"Aspire not to have more, but to be more"

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflection on 2013

      This time last year I was sitting here on my bed with tears in my eyes thinking "Where am I going in my life? What the heck am I doing?" . I felt like I had hit a dead end. I had just recently graduated from college and didn't have a job lined up or any plans to live anywhere except home. Since I had graduated early, I was knocked all out of wack because ever since I was a little girl, I had told myself I would be graduating from college in 2013 and I had graduated in 2012. Yes, it was definitely exciting to graduate early, but I didn't have anything to look forward to! At least, that's what I thought at the time.

     2013 has been one hell of a year. I worked four jobs at once, fell in love, was told I might not ever be able to run again, bought a car, fell out of love, drove cross country solo (twice), lived in San Francisco (and loved it), worked for a startup, was "homeless", moved home, ran the New York City Marathon, turned 22, got a dream job, then another one...so bring it on 2014. 2013 has had it's ups and downs but it has been hands down the best year so far and I think I know why - it's because I had no expectations for 2013. I got comfortable with being uncomfortable. It was my first official year in the "real world", but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Yes, paying for student loans and my car stinks, but I feel like I've accomplished something when a paycheck comes in and I can pay my bills.

   On the whole falling in love / falling out of love thing... it happens to all of us at some point. I've realized how much I value my boldness and independence. If I was "tied down" earlier this year, I would NEVER have taken the leap I did to the West Coast. I would never have accepted a job in San Francisco on a Tuesday, said goodbye to my closest friends and family over a span of 3 days, and then pack my car and head west by myself that Sunday. That cross country drive out to San Francisco was one of the most eye-opening experiences I've ever had. Just me, my car, and the highway. I loved every minute of it and I really enjoyed my time in SF. I can't wait to get back on the road!

    Running the New York City Marathon was one of my favorite parts of 2013. There really are no words that can accurately describe the experience - who knew running 26.2 miles would be so breathtaking? If I could run it every year for the rest of my life, I would.

  2014. Bring it on.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What the heck is up with designers these days?

Something that I have always struggled to understand since I was involved with United Students for Fair Trade is why is apparel these days so much lower quality than it was 50 years ago? Even in the past 10 years alone I find that the materials and methods used to make our every day apparel has gone down the drain. What the heck is going on? Wouldn't designers use common sense and choose higher quality, longer lasting fabrics? Wouldn't the supervisors in factories overseas take pride in the work that is being completed and actually reward the hard work being done? Well unfortunately no, that's not the way it works.

A few years ago I visited a former sweatshop in the Dominican Republic on a trade justice trip. After speaking with the workers in the factory as well as at a fair trade chocolate cooperative.

I don't understand why people are so motivated by money. Yes, it's nice to get rewarded for hard work, but I feel like I have been meeting more and more people these days that place material goods higher on their level of important than their own family or friends! Maybe I've just become more aware of this since I've personally hit a financially tough spot in my life. It's upsetting that it's all people worry abotu and money is their only way to happiness. How can we change the world for the better and encourage people to live simply so others may simply live?

My reaction to WSJ's "OK, You're a Runner. Get Over It"

"OK, You're a Runner. Get Over It" <-- No, how about YOU get over it??

On November 12, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article by Chad Stafko titled "OK, You're a Runner. Get Over it" . I recommend you read it if you haven't.
Basically, Chad writes about runners and anger about them putting something as simple as a bumper sticker on their car indicating a race distance that they have completed (such as 13.1 or 26.2). Well Chad, I have BOTH on my car and display them with pride.

I'm not going to lie, when I was driving cross country I would look in my rearview mirror to see what people's reactions were when I drove past them. The majority of them would talk but who knows if they were talking about the fact that I was passing them or the fact that I had those bumper stickers on my car. I think that those stickers really unite the whole crazy running community.

As I was running today, multiple cars passed me with those stick figures on their back window displaying for the world to see how big (or small) their family is, and how many kids they have. In my opinion, if someone driving those cars is against runners having runner bumper stickers, why is it right for them to display their family? To me, the family bumper stickers are worse than the runner bumper stickers. What if a couple can't have kids but really wants to? Wouldn't driving by these stickers be a stab at their heart? I guess some people don't take it personally, but sheesh, people take the chill pill before you go getting mad at runners for displaying something their proud of! At least we don't walk around all year long wearing our half or full marathon medals!!

To close, here is the BEST response I have seen to the WSJ article: The WSJ's "Get Over It" Column, Translated

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Margaritas and Miles

I went out for margaritas at my favorite Mexican Restaurant Monday night after work. Once I got home, I realized I hadn't even eaten dinner but was so tired I just went straight to bed! Woke up this morning and was dreading the Ladies Run but those margaritas did wonderful things - I wish I could have run longer.

Today I had my longest run since the NYC Marathon - just about 6 miles! It's good to be back on the road. Some people have been asking what my next race will be -- right now it looks like the Rock n Roll DC Half in March with some friends and then the Vermont City full marathon at the end of May. I'm tempted to do the Rock n Roll full because it's only $15 more...for twice the distance...but we will see what the doc says (I have to see a chiropractor about my feet - oy vai). I definitely know I can do two full marathons in a year, it's just deciding which two I want to do is the hard part! Like I said, I have my eyes on Vermont City (since I deferred my entry from last year) and possibly Chicago in the fall? We'll see ;)

Also - some of my running blogger friends have been posting about two different initiatives by the running community to stay fit with some pretty cool prizes - one is "Pile on the Miles" (aka #POTM2013) and the other is the 2013 Holiday Running Streak . Pile on the Miles is a goal-setting initiative for the month of November managed by one of my favorite bloggers this year - RunEatRepeat . The idea is that you choose the mileage you want to run in the month of November and you do it! I just realized that I never signed up, so today I did. My original goal was to run 50 miles after I've run the NYC Marathon, and I'm only 24.25 miles away from that goal! I'm going to do the Holiday Running Streak as well - thats where you run at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year's....we'll see how that goes. I encourage you to sign up if you haven't already!

That's all for now - happy running!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

One week post-NYC Marathon

I can't believe it's already been a week since I ran the NYC Marathon. I'm STILL all smiles - definitely one of the best moments of my life. I know I have probably said this before but I am so thankful to be where I am in my life right now. From my family to my lululemon family, there are so many things I look forward to every day when I wake up. Running is fun. Bikram Yoga is fun. Life is fun. Earlier this week I realized that there are so many miserable people in this world. How can they be so miserable? How can negative people live their lives day to day? I wouldn't be able to do it; too depressing. I choose to be happy and I hope that I can inspire others to do the same. There are so many great things happening, why miss out on them by being miserable?

This week I "took off" from running. I got back from New York late Monday night and was so excited to sleep in my bed! Tuesday AM I was up early to lead a Ladies Running Group at 9am at Charm City Run -- I only did 2 miles at a sluggish pace, but it was nice to be able to loosen up my legs after having sat on a train forever on Monday. Tuesday night I went hardcore and did Bikram at Bikram Yoga Columbia. I could barely walk going in to class, and afterwards I felt renewed and pain free. Turns out I really just needed a good stretch! Wednesday I treated myself to a much needed mani/pedi (it's been too long...) and lots and lots of sleep. I worked quite a bit during the latter part of this past week, but I was able to recover from the marathon. Today I went to Centennial Park and ran 5 miles -- I was going to do 7, but I felt so sluggish that I decided to give myself a break :).

Someone asked me tonight what my next race is: I'm actually not registered for anything - this is the longest I've gone without registering in almost 4 years! As you may remember, I deferred my registration for the Vermont City Marathon last year because of my "injury", so I'm probably going to do that race at the end of May. I'm also probably going to be doing the Rock n Roll Half in DC with one of my best friends from high school in March. My goal for the winter is to do some tuning and get FAST. I now know I can run half and full marathons, I just want to cut down my time and eventually qualify for Boston!

Well that's all for now - hope everyone has a great week! Stay positive :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 ING NYC Marathon

I feel so official typing the title of this blog post. I ran the New York City Marathon this past Sunday.... I actually did it!! I have come so far since the first mile I ran when I was 12 years old, the summer going into my freshman year of high school. All throughout high school I was the slowest girl on my cross country team, but in college I was able to motivate myself to run and wound up running my first half marathon in October 2010. Since then, I have completed 3 full marathons and 9 half marathons. Here is my analysis of the NYC Marathon....

Leading up to the race, the NYRR did a great job at keeping us informed of everything that was going once. They stay on top of their social media and send emails, but not too many. All throughout preparation and race weekend never once did I find myself saying "where should I be now?" or "what should I be doing?". Communication was A+ throughout the entire weekend and I felt very safe, too.

After having my train arrive to NYC almost 2 hours late due to downed power lines, I arrived at the Javits Center for packet pickup around noon. The line was outside and down the sidewalk, but as with most lines in NYC, it moved pretty quickly. Once we entered the actual Javits Center, they checked our bags and in we went to the expo! WOW - it was HUGE and very well organized. I picked up my number, got a picture with the "countdown until race day" clock, and did a little shopping.

The Asics section was huge - as it would be since they were a main sponsor! I decided against buying any apparel because I told myself I would only buy finishers apparel -- what's the point of buying apparel for a race you didn't even finish?! I stopped by the Saucony area and said hi to Jeff, one of our Tech Reps. I treated myself to some CEP recovery socks for post-marathon recovery. I also got my hands on the new Garmin 220, but had to resist buying one. Maybe that will be my birthday present to myself :).

After leaving the expo, I walked around the city for a little bit, grabbed some dinner, and headed up to my cousin's in the Bronx. She was having a "Day of the Dead" party, so I got to meet her friends. I got to bed a little later than I was planning on going to bed, but I was able to sleep in on Saturday so that made up for it. Saturday afternoon we explored the Bronx a little and then before I knew it I was headed down to Manhattan for dinner! Saturday night I stayed with a friend who lives right near Hell's Kitchen, so we had a great Italian dinner. I was in bed by 10:30pm....didn't fall asleep until about 2... and was up at 5:45! I'm really glad I opted to stay with my friend in Manhattan - made the commute so much easier and shorter in the morning!

One mistake I did make was not planning where I was going to be eating breakfast race morning. I assumed there would be a 24hr Starbucks in Times Square - I was wrong! Luckily I didn't have to wait too long until it opened, so I got plain oatmeal, a banana, and a shot of espresso. I hopped on the subway and headed to the Staten Island Ferry!

I arrived and the wait wasn't long and the ferry had plenty of seats. I had selected with my registration to take the 7am ferry, but because I hung around in Times Square for a Starbucks to open, I got on the 7:30. No one checked to see which ferry we were supposed to be on, which was fine with me! I'd say I waited 15 minutes to get on the ferry and the actual ride was about 30 minutes. Once we reached Staten Island, I joined thousands of other runners hanging out in the ferry terminal to stay warm. I charged my phone, got all of my stuff situated for the race, and then was ready to head to the start! I went outside and was greeted with a cold wind and a long line for the buses, but as I mentioned earlier, just because there may be a long line, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be waiting a long time. I was on a bus within 30 minutes and headed to the start.

Once we got off the buses we had to go through metal detectors and headed to Fort Wadsworth. They had tons of port o potties and the corrals were clearly labeled. I started in the 3rd wave in the Orange Corral. I had been warned that I was going to be sitting outside for a long time in the cold, but I was sitting for maybe 10 minutes when they ushered us to the start! The sun was out so it was much warmer than I thought it was going to be. Glad I had layers on!! After I ditched my excess layers, I was all ready for the start.

People have said it before, but there is really nothing quite like the start to the New York City Marathon. Just imagine tens of thousands of people lined up to run 26.2 miles through the streets of NYC..."New York, New York" playing... the cannon goes off -- and we're off!!

The Verranzano Bridge really wasn't that steep, considering what I had been warned and some of the hills I've run. The bridge in Annapolis, MD that many races have included in them is 10x worse, and I've done many races in Annapolis, so I didn't have any problems running the Verranzano. I did get a little hot on the bridge, so I had to peel off my pullover and re-pin my number onto the shirt I was wearing underneath. Now I understand why race number belts exist! I'm going to have to get one of those.

As soon as we got into Brooklyn there were SO many people cheering for us - it was awesome. Throughout the entire race I didn't need my music because there was so much music being played throughout the course! Apparently the NYC Marathon has more music per mile than any other race - ~5 bands per mile (that isn't even including people just blaring music from their speakers!). The bridges really weren't that bad - even the Queenstown Bridge was fun!

There really is nothing like running up First Ave with tens of thousands of people cheering for you on either side of the road! I ran into one of my good friends from Maryland, my cousin, and another friend who was working at a water station during the race. I'm glad I had my phone. I didn't hit the wall, but around mile 18 my back started to cramp up -- the crowds helped me along and I powered through until the finish! Running through Central Park at the end was probably my favorite part -- the leaves were beautiful and the crowds going into Columbus Circle were electrifying. The finish was breathtaking!

Right when you finish they keep ushering you along for your medal, space blanket, official finishers picture, and bag of recovery food. Then the hard part starts - the walk to the exit. I swear that walk is feels like you're running another 26.2! Luckily, I had opted for "no baggage" so I was able to "exit early" which meant I only had to walk one mile uphill after the finish instead of 2 miles like the people who checked their bags! If you didn't check your bag you also got a snazzy fleece-lined poncho -- TOTALLY worth it!! The recovery food was great, poncho was toasty, and the pictures have turned out really well so far(I might even consider buying some).... the walk to the subway and walking the next few days has sucked haha but I'll survive.

After I finished, I headed to my friend's in Manhattan to get my bag of stuff. He was at a bar watching the Pat's game and as soon as I walked in everyone cheered for me - it was pretty cool :). I ate dinner at Chevy's in Times Square and then began the journey back to the Bronx where a hot shower, my recovery compression socks and stick were calling my name! I slept like a baby Sunday night!

Monday morning I got up at 5:30am to get down to Central Park for the Marathon Monday Finisher's Festival to get my medal engraved and official finisher's gear. Getting my medal engraved was totally worth it - it was only $20! The finisher's gear was lame - it was some off brand with weird sizing and was ridiculously over priced, so I just bought an Asics Marathon jacket instead (they only had 4 left at 7am when they opened, and I was able to snag one!). Everyone wore their medal that day in the city - it was fun to be able to look at the runners and if you made eye contact you would both wave and embrace each other's pain!

All of this being said, if you can do one marathon in your entire life, make it the New York City Marathon. It is worth every penny and you will have so much fun! Who knew you could have so much fun running 26.2 miles??

Some final thoughts...
  • I'm really glad that I decided to not check a bag
  • I got a little sun-kissed, but I'm glad I didn't wear a hat. Wish I didn't even bring one with me!
  • You don't need water bottles- there is water at every mile after mile 3! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

'Twas the day before the 2013 NYC Marathon...

I still can't believe that in less than 24 hours I will be running the 2013 NYC Marathon!

I remember when I swore off ever running again my senior year of high school. When I went off to college, I was going to the gym every day but didn't really feel like I was getting much out of my workouts. 20 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes power walking, and 20 minutes hiking really wasn't doing it for me! I remember going to the gym one Sunday morning in November 2009 and was power walking (I refused to let myself run) on the treadmill and I was watching the NYC Marathon. I told myself : "I'm going to do that one day". If you asked me 4 years ago if I thought I would actually be running the New York City Marathon, I would tell you no. The day I committed to running a marathon and then 5 months later committing to run a half marathon were two moments that literally changed my life for the better.

When I ran the Baltimore Half in 2010, I had trained by myself and came up with my own training plan. I finished in 2:09, which is pretty admirable for a first half! All I remember during that race was running as fast as I could and pushing myself. Then, a year later, I ran my first full marathon - the Marine Corps Marathon. Although I didn't have the best finishing time, I definitely learned that it takes a *little* more time to train for a full marathon than a half 😉. I used that experience to improve the next year and hopefully this year the training has paid off as well!

Earlier this year I was having weird tingling sensations in my foot so I went to the doctor and they said the only way for the pain to go away was if I stopped running. Telling a runner to stop running is like telling a movie star they can't act or a singer they can't sing. I was devastated.

I took some time off from running and did bikram yoga and pool running ... For a few weeks.. But I couldn't wait to pound the pavement. I went back to running and still felt the pain so I decided to defer the Vermont City Marathon I had been training for until next year. I was heart broken, but this injury was actually a blessing in disguise.

A few months later (mid August), I found out I got into the NYC Marathon. Seriously. What a surprise! Some people go 10 years of entering the lottery and being denied before they are let in. Some people never even get the chance to run a marathon in their lives! I'm so incredibly thankful and blessed that I will have the opportunity to run 26.2 miles with 50,000 other crazy runners tomorrow - among them are Olympians, world record holders, and even Pamela Anderson!

I went to the race expo yesterday at the Javits Center and it was a zoo- I had to double check and make sure I wasn't at a UN Conference because it was so crowded and there were people from all over the world speaking different languages. Last night I stopped by the Opening Ceremony for the Marathon- WOW! It was very well organized and seeing the finish line gave me goosebumps.

I cannot imagine who or where I would be without running. Running is not just part of my lifestyle, but it's part of my career. The satisfaction I get from being able to inspire others to run cannot be compared to anything else in this world . Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a constant support system - especially my family and friends.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Kingsbridge Ave,New York,United States

Monday, October 28, 2013

Food & Relaxation in the week of TAPER

Tapering is never easy... I definitely look forward to it, but holding myself back from running 5 miles because I want to is SO hard. I ran 10 miles yesterday and the furthest I plan to run this week (/will allow myself to run) is 3.1 miles. This week I have committed to relaxing, eating healthy, and crossing things off of my to-do list that I haven't been able to do since I moved home from California.

I can't believe I've already been home a month!! I miss California sooo much, but hey, I'll go back soon - it's only a matter of time. Since being home, I think I have taken a greater appreciation for things I used to take for granted - like the convenience of a real mall, grocery stores other than Whole Foods, Safeway & Trader Joe's (trust me, they get old after a while!), and hills on my runs. MOM's Organic Market is hands down my favorite grocery store. Seriously, this store got me through college. I would ride my bike or run to the one in College Park and just meander through the aisles, without even buying anything sometimes. It was therapy for me. Now I'm home and it's still like therapy for me :)

As some of you may have heard, I had a pretty nasty fall on my run Thursday--I could barely walk Friday and Saturday and somehow I woke up yesterday with very little pain, allowing me to squeeze in my 10 miler. This week my goals are : figure out what I'm wearing for race day and make one kick ass playlist (even though I probably won't even listen to it as I run).

Today was my last day of work until next week when I get back from the New York Marathon. As soon as I got off work, I came home and COOKED ! It's been way too long - the kitchen has been calling my name. For about two hours, I cooked spaghetti squash, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, chicken, and sweet potatoes! Hopefully this will keep me fueled for race day. I also had a great evening sweat date with myself at Bikram Yoga Columbia  -- I've never cried during yoga, but tonight I definitely did - hey, there's a first for everything!!

Things I'm scared of this weekend:
1. Oversleeping - it happened for the 2011 Army 10-miler, and this year I'm not trying to miss the boat to the start (literally).. I have accepted the fact I will get very little sleep this weekend
2. Being hungry at the start - I won't actually start running until like 10:15 on Sunday morning....maybe I'll stop and get a steak dinner mid-marathon?
3. Sucking. Rule #1: Don't suck

Other than that, nothing. Bring it on world!! xoxo

PS - My goal is to head West again in January -- stay tuned :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's time to taper!

In my opinion tapering sucks. When you are training you can't wait until it's time to taper, and then when it actually is time to taper, all you wish you could do is run. Since I had (well, in my opinion) sub-par running experiences last weekend, I decided to make my 13 miler today a chance to make up for it. I laced up my good ole Saucony Guides and took trit trot several times around Centennial Lake.

My main issue last weekend at the Baltimore Running Festival was not the fact that I hadn't been training, it was the fact that you aren't supposed to think about anything when you run, and I was thinking about literally everything there was to think about when I ran. Today it was a struggle to get to mile 5, but once I was there I could have kept running for a full 26.2! Alas, I had to force myself to stop at 13.1. There were two old guys that made the run enjoyable - one was playing a harmonica and the other cheered for me every lap I made.

My goal for the next two weeks is to figure out what I'm wearing on race day, stay healthy, and remember it's TAPER TIME!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Baltimore Half Marathon 2013

Me after my 8th half marathon!
Finished in 2:14
It wasn't pretty, but I did it!! I just completed my 8th half marathon! This was my 4th year in a row doing the Baltimore Half Marathon and I struggled. Should not have had that whole wheat bagel with PB on it before I started!

In light of what happened in Boston back in April, his year there was an obvious increase in security for the Baltimore Running Festival. This was also the first year that Under Armour wasn't the head sponsor -- and I think it was pretty obvious to those of us who have done the run in years past. Maybe CSE decided to spend more of their money on security - who knows. My only real complaints about the race were:

  • The starting line was moved and as soon as we made our first right there were cars and even a bus of Relay runners blocking the path of 10,000 half marathoners. 
  • There were some water stops without volunteers - or an adequate amount of volunteers. 
  • Around Lake Montebello there weren't as many bands as there normally are , which made that part of the race a struggle for some of us. The second half of the race was A+ in my book - the Tiger by Union Memorial and all of the upbeat music made the second part of the run leaps and bounds better than the first!
  • Runners were told that the finish line was being moved closer to Camden Yards to eliminate some of the congestion in the Finish Line Festival. I'm not sure if it was because I was 18 minutes slower than my time last year, but the Finish Line Festival was more crowded at the entrance than in years past. There were lots of tables with the medals in areas that would normally be open. At the Finish Line Festival, there was also no composting or recycling. Was UA paying for this? Not sure, but this is something I don't know why they got rid of. Last year they had composting & recycling teams! 
Other than that, I enjoyed the race. Baltimore always has a great Running Festival and I am looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Funny Running Videos

Here are some funny running videos I have come across. Posting these now since it is officially fall, which is marathon season! Best of luck to everyone with their final weeks of training!
Marathon Thoughts
Marathon Runner's Monday Morning at Work
The 8 Stages of Running A Marathon

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall Running

This evening I came to the conclusion that I absolutely despise out & back runs; unless they are tempo runs.
As I was running this evening, I realized how blessed I am to be able to have some time on the East Coast this fall. I have been working a lot and don't have my car, but I've been able to enjoy it through my alone time on my runs. I'm looking forward to my long run tomorrow with a friend - hopefully I can kick myself in the butt and do it. I tripped on my run tonight and got banged up pretty bad but hey, I got up and kept going. Can't wait for the Baltimore Half & NYC marathon.
I can't wait to bake - I wish I had someone to bake for! I want to make apple crisp and pumpkin cookies but when you're a 20 something entrepreneur it's hard to find the time to do it!
A new adventure is in store for me later this week - stay tuned!

Location:Hunters Run Dr,Cockeysville,United States

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My reaction to WSJ "The Slowest Generation"

I work part time at a running store on the west coast by the name of See Jane Run, and their social media gal passed around this article this morning found in the Wall Street Journal. The article, "The Slowest Generation: Younger Athletes Are Racing With Less Concern About Time" gives an interesting perspective on us millennials and how we feel about running. One of my friends asked how I felt about it and I posted my reaction on Facebook, but here is it for all of you not following me on Facebook:

I agree that it is great to have themed runs like the Color Run, Tough Mudder, Diva Dash, etc etc available to get people out there and exercising, but when it comes to racing things like the half marathon and full marathon have now become a "bucket-list" items when they were once elite athletes only. 

I'm not against these themed runs by any means - I'm thrilled to see family and friends getting out there and running/exercising. I'm also not against folks doing halfs or fulls, or races of any distance for that matter, as "bucket-list" items, I just hope they train wisely and don't wake up one morning and do it without training at all. I am not an elite runner but I do know most folks that are considered elite runners strategically choose which races they will be participating in based on who their competition will be, so they don't really have to worry about running with "novices" - if they do, they chose to run that race!

I am 100% a firm believer that "More 'average' people running = possibility of ranking higher more easily." Something that does perturb me is that "Many new runners come from a mind-set where everyone gets a medal and it's good enough just to finish." This didn't bother me until last year when a bunch of runners were all up in arms that they ran the Baltimore Running Festival 5K and didn't get medals like the rest of the runners in other distances at the Festival did. It was stated plain and clear on the race website that 5K runners would NOT receive medals and to my knowledge it had always been that way in previous BRF races. The BRF crew decided to go out of their way and send all of the 5k participants medals (I'm pretty sure, or they were promising them medals this year) -- this was ridiculous. You signed up for the race knowing you wouldn't get a medal! Your entry fee was significantly cheaper due to this as well!

I do not agree that everyone is becoming lazy. Every race I run I try to make faster than my last; it is up to the runners to set personal goals for themselves, not race organizers. Yes, there are cut off times, but it is ultimately up to the runner how fast they run and what they want to get out of the race - they are paying for it! (Most races are quite pricey these days too!)

Monday, September 23, 2013

20 miler & East Coast

Wow! Just realized how long it has been since I last posted. Since my last post, I flew to and from the East Coast twice in the span of a week. I'm now back on the East Coast for a few weeks to help oversee production for our company.

Two weekends ago I went out and did my 20-mile training run on the NCR Trail. What really helped me was the fact that I broke it up into four 5-mile runs mentally. It took me much longer than I had anticipated but I'm really glad I did it. I wish there were more hills! I have yet to decide if I will do another 20 mile training run... I feel like I might have another one in me, I just don't want to over do it. I was supposed to run 14-16 miles this past weekend, but time got away from me...maybe I'll do that run this week? I'm not too concerned about my training because I've been running consistently for the past year or so, with a few short breaks in there, and I know I can run a full marathon - I've done it twice before!

One of my biggest challenges when I'm training for a half or a full is what I eat! I know after long runs you're supposed to reward yourself, but sometimes I feel like I reward myself a lot (maybe that just means I'm running a lot :)). I usually run 4-5 times a week and eat as healthy as I can; but when you're traveling, it's not as easy to eat healthy, especially when you're working for a startup in bootstrap mode.

I remember sitting in my room out in San Francisco a few weeks ago, getting really home sick and missing the fall - who would have known that I would be back on the East Coast to enjoy the best time of year.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Be still.

I've often thought about the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is our role in society? There are millions of us and it is so easy to blend in. How do we make a name for ourselves and differentiate ourselves from others? Simple. We go to college, get a degree, and get a job doing something we love. Right? Well it's not so easy for a lot of people. First, there is the whole lack of access to higher education for many living right down the street from us. Then there is the whole thing that happens when you graduate and realize you learned more outside of the classroom in college instead of in the classroom and have zero desire to have a job relating to what your major was. 

As many of you probably know, I changed my major 4 times in college. I started out with plans to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and ended up graduating with a degree in Government & Politics with a passion for social justice, fair trade, immigration, and running. I learned pretty early on how I was not cut out for math and science, no matter how hard I pushed myself. As a Pre-Med student, I felt that I was just a number, competing to have the highest GPA no matter what it took. Someone once told me you won't remember the late nights you stayed up studying; you'll remember the late nights you stayed up talking with friends. In my 3.5 years in college, I only remember one night staying up late studying -- it was my second to last semester of college and I pulled my first all nighter to write a paper. I saved the paper until the very last minute because I realized that no matter how much time I put into papers, I wound up actually getting higher grades on papers that I waited until the last minute to write. Other than that one night staying up late writing a paper, all I remember are the nights I stayed up late with friends. One night I was laying on the mall in front of McKeldin with some friends after a Fair Trade UMD meeting and we had some good laughs, other nights I remember are driving Nite Ride, my first night out at a bar with my roommates, a night spent at the College Park fire station, many a nights at Looney's, Cinco de Mayo 2011 in Parkside...So many great memories. Although I have been out of school for the past 8 months, I finally feel like I'm in the real world. I'm so blessed that I was able to live at home for a few months to get things figured out and then accepted a job out here in San Francisco. Do I feel like college prepared me for the real world? Not really. I definitely miss always learning, I don't miss the exams. The stress now isn't about how I'll do on exams... it's if I'll be able to pay my bills or how a huge presentation to potential investors will go... One thing that has remained consistent throughout high school, college, and my recent entry into the real world is running -- I'm so happy that I've been able to stay with it! Although the real world comes with challenges, I'm enjoying it. Sometimes it's easy to feel like everyone is the same, but when I take a look at how I got to where I am, I feel unique and that's awesome.

Last Thursday I was walking through downtown San Francisco and I was amazed at the contrast of the "rich" and the poor. Yes, we all have seen one or two homeless people in our day, but the homeless here are different than anything I've seen before. There was a man who was literally only wearing holly socks scurrying around, looking for food in trash cans as tourists strolled with their bags from Coach and Nordstrom. I wanted to shake these people -- look at this man! Give him some of your money! Food even! Some people just won't understand. Something that also bugs me is the lack of respect some people have for the homeless and even people with special needs. Just because someone is homeless does not mean they are diseased or they are any less than you; they just do not have a permanent home. The other week someone told me that homeless people are actually more wealthy than the average American -- most have 0 debt and look at how much debt the average American is, quite impressive, right?? Right now, I'm technically homeless (but not wealthy!). I'm staying in a house with friends and am not paying rent. I have no permanent address. We all need to be still for a moment and look around us and be thankful for what we have.

Last week I was really homesick and this past weekend I went to LA for a wedding. Although it was not necessarily the most enjoyable trip, I did have some time to escape and go to Rodeo Drive and buy some Georgetown Cupcakes. On the way back to San Francisco, we stopped at In-n-Out Burger (YUM!) and also passed a truck full of tomatoes and garlic or onions! The mountains here in California really need to not have grass - they should look to the state of Utah as a role model and get prettier. We also passed many farms on the way up Route 5 -- the trees and grapevines were almost too perfectly planted -- let them grow/roam free and wild!

Once I returned to San Francisco, I was frustrated and overwhelmed and I called my best friend since middle school and we talked for almost two hours. You really do find out who your true friends are when they will drop everything and talk with you when you are on the other side of the country, homesick, and can barely talk because you're so frustrated. 

Monday I was fortunate enough to get lunch with one of my cousins here in San Francisco - it was nice to get reconnected. This weekend I'm heading down to Anaheim for the Home & Garden show... next week I'm taking a road trip up to Portland/Seattle/Vancouver since they are shutting down the San Francisco Bay Bridge for 5 days to connect the new bridge to the old bridge. 

That's all for now.... thanks for all of your love and support!

Monday, August 12, 2013


We all have been them, but have we been obnoxious with our iPads? I once remember someone telling me that the way to tell if someone is a tourist in NYC is if they look up at the buildings. I have done everything in my power to not be a "tourist" and avoid the obnoxious ones at all costs, but yesterday, just when I thought I could avoid them, I was wrong.
I started my morning off by meandering my way down the street to a local bagel shop I stumbled upon last weekend (they make their own bagels) and also to my new favorite coffee shop -- I think it's called Webster's? At the bagel shop, I noticed they had chocolate chip bagels - I skipped them this week, but next week I'll definitely try one (if they have them!) with their strawberry cream cheese (yum!).  As I sat eating my bagel at the bagel shop, which is right next to a Starbucks, I realized how much people that go to Starbucks / chain coffee places make me mad. If you compare the waist line of someone that goes to Starbucks on a regular basis to a small coffee shop, you'll notice a stark contrast. I'm not saying Starbucks is bad and I won't talk to you if you go there (heck, I've been there a few times!), it's just frustrating to me that people will go to Starbucks when there is an amazing small, locally owned coffee shop right down the street! I guess some people just choose Starbucks because of the flavored drinks that no one else has... I'm just a black coffee or coffee with skim milk kinda girl.
After I had my coffee & bagel, I went to the farmer's market up the street and got some farm fresh strawberries (that weren't moldy! unlike the one's I've seen at all of the grocery stores around here...). Needless to say, great start to the morning!
I've wanted to go on an adventure for a while now - I definitely love traveling and since I "landed" in San Francisco, I've wanted to continue driving. I'm driving up to Seattle at the end of the month for a few days - and might even pop up into Vancouver. I have a friend who goes to Grad school in Boulder, so sometime this fall I'm planning on venturing to Salt Lake City and Boulder. With my trip home for the Baltimore Half and my trip to New York for the New York City Marathon, I'm not sure when I'll have time, but I'm sure I can make it work!
Anyways - all week I've been looking forward to this weekend, so I drove down to Salinas; the town John Steinbeck (my all-time favorite author) is from. I had a delicious tri-tip sandwich at the Salinas BBQ and then I moseyed through town. It was very relaxing and definitely a change of pace from the usual hustle and bustle of the office and city. I went into the John Steinbeck Museum ; wanted to go into his house but it closed at 3 and I got there at 4.
I was in a bookstore talking with the owner (who hitchhiked from Salinas --> NYC back in '72) and he recommended I drive to Monterey which was only ~20 miles away. It was definitely worth the drive! I stopped by Cannery Row (trying to avoid the tourists at the Fisherman's Wharf) ... got some delicious Ghiradelli Chocolate... and then was attacked my tourists. Well, they didn't LITERALLY attack me, but there were so many ... I tried to get out of there as soon as I could! I sat in traffic and then drove up the coast on CA 1 -- it was beautiful! Loved it. Would totally do it again. Anyways, yesterday was great. Ate good food, had a relaxing afternoon. Even started to read a new book last night -- "Call Me Zelda". Oh, and it hit me last night that I'm not at home ....
Ta ta for now!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Three weeks & still "unpacking"

Since our Kickstarter campaign ended., I've had a little more down time which has given me time to reflect on my journey to the West Coast, about 3 weeks ago. I know I still have a lot of "unpacking" (literally and figuratively)  to do, but beginning my new life here on the West Coast is definitely something I've needed.

I don't think I realized how comfortable I had gotten in my life back home until just recently. I know I may have mentioned this in an earlier post (and I apologize if I did), but I needed this jostling , this new beginning. I remember the night I accepted my job out here for Earth Starter -- I was on the phone with Phil; I was in the parking lot of Harris Teeter across the street from the neighborhood and I was a little scared, and couldn't actually believe I agreed to take such a leap of faith - solo. I could barely sleep the nights leading up to my journey west, and the only time I have cried since I left home were when I entered into West Virginia (leaving Maryland) and when I watched "The Guardian" last night (haha!). Maybe I'm keeping emotions bottled up, but I don't think so.. I think I've finally gotten the independence that I've desired for so long. Yes, I had a lot of independence when I was at Maryland, but once I moved home after graduation I think I returned to the "comfortable" lifestyle that I had been living in since I was born. I still have no regrets for moving out here to California. Yes, I do miss my family and friends, but it's different...when I went off to college in Ohio or when my friends would go off to school goodbyes would suck, but when I left home to move West I was happy and anxious to begin this new chapter in my life. There are definitely challenges every day - like budgeting time for my runs, paying my phone bill, car & student loans, making sure I have enough money for food and "me" time... but I've been able to manage. I'm so thankful that I have such a rewarding job - I really enjoy the work that I'm doing and it's only going to get better with time. Thank you to everyone back home for your continued support!

I've finally gone through my notes from my cross country trip. In a span of 7 days I drove over 5,000 miles, through 13 states. The shortest route from home to where I am now was 2,795 miles, but I chose the longer, more southern route. I'm so glad I stopped in New Orleans on the way! I spent over $600 on gas, and have now been to 32 states. Utah has the prettiest license plates, and Bryce Canyon is still my favorite place of my entire trip. Texas was a really big state...loved the openness, maybe I'll move there when I'm old?  Some other towns I enjoyed were Harlingen, Memphis, and Cuervo, Texas. Next time I drive cross country, I definitely want to drive more of Route 66. I would recommend the Southern Route to everyone and I would do it again and again and again!  I feel like I could probably ramble on forever about my trip.. and in future posts I will... but here is it in short:

When someone asks me about my trip, this is what I tell them:
Charleston, Nashville, Birmingham, New Orleans, Houston, Mexico, Austin, Crawford, Albuquerque, Four Corners, Bryce Canyon, Mesquite (Whoops!), Zion, North Rim, Las Vegas, San Francisco

Tips for traveling cross country 
  1. Pack a separate bag of all of the clothes / everything you'll need for the week. Makes it SO much easier when you're stopping at a hotel for the night
  2. Time your bathroom and food stops for when you need gas. I was able to go almost half a tank without going to the bathroom... so I'd stop for lunch & bathroom & gas, if possible. If not, I would just stop for the bathroom & food. Tried to make my stops worth my time! I also discovered how indecisive I am when it comes to trying to find a place to eat food. Was kind of leary about stopping at a ma and pa place because I didn't want to just eat fried food the whole way across the country
  3. Pack a case of water - I went through a whole case of water and then some over the whole week... I'd recommend also keeping snacks in the passaanger seat ... but make sure they are healthy. Have some good snacks too :) Oreos are the best! Easy grab foods :)


  • Gas really isn't that much more expensive than home. It's about $3.90. What's it like back at home?
  • Strawberries are not in season here
  • Driving ... heard songs that reminded me of times past.. not necessarily a bad thing , but man, wish I could just erase some memories
  • California really isn't that much different than the East Coast ... Safeway & Trader Joes are huge out here and Oakland is just as bad as Baltimore (hon!)...there is definitely a variety of places to eat out at and the food is DELICIOUS, I guess it's because SF is a big city so it's probably pretty comparable to DC
Well that's all for now... until next time, ta ta for now!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Palo Alto & Mountain View

Our Kickstarter campaign ended Wednesday (we shattered our goal - we were hoping for $70,000 and we got $107,000!), so I took yesterday off. It was nice to have some me time. I went on a nice mid-morning run, ending at a local coffee shop, and had an interview at a local running specialty store to have some spending money. I find out next week if I get the job! 

I decided to go on an adventure and was in search of a mall, so I headed south. I stopped at Southland Mall (which is the equivalent of Security Square Mall) and then headed to Palo Alto & Mountain View. I drove through Facebook & Google's campuses  -- that area of California is my new favorite area. I LOVE the views. If I worked at Google, I don't think I'd ever get any work done because I would just play volleyball and eat fresh fruit from their gardens all day. I have connected with the Director of Dining Services down at Google, so hopefully we can work with them to get Nourishmats on their campus. If not, at least a good conversation will come out of it!

This weekend I'll be "house-hunting"....I'm trying to stay in the Oakland/Alameda/Berkley areas...we will see how that goes!

More thoughts later.

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Aspire not to have more, but to be more"

This weekend was the "Maximum Yield Indoor Gardening Expo" here in San Francisco. It was my first conference representing Earth Starter and I really enjoyed the conversations and connections that we had with a variety of people. Since we were at the conference all weekend, I didn't have the chance to do much exploring, but that's okay!

I went for a run this morning here in Alameda and came across the equivalent of Main Street, just 2 miles away. Love how I get to explore on my runs. Wish I had more time to run, but after our Kickstarter campaign is over, I'll have a little more freedom.

Since I left home, I've realized how so many people have so many material goods, but what do you really need? Every once in a while we all have money burning a hole in our pockets, but what do we spend it on? Food? Clothes? The next coolest thing? I am going to try to live more simply & save more. Why waste when all the talk these days is about recycling? All of my clothes are still sitting in duffle bags on the extra bed in my room, and I'm pretty sure I've worn the same clothes running since I got here last weekend (well, I've washed them). Makes you really wonder how much you really need! When I went to Trader Joe's last night, I remembered how I would shop at Mom's back home and buy a ton of food but I always wound up throwing some of it away; I'm trying to be more conscientious about what I buy and if I will be using it. When I fill up my tank of gas, am I going to burn it taking unnecessary trips or combine trips to the store and carpool? When we have conversations, are we just talking to people to talk to people or are we having meaningful conversations? End rant.

Things I'm thankful for: healthy fruit, great conversations with my mom (love ya!), running

Goals for the week: hair cut, explore, run, ace an interview at a local running shop

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Week 1 on the West Coast

Well here I am, I've been in California for the past week. I haven't had much time to run or explore (super busy with work), but once our Kickstarter campaign ends this week I'm hoping it frees up a little more time in my schedule. I had an interview with Lululemon (even made it to the second round - the sweat date), and was rejected. I needed the job to help cover extra living expenses but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

I did head to the DMV in Navoto to get a California ID so that I can join a Credit Union out here (which is often the complete opposite reason why people get them), but they MAIL you the ID (how weird is that?), so I have to wait about two weeks for it. The drive out to Navoto was BEAUTIFUL! Now SF has its perks, but the trees -- ahh so beautiful!

Work, how's work? Great! Love the office, love my co-workers.
House, how's the house? Great! We aren't really here that much but I'm so grateful that I've been given a place to sleep!
Friends, how are your new friends? Well, being that I haven't had time to go out and explore everything is pretty much the way it was this time last week. One of my good friends from UMD came to visit this week and we got lunch- it was great to talk with someone from back home.

We did meet the New Zealand National Sailing Team this week at a bar called 21st Amendment around the corner from work. They are hear for America's Cup. We also went to two pretty cool bars for Happy Hour last night. It's nice to be with an older crowd!

From what I've realized in the past week, everyone here is much friendlier and willing to have long, meaningful conversations with you. East Coast folks are very stuck up and pretentious - I definitely love how people are out here. People have commented that there are way more homeless people here, but I haven't noticed that much of a difference to Baltimore. I haven't been attacked by anyone, and haven't been sold any drugs, so things are good.

I have been fortunate to be able to talk with a friend who recently relocated to the Seattle Area from DC  -- he actually went to Dartmouth & Yale, was working at UMD, and just decided to load up his car, take his dog, and head west this spring. It's nice to be able to have someone close (even if that's 12 hours away) that has kind of done the same thing as you!

Well that's all for now, I'll try to post every once in a while.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 7: California

After leaving my hot, hotel in Vegas (and stopping at Dunkin Donuts), I headed up to my new home; San Francisco. Although I had been on the road this week for up to 14 hours a day, the journey from Las Vegas --> San Francisco was the longest/most challenging part of the drive emotionally for me. The fact that I had only eaten two salads all week caught up to me...and also the fact that I couldn't exactly just drive home and see my family & friends. I definitely am excited to begin this new chapter of my life, but it's kind of crazy how drastic of a change it is. I personally don't really feel any different and don't feel like I'm on the other side of the country, but I'm sure it will catch up with me eventually. After a long day of driving, I pulled up to my new home, and was greeted with ice cream, smiles, and pizza.

Thank you to everyone who has been checking in on me this past week! I had the time of my life and I hope that you enjoyed following my journey! First day of work is in the AM!
Me @ my new home - 621 Taylor Ave!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 6: Zion, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas

Waking up in 100 degree weather outside is quite a contrast from what I've had this entire trip. I spent the night in Mesquite, NV because of a flop with the hotel situation (was originally planning on staying in St. George, UT). My room was another steal off of Priceline.com; I wound up staying in the Eureka Casino & Resort! Breakfast was in the Casino itself.

Once I got on the road, I headed to Zion National Park. There were some beautiful views and lots and lots of people, so I just drove through taking pictures at the pull offs along the road. They do have a really long tunnel through the side of a mountain(not sure what to actually call it?).

After Zion, I made the journey to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The park at the Grand Canyon and area around it smells amazing-- it's not an overwhelming piney smell like I smell back at home, it was almost junipery and was lightly scenting the air. Too bad I couldn't bottle that up and keep it in my car with me forever! Yankee Candles will just be too strong.

At the Grand Canyon, there appeared to be a great viewing spot so I walked down the rocks to it and had someone take my picture. When I walked back up to the visitor center, I was so out of breath!

I learned that in 2004 there was a Boston Marathoner who attempted to hike the Grand Canyon and wound up dying. That's pretty scary, considering when you think of how in shape the average marathoner is. I was talking with a Park Ranger there and he showed me the South Rim and told me about how crazy people are for running it--- someone has done the "Rim to Rim" challenge in like 3 hours! One of my coworkers back at Charm City Run actually did the Rim to Rim challenge and I know it took her way longer than 3 hours, and she is a triathlete! I have 0 desire to ever do the Rim to Rim, so you don't have to worry about me there!

After spending a little time at the Grand Canyon, I headed to Vegas! What a beautiful drive! 8 saw lightning storms up ahead on the road and actually got some good videos. I swear, as soon as I passed into Vegas the torrential downpours began (I haven't had significant rain in almost 2 days of driving) . Once I exited Rt 15, I found roads flooded throughout Vegas, so I just decided to head to my hotel and check out my room and then go from there.

I stayed in the Las Vegas Casino & Resort; used to be the Las Vegas Hilton. My only complaint was that the AC wasn't on in my room when I got to it and it also never really cooled down once I turned it on.

I parked at the Bellagio downtown (for free!) and then went to Caesar's Palace (which part of was flooded) and also the Bellagio. I met some cool guys from the UK which are actually from the same town as my cousins- how cool! After having a drink and gambling $12, I decided to walk around the resort and then head back to my hotel room.

It was really cool to see what everyone has always made such a big deal about here in Vegas, but I think Atlantic City is a little better (having been in one casino there). Don't tell the Vegas gods that though...

Anyways, that's all for now. I'm heading up the coast to San Francisco today, to my new home.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Riviera Blvd,Winchester,United States

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 5: Four Corners & Bryce Canyon

After leaving Albuquerque, I drove to Four Corners (It was about a 4 hour drive). Today was the first day that I had "No Service" for the majority of the day. It was actually pretty nice to be unplugged, but it's a pain when you're relying on the Waze App on your phone for directions! Since I had already plugged in the address for Four Corners before I lost service, I was okay, but when I left Four Corners and was trying to head to Bryce Canyon, I had to pull out the map (thanks Mom!) and stop by the Post Office to ask which way to go.

Driving through the desert is pretty exhausting -- I kept asking "am I ever going to get there?!" but then take a second, look around, and take in the views. There was also roadwork in the desert - don't feel bad for those guys. It's pretty amazing what is out here in the west. I passed through "Navajo Nation", saw some tee-pees, and saw more shacks (very similar to that of southern Texas). After hearing all of the shenanigans going on with the government these days, I realized that those that live in these camps out in the middle of nowhere probably have no idea what is going on in Washington, or any care in the world. Their greatest worries are probably how they are going to find food in the middle of wilderness, not how they can pay less taxes. How does the Census Bureau even do a count for the census?

I drove by Glen Canyon and saw moose on the way to Bryce Canyon. It took me much longer than I had anticipated to get to Bryce, so I was only able to spend ~30 minutes there, but the views were amazing! I made the mistake of reserving my hotel on priceline.com without paying attention to which city I would be staying in. I had originally planned on spending the night in St. George, UT  -- but the hotel I booked was in Mesquite, NV (about 20 miles from St. George). It took me ~3 hours to get to the hotel from Bryce , but boy was it worth it! I stayed at the Eureka Resort & Casino.

Utah has the prettiest license plates by the way!

Me at Zion

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 4: Crawford, TX & Albuquerque, NM

I left Austin around 8 and headed to Crawford, TX to see George Bush's ranch... I couldn't really get close but hey at least I saw it. I then began the 11 hour drive to Albuquerque...... Looking at mapquest telling me it was going to take 11 hours was pretty frustrating ... I wish I could just time travel!

I'm pretty sure I drove through 10 rain storms, and one of the towns was flooded that I was supposed to go through! I drove through a bunch of old towns - Paducah was pretty neat - they still had a 5 & 10. It was mostly country roads, until I got to 40 West, which was relaxing, but did take a while. They don't have rabbits out here that try to cross the road ... they have big hairy black spiders and turtles. When I was by Prairie Chapel Ranch (Bush's ranch), there was a mama turtle crossing with her baby; I decided to slow down and let them cross. 

As I continued my journey west, I realized how much I appreciate cruise control and polarized sunglasses - that sun in New Mexico is bright! Right before I crossed into New Mexico, I stopped at a gas station near Amarillo. In the bathroom, they had big sheets of paper you could write where you're coming from/going to. It was really neat to read some of them! I drove on Old Rt 66 & by Cuervo (was Jose from there?).

I booked a hotel room on priceline.com for $60... it was 3 stars and had a 90% rating from visitors - the Crown Royale in Albuquerque (normally goes for $139). I went to a restaurant recommended by a local - called the "Frontier Restaurant". I'm pretty sure I saw a sign in there that said it was on "Man vs. Food".

I realized as I was driving yesterday that I forgot to write about my experience on Day 3 getting windshield washer fluid.... I was in Harlingen, TX and the alarm kept going off in my car telling me that I needed windshield washer fluid so I stopped at Auto Zone. I guy was circling the parking lot on his bike when I walked into the store and when I came out he asked me if I needed help with filling up the windshield washer fluid. I did. I had no idea how to open the hood of my car because I couldn't find the lever inside of my car that you pull to open it! He helped me find it and then insisted on filling the windshield washer fluid himself. He started to unscrew the cap on the transmission fluid and I stopped him just in the nick of time! He then was pouring it in the correct reservoir, but he had his fingers over the mouth of the bottle to keep it from spilling ... the dude had about 2 gallons of windshield washer fluid run through his fingers. I'm glad it wasn't antifreeze or something like that! Afterwards I offered him some food because I didn't have any cash to give him and at first, he refused, but as I was backing out of my spot, he changed his mind. Today (two days later), my biggest regret is giving him my cosmic brownies. Everything else I'm sure he needed/wanted ... but I really could go for one of those right about now! 

That's all for now - need to get my day started!

A sign on the post office window in Crawford, TX

My view from the hotel room last night.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 3: Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Mexico!, Austin

After I woke up, I left my friend Paul's and got gas at the local Kroger- they were about to change the price as soon as I pulled into the station!

I'm surprised how expensive gas has been- the lowest I saw was $3.29 but that was in Tuscaloosa-- here in Texas the lowest I've seen is $3.39 and as high as $3.75! Anyways, as I pulled into the gas station, I saw the guy at the pump next to me had Maryland tags! I wound up talking to him for a little bit and it turns out he works with my friend Paul that I had stayed with the night before-- he went to Virginia Tech and actually helped Paul get his job in Houston! What a small world.

I then headed to Corpus Christi, hitting a lot of rain on the way. Corpus Christi had a bunch of offices for banks and oil refineries (I passed quite a few on the way into town).

Once I got into town I even saw an aircraft carrier!

Here are some pelicans:

Was only in Corpus Christi for ~30 minutes and then kept heading south. I grabbed a cup of coffee on my way out of town and it was probably one of the best cups of gas station coffee I've ever had!

For lunch I stopped at "Big House BBQ" in Kingsville, TX, right by Texas A&M.

While I was there I had the tastiest brisket sandwich I have ever had (it literally melted in my mouth)-- the meat was from a farm right down the road! A handful of extremely good looking cowboys walked, which made me almost choke on my food. What's up with all of the dreamy guys being this far south?? ;)

After lunch, I continued south to Harlingen, which is a town right on the border of Texas/Mexico. On the way, I passed lots of RV parks and a lot of ranches. There was about a 70 mile stretch of nothing- no gas stations, no nothing. Glad I had music & snacks to keep things exciting!!

One of my professors at Maryland used to live in Harlingen, which is why I visited. I did a lot of research on immigration in college and have always wanted to visit a border town. It was pretty eye opening to say the least. 75 miles outside of the border, Border Patrol had a ton of cameras set up on the road. After that, I realized how unsafe it was. The town itself was pretty sizable city- but the homes were almost identical to those I saw in the Dominican Republic. It's amazing how much poverty there is here in the US! Harlingen has the lowest cost of living of anywhere in the US, too. It's quite the contrast to posh Howard County.

Once I got to Harlingen, I stopped by Auto Zone to pick up windshield washer fluid because when I got my oil changed last week, the dingeses completely "forgot" to top off the windshield washer fluid. Thanks Apple Ford....

I was talking with the cashier at AutoZone and he told me to go across to Mexico at the International Footbridge in Progreso that goes over the Rio Grande River, which was one of the most safe places on the US/Mexico border for Americans. Off I went- paid $2 to park, and $1 round trip to leave and return to the US! There was an older guy with his grandson that I ran into that goes over to Mexico to get manicures and his teeth cleaned-- he bought me a Corona and I bought I dress!

I was in Mexico for 30 minutes max and then headed back over the bridge with my passport !

Then off to Austin.... I hit a ton of rain on the way up North through Texas.

I hit 10,000 miles on my car on the way to Austin and also went to the bathroom in the most disgusting bathroom at a gas station I have ever been to in my entire life! Cops were pulling people over, asking to see their papers and I even had to go through a Border Patrol checkpoint ! At least they had cute dogs!

I got into Austin around 9pm and had the most delicious tacos and one strong margarita! We stopped by the turtle pond on UT Austin's campus afterwards. Boy there are good looking guys here!! Do I have to leave???

Heading west today! Goal is to be in Albuquerque tonight!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Leon St,Austin,United States


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