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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. 

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The Day I Walked A Marathon: Relay for Life 2012

Last weekend was Relay for Life – I’ve participated in six Relays now, but this one just felt like it was going to be special. It was the first time I was spending the entire Relay with my mom, and it was the first time I’ve done a Relay that’s lasted 24 hours (college Relays are 12 hours).

I signed up while visiting home for Easter weekend, then worked my booty off fundraising online. My goal was to raise $500, but I honestly didn’t think I would raise that much in the shortened time span. With my work schedule, I knew I wouldn’t have time to plan an event.

But in the end, all of my friends, family members and co-workers really stepped it up and contributed to such an amazing cause that I hold near and dear to my heart. In the last day before Relay, I raised over $200! Not only did I reach my goal, but I went $75 over it 🙂

So I headed upstate Friday night and crashed at my parent’s house. Before I knew it, the high-pitched screeching noise of my alarm sounded and it was time to Relay!

But wait!

I had to get a hair cut first 😉

OK, so I got it cut after I helped set up the tent, but still. I hadn’t had one since January, so I think it was time to treat my tresses to some love. And I only paid $20 for it, versus the $80 I dropped when it was chopped in NYC. Quality haircut for an unbeatable price, if you ask me!

But back to Relay.

There were a ton of activities throughout the day and the music was pumping, but my legs felt the urge to walk. So I did lap after lap, and before I knew it, I was at 10 miles. Time flies when your family is walking with you, that’s for sure. We had so much to catch up on! My step-brother, Stephen, popped up for a few hours and walked five miles with me and I learned more about him during those laps than I ever would have if we were just sitting at home on the couch. Walkin’ leads to talkin’, I swear.

My high school buddy, Tim, stopped by for some late-night laps, too. I’m so grateful he did because otherwise there’s no way I would’ve stayed up so late. By the time he showed up at 11pm, I made it a personal goal of mine to walk the marathon distance. I didn’t care how long it took, I just wanted to cover the miles. Timmy definitely helped with that as we walked under the stars and chatted the night away. He stayed for six miles, so by the time he left I was at 16!

I walked a bit more by myself, reflecting on everywhere my life has taken me in the last year. It was nice to just look up at the stars and hear nothing but people walking and quietly chatting. Living in New York City is amazing, but escaping to the countryside is equally fantastic.

Soon it was 3:00am and in need of a cat nap. So I climbed into the tent I was sharing with my mom and step-dad, snuggled into my sleeping bag and slept for 2.5 hours. ‘Twas fabulous.

Waking up at 5:30am was easy, which always seems to happen when I’m camping – it’s just easier to wake up with the sun. So I crawled out of the tent, walked a few laps to wake up, and decided to run some miles to put me closer to my goal.

My step-dad clearly knows how to catch me with beautiful form.

I covered five miles, chatting with another Relayer who was putting in some early morning time on her feet. This was her first Relay and we chatted about everything surrounding the event, running and life here versus life in NYC. Great way to pass the time! But soon my tummy was rumbling, so I dropped her off at her campsite, finished another lap and stopped for an egg sandwich another team was cooking. Yum.

The rest of the event wrapped itself up rather quickly. I finished my miles with about an hour to spare! By then, my legs were pretty dang tired and i just wanted to sleep. But we stayed through the awards to find out how much money was raised.

One thing I never knew that I found rather interesting: Herkimer County, which is where this Relay was, is the fifth poorest county in New York State. Fifth. I had no idea. Yet everyone came together, worked hard and raised an impressive amount of money because it’s what matters to them. Blows me away.

Oh, you wanna know how much we raised? Last year, $75,000 was raised. In 2012, we went over…

$78,671!!!

We far exceeded our goals and did a great job fundraising. My mom’s team, the LFH Leap Frogs, made the Gold Level and raised over $6,000! We beat every goal we had set for ourselves and couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We’re already chatting about room for improvement though and have our sights set on the platinum level next year!

I had such a fantastic weekend, and this was a great bonding experience between my family and I. I loved spending Father’s Day with Ed, working together for a cause that means so much to us. And I loved chatting with my mom about everything going on in our lives now, while we fight something that tried to take her away from us. I’m so grateful for every single day I have with my family and this was another Relay that I’ll always remember ❤

I also want to shout a huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated during my fundraising period. Your generosity means so, so much to me and I could not be more blessed. Family, friends, fellow bloggers and co-workers all contributed and I’m so grateful for all of the amazing people in my life. Sending thousands of hugs and kisses your way! xxoo

What about you? Have you participated in a Relay this year? Some of you have reached out saying you were doing one after reading my past Relay posts, so if you’re a blogger, please send me links!

Foodie Fun

Seems like I’ve been talking about food a lot lately, huh? I can’t help it when I’ve been noshing on some delicious treats and just want to share! So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to the last few days…

Thursday night I went to a fantastic fundraising event to support Ali as she’s raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America while training for her very first marathon.

Ali had a ton of stuff going on that night, selling awesome T-shirts (that I bought), raffles (bought again), trivia (that I played) and free food and wine.

Free food and wine? I’m there.

The whole event was great. I love the T-shirt and she had pretty sweet prizes being raffled off. Although I didn’t win anything (eh hem, Ali… 😉 ), it was fun to be surrounded by so many fellow runners and bloggers.

I also realized that I am not nearly as good at ’90s trivia as I thought. I only knew the answers to most of the Boy Meets World questions. Apparently she asked FRIENDS questions, which you all KNOW I would have dominated, but I had scooted out before that round of trivia popped up. Drat.

Ali also just found out that 16 Handles caters events, so she’ll likely be having another fundraising event with her favorite fro-yo company in attendance. So if you’re in NYC and don’t want to miss out, stay tuned! And if you’re not in NYC but want to see what Ali’s fundraising efforts are all about, check out her website. If you feel inclined to donate to her awesome cause, you may do so here.

I popped over to 16 Handles afterward with my roommate (how could we not when we were so close!?) and then hopped on a subway home. When I arrived, a fantastic package was waiting for me.

I love Amazon! I ordered the goodies inside on Tuesday and they were here by Thursday. Love fast service. But I love what was inside the package even more.

My second book for my personal training certification! That’s right people, I now have two out of the three study materials and I have plans to purchase the final one with my next paycheck. I’d say I’m doing a good job keeping up with this August goal, don’t ya think?

But I can’t let you think I purchased this book myself because I definitely didn’t. A huge shout-out and thank you to one of my creative writing professors at Oswego, Donna Steiner, who sent me a gift card to Amazon to buy the book! How sweet is she?! She sent me a message on Facebook after reading about my August goals and said she wanted to invest in my future. I almost cried.

This is why I love Oswego. The people there are amazing. Even though I’ve already graduated from college, my professors still keep an interest in me, stay in touch and offer to help me succeed in any way they can. You don’t get that everywhere and I couldn’t be more grateful for having these wonderful people in my life. Thank you again, Donna!

Friday was a calm night, but I did get to go running in new running clothes, courtesy of a fitness fashion sale at work. Love getting a new running tank, shorts and sneaks all for less than $10.

Is it weird that I don’t get nearly as excited for regular fashion sales as I do fitness fashion sales?

By the way, I didn’t realize it until after I went running, but I feel like I’m ready to go to cheerleading practice again in this outfit. For some reason, this screams cheerleader to me and it’s something I totally would’ve gone to practice in back in the day. But alas, those are running sneakers, not cheer shoes, my friends. Don’t be fooled.

I also had some delicious eats on Friday, starting with breakfast. It started off normal with a bowl of oatmeal and blueberries, but then I eyed Libby’s batch of peanut butter cookies that she made based on a recipe from Julie. I quickly snatched one up and breakfast went from great to oh-my-word delicious.

I love peanut butter in the morning.

I didn’t know what to make for lunch, so I just grabbed random things from my fridge and threw them together, hoping they would taste good together. I ended up with a salad consisting of:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Chickpeas
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing

Yum! I was nervous about the chickpeas and blueberries together, but it worked well. It was a sweet-tasting salad, but I think that’s mostly because of the dressing. I would swap that for something else next time, but this is the only dressing I had on hand. I’ll count this lunch as a winner!

I’ll also declare my nighttime dessert a winner…BlueBunny’s White Chocolate Raspberry Frozen Yogurt alongside another peanut butter cookie.

Saturday involved a lot of foodie fun! Libby and I went to the farmer’s market and fell in love all over again. While Libby was figuring out which crazy concoction she wants to cook  up next, I stared at the pretty boxes that held jam. Mmmm, jam.

And contemplated which bottle of wine to purchase.

But I did actually buy some other good stuff. Along with a bottle of delicious wine from the Finger Lakes (for only $8, thankyouverymuch), I got two ears of corn, four boxes of blackberries (smoothie time!) and a jar of black raspberry jam. There were plenty of other things I wanted to buy, but I needed to stick to my weekly budget. I’ll be headed back down soon to pick up more goodies though, that’s for sure.

Then Libby and I went to Lululemon for new sports bras and Jack Rabbit to have our running gaits looked at. Turns out my new kicks are perfect for my feet, and Libby knows exactly which pair she’s picking up next.

Quite a productive few days, if I do say so myself. I went on a three-mile run in the rain this morning, which made me miss soccer like crazy. All of my best games were played in the rain, and I was scouted by a college while playing a phenomenal game in the rain. But alas, I’m not playing anytime soon 😦 Instead, I’m cuddling up with my Kindle and reading The Help. Not too bad, if you ask me.

What fun foodie quests have you been on lately? Any new recipes? And have you read The Help – did you like it? Libby put me on a deadline to finish it so we can go see the movie!

Relay for Life Saves Lives

Although race season is moving into full swing, it’s not the only event gaining a lot of momentum.

And no, I’m not talking about baseball, either.

It's Relay season!

Relay for Life is taking over college campuses and towns are gearing up for their Relays in the summer. This spring, colleges across the country are raising money for the American Cancer Society to fight for a world with more birthdays.

I’ve participated in Relay for Life every year since I was a freshman and my final one as a college student took place two weeks ago. I know I’m a little slow on the update (race training got in the way!), but I still think it’s an extremely important cause that deserves as much recognition as it can get.

Freshman Year: Hakuna Matata!

Sophomore Year: Won't Back Down!

Junior Year: (Dirty) Dancing For A Cure!

Never heard of Relay? It’s an overnight fundraising event that usually lasts for 12 hours. Students (or community members) form teams and raise as much money as they can before the event.

I met my goal!

Once you’re at the event, your team members take turns walking around a track for the entire twelve hours, which symbolizes the journey that a cancer patient endures. Teams also set up fundraisers at the event and participants often enjoy snacks, games, competitions and more to stay upbeat and entertained throughout the night while raising as much money as possible.

Every Relay usually follows a theme of some sort as well. Our theme this year: sports! Why? Well, this year’s Relay was extremely important to our Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) committee because our founder, Ginny St. Onge, suffered a terrible loss. Her mother passed away this year after an extremely long battle with breast cancer. Nancy St. Onge inspired so many of us and she was always incredibly positive in her outlook toward life, so we knew this year’s Relay was going to be in her memory and honor.

Ginny with her mom.

Memorial table at Relay.

We asked Ginny what Nancy would’ve wanted the theme to be and she chose sports because Nancy loved them. My team was the CAC team, so we made sure our team name went along with Nancy’s favorite sport: football! Ladies and gentleman, meet team Catching A Cure!

Relay roomies!

Dustin, Ray and Kyle were also on our team, but for some reason we forgot to take a banner picture this year. Oops..

Either way, the night was a great success as we had over 400 students come out for the night and fight cancer one step at a time.

CAC team getting a lil' goofy.

We weren’t afraid to bust out some dance moves, either.

Imitating Kurt's "Ring On It" skillz.

The community also gets involved as many businesses donate gift cards, food and drinks to fuel fundraising efforts and keep us energized throughout the night. Guess who snagged the third highest fundraiser award? This girl!

When we began Relay at 6p.m. on Saturday, March 26, we had raised just over $21K. By the time 6a.m. rolled around, we had raised $27,148.65 for the American Cancer Society — about $6,000 in one night! We accept donations up until August too, so feel free to keep sharing the love!

Money raised!

Why do I Relay? For many reasons, but the most personal one is because my mom was diagnosed with muscle invasive bladder cancer during my first semester away at college. It was a terrifying experience; one I don’t wish on any other family or loved one. My mom is an extremely strong woman though, and after a long, grueling journey, my mom beat her cancer. She has been cancer-free for two years now and I pray that it stays that way.

At Relay in 2010. Mom was the survivor speaker!

But so many people in my life have been affected by cancer. Other family members of mine have been diagnosed and my best friend’s dad fought lymphoma when we were younger. I Relay simply because without events like this, my mother and best friend’s dad may not have had the resources they needed to fight cancer and stay in my life. I Relay because I can only hope that one day people won’t have to hear the words, “you have cancer.”

So have you participated in a Relay for Life yet? It’s not too late! Sign up for one in your community, or donate to someone who is participating. Every donation helps, no matter how big or small. I raised over $500 and all of my donations came in increments of $10, $20, $25 and $50. Little pieces add up to a big picture!

I want to send a big thank you to everyone who donated to my fundraising page. It really means the absolute world to me and I can’t ever thank you enough for being so generous! I love you all!