My First Open Water Swim

Last Sunday, I participated in my first open water swim. The event was called “Swim the Sun” and it was hosted by US Masters Swimming.

Early early Sunday morning (4:45am!) a group of five of us from the Saluki Masters Swim Club departed Carbondale. We had a 2 hour drive west toward Lake Sunnen in Potosi, Missouri. We were off to a rough start because of the thunder and lightening, however, we were determined that the event wouldn’t be canceled on us.

While the weather did in fact clear up, the sun did not want to shine on us! On the car ride I sipped coffee and ate a Cliff bar. We made it to our destination around 7:15 am. The event was held at the beautiful YMCA Trout Lodge.


I was a bit nervous before the start. I did not practice swimming in a lake ahead of time (smh, I know!). The course was set up as a triangular 1-mile course, marked by three large inflatable cone-shaped buoys. There were lifeguards in kayaks scattered among the lake as well. My coach gave me great advice on sighting and I felt excited to swim.


I chose the two mile option, which meant I would go around twice. There were some swimmers there who chose to swim up to 4 miles. The start was from treading water that left in waves every 15 minutes based on distance. My group entered the water just before 8:30 am. We walked into the water from a beach with about 3 minutes to spare. The temperature of the water was 80 degrees. Since the air temp was only in the 70s, it felt good!

My first thought was that this was less scary than I expected. The water was deep and there wasn’t much to look at under the water. As I rounded the first buoy I felt confident. The conditions were awesome – barely any current and great visibility. I felt like I was pushing myself to keep up a good pace. I was glad that I wore my Garmin Vivofit as a watch and measure of my distance. At times I felt like I wasn’t taking the straightest route, especially when I looked over at other swimmers. But, following coach’s orders, I didn’t let that lead me astray. There was only one time that I got freaked out and that was when a piece of seaweed floated over my shoulder, lol.  It took me 1 hour and 5 minutes to complete the 2 mile swim.

After the swim, we were treated to a lunch at the lodge’s cafeteria. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes never tasted so good! It was a great experience and I’d love do another open water swim again soon.


Swim, Bike, Run

Hello from 2017! Just checking in with some updates.

Runner encouraged me to try my first “tri.” It was a matter of good timing and a moderate fitness level. Since August I have been swimming with the Saluki Masters. I also dabble in indoor cycling and light jogging. Oh, and for Christmas I got a Garmin (#fitspo). So, on January 22, I participated in “Tri the Hub” which is an indoor triathlon held in Marion. It was 10 minutes of swimming laps, 20 minutes on the indoor bike, and 15 minutes running on an indoor track.

I was most pumped for the swim and felt strongest in the water. Once the women hit the bikes, it got a little scary … I just don’t pedal that fast!! And then there was the run where I took a slow and steady approach, got lapped by a few, but felt proud for running the whole time.

Look who got second place in her age group:



I have to say that I was super nervous before the whole thing started. I didn’t really know what to expect with all the gear, the transitions, etc… but I’m glad I did it and would be willing to try it again.

Since then I have been working on improving my running. (Remember that time I ran a half marathon?) Sticking to shorter mileage but working on speed. Thanks to my Garmin Vivofit3 I can document my progress:


I’ve decided that “Sunday is run day” so I hope to continue my 5K streak throughout March. I also plan to swim competitively in a meet in April. Runner got me cycle shoes for Valentine’s (so romantic!) but I’m still learning how to clip in and out. #goals

In the meantime I’ll be wrapping up PA school (I graduate THIS August) woot!

Baby Shower

Happy Valentine’s Day! It is snowing here in Carbondale. I’m busy studying for finals but I wanted to quickly share with you our fun last weekend. Runner’s brother and his lovely wife are expecting a precious little girl this March. Last weekend we headed up to Bethalto, Illinois to celebrate the baby shower.

This was my Pinterest-inspired gift:


A welcome wagon!! The fact that you can find a mini-wagon on Amazon and have it shipped to your home is so freakin adorable! To fill the wagon, I bought some Spot the dog books and a toy, a baby cell phone and a hanging turtle. One of my favorite hobbies is scrapbook making, so I made one for Mom and baby. It was “How I Met Your Mother” themed.

The party was held at The Weeping Willow Tea Room. MaryJo worked there many years ago. It is currently open just for breakfast and lunch, serving soups and sandwiches. It was such a cute place. Our party was in the downstairs area but I got a secret tour of the top floor which had a beautiful old stage and hardwood floors.

Baby girl has about 1 month left to bake, due March 13ish. I’ll keep you updated!


Bride is in the house!

Hello my friends! It’s been a while, 7 months in fact. Well, Bride is back for 2016. Runner has been so dedicated to keeping up this blog that I didn’t want to let him down by flaking out.

Life update: PA school officially started June 1, 2015. Time flies. It’s also amazing how much my life has changed and how much I’ve learned. PA students warned me that the learning would be like trying to drink from a fire hose. This was 100% correct. Graduation is August 2017.

Fitness update: Zumba classes have been my main source of physical activity. Lately, I’ve been attending spinning classes which I’m loving. I hope to keep this up and maybe even run a few miles here and there.

Hope this isn’t too late, but here’s what Runner got for Christmas:

(Think of it as gift ideas for triathletes.)

Also, I recently stumbled upon this gem of a website:



My First Half Marathon

Greetings from Illinois! The days following my FIRST half marathon were completely nuts. Lots of packing and goodbye parties. My last day of work was Wednesday, we loaded the Uhaul on Thursday, arrived in Carbondale on Friday and on Saturday morning we unloaded into our new apartment. Then it was time for a camping trip in Florida and finally the beginning of PA school. A whirlwind for sure!

Confession: there has not been a lot of running.

But, I wanted to write my recap of the Delaware marathon before it becomes a too distant memory. In the days leading up to the race I felt prepared. Thanks to my awesome coach, Runner, and his training schedule. No, I did not do every run. There was time that I took off for knee pain and time that I was suffering from allergies. My longest run before the race was 10 miles.

We arrived in Delaware on Saturday morning around noon. The drive up was easy with minimal traffic. Wilmington is Delaware’s largest city, which we found much more exciting than it’s capital of Dover. The Running Festival was smaller than I expected. My dream of seeing elite athlete,Titus Rotich, happened earlier than expected when he cut Runner in line during T-shirt pick-up. Ha!

We looked up things to do in downtown Wilmington but didn’t really find anything better than heading over to the Christiana Mall which was crazy busy. We walked around a bit and then headed to the movie theater. I took a nice nap during Avengers 2!

I booked a room through Hotwire and was pleased to find out that it was an Official Race Hotel, the Sheraton Suites Wilmington Downtown. Our room was a suite, natch, with a huge living room. We also got a goodie bag from the race upon check-in.

The morning of the race, I took my time getting ready. We were able to park close to the start and finish line. At the start of the race I was so excited in anticipation of what I was about to accomplish. The song that was playing as we crossed the start line was “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, a good omen! (A frequently played song in training)

The first three miles of the race were a bit crowded but listening to the steps of all the runners was really cool. We ran on the city streets and then turned around through a shopping mall. It was still very congested at this point and many runners around us were complaining. It was also insanely humid and the sweat was pouring! We ran along the riverfront and then back past the festival grounds at Tubman Park.

Shortly after this, Runner and I had a dispute over drinking enough water at the water station. I’ll admit to not being very prepared for this aspect of the race. In my training, I rarely drank water until I was done, even on the longer 8 and 10 miles lengths.


Not pleased


Still married!

Our run through the Zoo and Brandywine Park was so pretty and shaded. Of course it was overcast and humid – so it didn’t make much of a difference. The suspended bridge was my favorite section of the race. It is featured on the medal. I just wish the photographer was there to capture our crossing. Then we ran up some really long inclines for what seemed like forever… but, the homes were pretty to look at. Also, anticipating the really long decline helped too.

Runner’s favorite part of the race, Little Italy, was my second favorite. Bernie’s Italian Ice in lemon was heaven. Yum! Although, I didn’t finished my cup, the lingering lemon taste really helped. This was also the part of the course when we were passed by Rotich. I kept hearing the cop sirens and was getting excited to run with the elite. However, he came and passed us in the blink of an eye.

Throughout the race there was a young kid who caught my eye because he would sprint by me and then I would slow and steady catch up to him (very much the tortoise and the hare, lol). So I made it my goal to beat him. Spolier alert: I DID. Near the end of mile 11, I finally got him back in my sights and he was walking! Well, I passed him and didn’t see him for the rest of the race. Woo hoo – take that 14 year old! Runner informed me of this well after we had finished the race. Because the end of the race was a real dooz-ey…

Mile 12 was a real nightmare for me. So close yet so very far… my body completely seized up (much like it did in my early days of running). I was crying like a baby and just barely moving my legs… I was walking for a good portion. I saw that mile marker for 12 and at the same time saw the steepest hill of the entire race. Oh my body was not pleased….


It hurts so bad


It hurts so good

It was only for the last few blocks that I was able to pick up my pace, after getting my motivation from the crowds. My legs started moving again and I was able to run through the finish line….crying like a baby! Lol I think I scared the girls who were handing out the medals. I also gave Runner a dramatic kiss infront of them.

Chip Time: 2:53:40.8
Overall Place: 1021 out of 1151
Age Group Place: 83 F 25-29 out of 88 total participants in the Female 25 to 29 age group
Pace: 13:15/M/mile

I’m so proud to say that I’ve completed a half marathon.

Lessons learned: If anything, I can say that I’m a fan of 10Ks. During my training I ran two of them for time. I also love running outside. The majority of my training has been indoors on the treadmill. I am sick of the treadmill. The hills on the course were a real challenge for me. I was taken completely by surprise by them. Well, guess who lives on the top of a hill now? This girl. I’ll get plenty of practice.

Thoughts on Leaving Ophthalmology

First of all, ophthalmology is a difficult word to spell. This you will learn on your first day. However, I guess it could be worse, otolaryngology comes to mind. To keep things simple, I’m and eye doctor’s assistant who works in the eye clinic; but not for much longer.

I was hit recently with the overwhelming emotions that come with doing something for the last time EVER: sadness, elation, nostalgia, happiness. It’s not that I’ve never quit anything before — soccer and clarinet come to mind — coincidentally I participated in each of those for 8 years. It certainly is the end of an era, but an important part of my life as a young professional that is sure to follow me as I move on in my career.

IMG_0277 To even be considered as a candidate for PA school admission, I had to have clinical healthcare experience. Over the past 6 years, I have spent day after day examining the eyes of anywhere from 2 to 28 patients/day. This work has inspired me to go farther with my education so that I can continue to serve patients in a greater capacity. It’s taken a lot of work to get where I am today.

One of the hardest parts about starting a new job is the time it takes to get comfortable in the position. In my experience, it usually takes about one year for me to really ease into the job and to let go of all my anxiety about “not knowing enough.”

This was especially true in the position I’m currently leaving. Three years ago, during my interview for the hospital, I made promises to learn many new examination skills. I struggled a lot to catch up. The learning curve was very steep! Especially due to the fact that my manager believed that everyone should know how to do everything (not an easy thing for the lowest man on the Totem pole to hear). I finally cut myself a break when I realized that I was doing the same work as a 1st year ophthalmology resident. This occurred to me on the day I was required to attend a medical school lecture given by my boss. However, with hard work comes great pride, and I felt like a rock star (eventually).

It seems like a shame that I have skills that will not be used again like determining a person’s glasses prescription, measuring motility through prisms, testing 3D vision. At other times it feels like a relief that I will never again have to perform a Humphrey visual field (aka watch someone’s eye position in the dark for 20 minutes), clean a rack of lenses, or tell an impatient family that the eye drops takes 40 minutes to work. But, I will miss my awesome drawer of fixation toys, getting to put a sticker on my nose and moo like a cow to get a child’s attention, and putting glasses on a child for the first time.

Is this a great toolbox or what?

Is this a great toolbox or what?

I will definitely miss my coworkers. After I was hired, we eventually acquired two more technicians. We have gotten close and can relate to the struggles and joys of the job. Our orthoptists are incredibly knowledgeable and excellent teachers. The front desk staff has always kept it real and kept it fun. Working with 8 different attending physicians makes you quick on your feet. Learning their quirks takes time but it’s so nice when you can really get it the groove working with them. This relationship has revealed to me how important it will be to find a good supervising physician.

One of the first pieces of equipment that we are required to buy for the PA program is an ophthalmoscope. So, I’m pretty grateful to have one subject area firmly under my grasp as I begin my studies. Many people have asked me if I’ll return to ophtho. While I don’t want to close the door to that possibility completely, I don’t see it as a good fit for PA work. There is already a large network of allied professionals in place – optometrists, orthoptists, technicians and nurses. What I have learned is that I love working with kids and (for the moment) am leaning toward pediatrics. Parents have told me that I’m good with kids and I have a lot of patience. I really don’t mind the crying either. We shall see… I’m keeping an open mind for what PA school has in store.


Strike Out ALS!

Today I’m sharing my memories from CKI at the College of William & Mary. This is in honor of the upcoming 10th anniversary of Strike Out ALS (SOALS). This weekend Runner and I will be traveling to Plumeri Park in Williamsburg, VA to watch the Tribe baseball team take on JMU.

During my Sophomore year of college, I served on the CKI Board of Directors. I remember we were looking for a signature fundraising project when Mary Ogburn shared with us a great cause and idea. Mary Ogburn’s grandfather passed away from ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The tie in with baseball made a fundraiser at a college baseball game the perfect fit. However, convincing the athletic director was no easy task (we’re talking about you Pete Kresky!). The perseverance from CKI with the help of Kiwanis made the project happen and 10 years later, the event is still going strong!


SOALS has built a special legacy over the years. This remains the only fundraiser coordinated in conjunction with the W&M Athletic Department. In addition, W&M Tribe baseball has not lost a game on SOALS day since the fundraiser started. And most importantly, the fundraiser had raised nearly $10,000 for ALS to date!


I am proud to have participated in the first 6 years of it’s existence – and I have the t-shirts to prove it! I can’t wait to return to campus for the 10th anniversary and tailgate with CKI members, alumni and Kiwanians.

Best of Charleston

Last month Runner and I headed south to Charleston, SC for a quick visit. Runner’s parents drove from Illinois out to the East Coast for their Spring Break. We were grateful to meet them down south for some warmer weather! This was our second visit to the Holy City. We visited for the first time Christmas 2013. The city is hailed as the #1 US City to visit and the #2 best city in the WORLD (#1 is Florence) according to Conde Nast.

While Runner and I are just not that impressed*, there are some sites that are worth visiting for:


Fort Sumpter – The fort is best known as the site upon which the shots that started the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Make sure you plan carefully for this trip because you travel to the Fort by ferry which only leaves at certain times of the day. Fun fact: When we were on the ferry, Runner’s Mom noticed a strange cookie for sale called a Benne Wafer. Being the total foodie that I am, I immediately looked it up. They are super sweet sesame cookies. They sell for $4 for a bag (cheaper than at a gift shop) – try them!

Rainbow Row – The historic row of old townhouses, painted pretty colors. You could take a carriage ride to view these, or like us, just drive by.


Pineapple Fountain – I have a thing for pineapples, I love em! Visiting this fountain in Waterfront Park was right up my alley. Also, along the waterfront are porch swings looking out onto the river.

Charleston Tea Plantation – I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, unless you really hate tea or something. For a small admission fee you get to ride a trolley through the fields, taste several kinds of hot and iced tea, and walk through the factory. After taking the tour, you will truly appreciate the process of making tea and be amazed that the tea plantation is the only one in America. Plus, the gift shop also has a lot of good stuff.

Sesame Burgers and Beer – Runner found this place based on it’s good reviews on Trip Advisor. We went to the Mt. Pleasant location. Two words: Adult milkshakes! Actually, we went there looking to have the BEST onion rings as voted by the Charleston City Paper, however, they were way too thick for our liking. We split the South Carolina burger which stole the show with it’s homemade pimento cheese.


Angel Oak – The oldest tree on the East Coast. We found out about this at the Charleston Tea Plantation, which had a little handout with the direction to get to it. Only a short drive and totally worth it. This tree makes you want to hug a tree. Avoid the gift shop – too pricey – but it’s their only way of raising money so what are you gonna do?


Firefly Vodka Distillery – Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit Firefly Vodka Distillery during this trip because they are closed on Sundays. But they have little tasting room with large shots, lets just say its a potent tasting.

*We are aware this may be considered controversial, but really, New Orleans, New York City, etc are much more exciting cities not to mention all the international destinations.

My Second 10K

Back when I started this whole training for a half marathon thing, I hadn’t planned on running any formal races until the big day. Ha! Turns out running a timed race instead of doing a long training on your own is way more fun. Which was how I put a second 10K race under my belt, with a PR of 5 minutes. Yes, probably one of the only perks of being a newbie runner is seeing gains of that magnitude. The decision to run in the inaugural Alum Run did not come easily. Runner and I waited until the last chance to register because the weather forecast was looking bleak. Ultimately, we decided to do it. Here’s why:

  • Since we already ran in February, the freezing temps we practically the same conditions. At least they would be no worse. (Plus I could wear my snazzy Mona Lisa scarf.)
  • The run had been promoted heavily by the William & Mary Alumni Chapter because the founder of the race went there. I’ve still got that Tribe Pride! (Class of ’08)
  • Our friend Jarrod, who coordinates the SIU Alumni Chapter in DC, was also running! Runner is a Saluki and we’ll both be back in school there soon.

As you can see from the list, a big selling point was the college theme. Despite the low participation, the race did deliver the college spirit. Naturally, W&M had the biggest participation, with over 50 runners. I am sure the turn-out for next year will be even greater among all schools.


The race had both a 5K and a 10K. Unfortunately, the 10K runners started 30 minutes after the 5K runners at 9am. Normally I would appreciate the later start time, but since we carpooled with Jarrod who ran the 5K, we were stuck waiting in the cold for 30 extra minutes!

The course was a 5K loop that we went around twice (math!). I was absolutely dominated by the winner of the 10K who lapped me with his 6min/mile pace… but at least I got to see him finish!  I also got to see Runner twice as we passed by each other on opposite sides of the course.The race took us from Freedom Plaza to the National Mall to the Air & Space Museum and then Back to the Old Post Office. By my second lap, many more tourists were out, awkwardly trying to cross the street (just a little annoying).

At the end of the race, Runner was there waiting to take my picture. There was the standard bagel and banana available for the finishers. We also got medal in the shape of the number 1 with a bottle opener at the bottom. If it had been warmer, I would have been tempted to stay and watch the performance of The Gentlemen of the College, an acappella group from W&M, but at that point we were all ready to get warm! Since we registered late, we are still waiting on our t-shirts. I hope they will be mailed to us. I loved the concept of the race, and would recommend it to alumni from all schools to participate in next year.