The Wonder of Acadia National Park

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea

(Beehive Trail — Acadia National Park)

Holiday vacations never used to be my thing. Whenever long weekends like Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, etc. came around, I was typically bucketed in the “Not quite sure what I’m doing yet” group whenever someone asked me what my plans were.

When it comes to those long weekends, there are usually two types of people— The people who planned trips in advance to take advantage of the time off and the people who are just plain excited to have an extra day off of work.

This year, to my surprise, I was in the former group. I had pre-planned a trip with my boyfriend to camp in Acadia National Park, located off the coast of Maine.


Growing up, my parents didn’t take me on too many big trips. I developed a passion for traveling, hiking, and camping a little later on in life. It wasn’t until age twenty when I was first exposed to a breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. After that, I was officially convinced that the West was a much more beautiful place to be.

Being born and raised in New Jersey, I wasn’t acclimated to seeing such tall mountains. I had never visited the four corner states, but once I did, I strongly felt that it was the most beautiful part of the country.

In a matter of only three years, I made countless trips to Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. The reason being — I was fortunate enough to have people to visit out there during that time frame. Sadly, it wasn’t long until they all left.

So, I figured that it was about time to stay local and start exploring my home base. I wanted to give the East Coast a chance to prove its beauty (Plus, it would save me the pricey plane ticket expenses).


For Independence Day this year, I spent four days and three nights in Acadia National Park during the Independence Day break.

We didn’t plan this quite far enough in advance, so all of the public campgrounds were already reserved. Instead, we reserved a spot at one of the private campgrounds that was recommended within the “Camping” sectionof the Acadia National Park website.

We stayed at Smuggler’s Den Campground, located in Southwest Harbor, just outside of Bar Harbor. We weren’t exactly “roughing it”, but it was a great spot to be.

The staff was very friendly and the campgrounds were was very accommodating, with running water, bathrooms with showers, and electricity — if that’s the type of campground you are looking for.

With tremendous thanks to the Island Explorer shuttle bus, we were able to get to any part of the park without ever moving our car. The best perk of the shuttle bus is that it’s free— And you’re being environmentally sound by doing ride-share.

My favorite part of utilizing public transportation was getting to meet and talk to other people, especially the locals. Some of the best tips that we received came from the Maine locals who frequently visited the park and knew exactly where to go and where to avoid the major tourist areas.

Lo and behold, here is a breakdown of the trip —


Day One (July 4, 2018)— Echo Lake and Beech Mountain

(Beech Mountain Trail — Acadia National Park)

Echo Lake —Maybe it was because of the holiday, but this was a bit of a bust. Not because it wasn’t beautiful to look at, but because this area was more family-oriented. For me and my boyfriend, we were hoping to be somewhere more remote.

We quickly dodged this after seeing how crowded it was. Instead, we took a bit of a detour and hiked a nearby trail.

Beech Mountain (Beach Mountain Trail)  An unexpectedly fun hike, this was exactly the warm-up we needed for the next few days. Filled with steel ladders and a few stints of uphill climbs, it was a short and sweet trail that allowed us to get a feel for the park.


Day Two (July 5, 2018)— Beehive Trail, The Bowl, Ocean Path, and Otter Cliffs

(Beehive Trail — Acadia National Park)

Beehive Trail —This trail was recommended to me by a friend, so I made it a point to make sure that we hiked this one.

It was a challenging hike which was also filled with stints of uphill climb and iron rungs to ensure extra grip. Once at the top, we had a remarkable view of Sand Beach, another more touristy shore area filled with families.

The Bowl —This was one of the tips that we received from a local while on the shuttle bus. The Bowl is located where Beehive trail meets the other trails. It’s a smaller lake area that you are able to swim in and it’s a little less crowded, so you can get a bit more privacy.

(The Bowl — Acadia National Park)

Ocean Path —As a cool-down from the Beehive trail, we decided to take the Ocean Path to Otter Cliffs (This did not disappoint). It was a scenic, leisurely trek along the coast with multiple places to stop and take in a view of the ocean (Note: If you stop earlier on, you’ll avoid the crowds towards the end, approaching Otter Cliffs).

(Ocean Path — Acadia National Park)

Otter Cliffs —This was another viewpoint that we were recommended to see. As you reach the end of the Ocean Path, you are able to sit and look out at the shore to see how far you’ve traveled from Beehive Trail and Sand Beach. Another beautiful sight full of ocean views.

(Otter Cliffs — Acadia National Park)


Day Three (July 6, 2018) — Jordan Pond, Sargent Mountain, Sargent Pond, and Jordan Cliffs

(Sargent Mountain — Acadia National Park)

Jordan Pond —A lakeside view with a relatively easy trail that winds around the perimeter of the lake, Jordan Pond is another popular destination. And don’t be fooled by the lake alone, there are more trails beyond this. At the halfway point, you’ll see signs for additional trails leading up the mountain.

Sargent Mountain (Sargent Mountain Trail) — For a majority of the trip, I had been comparing Acadia to Zion National Park in Utah, which is a camping trip my boyfriend and I did last year. Sargent Mountain put my comparison to rest.

It was an extremely challenging hike and not for the faint of heart. Despite thinking that I was in great physical shape, I was still breathing heavy, but the climb was absolutely worth it.

Sargent Mountain is the second tallest mountain in Acadia, just a few hundred feet shy of the tallest mountain, Cadillac Mountain. Though it isn’t the tallest, it sure felt like it. And again, it was another less crowded hike where we were able to truly take in the views while avoiding the crowd.

(Summit of Sargent Mountain — Acadia National Park)

Sargent Pond — A small body of water located just a few climbs down from the summit of Sargent Mountain, this was a hidden gem which was also given to us as a tip from a local.

(Sargent Pond — Acadia National Park)

Jordan Cliffs (Jordan Cliffs Trail)— Unfortunately, we didn’t actually get to hike this because it was closed due to falcon nesting. (Note: Some trails such as this one are closed during certain months due to falcon nesting. Make sure to check the website for updates.)

I have to put this on the list though because if it weren’t for attempting this hike, we would have been on time for catching the last shuttle bus from Jordan Pond to Village Green, where we needed to be in order to get back to our campground.

We missed the last free shuttle bus from Jordan Pond to Village green by a mere five minutes. (Another note: The shuttle bus drivers are extremely punctual, so don’t be late! They won’t wait for you!)


Day Four (July 7, 2018)— Portland, ME

(Portland, ME)

Ironically enough, Portland, Oregon has been a top city on my list to visit. I had even signed up for the Portland Marathon to truly experience the city, but to my disappointment, the marathon was cancelled, therefore the trip as well. Little did I know I’d still get to visit Portland this year, only on a different coast.

Bike Rentals — We rented bikes once we got to Portland so that we could give ourselves a break from walking and explore the town on wheels. The place we rented our bikes gave us a bike route map and brewery map which made for the best tour of the city.

Bissell Brothers Brewery —We somehow managed to sneak in a beer with only an hour and a half left to return our bikes. Stopping at this local brewery was so much fun and totally worth the ride over.

(Bissell Brothers Brewery — Portland, ME)

High Roller Lobster Co. Being our last night in Maine, we couldn’t miss stopping to get lobster rolls in Portland (even though we had already eaten lobster rolls the night before).

(High Roller Lobster Co — Portland, ME)

High Roller Lobster Co. was an awesome, funky lobster joint with a great atmosphere and beer on tap. Coincidentally, one of the co-owners happened to be the founder of Bissell Brothers, which is the brewery that we had gone to.


After only a few days in the beautiful state of Maine, I’m now convinced that the West is not the only place you can find beauty in the United States.

I was in complete awe and wonder at the sights that Maine had to offer. And the thing that I absolutely loved most about this gorgeous, lush state is that it’s a place where the mountains meet the sea.

You truly get the best of both worlds.

 

RACE REPORT: 2018 United Airlines NYC Half

This past Sunday, March 18th 2018, I ran the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. The last double-digit race that I ran was the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon, so it’s been some time since my legs have felt the way that they do right now. In all honesty, I was kind of dreading it at first.

I entered the lottery to run this race back in the Fall and had almost completely forgotten about it. When it came down to when they were going to draw the lottery, my initial intentions were to revoke my entry last minute. However, fate had a different plan and I didn’t take my name out of the drawing. Ultimately, my name was chosen.

When I first signed up for this race, I knew that I was in need of getting back out there and running again. Marine Corps Marathon ended up being a huge disappoint for me and I was devastated, as any marathon runner would be, after the months of long, hard training that I had put it. Often times, I wonder why I even put myself through it, but after every race, I remember why. It’s because these races humble you.

My experience at the NYC Half was pretty incredible, which I’m very relieved to say. I began “officially” training in mid-December which gave me about three months until the race. Like all my other races, I [loosely] used the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 training program, because it always fits my schedule the best.

In terms of my longest distance run, I had only gotten up to 10 miles, which was just 2 miles shy of what I should have really done. And what ended up happening was that I crammed miles into the last few weeks I had left, then just let my body do the work once it was officially race time. I ended up paying for it at the end.

I hadn’t done any formal hill training, speed work, or strength training at all. I didn’t a gym membership either, which is a first for me. As one would suspect, this essentially ended up being my downfall.

I had hoped for a PR (personal record), but I knew in my head (and my heart) that this was not going to happen. As they say, you reap what you sow and I knew that I hadn’t sewn much during my training.

The course was 100% brand new from previous years, which I was a little upset about, but I ended up absolutely loving it. It started near Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, went over the Manhattan bridge, through Lower Manhattan, up into Midtown, through Times Square, and finishing right in Central Park. The weather was below freezing at a temperature of 28 degrees fahrenheit. Luckily, the sun was shining throughout, with zero precipitation.

Typically, I loathe running in the cold. In the Winter time, I get extremely lazy, have no motivation for running or working out in general, and basically hibernate until Spring. But I knew that I needed to break this cycle, which is why I chose this race in the first place.

I finished in a time of 1:50:33, which is an average of 8:26 per mile. Overall, I was quite satisfied with my time, especially with having the most minimalistic training. The New York City views were beautiful and I had both my boyfriend and sister cheering for me at mile 8, right in the heart of Times Square.

Though my legs are definitely on the sore side, it was completely worth it. It restored my runner’s high and left me wanting more — A feeling that I had really missed.

I would recommend this race without hesitation.

This is why I write

Many people ask me “Why do you write?” I usually say the same thing. I say that it allows me to express my emotions in a healthy way. It allows me to communicate with people on a deeper level and provide consolation to those who need it.

I was working on an article recently and had started jotting down some words to get my ideas flowing. I had already written the title first, so I already knew the direction that I wanted to head in. But, as I started writing down more and more words, it started turning into something completely different and I had to change the title entirely.

This is one of the things that I forget to tell people when they ask me why I write.

I write because I love the movement. I love how it can transform from one thing to another. I love how it can turn into something so much more than you had initially conceptualized. I love that it can take you anywhere.

Writing, like any form of art, is an extension of yourself. You take pieces of who you are and place it into your work. And that’s just about the most honest thing anyone can do.

I love writing (and all sectors of the arts) because of this exact reason. It’s so raw, so open, so unveiled.

For me, personally, I’m a big talker. I talk a lot. I have a lot to say, I’m very opinionated, and I always want to get a word in. When people think of a Writer in general terms, I think that they think of someone who is very reserved, introverted, and soft-spoken.

That being said, this definition is the complete opposite of every aspect of my personality. I’m generally very outgoing, extroverted, and loud.

So that means, either I’m not a writer (by standards of what a Writer should be) or I’m just not a “typical” writer.

Regardless, I still write. And I will continue to write until my last day on Earth.

I write because there is not enough space in my head to organize the constant thoughts that are hoarded. I write because I am able to take my thoughts and turn them into a story. I write because I am able to put myself onto a piece of paper for those who do not wish to listen to what I have to say.

Whether or not anyone reads my words, all I can say is that this is me. And I’m completely fine with that.

27

Not only is today Thanksgiving, but it also so happens to be my birthday. I’ve been overseeing this WordPress blog for nearly five years now. That’s five years of memories, five years of storytelling.

When I look back at the things that I’ve written about, I’m always surprised at how quickly it takes me back to that moment. I think that’s why I love writing so much. It’s one of the closest things you can get to an actual time machine. Photographs and videos may serve the same purpose, but with writing, it’s your own words; your own version of a story that you are telling to yourself and to other people.

This year, and this month in particular, in addition to my five years of WordPress writing, I also celebrate five years of living in New York City. It’s especially meaningful to me because I’ve found this past year to be the most transformative.

When I was in college, I remember watching a documentary in a Psychology class about a study where these Psychologists chose a select group of children and followed up with them every seven years until adulthood in order to examine how much they have changed over time. In science, and in psychology, it’s theorized that we as humans drastically develop every seven years. If that’s true, then I sure am interested to see who I become in my next wave of development.

As I celebrate this five-year milestone, this half decade of living in this city, I also acknowledge how far I’ve come and how much I have changed (and not changed). As of now, there are two things that have drastically changed, but also somehow stayed the same. These things are my job and my boyfriend.

I recently started a new job at the first company that I ever worked for upon graduating college and moving into the city. Similarly, about a year ago, I got back together with the first person that I ever fell in love with.

It’s a curious thing to go back to something of which you are already familiar, yet have a completely different experience.

There’s a quote that I really admire. It goes,

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

In five years, I’ve experienced many things, I’ve met many people, lived in different apartments, had many jobs, encountered great joy and great sadness. And through all this, I have still come back to where I started.

It’s amazing that despite everything that has happened, through so much change, I am inherently the same. Going back to that study that I watched in college, maybe it’s not necessarily the person I am that has changed, but instead, the way I look at life. Maybe, it’s less about the actual changes and more about the maturity through all of it.

Experiencing Zion National Park in Two and a Half Days

Last weekend, I did something I have never done before – I camped overnight with my boyfriend in Zion National Park, located in Southern Utah. After spending only two nights, and two and a half days in Zion, it was nothing short of majestic, incredible, and completely awe-inspiring.

Though it was a bit of a last minute trip, every second of it worked out perfectly in our favor. Him and I were able to gain the full experience that we were hoping for, despite the short time frame. And that was mainly because we did our research, made smart decisions, and came prepared.

To give some context, my boyfriend lives in Northern Arizona and we’ve been in a 2,500 mile long-distance relationship for nearly a year, so we’ve been used to traveling back and forth to see each other.

We had been talking about doing some sort of trip together instead of just taking turns to visit each other in the states we live in. Eventually, we decided on a camping trip. This trip had only been in the works for about a month, so as we were coming down to the wire, we really had to nail down the logistics of the trip.

The one main concern was where to stay. Since this was so last minute, we narrowed it down to a few different campgrounds that didn’t require reservations ahead of time and finally chose South Campground, which is located near the South Entrance of the park.

We initially planned on driving out early Sunday morning, but it really turned out to be late Saturday night. We were in Sedona, AZ on Saturday night and didn’t arrive back to his place in Flagstaff, AZ until around 11:30PM. Once we got back, we packed everything ahead of time so that it would be ready to go once we left the apartment.

DAY ONE: Getting to South Campground and Hiking Angels Landing

We left Flagstaff around 1:30AM and finally arrived in the park around 6AM. It was still pitch black and the park rangers weren’t even there yet to collect entrance fees as we were driving in. The drive through the park to get to our campground was about 10-15 minutes. As we pulled up to the parking lot for South Campground, there were already 15 cars ahead of us. We weren’t assigned our campground until about 8:30AM. Once we pitched our tent, we took a quick nap and woke up around 10:00AM.

From there, we had to decide on what we would do that day. We headed to the Visitor Center to ask for recommendations and were initially deterred from doing Angels Landing that day since it was already late morning and the sun would be at its peak. We did it anyways.

We took the shuttle bus from the Visitor Center and arrived at the trail leading to Angels Landing around noon. The woman at the Visitor Center was right in the sense that it was blistering hot, but it was completely worth it. The entire hike took us around 5 hours, as we stopped several times and took our time up and back. We went to the very top of Angels Landing.

IMG_7506

What I can say about this hike is that it was truly strenuous, as listed on the brochure. Even as a long distance runner, this was still a challenge for me. At a certain point of the hike, you are holding onto links of chains in order to climb up to top and it hardly ever plateaus, so you are continuously going up hill with very little footing surrounding you. It’s especially hard when it’s crowded because people are constantly going up and down and you have to navigate your way around them. However, as long as you are cognizant of your movements, you’ll be fine. If you are deathly afraid of heights, this will be a huge challenge for you, but it’s certainly not impossible.

After we got to the bottom of the Angels Landing trail, where we began, we dipped our feet in the Virgin River and got a little taste of what to expect for the next day.

DAY 2: The Narrows

We woke up around 7:30AM and had planned on meeting up to hike The Narrows with two new friends that we had met along the way while hiking Angels Landing. The trail that led to The Narrows is the very last stop on the shuttle bus from the Visitor Center. We arrived at the entrance of The Narrows around 10AM and finally started our journey around 10:30AM. The very first step that we took was already up to my calves in water. We started out slow and the water levels only got higher as we continued through.

Our mission was to get to the point of The Narrows where there was a fork in the trail. Someone had recommended this to us and we had to go quite far until we arrived at that point. If you are afraid of deep water or can’t swim, I’d first be wary to recommend this hike. But, if you are adventurous, want to get away from the crowds, and don’t mind doing some climbing, then I’d recommend going all the way until the point that we hiked to.

It took an army to climb over certain areas. We were with our two new friends, a married couple, and a family of four when we were getting through some of the obstacles that we had to surpass. What I can say is that it was definitely not for the faint of heart, but it’s truly an unreal experience.

We didn’t get back to the beginning of the trail until around 4:30PM – That’s about six full hours doing this hike.

Fortunately, you can turn around at any point, but again, if you want the full experience, I’d dedicate an entire day to doing this.

DAY 3: Winding down and heading out

After two very strenuous hikes, we decided to keep our third day fairly open. We still wanted to get another trail under our belts, but we wanted to do an easier, shorter one, so we decided on the Lower Emerald Pool trail. This trail was definitely more for beginners, families, or those who are interested in a beautiful walk through nature. Though it was listed as an easy trail, there are still points that are slightly uphill, but that’s to be expected for any of the trails in Zion.

Once we finished this trail, we grabbed lunch at the Zion Lodge and laid out on the grass with other tourists who were also enjoying the scenery.

We left Zion around 1:30PM and arrived back in Flagstaff a little before 6PM. The views driving through Utah were gorgeous enough to make the drive go by very quickly.

Overall, this trip was truly unforgettable and one that I would absolutely do again with more time blocked out. I’d highly recommend putting Zion National Park on the top of your list of National Parks or even just as a vacation idea if you enjoy sightseeing, hiking, and camping.

5 factors to consider when signing up for a marathon

As a former employee of Runner’s World Magazine, I had the privilege of running my very first marathon through the Runner’s World VIP Program (formerly known as “Runner’s World Challenge”). I was able to gain first-hand experience and extensive knowledge on how to properly train for a marathon with the help of my colleagues along with our robust amount of published content within the magazine.

Being that it was my first marathon, I took it very seriously. I made sure to allow myself the proper amount of time for training as well as dedicating myself to following a specific marathon training program (In this case, it was Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon Training Program)

Although I had no expectation for a specific goal time, I did want to ensure that I gave it my all and was as prepared as I could be.

I finished in a time of 4 hours and 7 seconds, with a decent amount of energy left over afterwards. In hindsight, now knowing that I was well-prepared enough, I wish I had aimed for a time of under 4 hours, but that’s besides the point.

After running Big Sur Marathon, I had never felt more accomplished in my life. I had assumed that since I had one marathon in the bag, every marathon following this one would be a piece of cake. Little did I know, that’s completely untrue.

Just because you ran one doesn’t mean it will get easier or that it will be a similar experience for your next. Just like any job or any relationship, you never have the same experience twice. There are many factors that go into running a great race. One thing is for sure – Never lessen your efforts or level of integrity.

Here are some of the major factors that can make or break your marathon experience:

  1. The Course. Some people don’t like to research the course beforehand. I personally think that’s ridiculous. Knowing the course can play a huge role in how you train. Knowing whether or not it’s hilly and knowing where the hills are located can help you both physically and mentally. Being prepared for running up or downhill will affect performance and fatigue in the long run (no pun intended) based on your training. Other factors in the course include altitude, scenery, and terrain.
    • Altitude falls under the “hilly or not” bucket. Running a race in Colorado versus New York are two completely different experiences because of the altitude levels, which ultimately affects your breathing.
    • Scenery can psychologically affect your performance. Visually stimulating courses may or may not improve your running pace, depending on how affected you are by your surroundings. If you want to see more trees, sign up for a race in a more remote location. If you want to see more buildings, sign up for a race in a larger city.
    • Terrain is in reference to pavement versus dirt. Depending on where you primarily train, your legs, and more specifically your knees, can be severely impacted by the texture of the course. Pavement tends to put more strain on your joints as opposed to dirt trails.
  2. The Crowd. Similar to the way people are affected by running with music, running a marathon that has great crowds can aid performance. One of the things that I loved most about running the New York City Marathon was amount of support you received from the local communities as you are running through the different boroughs and neighborhoods.
  3. The Training Plan. Not all training plan works for everyone. When it comes to running, everyone has different levels of expertise and physical fitness. Some training programs cater specifically to elite runners, while others cater to beginners. In addition, people also have such varying schedules throughout the week that not every program fits their daily routine. However, when it comes to marathon training, you do have to be flexible as well as dedicated. Skipping out on long runs or refraining from speed workouts can really hinder performance.
  4. The Season. In the United States, primary marathon season takes place in the Fall. Most of the major big-city marathons occur between September and November (and they fill up fast, so make sure you sign up early!). Fall in the United States can be wildly unpredictable. Temperatures tend to fluctuate and so do the chances of precipitation, high-wind factor, and humidity. If you are running a race in the Fall, be cognizant of the fact that a majority of your training takes place in the Summer, so the temperatures will not be nearly the same. You also must consider the chances of rain, high winds, and high humidity. Be properly dressed and well-hydrated.
  5. Size of the race. The size of a marathon can widely vary from a range of a couple hundred to thousands among thousands. I’ve run three marathons thus far, which include the Big Sur Marathon, New York City Marathon, and Marine Corps Marathon. Of the three, New York City and Marine Corps were very large races that took place in larger cities, with participants upwards of 30,000+ runners. The Big Sur Marathon, on the other hand, only had approximately 6,000+ runners. The size of the race can affect your performance depending on your preference of running alongside more people or fewer people.

From my personal experience, the best marathon I have run still remains the Big Sur Marathon, my first one. And this is because of the fact that I was so adamant about training.

So my advice is this – You get what you give.

The amount of preparation you set aside will not be in vain. Give it everything you have and it will come through in the end.

Attention

As we’re approximately three-quarters of the way through 2017, I’m already getting ahead of myself by looking back at what has happened so far in this past year.

I think that most of us can agree that 2017 has been quite an eventful year to say that least (I’m primarily referencing the United States). Even today is a noteworthy one in history, being that it’s the first time in twenty years where North America is able to witness the Solar Eclipse.

Though I refrain from individually listing events one-by-one, I will say that it’s been a huge eye-opener in many ways.

Looking in on my own personal life, I’m solely comparing 2017 to 2016 and I already see such significant differences.

This is the first time in a while where I’ve had a steady enough year that I didn’t have to put 100% focus on myself, but rather, I was able to focus on other people instead.

Last year, I had started a new job and moved into a new apartment. All of my energy was honed in on how to settle in at work and at home. I was able to be a little more selfish than usual. I was in year of grounding.

Last year, I didn’t have much time to pay attention to what was happening with the people in my life. And fortunate enough, it was a year where I didn’t really have to.

This year, now that my life is steady and I’m firmly rooted at home, at work, and even in my relationship, I can shift the attention towards the people and things in my life that actually need my full attention.

Two years ago, I had written about how one of my best friends was getting married. Well, this year, another one of my best friends is getting married and a decent amount of my time has been put aside towards making sure that my undivided attention was being placed on the events leading up to the big day.

In addition to that, I can also point out other major milestones my friends’ lives.

One friend gave birth to her first child, another friend is expecting her first child, two friends moved across the globe, another friend experienced the loss of a loved one, and the list goes on.

For me, I fell in love all over again.

It’s amazing the things that you can celebrate for others when you’re life doesn’t revolve around yourself.

It seems as though the years that I provide the least amount of time to others is when I am able to provide the most time to myself. Similarly, the years that I can provide the most amount of time to others is when I provide the least time to myself.

I’m thankful that I am finally grounded and able to be present for other people’s big moments. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to miss anything.

It’s funny how when we shift the focus away from ourselves, we’re able to witness other people’s joy, hurt, struggles, or big moments. When we take the attention off of ourselves, we’re able to give it to others. When we can’t give it to others, we need it for ourselves.

It always balances out and that’s the beauty of life. It’s one big balancing act.

A Reason to Run

One of the things that I find most incredible about being a runner is the unwavering support that comes from the running community. Through the years, it’s never ceased to amaze me of how much the running community truly gives back.

As a former employee of Runner’s World Magazine, I’ve had the honor of being directly involved with many large races, such as the New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, and many more, where I’ve had the pleasure of meeting dozens upon dozens of people who have a story to tell behind the reasons why they run.

For me personally, it’s always been something that I did just for myself, but when I’ve spoken to many others, it’s always been about so much more. It’s for a cause.

Aside from working at Runner’s World, I’ve also been a runner for nearly my entire life. I’ve ran enough 5K’s to lose count and eventually made my way up to long-distance races such as as half-marathons and full-marathons. It was only recently that I realized how many people ran for causes instead of just for fun. Those causes have been a pivotal driving force in the fruition of the thousands of non-profit organizations and non-profit races that are in existence today.

In complete honesty, running (especially long distance running) is not for the faint of heart. It’s a love-hate relationship that people often try to shy away from. Not everyone enjoys it or is motivated by the act of running alone, which is why running for a cause is a much more compelling reason to start.

I’ve had many friends and colleagues ask me suggestions for races to sign up for and I can recommend many that I’ve run, but I’ve always found that it’s more meaningful to sign up for races that actually hold a place close to your heart.

At the end of the day, after the miles are completed and you’ve proven to yourself that you can do it, you can pat yourself on the back and move on with your life. But knowing that you’ve ran those miles to affect change, to make a difference – That is something to show for.

And that is why I’d encourage anyone to become involved in running for a reason.

With Spring underway and half-marathon and marathon training right around the corner for the Fall season, try to see if you can find it in yourself to run for something that matters; or even just try to get more involved with a non-profit that means something to you.

For more ways to get involved, check out websites like Eventbrite.com for opportunities. They have great resources for fundraising.

The Golden Rule

Regardless of your ethnicity, your religion, the country you live in, or the language you speak, most people are familiar with the golden rule, which goes “Do unto others what you would have them do to you.” This verse is rooted from the bible, but still stands as a common law of morality across cultures. That’s because, as humans, we essentially want to be treated fairly.

Yet, why is it that this basic foundation of human nature tends to lack on a daily basis?

Wouldn’t you think that we all share the same feelings of wanting to be treated as human beings alike despite our differences?

Unfortunately, this tends to slip our minds with some people more often than others.

This past Thursday evening, I had the privilege of speaking to a class of college students from my Alma Mater, which was comprised mostly of Seniors who were graduating in only a few short months.

First, I began with introducing myself, giving them my background on how I graduated from the University five years ago, and then continued by explaining what I do for a living and how I got to this point since graduation.

After all was said and done, I gave them one piece of life advice, and it was this: Be kind to every single person you meet – Because you never know who that person is, where they came from, or how they could be a part of your life down the road.

Through the variety of experiences that I’ve had, I’ve learned that people will not always be kind or treat you fairly, but the best thing that you can do for someone is to simply show them kindness no matter the circumstance.

You never know how badly someone else could be struggling. Sometimes, we all just get too caught up in our own personal battles. Life gets hard and we all go through difficult times, but that doesn’t give anyone the excuse to treat someone poorly due to their own frustrations.

This past Friday evening, I was at a bar with my sister and our friend. At one point, we started having a conversation with the bartender, asking him what it’s like to constantly be serving people who really only care about ordering drinks, cutting loose, and getting drunk

He then began telling us a story about a guy who got upset just because he wasn’t able to order his drink from the bar since he was already seated at a table with his friends. The guy later proceeded to giving him a hard time because of this.

Immediately, I remembered what I had told those college students on Thursday evening.

If someone is treating you poorly, don’t let your first reaction be to throw it back in their face. If you do, the cycle will never end. Every tiny action has a ripple effect even if you don’t think it does. And the chain has to be broken at some point.

Be the one who starts it new and changes things.

One act of kindness will lead to another, which leads to another, which will ultimately make for a much better world down the road.

Long Strides

For someone who was, and still is, as impatient as me, I often find myself waiting. I find myself waiting for things to happen as if I already know something will happen soon. It’s like I’m always anticipating the next move.

But the thing about me is that sometimes, I don’t wait long enough. I wait just long enough until I can’t wait any longer and then I make my move. The irony is that my move usually happens just before a move is made by some other force of nature. It’s like I’m taking a half-step too soon or coming in a beat too early.

And that is my biggest downfall.

I wait, but speak to soon. I wait, but act too soon. I wait, but react too soon. I think it’s because I’m afraid that if I don’t, then nothing will happen.

I think it’s because I don’t trust that the stars will align as they rightfully should. But, as I have learned in the past, the stars have never let me down.

The biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life were due to my own impatience. My own pre-emptive actions. My unwillingness to wait just a little longer for a breakthrough. But lo and behold, that breakthrough always happen. I just end up taking a step forward and two steps back in the process.

When I look back at the past five years since I’ve graduated college, I feel as though I’ve come a long way, but still haven’t gone very far. And I know that I still have a long way to go, but that’s where my impatience kicks in. And I know that this continuous solo dance of one step forward and two steps back will just tire me in the long run.

One of my greatest fears is not fulfilling myself with the life that I dream of. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Actually, I know that I’m not alone in that.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” It seems like such a silly thing to be afraid of. But if you think about it, it really is a bit scary and slightly overwhelming to think that we are actually capable of the things that we set our mind to. It all just depends on our willingness to do what it takes to get there.

For me, I always thought that my preemptive actions were shortcuts, but they’re really detours. And the times where I have found the most peace and clarity was when I was able to really sit and think about what I wanted in life. Though I’m still figuring it out, the picture is much clearer now. I’ve learned that by taking fewer short quick steps, I’ve been able to take longer strides.