Who Do You Run For?

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This Sunday I will be 1 out of 9,000 females lined up and ready to run in the More Womens Fitness Half Marathon, located in Central Park, NY. A couple months ago after talking with my co-worker about doing a half marathon together, we decided to finally sign-up.

Training for this half has been rigorous. I’ve had to dedicate running at least two times a week, cross training on off days and long distance runs on either Saturday or Sunday.  My longest run out of my 9 week training program was 10 miles. They say once you run 6 miles you get a runners high. I do believe that, but I also think it’s mental. Running for that long challenges your mind to test if you believe in yourself to do it. When I think about it, it’s only 2 hours and 15 minutes of my Sunday that I will spend running non-stop.

So, I’ve decided to dedicate each mile I run to someone or something that has positively influenced me throughout this journey.

Mile 1 – My Mom. You will always be “number 1” to me and I’d never be in my shoes if it wasn’t for you and dad. (This message has 2 puns in it). You’ve taught me to patient and to always live in the moment and I appreciate those values. Thank you.

Mile 2 – My Dad. Running with you over the years has been inspiring. I always enjoy coming home and going for a jog with you, even when you’ve just worked all day. You give me no reason not to go to the gym after work. Thank you for always being a dedicated father.

Mile 3 – My Brother. Watching you become so successful has influenced me to follow your footsteps. You are a great role model Ev and I’m so glad to be your sister.

Mile 4 – My Family. I’m so excited to run this mile for all my aunts, uncles and cousins. Thank you for all your support and love!

Mile 5 – Me. My lucky number is 5 so it’s the perfect mile to be a little selfish and run for myself. Being out of college nearly a year, I’m learning to overcome things I never thought I could before.

Mile 6 – My Running Buddies. Shout out to all the people who have ever ran with me along the way. From the start to now, you have all encouraged me to keep going. Thank you!

Mile 7 – My Massachusetts Girls. Molly, Meredith, Mary, Alyssa, and Amy. For mile “seven” I’ll reminisce on our good ol’ days at the studio and competing. You all mean so much to me and I’m glad we’ve remained close even though we’re all far way. Disco stick.

Mile 8 – Boston. This mile is for all those effected by the Boston marathon bombing. I will never forget that day nor the thought that I had that I’ll never run a half marathon after that tragedy. #BOSTONSTRONG

Mile 9 – The Sick. Everyday we wake up is a blessing. To know we have our health, clothes on our back and food on our plate is something we take for granted. This mile is for the immobile, dying, sick, poor, hungry and homeless.

Mile 10 – Cancer. I’ll be thinking about those I know who have ever battled, overcame or passed away from cancer during this mile.

Mile 11 – My Banky. I always enjoyed drinking a cup of tea and playing scat for dimes and pennies after school with you. During that time, you taught me a lot about family and love. I miss you everyday, this mile is for you!

Mile 12- Life. Pretty simple. We’re all given one shot at it and have each day to wake up and make a change. I hope this mile inspires outsiders to do the same!

Mile 13 – For Women! #WomenRunTheWorld

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Running Into 2015

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Last New Years I decided to create a running journal where I jot down how many miles I ran each time I worked out. My main goal was to push myself every month, every day and ultimately every mile. Although some months were harder than others, I was able to accomplish 392.13 miles in 2014. To put it into perspective that’s equivalent to 15 marathons or running from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania!

With today marking the first day of 2015, not only do I want to set a goal to run 500 miles within the year but my running journal has essentially inspired me to run a half marathon. I’m planning on training and running a half this upcoming spring. When I first started running over five years ago, I could barely run for two minutes straight. Now seeing how many miles I can run in a month and in a year, anything is possible.

“A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step”

Coping with Change

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Having a pet is like having a sibling. My dog Ripken was more than just a pet, he was part of the family and was treated like another family member.

We got Ripken just over two years ago and it was the best decision my parents made. This neglected dog was taken into our home with more love and care he could ever imagine. With black dreaded hair down to the floor, my parents quickly pampered him and got him to his normal condition.

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Ripken loved to go for walks, chase squirrels, cuddle in bed, go for rides and eat ice cubes. I would wake up some mornings with him cuddling next to me or with his head resting on my arm or leg. I’d even sit on the couch and he would climb up next to me laying his head in my lap. Ripken loved being loved and even more, he loved us.

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Unexpectedly, he started getting sick. We would find vomit on the floor and he began getting picky about the food in his bowl. We thought he was being a high-maintenance black labor-doodle, but soon realized it was something more. Kidney disease.

Unable to digest protein, Ripken was left feeling starving and nauseous. His body slimmed down in the blink of an eye. The only way to prolong his life with us was to inject an IV twice a day in his shoulders. Ripken did not lose a bit of energy despite his illness. He would still bark with excitement when my mom or dad were pulling into the garage, he would still follow my mom step by step around the house and he would still wrestle and play around with my dad every so often. His levels remained iffy and every trip to the vet seemed to be getting worse until his last visit. Ripken had actually gained weight and his levels even dropped due to the medication and IV treatments. However, the fact was he would never be 100% again.

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I knew in the back of my mind Ripken didn’t have much longer despite the good news; yet, I didn’t think it would have happened as quickly as it did. This past weekend my whole family was finally together– mom, dad, brother and I– and it’s as if Ripken knew it was the right time to say goodbye. The kidney disease took over. His appetite diminished and he could barely stand on his own. It was heartbreaking to see him suffer and not have control over his body, but my family and I knew that it was not right for him to live like this any longer.

I didn’t want to have to actually say goodbye to him, but I did.

I left home in Massachusetts and drove back to New York completely distraught over this dog. The worst feeling was knowing the next time I go home, he won’t be waiting at the door for me. Death is one of the hardest obstacles to cope with and it makes me realize how short life is. I will forever cherish the memories of Ripken for the rest of my life.

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Best of Italy

Italian Breakfast

Italian Breakfast

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Gates of Paradise

Gates of Paradise

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Siena, Italy - Piazza Del Campo

Siena, Italy – Piazza Del Campo

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy - Donatello

Siena, Italy – Donatello

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto, Italy - Etruscan Tombs

Orvieto, Italy – Etruscan Tombs

Orvieto, Italy - St. Patricks Well

Orvieto, Italy – St. Patricks Well

Orvieto, Italy - Italian Beer

Orvieto, Italy – Italian Beer

Orvieto, Italy - Caves

Orvieto, Italy – Caves

Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto, Italy

Day Two in Italia

Sunday, March 9– Waking up in Florence around 6:30 am, Genna, Laurel and I got ready for our adventurous day by starting out with an Italian breakfast. Breakfast in Italy is completely different from an American breakfast. We enjoyed Nutella filled croissants along with fresh fruit, deli cheese with wheat bread, yogurt, granola, hard boiled eggs and of course, cappuccinos.

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We met our tour guide in the lobby and headed out to learn the history of Florence. Our first stop was Piazza di Santa Maria Novella (above picture). This beautiful marble church was finished in the early 1400s and represents one of the many piazza’s in Florence.

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We continued to walk to another church Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano (above). The Medici family, who ruled Florence, commissioned to have this church built. We finally got to Piazza di Giovanni Florence (below), which was absolutely breathtaking. We got to see the cathedral, baptistry and duomo all in the center. Inside was just as extravagant.

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Following this, we arrived at our first scheduled tour at Galleria dell’Accademia, where the original David by Michelangelo is exhibited. Prior to seeing this 17 foot sculpture, our tour guide had us enter the room without looking at the sculpture. After she talked about the history of the David, we all turned to see the famous figure. I was speechless and amazed. The details and masculine form that Michelangelo was able to represent by chiseling marble was impeccable. We learned the story behind the David and finished this tour by looking at the first violins ever made by Stradivari and first pianos created by Bartolomeo.

Our last tour was at Convento di San Marco. Inside were preserved frescos that told stories about St. Antonino by the painter and friar Biato Angelico, meaning blessed angel. Inside Convento di San marco, there were cells where the monks would live and in each cell there was an individual painted fresco. The tour was complete after this so Genna, Laurel and I went out for lunch.

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I got to enjoy a delicious pasta dish that consisted of gnocchi with melted gorgonzola cheese and pear accompanied with a glass of rich red wine. After stuffing our faces, we continued to explore Florence until we found a local market that sold leather, scarves and jewelry. We also got our first cup of Italian gelato and sat along the water looking at Ponte Vecchio.

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Following a long morning of tours and tasteful food, we decided to head back to our hotel and take a nap. Well four hours passed and we woke up around 9:00pm. We decided to grab a bite to eat since we didn’t want to just keep sleeping. We had a yummy dinner including fresh baked bread with balsamic and oil and grilled salmon with vegetables. Day two was just a taste of what the week was going to be like. I quickly learned how small Florence was and how different the culture is compared to the U.S.

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