May 27, 2014

#34 - A Marathon?!

Dear Dubrovnik,

I did it! I completed the Burlington City Marathon! A goal I set seven months ago is finally complete! (I can happily check off another amazing experience from my bucket list.) *sighs of relief!*

For those of you who followed my progress leading up to the marathon you might be thinking - hey - that was the other day! This is true - I'm a tad late. May 25th marked the date of the Burlington City Marathon, but it also marked the one year anniversary of our loss of a great family member -- Moxie. In addition, I am currently recouping back in Maine, and our lack of electricity and indoor plumbing has make this post difficult to upload! ;) I also got a mega sun burn during the marathon, and all the soreness I could never quite imagine handling. Also, on a sad note, a friend who I'd fallen out of contact with from my middle-school years lost his life Sunday night in a tragic car accident. It's hard to understand why loved ones get taken from us, and even harder when it seems they've only just started to experience life. 

So, in celebration, or remembrance of this Memorial day, we got a lovely flowering plant for Moxie's grave, and plan to plant some catnip for Chester soon. As for me, I've been walking, or should I say dragging myself around wondering if I'll ever be able to have control of my noodle legs again. I am 100% the most sore I've ever been, and I even put in a flower garden today! I will however say that if I tried squatting one more time I would have passed out on the vets lawn, and I wouldn't have been found for a while. (Only I can laugh at this ;) ) But I don't regret a thing - and as my mom said/sang earlier this evening - "Everybody hurts sometime"  to which I would reply "Really? Did everybody just run a marathon?" and she'd reply "I watched the marathon - my eyes got pretty tired." haha 

But on to the most popular question asked of me: Why a marathon?

My answer? 

Why not. I had always admired the physical and mental strength that marathon runners seemed to possess, and I figured if I could be getting so much out of my traveling abroad experience, why not set myself up to be challenged upon arriving at home. 

The sixteen week program which I followed (twenty weeks including the pre-training for those who are couch to run -- or beach to run in my case,) was an essential part of my success. In addition, coming up with motivating playlists and a regular training routine really helped to keep me on track and psyched to run, even when the weather required me to wear all the clothes require for skiing. My friends and family (after the initial period of "okay you can stop pretending that this is real") became really great supporters asking how things were going, if I was feeling good, staying positive, even changing the bar-hoping nights to accommodate my desire to not drink the night before doing my long runs on the weekend - even though many of them still don't quite understand how the two relate. ;) 

Training by myself was hard at times. When the rain, or snow or sleet was heavy, or the wind was blowing in the opposite direction I desired it to, or the ice was as slick as a skating rink it was dis-heartening. And to run with tired legs, and sore lungs was discouraging. But to arrive to at my dorm or work or class each day and have people ask how it went, expecting the typical "you're crazy" but getting "Wow, that's really impressive! You wouldn't catch me running out in that!" That kind of support really makes a goal become reality. 

I never had a hint of doubt about the marathon from the time I hit enter and sent in my confirmation. In addition, when my two cousins agreed to train and run (from our own separate locations) and join together on marathon day, I knew they too would make it. Even if someone was getting a piggy-back ride, and it was 10PM we would all make it across that finish line. how do I know this you may ask?
Because we all have difficult hurdles in life and in the words of a great TEDx shared by a good friend "Here’s the thing: Hard is not relative. Hard is hard. There is no ‘harder.’ There is just ‘hard.’ We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better about ourselves and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hardship.

So going into this, I knew that all 8,000+ runners had their reasons for running. Some, to prove to themselves that they could do the training, and the diligence, others to give two middle fingers way up to cancer and all the lives it tears down, others still to show how they didn't let cancer or a major life setback hold them down for long. People without legs completed the marathon. A woman on crutches completed the marathon. A man dressed as a hotdog with the works completed the marathon. Why did all those others choose to do it? How should I know. And why does it matter that I know. It's not really for me to know. 

I do however know that upon completing this marathon, I have grown into a wonderfully strong human being. I have more positive thoughts surrounding myself and my accomplishments, and try to approach new situations and people with a non-judgmental stance. I also do my best to keep out the negative influences and people who would normally drag me down with them. I even find myself taking their words and re-working them into something with a better outcome. I would like to think that this feeling of hope I found is also discovered by my fellow runners. 

But even more than that, the feeling that 8,000+ runners, and their thousands and thousands of family members and friends could be there to support their goals shows a lot. It shows that we still believe in something even if others find us crazy or pointless. And it shows that just about ever person out there running has a small posse of people who believe in their goals with them no matter how crazy or impossible they may seem. And that is a beautiful thing.

A great photo from my cousins en route to VT!
Me seeing that there was a day to go! Freaky!!! 
One amazing breakfast the day prior to the race!
Some encouragement

Only people in ben and Jerry's?
ET is back with the others! 
Shelburne Farms is quite amazing!

Cute fam
My silly cousins

Model time

All four runners with Gram! 
The lovely ladies
The inn

The bleach fiasco
Loungin at Lakeview
The last supper.

What a crowd
First hand cyclist!
First amazing marathoners! 

My wonderful kiddos who came to cheer me on! <3 
Of course post race photos

Gram and I after the race - who was MORE tired? 
Beautiful NH on the way home. Tucks still had snow!
UH yeah.

January 25, 2014

#33 - Bucket list Bobsledding!

Dear Dubrovnik,

Today I tackled another item on my bucket list! At 7:00AM I was up and getting prepped for a day at Lake Placid! We had about a two hour ride to New York, and we watched The Heat on the way, which is a pretty vulgar but hilarious movie about two female police officers busting thugs. And before we knew it we had arrived, and within minutes we were in our groups of two or three crossing the bridge to board out black Suburbans to get a lift to the top of the course. Within five minutes, we had our helmets and were awaiting our turn down the track! Bobsledding has always been a sport that seemed like tubing on steroids, and it certainly was. 

Having tried luge sliding when I was younger, and after watching Cool Runnings as a wee child I always wanted to try bobsledding, and even attempted to in Sarajevo, Bosnia but their winter was not underway enough to even think of attempting that. So naturally when I saw the poster advertising for bobsledding, I was so excited! Not to mention that it was the Olympic racetrack which can reach speeds of eighty mph! Three of us along with two guides hopped in and away we raced! It was like being on a roller coaster but only inches off the ground with the walls surrounding you - sometimes we were on the walls with the ground below! We ran the course in 37.2 seconds, and we all agreed that we could have done that for literally hours. It was the biggest adrenaline rush EVER! 

Post run! Note our sled number!! Meant to be.

After than we got some great photos at the podiums, and memorabilia and then headed off to Lake Placid Village. I wish so greatly that I could show you the towering spectacle that is the ski jumps - but we didn't stop there, and the windows of our bus were a bit to fogged to get a good view. Those were intimidating. Like skyscrapers without walls, and a slide off from the front, leading to a jump, and then a very small arena to stop.

Our bus dropped us off at the Lake Placid Ice Arenas, aka where the "Miracle on Ice" happened! And wow - it smelled like three hundred high school/ college/ adult hockey players - as it very well should. The arena was beautiful and it was easy to see how the space would be so full of energy excitement!

 We walked through the rest of the arenas, and went off to go tobogganing which was quite ghetto by comparison to the bobsledding - (which makes sense as the price for bobsledding not through our school would have be $85 where tobogganing was $4.20 with our group discount.)

The reason for me calling this activity sketchy is that the track to hold the sleds is only marginally larger than the sleds so the jostle violently back and forth down the ramp where you then eject onto the lake to spin around helplessly! - It was so great!

Now with the following photos you can see some of my group members and the pure horror in their expressions, and as if to mock, a girl no older than seven dressed in a pic one piece snowsuit was lapping people in runs and went down all on her own - stone cold expression. 

Well, I'm rather impressed with myself for getting those up on the same day I did them! And in other news, the dorm next door had a pipe-burst situation which my residents and I watch creepily from our dorm with the lights off. Luckily, the pipes that broke were in the basement, which is a drive in, one floor parking garage.

Until next time, I was happy to share this bucket list moment with you all! I didn't think it would ever happen, and like magic - it did!