Friday, October 24, 2014

on n'es vit d'une fois (YOLO)

I went to Paris with two of my oldest friends (who are also two of my favorite people). 

Other than getting a nasty cold and losing my voice somewhere between Iceland and Boston and being asked by customs if I'd been to Africa, it was pretty much the best week ever.

We ate all the things. 

And a LOT of baked goods (mostly in the form of macarons and meringues).

We also drank all the things. 

Between the eating and the drinking we walked approximately a million miles around Paris, Champagne and Loire Valley. We definitely packed in everything humanly possible into a short amount of time. I'd say it was a successful vacation, one of the best! Of course I took many, many (too many) touristy shots.

best picture ever taken? abso-freakin-lutely.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

race recap: title 9 sprint triathlon (hint: i didn't drown)

So, I guess I should probably write about that triathlon that I did a month ago.. right? Here you go --

Months and months ago, I decided that I was bored of long distance running. Two straight summers of marathon training was tough. It's hard to do all of the fun outdoorsy things such as cycling and climbing when you're upping your mileage every week. So I had the brilliant idea of signing up for a sprint triathlon. I kept thinking "man, I have so much time to train for this! It'll be great!" And then all of a sudden it was seven weeks before race day and I had done nothing in the way of training.

Luckily, I have Julia, my amazingly talented athlete friend who came up with a really manageable training program for me. Obviously I didn't need much help or training with the run portion. I'm comfortable enough on the bike, but definitely needed some practice. And without a doubt, I needed the most help with swimming. I won't go into the nitty gritty of the training program, but the first four weeks consisted of 3 runs, 2 rides, and 1 swim workout. I also did short runs after one of my bike rides. As I got closer to race day it skewed more towards swimming and brick workouts.

As race day approached, I was feeling more comfortable on the bike, and definitely more at ease in the pool. Unfortunately, I was dealing with some niggling shoulder and back pain. I'm not sure where it came from, but it got pretty bad -- to the point where I went to the doctor and got an x-ray (and almost an MRI). Swimming felt okay, biking didn't feel great and running felt awful. After chatting with some people and doing a little research, I figured out that it seemed to be coming from my levator scapula area.  Stupid, stupid scapula. Anyway, I pretty much decided that I was going to do the race regardless of the shoulder pain.

I woke up on race day feeling pretty good - shoulder pain was minimal and I was excited and beyond nervous! Having run so many races, I am used to bringing very little with me. Triathlons require so. much. stuff. J2 helped me pack up the car (which was packed to the brim) and we made our way to Hopkinton. Let me tell you, having a fantastic sherpa REALLY comes in handy on race day:

Swim: .25 mile in 14:45 (3:21/100 yards) 
I set up my bike and made the last minute call to go without a wet suit. The water was really warm and, never having practiced with one before, I thought that I'd have a smoother transition without it. I left my little cheering crew (J2, France, and Julia) as I made my way into the water to start my wave. Being my first race, I opted for the newbie wave - a decision that I regretted as soon as the gun went off. I am by no means the strongest swimmer, but getting stuck behind and around people who are doing the backstroke or doggy paddle for a quarter of a mile was frustrating at times. I knew that the swim would be tough for me, and I was right. Every time I looked up, I felt as though I hadn't made any progress towards the big buoy (and the turn). At one point, I did get a little panicky because I was worried I'd get too tired before I even finished. After a quick internal pep talk, I calmed down and before I knew it, I was out of the water!

T1: 3:37
T1 was really slow -- which isn't all that surprising since I had to get my wet feet into socks and sneakers. I was also a little shaky from nerves and I needed some time to calm myself down. 

Bike: 10 miles in 43:02 (13.9 mph) 
It took me a little while to settle in on the bike. That niggling pain in my shoulder appeared somewhere in the middle of transition. I said a little prayer that it wouldn't hurt too badly for the entire 10 miles. Luckily, it's a pretty short ride! The bike course felt really hilly to me. Again, being in the newbie wave was a bit of a detriment for me. I spent a lot of the course trying to get around people who did things such as stop in the middle of the road, get off their bike, and walk it up the hill. F'real? Anyway, if/when I do another tri, I would definitely enter in my age group. Lesson learned! All in all, I was a little disappointed with my time in this leg -- I felt as though I could have sped it up juuust a bit, but I wasn't quite sure of the course, or what I was capable of, to be honest.

Coming into transition was great because I got to see my little cheering squad, and it gave me a boost of energy for the third leg.

T2: 1:54
Other than someone putting their bike on top of my belongings, this was a pretty uneventful transition. I don't clip in, so I didn't have to deal with a footwear change. Before I knew it, I was heading out onto the run -- my favorite part!

Run: 3.1 miles in 30:45 (9:56/mile)
It seems silly - but I was worried about running without music. Unless I'm running with friends, I am always listening to some tunes or a podcast. I can honestly say that I didn't think about it at all. My legs felt a little tired, but that's something I'm very used to (marathon training, anyone?). I had decided that I didn't need to push the pace, and that I wouldn't even look at my watch until I crossed the finish line. I don't remember too much about the run leg specifically, except that I was really enjoying myself  (who would've guessed?). I crossed the finish line as my cheering squad yelled my name and had a huge smile on my face.

Final Time: 1:34:02 

So - that's it! I completed a triathlon, something I never thought would have been in the cards for me. And more than that, I think I'd even do another! The sprint distance was fun, but shockingly enough, I think I'd like to try my hand at the olympic distance. I'm as surprised to type that as you probably are to read it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

the cohabitation diaries

I moved just about a month ago. It was all made possible by the friends who came over to help me pack, and to many, maaany bottles of wine, Did you know that I do my best packing when I've had a glass or two (or three?) of vino? Well, now you know. I was very systematic in the organizing and packing -- in the beginning. By the end I was throwing things into random bags and boxes, and pitching what didn't fit, or what I didn't feel like packing. That's how I ended up with a box whose contents included: my electric toothbrush, a single shoe, and some silverware, At the end of the day, it worked out pretty well. I still have approximately 257% more belongings than one person actually needs, so I'm definitely not suffering from lack of stuff.

You know what's amazing about moving? HIRING MOVERS. Seriously, I will never, ever move myself again. It took three men approximately an hour to load up all of my worldly possessions, and an hour to unload them at the new place. Two hours. THAT'S IT. All I did was direct them to where each box should go. It was glorious, I tell you. The only thing that broke was a tiny candle holder that I had purchased from Ikea. It was a moving day miracle. 

I wish I could tell you that I'm all unpacked except... I'm not. I'm mostly unpacked - and every day I try to find a "forever home" (as I call it) for a few random items. Additionally, j2 and I have been playing the Craigslist game -- which is not actually a game so much as an attempt to sell your stuff for a few bucks without getting murdered in your own home by strangers. We've gotten rid of everything we wanted to with the exception of a box spring (which is currently propped in our bedroom, ugh), a futon (in the dining room), an ottoman and an end table. We DIY'd some shelves using cinder blocks and wood so now I'm not afraid to store my belongings in the basement, which is always a good thing. We even hung some pictures on the wall! Sometimes I get anxious that it's not all done, but I know that there's only so much you can do when both people are working full time jobs. We've made a lot of progress, and I can finally say that it feels like home.

So far, so good. I asked j2 the other day how he liked living with me and he said it was "okay" (I'm pretty sure he was kidding). Though I think it's been upgraded to "great" after the chili that I made on Saturday evening. In all seriousness, it is TOUGH getting used to living with another person. It's the first time that either of us is living with a significant other and it's totally different than a regular roommate situation. I'm so amused at how each of us chooses to relax - j2 is an introvert - after a long day he needs some serious downtime, mostly playing video games. Me? I am a classic extrovert. I come home from an exhausting day of work and I don't. stop. moving. Or talking. I'm pretty much always doing something, except when I get sucked into an episode of Supernatural or West Wing (my two current obsessions). In general, I'm not very good at staying still -- though once all of the furniture is arranged, and the picture are on the wall, I promise to allow myself to take a deep breath and to just enjoy it all.

I'm hoping to have more pictures to share as we put the finishing touches on the rest of the condo. Stay tuned! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

never forget

I originally posted this on September 11, 2011 -- on the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center bombings. On days like today, I am reminded that New York will always be my heart and soul.



September 11th started off like any other normal day -- with two periods of AP calculus. I don't know why I was in an AP math class, because I hated every minute and understood next to nothing. I don't think I received higher than a 70 on a single exam but managed to ace the class. I was a senior in high school and just figuring out where I wanted to apply to college. All of a sudden there was an announcement over the loudspeaker that a plane had "accidentally" crashed into the World Trade Center. We were stunned. How does a plane accidentally slam into a building? Shortly after there was another announcement, this one explained that a second plane had gone into the other tower. What? How was that possible?

I went to school in Queens, not far from the city. We all rushed to the windows, where we were able to see the smoke rising from the towers. We were given permission by our teachers to try to call our families, as many of us had parents who worked in the city. Me being one of them. My dad was working at the pier near the WTC. I tried to call both of my parents but the cell phone lines were totally jammed. For the first time, maybe ever, there was silence in the classroom. We were numb. And terrified.

It felt as though an eternity had gone by when an aide came into the classroom. She called my name and told me to come down to the office. Immediately I thought that my dad was dead and I burst into hysterical tears. The woman took me into her arms and told me that it was okay, that my mom had come to sign me out of school. I ran down to the lobby and my mom had my little brother with her. She apologized for scaring me, and said that she just wanted us all home together. We still hadn't been able to get in touch with my father.

We arrived home just in time to watch the television broadcast of the first tower falling. I will never forget it. I felt a mix of shock and awe. When the second tower fell, I knew that the world would never be the same. We sat in silence for most of that day, because there were no words that could convey what we were feeling. Sadness. Loss. Fear. Pain. By the time my mother sat us down at the table to eat lunch (which we just stared at), we still hadn't heard from my dad. Watching the coverage of the exodus across the Brooklyn bridge, I wondered if he was alive. And if he was, was he trapped somewhere? Was he scared? Was he hurt? I knew that there would be so many deaths but I was selfish, and I just wanted my daddy to walk through that door.

Later that afternoon we finally got a call from my father. He was okay. Scared but okay. He explained how people came running into the indoor tennis bubbles, tinted grey from the soot. He spent the night there, on the floor of a tennis court, with others who had sought refuge from the hysteria. He finally made it home the next morning and we hugged him until he peeled us off so he could take a shower. He wouldn't tell us much about what had happened and still to this day doesn't talk about it. But he was home. He was in one piece. That was more than many families could say about their loved ones.

I hope that those who lost someone on 9/11 have found some peace today.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

a post on life, and that time that i almost died in an outhouse

For the last month I've been telling myself that I should blog. But waking up at 6:30am, and getting home at 6:30pm hasn't left me a lot of time, or energy, to write. I'm not naturally a morning person  (anyone who knows me in real life is probably shaking their head in agreement right now), but I really have been trying to get up, get in my workouts, and get to work on time. It's a daily struggle, but the good news is that I move on Friday and soon after go back to regular working hours and will return to my regular sleep schedule. I. Can't. Freaking. Wait.

In the last month since I updated, I've done a lot of really fun things! I've celebrated some birthdays, realized that I'm a hula-hooping savant, camped on Peddock's Island (one of the Boston Harbor islands -- a funny story about that to follow), and welcomed my brother (and his lovely girlfriend) to Boston for the first time since he helped to move me into my dorm freshman year. It's been a whirlwind month, and I've really tried to soak up every bit of happiness and joy. 

Back to the camping story -- the Boston Harbor islands are beautiful, and it was nice to explore a new island. Last year we were at Lovells, which was tough since it was during a heat wave and there is no fresh water there. Peddock's has water fountains near the ranger station, so even if it is a bit of a hike from the campgrounds, it's nice to travel without the bulk of several gallons of water. We left Boston on Saturday morning and spent the day hanging out at the (very rocky) beach, exploring the old military tunnels and buildings, and building a campfire. Okay, maybe I didn't have anything personally to do with the actual fire building, but I did roast plenty of marshmallows over it. 

We were on the beach during the amazing sunset, and luckily I had my fancy dancy DLSR camera in which to capture the moment. I was reminded for the millionth time how much I love, love, love sunsets. 

I woke up on Sunday morning, annoyed that I'd forgotten to set the alarm so that I could see sunrise. My love for the sunrise is equal to that of sunset, so I was really bummed. I left a sleeping j2 in the tent, and made my way to the outhouse, because, ya know, nature calls. Since we were at the group campsite, we had a lot of room in which to spread out. We all set up camp at the furthest corner of the site, which meant we were about a five minute walk to the outhouse. I went in, did my business and went to open the door and.. nothing. Huh? That's weird. Jiggled the handle and the door wouldn't budge. I quickly realized that the door was jammed, or broken, or both. I wondered how long I would be gone before anyone realized. I had left j2 sleeping, and some of our friends were awake, but even though I'd seen them on my way to the outhouse, I didn't say where I was going. For all they knew, I could have been taking a morning stroll. 

I spent the next.. what felt like hours.. banging, screaming, and hurling my entire body into the door, in an effort to get it to budge. There was no ventilation, and it was HOT in there, which only intensified my feelings of panic. I went back and forth between being totally rational -- oh, they'll realize I'm gone soon -- to batshit insane -- the rangers probably do this so that they can trap one woman a year for a ritual sacrifice on the island. Perhaps this is a sign that I've been watching too much of "The Killing". Somehow, and I have no idea how, I managed to engage the lock and the door finally swung open. Man, oh man, I don't remember the last time I was SO excited to be out in the fresh air. My recollection of that moment is that I yelled "FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, GOD ALMIGHTY, I'M FREE AT LAST!". But, I don't think that actually happened, and I think I just sobbed silently as I walked back to the tent where I woke up j2, and then proceeded to sob uncontrollably.

Turns out that I was gone for over half an hour. 

Let that sink in -- I was stuck in an composting toilet outhouse that was baking in the summer sun -- for thirty. five. minutes. Who wants to be in an outhouse for more than 35 seconds? Now that some time has passed, I can laugh about it. Sort of. But it was definitely not the way I wanted to start my day. But j2 made me feel a whole lot better when he made me a breakfast sandwich using WAFFLES as the bread. I now know that the way to combat my PSTD is through food, preferably of the breakfast variety.

The good news is that the rangers took the lock off of the door, so that no one will get sacrificed -- I mean, stuck -- until they can do the repairs. 

Moral of the story? Poop in the woods. ALWAYS. No ifs, ands or butts.