Autumn Whirlwind

It has been a busy and interesting summer and the same can be said for how the fall is going so far.

My pavement related and offseason training goals this past summer were all but shattered when I caught a severe cold bug from (presumably, not 100% sure) a friend who was in town to visit and the result was severe bronchitis – at one point we suspected pneumonia, but thankfully the X-ray came back negative – that kept me from training or even excercising most if not all of June.
I returned to basic exercise (i.e. anything that didn’t involve running) only the final week of June and running the first week of July. And this was after SEVEN weeks of not running – I had taken two weeks off after Broad Street and was planning on light training when I contracted the bug. So coming back in the thick of the heat after seven weeks of no running?

Ugly. Just it was hilariously ugly.

I struggled to even run quarter mile intervals on the treadmill and my first run back with City Sports was a nightmare in nearly every sense of the word. Thankfully keeping at it, by the end of July I was back to basic distance, but pace, I was still off (slower) by roughly a minute/mile pace, and I was slow enough to begin with by most people’s standards.

At the same time, with work burning me out, I had taken a few short holidays to recharge. I screamed for a European vacation, especially with both the pound sterling and euro falling dramatically, I could afford RT to Ireland for 550. Yes, you are reading this correctly. $550.

Strangely, at the same time, I was also concerned about my moving expenses going to DC – especially if I took on a new job, absorbing (in most cases) relocation costs. As a result, my longer holiday for the summer was spent in Quebec. Amtrak train trip was entirely free for myself, along with a few nights in a Marriott hotel, thanks to the points I’d accumulated from my own work travels. Canada was a double edged sword – it was an aggressive agenda, seeing both Montreal and Quebec City in 6 days, 2 of which consisted of the Amtrak ride through the Adirondacks. It was a scenic ride, but overall the trip meant we were constantly on the go. It was great for keeping me in shape, but my mother was more exhausted after that week (despite my multiple warnings about the agenda and pace of the trip – several times I offered her to prolong the trip to ease the pace, but she refused as she had a religious pilgrimage the days following our return). Still I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the sights, the food and everything in between.

But breathers aside, it has been a busy summer. I visited my friend Caroline in NYC, who is training for the NYC marathon, spent a few weekends with other friends exploring the city and just overall doing fun stuff. But now a lot of the fun is slowing down – or stopping altogether – as the fall gets even crazier.

Thankfully I did not schedule myself for any half marathons at all this coming fall, between my anticipated job search, a wedding that is taking place abroad and a few other things I would have to tackle personally, scheduling my long runs for the Philadelphia Marathon was tough enough.

Training for the fall came slowly and steadily, and strangely enough, I’ve been training conservatively enough that the chances of injury to my shin are very small compared to what I encountered in 2013 when I tried to train for the half and the full and maybe leaving out a half and structuring around it might have been the answer here. Although I have been trying to keep my runs to no more than three times a week and only in excess of 14 miles for my long run do I increase to four, but never five times as my shins need longer time to recover from the longer runs. This still gives me a day to do weighttraining and a day to rest entirely. And so far it’s been fine.

My family continues to use my passion for running and travel – nothing new – as a lightning rod and sadly that has not changed. It has made things more difficult for me mentally as I cope with other issues and stress in general. Somehow, that passion will carry me through the finish, through the end of the marathon, and my time altogether in Philly. Ironically this is my last opportunity to ever run Philly and see the city in its utmost passion neighbourhood by neighbourhood – although Broad Street has done a pretty bang up job of that as well. Looking ahead to next year, I am slated for the DC marathon in March 2016, but after that, I’m looking at a general focus on my body strength and less so on endurance. I am thinking 2 races ranging between 10-13 miles – easier to train for and a much easier ability to adjust for, as personal priorities shift with my scenery.

To put it frankly, aside from focusing on my new job – wherever or whatever that might be – I will place a much heavier emphasis on my social/personal life – at my age, it is very difficult to meet new friends, although in DC, with many people my age, single, adventurous and ambitious, I won’t feel as out of place as I ever did in Philly. I remain optimistic I will find a crew of people with interests similar to mine (fitness overlapping or not) and maybe a few developing closer connections with. A stronger support network that I never really had living in Philly, that’s for sure. And even more critical now with my brother taking a position in Minnesota, much further away and moving further away myself from my own family, even as fractious as our relationship can be sometimes.

Things are complicated, but somehow I’ll sort it out.

For now, the pavement brings me peace, a peace that still, little else and only a number of people that I can count on one hand, can bring. Even on the upswing, with my first slew of interviews in November, the pavement helps me to calm the nerves before the storm.

One thing at a time. For now, the pavement helps me digest both the good things and the bad. One step at a time.

More Miles and More Friendships

The autumn has proven to be extremely busy for me, many miles clocked in various cities for business, and followed up with two weeks in cold London. I’ve been running everywhere figuratively and literally, seeing the world and the country…all whilst keeping up with my Philly Half training. I’ve posted pictures of my excursions on Pinterest for both my UK trip and the downtime on my business trips to Atlanta.

Note: More details on the trips to follow in separate posts…

Atlanta’s miles were brutal, the place is very hot and hilly (hence its nickname Hotlanta) and the drivers are so terrible that running can be a leap of faith unless you are near the Botanical Garden in Midtown. London on the other hand was colder (about avg 50F) and rainy half the time.

Upon return home, I attended more running events as I ramped my training. Somewhere in there, I’ve made more friends and built relationships through events held by City Sports and Philly Runner, two stores whose running groups have been key to my training discipline and sanity and social world. A few smattering of pictures:

Halloween run with City Sports:
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The “candy” we got post-run – VERY yummy, the caramel ones taste more like chocolate. No wonder they do, given the ingredient list.
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Costume Run with Philly Runner, part of their Halloween tradition.
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Philly Runner’s 10 year anniversary party – congrats to Ross Martinson and his crew for boosting the running community in Philly the last decade. Even after I leave Philly, I won’t forget all the fun memories. I only wish my schedule would have allowed me to parttake in a training team for one of the Philly races, nearly everyone I know has greatly benefitted from it!
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Getting photobombed at the 10-year party:
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It’s been quite a busy yet fun time meeting more people and I’m happy that I will be celebrating an early Friendsgiving with them! Here’s to more awesome memories over the next year racing and training in Philly and beyond!

Have you travelled anywhere interesting recently? Where have you gone? How did you get the miles in?

Any questions about the destinations I’ve been to, just give me a shout!

Summer Holidays and All for Fall

Well summer went by fast and thankfully so. I’ve got two races to look forward to, admittedly, the gruelling course of school has me wondering if I should have ever signed up for the Philly Marathon. Barring injury I finish what I start.

I definitely will continue to document and review all races I’ve done, but it’s getting tougher to post on my blog otherwise. The school work has been ridiculous and it’s been getting depressing just not having time for anything. Add the fact that I’m up until 2am on a regular basis and it just is really downright maddening.

I am 27 credits in as of today, and 27 more to go. I’m trying to look at it from the glass is half full standpoint but I feel like I’m sacrificing a bit much and 2 years seems like far away. Combine that with the work schedule and it’s shocking I have time for really anything these days.

But onward I go and whatever day I have off, completely worry-free from school, I just let it out and go everywhere I can, no matter how brief the holiday. I just know once it’s all over, the trips will cover more distance and be much longer than whatever I can cobble now.

Following this, are a collection of places I’ve visited, and such on holiday. Enjoy!

In the middle of July, I trekked for a three day weekend to Williamsburg, VA, squeezed between the first and second summer sessions. I do not have snaps of them at the moment, but will get those uploaded as soon as I can.

Final weekend of August, after my second summer session, I got in a full weekend of time with some friends and some alone. A longtime friend of mine from university came up from San Diego to visit me; he is down there to study his PhD in political science. We hit up some places that we had not been able to do so as overworked strapped for time UPenn undergraduates. Among them was the Eastern State Penitentiary in Fairmount and the walking tour of murals in Center City.

One of many hallways of the Eastern State Penitentiary. 25 August 2012.

Stained glass in the prison. August 2012.

And for the mural tour, just a few pictures amongst many I had taken (I swear I need to get up a Flickr account of sorts):

Mural tour. August 2012.

Side of upscale Vetri’s restaurant. Notice the chef on the backside of the building. August 2012.

One week later, I took a day’s trip up to NYC just to sightsee, and appreciate some art and most of all to clear my mind. I was mentally breaking down so I needed an abrupt change of scenery and at the same time I wanted to visit some friends of mine from childhood through high school who I had not seen since their wedding this past May.

First stop was the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue, at 82nd Street), always a classic. Last year I was fortunate to see Picasso. Today it was a plethora of things.

The view from the top floor of the Met. 24 August 2012.

A mirror sculpture on the Met’s roof. 24 August 2012.

A chair made of felt? Nice.

Felt material chair. 24 August 2012.

This table is genius. So much I snapped the description as well. 24 August 2012.

One of the things I really like about the Met (or even any major museum) is when they recreate an entire room. Shows the work put in.

Entire room recreated! 24 August 2012.

As a budget-conscious grad student, I trekked over to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA, 11 West 53rd Street) in midtown for their Free Friday (free admission every Friday from 4-8pm) admission. But this was a real treat as I am a huge fan of modern art in particular.

Some funky chairs. 24 August 2012.

Location and number painting. 24 August 2012.

Classic outdoor sculpture at the MoMA. 24 August 2012.

After hitting up both museums, I rested near the Rockefeller Center and ran into this bakery that my coworker Marie has raved about.

Rockefeller Center. 24 August 2012.

Decided I’d give a white chocolate raspberry cupcake a go. Not bad, but I still feel Baked and Wired in DC is MUCH better.

Magnolia Bakery time! 24 August 2012.

After that, I visited my friends Adam and Joan who are now living in Murray Hill (I think!) as they complete their residencies. Took in a few views and noshed on Mexican food for dinner.

View from the 36th floor! 24 August 2012.

2011: What I Learnt

Fireworks at Northern Liberties. 31 December 2011

And that’s a wrap. Running season was over, as far as 2011 was concerned. Both MCM and the Philly Half Marathon came and went, capping a successful yet injury-marred season. Finals came and went, and I didn’t just survive, but I thrived. I got out of a very bad relationship this fall, but I feel far stronger and better having learnt what I did and standing for what I believe in. I travelled relentlessly this year for work, yet somehow between school and running and everything else in between, I made more friends than ever and more connections through networking than ever.

I must be doing something right, especially when I look at myself just 3 years ago and struggling to tread water.

And finally, I am learning what is most important to me, what makes me happy and what drives me, regardless of how society, religion, culture, whatever dictates the status quo. Because as my cousin Adrian once said, unusual people do unusual things.

And I’m finding that the mundane bores me, and that the unusual drives me to experiences that I could have never imagined.

Amongst the many things I’ve learnt and reinforced:

Take (calculated) risks, small and large… If I’d never started that first 5k, that first half marathon…it’s led me to a network of friends through running as well as reinforced friendships that I’ve already had through other means. If I’d never taken the chance, I’d never had gotten the job I have today. If I’d never had put my foot forward out there with the men I met, I’d never have gotten the dates I have. And so forth. My cousins, who have travelled the world are constant risk takers and it’s something I keep in mind as I plow forward.

…but don’t bite off more than you can chew. This semester was an example to some extent. Coming into the semester I had 7.5 credits (three classes), three races (two halfs and my first full), a relationship, a post on UPenn’s alumni group organizing events for alumni, and what seemed like endless biweekly travel for my job. Not to mention I hung out with a plethora of friends from the alumni network as well as my running clubs. I was starting to burn out by October and it showed. When handling so many things it came to a point that I had to stop and breathe. And in the case of scheduling the Philly Half 3 weeks after an injury-riddled MCM, I had pushed my body to the maximum it could take. So I learnt that I had limits and where to draw the line.

Be in tune with yourself… Physically, this applied to when I was injured at Mile 17 of MCM. Could I run the remaining 9 miles without destroying my ankle? I took upwards of 10 minutes to examine my ankle at an aid station, and I’m glad I did. I’d been injured before, and no one knew that ankle better than me. Emotionally, in spite of my ex saying it wasn’t possible that I couldn’t possibly know what I wanted out of life, I already saw myself making life decisions through career decisions, through lifestyle decisions, through everyday decisions. Despite him saying that I needed Catholicism to be a good person, I found the faith conflicted with some of my most important core beliefs. So I pushed back because I felt uncomfortable. I pushed back because I was getting away from myself. And I eventually pushed him out of my life, and rightfully so. Yes I know compromise is a very important part of relationships, but there is a line to be drawn between that and incompatibility.

And that even if there is a long winded tunnel, that there is always light at the end…and to enjoy life in the tunnel. I have two years to go for grad school, but I have to remember not everyone gets the opportunity to go, or has the grades/test scores to get in. I have to remember the connections I made, even if the exams are less than fun. With running, I have to make sure my goals are sustainable even if it might seem like forever before I can consistently break a 2-hour half or 4-hour full marathon. And with time and hard work, I know I can get there. And someday I will meet someone, but given what I want in life, I have to be realistic and patient and that if I do the things I love, that the right person will be there waiting for someone equally driven about similar interests (well, more or less).

And finally, that family doesn’t necessarily have to be your biological or immediate family. It’s important to be close to family and to loved ones, but not everyone may be so fortunate. I’ve learnt time and again that extended family and friends have often stepped up where my own family has failed to do so and that in a changing world sometimes one has to create their own family, and that this isn’t a bad thing. That if family doesn’t live up to normal societal expectations, there’s nothing wrong with seeking support elsewhere and drawing support from those who share common beliefs and values.

2011 was a rollercoaster ride. There were a lot of bumps in the road, but I survived and for every challenge, I feel I’ve emerged stronger. I’ve learnt more about myself and the world, and I want to continue setting and reaching my goals in 2012. I look forward to a good year – bring it on 2012 – and I wish everyone here a happy new year, one filled with blessings, memories and happiness.

Torn

Well, I’ll be damned.

I’m asking so many damned questions of myself right now it’s not even funny.

I love the man I’m with. I’ve dated him three months, but I’ve known him as a friend forever, literally since 2006. Yet, we hit it off. We’ve developed feelings for each other and his family has welcomed me with open arms.

But damn I have so many reservations. Not about him, but whether our relationship will survive in the long-term. It’s hard finding someone compatible who understands and who is attracted to you. I’ve had a hell of a time getting to know him better and growing our relationship.

But I have my passions, and they seem to cut into his feelings. We can get past the food issues (he’s a hardcore meat-eater, I’m a hardcore vegetarian) and the general religious/politics (polar opposites, and I’m a bit more worldly and much less religious than he is), and our fitness lifestyles (he calls me a health freak, but not derogatorily) but probably the bigger issue is that he’s a lot more family-oriented than I will ever be and I’m a lot more career-oriented than he will ever be.

Career for the longest time has been an escape from the personal hell I’ve been living for the past decade. Why? The passions I’ve derived from career and other interests – particularly running and fitness – have opened up other doors. Not just in terms of skills gained but networks opened and doors opened. I made a load of new friends and through those friends, I rediscovered the man now in my life.

Yes monetary reward and financial security (not opulent living, there’s a difference, and I don’t care for the latter) are important, but I feel strongly the ideas and work should drive you and the rest in some way takes care of itself.

If finance – be it wealth management or some similar topic – lights that fire under my arse, what exactly is the problem? If my potential startup ideas look feasible, and I want to sink the extra time needed to run with it, what exactly is the problem?

I think his fear is that I will become a workaholic, but to me, a workaholic is someone that works for the wrong reasons, the money, the fear (although in this economy, the fear of loss of job is well justified) of losing a promotion or whatever. My friend Rob who finished university with me blasted the vast majority of MBAs in our generation, as having no care for the work they did, only getting into the programs they did, for guaranteed wealth out of school, the high life, and endless amounts of sex.

(I’ll save that topic for another day, but the point stands…)

That’s not the person I want to become. At all. I’ve already been there in my last position. Trust me. Not again. Hell no.

Obviously there’s the balance issue, and work/life balance is always an issue in most firms particularly with consulting, another option I’ve looked at. Probably will work on a niche market, or possibly in industry as well.

The position I have now – financial analyst – is awesome. The problem solving, and the chance I get to make my work truly my own is priceless for someone at my level.

But I have to question – will I get bored? I’ll continue to update skills and stuff. But when I get bored, when I’ve run my course? If I don’t get bored, then awesome. But who knows?

Money management keeps me on my toes, and my emotions are extremely controlled, almost to a fault, even with money. Would I want a career in it? That’s why I’m in grad school. Retool and learn what I need to in the business world. And discover where I really shine, and run from there. I know the money will be there if I keep myself on my toes. I’m more worried about that fire in me.

The net effect on my personal life is something I have to consider though, and where I can draw the line at personal support.

But damn I have to question to myself, he’s a great guy, but the whole family-oriented thing is great and all, it’s almost to a fault.

It seems like everytime I mention anything about finance (NOT personal finance and money issues in general) from a career standpoint, it freaks him out. Partially guessing that working more is more time away from him. Except we live in a big city and we both WANT the big city life, but there are price to be paid for that. I’m not sure if it’s a rose-colored glasses thing but from conversations we’ve had, I’d like for him to go in with his eyes wide open making decisions. It seems like he doesn’t want to think about it, or it’s too much for him to think about money issues or complex issues in general. Ignorance is bliss…until you wake up and realize you’re way in over your head with life in some way kicking you in the arse.

That’s just an example. Another example? Our families. His – loving, warm, welcoming – being the POLAR opposite of mine: dysfunctional, abusive, constantly fighting.

Both my father and I are scared to death to bring him home, any first meeting with my family will be in Center City, where my mother cannot go off the rails.

It freaks me out because my family is unwilling (or in my dad’s case, unable) to provide that same warmth his provides me. It hurts knowing he will never get that same in return. It really does. He’s understanding of mine, but I hope that doesn’t put off his family if mine doesn’t see him for months.

Really I’m scared. There’s a lot of hurt. I can’t have even a 5 minute phone call with my mother without a shouting match and hanging up. There’s just too much hurt, you know. I’m scared to death to bring him home.

On the career end, I don’t know if it’s anxiety or just sensitivity, but I can’t grasp why so many things I do or aspire for make him feel awkward. It seems he can’t relate (or in the case of “tough” talk or decisions, doesn’t want to think about it) and it’s a struggle.

I have to question if he can handle me, what I represent, and where I come from. And both of us are still peeling the onion off each other and still learning about each other. I don’t judge, I don’t impose and thankfully he doesn’t either.

I’m pushing through, but whilst I want to be sensitive, I want to scream that he have a little more gumption in him. Can he handle the cold hard truth? Even working on tact, not everything is roses, and the world I come from is sick and dysfunctional. Telling him I’ve been abused (after he pried it out of me) was a nightmare, because I knew it was going to torture him. I knew I could trust him, but I’m not sure he can handle me.

I’m not sure he can handle my career aspirations because yes they involve a lot of time. He’s not asking me to be a SAHM (stay at home mum) but I also want to make that decision on balancing what drives me with an appropriate dose of common sense, what pays the bills, and student debt I have, and possibly a mortgage too.

It’s called being responsible people. Is that such a bad thing?

No I can’t have it all, but I am aiming for the best balance of work/life, monetary to provide for the needs (and not necessarily all the wants either), and the work that lights a fire under my arse. Is that such a bad thing?

I’m not sure he’s digging my career interests, but we’re wired so differently.

We have so much in common, but so many differences. It’s like…ugh.

But we do have a lot of fun together, and we are making decisions for the benefit of us both. I’ve got another person in my life, and I have also been kicking myself in the arse to include him in my decision making process and talking through problems. We’re getting along fine even if there are hiccups.

Just gotta get my concerns out there at some point. He’s stressed the importance of a long-term relationship. We do have a good thing going, we get along, and we’ve said to each other that general qualities, each likes what they see in the other.

But long term? I’d love for it to happen. I’m just thinking some things inherent in each of us are going to work against that. I don’t know.

This is more than I’ve hoped for in ages, and even he’s said the same thing.

One step at a time. I’m happy and I know he is too.

Don’t overwhelm yourself. Maybe it’s not as bad as you make it out to be, and if it is, it’s another learning experience.

Crossroads

Recently, I’ve met someone. Actually no. I’ve known this man since 2006.

I met him a long time ago. We’ve been friends for a while. Except recently, it’s become more than that.

I’ve always liked him as a friend. But it’s been ages since I’ve had a friend where it’s become more than just that. The transition from boy friend to boyfriend is rather murky. There are definitely things that I knew about him making that transition, and as such it’s made it easier.

And with a college friend of mine, who now is still a very good friend, I’ve been down that road before. We dated for two years before he broke it off. He was questioning at the time, although at the time too afraid to tell me. It was only in 2009 that he came out of the closet and confessed to me, and to those closest to him. He loved me emotionally, but was (obviously) unable to love me physically.

Now, it’s ironic how the situation plays out again. I don’t like comparing current and past partners, but I can’t help but notice the similarities, however superficial or deep. My guy is a UPenn graduate like myself, although graduated the year before I did, whereas Mike and I finished the same year. Both are of Italian descent. Both are introverted and mellow, though I’d argue my new friend is getting out more lately. Both aren’t much into the fitness lifestyle, although both are making strides to become more athletic. Both have that bookworm look (and this is not a bad thing, I say, just sheer observation), with glasses. And both were and are gentlemen…

Interesting.

Philly skyline by night. 6 July 2011.

The one thing that distinguishes him, and makes me somewhat uneasy only because I’m not used to it, is the hopeless romantic characteristics. He has told me VERY early on that he does have feelings for me, and has admitted that pouring his feelings is not something he’s not used to doing. Yet, I know while he has feelings, I’ll admit I’m just not used to someone being overly romantic and truly meaning it. There’s that skeptic part of me for anyone, and part of that is just not being used to the hopeless romantic type.

I’ve always been a subscriber to the “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” approach, but then again, Jason confessed straight up about he felt, plus he’s a friend I’ve known for awhile, not a random person that I’ve just gotten to know.

Regardless it takes me a longer time to truly develop those feelings for a guy. Make no mistake, I like – no I really like – what I see in him. I do see long term potential here.

For some reason, I’m just more cautious about it. Skeptical, cynical, hesitant, I’m not sure.

The things we don’t have in common? Eating is a main issue; I am an ardent believer in the vegetarian and healthy lifestyle; large portions aren’t happening for me. As long as he doesn’t force his habits on me, then I’m good.

I’m trying to figure myself as hard as I am he. And I just need more time to really and fully reciprocate those feelings. For now, I just need more time with him.

Mission: Slay the Dragons

I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of June.

It’s scaring me. So much has happened and the last two weeks have been nothing short of stressful and traumatic. At the very least, busy.

I soared in graduate school. Straight As for my first semester and summer school. Made a lot of new friends.

Work is going shockingly well, even if stressful at times.

The relationship between my mother and I continues to deteriorate. The criticism of my lifestyle gets harsher, and an imposition of her values through the action of a so-called family friend has started to take an ultimate grip on my ability to breathe.

Last month I fled my old hood to remove myself from that situation. I’ve been compromised and I feel rotten because the situation I’m in is something that I have read in Time magazine and other mass media, and I never imagine it could happen to me.

My new one, although nicer, feels like a prison in some ways. I’ve been told I haven’t come to grips with my situation, as I am where I am solely because of my situation; absent that, I would have stayed.

My grandfather is getting much sicker, and I’ve been told he won’t live much longer. I will visit him very soon. It’s just that he’s 10,000 miles away and 10 hour difference.

Sometimes I feel so helpless.

At the same time, I am moving on.

For what I lack of family relationships, the friendships I have, have been invaluable. Running partners, old friends from school and newer ones from graduate school, and extended family, have all been invaluable getting through the last several months.

I told another coworker of mine (apart from Sergio) that the move represented a total loss of control in my life. That I was there because of my situation. To which she said “no you have it backwards.”

The move, she said, represented, my taking back control of my situation.

I never looked at it that way. Until she mentioned it.

I’ve thought of the past month since I moved here. A lot of things have shockingly fallen into place. I do now, in some aspects, feel I am reclaiming the lost few years of my life after college to some respect.

To top it off, a friend of mine from school and I have been spending more time together. But he’s also made it clear he wants more than just friendship. I’m surprised because there’s a part of me that wondered if I’d ever find someone close to what I was looking for in a partner. But shockingly, he has a lot of traits I am looking for. Work hard, play hard, career first, die hard urbanite, physically active, and die-hard traveller. We’re taking it slow, but having fun in the process. We’ll see what happens.

I’m counting my blessings. I’m taking the good with the bad. I am taking the good to (when possible) help me get through the bad.

And with running cohorts in tow, I am starting my quest to slay the dragon.

The MCM Dragon of Doom.

I’m weightlifting more recently. I’ve gotten into spinning. My knees feel stronger, and I’m running more intervals faster. Workouts that scared me before, now I have the confidence to take them on.

I nearly freaked out when I saw myself running sub-9 minute miles. I remember when 10-minute miles were pushing it for me.

And I’m communicating with other runners. Training tips, and plans. 5am workouts. Post-training brunches and gelato runs on 20th Street. (NB: 20th Street off Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square is dessert row, at least 2 ice cream places, and 3 cupcakeries abound…)

More camaraderie with each run. I like it that way.

Vee's training plan from Runner's World.

Slowly but surely, I am picking up the pieces. One at a time.

And I am looking to rise like a phoenix from the ashes on and off the pavement.

I’ve been compromised, but I have hope, more hope and support than ever, that I will survive, and things will turn out alright in the end.

And I’m becoming more and more confident that I can slay that dragon 30 October. Even with a hill at Mile 25.