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My First Half Marathon

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I am hoping this will be the first of many posts after my almost year-long disappearance from the “blogging grid”. I’m still not even sure if anyone out there even reads any of this but my fingers are crossed that maybe one day someone will stumble upon my blog. I have so much to write about and a month left of summer vacation to blog my little heart out.

My first (and quite easily my last) half marathon was in Annapolis, MD and sponsored by Zooma Women Race Series. Before running the race, the farthest I’ve ever run was maybe ten miles or so. And for all of you that don’t know, a half marathon measures out to be 13.1 miles. As you also know (if you have indulged yourself in my prior posts), I have a lot of physical ailments. Note to all: playing a competitive sport in college will deteriorate your body. After three years I have PFPS (patella femoral pain syndrome aka runner’s knee) in both of my knees, CECS (chronic exertional compartment syndrome) in four compartments in my shins AND because of these first two ailments, I have weak and inflexible hips. Lastly, and unrelated to the previous three issues, I also have plantar fasciitis.

Given all of this background information, it is very safe o say that completing this half marathon was far from a walk in the park (literally about twelve miles farther). Luckily I ran the race with my sister who is about a year and a half younger than me. We kept each other company and tried to keep our morale high. Here’s a quick play-by-play on how the race went: The first two miles were the best; everyone was happy, energetic and my body and spirits were in a good place. After the second mile, the 5k runners turned away from the rest of the racers to head back and complete their race. Fast forward to around the 4.5 mile mark (I wore my Garmin Forerunner 15 to track my heart rate, our distance and pace and I watched that damn watch every tenth of a mile – counting down until the finish line), around now I’m jealously watching every 10k runner happily turning around, knowing that their pain is almost over. Lucky for us we aren’t even halfway through our misery. At around mile seven let’s just say we both needed one of three very necessary porta-pot pit stops. Miles six through twelve are all a blur but once we hit the twelfth mile marker (as measured by the official race markers – angrily, my GPS watch read 12.2 miles), we ran (very slow jog) by a police officer, thanked him for stopping traffic and allowing us to pass, and proceded to ask how the last mile looked. To our great disappointment he explained “Way to go! You girls just have to turn the corner, go straight and finish up the final uphill.” In case you didn’t digest that last part, let me repeat to you, HE SAID THERE WAS ANOTHER UPHILL??!? If I hadn’t died yet this far into the race, this was the sole comment that drained any and all morale I had left in me. Long story short though, we finished our half marathon!! Proudest and one of the more painful moments in my life thus far.

Rewind again back to before I grew bitter about the 10k runners. Now I’ll describe to you how my body broke down within the first half of my race. My arches began aching at first; this was a manageable pain and I could easily ignore it as we trekked through the streets of Historic Annapolis. Next up was my knees. Every step was more and more painful. Walking helped but when this pain was brought on at around the seventh mile, I couldn’t make my sister walk with me for the last six miles, so I continued to keep running. Just within the seventh mile, I started to heel strike my strides to reduce the impact on my knees. If you don’t know anything about running form, then I’ll be happy to inform you that heel-striking causes an extremely quick onset of my CECS symptoms. By now you’re probably all rereading the beginning of my post to see what else could possibly go wrong, pain-wise, with my body. Feet, check. Knees, check. Shins, check. So finally, my hips. Simply put, once my shins flare up (literally the small muscles in my shins get extremely swollen), my hips take a beating too.

Pro-tips for any half marathon virgins out there reading this: train before the race, foam roll your legs the night after your race and hydrate during the race. Training is essential to best prepare your body for exerting itself for three hours (give or take) straight. Foam rolling will reduce fatigue in your muscles and will help with recovery. Lastly I’m glad I drank two cups of water and one cup of Gatorade at every rest station. On my race day, it was very hot and I needed to consume liquids to replenish all lost fluids through sweating (and crying; just kidding, no tears were actually shed.)  Advil was also essential during the hours after my race, which helped me physically move up from the couch to my bed. You might think I’m kidding but I’m 100% not; ask my sister.

All in all, I’m very proud of myself for completing the race (even if my GPS watch measured it to be 13.6 miles and not 13.1 miles) and maybe for the future I’ll possibly consider another half but definitely 5k and 10k length races.

 

Fall Break Festivities

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This weekend I was blessed with having the opportunity to come home for two days while my classes and field hockey have a “Fall Break”. I happily reunited witb two of my sisters, my parents and my pets Friday night after driving home straight after my game on Friday night. Since then I’ve caught up on all of my recorded Modern Family episodes (struggles of not having cable or a tv at school), went to the Annual Fall Festival at Kinder Farm Park, sold pumpkins at my church, hung out with my family and made homemade pizza and roasted marshmallows in our firepit and watched my sister’s rec field hockey game. It’s just a short trip home but it’s always a nice mental reset to sleep in my own bed (and hang out with my beloved cat, Beau Beau).

To pass the time selling pumpkins, my sister and I did some fun exercises; the videos are included below. The first video is a core exercise, the second is alternating lunges with a twist, the third is another core exercise with Russian twists, the fourth is squats with a shoulder press, the fifth is squats with bicep curls and the last two videos are of my sister and I using the pumpkins as an obstacle course for field hockey dribbling. 

   
    
    
   

First Bike Ride to the Pool

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Because my six membered family only owns three cars, more often than not. half of the family is left car-less at any given time. Both of my parents work, and require a car to transport themselves to work every weekday, and one of my sisters teaches at a youth science camp all day everyday, leaving the remaining three sisters, myself included without a car. This week though, one of my sisters is in Scotland with our Church on a pilgrimage and the youngest of the four of us (introduced in yesterday’s post, Lila) is too young to drive, I’m the only one truly suffering from this dilemma. However, it’s not all entirely bad because we all thankfully have a bicycle.

IMG_4881IMG_4879 IMG_4880Lila and I rode a few miles to the country club our family belongs to to enjoy a healthful dose of vitamin D today. It was her first “big” ride; aka the first time she rode on the side of the road and was not constantly protected by the safety of the sidewalk. The ride isn’t too bad and it was even a nice cardio workout vigorously pedaling up and down the hills of the neighborhood which houses the county club. Once we arrived at the pool, we ordered lunch to refuel all of the calories and energy expelled on our journey to the pool. I ordered a crab quesadilla (a delicious Maryland delicacy) because in less than a month I’ll be returning to school in Virginia for preseason and the crab meat offered in Virginia just isn’t the same as fresh Maryland crab meat and Lila ordered a turkey and avocado wrap. IMG_4884

The pool is unfortunately relatively crowded because the weather was prime pool weather, so the only feasible time for me to swim laps was during “Adult Swim”, occurring for fifteen minutes every hour. During Adult Swim, everyone under eighteen years old must get out of the pool, leaving the water’s surface (mostly) flat and all of the swimming lanes vacant. The pool water was extremely refreshing after laying out in the sun for forty-five minutes, and I didn’t even need to worry about avoiding small children playing around in the pool, getting hit by passing tennis balls or by underwater torpedo toys from young kids playing pass.

Overall it was a great day to relax in the sun and catch up on reading Unbroken and fitting in both a solid bike workout and shorter swim workouts!

“Be a warrior, not a worrier.”

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As a platinum member of the frequent worrier club, I find these quotes as extremely helpful reminders on probably a weekly basis. I’m the type of person that stresses out about “what-if” situations, even though the majority of these hypothetical situations never actually occur in real life. Funny story though, because despite knowing that none of these scenarios ever occur, I still frequently worry and stress about these hypothetical scenarios. 

Fortunately though, I have this next month to teach myself and practice remaining completely or at least almost completely stress free/worry free/anxiety free/relaxed. I also have meditation and yoga to thank for reducing my levels of stress, worry and anxiety. I’ll write more about meditating and practicing yoga in another post in the future! 

I hope you all will also enjoy these happy quotes as much as I do! 

Canaan Smith and Cape Cod

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IMG_4158On Monday night, country artist Canaan Smith came to my school and gave a free concert to anyone wanting to attend. Although it was a Monday night in Williamsburg, VA, there was a very impressive turnout. I was very excited about seeing my friends at the concert and being able to kick back, relax and enjoy some nice country music outside. One of my IMG_4134roommates came down for the day and night and we enjoyed some always delicious Cheese Shop on DOG Street in CW before walking over to the campus amphitheater on Lake Mataoka. It was a beautiful night and we all had so much fun! We learned later on in the night that Canaan was originally from Williamsburg, so this concert was like a little homecoming for him and his hometown fans. Even though we all only knew one song (“Love You Like That”) we still happily jammed out the entire time and enjoyed great company and awesome weather. Also p.s., Canaan’s newest album, “Bronco” – dedicated to his brother, was just released yesterday!

(In the pictures, I’m wearing the high-necked, black tank top with the long necklaces and fun, new, Reef sneakers)

IMG_4137 I can also now officially write that I will fortunately be able to join the rest of the Slattery fam at our cousins’ new Cape house next week! I have worked extremely diligently these past four weeks during my summer semester and will be able to be exempt from taking the final exam. Because I won’t need to be in class for the final exam nor the review day, I’m able to depart Williamsburg this Monday and get shipped up to relax for a week in New England with my sisters, cousins, parents and aunt and uncle. It’s going to be so enjoyable to be able to finally relax and not worry about anything! Until then, I have to pack, study for my fourth and final unit exam on Monday morning and see all of my friends one final time before returning back to Maryland for the remainder of the summer.

Stay tuned for some final Williamsburg posts and upcoming New England posts! 🙂

Quote: “Celebrate Every Tiny Victory”

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Just a happy Thursday night quote! I know for a fact that I need to follow this quote more frequently. I’m very critical of myself in everything that I do, and I know I need to stop after completing a task successfully and celebrate all of my efforts. 🙂 It’s definitely something that I’ve improved on recently! (And I’m celebrating my improvements!)

My college’s field hockey camp for middle schoolers and high schoolers starts tomorrow morning and goes through Sunday afternoon. I’m really excited to be reunited again with all of my teammates and to be surrounded by them these next few days and being able to play and teach the sport that we all love so much!

More updates on camp to follow this weekend, be sure to follow me on Instagram for more frequent picture updates!

Six Easy Steps to Giving Blood!

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Today I gave a pint of my blood to possibly help save three lives! It’s a great feeling and I highly recommend for everyone (as long as you’re eligible – check the Red Cross website for more specifics) to also give blood at least once in their lives. I love giving back (I’m one of only two student members on my school’s Annual Giving Board, I’m involved in other student organizations on campus which are focused on philanthropy, and outside of school I love coaching youth sports leagues, helping out at various different functions managed by my church – think food drives, homeless shelters, tutoring elementary school students and middle school students who are less privileged, and preparing meals to send to lower-income families. In general, I just love helping other people; and as you are all aware, donating blood also falls perfectly into this category of giving back and helping others.

In high school, this concept of giving blood became a reality when once a semester the American Red Cross would hold a blood drive, which students could get out of class to donate blood. I always envied the kids who would walk the hallways in between classes with the red wrap around their elbow, not because they got to skip a portion of a class, but because they were able to easily make a difference. In case you are unaware, the Red Cross has set specific guidelines on who can and cannot donate blood. The guidelines that held me back in high school from joining a majority of my peers, were you had to be at least sixteen years old (and needed a parent to sign the consent form until you turned seventeen), and you had to weigh over 115 pounds. According to the Red Cross website, you just have to weigh 110 pounds, however my school increased the weight restriction to avoid too many students (most who don’t eat a substantial breakfast) from passing out in the auditorium. Although 115 pounds doesn’t seem like a lot, I was always pretty thin, as you can recall from the pictures in one of my previous posts of me playing field hockey in high school.

After graduating from high school, and becoming ineligible to participate in the high school-run drive, the blood drives in my geographic region were never at a convenient time with my busy athletic schedule. It’s not recommended to donate blood the same day you complete a strenuous or physically challenging workout, practice or competition. This is because you donate a pint of blood, which is about 1/10th of all of your body’s blood and it takes roughly 12 hours to be physically okay to participate in a high-level workout. It’s even more challenging playing a sport in college because essentially you are competing or at least training year-round. My first donation was in January this year with my mom at a local church. It’s not bad at all, it’s super quick and you feel so awesome afterwards knowing that your blood can either directly save someone’s life or at least be used as research to help save countless lives in the future. My second blood donation was this morning; I documented my experience so I can share it with you all today!

Now that I’ve bored you all enough…. Onto the exciting part: P.S. (I don’t think that) The pictures aren’t gross or gory at all, however if blood or needles make you uncomfortable, this is your warning

IMG_4044Step 1: Hydrate. Make sure to drink plenty of water before you arrive to avoid feeling faint during the donation. This is me drinking from my school spirit Tervis tumbler (throwback to my goldfish Tervis… anyone remember it from the smoothie post?!)IMG_4048

Step 2: Arrive at your donation center. You can always make an appointment beforehand online or using the new Red Cross app, but if you’re having difficulty, there will always be signs to help you figure out exactly where to go.

IMG_4054Step 3: Sign in, wait in the little lobby of chairs that they have set up, and go back with a volunteer when they are ready for you. When they call you back, they’ll ask you basic questions about your height, weight, birthday, address, name and then health-related questions which you can find all of them on the Red Cross website. They will also take your pulse, your blood pressure, and prick your finger to quickly test your blood to double check that it is safe and healthy enough to be donated and for other people to use.

Step 4: They’ll lead you out of the private little cubicle you were previously in for Step 3 and onto one of the comfy black donation chairs. Once you’re here you can just literally sit back and relax while they just do their thing. In the pictures below, my arm is relaxed on the side arm-holder, my new friend Carl is prepping the blood bags for my donation, they gave me a stress ball to squeeze so they could mark the location of where to poke the needle into, and then they cleaned the inside of arm using iodine swabs.

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IMG_1585Step 5: They take the blood! It doesn’t hurt and you don’t have to watch the needle go in your arm if you don’t want to. Here’s a snapchat of the first time I gave blood (don’t worry the needle is covered by a gauze pad). It’s taken me around six to eight minutes to collect a full pint of blood these past two times. I just squeeze the roll of paper towels or the stress ball every few seconds to help pump the blood out of your arm faster. After the pint bag is filled up, the Red Cross volunteers close off the tube and the pint bag and use the remainder of the blood in the small tube to fill up test tube looking containers. Then they put a gauze pad and a bandaid on the needle site and wrapped my arm with the red stretchy tape. You can also ask for water or juice to drink while you donate and can read a book, listen to music, or talk to the volunteers. It goes by so fast!IMG_4071

Step 6: After the actual donation is finished, they will make you wait around and sit and eat and drink something. I was on a Whole30 the first time I gave blood, so I couldn’t eat any of the snacks that they had, but I did drink a bottle of water. They usually have cranberry juice, apple juice, water, Famous Amos cookies, pretzels and sometimes sandwiches, other chips and other juices.

My future goals are donating double red blood cells (you have to weigh 150 pounds to do so, so unfortunately I don’t weigh enough right now) and also to donate a cumulative of one gallon of blood (eight total donations) – I’m a quarter of my way there!

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