"Health Care for Life and Sport"

As I get ready to start my second year with my job on Monday (sort of, and I'll explain later), I figured it was a good time to explain what it is exactly that I do. One of my original ideas for a blog topic was to use it as a means to promote my profession and give readers an idea of what we do (within HIPAA regulations, of course). There are very few people who actually know what athletic training is. There are a lot of people who think they know, but they don't. And then there are a lot of people who have no clue. I have met people who fall into each group, and this is how the conversation usually goes when I explain what I do to each group.

Group #1 -
A: What do you do for a living?
B: I work as an athletic trainer.
A: Oh, I know someone who is an athletic trainer
Oh, I thought about going into that
Really? So am I.
I was an athlete once. I liked my athletic trainer.
Generally followed by the "Where do you work?" and "Do you like it?" and "How long have you been an athletic trainer?" and "What sports do you like working with and which do you want to work with in the future?"
This is by far the most rare scenario. If they are an athletic trainer, I usually already know them or at least know that they are an athletic trainer. And people who know an athletic trainer or thought about going into the profession are very few and far between.

Group #2 -
A: What do you do for a living?
B: I am an athletic trainer.
A: Oh, that's cool. So you help people set up workout programs then. Could you set one up for me?
Oh, that's cool. So that's like a physical therapist, right?
B: No, that's more like a personal trainer. What I do is a little different.
Sort of, but there are some differences.
This scenario is then followed up by a long discussion about how athletic trainers are not personal trainers, physical therapists or EMT's.

Group #3 -
A: What do you do for a living?
B: I am an athletic trainer.
A: Ooooohhhh...*confused look*
Well, do you like it?
B: Yeah, I love it.
A: Well, at least you like it.
(at least? You say that like I just said I do a notoriously terrible job like a McDonald's employee...well, at least you like it...could be worse...I don't think I would go through all the effort of getting a bachelor's degree, passing the board certification exam, and then getting a master's degree to boot if I didn't like it, but then again this person obviously has no idea what I do for a living.)

So, here it is. What exactly is it that I do? Athletic training is a healthcare profession that works closely with physicians to provide optimal patient care through the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of a wide range of injuries, illnesses and conditions. It is a certified and, in most states, licensed profession that requires a bachelor's degree in athletic training from an accredited institution as well as passing of the NATABOC exam. Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings with the most well known setting being with athletic teams. The athletic settings range from children's teams to professional sports teams. The definition of athletic trainer that a lot of people seem to understand easier is this: Do you know when your favorite athlete gets hurt and all those people run out to help them? Those are athletic trainers. (Oooooohhh...this time, not so confused) I specifically work with Boston University's women's ice hockey team. Athletic trainers do work in other settings such as doctors' clinics, with ballet and dance crews, and in the military.

I will definitely talk more about my day to day tasks and responsibilities as they come up throughout the year (again, while keeping with HIPAA regulations). If you have any questions, feel free to ask or refer to the NATA website.

Workout Stereotypes (and some ranting)

One of the most fun things about training (if there is anything fun about training) is the people watching. Whether it be at the gym or out on the bike path, people are so gosh darn fun (or funny) to watch. Whenever you go to a gym, regardless of which one, there are always those people you expect to see. There is the grunter. I have never really understood why people grunt when working out? Does it burn more calories? Does it make your muscles stronger? Or is it just to draw attention to yourself? I used to think grunting was just for weightlifters and tennis players, but I've also heard them on the treadmill as well.

There are also the Arnold wannabes. The funny part about them is that they spend more time looking in the mirror than actually working out. The Arnold's can be broken down into two subgroups: those who pump out out 20 reps with the worst form ever and those who have great form but can only do one rep at a time. Both subgroups, following their rep(s) proceed to circling the weight room for approximately 10 minutes, checking themselves out in every mirror along the way, before doing more rep(s). It is clear that these guys didn't get bulky by weightlifting alone, because they hardly do enough to be that big.

There are the people who look like they've never been to a gym before or they just prefer to run in jeans and a button up.

There are the underwearless, yoga pants wearing young women whose whole workout consists of repeating downward dog in the middle of the most congested part of the gym.

There is also the anorexic who is always on the elliptical regardless of when you go to the gym. Instead of taking their money and handing them a membership card, the gym should give them a food bag instead.

There are also stereotypical people on the bike path as well. However, because there is less room on the bike path than in the gym, they are generally more annoying than funny. There are the people who walk down the middle or on the wrong side of the path. There are the people that let their dogs run free on the bike path (if I didn't like dogs as much as I do, this world would easily be minus 5 dogs this month alone). There are the people who walk three people wide on a path that is only big enough for three people. There are the people who don't know their left from their right ("Passing on your left"...person moves over to their left, stops, turns around, and has a confused look on their face when you almost hit them). There are the people who enter the bike path and never look before entering *cue confused face as to why they were almost hit*. I particularly hate the runners and casual cyclists who think it is ok to move in front of cyclists on road bikes, wearing cycling jerseys, while waiting at a stop light and then take off when the light turns green like they are really going stay in front of us for more than five seconds. Really, you are more in the way than you are cool *cue confused face as to why they were hit*.

Ok, enough of the ranting. The real reason why I am even talking about this are the people that make me laugh while I'm running or biking. I saw one such person while running this morning. A young man was walking down the path with a baggy t-shirt on that said "Extreme Couture". In addition to the "couture" t-shirt, he was also wearing a fishing hat, baggy khaki shorts, white socks pulled half way up to his knees, and sneakers. I had a hard time determining what about his outfit was couture, let alone "extreme couture".

A couple of days ago, I saw for the first time in months my favorite two bike path runners. I saw them at least once a week last summer, but hadn't seen them in quite some time. They are a pair of middle aged housewives who look like twins. Not only is it funny that they look exactly alike, but they also dress alike. To add insult to injury, they always dress like they are going to an aerobics class in the 80's. My favorite outfit yet was the shiny gold Spandex complete with gold headband.

Shark Week

This story comes in anticipation (and maybe trepidation) of Shark Week, which starts Sunday. Fun fact: Shark Week is as old as I am (oy!).

On numerous occasions, I have complained to my hubby about the low quality and lack of relevant (or intelligent) content that is Boston local TV news. For example, the story about the elderly woman in New Hampshire who found her lost cat...umm, how is that relevant to anyone here in Boston, or anyone other than the woman for that matter? Of all the things you could report about, you decide to report about that? Another example is the meteorologists. Granted, they are all a little flakey (at least here in Boston...my brother is going into meteorology, so I can't rip on them too much), but the one in particular is just dumb. It is clear that said meteorologist got the job solely based on looks and skanky wardrobe, not brains. Going into the 4th of July weekend, it is only appropriate to give the viewers an idea of the type of weather they will be spending significant time in. "Today will be a high of 90 which marks the beginning of a heat wave here in Boston." I look across the screen at the other highs for the weekend: 88, 90, and 92. Heat wave? What heat wave? That's not a heat wave, THAT'S SUMMER!!! ITS BEEN IN THE 90'S SINCE MAY!! NEWS FLASH!!

Well, neither one of these stories is anything in comparison to the most recent show of stupidity. It is definitely a new low for any news station. I was watching the Today show the other day when the show was interrupted with "Breaking News". I pondered, what is going on that is so important that my show was interrupted? "We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to let you know that a shark has been sighted in the ocean. Now, back to the Today show." Really? I don't even know what to say in response to that. "OH NO! NOT IN THE OCEAN! GET IT OUT OF THERE!" I mean, clearly, in its 23 years of existence, these people have not yet seen Shark Week (sad). But the worst part isn't that they said that, but that it had to be "Breaking News". They had to interrupt the Today Show for it. You know, the national news show that has won multiple Emmy awards. The show that has probably never made such a brilliant statement as, "There are sharks in the ocean." So it is only appropriate that the local, epic fail of a news station show the Today Show how its done. Now, I'm not saying that the Today show isn't without its shortcomings (I hate "Bring your Ewok to work" Day).

Later that day, the Coast Guard announced that they could not find said shark. According to my vast shark knowledge (thanks to Shark Week), it must have been the second cousin to the Great White Shark, the Mediocre Clear Shark. It is far less deadly and deceptive than the Great White, but still, all Mass. residents should beware. There is a shark on the loose in the ocean.

To Be or Not To Be

Last night, I went to my first ever acting class. It was the first time I had any experience whatsoever with acting. I had always wanted to do acting of some sort, but it just never worked with my schedule. In high school, practice for the drama was always immediately after school, but so was cross country and soccer practice. Being the sports fiend that I am, I naturally chose cross country and soccer instead. In college, I majored in athletic training which required many, many clinical hours. Combine that with needing a job to pay the rent and I had very little free time. The little free time that I had fell between 11PM and 6AM, and there wasn't a lot of acting going on then, especially not in Columbus, Ohio. Now, being in Boston, there are a lot more opportunities to get involved with acting. Naturally, I felt it would be best to start by taking a class instead of just jumping right in (what am I talking about "naturally"? I normally just jump right into things).

I am taking a beginning acting and improv class through Boston Casting Company. My teacher is Peter Berkrot, who happens to have been in Caddyshack. How cool is that? That is one of the cool things about acting is that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. You could potentially end up in a movie that is still big, even years later. Now, that's something to tell the grandkids. None of this walking up hill both ways backwards blah blah blah crap. He also told us a little bit about the class and acting in general. He told us that acting isn't so much "playing pretend", but playing reality or truth. It is just someone else's truth. A big part of acting is learning what truth and reality is to your character and making that truth your truth, no matter how difficult the truth may be (while still keeping in mind that you are still acting).

The class started with the traditional ice breaker. We had to pair up with someone in the class and get to know a little bit about them. After talking with our partner, we had to stand in front of the class and introduce our partner and tell the class three things about our partner. However, one person had to tell three lies about their partner, and the other person had to tell three facts about the first person. Then the class had to guess who was lying and who was telling the truth. It seems like a simple ice breaker, but when you think about it, there is even acting involved with this exercise as one person needed to lie about their partner while trying not to give away the fact they were lying.

Following the ice breaker, our teacher instructed us through some relaxation techniques and becoming aware of our body in space. Then he encouraged us to become aware of our surroundings. He told us to explore the room that we were having class in so we become comfortable in it. Then he gave us two scenarios so we could practice acting using just our actions. The first scenario that he presented to us was to pretend that we were aliens that were just put into this room. We had never seen this room before, nor had we even been to earth before. Now, we should explore the room under these conditions. At first, it was difficult trying to pretend that we didn't know what anything in the room was and trying to see it through the eyes of an alien. The longer we played out the scenario, the easier it was to play the part and the reality that would be an alien's in that situation. The second scenario was that we were throwing a party for our friend who is arriving in three minutes. Quickly prepare the room for the party. This was a lot less difficult to act out as preparing something urgently is already something we know how to do.

Following the two scenarios, we had to walk around the room and make eye contact with our classmates. Every once in a while, our teacher would tell us to pick out a partner and look them in the eyes for a minute. At first, it just seemed like we were staring at our partner and it was really awkward. Our teacher encouraged us to try to understand our partner and what they were thinking and feeling just by looking them in the eye. It is interesting to see how much acting is done through eye contact and communication. Also, the longer we made eye contact with someone, the more comfortable we became. Our teacher told us that a big part of acting is making eye contact. Eye contact, or lack thereof, tells a lot about the character.

To finish the class, we did an exercise called "Who's knocking?". We each had to think of a scenario that involved a person who is knocking on a door. We had to think of who was knocking, why they were knocking, and who is on the other side. After we figured that out, we had to leave the room and knock on the door as if we were in our imagined situation. Then the rest of the class would have to guess what our scenario was solely based on the way we knocked. It was interesting to see how acting is so much more than just memorizing words. Even little things like knocking can be acting.

Before leaving, our teacher talked to us one last time. He encouraged us to leave all judgments of ourselves at the door. He said our biggest critic are the little voices in the back of our head saying that we are doing something wrong, that we can't do it, that we will never make it as an actor, etc. He told us to leave all of those thoughts and feelings behind. It will make us much better actors because we will be completely focused on living someone else's truth and reality. Too much of our own reality will creep into the scenario if we are always worried about ourselves. This was reassuring as I definitely had a lot of these thoughts. I was especially worried that I would be the only one in the class with no acting experience and that everyone else would be former theater majors or high school drama geeks. I was happy to find out that only three people in my class had any acting experience, so I wasn't alone.

One thing I did realize is how hard it is to be anybody in acting. There are lots and lots of "unfamous" actors, as Benny so eloquently put it, and everyone is trying to be famous. At this point, I feel like fame would be a nice added benefit, but for now, I just want to have fun and learn. If acting is always a hobby or occasional side job for me, then so be it. But if I'm offered a role in Caddyshack, I'm not exactly going to say no.

I cannot wait for next week's class!

*Side Note: This all reminds me of a quote of myself that I said to Benny a while back: "Not many people know you yet. But I'm gonna make you famous, Benny."

Piss Poor Preparation Produces Piss Poor Performance ( 7 P's )

It seems that a large majority of life is spent planning and preparing. In a lot of situations, there is more time spent in anticipation of events than the actual event itself. This has been the story of my life the past couple of days (hence, my lack of blogging...well, that and nothing really eventful has been going on).

One of the primary things I have been preparing for is the main topic of my husband's blog, the Timberman Half Ironman on August 22. Over the past three days, I have finally been on an upswing with my illness, so I have been taking advantage of it. I ran an easy three miles on Friday, just to get my legs going again. Yesterday, Ben and I had planned to do 55 miles on the bike, but considering the most we had ever biked before was 33 miles, and I was just coming off an illness, we decided to chop it down to 45 miles. It was great to find out that I hadn't lost much in the way of cardiovascular conditioning or endurance in my legs, but oh man, does biking really make me hungry. About half way through, we stopped at our usual spot, a little convenience store on the Minuteman bike path, and picked up some snacks and drinks. There is also a bike shop across the street from the store where Benny took his bike for a quick fix up (he was having derailleur issues and needed his rear wheel trued). From there, we continued on our way and decided to take a slightly different route home to make sure we got all our miles in. Riding in the Boston area is funny. The city itself is pretty flat and has pot hole riddled streets. As you bike further from the city, the street quality improves, traffic decreases, and the hills get bigger. The latter is my idea of ideal, but Benny still struggles with hills. As a result of that and his distaste for his new saddle, we had to rest frequently during the second half of our workout. The only con of the workout for me is some lingering knee pain I acquired. It didn't bother me during the ride, but shortly after, it was excruciating. It had me tossing and turning for the better part of last night. I have had IT band issues with running in the past, but have never had any sort of injuries as a result of biking. It is really frustrating that it just sorta snuck up on me like this and did not even have any warning signs. It is a lot better now, but I still decided to take a day off anyways. No need to try to overdo it this close to race day.

Benny and I are also preparing for visitors that we will have over the next one to two months, which means a lot of well over due cleaning. In a couple of days, my aunt and uncle are coming to Boston for a conference, so we're hoping to get together while they are here. My mom is also coming for a visit sometime in September.

Finally, I go back to work on Aug. 2, so I need to prepare mentally by spending lots and lots of time sitting on the couch and watching TV. Actually, as much as people joke about disliking their jobs (or as much as people are actually serious about disliking their jobs), I love mine. I am really excited to go back to work and can't wait to see all of my coworkers, the coaches and athletes again.

Also, you ask and you shall receive (unless you ask for money, then no). Here was my core workout for this past week. I have not yet figured out what I am going to do this coming week. With all of the exercises, I focused on doing them slow and controlled while focusing on contracting my abs.

#1 - Common crunch: Knees bent, Hands behind head, Contract abs and lift upper body off of the ground (not going all of the way up)

#2 - Bicycle crunch: Start with hips and knees at 90/90, Hands behind head, Lift upper body off of the ground, Move legs in a cycling motions while touching alternate elbows to knees (left elbow to right knee, then right elbow to left knee)
Not me!

#3 - Pikes: Start with arms straight on ground above head, Legs straight on the ground, Keeping knees straight, bring both legs up together until hips are bent to 90deg., While doing this, bring arms and upper body up to touch toes. Instead of returning all of the way to the starting position, stop with arms and legs about six inches off of the ground, hold for one second and repeat. This was by far the hardest exercise that I did this week. It was also the exercise that I felt worked my abs the most.

Starting position (again, not me)

The finishing position (artist rendition of someone who looks
like me but isn't me)

#4 - Pendulums (I couldn't come up with a better name): Start with arms straight on ground to your side, Knees straight and hips flexed to 90deg., Slowly lower both legs to one side until they are about six inches off of the ground and hold for one second before returning to the start position. Repeat on the opposite side. This exercise could work just as well within a smaller range of motion (don't go all the way down to 6 inches) if low back pain is an issue. This along with the bicycle crunches really work the oblique muscles.
Finishing position (also, not me)

All pictures I acquired from Google Images, so please don't sue me.

I tried to ford the river, and my ox died!

As some of you may have read in my husband's blog, I am still ill. I went to the doctor yesterday, a different one because my usual doctor was not in the office. The doctor informed me that this illness is going around and many people have it for weeks before feeling better (if this was Oregon Trail, morale just went down...and I probably lost an ox too).

He theorizes it is for the same reason that many people get sick in winter, because people are spending an increased amount of time inside due to the weather. He said it is most likely a viral infection, so it can only be treated symptomatically. On the plus side, he refilled by cough syrup with codeine prescription. He also suggested switching from phenylephrine to sudafed. Hopefully, this clears itself up before I start work on August 2.

An unfortunate result of this illness is that I haven't really been feeling up to working out. With the exception of a one mile run yesterday and some core exercises, I haven't really been training. My goal is to get back on the horse tomorrow, better or not. One of the benefits of having done the race on Sunday is that I'm still losing weight. I have had hydration issues in the past, so I have been making it a point to drink plenty of water, so I know I'm not just shriveling away. I was down a pound today, even after eating, not one, but two McDonald's ice cream cones. Looking back on it, I feel bad I let myself down on my one sweet a day goal, but every goal needs to go off the road every once in a while to help remind you why you made the goal in the first place. It motivates me that much more to stick to my goal today and tomorrow and so on. Aside from the dessert, I have been eating healthier over the past couple of days. I have been eating more vegetables (which isn't saying much as I normally don't eat any) and fruit (isn't that hard for me to do). Yesterday, I made some hard boiled eggs to eat as a snack instead of chips or cookies. I read that people who eat at least one egg in the morning, on average, eat 300 fewer calories during the day. Plus, because of the protein, an egg will keep me feeling full longer in comparison to chips or cookies.

Speaking of core exercises, I began doing daily core exercises this week. Each workout consists of only four different exercises, each one performed 10 times for 2 sets. My plan is to change the exercises each week, so I am not doing the same exercises all the time and my body doesn't get bored or gets used to doing the same exercises. I am presently blessed with a two pack and a two liter. I would like to exchange my two liter for a full six pack.

I apologize for not having more exciting news. Not a lot happens sitting on the couch all day.

Oh, I did forget to mention, I am getting my new bike today. As many of you know from Benny's blog, our bikes were stolen Sunday night. I am actually getting my exact same bike again. It fits into our insurance check budget without spending too much extra money, and I really loved my bike the first time.

My Nugget

Benny and I have been a long journey, and now our journey is finally over. We have been on the hunt for a delicious, restaurant-made salad for cheap here in Boston. We have tried numerous places over the past year, each time concluding that The Cheesecake Factory has the only good salads in town, albeit not for cheap. Also, it is difficult for me to go to The Cheesecake Factory and not order cheesecake, thereby defeating the point of getting the salad in the first place. And by difficult, I mean really really REALLY hard. Do you know how they say that some people have a sweet tooth? Well, I have 24 (yes, I just counted). Fortunately for me, I had my wisdom teeth removed, so my cravings are improving.
My favorite, Peanut butter cup cheesecake

Anyways, like I said, we have finally found a cheap, yet delicious salad, and in the most unlikely place, Quiznos. I wanted to have a healthier option for dinner last night, so I did the "Pick 2 for $5" option and picked a Bullet and a cobb salad. The cobb salad, which was topped with chicken, hard boiled eggs, blue cheese crumbles, bacon, tomatoes, and ranch dressing, was surprisingly amazing. It was served with a side of their Mm-mm-toasty pita bread. It was so good, in fact, that Benny finished his meal and got another one. It wasn't as tasty as The Cheesecake Factory, but it was definitely better than how much it cost.

Yesterday was the first day since I saw the doctor that I really started to feel better. I was significantly less fatigued and was able to stay awake later than 7PM. I hadn't seen one of my favorite shows in a long time due to over seas travel and my illness, so I made it my goal to stay up long enough to see "Chelsea Lately". Not only do I find Chelsea Handler funny, but a lot of the things she says are thoughts I have had, but was too afraid to verbalize. I've also wanted a short person to be my personal assistant as well, but my sister said no and wants me to stop calling her my nugget.

I'm an Olympian!

Well, maybe not an Olympian, but I finished! Yesterday, I participated in my first ever Olympic distance triathlon, which isn't saying much as it was only my third ever overall triathlon. Considering how I prepared for the race (eating like crap and not training for two weeks due to illness) and how I felt going into the race (like crap, I'm still taking a bunch of meds and not feeling any better), my only real goal for the race was to finish.

Much to my excitement, as my wetsuit is still closer to the enemy end of the spectrum than the friend end, the water temperature was 80 degrees, meaning it was too warm for wetsuits to be allowed for use according to USAT rules. Regardless of this fact, I was still trying to shake off the nerves that came as a result of a swim in an earlier race which consisted of cold temperatures, strong winds, and choppy water. After the first couple anxious strokes, I realized that swimming amongst the waves and splash that is produced from a frantic triathlon start is still far better than the sort produced naturally. Also, as I gradually dropped back (I am that slow), the waves and splashing slowly subsided, that is until the wave behind me started to gain. However, the only athletes who caught me were those who are more fish than human anyways, so I hardly noticed their presence as they flashed by me. In my previous two races, I had to stop at least once to catch my breath, usually before I even reached the first buoy. I was more concerned this time, as I had suddenly jumped from a race with two buoys, to a race with seven buoys. This turned out to be another area of huge success for me as I only needed to stop once, and it wasn't because I needed to catch my breath. Rather, after spotting for a buoy when I was ten feet away, I figured I was in the clear to pass it. There was also no one in front of me for at least another 20 feet. I put my head back down, took a few strokes, and WHAM! slammed my hand into something hard. I look up, wondering what the hell I could have possibly hit when I thought I was clear of everything. After composing myself for a minute, I realized that I had hit the buoy anyways. I guess in all aspects of my life, even in athletics, I am still a klutz.

After fighting off monstrous buoys and slithery seaweed, I bounded out of the water, pleased with my much improved swim, and more so, my much improved mentality about the swim part of the race. I hurried through transition, not really bothering to dry off as it was already at least 80 degrees outside, and predicted to get even warmer. I hopped on my bike and sped off down the street. "Sped" is an accurate description of what I did for the first four miles or so of the race. "Gradually puttering" up the mile long hill more accurately describes what I did between miles four and five. And as the old saying goes, what goes up must come down. Most of the rest of the 12 mile lap was down, however, I didn't make it to the end of the first lap without having a short, err, long detour, my first ever flat. I had the gear that I needed to change it, but lacked the knowledge to do so. After waiting for approximately 45 minutes, give or take, the bike mechanic finally arrived to help me change the tire. I powered through the rest of the lap, as well as the second. As I was biking the second lap, I was pretty confident that I was the only biker left. It was the most frustrated and lonely I have ever felt in a race. It was embarrassing to have people saying, "Way to stay in it", "Way to finish", "Way to suck it up" because they thought I was that bad on the bike course.

As I finished the last lap of the bike course, I was informed that I was indeed the last person on the bike course. I also saw Benny cheering me on and letting me know that I wasn't far behind the second to last person, and that I could probably catch a couple of people on the run. I quickly asked as I threw up my hair in a ponytail and put my visor on if he was done already. He sadly informed me that he had to DNF. This motivated me that much more to do well on the run. I was on a mission. Mainly, I didn't want to be last. I didn't want anyone there to think that I am a terrible triathlete, because I'm not. I didn't want to give them reason to believe that I hadn't put in the time or training to do well in this race, because I did. And only my husband and I knew how much I was struggling health wise just to finish this race. When I arrived at the first water station, 1 1/2 miles into the run, I still hadn't passed anybody. A little boy was also excited to inform me that I was in last place. I smiled, bit my lip and ran on. I was hot. There was no breeze and the sun just beat down on me. By this point, it was at least 90 degrees, and my congestion and runny nose were really getting the best of me. Part of me wanted to hurry because, at the very least, I didn't want the race organizer to be waiting around for me to finish. I also kept thinking in the back of my mind that there is still a possibility that I won't finish last. Another part of me just wanted to relax, not over do it, and just finish, regardless of placement or what others might think of me, and just get my revenge at Timberman. As I got to mile 2, I could finally see the person in front of me. It didn't take me long to pass her at my slow 10 min/mile pace as she was mostly walking. As I got closer to the turn around point, I saw a couple walking back the other direction. I was hoping they were walking for more than just a quick break so I could have a chance at passing them too. As I continued towards the turn around, I started to question if I accidentally took a wrong turn as I found myself running down a beaten down path in the middle of a farm instead of in a forested state park like the rest of the run. It turned out to be the right way and I had finally made it to the half way point. On the way back, I made it my goal to take a quick break at water stations, but to otherwise run the rest of the way. It didn't take me long to pass the couple as they were walking the rest of the race. The way back wasn't as long as the way out. With about a quarter mile left, I saw Benny cheering for me at the top of the hill, taking pictures of me in my nearly melted and completely snotty state. I finished the run in at a slower than usual time for me for a 10K, but I had finished the race, and I wasn't last or even second to last.

As a quick recap, here are the race distances and my times:
Swim - 0.9miles (1550 yards), 43:29
Bike - 24 miles, 2:17:55 (I wish I could take out all that flat tire time)
Run - 6.2 miles (10K), 1:02:56
Overall - 4:08:57

Donut Daze, Part 2

Like I stated yesterday, here are some of my life goals, but be warned, some are a little extreme (and highly unlikely).

1. My biggest goal for myself is to one day become an NHL athletic trainer. I am presently the athletic trainer for Boston University's women's ice hockey team and I love it. I work with a great team, great coaches, great co-workers, great students, and Boston is just such a great city to live in. However, this is just a two year gig, of which I am starting my second year. I hope my next job is just as wonderful. I can't wait to see the road that I take to achieve my goal.

2. Another big goal that I have for myself is to always have an amazing marriage to my husband, Benny, and to have four wonderful babies (boys ideally, but I will love girls just the same so long as they aren't cheerleaders).
Ok, so I would rather have girls who are cheerleaders,
than boys who are cheerleaders.

3. A goal that is shared by Benny and I is to one day own our dream home. Our current plan to achieve this is to have an apartment big enough to support us in the city that we live in (as my job has potential to move around a lot), and buy a vacation house in a location that we love (yet to be decided). We want to buy a small, cheap house and gradually add on to it so we can have exactly what we want.
This is just a "For example", but I love it nonetheless.

4. I am also a triathlete. My ultimate goal as such is to finish an Ironman race. Right now, being an ill triathlete (illness lasting over 2 weeks now, I'm seeing the doctor today), my big goal is to just finish the race this weekend. It is my first Olympic distance, but I'm almost happy that I'm sick for it. As long as I finish, it will be a huge victory for me. And if I finish in under three hours, I will just be flat out ecstatic. At least this time, I don't have to worry about having a panic attack in my wetsuit ("I'm drowning") as the water is too warm for wetsuits to be allowed.

5. Start eating like the triathlete that I am, err, triathlete I want to be, starting with limiting myself to no more than one dessert a day. Yeah, that's right, I presently eat more than one dessert a day. Also, I need to find a way to enjoy eating vegetables.

6. A hobby that I've always wanted to try, but never actually did is acting. In high school, practice for the school play always fell during the same time as sports practice, so I was never able to try out for the school play. I thought about joining an acting club in college, but all of the meetings and tryouts all fell during the times I had clinicals for athletic training. Now, being in the urban area of Boston, there are a lot more options for acting classes and groups. In fact, I just signed up for a Beginning Acting and Improv Class through Boston Casting Company this morning. It is a six week long class that starts on July 26. I cannot wait to start. Watch out Hollywood!

7. I am a huge fan of the show, "Deadliest Catch". While watching the show, I have noticed that they do not have female deckhands. Cue me. Haha...riiiiight. This goal can be chalked up under the "extreme" category.

8. Live long enough to see a cure for cancer. This may also be an extreme goal as well, but this is a disease that has affected my loved ones multiple times in my life. It is heartbreaking to see someone in so much pain and there is nothing you can do. It may be too late for my Aunt Barb and my cousin Rebecca, but it will come not a moment too soon for lots of other people.

9. Never regret anything I do. Never take a single moment for granted.

10. Keep the faith.

Donut Daze, Part 1

I hope I didn't hype up this post too much. I was just too excited that I actually new what I wanted to talk about more than five minutes before I started typing.

First and foremost, I wanted to discuss my thoughts behind my blog's title, Donut Daze. The simple explanation is that I really like donuts and wanted to incorporate them into my blog. The longer, more drawn out explanation stems from a quotation. In my high school's yearbook, there was a place where parents of graduating seniors could put their "I love you's" and "I'm so proud of you's". For me, my parents put this quote (also found underneath my blog title), "As you go through life, Whatever your goal, Keep your eyes on the donut, Not on the hole". At first glance, it seems kind of a silly little joke quote that was probably my dad's idea.

As I've actually gone through life since then, I have made various personal definitions for it. One is that donuts are clearly superior to donut holes. They are way bigger and there's more you can do with them as far as fillings, toppings, etc.

Another is that as you go through life, you should keep your goals at the front of you mind at all times. Keep your goals a priority and never give up on them or let others come in between you and your goals. Regardless of what people say or how hard it may seem to accomplish those goals, you should always and at all times strive to achieve them.

Finally, no matter how much you plan, no matter how well you execute the plan, things will almost never go according to plan. There will be setbacks and detours along the road to achieving your goals. There will always be holes in your donut, but as long as you always keep your focus on the donut, everything will come out ok.

Come back tomorrow to read about my goals, real and fictional, simple and extreme, serious and funny.

And just one more thing...

I'm not one to post multiple times daily, but I have a great idea for tomorrow's post (so stay tuned), and I don't want to dampen its affect by adding left over vacation thoughts to the beginning of the post. And by one last vacation thought, I mean, over the next couple of days, I will probably think of about ten more things to say, but please don't hold it against me.

I am a huge chocolate fan. In fact, that is a huge understatement, so naturally, we had to visit the chocolate shop in Paris. The particular shop was La Maison du Chocolat. I ordered a dark chocolate milk shake. It was by far the best, darkest, sweetest milkshake I have ever had. End of story.

Vacation Finale

Before our trip started, I thought I would have a lot more free time for blogging. Turns out, all I wanted to do during my free time is sleep. Here is the update on the final two days of our vacation.
Day 6: So I already wrote about this day is my last post, but there was something I forgot to mention. While at the Louvre, we stopped at Starbucks to get some ice cold caffeine in the form of Frappucinos. I decided to get the flavor that I have not yet seen state-side, espresso. It was by far the best frappucino I have ever had, Starbucks or otherwise. Just a note for all of you frappucino fans who plan on visiting Paris. Anyways, on to day 7...
Day 7: Much to Benny's excitement, day 7 was the last day of going to museums. We spent part of the morning at Musee D'Orsay. As impressionism fans, we definitely saved the best for last as they have the largest collection of impressionism in Paris. It was amazing to see our favorite paintings from our favorite artists, from Monet to Van Gogh. Most of the museum was under construction, so we spent only about 1 and 1/2 hours in the museum. Following the museum, we took an hour long narrated boat cruise down the Seine River. We had already seen almost everything that the boat tour showed us, but it was a nice way to see the town while sitting down. Plus, we got to enjoy some champagne and a breeze. After the cruise, we walked slightly further down the river to see the mini Statue of Liberty (just to say we have seen both). Then we headed back to the hotel to relax before going out for the night. It was our last night in Paris, so we wanted to enjoy it by going to a nice restaurant for dinner. We asked our concierge to recommend a place, and he was able to reserve a table for us a Cafe de l'Homme at the Museum of Natural History. When we arrived at our table, it turned out that our concierge was able to reserve quite possibly the best table in town. Our table came with an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower and the city of Paris. It also overlooked the FIFA fan fest, so we were able to watch the World Cup Championship game and the hooligans without actually being hooligans ourselves. Dinner was really delicious, and according to Benny, was the second most expensive meal per person he has ever paid for (second to the wedding). We started with a plate of French cheeses, none of which Benny liked. I liked two of the three. I went so far as to try the moldy one, but something about hair on cheese just does not do it for me. For our entree, Benny had a steak and I had swordfish, both of which were fantastic. We also shared a bottle of French red wine. For dessert, we wanted something a little different and a lot French. Benny had cheesecake (which was his safe option) with cheese ice cream (this is Benny's "going out on a limb" option). My whole dessert was my "going out on a limb" option. I had curdled cheese with a berry sauce. The first couple bites of my dessert kinda weirded me out. I wish I could explain it better than that. It looked like cottage cheese with raspberries on top, but it didn't taste like that at all. Finally, Benny helped me pin down what it did taste like, which was yogurt. I'm still kinda unsure of curdled yogurt. Benny's cheese ice cream on the other hand tasted really good.
After dinner, we tried to get as far from the hooligans as we could before the game actually ended, so we headed to the Arc de Triomphe to climb to the top. Let me tell you, its taller than it looks, especially when you are climbing a spiral staircase after drinking a half bottle of wine. However, the views of Paris at night were well worth it. We finished off the night by walking back to our hotel by way of Champs-Elysees.
Day 8: Our last day in Paris. Neither one of us were ready to leave yet. In fact, on the plane ride home, we were already making plans for next year's vacation (we were thinking possibly a few days in Paris followed by a few days at the French Riviera). Our flight didn't leave until the evening, so we spent the morning purchasing some last minute souvenirs. Mainly, Benny spent the morning staring at Tour de France memorabilia, as if staring at it would make it come home with us. We had limited time in the afternoon, but we still wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower. We didn't have time to wait in line to take the elevator all of the way to the top, but we did have time to take the stairs up to the second floor. The views from the second floor alone were phenomenal. More stunning was that we still couldn't see the ends of Paris even from that high up.
We loved every minute of our trip, and learned a lot. We also know what to expect and what to do if we ever do come back to Paris. We also can't stop speaking French. We both said "Merci" instead of "Thank you" when the US border patrol handed back our passports. And like I said before, we are both looking forward to next year's vacation. Suggestions? Benny wants to go somewhere tropical so we can go surfing and snorkeling. Watching Regis and Kelly this week makes me want to go to Prince Edward Island. I'll be fine with either.


From the minute we arrived in Paris, we knew we had made a great vacation decision. In fact, I knew it from the minute we walked past security in Heathrow Airport that our vacation was bound to get better when I saw THE ONE!!!
I did get a couple giggles about my shirt.
When we arrived in Paris, we were warned of the current heat wave passing through and how it won't cool down until tomorrow. At least this way, Benny is getting the tropical destination that he wanted and I'm getting the European destination that I wanted. We spent the better part of yesterday walking up and down and around Champs-Elysees, each of us with a goal in mind. Benny, to find a Tour de France bicycling jersey that fits him, and me, to find a brand name or couture purse that I like and is in my budget. Where else to get a fashionable purse other than the fashion capital of the world? Well, by the time we returned to our hotel rooms last night, neither one of us had gotten what we had come for, but we both had fun seeing the sites and learning more French. We are getting pretty fluent in Frenglish. Speaking of Frenglish, our waiter at dinner tonight seemingly forgot mid-sentence that he needed to speak English and would start speaking French, but would finish using English. Fortunately, there was enough English for him to be understandable.
This morning, we awoke to a call from the front desk informing us that they had given us the wrong room and that we were supposed to be in a far nicer, far larger room. We now have better soap and shampoo, a coffee maker, an alarm clock and a mini bar that includes not one, but two mini bottles of Hennessey. Breakfast at the hotel consisted of various breads and pastries, eggs, bacon, sausage, yogurt, fresh fruit, and, of course, fromage (cheese). Following breakfast, we walked over to the Louvre. It took us longer to walk from the edge of the Louvre grounds to the front door than it took us to walk from the hotel to the grounds. As if that wasn't bad enough, it is an astoundingly huge building with only one way in. It took us about a half hour to find it. It was amazing seeing so many paintings and sculptures that I have seen so many times in books. Of particular interest to me was seeing the sites depicted in Dan Brown's books.
Following the museum, we walked over to see Notre Dame and Saint Chappelle. Saint Chappelle's stained glassed windows were gorgeous, but it wasn't worth the 30 minute wait in the rain. We were glad it was covered by our Paris Museum Pass, so we didn't have to pay anything extra. Notre Dame was definitely well worth it. We only had to wait for about 5 minutes in line, and it was free of charge. It was another one of those places that you only dream about one day seeing. To top off our experience, the church choir was there practicing along with the pipe organ. It was truly a moving experience.
After all that walking around, I was hungry, so we made a pit stop for a Nutella and banana crepe, then took a taxi cab to a mall that contained only luxury stores. Our taxi driver said he was originally from Algeria, so he didn't like that we were American soccer fans. He did think it was neat that we were from Boston as one of his good friends lives in Boston. Once at the goal, Benny and I both looked high and low for a purse that I liked (which were many), but I could also afford (which were few). Benny had found a Radio Shack bike jersey earlier in the day, so he was at least temporarily appeased. The one purse that I saw that I just fell in love was from Prada, but it was about 400 euros more than we wanted to pay. We finally found THE ONE at the Coach store. It was originally 405 euros, which was at the very top end of our budget, but it was on sale for 30% off. In addition to that, I had a coupon for 10% off, plus, because we were from outside of the country, we also got a tax refund of 12%. In the end, we paid only 230 euros for it. I now know why people buy expensive things. It makes you really happy, especially when you can afford it. I am still, however, keeping my eye on that Prada purse.
Its hard to say which is cuter...me or the purse?
We finished the day by having subs on French bread and walking up and down Champs-Elysees for some souvenirs for family. I'm still working on my mom, sis, and brother. Its hard when so many souvenirs are just flat out cheesy (fromagey?). Bonne nuit!

I Present to You, Her Majesty, The Queen...and Day 2 and 3

I have officially decided that if and when the USA and/or Canada would like to start a figurehead monarchy, I would be willing to sacrifice my average life in order to serve as the first queen. Such a sacrifice, I know, but somebody has to do it. I also have plans to fund it, but I have enough other stuff to talk about that I won't bore you with the details now.
Day 2 was much less eventful than Day 1. After yet another breakfast at the hotel, we attempted to hurry to another walking tour that would take us through the West End of London, but thanks to sleeping through the alarm and Benny's poor sense of direction, we were 10 minutes late and missed the tour. We walked around town briefly before returning to the hotel to, you guessed it, sleep some more. I am still not feeling well, so for me it was a much needed nap. When I woke up from my nap, I cleaned up and we went down to afternoon tea in the hotel lounge. It was a real English afternoon tea time during which the hotel staff taught us about the proper rituals and etiquette. In addition to the tea, we also had fresh scones which were by far the best scones I have ever had. They also served jam and clotted cream to spread on the scones.

Following tea time, we headed over to Hyde Park and Kensington Garden. The two together ended up being a lot larger than we expected, so we just saw the major sites: the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, the Serpentine Pond, and the Rose Garden. We enjoyed delicious frozen yogurt in the park. Benny had blueberry and I had honey and hazelnut. After the park, we had dinner in a pub that was recommended by one of Benny's coworkers called The Swan. It has been in existance since the 1600's. We had the traditional London fare, fish and chips as well as London brewed beer. The beer was warmer than we are used to, but that seems to be the way they serve all drinks here. We were even asked at breakfast if we wanted our milk chilled or room temperature.
After dinner, we headed back to our room to watch the Spain vs. Germany World Cup game, which Spain won. Following the game, we headed out to get some beers at local pubs. Little did we know that the English are such big soccer fans, that they will even make a ruckus over a Spain victory. There was a full blown riot in the square near Piccadilly Circus. This also so happened to be when we learned that London has no open container laws. We also learned when we arrived at the first pub at 10:30PM that London pubs close at 11PM, so we had to make do with just one beer instead of a couple.
This morning, we woke up with the alarm, had breakfast at the hotel, and again headed out for another day in town, this time, the east side. It took us about one hour and 30 minutes to get there, but we were really glad that we made the Tower of London our first destination as it only got busier the longer we were there. It was by far the best part of our trip so far. We had a beafeater who actually lives in the tower give us an hour long tour. He told us many stories about the kings and queens that lived there. He also told us about how punishment for traitors was carried out there (punishment being beheading or hung, drawn and quartered). After our tour, we perused the grounds on our own. We also saw the crown jewels which gave me the grand idea about becoming queen. The gift shop even sold jewels for about $80,000. We finished our visit to the tower by seeing the old kings' and knights' armor. After leaving the Tower of London, we crossed the Thames by way of the Tower Bridge. Turns out, it is often thought to be London Bridge, when in reality, London Bridge is a much less impressive bridge about 500 yards down the river. We walked along the river, past the model of Shakespeare's Globe and on to St. Paul's Cathedral for evensong. Everything about it was incredible. Hearing the voices of the all male choir echo throughout the cathedral was amazing. Also, the detail of the paintings and sculptures, as well as the vaulted ceilings and central domed roof were very reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel.
Silly English K-nights!
 Of course, a trip to London isn't complete without a ride on a double decker bus. We were already exhausted from walking, so we took a bus back to the hotel. It was definitely worth it. We have had so much fun in London and are really excited to go to Paris in the morning. Cheers!
Tower Bridge

London, Day 1

Before I boarded the airplane yesterday, I mentally prepared myself for aseemingly endless flight. I have flown to Europe before, and know the trans-Atlantic flight can be a doozie. With the help of Gerrard Butler in The Bounty Hounter and a two hour long nap, I made it through, safe and sound in London, UK. After going through “customs” (no one was there), Benny and I hurried our way to the Tube, only to find it utterly confusing, and to find out that the next train doesn’t arrive for another 45 minutes. Once our train finally did arrive, it was empty. It was also 6AM. By the time we had to transfer to another train, they were packed. And I thought the green line in Boston during rush hour was bad. Also, while on the train, almost everyone was reading the morning newspaper which is handed out for free at every Tube entrance. It is not so much a newspaper as it is a giant gossip page and David Beckham ad.
After an hour long Tube ride, we arrived at our exit exhausted, but we weren’t done yet. We had a ten minute walk to our hotel. Turns out, Benny has a poor sense of direction, and yet thinks it’s a good idea to try to find places without an address, directions or a map, so our walk ended up taking us round and round a park as well as an accidental run in to the Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace

Once we arrived at our hotel, it was 8AM, so our room wasn’t ready yet. We checked our luggage and had breakfast at the hotel. English breakfast serves a lot of similar dishes to US breakfasts, but they cook it a lot differently, plus the meat and cheese doesn’t go through the same processing that it does in the US so it tastes a lot better. The most noticeable differences were the scrambled eggs (much runnier, but creamier and eggier…weird, but good), bacon (thicker and baconier), and many different varieties of cheese (some I have never heard of).
Following breakfast, we changed out of our grungy airplane clothes into fresh clothes and made our way out to explore. We started with an audio-guided tour of Westminster Abbey. It was gorgeous, from the stone chiseled sculptures to the marble floors to the stain glassed windows, it was everything I had imagined and more. But aside from its stunning beauty, it was amazing to learn about the coronations and funerals that take place there. We were also led on a tour of grave sites of deceased kings, queens and other English notables such as Chaucer and Handel. It was interesting to see the time, care and money that people had put into giving the deceased a gorgeous final resting place. I think what struck me the most was how real this tour made everything for me. Learning about kings and queens and the Bubonic plague in school made it all seem like a fairy tale. Once you actually go to visit the graves of knights and Mary Tudor and so on, it all finally seems so real.
Westminster Abbey

After our tour of the Abbey, I snapped a few shots of my big Ben with the real Big Ben and we hurried over to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. Little did we know that people wait around all morning to watch the changing, so if you are not there two hours before it starts, you are late. We did get to see the most entertaining part which is the new guard following the marching band into the Palace grounds. It also turned out that today was the 150th anniversary of the cadet school, so there was extra pomp and circumstance involved with the guards that continued throughout the day. There was also a tea party being held on the Palace grounds that was invite only. It was cool seeing all the women dressed up with their big tea time hats like they had just come over from the Kentucky Derby.
The guards

We were still stuffed from breakfast, so we continued our exploring by heading over to Piccadilly Circus to do some shopping. If you are looking for expensive jewelry, clothes or leather products, it is the place to be. Apparently, if you are looking for an English Premiership jersey in your size, it is not. I ended up buying a child sized Manchester United jersey (Go Reds!) at Lillywhites. What is interesting is that child sizes are not measured by small, medium, large, etc., but by age. So to give you an idea of how small I really am, I ended up buying a jersey sized for ages 11-12. Benny bought a couple of toy guards from the guard gift shop and then we headed back to the hotel with hopes that our room was ready. We really needed a power nap to get us through the rest of the day. The room was not ready and we were told to wait 45 minutes, so we rested in the lounge while a harpist played pop songs. When we finally got to our room, the hotel presented us with a bottle of wine for our honeymoon and for the inconvenience of our wait. We took an hour long power nap and then left for dinner. Dinner was nothing fancy, just a sandwich and chips at a local sandwich shop (simply named EAT). From there, we walked along the Thames River to our evening walking tour. The London Walking Tour came highly recommended to us by one of Benny’s friends and coworkers. This particular one was the Jack the Ripper tour which took us to the various places that played an important role in the murders such as where the bodies were found, where the girls lived and where they were last seen alive. They also discussed the gruesome details of the murders as well as the most famous speculations about who Jack the Ripper could be.
After our already long and exhausting day, we decided to save the nine pounds and walk back. I have run a marathon before and three miles never seemed as long as the three miles it took to walk back to the hotel. Needless to say, we both passed out as soon as we got back. Our plans are fewer today, but hopefully just as exciting.

July 2...because I can't think of a title

I am the biggest wimp I know when it comes to getting sick. At least I have a good excuse. I don't get sick very often, and when I do, I don't mess around. I almost always end up in the hospital, or at least in the doctor's office for some serious meds. And now, I've had a nagging hack for the past 48 hours, three days before I am to leave for my honeymoon, in a foreign country (London and Paris). It feels very similar to the bronchitis I had almost two years ago. Here's to hoping its not as I don't have time to see a doctor before we depart.
However, I didn't let it get me down. I did my own reverse triathlon yesterday. I ran four miles in the morning, biked 20 miles around lunch time, and then swam 1000 yards in the afternoon. I felt good until about 400 yards into the swim and I just couldn't stop coughing. Somehow managed to punch out another 600 though.
And I'm sad to say that all of my soccer teams are officially out of the World Cup. My teams being USA and Brazil. As an American soccer fan during this World Cup, we experienced not one, but two bad breaks. However, it was nothing compared to what Ghana went through today against Uruguay. Albeit, Ghana's chance at World Cup glory wasn't denied by poor refereeing and lack of instant reply, but rather by their own doing (or not doing). As my husband so eloquently put it, scoring a goal on a penalty kick is like shooting fish in a barrel...unless you are Ghana. What was one minute sure defeat for Uruguay and a lifetime of hate mail for Luis Suarez, quickly became defeat for Ghana and a lifetime of hate mail for Asamoah Gyan. Now, I'm left wondering what would have happened had it been the US. At least Landon Donovan would have made the PK...for the United States of Donovan.
And don't even get me started on Brazil...