidas jacket that was 2 sizes too big. But I didn’t care. I was too excited.

A quick selfie in Hopkington
A quick selfie in Hopkington

 I left my house at 4am, coffee in hand, and made my way to Brighton to meet up with my coworker, Steve Silva, a sports producer. You may have seen him in the media for capturing this video. Surreal, I know. (He’s fine, thank goodness!)

We got to Hopkington around 6AM, checking out the scene and getting ready for live shots for the website at 7, 8 and 9.  I even met the young man from my hometown who was going to walk the whole marathon on stilts to raise money for Shriners Hospital. The weather was warming up and it was becoming the perfect day for the Boston Marathon.

Steve and I went back to Brighton around 10AM to pick up his car. Originally, I had planned on driving with him, but decided to take my own at the last minute. After getting into the city, we found the media center and had lunch before heading out to the course. Steve had different credentials than me so he went in through the gate to stand just behind the finish line and capture video.  I made my way to the media seating in the grandstand to cover the end of the elite women’s race.

Here’s the video I took of Rita Jeptoo winning the Boston Marathon for the women. Keep an eye on the flags she passes on the left as she finishes her race. They will look familiar.

I also got this shot of Shalane Flanagan, who placed fourth for women.

US Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan
US Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan

I wanted to get post-race interviews with Shalane and Kara Goucher, who finished a few minutes after her, so I left the grandstand area and went back behind the finish line.

US Olympians Shalane Flanagan with Kara Goucher and Goucher's son.
US Olympians Shalane Flanagan with Kara Goucher and Goucher’s son.

I even got to meet running royalty, Joan Benoit Samuelson. Joan is a previous winner of the Boston Marathon and the winner of the first ever Women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984.

Running greatness right here.
Running greatness right here.

Just after 2pm, I saw a familiar face in the sea of race finishers, my friend and director of DanceWorks Boston, Lisa! She was obviously exhausted and mentioned cramping during the race, but pulled off her second Boston Marathon in just over 3:33, her Boston PR. We got her to the medical tent so she could rest. The next time I would talk to her was when we connected to make sure we were both okay.

PR happiness!
PR happiness!

The remaining hour flew by in a whirlwind. Around 2:40, I decided to go back into the grandstand to shoot a few more photos of the finishers coming it just after the 4-hour mark. But just as I got up to the sidewalk, I decided against the grandstand, turned left back towards the media center and decided to get my car, go home and relax after a successful day of live blogging instead.

I have no idea why I made that decision. But thank God I did.

About ten minutes later, I was two levels down in the parking garage under the media center when I heard a loud boom. I didn’t think much of it, thinking it might’ve been a celebration cannon going off at the Sox game at Fenway down the street. I’m surprised they even let me leave the garage, as they were beginning to lock down everything in that area. As police cruisers rushed past me with their sirens blaring, my phone began to buzz with phone calls and text messages asking if I was okay. Thankfully I called my mom and dad first because they hadn’t heard anything about the explosions and would’ve panicked if they had heard the news before hearing from me.

I kept it together until I got home and saw the news. The fact that I was right there, that I almost went back up into the grandstand, that my coworker was still there, that my day could’ve unfolded much differenly… was all a little more than I could handle. I got all of my crying out over the next few hours, talked to my family, Sean, and my friends and made sure everyone knew I was safe.

Now two days later, I feel okay. I’m sure many people who were in the area or could’ve been there who left early are feeling the same way. But then again, even if you weren’t there, we are all hurt by the same vicious acts that tried to destroy a city that we’ve always felt so safe in. But the words people have written about how strong Boston is, the images, the strength will carry the city through. I hope they find whoever did this as soon as possible.

Either way, Boston will pull together. Because that’s the type of people Bostonians are.

Photo by Bill Greene, Boston Globe Staff
Photo by Bill Greene, Boston Globe Staff

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…

It’s been three months?!

Hello again!!

Apparently I took a completely unscheduled hiatus from blogging and now all of a sudden, it’s November.

I never really meant to stop blogging for all this time.  Life just got away from me there for a while.  If you’re just dying for a not-so-short-but-still-sweet recap of what’s been going on with me for the last 3 months, buckle up… you’re in for a bumpy ride.

I last left off leaving for Paris.  It was incredible.  I spent the first few minutes of my 24th birthday on the top of the lit up Eiffel Tower and it was nothing short of spectacular.  Keesa, Matt, Justin and I spent the rest of the day lounging out front of the Eiffel tower with two bottles of wine before getting on a plane back to London.

Happy 24th Birthday to me! The Eiffel Tower was my present but I couldn’t fit it on the plane home. Darn.

Fast forward a few days…the London2012 Olympics were beginning, I was knee deep in school and internship work and life was surreal.  Though stressed, I was happiest than I had been in months, partly due to completely unrelated circumstances that I will get to in a bit.

So the Olympics… yes, well, let’s just say I’ll never be able to watch them from my couch again.  Yes, I will be finding a way to get to Rio in 2016, hopefully by then I’ll be an Olympic correspondent for… something… anything.  Just get me to Rio.

Yes, that is Ryan Lochte and yes, I was that close to him. We chatted… Let’s just say its a good thing he’s an Olympic athlete cause the kid’s got rocks in his head.

So let’s back up a bit… before leaving for London I was pretty much a miserable wreck.  Long story short, my boyfriend of a very long time broke up with me.  I was blindsided, devastated and, in the midst of the worst and hardest semester of my entire life, fell completely apart.  I considered dropping out of school, I considered giving up London, I considered being a moping, miserable person for the rest of my life.  And for a few months, I was.  But I stayed in school and committed to London because let’s be real here… what was the point of throwing away the $60,000 I had already spent on my grad program and the trip of a lifetime?  There wasn’t.

I buried myself in my school work, dance and being with people who really did love me.  I cried every day, multiple times a day for weeks.  I listened to sad music, ran a lot of lonely miles and talked to anyone who would listen.  I didn’t believe it when people told me that life would get better, that there was someone out there who would love me unconditionally, someone who I was supposed to be with.  This was in March.

Dance (and dance friends make everything better.)
Best Friends. No shame.

My BU friends took the brunt of the emotional roller coaster simply because I saw them every. single. day.

This dinner was for cheering me up. I also carbo-loaded for my 10K the next day. It was awesome.

A few months went by and soon, I wasn’t crying anymore… or at least not as much.  I finished my semester with one of the highest GPAs of my entire academic career and was now looking ahead to the summer.  London: getting away, doing everything for myself, letting nothing hold me back.  And I was scared as all hell to go away for 2 months so that pretty much trumped all other emotions at the time.

This is how I get good grades. No, but really.
And Keesa was one of my roommates in London. Best matchup ever.

June rolled around and soon, I was mere days from leaving.  But before I hopped on a plane to Europe for the summer, my family and I went to the wedding of two of my very good childhood friends.  Together for 7 years, throughout high school and college, they got married in our church and had a beautiful reception on the water in Nahant.  Though slightly emotional, it was one of the best nights I had in a very long time.

Aren’t they the cutest?
Photo courtesy of Sarah’s Facebook….

I even met someone… but more about him another time.

Spoiler alert: This is where the previously mentioned “happy, unrelated circumstances” comes into play.

He seems nice…

Three days later, I boarded my plane, took off to London and went to the Olympics.

The End..


Is that the end of the story?  Hardly.  Let’s just say I not only got to go to the Olympics this summer, but I also got to know someone very special from 3,000 miles away.  But I’ll leave it there for now.

My Summer in London: Where I’m Living, What I’m doing

Hello again!  This time from Courtfield Gardens in Kensington.

Home Sweet Home until August 14th!

I moved into my flat on Monday after a weeklong vacation with my family.  Courtfield Gardens is a mere 25 minutes away via tube  and I quickly settled into my 3-bed room with two roomies, our own bathroom and an accessible kitchen.

It’s a lot bigger than it looks and I love it.

On Tuesday, my special topics class on the Olympics started.  Three hours a day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and our schedule looks a little something like this:

3 weeks of class + 3 weeks of internship = 6 fast weeks

Essentially, I’m putting together a presentation about Women and the Olympics, shooting and editing a ton of video and stills, and have my first few weekends free to travel Europe and explore all that London has to offer.

Instead of sleeping after class, because let’s be real here…. I’m hardly doing any of that for one reason or another… I decided to go down to a local dance studio for an advanced contemporary class.

Not only were both the class and the instructor amazing (I was drenched in sweat within the first five minutes and could hardly move the next day), it had a familiar name making me feel right at home.

A little piece of my DanceWorks family here in London ❤

DanceWorks London… who knew?

When I got back from the class, my friends were ready to get a drink and check out some of the local nightlife.  We decided on the Courtfield Pub about 10 minutes from our place.

Me and Keesa!

The only boys in the program… they have it made.

On Wednesday, our group made the journey on the tube to West Ham to take an Olympic walking tour.

This is Pepe, our tour guide. He really enjoyed his stories but we learned a ton.

We walked for about 2 hours, learning about everything from past Olympics to how and why London was chosen over Paris for the 2012 Summer Games.  Apparently everyone thought that Paris would get it over London, including all of England, and when it was announced that Paris lost, the French didn’t take it so well.  Go figure.

To see the Games, get off at the Stratford tube station and go straight to the park. You’re welcome.

For now, the area surrounding the Olympic Park is still pretty accessible but within the next few weeks, security will tighten and getting anywhere near the entrance will be impossible without tickets or the highest security clearance.

This way to ultimate sporting glory…


Big fence, very legit.

This is the viewing tower and the main Olympic arena…

Doesn’t get more badass than that.

Since it was the 4th of July on Wednesday, there was no way that we were going to not celebrate, despite the fact that we’re in England.  If anything, the irony made it that much better.  We got ready, had a drink or two, and found a bar in Covent Gardens called Roadhouse that we heard would be full of other Americans we could party with.  It was.. and we had a blast.

Future journalists of America celebrating America.

Sometimes we let Justin think he has game…

Just kidding, Justin. We love you!

Matt decided to bring the American flag along for the ride.


It was, by far, the best 4th of July I’ve ever had.

Despite staying awake until an ungodly hour, we decided to dedicate the next day to being as touristy as possible.  Our solution?  The Tower of London.

Torture chambers, the Crown Jewels. Classic England.

Before going inside the fortress, we checked out the Tower Bridge, beautifully adorned with the Olympic Rings.

Breathtaking right?

Within the walls of the Tower of London, we joined a guided tour with a Beefeater.  I think we got the best one the Tower has because we learned a ton and laughed the entire way though.  He was informative, clever and knew how to keep the audience engaged.  A+ Mr. Beefeater.

Let’s be friends.

We saw the Crown Jewels, took a tour through the Torture Towers and checked out the Royal Artilleries.

The White Tower… home of devices like “The Rack”.

Sometimes Matt likes to play with ancient weapons.

That is focus.

Today included things like a gym session with Justin (who made me run a 7:30 mile to the gym and I thought I was going to die), shopping on Oxford Street (oh Primark…), a much-need 2 hour nap, froyo, wine and Despicable Me…. a terrific way to end one of the busiest weeks ever.

I want to know… How are things in the States?  I heard it’s super hot in Boston!  What else should I check out in London and what would YOU like to see in a London-themed giveaway here on the blog?

How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation

That’s right.

In 8 days, I will be on a plane headed for one of my favorite places in the entire world: London, England.

But before we talk about why, let’s back up to a little over a year ago.

When I was looking at graduate schools, BU was at the top of my (very short) list.  After bombing my GREs and writing what I thought were less-than-stellar essays, I sent my applications away and hoped for the best.  The day my acceptance letter from BU came, I screamed so loud I almost sent my then-pregnant friend Miriah into early labor… I was just that excited.

When I went to BU’s accepted student’s day, one of the professors told us about an opportunity to study abroad in London covering the 2012 Summer Olympics.  After already falling in love with the school, the possibility of spending a summer in one of my favorite cities sealed the deal.  In October, I applied for the program, found out I got in and happily sent in my $500 deposit without a second thought.

Do we look happy? Of course we do.. we’re going to the Olympics!

Fast forward 6 months….

Going through the break-up with Stephen made London a distant nightmare.  No, I don’t want to spend 6 weeks in England, I want to stay here and fix my relationship and rebuild my life.  I came mere inches from dropping out of the program, only sticking with it due to the fact that giving it up might be the stupidest thing I’d ever do.  Reject an opportunity like this to be a miserable wreck all summer long?  Take a minute and rethink that decision…

The program, appropriately titled “Covering the London Olympics”, consists of 6 weeks in England – 3 weeks dedicated to a special topics class Monday through Wednesday and then 3 weeks of full-time internships with a local media outlet.  I was assigned and could not be happier.  With a group of 3 other girls, we will be producing our own website linked to and I will provide news packages and video content from on-site in London.  Not too bad right?

Why I’m excited… in list form:

– London is one of my favorite cities in the world.  I’ve been twice and if I could live in any other country, England soars to the top of the list.  Italy is a close second.

– I’m spending the first week there with my family.  My dad’s itinerary already includes places like Bath, Stonehenge, Windsor and Oxford.  My sister wants to do a pub crawl with my parents.  It’s going to be an interesting week.

– Harrod’s.  The most amazing department store in the world.  I don’t even know if calling it a “department store” is really a fair way to describe it since it takes up an entire city block, including a basement level, and takes an entire day to get through.  The wine cellar alone makes me want to move in.

– I plan on traveling to other places while in Europe.  The top two locations?  Paris and Rome.  I’ve been to Paris but the last time I was there, I was 9.  I have this not-so-secret ambition to shoot a stand up in the grassy area in front of the Eiffel Tower.  I’ve never been to Italy but it’s where my family is from.  I plan on tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain and wishing for the one thing I want more than anything else in this world.  Sorry… can’t tell!

And in true Marie fashion, there are also reasons why I’m nervous…

– This will be the longest I’ve ever been away from home for an extended period of time.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself but I have a feeling that a bout or two of homesickness will hit me at some point.  I’ve always been very much attached to my family and friends so leaving for 7ish weeks will be tough.

– I’m scared I won’t be able to work out.  This is probably a stupid reason to be nervous since I’ll probably just suck it up and register for the gym while I’m there and run around the city, but what about dance?!  Hope my roommates don’t mind some quality stretching and impromtu dance parties in our room…

– My personal life is still a little on the messy side.  It’s not exactly ideal to peace out of the country while I feel this way but maybe the time away really will help…? Let’s just leave it at that.

– $$.  London is expensive, I want to travel and my funds are tight.  I guess I can sacrifice eating for souvenirs.  Hope my aunt doesn’t mind me bringing my laundry to her place… to do one load there costs almost 30 bucks.  I kid you not.

I think that’ll do for now. 

So while I’m in London, my iPhone will be disabled other than it’s camera function (SAD!!!!)  I will have internet and be updating the blog, hopefully more regularly than I have been lately.  I promise to take a million pictures and post them while I’m away as well as tweets and links to my work.  I love e-mails and Tweets and Facebook posts so don’t hesistate to send me any!

Bye bye USA… Cheers!

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


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!

– 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 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.

Malden Rotary Club 10K… and a few thoughts

I did it.  I ran my first 10K yesterday.  And I ran the ENTIRE THING.

I didn’t necessary stick to my original training plan and even though I did get my butt out to run a few days a week, I wasn’t feeling super prepared.  Plus, my head hasn’t been 100% in the game (any game) over the past few weeks and I considered not running it at all. But then I figured if anything, this was something I had to do for me.. and only me.

So let’s go back to the day before my biggest running accomplishment to date.

Friday was rough for the good portion of the daylight hours.  After seeing the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games with my friend Greg, I had a completely unrelated breakdown, cried until I got sick, cried myself to sleep and then all morning.  I didn’t even go to class.  Eventually I dragged my sorry excuse of a human being out of bed, picked up my camera gear from school and spent the afternoon with my friend Sara.  And by spend the afternoon with, I mean that I fell asleep at the end of her bed for three hours, probably because I haven’t had a sound night’s sleep in weeks.

A few hours later, Sara worked her magic, made me look gorgeous (not to toot my own horn, but even I was like holy crap,) and we went out for our other friend Steph’s birthday.  We went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory where I fueled with their Skinnylicious Pasta with chicken, basil and marinara.  I only got about halfway through the bowl before my tummy told me to stop.  Apparently 2 weeks of hardly eating will shrink your stomach.  Either way, it was delicious and I spent the next few hours having fun with my friends without thinking about any other worries in the rest of my life.

Sara does good work... I even felt pretty.

I went home to Lynn to get a full, yet restless and nightmare-filled, eight hours of sleep.  In the morning, I had my usual pre-race breakfast of 3 pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and a bottle of water before my mom and I headed to Malden for the 11:30am start.

Toast and water.. I am boring.

When we got there, I headed right to registration, picked up my swag bag and tried my best to push all sad thoughts from my head.  I visualized crossing the finish line.  Before I knew it, I was hugging my mom and heading to the start.

So much swag!

And this is the face of a very nervous runner…

2 words: fake smile.

The race itself was pretty small.  There was a 5K course and 10K course but only about 350 runners total.  The 10K headed out first.  As I started running, I felt good.  Just 1 mile in, I knew I’d be able to run farther than I had in any other race without a walking break.  Usually, I have to stop a few times to walk but as I hit the mile 2 mark, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t need to stop at all and that’s where I started to think “Oh my God, I can do this without stopping.”  And once I get a goal in my head, it’s pretty tough to get it out.

I had my Garmin on and it kept my pace beautifully.  Sadly, every time I looked at it (which was pretty often), I felt a small searing pain hit my heart.  It was a gift from someone very important to me, but we’ll just leave it at that.

I also kept my eyes on a girl in a bright pink tank top who was running ahead of me for the entire race.  I could’ve passed her multiple times, but I let her pace me and I think it was the better decision.  At times, I’m sure I felt like a shadow to her because I was so close but if I hadn’t used to her to speed up and slow down, I don’t think running the whole race would’ve been possible.

At 4.75 miles in, I called my mom to tell her I was close to finishing.  She was reading in her warm car but I didn’t want her to miss my finish.  After that, my groove seemed out of step, my stomach was a little less uneasy and I wanted to be done.  I kept telling myself “keep going; I want to tell people I ran without stopping; prove to yourself that you can really do it.”  Eventually, we rounded the corner to the finish line, I could hear my labored breathing over my music but I didn’t care – I dug deep and pushed, crossed the finish line and grabbed a much-needed bottle of water.

I threw myself into my mom’s arms and started crying.  I cried because I finished, I cried because I ran the entire thing without stopping once.  I cried tears of joy, sadness, anger, resentment, disappointment.  I cried because the one person I wanted to collapse into, to hug me, to be proud of me at the finish line, wasn’t there.  I was angry, overjoyed and devastated all at the same time.

And then I stopped crying.  Because this day was about nothing other than the fact that I set my heart on something and got it.  And it felt amazing.  I knew then that if I didn’t give up on running, no matter how hard and painful it was at times, I wouldn’t give up on other things I loved either.  And for that moment, I felt calmer than I have in weeks.

The farthest I've ever run..

On that note, here are some happy/crappy details of the race:

The Happy:

– The weather.  I could not have asked for a better day.  It was incredibly chilly out, a complete difference than the past few days in the Boston area.  I was thankful for the crisp breeze the second I started running because I knew it would keep me from getting too overheated throughout the run.  And the overcast kept the sun from beating down onto my already reddened face, so that was nice too.

– My new shirt.  A gift from my friend Kim for my birthday, it’s sweat-wicking and didn’t get heavy or overheat me in anyway.  I even wore my long-sleeved NDA zip-up for the whole race and only felt super hot towards the very end.

– The swag.  I got a long-sleeved T, running gloves, a baseball cap, bread from a local company, a water bottle and other goodies from sponsors like VitaWater.

– The price.  The student rate was $10 which is the least expensive race I’ve ever run.  I think I got more value in just my swag bag than I paid for the actual race.

– Shot Blocks.  Ya know how good runners say to never try something new on race day?  Well, I did.. oops.  I bought a pack of Tropical Fruit flavored Shot Blocks at New England Running Company and was excited to try them.  The only thing I was worried about was any stomach issues that might occur but I took one just pass the mile 2 marker and then another a little ways into mile 4 and chased both with some water from water stops and felt a sudden surge of energy after each.  They tasted great, had a consistency that didn’t hurt my stomach and gave me a boost that I needed.

The Crappy:

– My running capris.  Apparently they are too big, which shouldn’t be a surprise since I’ve lost about 15 pounds since I bought them.  I had to keep pulling them up, which got a little annoying.  I’ll buy new ones for my next race.

– The finish line.  Not the actual finish line itself, I could see the clock, the girl took my number, normal end of the race.  It was who wasn’t at the finish line that hurt the most.

On another happy note, I mentioned on Facebook that if I finished my race, I would reward myself.  So this little guy is all mine.  My new motto: “Slow and steady wins finishes.. the race.”

My nickname in elementary school was "Tortoise" so I suppose this is pretty fitting!

And as the title promised, a few thoughts…

I think running is a lot like being in love.  It’s an incredible feeling, good for your body, your mind and your soul.  Sometimes it hurts like hell, sometimes you want to quit and give up or stop because it’s just too hard.  But when you push yourself through that pain, find your stride and look deep in your heart, when you can breathe again and take look around, it is the most rewarding and breath-taking experience in life.

And if, at the end of the race, you have the person you love’s arms to collapse into, well.. I’d say you’re the luckiest person in the world.