The couple that spins together…

stays together?! Haha, yes, Runner and I are that couple at the gym. Just last weekend we attended a two hour indoor spinning class called Cycle120. We also enjoy the 45 minute version on Thursday mornings at 6:15 am.

I have to say that I really enjoy getting to go to the gym with a friend, even if he is really competitive and kicks my butt! He’s usually one of only a few guys in the class. Girls usually dominate group fitness classes and this one is no exception. However, this year Runner has encouraged some of his classmates to come out which has made the class even more fun.

Our classroom is in a re-purposed racquetball court. There are only 24 bikes so in order to attend the class you have to pre-register online. Some instructors are more popular than others, and their classes fill up fast. Our favorite instructor motivates us with her ripped muscles and motivational speaking  – “You are here this morning because you are a high achiever.” I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up to that ego boost?!

I enjoy the class because you can choose your own intensity. Yes, the bike seats are uncomfortable and sometimes you feel like you might die.  But, its easy to get lost in the music and just focus on yourself.  I usually make it about 10 miles in 45 minutes. I find that I have trouble getting my resistance up very high but I know with each workout my legs are getting stronger.

Finishing the workout by 7 am is a huge perk and we never have any guilt stopping by Dunkin Donuts on the way home.

 

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A New Fitness Goal

Bride here with some new letters after my name! Yes, I am newly graduated and awaiting the start of gainful employment. This also means I have a load of free time. Ahh what were my hobbies again?

Well, I decided to give running another try. Remembering that I enjoyed the 10K distance while training for my first and only half marathon, I decided to go for the St. Louis Rock ‘n’ Roll  10K on October 15. Runner is going to be a pacer and is training a friend for the half event, so I figured it would be fun to participate. Runner and I have always enjoyed Rock ‘n’ Roll races (Virginia Beach x 3). When I found out that the band Fastball would be playing the post-race concert, that sealed the deal!

I turned to the internet to find a training plan. I am following Hal Higdon’s novice 10K training plan. I’m in week 3 now and it has been going well. The last time I ran an official 10K was on Valentine’s Day in 2015 (brr it was cold!). You can find a nice recap here. My time was 1 hour and 17 minutes. My goal with the upcoming race is to smash this time. I think I can!

I’m cross-training with swimming and indoor cycling. So, I may be working myself up to attempt another indoor tri… baby steps, people!

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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:

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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: triwivesclub.com

 

 

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.

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Not pleased

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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….

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It hurts so bad

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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.

 

City Running Guide: Roanoke

This weekend Bride and I visited Roanoke, VA to attend the annual Capital District Kiwanis convention.  While the weekend is packed with workshops (one of which Bride presented), meals, elections and late nights we knew that we still had to squeeze in our runs.  We made sure to plan our schedule out ahead of time and were forced to miss some of the extra activities one afternoon to get in a few miles before our big run after the closing session on Sunday. Despite that full schedule we were able to get in nearly a half marathon around the city and we really got to see the best of the city and why it should be considered one of the best running cities in VA!

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 ROANOKE RIVER GREENWAY:

As I searched for a spot for Bride and I to run on Saturday I saw this nice path below a bridge near one of the new hospitals.  I looked up the path and found that not only was this a nice path along the Roanoke River, but that it was actually a 26 mile long path that had very few street crossings.

We pulled up and I was first impressed with the park around the path that included baseball fields, a play ground and other public land.  You could tell that the city had seen how great this path was and how to best use it to better the whole city.  After finding parking (there were ample spaces available) we headed out on the trail.  As we ran I realized how much attention had been given to the trail by the city, the non profits and the citizens.  Each 1/10 of a mile had a sign (like in the picture) that not only tracked distance but showed the non-profits that partnered with the trail to keep it in great condition.  (I am happy to say that most of the miles that we ran were sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Roanoke!)

I have had the privilege of running on some great paths around the Washington DC.  Many of these trails show the time, energy and money that the communities have put into them and the Roanoke River Greenway showed the same characteristics.  This path can stand up to any path in the DC area or against any other path around America.

 MILL MOUNTAIN TRAIL: Top of Mill Mountain

On Saturday after the last session of Convention Bride and I headed out on her first long run of her Half Marathon training plan.  The run was scheduled to be 8 miles and as we set out from downtown Roanoke we were not sure where we would end up.  I knew where the trails were and the plan was to head back to the Roanoke River Greenway and head the other direction that we did not run yesterday but as we ran our plans changed.  The previous day we drove up to the top of Mill Mountain to see the famous Roanoke Star and today Bride made the comment that maybe we should run to the top.  I knew it would be hard for her but she was excited so we headed up the mountain on another great trail. The trail ran up the mountain and despite it being very steep at times Bride made it and we had a much easier run down following the road.

This trail was well kept and you could tell that was used often by many runners in the area.  There were multiple paths including some that were paved, some unpaved, some leading directly to the top while other led to the monument further down.  Mill Mountain is a prominent part of Blue Ridge Marathon that is said to be “America’s Toughest Road Race” and it deserves to be, but the view of the valley and the city below is worth the climb.

ROANOKE REVIEW:  

Virginia is a great running state.  Richmond is home to “America’s Friendliest Marathon” showing how much its citizens embrace the race.  Arlington hosts the Marine Corp Marathon, known as “The People’s Marathon” where many people come out every year to cheer.  Even Virginia Beach took the time to make its boardwalk friendly to runners and other endurance athletes.  Roanoke should be seen as one of the best running areas as well.  Within a few miles you can run on a serene path along a river, or climb to the top of a mountain or two.  This combination is a runner’s dream that is hard to find in many other cities. I am very impressed with Roanoke and will look forward to coming back someday for another run.

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!

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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!

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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.