Turtles and Running

This is one of my favorite poems and has been for most of my life—don’t poke fun!! I used to ask my dad to read The Children’s Book of Virtues to me every night, specifically the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, which, as we all know, is a story of hard work and determination, the virtue of perseverance. The tortoise worked hard to reach the finish line while the hare took a nap in the bushes. This poem prefaced the story in that book.

I think that, in a way, I relate a lot to turtles (I know tortoises and turtles are a bit different but just bear with me). Say what?! A turtle?! YES!

So, why do I think of myself as the tortoise in life? I work very hard—in school, sports, etc—and, though my perseverance does not always show through my grades or my running times and milage, I eventually accomplish the goals I set out for myself, determined to “finish the race” with the perseverance and willingness to hold on as long as it takes (a poem by me!).

…Ok, so, I have an obsession with, or rather love for, turtles and running, ergo I found it fitting to share some life lessons from a turtle… and how I can relate as a runner!

1.  “Never discourage anyone who makes progress, no matter how slow.” Would you ever tell a turtle who traveled 26.2 miles in 4.5 hours that he was a failure? I sure hope not… at least he accomplished something. With running, there is always room for improvement but it takes time, dedication, and hard-freaking-work! All runners are different and some people can run a marathon no problem while other’s work for months to build up to accomplish the terrifying 26.2 miles! If we as runners know we are improving, persevering, and willing to work as hard as we can to go one more mile, two minutes longer, three more steps… we have made progress and that is something to be proud of!

2.  “Be at ease in your own shell.”  Every single turtle shell is different (like a human fingerprint). Running gives me the connection of mind, body, and self. It builds up my confidence and encourages me to be proud of who I am and what I accomplish. It helps me to feel more comfortable with who I am just like a turtle with his shell.

3.  “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”  Courage, dear heart! Courage! Have you ever seen a turtle hide in his shell? For some people like myself, running is a chance to come out of that “shell”—to build up the courage to break free and take off. A chance to lose sight of fears, hesitation, and worries. Just get out and go!

4.  “Slow and steady wins the race.” Now, we all know this is not necessarily true… Each runner has his or her own pace that he or she likes to run at. For marathons there are pace markers to tell you how fast you are going and no matter how “slow and steady” you are going at your pace, there is usually one or two runners that can run faster than anyone thought humanly possible. The point of this is that I run for myself—not my parents, siblings, friends, coaches—I run because it is something I enjoy and something that makes me happy. I know I am not going to be the fastest woman in the world, but, for me, it’s not about being the fastest. It’s about trusting my steps rather than my speed… slowing down, enjoying what I am doing and persevering through every mile of my run. It’s all about the reward I get from finishing the race and the hard work I put into practice.

5.  “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” The tortoise in the story did not quick and I sure have no intention of quitting! Good things come to those who work hard and I like to see myself improve so, I will not quit!!!

So, I myself think turtles are spectacular and, like the story of The Tortoise and the Hare, plan to continue to work hard to become a better runner.

Goodnight runners!

Today’s Run: Windburn and Frustration

It has been cold and snowy the past few days and when the snow took a break, the wind stepped in… full force—balls to the walls. I have been able to make the push to run outside for 3 of the past 8 days but it’s just so cold!!!

I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to weather. When it is 70 degrees and sunny it is not uncommon to find me in leggings, an under armor top, and a pullover. I get cold easily and I would rather sweat like crazy than be cold and warm up eventually.

I was running my normal route in Carlisle today and I am thankful that the sun was shining but, boy-oh-boy, the wind! It made me so frustrated that I got the urge to punch every single mailbox I passed (don’t worry, I have a smige-bit of self control and did not actually do it). After my run I was all smiles and happy I got out there (per usual) but today’s running experience made me think back to my semester in Copenhagen, Denmark fall of 2013.

A picture from one of my runs in Copenhagen.
A picture from one of my runs in Copenhagen.

November and December in Copenhagen averaged 40 degrees every day. The wind was always blowing and the sun was only up from 9am-4pm. BUT, not once did I see this throw off any Dane’s normal routine. Amazing!

I actually remember this one time when there was a huge snowstorm watch. We were all sent home early from classes so that we could be in a safe place. I remember walking out of my class and feeling like I had no control of my body and the wind chose which direction I walked to the bus stop. At one point it felt as though I was trying to run at a 45 degree angle just to attempt and move forward a few steps. When I finally made it on the bus, I was incredibly relieved.

It was a 30 minute bus ride back to my Kolligium and, the ENTIRE ride home I saw many, many, many Danes biking. WHAT?! I swear to you, the wind was so bad that I saw one Dane completey fall to the side and off her bike. Tree branches where flying off trees and the metros and trains shut down but THEY WERE STILL BIKING! They did not let the weather change anything about their normal routine and control their emotions.

So, I cannot say I have been too weather-proof the past few days but I am proud of myself for stepping off the treadmill and fighting the wind today!

Happy running.

Rise & Grind! Today’s Mission: The Interval Test

That’s right—this morning I was out on the track before the sun was up. I had my alarm set for 5:45am, 5:47am, and 5:50am and luckily was able to get up without hitting snooze. I quickly poured myself a mug of coffee—it was a little too early for me to actually enjoy it. I chugged it and slowly (really slowly) headed to the field…

Let me give you the run-down on the Interval Test: The test is designed to be game-like and involves sprinting, rest, and running varying lengths around the track for a 21-minute period. The goal is to get 8 6/8 laps. The timing goes as follows:

Now, don’t get me wrong—I absolutely love running… This blog would not exist if I didn’t. But the thing about the Interval Test is that it’s ALL mental. Of course I can run a little under three miles…especially when I get a break in-between sprints. So what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that if I tell myself I can’t do it… I fail. Mental toughness is key. I planned it all out in my head. For the first 4 minutes of sprints I wanted to get a total of 4.5 laps. From that point on, I decided that if I just sprinted my ass off until I heard a whistle, I would make it. Sounds easy.

IT’S NOT. Lap 1 I thought to myself “Oh my goodness, I made it and I’m doing it!” The second lap I kept telling myself “OK, OK. Stick with it.” Lap number 3… “Holy smokes… I thought I was in better shape than this.” Lap number 4 “I AM GOING TO THROW UP.” From this point on the only thing going through my head was “AHH. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT LAP I AM ON.”

But, mission complete! I did it and got in an extra 1 1/2 laps! So, as much as I was dreading this morning… I learned two lessons:

1.  Positive talk only!

2.“No pain, no gain.”

Running challenges us not only mentally by physically and, in order to be successful, we must mentally believe that we are capable of achieving more and moving forward. Plus, if we are not fighting for more, we won’t get anywhere.

Happy Wednesday!

An Interview with Colleen

ColleenNPI was lucky enough to sit down with my good friend, Colleen, and ask her a few running questions. Colleen is a student at Georgetown University and just completed the Marine Corps Marathon—Congratulations! She has been running for about a year now and does not plan on stopping anytime soon. So, without further ado,

How did you first get into running?

I first started running last fall. I hated running in high school, which I realize now stems from the fact that I was terribly out of shape and didn’t run often enough for it to ever be fun. I signed myself up for the Army 10-miler and, I won’t lie, I struggled through training and through the race. I became a much more serious runner when I joined the November Project last January.

Tell me a little about November Project. How did you get involved in that?

November Project is a free fitness movement established in 16 cities and pledging in many others. The concept is simple. We meet Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6:30 AM all over the city to work out, socialize, and push each other towards new goals. We have unofficial bar nights, hiking trips, and brunch dates it has essentially become a great big welcoming group of friends. All you have to do is show up to participate. No baseline fitness level needed. We are always excited about new members and we are constantly recruiting.

It’s great that runners of all levels can come together for this. I know I was terrified the first time I went but, like you said, no baseline fitness level needed and the community is very friendly and welcoming.

Do you follow a specific marathon plan when training or do you just show up to November Project and see where your day takes you?

I did not follow a specific training plan for the few ten milers and half marathons I have run, however I followed the Hanson Marathon Method very closely while training for the Marine Corps Marathon. It involves six days of running a week but I would recommend it highly to anyone serious about their training.

Have you ever had a running injury from all the rigorous training?

I get injured every couple months. Thankfully nothing has kept me from running more than a month but they can be incredibly frustrating all the same. I’m learning more and more what it means to listen to my body and I usually avoid making the same mistakes twice.


How do you balance running with work and school? 

Balancing running with an internship and school has been the most difficult part of my semester. I run in the morning which leaves little room for making excuses. Often, though, training for a race means going to class with wet hair, overdosing of caffeine, and leaving parties early to sleep

What is your number one tip for any level of runner?

My number one tip is that there are no shortcuts to becoming a good runner. I forget this often and frequently it takes an injury for me to reset all my excitement and ambition for running.

Any favorite pre/post run food(s)?

I typically do not eat before a run because I leave so early in the morning, unless its a particularly long run. I am a huge fan of peanut butter on any kind of carb (cereal, toast, oatmeal, bananas, granola bars). I actually went through four lbs of peanut butter in two months of marathon training. I eat eggs and spinach after almost every run.

Do you have any ultimate goals for your running? Complete a specific race, or run a specific time? 

My only long-term goal is to continue running as long as I can. I have two goals for the spring. I want to PR in the 10 miler distance, hopefully with a time of less than 1:15. I also want to PR in a half marathon but I won’t make a time goal until I see my pace for the 10 miler. Another marathon will definitely be in my future but I haven’t set a date.

Thank you so much for talking with me! All the best of luck in your future running endeavors!


My Running Quirks

Us runners have our odd rituals and quirks but they work for us! Here is a list of 10 of my running quirks!

1. Gum Yes, I ALWAYS run with a piece of gum in my mouth. It has to be a chiclet and mint-flavored.

2. Showers… My friends and teammates make fun of me for this one… I shower—yes, shower—before every run. Now, I don’t necessarily wash my hair every time but I do indeed rinse off. It’s all mental—the cleaner I am, the fast/further I think I can go.

3. Nike+ Running Application No matter where I am running, treadmill or outside, I always bring my iPhone so that I can track my runs on this App. This way I can see how many miles I have logged in a month and if my times have improved. I have runs from 2010 still saved—crazy!!

4. Phone case Since I bring my phone on my runs, I need a case for it! I have a bad habit of going on Amazon and purchasing way too many phone cases… But when I run I always use the same one. It is not a running arm band or a life proof case. It’s actually just a simple thin light pink case but it’s light and works well.

5. Wave, Smile, Repeat To wave or not to wave? WAVE! I am awkward… So yes, every time I pass a runner I make an effort to look them in the eye, wave, and smile… We understand each other.

6. The dreaded #6 I don’t like the number 6 and, therefore I never end a run with the number 6 in my mileage… 6.78, 3.65, 8.06… don’t like it, wont do it! I used to be very insistent on stopping only on exact miles—no decimals allowed—but then I realized that was taking away from the joy of running because I was not content when I did not hit a certain milage.

7. Legs Up! After every run I lie on my back with my legs up on the wall for 10 minutes. Not only does it drain the lactic acid but it’s also relaxing! Fun fact: My yoga teacher told me it eases anxiety and stress. So… everyone should do this—runner or not!

8. What Music? I do run with headphones, however, I usually have no idea what is playing because I turn the volume down really low. I like to hear myself run and what is going on around me. One of my favorite things about running in DC is just listening to everything—cars, street drummers, people talking on the phone, etc.

9. Jumping Bean I have had my fair share of encounters with snakes while running, especially in Bald Head Island, NC. I would say I see an average of 2 snakes on every run there. Because of this, whenever I see a twig on the ground I have a tendency to think it’s a snake. If you ever spot a runner zig-zagging or hopping back and forth, that’s me ditching twigs and such.

10. Right side is my good side I like running on the right side of the road (with traffic) when I am running in the street. My dad always tells me to run against traffic because it is safer but it just does not seem natural to me… running on the opposite side.

So, there you have it! I’m a goof! …but aren’t we all! Please share your running quirks—I would love to hear! Happy Tuesday!

November 1st: Goal Setting

Rabbit! Rabbit! It’s November 1st! Being that it’s a new month, I have decided that I am going to set a goal for myself. For all of November my goal is to: Run every day. Regardless of the day, weather, my mood, and whatever else… I’m going to run!

Now, this is actually quite a normal goal for me. I do try to run every day even if it’s only three miles or so. But of course, there are days when I can’t quite fit running into my schedule. So, why not set the goal for myself to make sure I run absolutely every day, right?

But, I started thinking… Why exactly do I find it necessary to run every single day? What exactly will I accomplish with this? I will probably be a happier person, more approachable, in better shape, and of course become a better-stronger-faster athlete, etc. but what else is propelling me towards accomplishing this goal?

I really do not know. Maybe it’s my personality… I want to be excellent and I will work hard to get there. Because of my outlook, sometimes I feel guilty (and lazy) for taking too many days off. I have the tendency to push myself—at times a little too hard. Some days my body cannot physically handle what I put it through on my runs.

Two months ago I found myself hobbling around campus in a boot for this reason exactly. Not from jumping off a boulder or falling down the stairs—It was from running too much and pushing myself too hard. I was running with a shooting pain in my right tibia. I could not get out of bed without cringing because the pain was so intense. But I did not let that stop me. I am a college athlete and we are told to “tough it out—don’t show weakness.” I continued my daily runs and yoga classes to stretch out after. Every few days I would go to a cardio tennis class regardless of the pain.

I did not listen to my body. I continued to run on different surfaces—streets, turf, treadmills, trails (Yes, I know… stupid, stupid, stupid). My body was telling me to stop but my head was telling me I needed to keep going. I had done the run before so I kept telling myself that there shouldn’t be any reason I couldn’t do it again.

After the pain became so bad that I could not sit on the couch without crying I decided to get it checked out… A stress fracture in my right tibia. This was an injury thats recovery period requires 2 months rest—HELP! What a nightmare! I found a way to fight through the pain, yet again, and I was back running after 3 weeks—not so smart.

While the pain in not half as bad as it was two months ago, I still find myself limping after runs every now and again…

Alright, so I’m rethinking my November goal…

I know I am capable of running every day for a month. I have proven to myself that I can do it. But what do I struggle with? What would be a goal that I would really have to put a lot of effort into making sure I complete? My answer: Listening to my body.

Without further ado… My goal for the month of November:
I pledge to listen to my body and the signals that it sends me. I will run when my body craves movement and freedom. I will slow down when my body needs a break. If I am sore or in pain I will rest.

Run & Be Free

Old Baldy Lighthouse, BHI
Old Baldy Lighthouse, BHI
Maybe it was the small iced coffee or maybe I was just overexcited that my dad came to visit me but, whatever it was, I’ll take it and hail to thee! Today I ran a fabulous 10 miles at a 8’02” pace around my favorite place in the entire world, Bald Head Island, North Carolina. Can you tell I’m in a good mood?
I started out a little faster than usual… accidentally. But, there was not a single cloud in the sky and it was 70 degrees—perfect running weather.
About a mile into my run I stumbled upon my dad who was also “running”—he was actually stopped on the side of the road chatting with a friend. But, naturally, we decided to run together for a little—everyone likes a little company every once in awhile.
After running together for a mile we realized that we were making it a challenge for people to pass because we both like running on different sides of the road and the streets here are the size of a single lane on the beltway. We parted ways and continued on with our own runs.
Everything after is a blur. My run turned into one of those runs where your thoughts carry you. I cannot tell you whether I was running with the wind or against it, what music I listened to, or even if I was feeling exhausted or not. I simply do not know. I honestly do not even know if I thought about the course I wanted to follow—my feet just took me.
I think one reason I was able to run for so long was the sense of freedom that it brought me. For the past month and a half of being back at school I have felt like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done—homework, socialize, my jobs, a colligate sport, figuring out life after graduation—it’s a lot and freaking stressful.
My run today was my chance at freedom from all of these thoughts that I cannot seem to clear from my head. Rather than focusing my attention on all the exams and papers I have coming up I was able to concentrate on the wedding I could see on the beach. Or, rather than thinking that I should really be applying for jobs right now, I was able to be in the moment and look at one of only three WW II planes that was flying above me—yes, that really happened. My heart was not racing because of my nerves about having lacrosse practice next week. Rather, my heart was pounding from spotting an alligator with a poor little turtle hanging out of his mouth. While this is a scaring scene that I never want to encounter again, I enjoy that it allowed me to be in the moment. My brain was spinning and I was thinking but it was all focused and centered around the here and now.
I greatly enjoyed todays run because it gave me the ability to be in the moment—thoughts still going, but good thoughts. Today, running was so much more than just sweat and burning calories.

Today’s Run: Gravel, and butterflies, and SURPRISE! Oh, my!

Being the lovely 70 degree, humid tuesday it was—quite different from the cold, dismal weather we have been having—I decided that I would take advantage and go for a nice long, relaxing run. Plus, I got off work 2 hours early so I had to celebrate!

Now, I am a creature of habit. I like running the same path, in the same direction, around the same time every day. It sounds crazy but I find it very comforting. So today, since I started my run a little earlier than usual, I decided to go all in—full-fledged change… that’s enough to give me butterflies!

A bunch of friends have told me about a little gravel running path in the back neighborhood of Carlisle so I decided to give it a go! I ran 2 miles to the location of the trail and set off from there!


Rumor has it that there is an old man who walks up and down the path every day, hiding in the bushes and following people, so, I decided that I would take out my headphones and just listen to my breathe and my feet pounding the ground. It was unbelievable! Of course, I was turning my head every which way making sure it was MY feet I was hearing and not someone else’s but wow, what a new experience. I found myself looking around, taking in my surroundings—and how beautiful they were!

The path I ran on was complete gravel with leaves all over! I continued down the path for a while and found myself at a big open field with a small playground on the far end. To my right were trees and plants galore! I decided to stop for 1 minute in an attempt to take an artsy photo of a butterfly on some flowers!


On my loop back I started to get a little out of breath… I didn’t realize that I had been running on a bit of a downward slope in beginning of my run and, as i retraced my steps, I was of course laughing at myself for getting so carried away because, as all runners know, whenever you run down… you will always have to trudge up again.

When I finished my run on the gravel path which was about 2.5 miles, I came back out to the neighborhood streets and found a few roads to make my run a little longer. I have a huge exam tomorrow which probably explains why I wanted to continue running.

After 5.25 miles I hit D-Park and still wanted to get in a few more miles so I decided to run the 1 miles around the park! I started my run around the open field, headphones back in my ears, alone… All of a sudden… BAMM… a bloody nose out of nowhere! Leave it to me for something like this to happen to. I will spare you all the lovely details but basically, in a nutshell, there was no way possible I could run back home so I had to send a rather embarrassing SOS text to my roommates who so graciously offered to pick me up.


While I was not able to run the 7 miles I had planned on running today, I did get in a wonderful #TrailTuesday and get to see a different part of Carlisle. All-in-all, it was a rather eventful tuesday run!!


P.S. Sprints for breakfast!


KAHWhyIRunMy solution for everything—a bad grade, a stressful day, yelling coaches, homework galore, even overwhelmingly-fabulous news—RUNNING. It’s freeing, exhilarating, relaxing, and never fails to make me smile from ear to ear.

The first time I ran for fun, I had no idea what I was doing. I was stressed so I put on my running shoes and just bolted. Out the door I went; no destination in mind, no idea what I was really doing. All I knew was that I wanted to get away from all the hustle and bustle and just breathe. Ever since, I have been hooked. It’s something I crave and a big part of who I am.

I’ll admit it, I’m pretty competitive and a bit of a perfectionist—I can’t help it. But we all want to be our best…unbeatable and unstoppable. When I am running I feel invincible. Whether it be a 22 minute 5k or a 8 mile run on a hot day, the freedom that comes from running is exhilarating. I enjoy that, in running, the word “perfect” does not exist. With every run comes the desire for more and the drive towards excellence. When I run, I can persist until I hit my goal and the harder I work, the better I get, but there is always one more thing I can do—longer, tougher, faster, stronger.

So, ask me what the best part of my day is! Do it! My answer, hands down, is RUNNING. I kid you not, it makes a world of difference. Yes, I said it, pushing myself to my limits on a run is the most exhilarating part of my day! My “happy hour” is in running shoes.