2015 was good. There was a lot of self-discovery and there was a lot of figuring out what’s really important in life. I also, for the first time, learned from my mistakes–something I hadn’t always done in the immaturity of my early 20s.

January
I’m not a huge fan of winter. Actually…strike that. I fucking hate winter and the cold. Being from outside of Syracuse, everyone always says to me, “wow, you must be used to the winter!” HA…no. Growing up where it’s cold 8 months out of the year made me despise the winter. I guarantee you that I’ll never EVER complain about summer’s heat and humidity because I’m the queen of bitching during the winter.

Anywho. My point here is that the winters are generally a blur because I want them to end as soon as possible. This particular January was spent getting back into shape, so it was even more of a blur because getting into shape sucks and I tried to block it from my memory.

For the past 3 years, I’ve run a spring marathon–which also means that Januarys have been spent getting back into the swing of marathon training and long runs. Thank goodness for teammates who don’t mind getting up at dawn to run miles in sub-freezing temperatures.

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Gotham City Runners at Rockefeller State Park in Pleasantville, NY

February
Ragnar Keys (running from Miami to the Florida Keys) was on my bucket list of must-do races for a couple years. In the fall of 2014, I was able to purchase an entry from a team who pulled out. Transferring the team name over to Team in Puddin was a breeze, so when I asked the rest of our group if they wanted to go to Miami to race/party, the response was a unanimous yes.

We were literally minutes away from finishing first (clearly still not over it), but had to settle for second place in the coed division, finishing 196 miles in 23:33 (7:12 team average pace).

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Second place coed champions!

March
I was laid off from my job in fashion marketing on March 10th. Department restructuring…or something.  To be honest: it was the best worst day of my entire life. (One of the highlights was exiting the office and hopping in a big black SUV where I was driven to my car, parked 50 minutes away at the train station. It was like a scene out of The Bachelor…minus the champagne, sequins, and excessive tears).

Anywho.

My emotional state was another story. I went through quite a few phases over the first month or so of being laid off. Initially, I felt rejected. Why me? What did I do? What didn’t I do? I’m so embarrassed. Why didn’t someone warn me?

That lasted, like…a day.
Then I FREAKED the eff out.

Omg what am I going to do. Where am I going to work? What kind of job am I going to get? How am I going to pay my mortgage? What if I never find another job again?

Panic mode lasted a week.
Lots of wine…chicken fingers…wine…running…chocolate…xanex…wine…etc.

Then I realized that losing my job was an opportunity, not something that I should dwell on and be sad about. The truth was that I wasn’t happy, and I hadn’t been for a long time. Working behind a desk at a strict 9-5 was really frustrating for me. I had also been commuting 3+ hours a day for about 1-1/2 years…and I was totally burned out. (How I managed to commute, work, see Gabe, and shave 14 minutes off my marathon in 2014, is completely beyond me……….but I digress.)

It’s not that I don’t like working…I do. But I realized that I wanted the freedom to have a flexible schedule. I wanted to work with people. I didn’t want to sit on my ass for 8 (or more) hours every single day. I wanted to do something I was passionate about, and something that excited me. I wanted to have time to run and work out and be HEALTHY, and not feel like the office asshole because I took my lunch to go running.

The change was a good thing for me.

I had been thinking about getting into either physical therapy or strength coaching…I just hadn’t pulled the trigger yet. This lay off was the perfect opportunity to just go for it. If not now…when?

So I reached out to a couple strength coaches and fitness professionals that I was acquainted with. I wanted to know how they got into the field…how their lives were structured…if they were happy…what they did on a day-to-day basis. One friend in particular, Todd Bumgardner, met me for coffee one day in late March. At the time, he was working at Ranfone Training Systems, a gym where I had trained at in the past. He suggested I come to RTS and just check it out. See if I liked what I saw and if I could imagine myself being a strength coach. I told him that while running and healthy living were HUGE passions of mine, I was completely intimidated by the strength training world. He responded with the biggest and best piece of advice I’ve carried around with me since that day: “the thing about intimidation is that you have to shrink it. You just have to start doing stuff that scares you…and sooner or later, it won’t be so intimidating anymore.”

So that’s exactly what I did.

I shadowed at RTS for a week or so in April…then, I started interning there in May…now, as of October, I work there. Crazy how a positive attitude, patience, and persistence pays off, right?  I’m really thankful for the opportunities, patience, and knowledge that the guys there–Mike, Scott, Corey, and Todd–have given me.

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One of these things is not like the others

April
In the beginning of April, I traveled to Washington, DC, with a few friends to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler…which ended up turning into a 9.5(?) miler because of an accident on the course. Bummer. We used it as a pre-Boston progression run, so we started with cool-as-cucumber 7:30s and quickly progressed to 6:30s, where I pretty much bitched the entire way because I was told we wouldn’t be running faster than 7s.

Then, of course…there was Boston. Somehow I managed to get in shape for another 3:08 marathon. It wasn’t pretty and it hurt like HELL, but I did it.

Finally! My pre-injury self was back…………….

May
……….And then I found out I had a stress reaction in my femur. Ugh. Yeah. That sucked. So turns out that the massive amount of quad pain I was in at the end of Boston was a combination of dead marathon legs and a bone that was about to snap. Hey, at least it didn’t break, right??

I was pretty devastated when I found out about this new injury, especially because my first doctor told me not to do any sort of physical activity-including swimming or yoga-for at least 4 weeks. Luckily, I was able to get a second opinion from an orthopedic doctor within a week, and that doctor gave me the go-ahead to get in the pool and yoga. But, honestly, even coming back with non-impact activities was a very gradual progression. I actually had been rowing again (not doctor-approved) and I had to put the kibosh to it because it was bugging my quad.

SO needless to say, even though I was cleared to do yoga and aqua jog, it was still a few weeks before I was cleared to bike…and eventually elliptical.

When I felt like I couldn’t bear to continue moving my legs on those damn crosstraining machines, I would just start repeating goal PRs in my head, and visualizing the finish line at Boston.

 

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I got really into yoga and crushed my fear of going upside down.

Gabe and I also went to our first wedding of 8 in 2015! We celebrated Vicky and Ezra in Boston in early May.

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Wedding 1

June
When I was laid off in March, I made a full-hearted commitment to ENJOY the summer and make the most of it while also doing what I needed to advance my new career. It had been years since I had enjoyed my summer; not to mention I really wanted to spend time with my family and Gabe, both of whom were neglected with my old job, something I regret.

So that’s exactly what I did. Mission: Live Summer/Life To The Absolute Fullest commenced. I started my internship at Ranfone while also spending as much time as humanly possible outdoors.

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Thank god for bicycles and for this amazing person.

Team In Puddin was also doing Ragnar Trail New England in late June. I had signed up to run, but obviously couldn’t with my injury…so I went anyway to support/camp out/drink wine. It was amazing and both our women’s and mens’ teams walked (ran?) away with first and second place in their divisions respectively.IMG_6775IMG_6761

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July
Mission: Live Summer/Life To The Absolute Fullest was working. I was really really happy and finally had time for the important things in life. I learned that I naturally needed 9 hours of sleep (really, body??) and I was really enjoying my internship at Ranfone.

And after about 9 weeks of no running, I FINALLY started to build my running back up again. Not fun. Miserable, really. But, as with most things in life, in order to improve in something, you just have to do the hard shit that most people don’t want to do. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

So I put my head down, sucked it up, and worked through the out-of-shapeness. I kept telling myself that sooner or later, the hard work would pay off.

There were tears. My femur bone hurt and I was convinced I was hurt again. I had so many runs where I really couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I had no other choice but to keep working and keep moving forward. I knew, before my injury, that I could keep getting faster–I could be GREAT!–and run times that were once unimaginable. So I knew, post-injury, that that speed–that greatness–had to still be in there somewhere. I just had to stay positive. Somehow…

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First tempo back. Literally dry heaved through the last mile.

August
I wouldn’t say I felt back in shape in August…but I definitely felt like I was going in the right direction. I ran my first race “back,” a 10k…and I PRed!
IMG_8383.jpgLots of other stuff happened in August too! I spent a week working the girls’ HS cross country camp at Princeton University, which was so great and fun.

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Gabe and I also continued on our wedding tour de 2015. We visited Stillwater, MN, to celebrate Sean and Lara…IMG_7517.jpg

Then I found my first grey hair…………………………

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Wait. Is it weird/normal that I took a photo?

And, of course, I continued Mission: Live Summer/Life To The Absolute Fullest.

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So much beach, so little summer

We also had wedding celebration/dinner thing #3, but I have no photos to document it. 🙁

September
Labor Day is such a bittersweet holiday for me: I hate that it means summer is over…but I LOVE the New Haven 5k/20k, which happens on Labor Day itself. The race is also the USATF 20k Road Championship race, and it’s just such a fun, hometown event! …not to mention it’s really cool seeing elite runners all over town. I had the pleasure of picking Molly Huddle up from the train station and I was totally star-struck and tried my best to play it cool.

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I gave Molly a Speed Package…something that has turned into a pre-race tradition among my close running friends!

This was also the second year that I hosted a pasta party at my house the night before the 20k. I invited teammates from my CT Running team, SoundRUNNER Racing, as well as teammates from the Oiselle flock.IMG_8435.jpg

So, then…the race itself. Ugh. I went into the 20k race with high expectations. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I was delusional, especially considering 12.4 miles was the longest I had run since April. The splits went something like this:
6:50, 6:54, 6:40 (I’m doing it! yay running!)
6:54, 6:50, 6:58 (wait…I’m really hot and this is hard.)
6:52, 7:10, 7:25 (nope. nope. nope. nope.)
7:40, 7:24, 7:31 (just don’t walk. juuuuust don’t walk.)
the last .49 in 6:57 (when the eff is this race over????)
So I averaged 7:05. On paper, it doesn’t look awful…but it felt like a legitimate death march after the halfway point. It was a very humbling experience, and a huge slap to the face. I realized I had a LOT (like a lot) of work to do.

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Hanging onto this redhead for dear life. Also, the smile isn’t real, I promise. I was in a world of hurt.

The positives of the month?? A wedding in New Jersey.

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4 of 8

AND, a breakthrough workout at the end of the month: running 10 controlled and calm miles through some rolling hills. YES. the patience and hard work was starting to pay off.
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October
I had signed up for the half at the Hartford Marathon on October 10th as a tester to see where my fitness was. I also just really wanted to run the race since I heard the course was great (rolling hills) and I had been out of town for it the past couple of years. I went into the race just hoping to break 90, but also really nervous because of how crappy I had just run at the 20k, less than a month prior.

Well. The race was great. I started out controlled and kept building momentum, with my last few miles being in the 6:20s. I crossed that finish line with the biggest smile on my face and FINALLY feeling like I was just about back to my pre-injury self.

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Probably my favorite finish line photo ever.

Gabe and I also attended our 5th wedding of the year (actually…this was the night of Hartford! :D)
IMG_9251.jpgI also kissed goodbye to my Garmin 210 🙁 ……
IMG_9458.jpg…..but replaced it with a new one and continued having breakthrough workouts, running paces that were even faster than the pre-injury days! 🙂
IMG_9532.jpgNovember
Probably my favorite month of 2015. During Mission: Live Summer/Life To The Absolute Fullest, I booked a trip to Denver, Colorado, to see my best friend from high school, followed by a trip to San Francisco and Healdsburg/Sacramento for a cousin’s wedding.

Highlights of Colorado included a tour of the Coors Brewery, dressing up as senior citizens for Halloween in downtown Denver, hiking up The Incline in Manitou Springs, seeing the US Air Force Academy, hiking a glacier near Idaho Springs, the Red Rocks Amphitheater, drinking lots of beer, altitude sickness, using a lot of chapstick, and lots and lots of running (including-my fav-Magnolia Road).

When I booked the trip, my coach had said something to me about how difficult training would be while traveling…and I was determined to prove to him that I could do it all–travel, train hard, and prep for a race. I had some REALLY great workouts while I was away (and only 1 bombed workout), so my confidence was pretty high for a strong half later in the month at Philly.

After a week in CO, I flew to San Francisco to spend an afternoon with ROBIN(!!) and then met up with Gabe to continue on our journey to wine country and wedding number 6.

Then, the week after California, Gabe and I scooted to upstate NY (my hometown of Skaneateles) for the 7th wedding of the year!

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Pretty much wedding professionals at this point

THEN, THE NEXT WEEKEND WAS PHILLY! My chance to prove that all my hard work really paid off. To prove that the spring stress reaction was just a small blip in the radar…that I could actually break 1:28 in a half marathon…that I could retake the Philly Half course that KILLED me in 2013, and show it who’s boss…that I was really and truly back to where I was before so many things started crumbling a couple summers ago.

Well. I still really REALLY hate the half course in Philly (quite possibly the worst-placed hills in a half marathon EVER)…but I ran a 1:27 and was so so happy. 🙂

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So tired…so cold…but so happy

After the half, I took Monday through Wednesday off from running..then jumped in my local Turkey Trot to see how it’d go. I think the course is just a teeeeeny bit short, but I managed a 13-second PR with a 19:28!

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Corner-rounding skillz

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Who am I kidding? I pretty much only ran it for the turkey trophy

December
After an extremely eventful November, I was happy to CHILL OUT during December. Running took a back seat as I dealt with a little shin splint issue. Fortunately, I’ve learned a LOT since my last shin issue, so I nipped this one in the butt with rest and ART before it could get serious. I was thankful to feel well enough to run outside in a sports bra and shorts on Christmas Eve…:)
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Then, on New Year’s Eve, Gabe and I attended our 8th and final wedding of the year!

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So here’s to even more positivity, good health, career growth, and continued happiness in 2016!!!!!