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?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Two Weeks In

So, I've successfully completed two weeks of my workout plan to get me back into running and off of my lazy ass. I even survived Parents' Weekend, keeping up some semblance of a schedule despite working 4, 16+ hour days in a row!

I'm still running in the single digits, but I will soon be in double digit running weeks + back to back days of running. Right now, I'm running every other weekday for 3 days of running a week. It's hard to believe that I used to run 4-5 days a week and be fine.

One day, training months will resemble the months on the left again

I definitely need to get new shoes, but I won't be able to unless I order them to someone in the states to bring them down for me. I'm not sure when the earliest I can get them will be, but I need to figure that out sooner rather than later. Because I can't go to a running store and try on new models, I'll be ordering a pair of shoes that I know works for me!

Maybe another pair of Brooks will bring back some of my "speed"

What's your favorite site to order shoes from? What was your favorite workout this week?

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Week Back At It

Thanks to those of you who have stuck around in my hiatus ;) This past week was my first venture back into my old routine, and it went relatively well! I've created a workout plan that starts me back out running 3 days a week, doing a Nike Training Club (NTC) workout two days a week, having one true rest day, and doing yoga + stretching on Sunday.

I had no problem getting up on Monday and Wednesday at 5:15 to go for a run. Monday was accompanied by some NTC core work and Wednesday was followed by some intense stretching. I forgot how amazing I feel when I get up early and get my workout done before the sun comes up, even if it's a short workout.

Friday was where it got a little hairy. Thursday was my prescribed "rest day" and I took advantage of that. Friday, I woke up early, but because I didn't sleep well, I didn't get out of bed to go running. I planned on running once I got home. Instead, I fell asleep, and when I woke up again, a friend had come around to share some amazing news (she got the professional development award she was waiting for!), so we had dinner and drinks instead. I then went around to my boss' house for drinks and planned a run on Saturday morning before a trip down island.

Saturday morning I woke up after 4 hours of sleep and got ready for my trip instead of running... When I got home from my trip, it was time for one of my co-worker's going away party. She's been here 3 years (relatively long for non-managers here) and has been such a huge influence in the community. The party was AMAZING, with coworkers and locals coming out to celebrate her. Sadly, I was feeling a bit under the weather and couldn't enjoy it to the full extent, but I did have a great time nonetheless.

On Sunday, I woke up determined to make up for my two days of excuses and did the run I had planned for Friday. I threw in some body squats every half mile and then did some NTC when I came home. Later that evening, I did yoga + stretching, so I've stuck to the plan for the most part, getting in all of my planned workouts!

This week is going to be insane because all of the students' parents are coming down tomorrow. That means that I will be taking parents out into the field, watching my students give presentations, having parent-teacher meetings, and schmoozing with the parents all weekend! I'm going to need all the motivation I can get to make it through this week and stick with my workouts.

How was your week of workouts? Are you good about sticking to a plan or making up missed workouts?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Year of Healing

Does anyone still read this blog? I know it's been months since I've last posted. I'm still alive...and still doing well :) If you are reading this, thanks for sticking around through my sporadic posting over the last year. 

It's been over a year since I first injured my hamstring. It's been nearly a year since I've been recovered enough to run normally. It's been over a year since I last raced. And it's been over a year since I've run consistently. 

When I first got injured, I was really anxious and itching to get back as soon as possible. I was cross-training and strength training. I was still in really great shape. I was really watching my food intake to make sure that I didn't put on any weight. 

I went to Europe and walked everywhere and didn't eat very much - my pants were nearly falling off when I came home. I ran in August when I was in limbo waiting for my move to the Bahamas. I ran relatively consistently when I first moved to the Bahamas, then I kind of stopped.

Gym shoes on for some serious walking

To be fair, part of the reason I stopped was because I fell in September and (suspected injury) tore some cartilage in my knee. Then, in December, I dropped a cooler full of sharks (most random injury award goes to me?) on my shin and it was so swollen I could barely touch it, let alone walk/run (I suspect I might have fractured it in hindsight). I committed to running the half marathon with the students this semester, then I stayed lazy and injured my foot by jumping on a rock and cutting it 

Similar to the cooler of sharks I dropped on my shin....

If you've read this far, then you've probably realized that I've been full of excuses the last year. Yes, I've had some pretty random injuries/ailments, but mostly, I've had laziness and excuses. To be honest, however, only a tiny part of me feels guilty about the laziness. Somehow, I'm still known as "the girl who runs" to my co-workers and to the locals in my settlement, even if I don't do it 4-5 times a week like I used to. Over the last year, I've learned that it's okay to not monitor every calorie or to not work out twice a day, three times a week. 

I think I'm ready to get back into it, though. I have to admit, it's easier to be in shape in the States because I have access to a gym and I have control over my food. My job provides me food and we have a kitchen that cooks for us. I eat food here I normally wouldn't, but I eat. I haven't gained too much weight (maybe 5ish pounds), but I'm flabby in places I haven't been flabby in in a while. My pants are a teensy bit tighter. I've made a plan to get back into it and I've started with some Nike Training Club workouts. I'm hoping to get back into running consistently this week. 

Old photo from when I first moved here... a "slow for me" long run pace, but at least I was running! 

I've made this declaration a few times over the year. This time feels a bit different, but I also know that I don't owe it to anyone but myself to be healthy and to be happy with my body. So, if I fall off the face of the Earth again or fall off the fitness train, that's okay. The last year has been a year full of learning and full of life and my heart is full. 

What's the longest time you've taken off from consistent running? What's your secret to getting back into the groove of things?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Six Year Veggieversary!

Today marks six years since I declared myself "vegetarian." Over the years, my definition of vegetarian has changed, and I think it is an ever-growing process of self-discovery and finding balance.

When I first transitioned, I was still eating fish pretty regularly. Then, I transitioned to occasionally eating fish. Next, I ate absolutely no meat at all (true vegetarian). I eat no eggs, do eat dairy, and am finally becoming more flexible with my eating habits. Why have I become more flexible? I fell in love with travel, and eating in restaurants or having others cook for me means that I have to be more flexible.

Everyone can just feed me this

When I was in Europe this past summer, the only area I felt I "skimped on" the experience was in the food department. Many traditional meals contain meat, so I missed out on that. I did find an amazing vegetarian restaurant in Dublin, but other than that, I did not eat many outstanding meals. When I work in Costa Rica, my host mother usually has a hard time figuring out what to feed me. One plus side, however, is that Costa Ricans do not a TON of meat, so I don't ever feel like too much of a burden.
Cornucopia restaurant in Dublin

I currently live in the Bahamas and still eat relatively little to no fish. In fact, the only meat I will eat is lionfish because it is invasive. One of the reasons that I am vegetarian is for environmental reasons, so it makes sense for me (in my values and convictions) to eat lionfish. I still do not eat eggs, even if that means having a very small breakfast when eggs are served at the dining hall. However, I have had to learn to have blind trust in those preparing my meals (the women in the dining hall), because they are preparing meals for 200 people, 3 times a day, 6 days a week. It's a lot of work. So, instead of panicking that I might have ingested chicken broth (i honestly don't know what their ingredients are, so I trust they are cooking true vegetarian), I serve myself the soup they spent hours preparing. I miss having control of my food, I miss certain aspects of my diet, but I am appreciative. I will continue to grow as a person and a vegetarian, as life is a learning process!

Do you have any food fears? What's the hardest part of traveling for you?

Monday, February 16, 2015

That Time I (Accidentally) Stole a Child's Shoes

This is a story from November that I've contemplated sharing on the blog for a while, and I've finally decided to A) write a new blog post and B) share some hilarity with you all.

On Black Friday (just a regular Friday in the Bahamas), I decided to run home from work. The distance from the front door of the research institute to my driveway is 5.3 miles. I wanted to do 6 miles total, so when I came into my settlement, I took the back road to add some miles. Because the distance from our settlement to work is so long, we have a shared shuttle service between the two locations. I had asked a friend to take my backpack home and set it outside my door so it would be there when I got home from my run. On the side of my backpack, I had stashed my hot pink, Old Navy flip flops (this is important, including the color) in the side pockets of my backpack, stuck the bag in the van, and headed home.

The shoes that started it all

When I got onto the back road, I saw a pair of small, hot pink flip flops (I wear a size 6) in the middle of the street in front of the building where some of my coworkers live. I figured that my shoes fell out of the van when someone was getting out, so I picked them up and carried on with my run. Instantly, two local boys are chasing me yelling "Those are my shoes!!" These kids are always knocking on our doors asking for chocolate, money, or other items, so I just assumed they were hustling me. I yelled back "No! These are my shoes!" and they kept chasing me. The older one finally caught up to me and said "Lady, those are my shoes!" To which I responded, while still running, "No, these are my shoes, now leave me alone." He finally let me keep running, but he looked defeated.

Me trying to avoid the children and take "my" shoes

I rounded the corner and headed to my house. I ran up the stairs to my apartment door and my stomach dropped: my backpack was sitting outside of my door, complete with my small, pink flip flops in the side pockets. I had stolen that child's shoes.

I immediately sprinted down the stairs and another quarter mile before I found the boy. I gave him back his shoes and apologized profusely. He simply took the shoes, looked at me, put them on his feet, and walked away. I felt AWFUL and hoped he didn't get in trouble with his mother. I can just imagine how difficult, if not impossible, of a story that would have been to believe when her son told her why he was shoeless.

Later, I told my friends about the incident, and multiple people responded "OH! So that's why they were asking me if I knew that lady who was running with no shirt on. They said she stole their shoes." I was running in my sports bra, so that shirtless, shoe thief, was me.

Have you ever gotten into a situation like this?