Thursday, January 30, 2014

Runner Spotlight Let Me Introduce David

Today is Spotlight Thursday



This week I'd like to introduce David.
I asked David several questions, to tell part of his story and introduce you all to him

Tell us what distances you like to run?
I like anything from 5K to a marathon, my favorite is probably half marathon

How long have you been running? Or when did you start running?
I started running April 2012 with Couch to 5K What has been your favorite race and distance you have ever run? Tell us why?
36th Annual Clarence DeMar Marathon 29 Sep 2013. This is my favorite race because it was my first, and to this point only marathon. It was a very scenic course fall foliage was out, it was a great day. I was never so happy to see a finish line. 

If you could run any race in the entire world, where would it be and why would you pick it?
2014 Boston Marathon, 2 reasons 1 it is Boston, and 2 what happened in 2013, and I will be running it. 


Do you enjoy running in the spring, summer, fall or winter the best?
I like Spring and fall the best, the best weather to run. 

Have you experienced any trials/injuries/health issues that you have had to overcome? Tell us about them.
About a month and a half before my marathon I was 10 miles into a 20 mile long run, and my knee hurt so bad I could not take another step. I had to take 2 weeks off training. These 2 weeks were excruciating mentally, but I made the marathon. 

Tell me what goes through your mind when you cross a finish line?
It depends sometimes I happy, sometimes I’m disappointed, when I crossed at the marathon I thought, I can’t believe I just did that, and I’m glad it’s over. 

Do you have a specific distance and PR that you are proud of? Tell us about it.
My PR at 5K is 21:48 run May 14, 2013 the reason I’m so proud of this is June 12, 2012 was my first 5K ever my time was 35:39. It was a nice spring night. I did not think I was running any faster than normal, when I was at the halfway point I noticed Ally ( A member of the Greater Lowell Road Runners). Ally said lets go get you a PR Dave. When we got to a water stop at 2.5 miles I thought I had nothing left. Ally said don’t even think of slowing down. My previous PR was 22:30.


Have you run races in any other countries before?
No 

What is your favorite kind of running, solo running or running with a friend or group?
My favorite is running with a group, bevause of this I belong to 3 running clubs. Greater Lowell Road Runners, Shamrock Running Club, and Mystic Runners 

Do you listen to music while you run? Give us the top 2 running songs on your playlist.
I do not listen to music, but when I did Journey’s Don’t stop believin, and A Flock of Seagulls’ I Ran 

What is your must have running gadget, or item?
My Garmin Forerunner 10 


In your spare time What other hobbies or sports do you love do?
Genealogy 

What type of things motivate you and push you towards success in life? 
My family, and a drive to be better than yesterday 

Do you have any tips of suggestions for someone who is thinking of starting up running? 
Couch to 5K without it I do not think I would be a runner, and join a running club. I was intimidated about joining a running club (all these good runners what would they think of me). They are some of the nicest, and helpful people I’ve ever met 

Any New Years goals you have set for 2014?
Sub 4 hour marathon, first 1 was 4:03 


Do you have a great accomplishment you have achieved in life? Do you mind sharing?
I was named 2012 Greater Lowell Road Runners most Improved runner, and followed that up with 2013 Shanrock Running Club’s most improved runner 

What are a few of your dreams or bucket list items?
1 Bucket list Item should be taken care of on April 21 run Boston. I would love to run a sub 20 5K.

What got you started running?
I was overweight, and needed to exercise, at least that’s what the Doctor said. I started C25K, and I hated running. I said to myself I will do this to lose weight, but how can anyone enjoy this. I lost 90 pounds along the way, and somehow fell in love with running. 


You can Follow David Via Twitter @davidburns49

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater

Rarely do I read a trilogy and find myself at the end loving the third and final book most out of all of them.  Generally, it's usually the first book that always tends to be my favorite.  But although I loved Shiver, I have to say Forever was just fabulous and I think I loved it the most.

Forever, takes off right where Shiver and then Linger left off.  Which might I add, Linger was quite a cliffhanger ending.  (Note, if you haven't read the rest of the series, this review from this point on may be a tad of a spoiler.)

Grace, has turned into a wolf.  Sam is human and thought to be cured and waiting for summer and the return of Grace. Cole has taken on more of a main character role at times and has been going through some thinking and life changing.  We watched Cole grow quite a bit in Linger, but in Forever he's still his handsome cocky self, but a much more mature (at times) version.  I even found myself loving his character as much as I love Grace and Sam.

Forever, is a race against time.  First when spring begins to sprout in Minnesota, some of the younger wolfs begin changing early.  But the local town is still in a rage, and when a body of a dead girl turns up and it is obvious she had been killed and attacked by wolves, this sets plans in motion to get rid of the wolves forever.
The wolves aren't the only ones in danger.  All eyes are on Sam since he seems to be the only link to the mysterious disappearances of a few members of the community.  Sam not only has to deal with the accusations, but the pack themselves.

Cole, is searching for a cure.  But it soon becomes apparent that he might not have enough time to find it, especially when a hunt to kill all the wolves is approved.  At the same time, we get a little more involved with Isabel and Cole and a relationship that may or may not ever happen.

Forever, is filled with twists and turns and lots of suspense.  It's a serious page turner, and not as predictable as I thought it would be.  In fact, I absolutely loved the ending!  I won't say much on that, except for this is one trilogy that I finished the last page and didn't wish I could re-write a bunch of it to give it a conclusion.  Forever, left me satisfied and in love with the entire series!  All I could say when I finished, was that it was so great I can't believe it took me so long to finally read!

I highly recommend this series by Maggie Stiefvater, to anyone 15 and older.  The trilogy is fairly clean and a fast read.  The entire series is out in print, so you can just read book after book and not have to wonder and wait to see what happens.  This is one of those unique series that gives you a different spin on things, and lets you sit back, enjoy and escape reality for a little while.  You won't be disappointed picking this series up!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Kenai Fjords National Park - Northwestern Fjords



Today for Travel Tuesday I am taking you on my adventure through Kenai Fjords National Park, and Northwestern Fjords in Alaska.
This was a hard one for me to do, because I took hundreds of pictures, and selecting just a few was difficult.  Also, when I went, we saw so much on all the miles we drove with the boat, that I decided to break it up.  So later on I'll write other posts about the other area's around the Aleutian Islands and the other glacial bay area's and abundant wildlife.  Today the main focus in the National Park, will be near the Northwestern Fjords area.

First, we took a one day boat cruise.  These are in smaller boats, and we departed from Seward, Alaska in the morning.  The great thing about smaller boats (versus when you take the bigger cruise line boats) is you get the chance to get in and see things that you never would from the larger boats.  You get to go near the coastal shore, get close up to the glaciers, really close!!!!


As you head out, into the different inlets and coves around the Fjord and National Park it is absolutely beautiful!  I went in June, and although it was a cloudy day, it was pretty much the middle of summer.  The time of year that the mid-night sun is out!


There are over 40 huge glaciers that flow into the sea, from within the National Park.  Behind these glaciers is the massive Harding Ice Field.  The waters in this part of the sea are abundant with wildlife.
The forests around them are massive and lush.  Yes, you read that right lush!


Some of the islands and coastal lines are really lush, beautiful and full of lots and lots of green.  In fact, if I didn't know I was in Alaska, and if the temperatures at certain places weren't cold.  I would have thought I was in lush islands like I would expect to see in Hawaii.  They really are that beautiful and green, my pictures do them no justice!


I mentioned wild life.  I saw ton's on this water trip, far more than I will share in pictures in this post.  I'll save some of them for other area's I will write different posts on.  But as we were making our way to the Northwestern Fjord, we passed island after island.  Some lush and green, others stone and ice.  Here are a bunch of Sea Lion's soaking up some sun on this huge island rock.  You can see the cracks and the molding of this rock, it was obviously at one time covered in a glacier and you can see the results after.


If your wondering how the Sea Lions get onto these rocks that are so far down from the water.  One factor has to do with the tide, it was obviously lower at this particular time of day.  But they also ride the waves up and can jump from them many feet and scoot they cute bodies up onto them!


Glaciers in a way move like a frozen river.  For instance the picture above, was taken from quite a distance away.  The glacier you are looking at is miles long, and likely a few miles deep in ice.  Behind it, where you can't see because of the clouds is the Harding Ice field that keeps the supply of ice coming, as ice takes the slow route to the ocean.


I added this picture to give you some emphasis on the waters in this area.  They are a beautiful aqua blue.  Not for the same reason as you get in the Caribbean.  But because the water is literally just above freezing, and what resides in it and below it are massive chunks of ice from the coastal glaciers.


This cute little guy, came up to say Hi to us!  It is amazing that they love to hang out in these freezing waters!  But if we had that much fat on us, we probably wouldn't mind it either.


Okay, so I forgot to mention, we were the first boat of the year allowed in the area.  Even the day's prior, these waters were frozen solid.  We just lucked out, that the ice was breaking up.
Our captain headed into this area pretty slow.  Pretty much like a slow float.  He would literally inch forward at times and then stop for a minute or two, before inching forward a little more.
The reason for this, we were breaking up the ice, a little.  That and he didn't want to make us a mini titanic:)


I wanted to show you this picture above for a reason.  You can see a bit more detail of the large ice chunks.  Imagine being in a city, and looking up at skyscrapers, like in New York or Chicago.  Those chunks of ice, each individual chunk is like the size of a building.  The smaller pieces that look like smaller ice balls, are actually the size of huge homes.  I know it may not look like it, but the reality is, it is massive and amazing!


This particular coastal glacier above, although it looks like dirty snow, its a solid wall of ice.  Well I probably shouldn't say solid, because the thing is moving!  Some people could sit and watch it for hours or days and see nothing.  Others get to see a lot of activity.  I was fortunate enough to see a lot, and I mean a lot of activity.  The calving process to watch is amazing, as it is to hear.
Huge pieces of ice, the size of large homes and tall buildings, crack like thunder and then rumble and fall down.  Sometimes these trigger more and more.  When it hits the water, it can create little splashes of things just sliding down into the deep, to huge splashes that can even knock over boats.


On this particular day, we hear lots of coastal glaciers crack and break and drop into the ocean!  I loved it!  The captain of our boat would cut the engine and we would all sit in silence and just listen and wait.


I have some great video of the calving glaciers.  But even though I held my camera ready, it's kind of hard to see the process in a picture.  This one above is probably the best that shows.  In the picture it may look like an ice waterfall.  But what happened just before was amazing.
Up a ways above this shot, probably around 1/2 a mile or more, was a series of loud thunderous cracks, as not just one, but many huge massive pieces broke off and dropped a ways down the mountain.  Triggering more and more.   We watched as calving, after calving took place and you could see these huge pieces fall, hit others and move down.  By the time it got closer to the ocean, large pieces the size of homes would fall into it, and then a steady stream of ice snow would waterfall into the waters.  The waterfall of ice would last 30-45 seconds as it cleared from some of what dropped above.


This is one of those things, that if you ever get a chance to do, you should do it.  It's amazing!


This shot above is one of my favorites.  The captain slowly brought us right up to this glacier, 20 feet away at one point as the boat drifted towards it.  But this shot from a distance was my favorite.  This coastal glacier was the one that I saw the most activity from.  The captain brought some of the ice on board so we could feel it (for the fun of it), let's just say I would not want to have to dive into that water.
This was the furthest anyone had been so far that year, and I loved that we got to be the first to get in and see it.  Each year the glaciers change, so to be the first that year, meant we really did get to see it before the rest of the summer tourists came in.  I loved that!


I mentioned above that we drifted in closer to the coastal glacier, this is one of the shots when we were about 30ish feet away.  Those chunks that look like they are ready to fall, may look small in the shot, but they were huge!


These are some of the shots, as you are traveling out.  You can tell we are more out in open water by the waves.  When we were in the large inlets next to the coastal glaciers, you can see the water is more calm.


We saw lots of Orca's and Humpbacks on this trip.  So I thought I would show you at least one of them, with the backdrop of Bear Glacier.  If you have more time, you can Kayak closer to this glacier, and really get up close and personal with it.


I mentioned lush forests.  We traveled into this inlet, that on top of these mountains that go thousands of feet high are glacial lakes.  These lakes that drop down over the rocky slopes create massive water falls.  The above picture, although you can't really see it in the size I am showing you.  Has at least 50+ water falls, that drop 100's if not 1000 feet at times.
In these area's you can see animals, I saw a dozen big horn sheep resting on the rocks.


Same mountains as you saw in the previous picture.  This is just a small area, we were too close the camera couldn't get the entire mountain in this close up.  What you see is about 75 feet of it.  As I tipped my head up, I was surrounded by 120 degree's of 1000+ foot cliffs and 50+ waterfalls pouring around me.  It was amazingly beautiful!!!

If you go to Alaska, I highly recommend taking some time to visit some Coastal Glaciers, they are amazing!  The best part about Alaska is they have over 100,000 glaciers!
Yes, it is true that some of the glaciers get smaller each year, that is just the regular process that earth has seen for millions of years.  But on the bright side, not all glaciers get smaller each year, in fact some get larger each year.


Above is a blow up map of the region.  You can see in the tiny corner state map, the area in red is the area I visited for these pictures.  The area in green in the larger picture is the National Park.  My boat tour took us from Seward, out of the Bay and down around the different arms and into the different Fjord areas.


IF YOU GO:
* These particular shots are in Kenai Fjords National Park, Northwestern Fjords area outside of Seward, Alaska.
* You can only get to these area's by boat.
*  Chances are if you take a large cruise ship, unless you dock for an excursion, you won't get to see these things up close, you'll need to take a smaller boat like I did.
*  These tours last 10-11 hours, and depending on the price you pay, depends on how far out they'll take you.
*  Good news, there are many other area's in Alaska that you can also go to see Coastal Glaciers.
*  To get to this area, I flew into Anchorage and rented a car and took the scenic HWY drive to Seward.
*  The sun is out almost 24 hours a day this time of year, so you can go out and see these things anytime you want.  However, certain tours only operate at specific hours.
*  You won't be disappointed!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Me Monday's & Blog Link-Up - Recaps, Trivia & Pay It Forward Initiative

So as it is each Monday, this is a blog link-up, you can link your blog at the bottom of this post. 


So I decided to do something a little different today: *  A pay-it-forward initiative.
*  A short re-cap on my past week, and goal progress.
*  Then I have a fun blog trivia game, that I came up with, but I will mention I did get the idea from some of my other great blogger friends who have done something similar:)

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First, to start this year off in a loving way, I'm participating in this Pay-it-forward initiative:  The first 3 people who comment on my blog post today with the status "I'm IN" at the beginning of their post.  Will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year - anything from a book, gift card, post card, absolutely any surprise!  There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.
These 3 people MUST make the same offer on their on blog status!
COPY THIS TEXT into one of your posts.  Let's do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other.  Here's to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year!!!!!!!
(Additionally, if your IN please leave me a link to your blog or email, so I can contact you to get your address, to surprise you sometime this year.  Do not leave your address in the blog post!)


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As for an update on one of my goals.  As some of you know I am working really hard on a weight loss goal right now.  You can see my progress to date, to the right.
I've changed my diet drastically, and I am happy to say, I have pretty much eliminated drinking Pepsi on a daily basis.  I allow myself one cheat day in case I want one, but other than that I am no longer drinking it!
A few new things I have added to my daily routine:

I picked up some ab workout DVD's from the library. Everything from Jillian Michaels to some older stuff:)  My goal is to do a hard core 10 minute a day ab workout (I started a few days ago).  I plan to do this everyday for the next 7 weeks.  I'm hoping this will help me drop a few inches on my waist before I step on the cruise and dawn daily swimsuit attire:)

I also have some arm light weight workout DVD's I've gotten as well.  I plan to do 20 minutes of power arm workouts every other day, for the next 7 weeks as well.

As for the work injury, I don't have any drastic progress to report.  But I am working on walking a mile each day, and hope to increase that a little over the next week.  I'd like to work up to 3 miles, and then go from there.  I am also doing a little leg strengthening, but no cardio because I don't want to risk all the progress I've been making on the injury recovery front!

Ironically, tomorrow January 28th is the last day I was able to run last year pain free.  The work injury began to take it's toll the days following it.  Can't believe it's been a year not to mention a year of not being able to run a single race!

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Okay, now for a little fun:   I've seen these Fun Self Surveys done on other blogs, so I thought it would be fun to come up with my own.  Feel free to answer any of these yourself too:)

Do you wish you were someplace else right now?
Hawaii would probably be my top pick right now!

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
This is tough because I love history!  But I think if I could only pick one.  I would love to go back to the Indian day's probably around the 1850's and see the millions of buffalo roaming the plains!  Maybe even chase them by taming a wild mustang and riding bareback and participate in a real buffalo hunt.

Where was the last place you went shopping?
Grocery store - I was watching my niece and nephew and as the duty of the favorite aunt I wanted to make sure I brought a yummy treat, mini cupcakes:)

What are you listening to right now?
I'm actually watching a cute romantic comedy on the Hallmark channel while I write this.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I like to watch General Hospital, love that soap (most of the time!)

How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I honestly have no idea, and I'm not even a shoe person.  So to change this to running shoes, how many pairs currently sit in my closet both used and unused?  12 pairs.

Do you believe in Karma?
Yes - Which is why I always think its important to try to do the right thing and be kind to others!

Are you a doer or a dreamer?
Both, I have many dreams, realistic and some unrealistic, but I don't care.  I also act on things I want too, rather than just dream about them.  But if I am having a rotten day, I can easily escape in the great dream world of a good book, or just in my mind:)

Is there anyone you wish would just fall off the planet?
Yes, but because I try to keep politics out of my blog, I'll keep my opinion to myself:)

What superstitions do you believe, or participate in?
I still like to wish on the first star I see at night, and I always blink 3 times after.  Not sure why, but somewhere in my childhood I remember wishes come true if you blink 3 times after making one:)

What's the stupidest thing you've ever done with your cell phone?
I drop it all the time, but the other day I was at my sisters hanging out in the hot tub with my 3 year old niece, and she picked up my phone I had sitting at the side, and said "Here Kristy" and tossed it right into the water to me.  Thank goodness for Ziploc bags, otherwise it would have been ruined!

Favorite place you have ever traveled to?
I've been to a lot of places I have loved.  But the one that seems to always top my charts is Alaska, I'd spend every June there if I could!  Though one day I'd like to go see the Northern Lights in the winter there!

What famous person do you or others think you resemble?
I personally don't see it, but I get told all the time I resemble Sandra Bullock

If a song could perfectly describe your life right now, what is it?
Only because I'm going through an Injury: Rodney Atkins If Your Going Through Hell.  One because going through an injury that keeps a runner from running is a bit like hell.  But the other because it has a surprisingly hopeful vibe behind it, that their are others who can help you get past it, and if you can get through it there are brighter times ahead.

Would you rather die in a blaze of glory or die in your sleep.
That's tough, because I think if it was my time to go and I knew it was coming I'd pick blaze of glory, but if I am not aware its coming maybe in my sleep is the better route.

What is your best physical feature?
My fingernails.  I have natural nails that look better than most peoples fake or gel nails.

What is your most annoying habit?
When I get bored I bite on the inside of my bottom lip, I have unsuccessfully been trying to quit for years.

What are your superpowers?
I shouldn't admit this, but it's manipulating others.  I am a wedding planner, it's my job to take what a bride think she wants and then talk her into what she will really want, that will look much better than what she is asking, I've been told I have quite a talent in this, but shhhhh don't tell the brides. LOL.
I use it other times, but I am saving my Mad Skills (haha) in it for when I finally make it on the T.V. show Survivor!  I get on that show, and I am so winning!!!

Do you talk to yourself?
Yes, If I am working on plans for a brides wedding and getting packed, I frequently catch myself talking out loud.  You can also catch me talking to myself when driving, especially if there are lots of idiots on the road:) And anytime I am ticked off, you can hear me mumbling.

Do you have a great accomplishment?
I have many, but each marathon I run and finish I always consider a great accomplishment.  However, the fall of 2012 I ran 3 full marathons in 15 days, and followed up with a 4th less than 2 weeks later.  I still can't believe I pulled that stunt off, but it still makes me smile every time I think about it.  I dwell on my past running successes quite a bit right now while I am going through injury recovery!

What are your plans for tomorrow?
I saved this one for last for a reason.  Tomorrow is actually my Birthday.  I have never worked a birthday yet, and I have zero plans to start now.  So I plan on sleeping in, relaxing, eating good food and cake, and partying with the family in the evening!  (Yeah, healthy diet set aside for tomorrow only!  Happy Birthday to me!!!)

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That's it, if you have a minute to comment, feel free to answer some or all of these yourself:)  
Don't forget, if you have a blog and have a post about your life's going on's... to link up!  If you can, visit other blogs in the link up.  But as always, anyone who links up, I promise I will come and visit your blog too!



Friday, January 24, 2014

Energy Bars/Drinks vs. Soda - Results May Surprise You


I was having a conversation with someone the other day, that inspired this post.  It's hard to lose weight, we all know that.  Some who have lost significant weight may even tell you it is the hardest thing they have ever done.  Unfortunately its actually quite easy to think you are doing everything correctly when in actuality you may be making a few mistakes that are holding you back from losing weight faster.

Maybe you started running, or a new cardio routine, you read about what everyone else is doing and you thought you'd start doing it too.  Those things may consist of taking in energy bars, sports drinks, etc...  But what a lot of people may not realize is, a lot of those energy bars and sports drinks are designed for endurance sports.

What is an endurance sport?  Well that is for you to decide.  But generally I believe the consensus considers them 2-5+ hours of physical sport activity.
Long term activity depletes the body of certain nutrients.  In which some energy bars and sports drinks are designed to replenish the body with the lost salts, sugars, etc.. That the body needs to continue to push harder for longer.

So, in other words, someone who works out for 45 minutes to an hour and a half a day may not want to fall into the energy bar and sports drink pitfalls.  Why?  Because if you do, you may find that you aren't losing weight as fast, and might even be gaining weight.

Sound crazy?  It's true!  I don't want to single out any specific energy bar or sports drink.  But if you don't believe me, take a hard look at the ingredients.  Don't let the words Organic, Whole, Fiber, Protein, that they may list in larger print detour you.  Look at the smaller print.  There are several things to consider, but look at the two main things that can stop you from losing weight.
How many grams of sodium does it have?
How many grams of sugars does it have?

I took one of the more popular energy bars (we will leave names out) and I compared it to a 12 oz. popular soda pop brand.
What did I find?  Well there was so much sugar in the energy bar, that if I ate 2 of them, I might as well drink a soda because the soda had less sugar.
Additionally, the soda had 80 fewer calories than only 1 energy bar did...  Seriously!!!

Next I compared one of the more popular 12 oz energy drinks on the market and compared it to a 12 oz popular brand of soda pop.
Believe it or not, the sugar intake was almost exactly the same as the soda pop.  The sodium was off the charts higher, 9 times higher in the energy drink.
In the calorie comparison, I found the soda had only 20 more calories than the energy drink did.

So when you look at the numbers, on energy bars and sports drinks and compare them to drinking soda and you realize that the soda in some ways is the better choice...
However, we all know drinking soda isn't going to help you lose weight.  So maybe the above information will give you something to think about before you decide what to fuel your body with.

I know there are certain items on the market that may have fewer calories and may not compare exactly like the 4 items I chose.  But not everyone knows about smaller brands, and the fact is when someone is starting out trying new things, they go with the more popular brands.

My point of this post, is purely not to put down any one energy drink or bar, because when it comes to endurance sports, yes they have all those things in them to help you for a reason!
But more as a reminder for someone who may eat/drink these things each day as part of their exercise/diet routine.  Think about how many calories you are burning, and compare that with what you are in taking.

Even though you may be thinking it's good for you because they are recovery bars/drinks.  They may actually be the thing that is holding you back from losing the weight your trying to lose!

Just something to think about:)



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Runner Spotlight Let Me Introduce Michelle

Today is Spotlight Thursday

This week I'd like to introduce Michelle.
I asked Michelle several questions, to tell part of her story and introduce you all to her
Michelle Blogs At:

Tell us what distances you like to run?
I love running all distances however I find training and executing a marathon to be the most challenging and rewarding!

How long have you been running? Or when did you start running?

I started running in elementary school in a run club where we would earn shoe charms after so many laps completed. Then in middle school and high school I ran track and cross country competitively. Now in college I have focused on the longer distances - half and full marathons. I guess you could say I've been running for about 15 years!

What has been your favorite race and distance you have ever run? Tell us why?

My favorite race was probably Marine Corps Marathon this year. It was my first time qualifying for Boston and I felt great (read: as great as you can feel after running for several hours) throughout the entire race! My family was there and the weather in DC was gorgeous. Couldn't have asked for a better day!

If you could run any race in the entire world, where would it be and why would you pick it?

Either the Athens Marathon or the Drei Länder (Three Countries) Marathon which runs through Germany, Austria and Switzerland! Athens because it's the original and Drei Länder because I think it would be awesome to say that you ran through three countries in one race!

Do you enjoy running in the spring, summer, fall or winter the best?

Definitely Fall. The atmosphere in NYC during this time is exhilarating and you get motivated just from the sheer amount of other people being outside and training too. I also feel like the Fall is "marathon season"–many of my favorite marathons are in this time period: NYC, Chicago, Philly, Marine Corps,

Tell me what goes through your mind when you cross a finish line?

THANK THE LORD. Give me water. I need to sit down.

Do you have a specific distance and PR that you are proud of? Tell us about it.

This goes sort of in conjunction with my answer above, but I am most proud of my run at Marine Corps this year because it was the first time I got a Boston qualifying time. It ended up being a 15+ minute PR from my last time (3:42:00--->3:26:48). I never imagined myself being a 3:20 something runner so seeing my time was surreal.

What is your favorite kind of running, solo running or running with a friend or group?

It all depends! If I need to get a speed workout in, I typically fly solo but if its an easier relaxed run OR a long run I would much prefer having some accomplices.

Do you have a favorite running buddy?

My sister and I run frequently together in NYC! I had agreed to run California International Marathon with her which is just 6 weeks after Marine Corps Marathon. We've both been dying to get a BQ for the past few years and we both ended up BQ-ing at CIM with PRs of 15+ minutes! It was an amazing day and we're looking forward to running Boston 2015 together!

Do you listen to music while you run? Give us the top 2 running songs on your playlist.

Almost always, I hate to say it! Instead of two songs, I'll give you two albums. This fall I really liked Avicii and Fall Out Boy's new albums–I always find great deals for albums on Amazon and with the amount of running I do, its better to invest in the whole album!

What is your must have running gadget, or item?

Anything with pockets! I always run with my phone and keys (and often cash or card) so the more pockets the better.


In your spare time What other hobbies or sports do you love do?

I love watching documentaries and painting with watercolor.


Do you have any tips of suggestions for someone who is thinking of starting up running?

Get on social media! It is full of tips, tricks, and people looking to help and inspire you!

Any New Years goals you have set for 2014?

Read more–I'm graduating from NYU in May so I'm thrilled to have more time to read what I want. Pick my battles. None really running related. Taking this year more relaxed and not going crazy with trying to PR.
I also want to work on my yoga and be able to do a split and headstand pose!

Do you have a great accomplishment you have achieved in life?

Life balance! Each semester at school I am typically working an internship, babysitting on the side, training for a marathon, attempting to maintain a social life, and loving the ups and accepting the downs of a long distance relationship (all in addition to regular school work!).

Tell us something unique about you.

I'm from Finland and all of my relatives except immediate parents/siblings still live there!

If you are a brand ambassador, do you want to give a shout out to those you represent?

As of 2014 I'm a Nuun ambassador and a Brooks Fanatic! Run happy and stay hydrated :)







You Can Find Michelle Blogging at:

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review: Earthbound by Aprilynn Pike

I was a huge fan of Aprilynn Pike's New York Times bestselling selling Wings series, I love it.  It's still one of my favorite all time book series that I have read.  So when I saw that she had a new book series coming out, of course I picked this up quick!

Earthbound  is a modern day story of a girl named Tavia, who happens to be the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed everyone, including her parents except for her.  Luckily her aunt and uncle come to claim her and offer her a chance to come and live with them.  She quickly agree's, and almost a year passes with nothing more than getting past the trama, nightmares and lots and lots of therapy.

That is until one day she realizes she is starting to have visions of a boy she's never met or spoken to.  Little by little things start happening to her, that has her questioning everything.
When Tavia starts looking for answers, she uncovers more than she could have ever imagined.  Before she knows it, her life has been turned upside down again and her aunt and uncle are looking more and more like suspects who are responsible for the plane crash.
Feeling as though the only person she can trust is her best friend Bensen, she takes off on a mission of self discovery and at the same time follows her visions to see where they might lead her.

Earthbound is action packed and is filled with lots and lots of twists and turns.  So many that I don't even want to mention any of them because I would hate to ruin this wonderful story for anyone.  But let me just say, you will like!
I see a lot of similarities with the Wings series, even though the storylines are completely opposite.  Aprilynn is a true romantic, and I love that right from the beginning you know your going to get lots and lots of that.  I also love a great love triangle, and Earthbound definitely has plenty of that too!

This is a well written, fast paced YA that if you are like me will devour in just a couple of sittings!  If your a fan of her Wings series, you will absolutely love Earthbound!
About the only thing I didn't like is, now I have to wait until next summer to find out what happens next.
This is a YA book, however the main character is 18 and all the others are older.  I recommend this book to any age who enjoys a great read!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Adventures in Skydiving


This week for Travel Tuesday, I am going to do something a little different and take you on a Skydiving Adventure!  First, for those who follow my blog you may already know this, if you are newer you might as well know, I am a bit of an adventure junkie.  Once for my birthday I decided to get myself a gift, okay who am I kidding, I always buy myself a birthday gift:)  But this time I bought myself an adventure and something I always wanted to do, Skydiving.

I took with me to watch me jump, my parents and one of my sisters.  My mom and my sister are super afraid of heights. My mom wasn't exactly thrilled I was doing it, but she was supportive despite her probably secretly wishing I would change my mind:).  I think my sister just came to watch something she knew she never would, and before I boarded the plane, I remember her asking or telling me what items of mine she would acquire should my chute not open:)
My dad, has jumped out of planes countless times, as he was a paratrooper in the Army and even dropped by parachute into battle in Vietnam, so he was excited for me.


First thing after you check in and get your flight time then  they give you a jumpsuit and a cute hat, lol.  The hat was so not cute!!!  I guess I should be glad I got a purple suit, but I would have much rather wore a t-shirt and shorts like my tandem partner.

I thought I would get a bunch of instruction, but after I put the jumpsuit on, they gave me two rules, have fun, and when I was in the air falling to just arch my back.  That was it, nothing else:)

I was so sweaty and hot in this picture from the plane, flat hair, make-up gone,
but I didn't care, I was completely happy!

So if you can't tell, I was totally all smiles.  When I remember back, I really wasn't nervous at all, I seriously was just super excited.  I had no second thoughts, I was just like, lets do this!


We had a while on the plane while we climbed.  This is Utah, so we climbed and flew over mountains and it was really more of a sightseeing tour.  I was loving it!  Truthfully, the plane was a little hot, since there was really not any air conditioning and it was summer.  Most of the people jumping the time I went were solo jumpers, just a few tandem's.  I had a video filmed of my skydive, as well as all the pictures.  A few of which I will share with you.

He gave me a few more instructions just before we jumped, he just said whatever you do, don't pull the orange cord on your straps.  I said, what does the orange cord do?  He said, it releases you from me.
I said, no problem I'm not pulling the cord...


I remember this moment, I was at the door of the plane, it was our turn to go.  You wait until they count you off to jump.  You would think maybe right at this moment, I would be looking at the ground saying what am I doing.  But no, I remember exactly what I was thinking, don't pull the orange cord on my shoulder:) and let's get going, this is awesome!!!


When you first come out, you sort of roll out, like a somersault.  It's awesome, I can't even describe the feeling.  Then when you finish the roll, you just sort of spread your arms and legs out and you feel like you are flying.  There is no lurch of the stomach, its just pure awesomeness and feeling like you are weightless and really flying.



Why did I pick Ogden Skydive?  Well they were the highest drop jump I could find.  We jumped somewhere between 18,000 and 19,000 feet.  I have the exact height written somewhere but I can't remember where I put it while I am writing this:)


I've done bungee jumping and let me tell you, Skydiving is so much better!!!!  Bungee jumping is over in an instant and it is really jerky and hurts the neck.  Skydiving is completely relaxing and exhilarating (to a point, I'll explain below.)
I wanted to show you the pictures above because you can see the beautiful Great Salt Lake in the background.  The mountains were behind me and the valley below.


With this particular Skydive, you get to free fall for 1 minute.  That is the other reason I picked this one, because others I found had a much shorter free fall.


Really, if you get a chance to do this, take it!  It was amazing, I loved the feeling of flying, looking at the ground and all around as we dropped!



I told you, I was completely all smiles the entire time!  How could a person not be, right!


I loved the free fall, it was better than I ever could have imagined.  I knew during those 60 seconds or longer I could get addicted to this.  (Well if I could afford to do it more often.)
Funny thing, as you come in closer, you can hear people on the ground talking, quite well actually.  I thought that was funny for some reason.


I mentioned above that it is completely relaxing and exhilarating, except for one thing.  That one thing is right when the chute opens.  Immediately, the free fall stops and you feel this sudden jerk in your crotch area.  Where the harness immediately pulls on you as the chute is pulling you upward and your body is still falling.  Ouch, that was a painful moment!  But not so painful, that I wasn't still loving it.


Once the chute opens, you have another about 6-7 minutes of drifting in the chute.  It is just as awesome!  Not quite as thrilling as the free fall, but more of just awe..  It's then you recollect what you did, and what you are doing.  True, I was excited when I looked up and saw that the chute opens.  (I'm sure everyone has that moment of relief, even though I didn't really doubt it would open.)


Then you start coming in for the landing.  I am not experienced, although they did have me watch the group before me land, so I would know what to expect.  But even I know the guy taking me had missed our landing.  See in this picture you see a rocky field.
Well the actual landing strip is all grassy and flat, no rocks (It was behind us).  Well instead of turning us around and taking us in for a second try of the landing, he decided to go for it, and when he pulled the chute down, I realized I wasn't going to have the landing like I saw others do.

I only tell you this part, because it was my experience.  But let me assure you this is not common. (I just have bad luck with things:)  I also tell you this because it is the truth, but if your thinking of Skydiving, please don't let this next part keep you from it.

Our landing didn't go so well, we hit the ground hard, really hard.  There were rocks and thorns, and the instructor decided to save himself for the fall and he landed on top of me.
The video shows the crazy rough landing.  I know he was embarrassed he missed the landing and how it went.  But I had so much fun I didn't even care, not right at that moment:)
I unhooked myself, and walked off (figuring I'd walk off the pain) to see my family.  Long story short, I later found out that I fractured my tailbone in a few places.


However, aside from breaking my butt, it was great!  I loved it, and I would definitely do it again and again if I have future opportunities!!!  (But if I do it again, I might just want to go through the course, so I don't have to rely on someone else for the landing, I think I'd rather do it myself:)
When I landed, my dad handed me a pair of his Paratrooper Wings (pictured above).  Obviously I didn't earn them like military personnel do, but I believe it was his way of telling me congratulations and giving me something that shows we share a type of experience.  I'll keep them forever!

So, if Skydiving has been on your bucket list, do it!!!  Why wait until you get older, just schedule it when you can and go.  I guarantee you will love the experience, the rush, the adrenaline, the awe of it all.  You will be amazed!!!