Running Through 2012

So many bloggers that I follow regularly have posted this fun Q&A, originally started by Miss Zippy, and I loved reading every single one! I’ve heard you’re supposed to write about things you’d like to read, so I took it as a sign to write one of my own. So let’s take a look back at this whirlwind of a year, shall we?

Best race experience: Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville

run 7

It’s shocking that this is my answer, I know. Even though this was my worst race of the year time-wise (and my second slowest half to date), I learned so much from this experience. I finally realized what it felt like to give everything my body possibly could and leave it all out on the course. I went through a whirlwind of emotions while training for this race, which Abby graciously put up with, and learned just how much I love this sport.

Best run: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half-Marathon in Washington, D.C.

This was the first time Dustin ever saw me race, so it holds a special place in my heart. I also really enjoyed the course, my body felt great and it was the first time I ever felt confident enough to think that going after a sub-2:00 half-marathon time could be possible for me.

Best new piece of gear: My Lululemon Run: Speed shorts! I’m obsessed. The fit is perfect, they don’t ride up, the wide waistband makes them flattering, there are a ton of pockets and the patterns are to die for. They’re my official good luck race shorts.

Best piece of running advice you received: “Stop comparing yourself to others and just run the best you can.” Paraphrasing from my fabulous running coach, Abby. I really started beating myself up during spring training this year, when I was originally training to complete the full marathon distance in Nashville. She talked me off a ledge many times, but really helped get it through my head that I’m only hurting myself if I keep measuring myself against other runners. Everyone has a different background and I should never be ashamed of my own capabilities.

abby

Most inspirational runners: I’d have to say Abby, Jocelyn, Laura and Theodora. They’ve all dealt with a lot this last year and are overall rock stars. I love going to their blogs on a regular basis whenever I’m in need of a good kick in the pants.

Most exciting (running) moment of 2012: Traveling to more states! I’m slowly working toward my goal of running a half-marathon in every state before I’m 30, and this year I was lucky enough to have Dustin cheering me on in Washington, D.C., Nashville and Disney World. I’m stepping up my game for 2013 and aiming for six states in the new year. Fingers crossed I can make it all happen!

Your turn! Answer any, or all, of the questions and fill me in on your exciting running discoveries of the last year. 

Christmas Survey

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! I’m home at my mom and step dad’s for the holidays, the snow is falling steadily and my mom and I have epic plans for baking this afternoon. I could not be happier right now.

christmas

Since I likely won’t be blogging tomorrow or on Christmas, I thought it’d be fun to do the Christmas Survey I saw over on Carrie’s page. Away we go!

Favorite Christmas album/CD: 

It honestly depends on my mood. It’s a tie between Glee Christmas (the first album), Michael Buble’s Christmas and anything by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Also, if you haven’t been to one of Trans’ shows, I highly recommend it. The pyrotechnics alone make it well worth it.

Run on Christmas morning or take the day off? 

I won’t run in the morning,since we always open our gifts and eat breakfast together first thing. I’m not opposed to taking a jaunt in the afternoon, though.

What do you usually eat on Christmas morning? 

Breakfast casserole made by my mom (also known as company eggs casserole, I guess). This could also be described as “heart attack in a pan.” So good, but we only have it once a year. #noregrets

Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition?

Every Christmas Eve, my family attends evening church service; then we come home and all watch Annabelle’s Wish together. That adorable cow makes me cry every single year.

Annabelles_Wish-vhscover

Real tree, fake tree, or no tree? 

Real tree all the way. I think my mom tried to get a fake tree one year when we were really young, and it just wasn’t the same. I need the smell that a real tree brings.

Christmas pajamas – yay or nay? 

We never had them, but I’m certainly not opposed to the idea! We do always stay in our pajamas for the majority of the day, though.

Where do you spend the holidays? 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is spent with my mom and step-dad. Then I usually meet up with Dustin’s family the day after Christmas because his birthday is on the 27th. This year, we fly to Tennessee on the 28th to spend New Year’s with my dad and step-mom, too. We were lucky to get enough time off to see everyone this time around!

Food that you always have during the holidays? Favorite Christmas food/treat? 

I always make peanut butter kiss cookies (some of you call these peanut butter blossoms, which I don’t understand), my mom always make snowman balls, and my little brother always makes sugar cookies in the shape of Winnie the Pooh characters. We like cookies in our house.

gingerbread house

This is not any of those. But my cousins made it, so I think it’s relevant.

Open presents all at once or take turns?

Well, we’re all opening them at the same time, but my mom hands them out (with her Santa hat on), staggering the distribution so everyone gets to watch what the others are opening.

Favorite Christmas(ish) movie? 

Annabelle’s Wish. It’s tradition. And it’s the best movie ever made.

Your turn! Answer any of the questions above so I know all of your Christmas secrets! 

Christmas in the City

For some reason, I did not shy away from diving head first into the Christmas season this year. Although I still waited until after Thanksgiving to bust out the Christmas tunes and decorations, the start of December marked the beginning of my days being filled with bright lights, cinnamon-scented pine cones (best. thing. ever.) and “Last Christmas” on repeat (yes, I know it’s a breakup song, but for some reason I’m obsessed).

Because pictures are sometimes better than words, here’s a glimpse of the complete immersion into the holidays that’s been going on in this neck of the woods. Er, city.

rockettes 2

rockettesCross it off the bucket list! Dustin got us tickets to see The Rockettes for my birthday 🙂

dustin tree

ornamentsA house divided.

card pic

card pic 2Mini photo shoot day in Central Park

chris santa

chris santa 2Dustin’s mom sees Christmas in NYC for the first time – and drops off her letter to Santa!

dustin parents tree

christmas cardDustin and I are sending out our first Christmas card together 🙂

Tell me all about your holiday celebrating! 

Favorite Fitness Finds & Holiday Wish List

‘Tis the season for gift giving and let’s be honest: workout gear is expensive. If you’re a big fan of sweat, or know someone else who is, then think about gifting any of these top picks during the holiday season. The recipient may just give you a big ole’ sweaty hug full of love (Family: if you give me any of these, that sweaty hug is guaranteed. Pinky promise).

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 Sneakers

brooks

These are my sneakers of choice. I overpronate a bit, so these are a great stability shoe that keep my feet healthy and happy. Ever since I ran the Disney Wine & Dine, I’ve been in need of a new pair. The 10K I ran this past weekend (recap to come, I swear) only proved it even more. I’m holding out until the holidays are over, and if I don’t get a pair, will quickly be snatching up another (or maybe 2). I really like how the pink jazzes ’em up a bit.

NOTE: If you don’t know your runner’s shoe choice, I recommend getting them a gift card to a shoe store instead.

Lululemon Women’s Brisk Run Glove 

Baby, it’s cold outside. And some of us are crazy and like to run in the chilly weather. These pretty little things keep my digits warm and have that cool technology everyone wants these days – the ability to use your touchscreen device without taking the gloves off.

iPad Home

ipad home

OK, this is a wish list item of mine, but I think it would be awesome to help launch me back into my yoga practice. I simply can’t afford to regularly hit up a studio on top of gym fees and SoulCycle costs, so owning this would help pump up the volume on my iPad and really get me in that “om” mindset that tends to occur in a studio. Plus, it’d be cool to have when people come visit and we want to play music. Multi-purpose win.

Under Armour Must-Have Bag 

I’ve been drooling over this baby since FITNESS featured it in last year’s holiday gift guide. Dustin, bless his heart, tried to get one for me for Christmas, but it sold out too quickly. They’ve re-stocked, so maybe the second time’s the charm?

Sparkly Soul Headbands

sparkly soul

Every runner has their go-to headband that they swear by, and Sparkly Soul does it for me. It never moves, despite my oddly-shaped noggin, and it’s cute. I like sparkle.

Erica Sara Designs Custom Jewelry

Because her stuff is awesome. It’s a wish list item for me personally, but I’ve seen enough of her jewelry in person to know it’s totally worth it and something people will comment on all the time. And Erica is an amazing person to work with.

Lululemon No Limits Tank

karla

I. Love. This. Top. It’s so comfy, cute and lightweight. There’s a wide array of colors (I have it in pink, above, and a baby blue) and it’s versatile. I go Spinning in it often, but know it’s also great for yoga practice or just lounging around. It’s nice and long, which is great for my torso, and the cinched bottom helps it stay put while I’m partying on a bike. No more worrying about shirts riding up and showing off my back and stomach in the middle of my ride.

iPod Shuffle 

I personally don’t like to run with anything big strapped to my arm, so this small version is perfect for my runs. I only have my running music on it, so it eliminates the need for a playlist. I have more than 6 hours of pumped-up tunes on here and there’s still plenty of room for more songs. The downside: I can’t scroll through if I’m craving a specific song at a certain moment, but for the small size and equally small price tag, it’s worth it. And if you don’t want to get your fitness fanatic an iPod (or they already have one), iTunes cards are always a great choice.

Believe I Am Journal

Believe Journal

I recently acquired one from winning a giveaway over at Sarah’s blog (woohoo, I finally won something!) and am already obsessed. I love all of the motivational tips, the organization (for the type-A obsessed) and the pretty designs. Great for those setting new goals in 2013.

Lululemon Run: Speed Shorts

I know I’m showing the Lulu love, but they have some great products. These shorts are no exception. No chafing, no riding up and a wide waistband to keep things flattering. There are also three small pockets, so there’s plenty of room for storage, and the designs are adorable. I’m lusting after the burning yellow and chevron patterns.

What fitness gear are you lusting after this season? Or giving to loved ones? 

Race for Recovery 5K Recap

Last Saturday, I laced up my sneaks and headed out for a 5K race. Where? WHEREVER I WANTED.

Sorry for the all caps, but that gave me a sense of power.

I’m done now.

Anyway, I was running the virtual Race for Recovery 5K put on by NYC Running Mama to help raise support for victims of Hurricane Sandy. For just $20, your name was entered into a drawing to win a boat load of super awesome prizes perfect for the running-obsessed. If you donated more than $20, your name went in more times. Obviously, more chances to win. Which means more chances at the grand prize: a fantasy day at the Runner’s World headquarters (promise it’s not as risqué as it sounds).

race bib

Unfortunately, my bank account hates me and I was unable to spare more than $20. But I happily handed it over, not really caring whether or not I won a prize. After all, I don’t really ever win raffles, so I just wanted to help out while getting my run on and feeling part of the awesome community that we crazy people create.

As we all know by now, I am by no means a morning person, so waking up at normal race-time was not in the cards for me. After a crazy work week, I relished in the ability to sleep in and didn’t crawl out of bed until 9am. ‘Twas glorious.

dustin

This is not me. But doesn’t Dustin look comfy?

After dilly dallying for a few hours, I left my apartment around 1pm, unsure of where I wanted to run. I just knew I wanted to get down near Astoria Park so I could run by the water and take in the city skyline. The weather was perfect, my legs felt loose and my tunes were grooving. I maintained a strong pace, negative splitting the whole time. It helped that once I actually hit the park area and saw that skyline, my iPod seemed to know what was going on. Without any playlist prep, “Empire State of Mind” blasted through my headphones. Talk about a major kick of inspiration. My pace easily picked up a notch as I hit the halfway point and started making my way home.

All I could think about on this run was the mass of people taking part to help those who lost so much because of Sandy. And now that we have all heard the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, I’m even more grateful for that moment. So many people joined together and restored my faith in humanity. Strangers lent a helping hand and did whatever they could to help those in need, whether it was delivering supplies, running a race to raise money, or hanging power strips out the window so random people could charge their cell phones.

Despite all of the cruelty that hangs heavy in the air these days, there are still some seriously awesome people in the world. And I could not be more grateful. If you’re in need of inspiration, I suggest checking out this article. It’s good for the soul.

Anyway, the run went fairly quickly, and even though it was my first 5K race (which means an automatic PR), I still got an actual PR from all of the times I’ve run an unofficial 5K.

5k watch

That makes me happy. What makes me happier? Michele raised over $10,000 with the Race for Recovery. BOOM. Major kudos for her brilliant idea and mad organizational skills. I haven’t even met her in person yet (um, can we change that?) and I already know she’s a rock star.

So I didn’t win any of the goodies (big surprise), but Michele was kind enough to post our finish times in order. Turns out I came in 33rd out of 112. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

It’s safe to say that was a happy Saturday. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done that weekend too, which also gives me a lot of joy. And I threw some Spinning in the mix. Now that I think about it, that really was a fantastic weekend.

Now it’s your turn to tell me about the things that give you warm fuzzies. Did you run the Race for Recovery? Did you write about it? Tell me your story and send me your links. I like to read. Sometimes. 

Toughen Up

I have an on and off relationship with strength training. I wouldn’t call it love-hate because I actually really enjoy strength training, I just….forget to to do it. More often than I should.

Oops.

This is what usually happens in my brain:

What workout are you going to do today, Sam? You haven’t lifted in a while. You should lift. Maybe upper body work. Remember how you said you wanted to be able to do 20 real push-ups in a row? 2012 is almost over and you totally can’t do that. So stop sucking.

I begin my day with all of these great intentions – I’m going to strength train that day, no matter what.

Then my day gets busy and all I want to do is spin or run, especially when I don’t have time to do cardio and lift because of the 6464654892 things I attempt to tackle on my to-do list on a daily basis (that number, I admit, is a rough estimate).

So then I do my cardio and am happy. Until I remember how much I really need to lift, so I vow to make it happen the next day, and the  conversation above begins again.

In an attempt to break the vicious cycle, I’ve had a few things working in my favor:

  1. The company that employs me. Fortunately, my company really pushes health and wellness initiatives in the office, then rewards us with free things for participating. Um, done and done! Recently, there was an eight-week strength training initiative at work, when I had to lift – targeting different muscle groups each time – at least three times a week. Nailed it! 
  2. Friends that like to lift, too. When you work where I do, it’s not uncommon to hear about one person killing it at a Tough Mudder one weekend, another dominating an IronMan the next, and yet another tackling a half-marathon. Sure, they’re all cardio-heavy activities, but there’s a decent amount of strength required to perform well in each. So when they’re all going to lift, I want to go lift, too. And then I see it happening on Twitter and I really want to do it.
  3. My Type-A personality. Lately, I’ve been whipping out my trusty calendar and penciling strength training in! BOOM! Better yet, I make an appointment (so formal, I know) to lift with friends, which means I’m not allowed to bitch out. DOUBLE BOOM.

So when I heard that Abby was hosting a strength training for runners clinic this week, you know that went into my calendar.

abby

A small group of us met up at Cynergy PT, where we went over a lot of basic strength exercises, which was a great reminder that keeping things quick and simple really does help. We don’t even need weights if they’re not around. In fact, we only used a resistance band. It’s so small and easy to transport. Isn’t that nice?

We did exercises for about 20 minutes (short and sweet), talked a bit and then I got to test this crazy machine that I’ve been curious about for a while.

The Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

back

I told you I like to do cardio. I like it even more when it feels like I weigh about 25 pounds. I can run really fast then and it doesn’t really feel like I’m doing too much, when normally I’d be gasping for air.

run

Plus, I get to wear these really sexy shorts.

shorts

Oh, so you’re wondering how the Alter-G actually works? A quick summary: the anti-gravity chamber (the thing I’m trapped in) fills with air and gently lifts you to take the weight off of your joints – it’s really helpful for those who still want to run but are recovering from injury, or for pregnant women. You can take off anywhere from 20-100% of your body weight, which basically means it feels like running on a cloud.

legs

I ran with 75 percent of my body weight, meaning I took off 25 percent (for those who struggle with math, like me). I only ran for about seven or eight minutes, but you can schedule 30-minute sessions anytime you want. And you don’t have to be injured to use it (clearly, I’m not)  – I chatted with Dr. Karyn Keating afterward and for $250, you can book 10 sessions, and for $150, you get 5. Um, that’s cheaper than 5 classes at SoulCycle or Flywheel, or basically any other group exercise class in NYC. Awesome. I’d love to go for a three or four mile run on this thing to see how I feel after.

So basically, I’m trying to lift more. And defy gravity. Winter is basically here (how is it December 1st?!), which means I’m about to start hiding in the gym. No more excuses.

What about you? Tell me about your stories with lifting heavy things and putting them back down. And have you tried the Alter-G? 

 

Disney Wine & Dine 2012 Half-Marathon Race Recap

At long last, my race cap for the 13.1 miles I ran through Disney World…at night!

Let’s rewind allllll the way back to November 9th. Dustin and I packed our bags and left freezing New York City (it was in the 40’s, so it wasn’t really freezing, but I had my winter coat on) and flew down to Orlando, getting in around noon so we had plenty of time to relax and hit up the expo. For a girl who isn’t a big fan of winter, the jump in temp was exactly what I needed!

We checked out the entire expo and while they had some great vendors there, there wasn’t much that sparked my personal interest. I was on the hunt for a pair of running sunglasses though, and managed to nab a pair for $30 – not bad! At least I’ll stop squinting when the sun decides to show itself for normal amounts of time again.

I also picked up an official race wine glass. I was a little disappointed that the glass wasn’t included in the goodie bag – I’ve done my research on wine-themed races and nearly every one gives you a glass and a bottle of wine, so I was let down. But it was only $10, so I happily handed over some cash to commemorate my fifth half-marathon.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening and eventually met up with my friend Lauren and her sister Kristen for dinner. Fun fact: Lauren and I met on my press trip for work (when I learned how to surf!) and became fast friends. After a lot of chatting, we found out we were both racing the Disney half (this was her first 13.1), so we knew we had to meet up! Since she’s from Tallahassee, FL and ventures around Orlando way more often than I do (read: I hadn’t been to Disney since I was 10), I let her take the reigns for dinner and dessert locales.

We ended up at Giordano’s, a great place known for its deep dish pizza. Um, holy yum. I had chicken parm and it was delicious. And just look at this pizza that Lauren and Kristen shared:

Yeah. That happened.

Oh, and we had frozen yogurt for dessert. Clearly. We popped by this place called Menchies – I must admit, its wide array of toppings and “swirl” option make it a serious contender against 16 Handles for top fro-yo spot in my heart. If only it were in NYC…

Dustin and I explored Downtown Disney on Saturday and hit up a movie in the afternoon so I could rest my legs. Since it was a night race, I didn’t want to do too much walking during the day. We decided not to spend the $90+ on theme park tickets because of this and just enjoyed the free marketplace. It was fun checking out all of the shops and I most definitely stopped by Ghirardelli for my free chocolate sample!

We said hi to Pooh, Tigger and Piglet, too. I mean, how could you not? Classics.

Then it was time to get ready! And by get ready, I mean have a pre-race dance party in my hotel room. By myself, since Dustin won’t dance. Lame.

And then we met up with Lauren and Kristen and meandered over to the race start. We had to get to the pre-race area three hours early if we wanted to catch the shuttle bus over, which was a little ridiculous if you ask me. But Disney did a great job of keeping everything organized and everyone entertained. Lots of music, dancing and people in costume. And tons of porta potties for people to use. The lines still ended up being really long, but that’s to be expected with such a huge race. At least the runners were courteous and moved in and out quickly!

Fortunately, we were in the first corral so we didn’t have to wait a long time once everyone was ready to begin. But about a half-hour before the race began, Dustin shot me a text message with seriously disappointing news:

Race directors won’t let me on the course. No spectators allowed, except for at start and finish. If I try to sneak on, I won’t be able to get back to the finish.

Um, what?!

In case you missed it, I didn’t really train all that well for this race. My longest run prior to race day was 7 miles and I was mentally relying on seeing Dustin at key points in the race to keep my head in the game. I didn’t remember this little tid bit of information being advertised anywhere, so when we got the news, I was a little more than upset. I mean, crowd support is a key component to a race!

After a few minutes of pouting, I sucked it up and decided I would just keep running as much as I could and be OK with whatever happened. If I had to walk then I would walk, but no bitching out. Run as much as you can.

Needless to say, I felt awesome throughout the race and my splits have never been so on point. After the first 5K, I made it a goal to stay around a 9:20-9:30 pace for the entire race, which is where I felt uncomfortably comfortable. If I felt really good, I would ramp up the speed at the end, but no pressure. I was not aiming for a PR.

The minimal crowd support was extremely discouraging, in my opinion, and I really had to rely on myself and focus to keep up my pace. My legs felt great, which helped a ton, but there was barely anyone on the course. A few spectators were out (I believe they were volunteers), but most were silently holding signs and not cheering (I must say though, that the Lululemon cheer squad was great and they got a huge smile out of me with their sign that read, “Is that a Gu in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” BEST SIGN EVER). There were Disney characters around every mile, but it just wasn’t enough to get me psyched about being in Disney. It was cool to run through portions of the park after hours, especially through the Festival of Lights, but most of the race was on back roads and highways, making it no different than a typical long run – except that I knew I would get a shiny medal at the end.

Around mile 8, my legs really started to feel it. But when I looked down at my watch and saw my splits were still consistent, my mind was blown. I realized if I kept pushing it, I could PR. I was starting to slow down, so I pulled out a shot blok and my phone – where I saw a bunch of encouraging text messages from my mom, aunt and Dustin. He was keeping tabs on me with runner tracking and calculating my finish time, so with  his encouragement, I decided then that I was going for the PR.

Nailed it! My legs were screaming by the end, and I had to convince myself not to slow down or walk when it wasn’t necessary, but I powered through and PR’d by about 30 seconds, finishing in 2:06.41. Success!

I’ve never been more proud of the consistency in my splits:

Mile 1 – 9:26

Mile 2 – 9:29

Mile 3 – 9:27

Mile 4 – 9:24

Mile 5 – 9:34

Mile 6 – 9:20

Mile 7 – 9:29

Mile 8 – 10:07 (Walked to take in Gu and fumbled with my phone. Eep)

Mile 9 – 10:02

Mile 10 – 9:36

Mile 11 – 10:11 (Now my legs can tell I didn’t run more than 7 miles before this)

Mile 12 – 10:06

Mile 13: 9:40

Mile 13 – 13.1 – 8:36

Lauren and Kristen both KILLED it and finished under two hours! I have some speedy friends and hope to join the sub-2 world soon.

We met up with Dustin, changed and headed over to the Food & Wine Festival over at Epcot. We grabbed some food at Greece, explored the whole festival and closed down the place at 4am. I continued to get 45 minutes of sleep (yes, you read that right) before Dustin and I checked out of our hotel and drove to the airport to catch our flight back home. It’s safe to say I passed out as soon as I was in my seat.

My final thoughts on the race? I wasn’t expecting to PR, but I grabbed one, so I really am impressed and content with my results. I went in with no expectations, which seems to be when I have my best races. I like night races. I walked a little, but I’m fine with it. If I actually trained for this, I think I could’ve gone sub-2. Oh well. Fingers crossed for the next one.

And my thoughts on this race in general: If you’re a big runner and a fan of Disney, I definitely think you should do one of their races. But I don’t understand all of the hype, nor do I get why people spend a ton of money to run in each one. I’m glad I experienced a Disney race, but I won’t be signing up for another one anytime soon.

Have you run a Disney race? Do you think it’s worth the price? Am I missing something? If you ran the Wine and Dine, tell me how you did! 

23 Thankful Things

Thanksgiving is, by far, the best holiday. There’s no stress of presents, family is all around, there’s a ton of food and, in my family, we play a lot of games and watch football. If we’re lucky, runs,walks and naps can be tossed in, too. Perfect day, right?

This is why I don’t understand why it’s kind of the “forgotten holiday.” Why must stores and radio stations skip over it and go right to Christmas? Every time my mom tried to listen to the radio today, Christmas music was playing! This might be fine for some people, but to me, the celebration of Christmas does not begin until the day after Thanksgiving. Not before. Not on it. After. Give the turkey some respect!

Anyway, I have a whole lot to be thankful for this year. And since I just closed out my 22nd year on Sunday, let’s kick off 23 with a bang – here’s 23 things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for my family. Come on, you knew this was going to be number one. Basically, my family rocks. I hope yours is as cool as mine. And now that we’re older, we all get along really well. Even though we’re all living in different cities, I love that we’re still all close enough to reunite for the holidays. We don’t get to hang out together often, but when we do, I find it to be quite epic. Game night is pretty insane.

Insert Scott, Karissa and Stephen here. We weren’t smart enough to take a family picture today.

I’m thankful for my mom’s cooking. Damn, she knows how to make a great Thanksgiving dinner. So full.

I’m thankful for Ryan Gosling. Clearly.

I’m thankful I can run. There isn’t a turkey trot in my hometown, so I made my own and hit the pavement for 4 Garmin-free miles today. I may have forgotten to pack my watch so I technically was forced to go stat-free, but it was glorious. I know a lot of people have had running struggles this year, and I’ve suffered through a few injuries myself, but I’m so thankful I have the ability to lace up my sneakers and sweat out some stress whenever I need it.

I’m thankful for today’s weather. And the weather on my birthday. Both days were pretty phenomenal. Way to go, Mother Nature.

I’m thankful for peanut butter. I don’t know how the world can go on without it.

I’m thankful for my health. Again, I know a lot of people who struggled this year. Fortunately, I had no major setbacks and am in great health. I had a bit of a scare earlier this year, but was lucky that it wasn’t anything serious.

I’m thankful I survived my first year as an adult. I made it a full year (almost a year and a half, actually!) on my own, in my dream city, working at my dream job. Life doesn’t get much better.

Speaking of, I’m thankful for my job. It really is awesome and something I dreamed about doing since I was in sixth grade. I have fantastic co-workers who showered me with love on my birthday, and who are so unbelievably passionate and amazing to work with. I truly am so grateful for every day I get to wake up and go to that office.

I’m thankful for my iPhone. Judge all you want, I love it.

I’m thankful for my bucket listI’ve managed to cross six things off of it in 2012! I’m grateful for each and every one.

I’m thankful for shirts with thumb holes in the sleeves. 

I’m thankful for my roommate. Living with Libby the last two years has been a dream. It’s not very often you find friends that you can actually stand to live with, so I’m lucky she’s one of them. When we part someday, it will definitely be the end of an era.

I’m thankful for FRIENDS. Best TV show ever. And if you say How I Met Your Mother is better, I might hit you. It’s basically the same show, but FRIENDS came first and they did it better. But I still like HIMYM. 

I’m thankful for books. I’ve kept up my New Year’s resolution to read at least one a month and it’s made me so happy this year. I feel so much more balanced about my life if I give myself the time to get lost in someone else’s story.

I’m thankful for Oswego

I’m thankful for bobby pins. I don’t know how I lose so many all the freaking time, but for such a small thing, it does a great job of keeping my hair in check. Whenever I can find one to use, that is.

I’m thankful for New York City. It’s just an amazing city, along with the people who are in it.

I’m thankful for SoulCycle. It totally balances me out from running and there’s nothing like the cardio dance party I get when I’m there. I don’t like to be competitive when I spin, which is why I prefer Soul over Flywheel. At Soul, I’m able to totally let go and just sync up with the beat of the music. It really is a dance party on a bike – the 600-calorie-burn in 45 minutes is just an added bonus.

I’m thankful for Liz, Joey and my soon-to-be baby niece. I may not be blood, but I will be the best pseudo-Aunt ever. Liz and Joey recently let me know that I’m baby girl’s godmother, and I could not feel more honored and loved. I am going to spoil the crap out of that child.

I’m thankful for Twitter. I like it more than Facebook. The people are fun there.

I’m thankful for my friends. Whether they’re on social media or from real life, I love you all. I’ve found some pretty rad people to hang out with me. I don’t know what I did to convince them to let me stick around, but I’ll keep trying to impress you. I can bake! Kind of.

I’m thankful for Dustin. He really, truly is my best friend and I would be lost without him. He listens to my crazy talk, puts up with my mood swings and well, he just gets me. He supports me and encourages me to go after my goals. He’s one of my biggest cheerleaders, and I can always count on seeing him on the sidelines at my half-marathons, most likely at the point when I feel like I’m going to die. He always knows how to make me laugh, even if he was pissing me off two minutes before. And he likes a lot of the same weird stuff I like. And if he doesn’t, he puts up with it. Which is kind of awesome.

Now it’s your turn to get your thankful on: you don’t have to tell me 23 awesome things going on in your life, but it’s cool if you do. I want to read at least one. Everyone has cool stories.

Grateful for Oswego

It’s safe to say that these last two weeks are ones that won’t be easily forgotten. Sandy ripped through NYC and changed many people’s lives, and it’s going to be a long time before we’re back to “normal.” I give major props to Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC companies, though, who have worked tremendously hard to help this grand city bounce back quickly and safely. And as I said in my last post, this community is amazing. I’ve never been more proud to live in the city that never sleeps, and I hope the rest of the country realizes how much we all care about one another.

Since Sandy hit land, I’ve had a lot of time to think. The main emotion coursing through my veins? Gratitude. I am so grateful for so many things. I have a great job, live in a wonderful city, have amazing friends, a kind, loving family, a roof over my head. I could go on and on, but I imagine you don’t want to hear about every tiny thing I’m grateful for. There really are a lot.

One thing I’m really grateful for? My education. I went to college upstate at SUNY Oswego and really bonded with a lot of people there. I know I can say with complete confidence that there’s no way I would be where I am today, doing what I’m doing, if I hadn’t gone to school at the little college on Lake Ontario. It was truly the perfect fit for me and I look back on every memory I made with nothing but pure happiness.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to head back up to Oswego for three days. But not just for any ole’ visit – I was officially invited back by the college as a guest speaker for the creative writing Living Writers Series class. To me, this is EPIC.

I remember when I took that class during my sophomore year of college and fell in love. I was already thoroughly immersed in my college experience and loved all of my classes, but LWS took the cake. I loved meeting people who were successful in my chosen fields, and I loved that their experiences spanned over so many different genres. I remember telling my friend that it would be so cool to come back one day as a guest speaker myself.

Little did I know I’d be asked back a year and a half post-grad! And let me tell you, they welcomed me back with open arms.

The topic for my presentation was about how I went from “Subscriber to Staffer” at FITNESS, so I talked a lot about my experiences in college and how the steps that I took back then really helped me succeed once I graduated and land my dream job. I spoke for about 40 minutes, then opened it up to Q&A for a half hour. Let me tell you, students have a lot of questions!

I couldn’t have been happier. I really had such a great time speaking with the students, answering questions, telling stories and basically just telling them what I did so they can think about stuff to do while they’re still in school. I guess I’m a role model now. I can dig it. I mean, they took me out to dinner. Free food = Sam is there.

I got to reunite with a bunch of friends who are either just finishing up school now, or randomly happened to be in town the same weekend I was, too. It was a big mix of fate with a smidgen of planning, which made for one hell of a reunion weekend.

I got to meet up with a ton of people who I haven’t seen in a very long time, which gives me all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings.

Anyway, I’m just feeling very, very grateful these days. I’ve had such a blessed life and I wanted to gush about my school for a bit. And since this is my little space on the Internet, I can do it 🙂

Oh, and for those of you who followed my Facebook and Twitter feeds, you know I nabbed a PR at the Disney Wine and Dine half-marathon this weekend! I promise to be back with my race recap and thoughts on Disney races in general. Right now, I hear a foam roller desperately calling my name…

Now it’s your turn: tell me one thing you’re grateful for these days!

Surviving Sandy

So, there was this hurricane and its name was Sandy. She was a real bitch these last few days and well, she wreaked havoc all across the Northeast, putting much of the great city I love under water or into darkness.

Whoa

The damage that’s occurred has been devastating and lives were lost, homes were destroyed and many of my friends are without power right now. But the one thing that has been so uplifting in all of this? Our community.

People aren’t kidding when they say New Yorkers are tough. Many are heroes. I mean, when you have nurses evacuating newborn babies out of NYU Langone Medical Center in the middle of the night, in the middle of the hurricane, you have real heroes on your hands. Seriously, these people are rock stars, along with all of those who have been working tirelessly around the clock to help our city bounce back quickly and safely.

New Yorkers don’t mess around.

Photo from NYRR

I’m so proud to call myself a New Yorker.

I’ve heard that you’re not a real New Yorker until you’ve lived here for 10 years. Maybe this is true. For those who believe it, I respect you. But I’m a real New Yorker. I grew up in Central New York, went to school in Oswego and have now lived in New York City for a year and half. I’ve been through countless blizzards, a handful of earthquakes and two hurricanes. Mother Nature likes to mess with us, that’s for sure, but I believe she hasn’t dealt us a losing hand quite yet. Yes, what happened this week has been devastating. But what’s happening as a result is amazing as well.

Another amazing thing? Social media. I’m not sure how people stayed up-to-date without it before. I’ve had the news on around the clock and have been tuning in to Mayor Bloomberg’s reports, but Twitter has been my saving grace. Getting tweets instantaneously from the mayor, MTA, airports and friends has been so resourceful. Not only in finding out what condition our city is in, but to quickly make sure my friends and family are safe, especially when power goes down. Luckily, everyone I know made it through safely without any major damage or losses.

We made it through safely as well. I, fortunately, didn’t experience the brunt of Sandy as I am back upstate. I went home for my best friend’s baby shower, and by the time my bus would have returned, subways were shut down.  I’d either be stuck in Port Authority, or gambling to find an expensive cab back to Queens. My mom asked me to stay, so I did. Thanks for asking, mom 🙂

Dustin and Libby were back in our apartment in Astoria and while the winds were unbelievably strong, there was no flooding and power stayed on the entire time. We were lucky, that’s for sure. And to everyone who sent messages or called, thank you. It’s so heart-warming to be reminded how loved we are.

In the meantime, I’ve seen people posting Facebook statuses about the storm being a joke and others incessantly asking about whether or not the New York City Marathon will still take place. To these people, I say one thing: “Really?”

Joking about the storm = not cool. If anything, count your lucky stars that you weren’t affected. So your town was placed in a state of emergency and nothing major happened? GOOD. Better safe than sorry. Everyone has the right to voice their own opinion, but I find it extremely offensive when jokes about a storm like this are made. Remember, people lost their lives. Homes were destroyed. Last time I checked, those weren’t joking matters.

As for the runners who are furious about not knowing the status of the marathon: calm down. I completely understand wanting to know your travel plans and whether or not you’ll lose money. I also can sympathize – if I found out I wasn’t going to be able to run a race that I had been planning for over the last year, I would be upset. But please, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Yes, hosting the marathon would help the city financially, and if it does happen, it’s going to be one HELL of a celebration of this great city. But if it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world. There are bigger fish to fry and more important matters to pay attention to, like restoring homes.

And if you have time, money and a sympathetic heart, think about volunteering. Here’s a list of some great organizations lending a helping hand that would welcome your assistance with open arms.