Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Big Move

Hello everyone!

I'm currently stationed back in chilly Chicago, as my contract ended in The Bahamas in December. While I was sad about that, I think that it was time for me to move on from there. I loved the facility and the island, but I could tell that I was getting a bit restless and needed to make a move.

I've since gotten better about running - even running in the freezing cold in Chicago, but I'm not running long distances yet. My longest runs have been 4 miles, but I'm working back up to lengthier miles.

A few updates on my professional life: I'm presenting on the research I conducted this past semester at the end of February at the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Peru! I'm super excited to get some more stamps on my passport :) This will be the first time that I will have gone to Peru and I cannot wait! If anyone has any tips, please share :)

And now for some information regarding the title... I'm making another big move, to another island...

I've been awarded a scholarship and accepted to start my PhD in Australia, so assuming everything goes according to plan, I will be moving there at the end of March! I'm excited and nervous about this move, but I think it will open up a lot of doors for me and give me some training in the field!

Another, smaller move I've made is on a new travel-esque blog; you can find that blog here: meanderingmermaid.wordpress.com. It's mostly old travel posts from here, right now, but I plan on updating it more when I start traveling again, plus updating with some posts from my time in The Bahamas! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hi There

It's been a LONG time since I've last updated this little blog. I've gone back and forth between starting a new one or deleting this one, but ultimately have done nothing with it.

My health and fitness journey has still been derailed until about a month ago, when I started running fairly regularly again (3x a week). I'm still nowhere near where I was before, but I'm feeling better about myself and my choices!

So, I didn't really log all my runs, but look at how minimal my running has been over the last year!

I've also made the decision to go dairy free. I've been lactose intolerant for almost my entire life, but I continued to eat dairy products. For the last year, I've been feeling pretty awful every time I've eaten dairy, so about a month ago, I decided to cut dairy out cold turkey. My body feels amazing - the best it's felt since I went vegetarian almost 7 years ago. I'm excited to move back to civilization soon and experiment with more dairy free options and recipes! And, I'm meeting my family in Orlando for Thanksgiving, so I will get to have a Dole Whip still because they are dairy free :)

Time to try alternatives to this beauty

Yes - I said move back to civilization soon. For any readers who have spent any amount of time reading my blog in the last year and a half, you remember that I've lived on a family island in The Bahamas for that same amount of time. I've reached a cross-roads here; my contract is expiring in December and I'm not sure what my next move is. I'm itching for a new adventure (I can tell because I want to cut all my hair off again and that's what I do when I make life changes). I've applied to a PhD program, inquired about others, and I've applied to quite a few jobs. I honestly have no idea where I'm going in December and to be honest, it's stressing me out. I know that everything will work out, but I'm SO not good with the not knowing.

Fill me in on things that I've missed! How have your fitness goals changed?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Underdog

This weekend, our students completed either a Half Marathon or a 4-Mile Super Swim in the ocean. In the beginning of the semester, they chose either "swim track" or "run track" and began training for their events.The students have spent the entire 100 days training for these events (on top of their vigorous school work). I volunteered to support both of these events.

On Sunday, I got up at 4 am and promptly locked myself out of my house at 4:15 am to head to the support meeting for the Half Marathon. I was going to be a "roving bicycle" throughout the event. I didn't take any photos, but my experience was amazing. I had some great conversations with students. One of the moments I enjoyed was when a student was telling me that the run felt like he was back home in NJ and that he felt like he was running home at that very moment. Then, he got very philosophical on me and said "Well, I guess in a way, I am running home."  Another favorite moment was when I was riding with two girls 5 miles out from the finish. They were both struggling - one had the worst shin splints and the other confessed to not drinking enough water the day before. I gave them both electrolyte pills and some encouraging words. A few sweeper vans passed by and I told them it would be okay if they dropped out, but neither wanted to. Near the finish, the girl with the shin splints asked if it was okay that she walked to mile 13 and then sprint to the finish. I told her that this was a great plan and she meekly asked "does this still count as running a half marathon?" I made sure she knew how proud I was of her and that OF COURSE it still counted as running a half marathon! She finished so strong and crossed the finish line in tears. The students waited at the flagpole (their finish line) until every student crossed. And every student finished - no one dropped out - under three hours! I am so proud of all of them.

Photo Credit: The Island School

During the Super Swim (on Monday, so I guess not the weekend), I was boat support for the last pair of swimmers. I had 6 students on board with me and they were quite quiet in the beginning. However, after we followed the last buddy pair to the turnaround, the excitement grew. The kids on my boat were cheering as loud as they could, dancing, jumping in the water, and being incredibly supportive. This energy kept up until our pair finished - under 4 hours - and we headed back to the boathouse. This swim was amazing, though, for reasons more than just the support and excitement the students felt for one another. Everyone who participated in this swim finished this event as well. But, there is one boy who really stands out. This student came to the Island School 97 days ago and could not swim. On Monday, he finished a 4-mile swim in the ocean and did not finish last. Another thing that made that moment so special? Jack Johnson was there to witness it and support him. Jack Johnson had been on campus all weekend as part of our Youth Island Action Summit against plastic pollution. He was pinned as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNEP and decided he wanted to compete in the swim as well. He shared this touching photo on Instagram

"Jack couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate #WorldOceansDay than by waking up and jumping in the water for a four-mile swim with friends and ocean advocates. Jack was most excited about his new friend, Jeremy, who learned to swim just 97 days ago and crossed the finish line with everyone!  @thetorpedopeople and all the @theislandschool kids"

My heart is so full and when I saw that photo and caption, I was almost moved to tears. I am so proud of all of these students and what they accomplished. I also think that this has motivated me to volunteer for more races when I move back to a place where races are offered more frequently. 

Have you ever volunteered for a race? What was your favorite moment?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Queen of the Weirdest Injuries

Since moving to the Bahamas in August, I think I've become the queen of the weirdest injuries. I never really deemed myself as clumsy before, but since I've been here, I've been a walking disaster.

A list of some of the injuries I have incurred here include:
1. Tearing the cartilage in my right knee by tripping over a log in the dark because I was chasing after a van trying to get a ride home
2. (Potentially) Fracturing my shin because I dropped a cooler full of sharks on it
3. Cutting open my foot on a piece of coral because I had to go pee and jumped onto a small piece in the shallow waters.
4. Swollen/jammed hand due to a strong sea turtle crushing it with its flippers

I fall on boats all the time, bang up my legs on various equipment, cut my hands and feet on various objects, get scratches from sea turtles, get stung by jellies, and am just an all around klutz. Yesterday, I incurred another incredibly interesting and weird injury. Scroll past this next picture if you don't want to see a bit of blood ;)

Part of my toenail was ripped up by a tote full of seaweed. What kind of job do I have? Yesterday, we took students from the local primary school to collect seaweed for the community garden. The seaweed acts as a natural fertilizer/mulch and is great for their plants. When I was helping unload the van, I moved the last tote and the person I was handing it to grabbed the handle to pull it towards them. Well, my toenail got caught in the mix somehow (not sure how), and I yelped in pain. I didn't think much of it until it started bleeding.

I'm going to try and run on it today, but we'll see. It's throbbing a bit and there's still a bit of bleeding/blood trapped under the nail. I'm wondering if the injured part will reattach or just fall off. The fun of being me ;)

On another note, something that I still love despite sometimes causing me minor injuries? Turtles.

Please note that the front flippers of the sea turtle are the strongest joint. This turtle was out of the water less than 10 minutes and was on its way back to be released to the ocean when this photo was taken

What is your weirdest injury? Are you accident prone?