Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions for a new year.

Well, its that time of year again. New Years! A time for reflection and for making dreaded resolutions. We all make them, the usual lose weight, work out. get finances in order etc. Tonight, I got to thinking about resolutions and why they are so appealing. I did some research and what I found was actually quite boring and monotonous. The same resolutions filled list after list and website upon website. I had even come to realize that I was guilty of adopting many of them as my own resolutions in past years; Spend more time with family. quit smoking, learn something new etc. I suppose that resolutions are popular because they offer us an immediate new goal for a new year. A new year, means a fresh start and a time to do something that you have been meaning to do. Although sometimes lame and corny, they offer us a chance to do something worthy of applause, and when we actually follow through with them, they give us a feeling of accomplishment. This year, I have one resolution. Its to be open and honest at all costs, while expressing myself with confidence and clarity. If you don't have a resolution, don't fret. There is still plenty of time to come up with a good one, or none at all! Whatever your resolution, or goal for the new year, good luck!  With health and happiness, Cheers to a great 2012!  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 You've been good to me.

New Years 2010-2011


My best friend Heather moved to California

Party at Joes

Windlestrae 5 miler through the mud

My cousin ran Broad Street

Lauren had a Bachlorette

Hans and I ran the hottest day of the year at my old Highschool
I took 3rd place for the women he won 2nd for the men

My brother turned 21

I turned 28

28 with friends

I ran my first 8 miler in the dark

Becky got married!

My best friend Melissa got married

Lately, as I am sure most of you have noticed Ive been reflecting about the past year and the journey of my marathon training. With a new year right around the corner, I think its only right to recap the highlights and lowlights of 2011 as I look forward to a kick started 26.2 miler in 2012. Sit back, relax and let me take you back....

As I look back at my blog posts, my first one began with a shout out to my wonderful cousin Amanda and her Broad Street Run. Well, we've come a long way baby. I remember running diligently all summer long planning to dodge the heat by any means necessary. I was running at 5am, hiding water bottles in bushes and praying that I didnt pass out on the side of the road. I longed for those cool fall months and eventually they did come. Now, during the cold winter windy running days, I love for some heat. Its actually easier to run in the heat I think then the cold. Theres just something about having a numb butt thats not appealing. If running has taught me anything, its to be confident in your abilities. Never underestimate what you can do. If you want it, it will happen. Of course, there will be setbacks and tears. But there will be victories too. Big ones, small ones and all thats in between. For the first time, in a long time, I am happy to say that I am proud of myself. Proud that I made a goal and stuck with it. Running a marathon in honor of my dad was a dream. Something I planned to do, for years and never made it happen. Here we are, days away from the race and its becoming real. 2011 brought me so much joy. I learned  so much about myself and was blessed to have the most supportive and loving friends and family.  Although nobody can say what 2012 will bring, I know some things for sure. My blog will remain. I plan on making it a place for me to share my musings on exercise and running and just the usual normal people struggles with cramming in time to be healthy and happy. My resolution this year is to get fit and stay healthy so I can continue running and delving into other endurance sports. I hope to one day do a triathlon Running is also in my 2012 prediction, and Ive already signed up for my second 1/2 marathon for the spring. I am open to trying new things and living the healthiest life that I can. I hope that you will stick around and read on to share in my fitness experiences. I will leave you with this, whatever your goal or dream make an honest attempt to make it happen this year. You never know how far it will take you or what lies around the corner. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

20 miles, Scratch that I mean 10

Becky stretching my bad hip haha

Cold Windy Running Conditions on the Minsi Trail Bridge

Smiles for 10 miles and a lazy eye on my part.
This morning I got up early and headed back to my apartment to meet Becky for our last long run. I got to her house right at 10:30 ( fanny pack in hand) this time we remembered everything including our chap stick and were good to go, after a minor incident involving a lost head warmer. We were both a bit tired today, but we were determined to make it happen. We chatted about Disney and caught up on some gossip. About 3 miles in, it got a little bit windy but the sun finally made a brief appearnace. We headed down the same path that we ran just a few weeks earlier. Along the minsi trail bridge we took in some sights of steel stacks and the Casino. On the way to Saucon Park we ran into other runners. What appeared to be a mom dad and son team. It was nice to see other runners out today, even though they were killing it running at a faster pace then I think my body is capable of! On our way back it got bitterly cold and windy. Now I know what you are thinking, suck it up Jackie its just wind. Well let me tell you wind plus 32 degrees and no sun = no fun. It was hard to breathe and hard to run since wind was heading straight on. We ended up stopping to stretch and then decided to call Jen to come get us. Thankfully, she was home and willingly came to our rescue. We ended up going 10 miles which I am ok with. There comes a point where you just need to call it a day and thaw out your frozen butt. Until Disney....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stuff that Fanny Pack

As a teacher, its no surprise that the best time of year ( aside from summer) is Christmas vacation! Today is only Tuesday, and the week is already more glorious and refreshing then I could have hoped for. Today, I spent some quality time with Lauren and went to Ikea ( love it). After that we did some shopping and grabbed lunch at PF Changs. After I got home, I packed up some things to take back to Emmaus tomorrow and went through some Disney details with my mom. After lugging my suitcase up the stairs from the basement, I dusted it off and began to pack some must haves for the trip. This got me to thinking about all the random things I will need while marathoning. Below is my list. Feel free to comment and give me ideas of things I may have missed. Tomorrow, I am going for 20 miles. Do it to it.

Things for my fanny pack during marathon:

1. Toilet paper- incase I need to blow my nose, or use the bathroom. When thousands of people are using port o potties, they are sure to run out.
2. Chapstick- a must for heavy panting. My lips are always cracking.
3. Gu Chomps or Watermelon Jelly beans- for energy of course! I put them in my back pocket pouch and they usually melt together and congeal into a monstrous jelly concoction that isn't much to look at, but always gets the job done.
4. Cliff Bar- incase I need a snack
5. Bio Freeze- Incase my knee starts acting up
6. Special Picture- for inspiration :) 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Move it shake it.

Today, I had the pleasure of going to breakfast with my mom. Afterwards, I dodged the masses and went to LA Fitness to work off some of my bagel sandwich. As I watched other people working out, I turned up my I tunes as loud as I could and I let my mind wander. There happen to be a lot of meatheads working on their muscular bods and some super skinny girls on elliptical machines. There was also a girl who weighed about 8o pounds diligently running as best she could. I feared her heart might stop pumping mid strike, but she managed to finish her work out alive. None of this really matters, but what happened while I was making these observations does. While I was on the elliptical, I was thinking about all the people working so hard around me and how I was 13 days away from what will be the hardest physical undertaking ever. When I think about it, sometimes I get nervous, but mostly I am excited to see what I can do out there. I have one more 20 miler to do this week and then its go time. While thinking about all of these things happening around me and coming close to race day something happened. I got that feeling that comes when you push yourself to the max and your body just goes to another place. I felt endorphins kick in and I wished for a minute that I was out on the street running and not inside slaving away. Its an indescribable feeling to have a strong desire to run, I just hope it lasts well after January 8th. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quotes for Runners

Today, my friends and I exchanged Christmas gifts at work. Becky, gave me a great running book with quotes dedicated to runners. Since we could all use a pick me up of inspiration, I would like to share some quotes with you. Feel free to read them, interpret them and use them for whatever you need whether it be motivation to run, encouragement to meet your goals, or just sheer inspiration to make a dream a reality. Disney in less than 3 weeks!!! 

Run hard, be strong, think big! - Percy Cerutty

God has given me the ability, the rest is up to me. Believe, believe, believe. - Billy Mills

Run like hell and get the agony over with. - Clarence DeMar 

Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it, what you put in.- Oprah Winfrey

In running, it doesn't matter if you come in first, in the middle of the pack or last. You can say "I finished" and theres a lot of satisfaction in that. - Fred Lebow

Training is principally an act of faith- Franz Stamfl 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Disney, Were coming for you.

This morning, Ive been thinking about Disney. With Christmas waiting in the wings, the marathon is right around the corner. I am more then excited to get on our way to Florida and make this pipe dream a reality. Only a few more weeks, stand between me and 26.2 miles. Part of me would love to wear my Snow White costume, but the chafing may be unbearable. I would like some feedback. Run in the costume? Or ride it out in my gear? Decisions, decisions! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Run for an hour and then two more. Run run and then run some more.

Becky Running to good old 78

Dead Raccoon. I reassure you, it was a raccoon. 

Jackie and Becky, In it to win it.

Mama's got a big old butt.

Saucon Park in Hellertown. Our halfway point

The Sands Casino, where we thought about letting a big rig run us over so we could stop running. 
Today, I was supposed to meet my best gal Becky to run 14 miles. Well, keeping with my new pattern, I woke up this morning around 6:30 and the last thing I wanted to do was run, and by run I mean run 14 miles. 14 miles. It pains me to even say the number 14 with miles behind it. Against my better judgement, I went to her house and we ran. We ran for about an hour, and then two more. We ran and then ran some more. Now normally, I would need a plethora of music to make it out on the streets, but today, we talked and it was so nice to be in the company of a good friend. While talking in our white trash hill billy voice we ran the streets of Bethlehem for what seemed like forever. We talked about the marathon and how it would be the single most difficult thing we have ever done. While we ran, I thought back to the beginning of this journey. When I started running, 3 miles was my goal and a 5K was the challenge. Today, as I ran 14 miles, I thought about all the running I did this summer and fall. How it felt the first time I ran 5 miles, then 8 then a half marathon. Running is a gift. Anyone can do it, but it is what you make it. I've been blessed to have the opportunity to run with my close family members, and friends. Its brought me to a new level of accomplishment and given me happiness during times that I really needed it. As the next few weeks approach, I am filled with excitement for the race, hope for the finish and thankfulness for all those who continue to believe in me. It means the world. Next weekend were going for 18. I will continue to blog about my running journey up until the big race. The next few weeks, my focus is on enjoying the process. 

** my brother Tyler just informed me that he got a fortune cookie today that said, "Dont give up until you reach the finish line" coincidence? I think not. Its a sign!**

Parkway a go go

On Thursday, Becky and I hit up the parkway after work to catch up on gossip and just get the stress out. It was a bit chilly and muddy after the rain, but it was a good trek. We managed to go a new route which would be our next 6.5 miler that Hans had showed me the previous Sunday. If you live in the Lehigh Valley, the Parkway is a sure bet for some seriously relaxing trails. We were even there late enough to catch the lights in the parkway for free :) We got out just in time for the cars to start lining up and the festivities to begin! 


I've been meaning to blog, but with the Christmas season in full swing, I just haven't had the time. Now in an attempt to catch up, I am taking you back... On Thursday, I was tired and it was raining. I knew that I should run, but I was already home from work and I wasn't quite sure about driving across town to go to the gym. So, I geared up and ran in the rain. It wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been considering it was more of a light rain/ drizzle. I did get splashed by a few passersby in the beginning of my run, but otherwise it was pretty good. I would also wager to say that I was running faster than usual, because of the rain. Which, in all things considered is a win win. When I got home, it was dark but I managed to go about 4 miles around town. As we creep into winter, motivation is hard to find and the cold is doing me no favors. Disney is a comin'... 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Whose your hero?

Does a hero know he’s a hero if no one tells him? Do you know a hero no one else knows? A hero doesn’t have to save a busload of school kids from certain disaster. Or score the winning point in the big game. A hero can be anyone who inspires you, anyone you look up to, anyone who cheers you on, makes you better than you were before – just as they made themselves better than they were before. Do you know a hero? Tell him. Then tell everyone. – Nike 

When I am running, I often go through a lot of emotions. Sometimes, I feel so strong when I catch a glimpse of my shadow going strong weaving through the streets. Other times, I am over whelmed with emotion and have to stop to cry because I feel like I am not tough enough or good enough to keep going. Most of the time however, I feel good and its a sense of therapy I feel blessed to be able to take part in. I feel lucky to have legs that can carry my body however far I choose, I feel strength in moving myself forward and working toward a long term goal. Lately, running has become more of a pressure and a daunting task. It has turned into something that I stress about, hoping that I have what it takes to make it. My good friend Jen, always says, don't worry about the finish you will always finish. Its true, at some point you will finish. It seems as though the journey to the finish is what its all about. Through this experience I've learned a lot about my self, I 've seen strength I didn't know I had. I've been lucky enough to watch my friends win races, bask in the joy of running, and laugh at races along my side. I've seen Hans excel in something that I am sure he never knew he would be so great at.  He makes it seem so easy that its hard not to be proud of him and just want him to win every race.Watching him, gives me strength. My beautiful cousin, who has been by my side this whole way willing to take time off work to run Disney with me, makes me so happy. Helping each other on days when we would rather be sleeping in or wanting to have ran farther then we did but just couldnt that day.  I feel blessed for all of those people who support me and have faith that I sometimes lose while I am out there. Above all, running reminds me of the real reason this whole dream started. My father, my hero. Talking to my Uncle Phil years ago, he told me about running a marathon for a friend of his that had passed away. After that conversation, I knew, that ONE DAY I was going to do the same and dedicate a marathon to my hero. Marathons test your, sanity, your love your inner strength and prowess. So naturally lazy and afraid, I put my marathon pipe dream on the back burner and  years passed like they often do, with no marathon. Life got in the way, excuses got in the way. This year was going to be different. I didn't need a come back tour to do this, I just needed to get off of ass and get over my fears. It started with a 5K, then an 8 miler, onto a half marathon. Never in my life will I have to dig deeper for something to come to light. As I count down the days to Disney,I am reignited with a sense of vigor and prowess. I am running myself, with my own legs but all the hard work, dedication and the finish are dedicated my hero, to the greatest man I've ever known, my dad. This one is for you. All the victories, tears, chafing and smiles, the medals, the research, and the water bottle fanny pack, all for you. I might not see you at the finish, but I know you will be watching and right by my side the entire time. I am excited to make this dream a reality. My dad is my hero, and I want everyone to know it. 

Watch out, Smith's back and she's going to be kicking some major ass and tearing up the streets the next 2 months. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Do Life

Tonight, I am not blogging about running, because quite frankly I dont want to... I watched the sun set tonight from my patio and the sky overlooking the mountain was illuminated with shades of pink and purple. It was beautiful, and made me think about, well, life. People go through things at different points in their lives. Times when they think that things will never get better, and that theres not much to look forward to. These times, pass as they often do, but never quickly. Going though them, makes you a different person, whether it be stronger, or wiser, but they are never easy. When I reflect on my own life, Ive been around for some tough times. Family and friends dealing with loves lost, loved ones who have passed far too soon, and the general struggle to find ourselves.  There is however, a common bond that connects us all. The thing that never fails , the spirit that lies in each of us. No matter how dark the time, or how horrible the circumstance, people are strong. They dig deep and find strength in themselves, and in each other. Its easy to focus on the negative sometimes and think of all the bad things happening around us but for all the bad, theres just as much good. No matter how bad things get, they will always get better. Simple things, like that sunset give me hope for tomorrow and a sense of peace during a seemingly otherwise hectic time. Shine on, and tomorrow hope for better, its coming. It always does. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

This morning, I woke up and ate an apple.

Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.
Bruce Barton

This morning, I woke up and ate an apple. Not very exciting stuff. Most days in life, aren't in fact, that exciting. Running like life, has its exciting moments but they often come at unexpected times in your training and during races when you are in survival mode. Personally, I've noticed that to be happy you need to follow through with the things that you want to do. By setting goals and achieving them, you make your own exciting stuff. There is no greater accomplishment then finishing something you set out to do. often times, its easy to shy away from going for goals out of fear, fear of change, fear of failure. Lately, I've been trying to stay busy by making goals no matter how small and focusing on things that Ive always wanted to do. I know what you are thinking, this girl is crazy and you cant just make a million goals and fulfill them all. Long term goals ie. running a marathon are one thing, but little day to day goals help you move through those parts of life that are not so exciting. Staying with the theme of following through and checking off things on my to do list, I decided today I would check off a more simple task on my list. Since Ive moved to my new apartment, Ive been wanting to run around Emmaus and just see the town more or less. When I drive home from work sometimes, I calculate milage and then plan to run it at some point during the week. Time usually gets in the way, or someone offers me a burrito and I forget about my goal. Today, I could have easily stayed in bed, ate my apple, watched action news and called it a morning but I refused to waste a  good oppurtunity to check off a goal. This morning, ( after my apple) I went out in my new cold weather swag and hit the streets. It was almost comical due to the amount of crap I did to prepare for the 37 degree morning air. I had my ear warmers, my compression pants, my long sleeve nike fleece and of course my baller sunglasses. I saw a few other runners, in shorts mind you and I felt mildly over dressed. It didnt matter though, because it was cold and I was warm. I got to see a lot of the neighborhoods that I hadnt had a chance too run through yet, and aside from a collie that tried to attack me, it was a good run. At one point I almost stopped to take a picture of the mountain view before me and the changing leaves. When I got back I felt accomplished for completing something I had on my things to do list. Tomorrow, I am going to check off another task. Not sure yet what it will be, but thats half the fun.  Maybe I will start with a banana for breakfast, and go from there :) 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. Mother Teresa

Its funny sometimes how just a small thing can effect you in such a profound way. In times of despair its always interesting to get perspective from other people, and perspective is such an powerful thing. People around you come with wisdom, comfort and affection. They offer you a sense of peace during an otherwise turmoiled time. During these times, its easy to think back to accomplishments and failures. Smiling on the good times, and remembering the bad reflection helps us move forward and appreciate all the times that have passed. I would like to share with you one of my more memorable accomplishments, that also happens to be an on going one. Over the past year, I embarked on a journey of running. It was something that I always wanted to do, but never had the courage. I didn't think that I would be good enough, strong enough or fast enough. I had even signed up for races, and not gone out of fear. But on December 1st of last year, I signed up for a 5k in the parkway. At the time, I told Hans that it would be fun to do a 5k. We could train together and get to experience the thrill of a real race. With Hans by my side, we braved the rain and cold. At the time those 3.2 miles seemed like a million but we did it.   finishing with a meager time and a glove full of snot, I was proud. I did it. A small thing to some, big to me. With him by my side, I was able to put the faith in myself to finish.  He's been with me throughout my running journey ever since and even though it hasn't always been pretty he never went running ( get it running?) . From injuries to triumphs, heat, rain cold and pain he always had faith in me. He has pushed me along with gentle reminders to get off the couch and get out there. Always knowing that when I crossed the finish line, he would be there with a hug waiting and a high five right after. About a month ago, I received a gift with a note on one of my worst running days to date. So bad in fact, that I wanted to give up. Completely put it all behind me and spend my days as a lonely walker wondering what could have been. We all know that didn't happen but the gift, was something special. Small in size, big in meaning. Its rough around the edges, but gets the job done. I look at it daily and read the note that sits aside it. It reads " You can do it! I believe in you". Some days, strength lies deep within you. Today, it wasn't in me but in my cactus. When I look at it, it reminds me of how far Ive come and how much further I will be able to go. Its a prickly reminder that even when I don't have faith in myself, someone out there that loves me does and that's enough to lace up and hit the streets. In a few months, I will be in the happiest place on earth with the people who believe in me the most. I will be running hard, with my dad in my heart. All the while with that cactus on my mind, until I reach the finish line. Where I completely expect a hug and a high 5. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

76 Days 7 hours 45 minutes and 46 seconds

As I write this, there are 76 days, 7 hours, 45 minutes and 46 seconds and counting until the Walt Disney Marathon is here! I cant imagine how emotional it will be, to be there running with so many others. Last weekend, I was emotional at the start of the race, looking at the 3,000 other people eagerly awaiting the gun to go off. Disney will be even more of an emotional hurdle, not to mention a physical one. I got choked up along the route seeing those who were running for loved ones they lost, as well as those who were running with handicaps such as one leg. It reminded me of course, of my father, who I hoped was proud with each step I took. I couldn't help but think of those children I work with during the summer, who will never get the chance to run because of physical  limitations. While I ran, I thought of these things  and in a sense ran for them. The way you feel when you run, the strength and determination is indescribable. During the race, I remained as positive as possible, keeping my spirits high pushing myself forward. I thought of my Uncle Phil's ( a marathon finisher) positive words and faith in me, I talked to my dad and I prayed to God for strength when I felt my knees start to weaken and my bones get weary. I thought of friends along the course when passing specific landmarks and all the while really tried to take in the experience of the race. I know my past few posts have referenced the half marathon and I am sure some of you wish I would just pick a new topic already, but there is just so much emotion and pride involved in a race of that nature that each day when I think about it, I have more things to share. That being said, the finest part of the race was seeing my cousin run past me during the last leg. I had looked for her along the course to no avail. When I saw her, I was instantly overcome with happiness. For one, it gets lonely out there running and for another I was so overcome with pride for her. There she was, running her ass off down the boardwalk. She was going to run 13 miles and I was so proud. So proud. Its funny, while you run, its easy to be in awe of the others around you overcoming obstacles and moving forward. Its easy to forget about yourself. You forget that you too are running the same distance, feeling the same pride and pain. I know that when I run Disney, seeing my mom, brother and aunt Shelly along the race course is going to be enough to make me cry as well as keep going. I hope that I can steal a glance at my cousin and Hans too, because its so incredible watching them succeed at something none of us ever thought we would or could do. I cannot wait to experience the thrill of racing again and the immense sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing. Above all, I cant wait to cross the finish, and see everyone who was cheering me on and believing in me every step of the way. Tonight, I bought my ticket to Florida. Its getting real, coming fast and going to be the experience of a lifetime! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fauja Singh and Babies on Board

Inspiration comes in all different shapes and sizes. Recently, I read an article about a 27 year old woman, Amber Miller who has ran 8 marathons to date. What makes her so special you ask? She was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant when she ran her last marathon! Not only did Miller finish the race, but she went into labor during and gave birth shortly after completing it! Talk about dedication. Fauja Singh is a name that not many people have heard of. If you have heard of him, you know that he is the oldest person to have ever completed a marathon. In a mere 8 hours and 25 minutes Singh crossed the finish line. He has run 8 marathons to date, the first at age 69. On Sunday, he earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for oldest marathoner. There you have it, its never too late to start running wether you are 100 or pregnant and ready to give birth. Keep living the dream. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wherever you go, go with your whole heart

I've always viewed runners as a particularly special breed of person. Aside from the usual stereo type of super skinny, fast and motivated I have noticed that they are extremely welcoming, enthusiastic and supportive. At the local running stores, I am always welcomed into their world with tips, running knowledge and swag without feeling sub par even though the person helping me runs a 6 minute mile pace. At races, I am always thankful for those runners who finish before me and take the time to pay it back and cheer for those of us who are not quite done. Ask any runner and they will tell you, when times get tough, seeing someone cheering you on and believing in you, even if its a stranger can make a world of difference, giving you that extra burst of energy to make it to the finish. No matter who I talk to, one thing we can all agree on is the welcoming and helpful persona of runners. Always willing to help someone out and give them advice or hope when they need it most. The past two days have been truly emotional for me. I have received so much inspiration and encouragement from so many people. Its amazing seeing that people actually read your blog, and even more amazing that people you have fallen out of touch with care enough to send you encouraging words, showing that they are proud of your accomplishments. I have said it a million times and I will say it again, running is for anyone and anyone can do it. For me, its given me a renewed sense of self and a way to make goals and meet them just me against myself. Although its not for everyone, its something special to me that is different everytime I do it. Even now, as a novice runner I smile every time I see someone running outside. There is just something about it thats like nothing else. Get out and run, jog, crawl. Wherever you go, go with your whole heart. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

1/2 Marathon Complete!

Race Shirt

Bib Number

Before the race

Nicole the 5 hour Marathon Pacer and Halloween Enthusiast 

Mission Complete

Amanda after her finish

Jackie after her finish

Jac running to the finish

almost there! 

As I lay in bed waiting for Real Housewives to begin, I am wretching around trying to abate the pain in my legs and let my muscles relax. Let me take you back to where this story of my first half marathon began....Last week, I had such anxiety for my race this weekend, and before I knew it, it crept up and It was here. I woke up early this morning with my cousin and Hans and shoved down a bagel laden with peanut butter. It was difficult to eat that early and with such raging nerves, but it worked out and the bagel stayed down so it was a win. We arrived at Bally's casino in Atlantic City and were met with 3,000 other people who were racing. The energy was electric. We lined up, said goodbye to Hans ( he was further in the front of the pack) and waited to run through the starting line. As we turned the corner to begin on the road, we were on the boardwalk and could see a sea of people running down onto the street. It was such an awesome sight, I wish I would have known to be ready to take a picture. Running was easy the first few miles since the energy was contagious. We proceeded to the bay side of the city, and I couldn't help but think of Sara and Jackie as we passed the Borgata, and Melissa's Bachelorette when we ran past Harrah's. Around mile 5 The Eye of the Tiger came on my I pod and I was running at my max speed. Something about Rocky really hits home. haha. By the time we ran past the Marina, I was shoving Gu  Jelly Beans down my throat for energy. We eventually made it back to the boardwalk where the real fight began. Running, into the wind with sand in my mouth with 6 miles to go. Luckily, there was no real signage on the boardwalk and it was difficult to know how far I had gone. At one point I saw a 6 mile sign and knew it must have been for the 10k runners cause there was no way in hell I was at mile 6. I ran keeping the focus on myself, and finally saw my cousin. It was uplifting to see her and I gave her a high 5 and watched her head for the finish. I continued on to the turn around point and was relieved that I was closing in on the finish. I made friends with another runner and we helped each other make it to the finish and through the final grueling 1/2 mile. As I ran to the finish, I saw Amanda and Hans and was so excited to get my free beer I ran as fast as I could. It was amazing crossing the finish and such a great accomplishment. I was proud of myself that I ran the entire time, didn't die and finished with a smile on my face. We immediately hit up the free ice cream truck and got our beers and soft pretzels. I am so proud of my cousin and Hans and all of the runners who were out there today. Overall, it was a great experience and I am looking forward to the next one. I am eager for Luisa to run her Miami Beach half and get that bad ass vampire medal! Get it Girl.