An Inspiring Month.

Miscellaneous

Well Christmas is here! I must say that this season has been one of my favorite. I feel like I am truly in the Christmas spirit and have celebrated the season. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I cannot wait to see my family, give out my gifts and carry my 13-month nephew around the entire day. The next day I will spit my Christmas Day between mine and my boyfriend’s family for the second year in a row. I feel like a kid when I say and mean that I cannot wait!

The season started out with Thanksgiving, which was a fabulous 60 degrees for Chardon, Ohio. These little candy turkey and acorn off Pinterest were a hit!

turkeysThen the Christmas Pinterest creations began…

xmas cookiespeguinsOn December 8 the boyfriend and I ran the Jingle Bell 5K at Legacy Village. This race was great! The course was a little challenging with a few tough hills, and the holiday themed costumes were hilarious. Plus there was tons of activities, food and music post race. I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a good workout and a fun festive time.

jingle bell 5kjingle bell 5k runThis past year, as many of you know, I started a new job. My coworkers at work are very passionate about animals. Now I’ve always been an average animal lover. I can appreciate an adorable cat or dog, but I never gave much thought past that. I never thought about animals without homes, abused animals or those living in shelters. During the past few months I’ve listened to my coworkers talk about donating to pet shelters and stopping to pick up dogs without collars on the side of the road. I got inspired to donate to our local pet shelter this Christmas because of their passion. I never thought I would be collecting pet food and treats for Christmas, but it was a very meaningful experience. I hope someone’s passion inspires me again in the future or visa versa for another person.

doggie bagI also work at a local grocery store, as well as in the marketing department for a local hospital. A few days ago I was at the very end of my shift at the store. I had been a cashier, ringing people out for hours and I was exhausted and tired of getting yelled at by crabby, mean customers. My very last customer came through my line. He was an older guy with gray hair. He asked me how I was and we had typical small talk while I rang him out. He paid with a $20 bill and I handed him back his change. He took the money and then handed me back the $5 bill. “Merry Christmas,” he said. “Hang in there.” I stood there, dumbfounded as he turned to walk away. I mumbled a thanks and then just stood there with the money still in my hand. I couldn’t believe how nice that was and how it ironically happened to be my very last customer of the day. It truly made my day. I know anyone who works in retail probably can relate to that. I put the $5 in the Salvation Army kettle on my way out of the store that night. I hope that guy knows how much that little act of kindness meant to a tired cashier. So of course being inspired again, my mom and I bought little Christmas candy, tied a Christmas tag to the box and wrote a thank you note on each one. Yesterday we stopped at the bank, the coffee shop, and the grocery store and gave them to the people who waited on us. Retail is terrible during the year normally, it’s even worse during the holidays, remember that during the next few days!

I want to extend a very happy and blessed Merry Christmas to you all. I hope everyone spends the next two days surrounded by friends and family, enjoying the wonder and joy that this season brings and that inspiration to do good finds its way into your life!

Keep running, keep laughing, Merry Christmas!

Gym Disasters

Miscellaneous

I joined the local YMCA. Not a huge fan of gyms, but living in Northeast Ohio doesn’t really give me much of a choice if I want to continue to workout and run in the winter (about eight months of the year.)

Yesterday I had just hit mile four on my little treadmill at the Y. I was feeling great. Awesome music, no one was next to me, I was cruising. I also happened to be in the very front of the gym (all the workout machines face one direction.) I was listening to Pandora on my cell phone, which was hooked up to my headphones obviously. Instead of carrying my phone like I normally do when I run outside, I set it down on the side of the treadmill where you put your water bottle. Suddenly I swung my arm down a little too violently and my hand pulled the headphones connected to my phone. I saw my phone go flying past me and get spun back behind me as it hit the running treadmill. It made a horrific sound. I only heard the sound because the force had ripped my headphones in half and my music cut off. Of course being in the very front middle of the gym, I had an entire audience to watch me pathetically stop the treadmill and go pick up my chipped phone and broken headphones that were on the ground behind me.

Oops.

Oops.

I tried to keep running after my little incident, but after another mile I just wanted to get out of there. I ducked out of the gym and into the locker room without making eye contact with anyone.

Then today I went to a spinning class (and boot camp after that with one of my girlfriends….OUCH.) When I walked into the spinning class this morning, there was an open bike right up front next to an older guy. I quickly took the bike without thinking anything of it. I mean it was a prime spot for the class! I also wondered why no one else had snagged it before I did. Two minutes into the class I knew why. The older guy next to me sounded like a train/rocket taking off. His breathing was so ridiculous I was practically laughing out loud. (He also had on a fantastic 80’s windbreaker suit.) However, about twenty minutes into the class I was no longer laughing. This guy’s breathing was so annoying and just insanely unnecessary. How do you tell someone to stop breathing so loud and annoying? I mean I could barely hear the music, we’re talking THAT loud and ridiculous. I now understand why no one else had chosen the bike next to him. And next time I’ll leave it empty too!

Does anyone else have any funny or weird gym stories? Please share so I don’t feel like a compete gym goon!

Chasing the Dog Days of Summer.

Miscellaneous

What a fabulous weekend! I have had four glorious days off work — including tomorrow, too! Woo-hooooo. I have been quite the little outdoorsy girl on my mini vacay. I have been obsessed with squeezing the last remaining summer out of the next couple weeks, so I took my little break very seriously.

This past week I was on the cabbage soup cleanse, except not so much cabbage soup, however. I nixed the soup after day three, (it’s so terrible) and was still able to lose seven pounds — also while cutting the cleanse shorts two days! I have a goal weight in mind and to motivate myself, I bought a very expensive (but very pretty) Michael Kors bag. My reward and deal to myself is that I get the bag when I reach my goal weight. Stay tuned for that because this old girl still has six more pounds to shed. Until then, the pretty little bag stays hidden in the boyfriend’s closet at his place. (Cue the sad music.)

On Saturday, the rents and I made an adventure out of driving to Huntington Beach in Bay Village. The beach is award winning, clean, beautiful and offers a stunning view of downtown Cleveland in the distance. We stopped in Downtown Willoughby for dinner afterwards (hence, cutting my week-long cleanse off.) I opted for a burger and a beer, which was not to go unnoticeably awesome after eating straight fruits and veggies all week.

Dad and I just being clowns like usual.

Dad and I just being clowns like usual.

On Sunday, I was determined to go for a long bike ride to switch up my work out. After failing to get a companion to join me in the light rain that day, I set out on my own. I ended up being super happy about not having anyone with me because I decided to ride 27 miles and didn’t have anyone else to worry about. I cranked up my iPod and enjoyed myself. Note to self: Do that more often.

About half way through my ride I stopped for a photo opt.

About half way through my ride I  stopped for a photo opt.

Sunday also called for a BBQ at the boyfriend’s house, which was a great time filled with Dance Revolution Two and a lot of trampoline bouncing. I felt like a little kid and loved every minute of it.

Today, Labor Day, I joined a group of 15 people on a canoeing trip. Half the group opted for a 7 mile kayak ride while the other a 10 mile canoe ride. Feeling like my normal superwoman self, I chose the 10 mile canoe.

And wow, did I underestimate that! Canoeing 10 miles is HARD. We looked up online how many calories each of us burned (my group had 9) and the calculator said I burned around 2,500 calories. I believe it too because my shoulders, back and arms are killing me! Great workout though, but really tough, especially with the hot sun beating down on you.

Some of the fearless canoers

Some of the fearless canoers.

The boyfriend and I let the canoe coast while we ate fruit salad. We coasted into these lily pads, which our guide kindly let us know was probably infested with leeches.

The boyfriend and I let the canoe coast while we ate fruit salad. We coasted into these lily pads, which our guide kindly let us know was probably infested with leeches.

Of course I also had to get up early and run this morning before the canoeing adventure. So on the ride home I convinced everyone how many calories we had all burned and tempted everyone into stopping for pizza and beer. The calories were well spent.

Tomorrow I start back on my healthy eating though. After walking to get ice cream with my mom after we got home from canoeing, I stopped up at the grocery store and bought fruits and veggies with a heavy heart. Except I am kinda excited to try and get to my goal weight this week because I want my Michael Kors bag so, so, so bad! It was a good cheat couple of days, but back to the grind tomorrow. I’m getting up early to run seven miles up on the all-purpose trail and then stopping up to see my grandma, since I am of course the favorite grandchild…

Now I am sitting here in my pajamas drinking wine after a great couple of days. We are feeling the aftermath of hurricane Isaac tonight up here in Northeast, Ohio. I know I’ll sleep well tonight even with the storm.

Hope your weekend and Labor Day was as well spent as mine — on both time spent doing fun things with friends and family and calories spent on great food!

Keep running!

The official end of a chapter: graduating from KSU!

Miscellaneous

I did it!!!

I am such a proud little graduate, and I have every right to be! I worked my butt off taking six classes and working two jobs this summer, let alone working hard the past four years. It was all worth it though when I got to walk across that stage Saturday. It was all worth it when I saw my family in the crowd cheering and waving at me, and it was all worth it getting the honor to walk next to four other very talented PR grads. The whole day was just fabulous. I kept telling myself to cherish it and to remember it. Later that night my old roommate (I guess I can say, college roommate now, huh?) and some friends met me and the boyfriend out at the bar. We had such a great time reminiscing about the past four years and just being goofy like the old days.

Proud parents, and even more proud graduate.

Proud parents, and even more proud graduate.

So what’s next? Where am I going now in life? This has been what I have been working so hard for – a degree and the chance to say I’m a proud Kent State graduate. Truly I have started a new chapter in my life. So now what?

I’ve been interning in the PR/Marketing department at Robinson Memorial Hospital since May. One of my supervisors is going on maternity leave in January, so I’ve been asked to stay until March to help with the work load. I am very excited about this opportunity because I believe healthcare PR is the direction I want to take my career. And oh ya, did I mention I start getting paid now?! My roommates and I used to joke that I only did PR as a hobby because I’ve had four unpaid internships. I often screamed in frustration “Is someone ever going to pay me for doing PR!?” And yes, finally yes.

So I’m only working at the hospital three days a week (more come January) and I’m feeling the need to somehow fill my time doing something of value until then. But what? I’ve been running a lot, and when the weather gets colder I plan on getting a pass to the YMCA and joining some classes, possibly even a volleyball team. I signed up for a 1 credit yoga class for 16 weeks up at a local community college. I also left word with the coach of the 7th grade volleyball team at the local catholic grade school in town, St. Marys, which I attended for six years. I would looove to help out coaching a volleyball team. I also researched some local charities too and sent a few emails out asking for more information about volunteering opportunities. I know I’m still gaining great experience at the hospital and I’m going to gain a lot more leadership experience staying there for a few more months, but I also want to feel of value in other aspects of my life too.

Any ideas?

So that’s basically a quick run down of life. Right now. This very second. (Besides the fact that I’m about to leave to meet my best friends from high school at the bar for a 23rd birthday celebration! I’m so excited to see them! But seriously when did we start turning 23?!)

I think you just have to have a plan in life, not an exact route. I reached my goals for the college chapter of life. I can’t wait to see the goals I set for myself this chapter, and I can’t want to accomplish them later on down the road.

Keep running!

The top of my cap for graduation.

The top of my cap for graduation.

Headcase.

Miscellaneous

4.49 mile run today. And I hated everything minute, every second, every stride, every breathe of it.

The entire run was a battle between my head and my legs.

“Just walk for a couple minutes, who cares?!” Said my brain.

“I care! I can finish this, it’s not much longer!” My legs fired back. “Shut up brain you’re not helping!”

The argument went back and forth, back and forth. It finally ended when I reached the top of the hill that my apartment sits on. I collapsed when I reached my driveway and keeled over to puke.

My run was over, and it sucked.

But I never stopped. A very small victory in my book, but still a victory.

A little Friday afternoon motivation.

Miscellaneous

Stumbled upon this great fitness blog the other day.

Amazing how much I can relate to it. Here’s the full post that I really related to.

Some highlights:

“Working out regularly helps me feel strong and powerful. It makes me feel capable and accomplished in a way that almost nothing else in my life has ever affected me. It drives me to work harder, to be a better person, to always be improving myself—inside the gym and outside.”

“I love the simple look, head nod and small wave that runners exchange on the street, which to me always says, ‘I’m in the club, too. Thanks for showing up today. You rock.'”

“And as I get stronger, faster, fitter, better…I stand taller, feel better about myself and appreciate all that my body has achieved.”

“I don’t care what I weigh, but I do care how much weight I can lift and how many miles I can run. That says so much more about who I am and what I’m worth than any stupid scale can ever tell me. I don’t care what I look like while I’m doing these things—just that I show up and try my hardest.”

“My experience with exercise has been an education is self-care and body awe. When you put the work in, you do see changes and improvements. It’s a virtuous cycle that feeds on itself. You exercise. You feel good. You take better care of yourself. You appreciate your body. You lose weight, or maybe you don’t, but either way, you feel good about yourself, so you keep on going. Eventually, the weight takes care of itself.”

Great post by this blogger, great motivation and inspiration. (Although I’m taking the next two days off so my PAINFUL shin splints can heal!)

Keep Running!

You Just Gotta Keep Going.

Miscellaneous

I’ve been good about getting to the gym.

Last week I racked up 23 miles. The week before that I put 26.6 miles on my Nike’s.

I get on the treadmill around 6:15 a.m. and force myself to stay on until about five after seven. It’s terrible waking up at 5:50 a.m. but it makes a great start to my day, plus after a long day at the office and class there’s no way I’m going to the gym at night. (Please, I’d have to wait 45 minutes for a treadmill, then get kicked off 30 minutes later by some girl wearing a matching sweatsuit — who will then proceed to text on her phone the entire time she has the treadmill while walking on a .5 incline at 2.5 miles per hour.)

I’m convinced that the real athletes hit the gym in the early morning.

Everyone’s super serious and focused at 6 a.m. and I can run for 50 minutes and not be bothered or annoyed once. Plus there’s something tranquil about starting a run looking out at the dark world and slowly seeing the sun come up, casting orange and yellow rays of light through the giant gym windows. (This picturesque scene is happening as I’m dying and gasping for breathe on the treadmill while trying not to blow chunks in the garbage can.)

Regardless, today was a break-through day of running. (Don’t you love when that happens?) I found it easy to run 4.6 miles and was pleasantly surprised as I looked down at the treadmill screen and saw my PR time down by nearly six minutes. I have been aiming for anywhere in the four mile mark lately. Some days it has been really discouraging though. I’d like to be able to run six or seven miles comfortably everyday, so I get frustrated that I have to force myself to run just four some days. But today was a good run because A. It wasn’t painful and I wasn’t counting down every second and B. My time was down  — a small victory in my books.

Oh and it didn’t hurt that I burned 526 calories either. (You better believe I’m eating ice cream later, or cracking open that Corona that’s in my fridge…kidding. Well, kinda.)

I just want to keep getting faster and stronger. It can be really discouraging not being able to run as much and you want to, but when you have little break-through moments like today, it really makes the hard work worth it.

But I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me.

I’ve been throwing around the idea in my head about running the Cleveland half marathon on May 20. More on that race can be found here.

On days I want to die after my workout I think the 10K is more realistic. I want to run the half so bad, but when it’s a challenge to run 4 miles some days, that’s when I get frustrated. I tell myself I’ll get faster and stronger if I keep at the training schedule, but I just want to hurry up and be ready and able to run 13.1 miles right now!

Who knows what I’ll end up doing. I’m supposed to go to a wedding the same day of the race, but we’ll see how everything plans out.

For now, I just need to keep running.

P.S. I love this …

Running with the Angels: R.I.P to a Friend

Miscellaneous

6 a.m. this morning and my heart still hurt. I dragged myself out of out bed like I had dragged myself through my classes and meetings for the past two days. I was there physically, but that was about it.

Replaying a phone call I had gotten at 12:10 a.m. Monday morning, I threw on some running clothes and zipped up my coat this morning, the world was still dark outside. I thought about picking up the phone call,  thinking my friend from work was laughing because I couldn’t understand him at first, then it hit me, he was crying.

Katie Iarussi, a friend and coworker, had been killed Sunday evening around 5 p.m. in a head-on collusion on the way back from her boyfriend’s house. A young man, just 29 years old, was also killed and he and my friend were both pronounced dead on the scene when the police arrived. My friend was just 20 years old and went to Kent State University. I had worked with her at Giant Eagle. (Record Pub Article.)

I got to the gym replaying memories of seeing Katie working out there.

I started my run off slow. So many emotions filled my head. I had gone through the past two days on autopilot, not being able to find comfort in anything. I could still picture Katie standing in my kitchen, joking with other coworkers. I could still hear the way her voice sounded, the funny voices she used to make, the jokes she used to tell. I imagined working next to her for over a year, suddenly stocking a simple shelf with her at work became a painful memory to think about. I wish she was still here. I wish we were still stocking shelves together, cracking jokes to keep the time moving.

I cranked my iPod up as loud as it could go as I increased my speed on the treadmill. Music had done nothing for me the past two days. No song could adequately express how I was feeling, no lyric could comfort my heart that was breaking. I kept thinking of her mom, of her best friends. I had been lucky enough to work with her, to hang out with her a few of times, to have her in my phone book. But what about the others? What about her boyfriend who she had just seen right before the accident happened? What were her best friends doing? Were they cherishing every last text she sent? Were they looking at pictures that they had taken a few days prior? How does life go on when suddenly someone is just gone?

I put all my energy into my run, knowing it was my only hope of feeling a little tiny bit better. If there was anything that could make me feel better, it was running.

But the sadness came as I ran.

I was so sad to picture her family at Christmas without her. It was painful to imagine her family’s heartbreak as they went through her stuff. I was overcome with emotion when I thought of her best friends who had grown up with her and now suddenly she was gone and they never got to say goodbye.

I thought about Katie not even having time to reach the milestone of turning 21. I felt tears when I realized Katie would never know what it’s like to walk down a church aisle to see someone she loved standing there waiting for her,  she would never hold a newborn baby in her arms and know that it was her’s – two things that mark the very top of my list when I think about what I want in life.

Katie was always a goof ball and insanely funny.

I am so sadden to know Katie is no longer here. I can’t even begin to express my confusion… why her?

I was coming home from my boyfriend’s house about an hour after Katie’s accident on Sunday evening. How did I make it home and she didn’t? How am I still here on this earth, able to hug my mom, to laugh with my best friends, to kiss my boyfriend . . . and she isn’t?

I keep replaying talking to her at last year’s Giant Eagle Christmas party, she had no idea she had just a little less than a year left on this earth.

One of my best friend’s told me the other day that God chooses the most beautiful angels to be up there with Him. I know Katie is up there in heaven watching over us. Katie had the most sincere, hilarious sense of humor. She probably has God himself laughing right now.

I finished my run and packed my stuff up to go home. A run had made me feel a little better because I had begun to realize how lucky I am. I had begun to understand that Katie didn’t need a lot of time to make such an impact on everyone, she had done it in just 20 years.

I know so many people who will think of Katie throughout the rest of their lives, myself included.

You don’t need a lifetime to make a difference, you don’t need a year or two. You need a heart that is sincere and a smile that is genuine, and that was what Katie had.

R.I.P Katie Iarussi. You made the world a brighter place and I know you are having one heck of a time up there with the other angels.

Katie (left) with a friend in NYC

“People like her don’t come along very often, and I feel like maybe that’s why they aren’t with us as long. They don’t need a whole lot of time to make such a great impact.”

                               – one of Katie’s best friends in a Kent Stater article

Something Wicked This Way Comes – A Runner? At This Hour?

Miscellaneous

The other night I offered to be my friend’s designated driver while they enjoyed the bars (and I miserably went to bed since I had to work the next morning.) My friends called me around 1:30 a.m. to pick them up, so deliriously I drug myself out of bed to be an ever-so-dedicated friend. On my way to downtown Kent I saw two runners. What the —

1:30 a.m.?! These people suddenly had the urge to go running right then and there? They couldn’t wait a few hours until morning or have gone earlier? Now I’m a 21-year-old college student, 1:30 a.m. on a school night – normal. 1:30 a.m.  at the bar – regular. But to go running then?

Now I’ve done my fair share of night running lately. Working two jobs this summer, it seems to be the only time on some days that I can fit in a run. Especially with how hot it has been. I have to leave my apartment by 8:15 every morning and I’m not about to get up at 6 a.m. to go. Plus by the time I get back from the office at 6 p.m. it’s still 93 degrees out, so I’d wait until 8 or 9 at night to go. I can justify this.

But 1:30 in the morning?!

You have to wonder did something really tragic happen to these runners that they suddenly felt so distraught that they suddenly HAD to get out of the house and go running?

Who knows. But I did take note on what the runners were wearing – one in neon yellow and one in white. A wise choice for running in the dark. Neither runner had on any sort of reflectors though, which running  at 1:30 in the morning (Especially early Sunday morning when a lot of people/drivers are coming back from the bars) I would recommend wearing some.

These runners remind me of a story my dad told me one time. He’s an aerobics teacher and personal trainer, (along with being a chemist – isn’t he super cool? And no, I did not get any of his smart genes, I hate chemistry) and often heads to the gym at 4:45 a.m. for a 5 a.m. class he teaches. (Seriously, why?) He used to tell me about this lady who he would see running at this time every morning wearing a giant fur parka in the winter.

Now I’m from Chardon, Ohio…the snow-belt of northeast Ohio, and I know how HORRIBLE morning snow storms can get and how horrible the roads are in the morning there. My dad even pointed out the road he would see this lady running down, which has no sidewalks and was poorly lite. But he said every morning this woman was out there running through snowbanks with this giant fur coat on. I got to say props to her, but seriously?

To humor myself I picture her running in a coat like this. (Although this might not be far off from the real deal considering my dad said it WAS a fur parka.)

The Mysterious Fur Parka Runner of Chardon, Ohio

Whoever this abominable parka runner is, kudos to her. Although I would recommend some reflectors. And to the 1:30 a.m. runners – wear some damn reflectors too. Reflectors are not expensive and can save your life. Here are a few starting at $6.99, or pick up some at your local sporting good store.

Some other quick tips for all you night owl runners (or early morning umm…rooster runners? Ya ok, lame.) But here they are:

  • Always run facing traffic when running on the road (or ride with traffic if biking.) 
  • If possible run with someone.
  • Stay in well lit areas.
  • Stay alert.
  • Don’t wear headphones if it is very late out, considering that could be very dangerous depending on your area.

“There are clubs you can’t belong to, neighborhoods you can’t live in, schools you can’t get into, but the roads are always open.”   – Nike

The Best Run … You VS. You

Miscellaneous

I saw a woman running the other day outside who looked like she was absoutly dying. She was practically walking and looked like she was in extreme pain. Her face was scrunched up and her arms were frailing at her sides. I was nervous she was going to keel over any moment.

I almost wanted to help her.

As I went home from class that day, I began to think a lot about why people run. Do we run to keep in shape? To clear our heads? Do we run because we love the feeling of almost puking? Or that feeling when your lungs turn to stone as you push yourself past a specific landmark?

Running is You VS. You

Running is You VS. You

Why do we constantly push ourselves to finish that last grueling mile when we are sometimes clearly not enjoying it?

“You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.”
-Steve Prefontaine

You may not be an Olympic runner, but then again, maybe you are. But Olympian or not, we find ourselves out there pounding the pavement daily. (Or for some of us, every few days, or maybe once a week. Or maybe even once every month.) Regardless, it’s the drive for self-satisfaction and achievement that gets us out there.

For me, I began running the summer after my senior year of high school. I had run my normal route all throughout high school, but in the summer of 2008 something was different. After playing 12 years of volleyball and softball, I was feeling a loss of identity not truly being considered an official athlete anymore.

I began to run to keep in shape and for the soul purpose of it being a sport. But something about running was different than any other team sport I had played before. The sports I had played all my life were so primarily focused on team members, and don’t get me wrong, I loved that, but for once in my life, I was it. I was the team and everything I succeeded in was all due to my efforts.

I’ve gone on runs with plenty of people, friends, family members, team members and roommates. But to me, those runs have never been as fullfilling as when I am out there all alone. Just me and my thoughts. Or just me and my music.

To me, the best runs come from when it’s you VS. you. No matter how fast or slow you are running, no matter how experienced you are, no matter your age, gender or race – if you push yourself, and you get out there to run and give it your all…you are a runner.

That woman I talked about at the beginning of my post, she’s a runner… and a darn good one.