Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cider House 5K!

So when I discovered this race I read all the info and it clear stated that this is considered a trail race. I was fine with that. I actually sent my registration in while I was on vacation by snail mail. I know who does that, but it was easier to pay for the stamp than for fee to be able to do it online. I was excited because that meant I also got to go to the apple fest at Wachusett Mountain which I had never been to before.

On Saturday I went to the mountain to pick up my race packet.
I was so excited because I got bib number 1!! I have never had that happen before and I am so excited that it did. Not that I came in number 1 or anything but still. I also got a free ticket for myself as well three 50% off tickets for others to Apple Fest. My favorite thing was that the t-shirt they gave out is long-sleeve. I have almost no long-sleeve shirts so that was a great surprise.

So this morning (Sunday) I got up and got ready to go. When we arrived there were lots of people there but there was still plenty of parking so that was nice. I had planned to wear just my LIVESTRONG shirt but it was quite chilly this morning and I ended up having to wear my jacket. I really should have prepared a little more and worn a long-sleeve shirt under my t-shirt, oh well. I met a very nice women while waiting to start who was telling me all about the Tufts 10K for Women. I think I might have to try that next year everyone who has every told me anything about it have loved it.

We all lined up at the start which was behind the #2 sign for the parking rows. We all took off and headed out of the parking lot. That was the easy part, we briefly went up Mountain Road but then we right back on trail this was the beginning of mountain hell. It started up the mountain and...just...kept...going. There was no running for me during this time. So I took advantage and stopped to take some scenic pictures.

This was all before the rail climb began. I tried to get a picture of the trail but it just didn't work. The remainder of the up mountain was wet, covered in leaves, huge rocks, mud and huge tree roots. There were many spots where the rocks and tree roots were just like stairs. I think when I saw it was a trail race this isn't exactly what I had in mind. This was the only time that I have seriously thought about giving up, turning around and going back the way I came. We hadn't even gotten to mile one when we started this lovely terrain. But I didn't give up and I just kept reminding myself that what goes up must eventually come down, I just had no idea how long it would take.

Finally we reached the "top" and it started to go down mountain. We hit our first water stop which in my opinion was a joke. They were literally handing out little Dixie cups (like the ones you have in your bathroom for brushing your teeth) that were half full. It was one gulp! I'm sorry but after a climb like that I need more water than that I guess that is what I get for not bringing my own.

I quite enjoyed the down mountain. I was able to run most of it even being on the trail with rocks, leaves, mud and tree roots. The down mountain was a little over a mile so that was nice to know that I was almost done. As we got closer I could hear everyone yelling for people as they crossed the finish line. I decided for the moment I heard that I was going to run until I was done. Running the last little bit was a little difficult because it was packed mulch which was very loose and bouncy but I still ran.
Then of course I crossed the finish line at 51:43 which is probably my slowest 5k however considering the terrain and the fact that at one point I was at a 30 minute/mile pace that wasn't that bad.
Then I was done and got to have my cider and doughnut! I was happy to be done I really don't think I have ever felt that exhausted after a 5k. I will definitely consider doing it again next year, it was extremely challenging but in a good way! And the view from up there was amazing with all the changing leaf colors!
Then we got to go enjoy Apple Fest which was fun and something new to try! All in all it was a good morning!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

LIVESTRONG in Montreal

I don't even know where to begin. I guess from the beginning, I have gotten more than I could ever ask for from The Lance Armstrong Foundation's LIVESTRONG programs. I have had the pleasure of going through their LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program as well as their Cancer Transitions: Moving Beyond Treatment program. I decided that because I had gotten so much out of their programs that I needed to let them know just how much they had done for me. My original plan was to email them but for the life of me I couldn't find an email address so I decided what better way then to really get my point across then to write an old fashioned thank you letter I even included a before and after picture of myself as I had lost 75lbs due to their programs.

Once the letter was received I got an email from their Community Program Manager Jordan Parks telling me how excited they were to receive my letter and that although they get feedback from people through surveys they are all anonymous so they never get to talk to them. They even sent me a package full of amazing LIVESTRONG stuff...
A little while later I got another email from Jordan asking me if I would be their guest at an event in Montreal where they would be officially announcing the Cancer Transitions program. They wanted me to speak at the event and share my story with the audience. I was thrilled on so many levels. I had never been to Montreal, I was going to get to share my story and be able to tell everyone about this fantastic program all at the same time. I was a little nervous because I would be going by myself but I knew it would be fine and be worth it.

So on August 28th, 2012 I flew from Boston to Montreal. It really was a few first for me, my first time in Montreal, my first time taking a cab from the airport (I know shocking), my first time some where that English isn't the primary language and my first time speaking in front of that many people. After riding in the cab for what seemed like eternity we arrived in front of a beautiful hotel.
The Hotel Intercontinental was amazing! It even has a little shopping/dining area withing the hotel which I thought was amazing! After checking in I went and wandered around for a little bit and of course got some lunch. The proved to be some what difficult not really being able to read french despite all the years I took it middle school and high school. Around 3pm Jordan and I met to go over what would be happening that night. The funny thing is that while walking to The Westin Hotel where the event would be held we ran into other people from LIVESTRONG and all of them knew me by name, I was very flattered but also surprised.  Once there I got to go see the space and we did a little run down of how things were going to go. That was when I learned that not only was I speaking but it was going to be in front of 300+ people, Doug Ulman the CEO of LIVESTRONG was going to introducing me and Lance Armstrong was going to be there. Let me tell you if I wasn't nervous before I certainly was after that. We worked everything out for the night and decided to meet back at the Westin at 6:30pm.

I went back to my room and vegged out a little before getting ready and heading over there. I also got to meet Ivy who co-wrote the Cancer Transtions program so that was fun too. Once there we got our tickets and got to just mingle around.

I felt a little out of place cause I didn't really know anyone but at least the food was good and everyone that I did meet happened to be really nice! Then I got to go into the "green room" where I met Doug Ulman so we could talk about what he was going to say when he introduced me so he wouldn't give away too much. Then I met some of the panelists that were going to be on stage. Sarah Cook was one of them who was a pediatric cancer survivor but now she is also big advocate for other pediatric cancer patients and survivors. I also met Gwen Andrews Nacos who is the director and founder of Cedars Cansupport. Both of these ladies were amazing and made me feel right at home! I got to have my picture taken too...
L to R: Jordan, Ivy, Sarah and I (photo provided by

It was great to meet so many people affected by cancer and doing such amazing things with it. I of course also got to meet Lance Armstrong which I have to admit I was thrilled about. I think what he has done (with lots of help from LAF and LIVESTRONG supporters) for cancer survivors is absolutely amazing!

(photo provided by
Then came show time. I have to be honest that I hadn't really prepared a speech so to speak I a really had was bullets of things I wanted to talk about. It is is much easier to share your story cause you know it! Had I written a speech I would have been more than happy to include it. If by some chance there ever happens to be video of it that pops up I will be sure to post it. As I sat waiting I listened to everyone speak. Then Doug took the stage

and started to talk about me at which point I am almost certain I must have turned scarlet red. As I got up to go on stage you have to know the only thought going through my head was, 'Don't trip.' Luckily I did not trip. As I took the podium I was all of a sudden really calm and so I began to speak.
(photo provided by
When I finished Doug gave me a hug and I went back to my seat. And no in case you were all wondering I did not trip coming off the stage either. They invited Cary, Sarah, Lance, Princess Dina and Gwen all up to take their seats on the stage.
The great thing about this panel is all the questions came from the audience. It was a fantastic experience!

After it was the complete opposite than what it was earlier in the night. Everyone knew who I was! I was trying to make my way back to the green room because that's where I thought I was supposed to be. But I kept getting stopped by people. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. The people stopping me were telling me their story and sharing how hearing about me had inspired them and how much they were looking forward to Cancer Transitions. I love that I was able to help some many that in itself was so rewarding! I did finally make it back to the green room where I got to meet Sarah's family who were great as well as a number of other people. Jordan did finally find me and asked if I would join all the LIVESTRONG people back at the hotel. I of course said yes.

After changing I headed down to their hospitality room and was greeted warmly by everyone there. It was fantastic to be able to sit with so many people. I got to talk to all the people who worked at LIVESTRONG and  hear more about what they do and things they are working on. One of the girls Rebekkah had just gone back Austin for a day and then she flew to Montreal for the week and was then flying to Peru (I think I might have gotten that wrong) all to help spread LIVESTRONG all over the world.

It's funny because I know for myself when I think about everyone that works for The Lance Armstrong Foundation you hold them in a higher regard almost celebrity status. It was great to be able to spend this more personal time with them including Lance. It makes you remember that they are all just people too. Doug told me a great story about his daughter learning to swim and hearing about others stories was just so much fun. I ended up going to bed around 2:30 am that night and it was well worth it!

The next day I got some time to explore Montreal. I was able to find what I considered to be "Downtown" Montreal which really just meant I found all the shopping,
four story mall with 4 separate equally large wings
A beautiful Cathedral Church
A fantastic stone sculpture in the park.
This trip to Monteal is one that I will not soon forget. I am so happy that I was able to help so many people touched by cancer as well as help support a program that I truely believe should automatically be part of every cancer patients treatment. As soon as you are done you go right into Cancer Transitions: Moving Beyond Treatment!

I also can't thank everyone enough at The Lance Armstrong Foundation for everything that they do, for having such fantastic programs through LIVESTRONG and of course for not only giving me this opportunity but also making me feel right at home the whole time!

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Foodie Penpal Reveal

This month my foodie penpal was Sara from Sarathlete. She did a fantastic job of putting together a great package for me. It's funny because when I opened the box it was all covered/wrapped with purple tissue paper...
my first thought was 'oh I love it.' my second thought was 'I don't remember telling Sara purple was my favorite color.' Then I went back and checked out her blog again which has lots of purple and so I came to the conclusion that it just so happens that we both like purple. But it was a nice surprise in the box none the less and made me even more excited to see what was under it.

The first thing I spied were theses.

 I am a huge fan of Trader Joe's but I had never had theses so I couldn't wait to try them. I LOVE CHOCOLATE! Of course as soon as I ate them I was in love. The funny thing is that my husband is now just as excited about foodie penpal boxes as I am and he does not like chocolate. However I am pretty sure he ended up eating more of these than I did. (yea they are that good)

Next thing I took out was...
mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups! my two favorite things all together. There was only one problem (sort of) you would think that at this point sending anything like this to the New England area in September the likely hood of anything melting would be pretty small however something happened and they were all melted together. But have no fear that did not stop me! I ate the whole package anyway. Don't worry not all at once. Even all squished together they were still delicious!! Definitely something I will be getting again.

Then I took this out...
The cocoa almond butter from Trader Joe's is one of my favorite chocolate flavored nut butters out there. I love to use it in the morning with my breakfast. This couldn't have come at a better time because I just finished the jar I had and was in need of some more!

Now I was getting to the last few things in the box and the next thing that caught my eye was...
Trader Joe's peanut butter chewy coated & drizzled granola bars. I was so excited to see these for three reasons. First because I LOVE peanut butter. Second because I really like granola bars and I like trying new ones. And third because I like to have little snacks with me and these would be perfect. I have to admit I am always a little weary of sending a whole box of something in case they don't like it. However Sara was right on the money sending the whole thing because they are delicious and I still have some left even after using them for snack while at work. This was a great find!!

The last thing I pulled out of the box was...
GHIRARDELLI! It is hard for me to find a Ghirardelli chocolate that I don't like. It takes some getting used to for me to like the dark chocolates so I am working on these but I am sure they will be delicious.

One of the cool things Sara does is in every foodie penpal box she sends she puts in one thing that is vegan but she doesn't tell you which one it is, she asks that you guess. Well I was very thorough and really study all the ingredients of each thing she sent me. When I was sure that I had the right thing I emailed her back and told her that I thought the Ghirardelli chocolates were vegan. As it turns out I was correct! It is always good to know about new things that are vegan. Although I am not vegan I try to be as educated as possible so that I am sending people things they can eat.

As I am writing this and looking back on everything I got I see the theme Sara was going for Chocolate and Nut Butter. I approve this theme 100%.

Thank you again Sara you did a fantastic job and I have enjoyed everything! And of course thank you to Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean for putting this whole program together and managing everything too!

Now, after reading that don’t you want a penpal of your own?! Here are the details!

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re interested in participating for September, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by October 4th as pairings will be emailed on October 5th!
*If you’re from somewhere besides the US, Canada or Europe and want to participate, send me an email and I’ll see if we get enough interest this month!