Sunday, February 16, 2014

New blog name, new bucket list

A little update and expansion of the list. The thing about testing your limits, abilities and that it creates new ones. Am I done expanding and modifying my bucket list? Probably not. You might start a bucket list to identify the things you want to do before you die. But hopefully you realize along the way that it's really about living life, if not to the fullest, then to the point where you don't ever want your list to end. Just change.

1. Belay certification to go climbing...and do an outdoor climb

2. Hang gliding
3. Sprint triathlon
4. Run a marathon Run the 4 US majors (MCM-check, NYC, Chicago and Boston)
5. Learn to snowboard
6. Buy a condo in DC
7. Learn to sail
8. Take a scuba class
9. Take a flying lesson
10. Volunteer in at least 3 different countries for medical nonprofit groups that have a role for a pharmacist
11. Skydiving
12. Run a Ragnar-type relay

13. Re-learn French and Spanish
14. Visit every MLB ballpark in the US
15. Hike Machu Picchu

Sunday, January 26, 2014

#7 Learn to Sail - August 28, 2013

Sometimes procrastinating on a blog post works to my advantage. It's been quite a whirlwind since I finished the 6 week didactic course and series of on-board instruction through the NIH Sailing Association. The end of an era, new beginnings and more goodbyes. One of those goodbyes was to my precious Teddy, who helped us cram for the exam that we ultimately passed!

Cram session at Meridian Hill Park. Some more focused than others
Here's what people don't tell you when you think learning to sail sounds like a cool thing to do. You will no longer be cool. No, in fact, you will be the lame one that has to stay sober on the boat while everyone else gets to relax with their beer.  If you aren't innately cerebral (or hate parallel parking), sailing doesn't come easy. Once you get the basics down, it all comes together and it gets kinda fun.  I can't say that I dork out enough to think it's more fun than just coming along for the ride. But hey, whatever gets you out on the open water...

One of our hot but overcast summer sails
Gettin' our learn on
Apparently on-board instructor Don has some misplaced confidence that I won't crash this boat
Analogy time. Well, the back story for it. Within an impressively shocking year, I went through one of my biggest transformations: a true ability to let go and a new freedom to let life just...happen.  I learned how to enjoy dating again (with the less enjoyable dates at least being a good story to tell). Then I met someone who helped me feel comfortable again with who I was in a relationship, validating my expectations as not only reasonable but maybe even...low? When you've previously been in a difficult relationship, you start to think you add to (or can even be the source of) that difficulty. So when you are told that you're actually far from it, you FINALLY believe it wasn't WAS him.  Or it was you AND him...not bringing out the best in each other.  Regardless, you can finally leave it behind you and know you can be a better version of yourself with someone else.  And even if it doesn't work out, you can maintain a high level of maturity and respect for each other and appreciate what you learned from one another. Turns out not every relationship has to end badly. Turns out I know how to date with some level of self preservation. Turns out I can give something a try, appreciate it for what it was and come out of it with no hard feelings.  Turns out...I'm healed.

Back to that analogy. I'll spare you the cliche of there being plenty of other fish. But there are other fish in that sea.  So go for a sail.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#4 Revised - Run a Marathon: MCM October 28, 2012

A year and a half ago, I signed up for my first marathon.  I'll admit, the reason (or person I was coerced by)  was similar to why I signed up for my first ten miler.  But after running my first half marathon in Richmond and not feeling like complete death, I decided to further test my limits in distance running.  Last summer was a rough one and when travel further complicated my ability to stick to my training schedule I deferred to 2012 which also gave me the chance to do it for the right know I was doing it for me and no one else. did it go?

It was so much fun!  I had great support from my friends both seen (Vivian, Lindsey, Chu, Jamie, Kathie, Kayla, Vince + his mom and Chris + his mom) and unseen (Shannon and Bridget).  I've been a spectator and know it's not easy.  Also got so much Facebook love, how could a girl not be pumped?!  Ok, I wasn't pumped.  I was terrified.  I'd been nervous all week.  It's true, you never get sleep the night before.  But I so enjoyed it.  I took a deep breath at the start and during some tougher blocks, trying to think of it as just another training run around the neighborhood, just with some more company. :) Here are my favorite and most memorable moments:
Oh I must've been kicking major ass then!
Mile 18 - a much needed break!
1) The camaraderie among the runners.  You could feel it at the start, you could feel it on the course.  People still had enough breath to make each other laugh.  Misery really does love company.
2)  The supporters and spectators.  Thank you to all those strangers who made signs specifically for "random stranger" as well as those who read my bib and yelled out "go Kathy!"  Oh the signs...
3)  My favorite signs, aside from the one made by my lovely friend Vivian, were definitely "if a marathon was easy, it would be called your mom" and "I trained 6 months to hold this sign".  Brilliant.
4)  The marines.  So motivating, so encouraging and so graciously volunteering to make sure the race went smoothly.
5)  Those running in honor of a loved one.  You are the reason I did this marathon as my first.  You were the extra motivation I needed on the course when there were no spectators in sight.
6)  The photos of those marines who gave their lives while serving our country.  Pictures of faces, dates, and ages on a long stretch at Hains Point.  And then the line of volunteers holding up the American flag, one after another, reminding you why they call this the people's marathon.
7)  My friends.  Being a spectator on the brink of an incoming hurricane the day after all the crazy Halloween've all touched my heart in support of my goal.  Every hug and power high five gave me a burst of energy.  And those that couldn't be there but sent messages the day before, the morning of, and the hours after, thank you!  All the expressions of pride in me...pshaw.  I'll likely respond with, "oh i was slower than i wanted" or " thanks, i could've done better".  But just as bad as how I take compliments, I need to stop myself and respond with a similar reply, "thank you. I appreciate it."  Because I really do.
8)  The finish.  Nothing prepares you for the people you least expect waiting for you at the finish.  If you told me a year ago that my ex and his family would be there waiting 3 hrs after watching their own family member cross the finish line, I would've called you crazy.  But that's just how sweet and amazing they are.  I'm so grateful to still have them in my life.
A candid moment capturing true friendship
 For those gracious friends who have congratulated me on this accomplishment and downplayed your own abilities with how limited you'd be in your own running, I must remind you of this.  I never used to be a runner.  Three years ago I started with 1 loop around City Center DC - a 0.5 mile run.  And today I call myself a marathoner for the first time.  We all have to start somewhere.  You can do anything you put your mind to.  Trust me :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Bucket List - Revisited

It's been a long, long time since my last entry. So much has happened and I really needed to revisit this bucket list last summer. I've had to go through some more trying times and still seem to come out no worse for the wear. This list has provided me with some much needed direction in a confusing time in my life but when I think about what I really wanted out of the list, I had to reevaluate my level of commitment to certain items.  Did I need to commit to the time and money for scuba certification without knowing that I'll actually like it (or my asthma can tolerate it)?  So here is the bucket list v2.0:

1. Belay certification to go climbing...and do an outdoor climb
2. Hang gliding
3. Sprint triathlon
4. Run a half marathon
5. Learn to snowboard
6. Buy a condo in DC
7. Learn to sail
8. Scuba certification Take a scuba class
9. Obtain a pilot's license Take a flying lesson
10. Get a Master's degree in Public Health (MPH) Volunteer in at least 3 different countries for medical nonprofit groups that have a role for a pharmacist
11. Skydiving
12. Run a Ragnar relay

But no fear, friends!  I haven't forgotten or lost dedication to completing my bucket list.  Just slowed down on the probably a more healthy way.  Stay tuned for the next blog post!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

#5 Learn to Snowboard - February 20 and 26, 2011

So in my previous blog post about why I included learning to snowboard on my bucket list, I wrote a letter to my deceased cousin Nicky. It was only fitting that my first attempt at snowboarding this season was with his girlfriend Sam who is far more advanced than me. I was in Boston for President's Day weekend and reserved a day to go with Sam to Wachusett Mountain. I took a lesson and had a great instructor but at a max of 8 students in the class, I spent more time listening and watching than riding. Thank you, Rick, for the best explanation of figuring out one's stance: if you were Tom Cruise in Risky Business sliding across the floor, which foot would slide ahead first? Left = regular. Right = goofy.

The following week I went to Whitetail in Mercersberg, PA. In a failed attempt at a beginner lesson (turned into a first-timer class with an awful instructor), I dedicated 2 hrs after lunch to just trial and error. Lots and lots of error - just ask my knees and tailbone. My friends thought I was frustrated because I wasn't getting it very quickly or easily but I wasn't bothered by my falls; I expected to have a lot of them. I'd become quiet and distant because all I could think about was Nicky - how I should've tried to learn years ago so I could've gone on more family snowboarding trips with him like he had wanted us to. I don't know if it was sheer determination or stubbornness but I just kept getting back up on the lift after I kept falling down the mountain. I fell everytime I got off the lift...until that fateful moment 30 min before we were scheduled to leave. I was with my friend Lindsey when I slid off the lift and slowed to a stop...STILL ON MY FEET! Then marked the moment of the 3:58 pm, I had gotten off the lift without totally eating it. Lindsey and I cheered over my accomplishment.
Having also been a Rutgers student like his super cool cousin, Nicky could appreciate the small victories too - take 'em wherever you can! He must've been cracking up at how much I rejoiced over something so fact I think I could hear him laughing. I could've gone home happy right at that moment but then continued to have my smoothest run of the day, cruising to a stop at the bottom of the mountain looking like a surfer. It's hard to know if I'm just suffering through this learning phase because I'm stubborn about not being good at it or if I just truly won't like snowboarding. So I've decided to set a minimum limit of snowboarding attempts before I give up: 5. The same number of months that Nicky refuse to give up too. So there ya go, cuz. See ya on the slopes next season....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

#4 Half Marathon - November 13, 2010

I did it! My first half marathon! It was the most fun I've ever had in a race. Yes, that's right, I said it...FUN. When I was with my ex, I swore I'd never run a race with the word "marathon" in it. In keeping with the spirit of the bucket list, I wanted to test my limits and see if I could reach this previously unfathomable goal. Not only did I reach it but...I enjoyed it?! So I guess long distance running goes on the list of things I tried out that I ended up liking.

Here's my top 10 list of best moments during the race:
1. The tree-lined residential streets that let me take in the beauty of the gorgeous, vibrant yellow and orange fall leaves. If I wasn't focusing so hard on breathing, I would've let out a happy sigh. :-)
2. The guy who let one of the runners into his home to use his bathroom while the speakers on his porch blasted Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"
3. The girl who couldn't be more than 9-10 yrs old cheering near The Diamond shouting, "You're rockstars! Go runners!"
4. Spectators all along the course who cheered for me thanks to my name ironed on the front of my shirt.
5. Runners on the course reading the back of my shirt with words of encouragement or acknowledgment that it was their first half marathon too.
6. Third favorite sign: "Run Like Snot"
7. Second favorite sign: "Because 13.2 miles would be crazy"
8. Most favorite sign: "You're sooo getting laid tonite"
9. Santa's helpers theme at mile marker 10 including people on stationary bikes acting as reindeer for Santa's sleigh.
10. Downhill sprint to the FINISH!!!

Oh, the finish. It felt so good. And the best part? I wasn't dying! I had maintained a steady stride and good pace throughout the entire race with enough juice at the end to sprint the last 1/3 mile. My goal time and pace: 2 1/2 hrs or 11-11:30 pace. My actual: 2:20:24 for about a 10:42 pace. So I check off #4, half marathon, with great pride but am now considering adding a new item in its place...a full marathon. God help me. :-) I was so thankful to have my brother and mom at the finish...reminding me that for those big moments, you can always rely on your family. Click here for pictures.

Thanks, ex-boyfriend, for getting me into running...I remember that first 0.5 mile run last September like it was yesterday. Here I am making great strides on my own (haha, gotta love a good pun). I started running as a common interest in my last relationship but now I do it for me, push my limits for me, take on new distances and get faster FOR ME. I used to hesitate admitting to this but no longer: I, Kathy, am a runner. Bring on the next race :-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

#2 Hang Gliding - completed August 29, 2010

Hang gliding. Where do I even start? First, let's clarify that I did not jump off a cliff - I got towed up by a small plane. Also I did not do it by myself but flew in tandem with someone who know what he was doing. I credit this second item on my bucket list to my friend and colleague Jean who has gone to a place in Ridgely, MD that she wanted to take me to. That was the original plan (for August 15) but we got rained out. When my cousin Christine told me she really wanted to go, I worked it into my NY/NJ plans late August and found a place in Middletown, NY: Hangar 3. Took some great pictures!

So what was it like? AWESOME!!! Exhilarating, beautiful, intense yet meditative. I was surprised at how smooth the take-off and landing were though you wouldn't know it from the video below. Being that I can never stop teeth got cold! And my mouth got dry so you can see me having a Mr Ed moment with my mouth in the video. Shout-out to my brother Francis: I totally pulled out the Superman pose! I reached about 2500 ft (about half a mile) and now want to go to Ridgely, MD so I can go even higher.

It's been such a great topic of conversation and piques the interest of many. Recently I was at a friend's birthday party and in an enthusiastic conversation about my hang gliding experience and the bucket list with a new acquaintance (thanks, Carlos!), he said "sounds like the break up could be the best thing that ever happened to you". Hm. Maybe...