Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summer Short Story Boot Camp!

New Project Alert!

I've been trying to figure out a way to get back into creative writing for a good long while now. I've always wanted to attempt a novel, but I've never seen a project that wasn't for school anywhere past a few paragraphs. Creative writing is tough but I'm constantly itching to attempt some sort of writing project and I'm always at a loss at where to event start. I was sitting around over the holiday weekend wondering how I can introduce creative writing back into my life and BOOM - the Summer Short Story Boot Camp popped into my head.

Inspired by NaNoWriMo, this is a project I'm taking on to reacquaint myself with writing creatively. I knew I didn't want to plan to take on a full on novel quite yet, so I thought why not do three short stories - one each month of the summer - and see how it feels to just write again. I will be writing a new short story during the month of June, July, and August. Because I'm having some trouble with coming up with writing ideas as of this moment, I'm going to look up a writing prompt to base my short story around which I will announce at the beginning of each month. At the end of each month, I will share the final product with you all right here on the blog!

I have no idea how this project is going to go, but I am excited to reincorporate this avenue of creativity back into my life during the quieter months of the year for me. I will be vlogging my experience and sharing my journey at the end of each month so be sure to be on the look out for those posts! I'm looking forward to seeing how this project will go and I can't wait to share it with you all!

If you have any tips for creative writing or any writing prompts you'd like to see my attempt, leave them in the comments below! Any and all help will be willingly and lovingly accepted! :)

Monday, May 29, 2017

June 2017 Plan with Me! + May Flip Through

My first full month in my new bullet journal is complete! I'm having so much fun in this bullet journal and just letting myself be ~loosy goosy~ and do whatever feels good. I've been writing down thoughts and memories and doodling and pasting things in and jotting down quotes I like to fill space... it's just been an absolute blast which is exactly what I need in a planning system. I'm looking forward to seeing how my journal evolves through the month of June! Click play on the video to see what my bullet journal looked like through the month of May!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer Runnin': 100 Days of Summer 200 Mile Challenge

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that I participated in a little running challenge called the April Showers May Flowers 100 Mile Challenge hosted by Will Run for Bling and Charity. It was a virtual running challenge where you had 45 days to run 100 miles. I managed to complete this challenge during the tail end of my marathon training and fulfilled the 100 miles when I reached mile 24 of the Pittsburgh Marathon. Best part? The challenge supported an awesome charity and I received a medal bigger than my face.

Because I had such a great time running in this challenge and because training for marathon #6 is right around the corner (announcement on what marathon I'll be running is coming soon!), I thought I'd attempt the next challenge - the 100 Days of Summer 200 Mile Challenge! If you're doing the math in your head, that means I have to average 14 miles per week throughout the challenge in order to hit the 200 mile mark within 100 days. I definitely think I can do it, but I know it will be difficult when all I want to do is lay outside with a book! But hey, I guess that's why they call it a challenge, right? :P

This challenge starts on May 27th and lasts until September 3rd, so I'll be underway starting on Saturday! I have more summer running plans which I will be sharing here on the blog soon, so stay tuned for that post! I'm looking forward to another great summer running and training season!

Do you have any summer fitness plans?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spring 2017 & Birthday Book Haul

Today I'm sharing my Spring 2017 book haul! I made a few purchases based off of my #Project5 book buying plan and I also received quite a few books as birthday gifts! I'm so excited about all of these books. I swear, every time I get my hands on new books I get so frustrated that we don't have the technology to read 20 books simultaneously. :P


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Giant Days, volume 2 by John Allison
Lumberjanes, volume 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
We Are the Ants by Sean David Hutchinson
Drown by Junot Diaz
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life by Eve Brown Waite
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NYC Snaps {May 2017}

Our weekend in New York with Erin and Cullen was so much fun! We all tried so hard to document it all, but when you're also trying to enjoy each other's company and really experience the city, time gets away from your and moments will just have to live on as memories. Here are the photos we did manage to snap throughout the weekend!

Lunch at the Corner Social

Pre-Hamilton drinks at The Playwright

Hamilton (!!!) at the Richard Rodgers

Channeling our inner Schuyler sister in front of the Richard Rodgers

Experiencing Times Square at night

Post-show drinks at The Grange



Posing in front of the Flatiron Building

Afternoon treats at Doughnut Plant

Erin's birthday dinner at Nikko

Exploring the City College of New York campus and being goofy (per usual)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Vlog: Going HAM(ilton) in NYC!

Over the weekend Brett and I traveled down to New York to meet up with our friends Erin and Cullen and to finally see Hamilton on Broadway! If you didn't know, we originally bought tickets to Hamilton last June, so it's been nearly a year that we've been planning this trip and it finally happened! We had an absolute blast seeing the show, exploring the city, eating so much delicious food, and spending time with some of our favorite people. Hopefully this vlog captures how much fun we had this weekend! :)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Full Bullet Journal Flip Through #1 {September 2016 - April 2017}

Although I do individual monthly flip throughs of my bullet journal, I thought it would be fun to do a full flip through of the first bullet journal I completed! It's really interesting to see how my planning style grew and evolved through these pages and revisiting old systems definitely gave me some inspiration for future planning! Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed spending time in my Moleskine over the past seven months and will continue to join in on my bullet journal planning!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Adulting & Mental Health

This blog topic has been on my mind for a few months now and I'm finally feeling ready to write about it. 

Adulting is hard, guys. That truly seems to be the millennial mantra, and I don't say that in any negative way (for some reason my generation, the millennials, has become synonymous for BAD, but that's a conversation for a different day), I say it because it's true and millennials aren't ones to put on a happy face when things aren't working the best way they could be. Calling adulthood what it is - extremely difficult - is just in our nature. Balancing the hundreds of spinning plates that makeup adulthood is hard, and when you live with an unpredictable mental illness like anxiety, it becomes that much harder. There are days, sometimes weeks, where the only thing I can do when I get home at the end of the day is lay in bed, knowing that all of my responsibilities are piling up and waiting for me to take care of them once I muster up enough energy or motivation to stand up.

The major way that my anxiety manifests itself is lack of self-esteem. I am constantly thinking negatively about myself, feeling like I'm not good enough, and feeling generally awful about myself. This is pretty detrimental to motivation, energy, and ultimately productivity, making doing anything a normal adult does from something as time consuming as taxes or as seemingly simple as grocery shopping the most difficult task on the planet. I'm thankful that I still somehow gather the energy to get the most important things done, like paying bills and getting myself to work in the morning, but often things that pertain to taking care of myself, like eating right and drinking enough water and getting enough sleep, are the first things to get thrown on the back burner. With the way my anxiety manifests itself, it's really no surprise that this happens. I don't feel important or worthy, so why should I be taking care of myself?

A glimpse into my brain when my anxiety pays a visit.
[Comic by Sow Ay]

I don't say this to search for sympathy, I say this because this is genuinely how I feel when my anxiety decides to rear its ugly head. On days where I feel great, I know I'm good at what I do, I know I'm a good person, I know I deserve the things I have, and I know that I'm going places in life. But with my anxiety comes fear, doubt, self-loathing, and it. is. exhausting. I often wonder if it will get to a point where these spinning plates will start crashing down one by one. Will there be a day where I don't find the energy to get up for the bare minimum? Is this as bad as it can possibly get or can it get worse? Will I ever feel confident again? Will I ever feel normal again? (See? Exhausting.)

Mental illness is tricky because you never know when you're going to have a good day or a bad day, and while there are things in our world that can help treat it, its something that you need to live with for the rest of your life. I'm still figuring out how to cope with mine and my coping strategies do change and evolve each day, but I thought I'd share what I do to gain more energy to keep the plates spinning during the bad days, and maybe it could help someone else out there.

[Comic by Beth Evans]

Get to a quiet space. 

Usually my brain is so loud with such negative thoughts that any other noise makes my feel that much worse. If I can give myself some genuinely quiet time without doing anything else (no phone, no music, no TV, no anything) it often slows my brain down enough where I can actually get to a semi-productive place and start or continue the project that needs to get done. Bonus points if you can get outside for some fresh air and change of environment.

Put on a favorite TV show or movie and focus on that for a while. 

I have several go-to television shows that will always distract me from my negative thoughts or will comfort me when I'm feeling especially overwhelmed. I allow myself time to get lost in the fictional world I'm watching for however long I need in order to get my energy back. Getting back to a better place (not necessarily a good place, but a better place) takes time and you can't rush it, so make sure you give yourself the time you need to get back into a mental space where you can be productive.

Vent about it/write about it.

If I'm feeling up to it, I talk to Brett about how I'm feeling. Speaking about my anxiety and negative thoughts is very difficult for me and always makes me cry tears of frustration, but Brett is patient and will listen to me vent when I need to. It always helps to get it out and it puts us on the same page which is an extra bonus. If I don't feel like I can talk about it out loud, I'll write about it, mostly in my journal but sometimes a blog post like this is a better venue.

Let yourself feel that way.

I think this is one of the most important things I do. Living with anxiety is so frustrating. All I want is to feel better and normal and it's frustrating when I'm just sitting there feeling terrible and having no way of knowing when I won't feel terrible anymore. So the easiest thing to do is be okay with feeling the way I feel and not rushing to feel better. I try to remember to just do what I can when I can, and when I have my next good day, I'll know I can get more done. Everything just takes time, and remembering that and believing it will be better in the near future will make a difference.

If you're someone who lives with a mental illness, I hope that you could relate to this post or maybe find it helpful. I'm a big believer that we as a society need to continue to discuss mental illness because there is still such a HUGE stigma around it. The more we talk about it, the more we can relate to one another, and the more we can relate to one another, the faster we can dismantle the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Vlog: #BookBuddyAThon Round 4

Last week I participated in the #BookBuddyAThon! A busy week and a bout of anxiety really slowed down my reading process last week, but I still enjoyed myself nonetheless, especially my buddy read with Michael of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (check out my review)! I really love the #BookBuddyAThon and I'm hoping that the next round I won't be as busy or feel as terrible so I can read even more! :D 

Did you participate in the #BookBuddyAThon?
How'd you do?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give

During the #BookBuddyAThon last week, my book buddy Michael and I chose to read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas as our buddy read. This book absolutely blew me away and I am so glad that we picked this book to read together. I knew I had to take time to write a full review on this book to encourage folks to pick up this book because I truly believe everyone needs to read it, especially if you live in the United States.

Angie Thomas has written one of the most, if not THE most, important YA contemporary novels of the last decade. Many people are marketing this book as being inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and while that may be true, I would say that that is an extremely reductive description of this book. The Hate U Give is honestly so much more than that. This book captures the many struggles of people of color, especially black people, in the United States, specifically focused around police brutality, the killing of unarmed black people by American police officers, and the lack of justice that is brought to this community a regular basis though our justice system. Thomas has done sure a huge service to the world and especially the United States by writing this book and has written about this very delicate topic in a way that is accessible to anyone to get a glimpse into what it means to be black in the United States today. White folks need to read this book and understand what the people in our country are going through every. single. day.

The Hate U Give is narrated by our protagonist, Starr Carter, a black teenager in modern day America who lives two different lives - her life at home in Garden Heights, a low-income, gang ridden city, and her life at school in Williamson, an extremely affluent, upper class, predominantly black town. Starr struggles on a regular basis with what version of herself she should be in these two environments, fearing that being too much of herself would label her as a "thug" in Williamson and label her as "snobby" or "white" in Garden Heights. Starr is often exhausted by constantly putting on a front for her peers - something PoC struggle with regularly in the US. After fleeing a fight that breaks out at a party Starr attends in Garden Heights, she and her friend Khalil are pulled over by a white police officer on an empty street. Starr witnesses Khalil get shot and killed by this officer, and her story takes off from there.

I see Starr in so many of the students that I work with. I work at a predominantly white institution (PWI) and the majority of our students come from very affluent backgrounds. A lot of our students of color feel this same identity struggle that Starr goes through on a daily basis. Many of the students I work with have witnessed instances of police brutality first-hand. Many of the students I work with have lost friends or family members in their home towns and have had to deal with the same level of grief Starr deals with in this story. This book hits so close to the stories I hear from my students on far too regular of a basis and my heart broke over and over again for them while I was reading Starr's journey. Books never make me cry, but while I was reading this story I definitely felt a lump in my throat, a knot in my stomach, and burning in my eyes. It was all just so real and appalling that things like this happen every day in the US.

Not only did Thomas write Starr's story in a way that the reader could really connect with her, but she wrote her supporting characters in a way that really painted a whole picture. The details of each characters' back story is so rich and detailed that you could tell that Thomas really took her time with this novel and did not take the responsibility of telling this extremely important story lightly. I could feel the pain of Seven's need to take care of her sisters that live in an abusive household. I could feel the struggle of Maverick trying to take care of his family by breaking ties with his gang and taking responsibility for the time he missed while in prison. I could feel the bond between Maya and Starr strengthen when they finally became fed up with Hailey's ignorance. I identified so much with Chris who strived to understand Starr and her life in Garden Heights and his willingness to use his white privilege to go to bat for her and her family. Every character's story painted a full picture and I really appreciate the care Thomas took when telling this story.

I also greatly appreciate Thomas being completely unapologetic in telling Starr's story. As the reader, you felt the anger and frustration and pain Starr felt. You were there right along with her and the only way you were able to do that was because Thomas was 100% honest with her own experience as a woman of color living in the United States. Though this is a work of fiction, you can tell that 99% of this story is true. The situations are true. The feelings are true. I truly appreciate Thomas's vulnerability in telling this story because it would not have had the same impact if she held anything back.

Of course, I gave this book a...
5/5 Stars

It would feel so wrong to give this book any other rating. The Hate U Give is so timely and so important. It creates discussion in the YA community about this topic and honest dialogue on racism and police brutality at the YA age is so essential. It is part of our nation's history and it is part of our nation's present, and if we don't continue to speak honestly about it, it will continue to exist. The more we talk about it on every age level, the more we can work together as a society to fight it. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

#PicsBurgh {May 2017}

I spent last weekend in Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Marathon and to visit my friends Cullen and Erin. Not all the photos I took while I was there wound up in my race review so I thought I'd share some of the photos I took throughout the weekend outside of race festivities (which was mainly my last day while visiting Erin at work)! I hope you enjoy my pics from #PicsBurgh*! :D

*Last year when Erin and Cullen moved to Pittsburgh, Erin and I thought it would be funny if every photo she took while living there was hash tagged with #PicsBurgh (because we're hilarious), hence the title of this blog post.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Race Review: Pittsburgh Marathon

Over the weekend I traveled down to Pittsburgh to run the Pittsburgh Marathon which had the best perk to any race I've ever experienced: I got to reunite with Erin and Cullen! It was so good to see them after nearly a year and to have them around for my fifth marathon experience. Yay for friendship reunions! I flew in early Saturday morning and our first stop was the Pub Chip Shop where we all grabbed buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. Seriously - so freaking good. Highly recommend you all to make a stop there if you're ever in the area!

Sick views of the Ohio River and PNC Park from the Convention Center!

 Afterward we wandered over to the Convention Center for the marathon expo! The expo was so legit - there were tons of vendors and photo ops available to runners and their loved ones. I'm not really into shopping around at expos (large crowds in a confined space usually isn't my thing) but I loved all the other cool things that they had at the expo, including a photo op with giant distance numbers, the wall of the nearly 30,000 runners' names, and the opportunity to sign your name to make your mark on the marathon!

One of the coolest things to take a photo with!

Finding my name out of the 28,392 that were on the wall!

Leaving my mark for Marathon #5!

After the expo we went home to Cullen and Erin's house to just chill. I really didn't want to do anything else besides hang out with my buds and rest up for the race. We did a lot of Netflixing, snacking, and planning out the transportation strategy for Sunday. We had a lot of fun taking arbitrary bets on Kentucky Derby Horses (I had McCracken and Fast & Accurate, Cullen had Thunder Snow and Irish War Cry, Erin had Gromley and Untrapped, and we all had our favorite - GIRVIN. Spoiler alert, none of them won) and later went out to dinner to ~carbo load~ (I ordered amazing spinach and cheese ravioli).

Chilling with Taco on the floor as I stretched!

We spent the rest of the night playing an awesome board game called Pandemic - highly recommend! My nerves were going pretty crazy at this point anticipating the race and we had to wake up by 4:45/5AM, so we all headed to bed pretty soon after that. Not before I snapped a quick flat runner photo, though! It's basically a pre-marathon requirement. :P

 I woke up before my alarm (probably due to nerves) so I decided to get ready for the race. I packed up my backpack, ate my traditional pre-marathon breakfast (PB bagel, banana, a Clif Bar, and some Gatorade) and got into my race attire. We were on the road by 5:30AM and got to the race site right after 6:15! We walked around a bit before I had to get into the starting corral just to check out the area, take a few pre-race potty breaks, and to dance to the music they were blasting at the starting line. We managed to snap some pre-race pictures as well!

Always twinning!

The O'Brien cheer squad!

All runners had to get into their corrals by 6:55AM so Erin and Cullen and I wished me luck and I headed into the corral with everyone else. It was so crazy to see everyone lined up and the pre-race energy was insane! What I wasn't expecting was how long it took for the later corrals to get moving. The race started at 7AM, but they sent each corral out in multiple waves (which makes sense because 30,000 people) but, even though I was in the last corral, I was not expecting that I wouldn't cross the starting line until 7:48AM! It was long enough where I could have definitely taken several more pre-race potty breaks (because we know those are real) and there wasn't anywhere to go. D: Definitely would have appreciated more access to bathrooms in the corrals if we have to be locked in there for close to an hour!

Party in Corral D!

Getting my watch set for the *final run* of the training cycle!

Finally our corral's time finally came to cross the starting line and we were on our way!

The first mile was so much fun and completely lined with fans and multiple live bands playing awesome covers to keep the runners entertained. I did have to pull over right after mile 1 for one quick potty break which meant standing in line for about 5 minutes, but I felt better about it when I saw that literally every restroom area had lines throughout the entire race. (That being said, don't feel nervous about waiting in line at one bathroom stop or try to take your potty break down the course, because you'll likely have to wait in line no matter where you are on the marathon course, especially when you're still combined with the half marathon!)

Crossing over the first bridge right before the 5K mark!

I managed to swoop through the next few miles and catch up on my time by the time I hit mile 4 and saw Erin & Cullen for the first time! They were there cheering me on and holding a sign that (SURPRISE) a bunch of my coworkers and students at MHC signed and wrote amazing encouraging messages on! My amazingly sneaky friends coordinated the signing and sending of the sign down to Pittsburgh just to wish me luck! So amazing to be a part of a community of people that makes me feel so loved and appreciated! I said a quick hello to my cheer squad and kept trucking along the course - I'd be meeting up with them again at mile 9!

Cullen with the MHC sign at mile 4!

We ran past PNC Park (which I didn't realize until I had basically already run by it) and Heinz Field in the intermittent miles and while I'm definitely not a Pittsburgh sports fan, I think it's always cool to run by professional sports complexes. That's where sports history is made! Of course, I had to snap a few photos. Right after, we headed over one of the many bridges of Pittsburgh where part of the Steeler's drum line was located as well as a really cool view of the Pittsburgh skyline as well.

Loved this view of the Pittsburgh skyline!

 I ran into Cullen and Erin again at mile 9 and they had another amazing sign ready for me that read "Tacos and Margs at the Finish Line" - a GREAT incentive to run fast! :P The weather had warmed right up at this point so I ditched by hoodie with them and Erin took some pretty amazing "candid" photos of me "running". :P This would be the last time I saw them until the finish line so we said some good-byes and good-lucks as I entered into the more difficult miles of the race.

Left: Totally candid and not posed at all running photo :)
Right: My expression in most situations... 

The half marathon and full marathon split off around mile 11 and there was a significant drop in runners around me once this happened. While this was nice as I had more room to run, it's always a bit easier and more fun to run a tough race with a crowd around you. That being said, I was never completely by myself on the course which was really nice. My fellow distance racers will relate - you kind of mentally bond with the runners that are around you throughout the race, especially the folks that are running a similar pace to you and especially when you're in the later, more painful miles of the race!

With mile 12 came "the hill". I've been hearing about this crazy hill that you need to tackle during the Pittsburgh Marathon that comes right after mile 12. Every race review I read called it brutal and the elevation map made it seem like I was about to go up a 90° angle. Not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous about this hill. When I actually saw it? I was pretty unimpressed. I mean, it's definitely a hill and it lasts a little while, but it's gradual enough that if you have done any sort of hill work during your training that you could pretty easily run up it. I got to the top and felt pretty awesome!

After "the hill" we entered the University of Pittsburgh campus which, as a Higher Ed Nerd, was awesome because I got to check another campus  off my Campus Bingo Card! :P Had to snap a quick selfie with the Cathedral of Learning, aka "Cathy", while I was running by.

Me and my BFF Cathy

We started to run through neighborhoods that were handing out extra treats like oranges and watermelon, which was such a big help. For whatever reason, I wasn't reaching or my GUs or my Gatorade blocks throughout the race and all I wanted was water in the hot sun, so having folks that were handing out fresh fruit in addition to what I was carrying with me was super helpful. I probably would have bonked HARD if it wasn't for those folks!

Mile 17 was when my legs started to get pretty tired. This is where I started my walk/running for the next few miles. My calves and hamstrings were really feeling it and I had to stop to stretch them out multiple times. However the crowds in each neighborhood kept me pushing through. I remember the kids all sticking their hands out for high fives for runners and a group from the neighborhood at mile 17 doing the Wobble with huge smiles on their faces. I remember the greyhound cheer team at mile 18 - all dressed up for the marathon and still adorable even though most of the pups were super sleepy by the time I ran through! It's really the crowds and cheers that kept me going through the pain.

At least the FRICK kept me chuckling through mile 16 :P

Mile 19 the pain in my calves shot down to my ankles and really started giving me a hard time. It lasted from mile 19 to mile 24 and at times felt fairly unbearable. All I wanted to do was sit down and stick my feet into an ice bucket. But again, it was the crowds that kept me chugging along. The town of Friendship being oh so welcoming and handing out popsicles to the runners at mile 22,  the HUGE crowd at the top of the downhill mile 23 pushing the runners through the last 5K, folks handing out free beer at mile 24…. I couldn't believe how much of a help and distraction it was from the pain. PGH has some amazing cheer squads through the entire city and I would recommend this race PURELY to experience the crowds!

Mile 24 is when the pain in my ankles made me so frustrated that I decided that it was finally time to break down and throw my headphones into my ears. With all the bands and DJs lining the course, I figured I wouldn't have to listen to any music, but as soon as I popped my headphones in and threw on my angsty pop punk playlist, my splits went from a painful 13:00-14:00/mile as they were miles 19-24, to roughly 10:40/mile for the rest of the race. My ankles were still killing for sure, but with just two miles to go and my favorite band New Found Glory blasting through my ears, I felt like nothing could stop me from crossing that finish line!

When I turned the corner and saw the big inflatable yellow finish line, I paused my music to hear the excitement of the crowd and the music, scanned the crowd for Erin's pink Virginia Tech hat (which I couldn't find) and whipped out my camera to film the crossing of the finish line. It felt SO GOOD to finish that race. It honestly never gets old. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I cross the finish line of a marathon is incomparable to anything else I've felt in my life. It's what keeps me returning to the 26.2 distance, despite how difficult it can be. After months of training and thinking about nothing but this race and sacrificing free time  and weekends and sleep for long runs, crossing the finish line on race day is like nothing else.

Erin cheering me on through the finish line!

The team of volunteers at the finish line handed me a medal, a water, and a heat sheet, and I began the pretty grueling walk down to the finish line festival. I swear they made us walk an additional half mile to get there… not something I was a fan of at all. There was fencing that made it impossible to go anywhere else and there was no where to sit and rest for a moment. Luckily I found an opening in the fencing and was able to sit on the curb for a bit before getting up the strength to walk the rest of the way down to the park, but it would have been nice to either not have had to walk as far to meet up with your cheer squad OR provide some sort of rest area for the runners within the finish line area. Just some sort of seating area would have been AMAZING.

Noticed this banner as I took a break from walking on the curb. My legs might have been dead but at least in that moment I could call myself a #RunnerofSteel!

Once I did make it down to the finish line festival I reunited with Cullen and Erin and we immediately found a space on the grass to sit for a while. I showed them my medal and we chatted about the race. It was so good having friends waiting to see my at the finish! I changed out of my running shoes and socks and into my flipflops and fuzzy socks (Which... oh my goodness... made SUCH a difference! Cannot recommend this post-race strategy enough!) and felt good enough to walk down to the fountain to take some post-race photos with my medal, my signs, and my cheer squad!

The race was such a positive experience for me, and from what I heard from Erin and Cullen, it was a great experience for them as well! It's so special when you can find a race that caters to both runners and spectators, and this marathon totally nailed it. The crowds we amazing and went all out for the runners through the whole course, and a good chunk of the course was close enough together that spectators could pretty easily move on foot from location to location to see their runner! I absolutely loved my experience running the Pittsburgh Marathon and would 100% recommend it to any runner who is looking to add 26.2 to their list of accomplishments! 

Thank you so much to Pittsburgh, Erin, Cullen, and to everyone who cheered me on from afar for making Marathon and State #5 so special! Now onto #6... 

P.S. If you were wondering: Erin and Cullen made good on their finish line promise ;)

My soup of the day: The Hamilton (super appropriate for our trip to NYC to see Hamilton next week!) 

P.P.S. If you'd like to see more action from the race, check out my marathon vlog below! :D