Marooned

When I was 13 my bedroom walls were plastered with posters of Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue, and numerous other men with enormous hair. My love of live music began when I went to see INXS. I was obsessed with Michael Hutchence, the lead singer, and I was hell bent on moving to Australia. I finally made it to the land down under in 2014!

I’ve seen so many concerts from my early days of the 80s hair bands to U2, Pink Floyd, Madonna, the annual outdoor DMB show, phish festivals, and lesser known international acts like Angelique Kidjo and Oliver Mtukudzi. In recent years I have rarely gone to concerts because they are ridiculously expensive. This summer I had the opportunity to see Pitbull with a friend who had a last minute extra ticket she bought for $20 on Groupon.

Last weekend I went to see Maroon 5. Am I too old to say that I love Adam Levine? Well I do. Orlando is well aware of my feelings! This was definitely not a $20 Groupon ticket, but it was worth it. The Worcester, MA show ended up being the last on their tour as they cancelled the rest of the tour due to the impending birth of Adam Levine’s first child.

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The show was fantastic. No frills, just music. They played all of my favorites. It was a much needed break and distraction from studying and writing papers.

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Rusty

I’m taking a much needed 5 minute break from the 2 chapters of Delivering Health Care in America I have to finish by tonight. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. In my first week of grad school I have completed two assignments, read more than I have in months, and became reacquainted with APA format. In my first few years of undergrad many moons we used MLA to cite references. In my last year we were required to use APA. I haven’t written a paper with references since 1996! I am rusty to say the least.

The general format of the class requires us to post our assignment on a discussion board by Wednesday. The assignment must be completed in APA format. Once posted we have to comment on two other posts by Saturday using a well thought out, researched reply with references. There will be a couple of group projects and a final paper. I truly do not have enough hours in the day to complete the reading required to keep up with the class.

The professor seems kind. She is demanding, but very available and offers insightful feedback. Her responses are prompt and she encourages us to reach out to her. My classmates have a variety of experiences and interesting backgrounds. Although we will never meet face to face they seem very open to communicating and helping each other.

Despite one mini breakdown this week I am not throwing in the towel yet! I had a little internal heart to heart on my extremely boring 18 mile run today. I am going to do the best I can and learn as much as I can during this experience. I love learning, but I also have always felt a sense of inadequacy in everything I do as if I’m never good enough or smart enough. Just today someone asked me if I was even an RN. She didn’t understand how I could be in a Master’s program if I was an LPN. I am a registered nurse.  I know that part of my desire to obtain a Master’s Degree is to lend legitimacy to my role as a nurse and an educator.

Carlos had an excellent first week back at school. He really loves his new teacher. His class has only 8 children which is fantastic. I managed to have a successful week of marathon training. Today was my long run. To save time I decided to just run from home instead of driving somewhere for a change of scenery. Unfortunately both of my running partners were out of commission, one is injured, and the other has been sick. I could not have chosen a more mundane, ugly route! Needless to say the 18 miles did not fly by, but I got them done. I stopped in to a McDonald’s for water at mile 10 and the staff there could not have been more friendly. They allowed me to refill my water pack for free. A couple of elderly women were absolutely fascinated by my CamelBak and asked to look at it, see how it worked, and wanted to know where to buy to use on their walks! I get antsy sometimes during a long run and just want to finish it, but I am reminded that I am also doing this to set a healthy example to others. I try to smile when I run so I don’t give the impression that running is really awful, and I am always happy to chat for a few minutes.

I suppose I should get back to reading. It’s not the most captivating reading!

What’s New

Where do I begin? Do you have a few minutes…hours? It’s been a busy summer, and sadly it’s almost over. School starts on Monday for both Carlos and me. After researching programs and thinking about going to graduate school for a few years now I finally found a program that feels right. I was accepted into Sacred Heart University’s MSN program with a specialty in Nursing Education.

We have been in Florida since last Friday visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and my father who live in the Ft. Lauderdale/Pompano Beach area. My sister and brother-in-law moved here in May, and my dad has lived here for years. It has been wonderful spending time with them. Carlos has enjoyed some long awaited quality time with his auntie and grandpa.

Despite the heat and humidity I kept up with marathon training while on vacation. For my long run I ran 14 miles up the coast to Boca Raton. It was steaming hot when I left around 6:30AM and it only got hotter and more humid. It was a slow run, but the change of scenery was a welcome treat.

I ran, worked, and took a couple of vacation days. We went to Rapids Water Park on Saturday, spent time at the beach, and I got a much needed manicure with my sister.

 

More running news:

  • Marathon training is in full swing. It’s going really well. Lots of running, some speed and hill work, improving my tempo runs, and a new emphasis on warm ups and could downs. I am learning to run with friends. I am certainly becoming heat conditioned should it be hot and humid on race day. I am worrying less about my pace and more about injury prevention, enjoying the run, and taking care of myself.
  • Back in July I attended a two day Road Runners Club of America Coaching Certification Course in Portland, Maine. It was two full eight hour days of learning about running, coaching, training, dealing with injury, nutrition, and so much more. It was an intense training after which we had 30 days to take a 100 question exam. I passed with flying colors! I have no immediate intentions of formally coaching anyone, and even if I change my mind about that I don’t think I could ever take money for it. I took the course more for my own knowledge, and also to lend legitimacy to the answers and suggestions I offer to friends and new runners who ask for advice. As luck would have it one of my new running partners has registered to run her first half marathon this fall, and she is putting her training and faith into my hands. I’m honored, and a little nervous. Fortunately she’s extremely motivated, very positive, and open to this new experience. She is going to do great!
  • Speaking of registering for races…I entered the lottery for the Big Sur Marathon. It’s been on my race bucket list since I first heard about it. A friend who has run the race as part of the Boston to Big Sur challenge messaged me to let me know about the random drawing for First Timer’s. I don’t play the regular lottery, but perhaps I should. On April 30, 2017 I will be running the Big Sur Marathon. Orlando is looking forward to his first trip to the west coast. I will once again push myself out of my comfort zone as I face winter training again, something I swore I wouldn’t do after two years of training for Vermont City, and I will have to learn how to run long distances without the comfort and companionship of my music. Big Sur does not allow headphones on the course. I feel ridiculous admitting that this was the one factor that had me on the fence about registering, but ultimately I decided that this is something I need to do.
  • The Olympics…Usain Bolt is superhuman. Meb’s finish made me tear up. He is such a class act. Galen Rupp’s bronze medal finish had me torn with mixed emotions of excitement, and a little bit of skepticism. My heart went out to Kate Grace during her 800 meter race. The women’s 4×400 meter relay team were on fire and won their 6th straight gold medal. There were so many more inspiring moments.

On the topic of the Olympics, I had the pleasure of watching the final soccer match between Brazil and Germany with my soccer obsessed son and my Brazilian brother-in-law while in Florida. It was a nail biter and ended in a shoot out. We went crazy when Neymar scored the winning goal for Brazil. It was such an exciting game. I can’t imagine how insane it must have been in the stadium.

I love the Olympics. This year in particular, it was a welcome break from political talk. I really enjoy the inspirational stories of the athletes. It’s fun to come together as a family in the evening to watch whatever event is airing.

The beginning of August was two weeks day camp for Carlos and a busy work schedule for me. We still made time for get togethers with friends. There was a quick trip to the Connecticut Shore, a baseball game, playgrounds, and Carlos went on a whale watching trip with a friend and his family.

I went to see Pitbull in concert in Hartford with a friend. I wasn’t planning on going to the show, but at the last minute my friend had an extra ticket. It was a gorgeous night thankfully because we had lawn seats. The show was fun, energetic, and got me dancing…something I absolutely love doing, but I haven’t done in ages.

Where was Orlando in August? Fortunately Orlando has been very busy with work. As a mason he relies on the summer months to not only make money, but to accumulate hours for our medical insurance. As a mason in the bricklayer’s union he is required to work at least 1000 hours per year to maintain his benefits which are far better than mine so we prefer to keep his active. The intensity of his summer work hours is balanced by a 2-4 month winter layoff. We miss him over the summer, but it’s a trade off that we’ve been living with for many years. Today is actually Orlando’s birthday and we are looking forward to seeing him after almost a week away.

We are on the plane flying home. JetBlue’s wifi is by far the best of any airline I’ve been on in recent years and it’s free! We should be in Hartford in about 90 minutes and then it’s back to work this afternoon. Carlos has soccer practice later today. Tomorrow will be a full work day and an afternoon play date at the park. I have a 16 mile long run on Saturday. I work Saturday night at the hospital. Sunday morning run, and my friend’s baby shower later in the morning.

The summer break will officially close with my birthday. I will be 43 years old this weekend. All I ask for is another 43 years to keep living life as fully as I have this past month.

 

Bridge of Flowers 10K – 2016

Bridge of Flowers (BOF) 10K in Shelburne Falls, MA is my favorite race. It’s challenging, but forgiving as well. The spectators along the way are cheerful and encouraging. It’s an extremely organized and well managed race. The water stations are plentiful and the offerings at the end of the race are generous for runners and family members.

The race stands as my 10K PR although that happened pre-Achilles injury and I’m not quite back to that pace. I am working on it and was feeling pretty good going into this years BOF race. I  wasn’t expecting a PR, but I was hopeful that I would beat last year’s time.

By the time we arrived to Shelburne Falls it was clear that Crittendon Hill was not going to be the only challenge at BOF this year. The race starts at 9AM and it was inching towards 80 degrees. My crazy hair was an accurate barometer of the ridiculous humidity level! The start was delayed by 10 minutes because the family friendly 3K race that takes place first was taking longer than usual due to the weather conditions.While we waited I took a couple of photos from the iron bridge where the race starts.

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Already dripping with sweat  when the gun went off, I knew I had a decision to make about my race goal. I know this course well. This was my 5th time running the race. Despite practical running advice to never go out too quickly in a race, I tend to start this course at a swift pace. I’m slowed a little bit right after passing through the downtown as the course goes up a slight hill. I run hard after the hill. I grabbed a water at mile 1 and kept pushing my pace until I reached Crittendon Hill. Now I run hills all the time, not little rolling hills either, but Crittendon is a beast. It is steep and winds up for the distance of nearly a mile.

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A photo does not do Crittendon Hill justice

I tried so hard to run it the first year only to come to a screeching halt about a minute up. I felt defeated, but now I know better. I power walk it to the best of my ability, drink some water and breathe a sigh of relief at the top, and then I soar down the shady backside until my pace evens out around mile 4.

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Celebrating the top!

By the time I reached the hill this year I made a decision to adjust my goal. It was hotter than it’s ever been at BOF. The humidity made it feel as though I was running through a sea of sweat. It was gross. People were stopping, dry heaving, and vomiting. I made a wise decision to run it conservatively without worrying about my time. After careening down the hill the race opens up to a long stretch on open road with zero shade cover. Unlike years past I did not try to make up for lost time walking the hill on this flat road. Instead I stuck to a nice comfortable pace.

The race seemed to fly by. I stopped at each water station and gave lots of thanks to the awesome volunteers standing out in the heat. I ran through every sprinkler kind spectators held out for the runners. I smiled as I reached my favorite sign of the race “last half mile, you’re almost there!” Despite the heat I suddenly felt a surge of energy and I let it all out for the end of the race. I love running over the iron bridge again with spectators cheering as each runner’s name is announced when they near the finish line.

I finished in 1:03:18. I felt great at the end and was excited to cheer for my friends who finished not long after me. One of my friends ran it last year for the first time. She had a horrible experience due to some health issues, but she has been feeling much better and running really well. I was so proud of her for coming back. She ran a much better race this year even in the heat. One of my running partners ran BOF for this first time this year and she did an incredible job. I think the race gave her just the nudge she needed to finally sign up for her first half marathon. She’s been thinking about it and she’s half way there! I’m thrilled for her and looking forward to helping her train for the Hartford Half Marathon this October.

A walk down memory lane…

Bridge of Flowers 2010 (pre-blog) – 1:07:36 (10:52 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2011 – 1:04:16 (10:21 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2012 – 1:01:53 (9:58 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2013 – 56:01 (9:01 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2014 – I did not run due to Achilles injury.

Bridge of Flowers 2015 – 58:51 (9:29 pace)

After the race I took Carlos and his friend to visit friends who are spending the week on the shore in Milford, CT. It was a perfect beach day. We made it down to their beach house around 3:30 and jammed in a full day’s worth of activities. The kids played and swam. My friend and I took the kayaks out for a ride. It was such a great way to unwind  after the race.

 

Running thoughts 

I just finished an awesome six mile run with hill repeats at the end. I went after lunch. It’s really hot and humid. My legs weren’t feeling great at first but I pushed through it and ran faster than I have in a while. I went up that hill with a vengeance. 

No sooner did I finished the run did I suddenly I felt tears in my eyes and a huge rush of emotion. I have no idea what that was all about. I think about so many things when I’m running. I usually forget most of them by the end of the run and even if I don’t really work out what’s bothering me or what kind of heavy and weighing on me for the day I generally feel 1000 times better. Today that wasn’t the case and when the tears came rolling down my cheeks they just blended with the sweat. I must’ve needed it. I am feeling much better now I must’ve needed it. I am feeling much better now and as always I never regret a run.

Stratton 2016

I’m determined to get this post up before August. This summer is flying by. We spent a wonderful 4th of July weekend in Stratton, VT. We don’t usually go anywhere or do anything exciting for 4th of July. For most of my life we celebrated my aunt’s birthday, but now my aunt and uncle spend the holiday in Florida visiting their grandson. An added perk of not working at the hospital full time is that I get all holidays off now along with my husband.

Stratton is a little less than 2 hours away from us. It’s an easy drive with no traffic. Stratton is better known as a ski resort. A little perk of going to a ski resort during the summer is affordable accommodations. We stayed in a Vantage Point 2 bedroom condo. We invited Carlos’ friend Tyler to come along. He’s the little guy that came to Gettysburg with us. Carlos and Tyler are both very easy to travel with and it’s fun for Carlos to have someone his own age.

I had no itinerary other than fireworks and Bromley Mountain Park on Sunday. The boys enjoyed nerf gun battles in the woods behind the condo. I enjoyed sitting on the balcony overlooking the woods. Orlando joined in the nerf battle when he wasn’t catching up on the Euro Cup 2016.

We walked to the village and took a hay ride around the lower part of the mountain. The boys had a chance to do some paint ball target practice. Then we took the gondola up the mountain. The views were stunning.

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I love staying in condos or places where you have the ability to cook. We ate dinner at the condo. The boys played outside until it was nearly dark. They made friends with some of the kids staying in the next building and had an epic nerf battle.

We watched the fireworks from the base of the mountain. It was a beautiful clear night, but we were freezing by the end.

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The next morning I was itching to go out for a run. It was a chilly sunny morning, ideal for running. I left the condo at 6:30 with the intention of just going out for about an hour. I ran up to the village and past it. I took a left and began heading up a side street. It was clear I was running parallel to the mountain especially when the road became too steep to run. I came across this covered bridge and of course followed the road.

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I found myself on a trail up the mountain. Truth be told I knew I was going to climb up the mountain that morning. I could see the top and from where I stood just past the covered bridge it didn’t look that far. It was a gorgeous day, a tranquil hike, and when I got to the top nearly 90 minutes later I pushed on for another mile to the fire tower. The 360 degree views from the top of the fire tower were well worth the trek.

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That was fun! Seriously, not hard at all.

The day before when we were on the gondola (seen behind my head) I noticed people walking down the mountain so I figured I would do the same instead of following the trail I took up. Oh my lord was that a disaster! It was much steeper down than it appeared standing up at the top. The grass was so long which made it difficult to walk and to see the small streams of water below. I was slipping and sliding all over the place. My entire backside was wet and dirty before I even got halfway down. I was cracking up all by myself. I had no cell service at all and at this point I had been gone for nearly three hours. When I finally got down to the bottom I went through the village and came out at the finish line of a 5K that was in progress. I exited the area as quickly as possible and jogged back to the condo.

The rest of the day was spent at Bromley. This place was so much fun. The boys went on water slides, rode the alpine slide, jumped on a giant trampoline, climbed the rock wall, and spent 2 hours on the tree ropes course. Then we all went down the alpine slide.

I have to give praise to Bromley Mountain Park. I’ve been to many amusement parks and we live 20 minutes from Six Flags New England. This is the first park that I’ve been to that didn’t require the adults to purchase tickets to go in and watch the kids. Orlando and I only bought tickets for the alpine slide at the end. The park had picnic benches and plenty of chairs throughout for people to sit and watch their children. There were numerous large coolers of cold water and paper cups out for people to enjoy FOR FREE! On the same table as the water were bottles of sunscreen. Thoughtful and much appreciated in my opinion. The park was clean, well staffed with friendly people, and included ample free parking. We all had a great time.

Sunday evening we decided to go to nearby Manchester, VT to watch their fireworks. I am of the belief that if you’ve seen one fireworks display you’ve seen them all. I think the kids were even a bit indifferent by the time we got there. The fireworks started after the national anthem played over a loud speaker. The announcer said they would be coordinated with music from popular movies over the years. After each song the kids would say, “I think that was the grand finale,” but it kept going. It was undoubtedly the most spectacular fireworks display I have ever seen.

We drove home on Monday, July 4th. We decided to make a pit stop in Bennington, VT and stumbled upon the Bennington Monument. It commemorates the Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington. They had some Independence Day festivities set up and we were able to take the elevator to the top of the monument. It is the tallest structure in Vermont and you are able to see into New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont from the top.

We stopped for lunch in Williamstown, MA which was a buzz with the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Orlando does some masonry restoration work at Williams College from time to time. It was great to see some of his stone work on such a beautiful campus.

Two nights away in Vermont always recharges my batteries. Perfect timing too…marathon training began on July 5th!

Why?

5 police officers killed in Dallas

3 police officers killed – in St. Louis, Tennessee, and Georgia

the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected by the loss of these lives. I have no eloquent way of expressing my thoughts on these issues so much of this may seem like I’m rambling. I feel a deep sense of sadness right now.

My son enjoys watching the news with my husband most nights. I generally have a good sense of what’s going on in the world even though I rarely sit down with them. My husband and I encourage Carlos to ask questions. He’s interested and inquisitive. As much as the mom in me wants to shelter him from all the bad in the world, I cannot. So I want to make him aware, knowledgeable, and in tune to his surroundings. On Thursday night when he went in the living room to watch the news, I joined him because Orlando was working. Lester Holt began the news with the top stories of the two men killed by police officers. I watched and worried about how to explain these stories to Carlos. I am not going to lie, I felt a sense of relief when I looked over for Carlos’ reaction after the report was finished and realized he was sound asleep. I sat and watched him so peaceful and sweet. Then a rather abrupt realization washed over me as I noted his beautiful dark skin and hair that resembles his father. My son is one day going to be a black man despite being half white. I shook the thought because I didn’t really no what it meant or how to justify my fear as the thought came into my mind.

Have you ever watched little children play with one another? They are so unaware of other kids’ differences particularly as long as everyone is interested in playing. My son has never been concerned with the color of another child’s skin or the clothing a kid wears or a hair do or the gender of a class mate’s parents. None of that is of interest to him. He just wants to play, run, goof around, and laugh with other children. His friends all seem pretty much the same. He still plays with boys and girls. He has friends of various ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. My friend and I often talk about this as we watch our boys make friends almost instantaneously when we go to a playground. We ponder the question when does it all change and why?

At home we have never had a reason to discuss the interracial dynamics of our family. It’s just not something we consider to be a part of our identity. It sounds ridiculous to some, but we simply don’t see the difference.

I put Carlos to bed Thursday night and I went to bed myself at 8pm. I had watched enough and read enough throughout the day about the shootings. I have my own thoughts and opinions which I won’t get into, but essentially they probably go against the grain and I’m not looking for an argument. I was mentally drained. I slept deeply and for many hours until I woke early to go for a run. On my way to the reservoir I heard the news about the police who were shot in Dallas. I instantly thought of a friend whose husband is a policeman in Dallas. I can’t even imagine how she feels day in and day out when her husband is at work. I was relieved hours later when I heard that he was fine, however, I thought about them both throughout the day worried that more violence would erupt. I was brought up to respect a police officer with reverence and a little bit of healthy trepidation for the consequences of breaking the law. Therefore I can honestly say I don’t participate in unlawful activities. The mere thought of being arrested scares me.

Where am I going with all of this? I haven’t a clue. I’m as confused today as I was on Thursday. I’m not taking a stand on any “side” because I truly believe that we all matter. It’s all of the grey areas in the arguments that concern me the most. There is no easy solution, no simple answer, and no outcome to please everyone. We will never live in a world without guns or violence. I’m no idealistic fool. That won’t stop me from praying that maybe one day people will stop hating each other and stop reacting with violence. All I can do is live my life in a way that is meaningful to me and my family, keep them as safe as possible, and do no harm to others.