Currently…

…absolutely loving Barley’s aggressive morning snuggles

missing vacation something fierce…it’s been a rough re-entry at work

Lookout Mountain

spending my work days listening to all the 90s punk that got me through my thesis in college

binge listening to old episodes of The Lively Show podcast on my commute and runs – SO GOOD

trying to get back to a regular workout routine now that my knee is healed

nearing the end of the full series of Friends…it’s almost embarrassing how quickly I’ve made it through all ten seasons

plotting future adventures (is that even worth listing? Am I not always doing this?)

getting excited about a birthday girls night with my besties

struggling with the changing seasons and shorter days

enjoying the return of fall TV

Currently…

Crocuses on the Greenway, Boston MA

falling in love with swimming.

struggling to break my Soda Saga/Cookie Jam addiction.

avoiding my to do lists so I can enjoy the warmer, sunnier weather.

resisting the urge to register for every road race someone brings to my attention.

feeling like a sucker when I register for every other athletic/fitness event that a friend brings to my attention. 

working (slowly) on organizing and backing up my digital photo library.

listening to podcasts while I slog through my work day.

The Cat Empire @ Royale, Boston MA

coming down from the high of an amazing The Cat Empire show a few nights ago.

waiting impatiently for the magnolias and cherry blossoms to show their faces so that it will really feel like spring.

A Monotonous Life List

A Monotonous Life List | My Monotonous Life

This photo has nothing to do with this post, but I like to give you guys something to look at besides a wall of text. I spent part of my afternoon yesterday volunteering with coworkers to plant the Memorial Day Flag Garden on Boston Common. It’s a really beautiful thing to see, and we had pretty perfect weather yesterday. The event/display is organized by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, and we had so many volunteers (from my company and plenty of others) yesterday that we planted 37,000 flags in just about two and a half hours!

Anyway, that wasn’t actually why I’m posting. I’m obviously a list maker (hence my seasonal lists!) so it only makes sense that I’ve got a life list hidden somewhere, right? Well, it’s hidden no more! Go ahead and look up, and you’ll find a new page with my life list on it. You better believe I also have a spreadsheet in my Google Docs so I can keep track of a few of those items, too.  If you’re observant, you’ll also notice that some of those life list items creep onto my seasonal lists…slowly but surely, I’ll get through it all!

Who else has a life list? What’s on it?!

Year in Running: 2013

I promise you this blog isn’t turning into all-running-all-the-time, but since I do spend a lot of time running, you have to deal with hearing about it periodically. I came across this survey on a few blogs that I read and really liked the idea of sitting down to figure out how I would answer, so here you go: my year in running.

  • Best race experience? Falmouth, hands down. Falmouth was totally unexpected – I didn’t even attempt to get a number in the lottery, but a got a bib through a friend of a friend who works for the race organizer. I was super nervous about this race because, at seven miles, it was the longest distance I’ve ever raced. The course is known to have a number of challenging hills. It’s also in August, on Cape Cod when humidity and heat are an Year in Running: 2013 | My Monotonous Lifeincredibly real threat, and those are my least ideal running conditions (they guarantee a post-race migraine). Oh, and at 13,000 runners, it’s the largest race I’ve ever run, which means all kinds of crazy logistics….but it’s Falmouth! Falmouth is a “bucket list” race for runners from around the world, and I was lucky enough to have a bib fall into my lap, so there was no backing out. I planned to run with the friend who had finagled me a bib, and as she was coming off a back injury our plan was to just take it easy. We dubbed it a “seven mile party on the run”, and that’s exactly what we did (with heaps of goofy race photos to prove it!). We zigged and zagged across the street and PRed in running under hoses and sprinklers. We high-fived every little kid we saw with an outstretched hand. We sang along to the music being played by both live bands and folks with huge speaker set-ups on the sidelines (the crowd support for this race is, with no hyperbole, legendary). We laughed a lot, and we ran my slowest race ever, and it was AWESOME. Before Pete and I had even driven out of Falmouth to head home after the race, I was plotting to buy a house there in order to guarantee me a race bib every year (donations towards this goal are accepted and earn you visiting rights). Runners up: Firefighters 10k and Edaville Rain Run – Pete’s first race!

Year in Running: 2013 | My Monotonous Life

  • Best run? Running in the Hamptons in March. Pete and Mark went on ahead of me and I had a tough, exhausting run that ended up including a lot of walking. Despite that, it was also a beautiful run through a state park and with a stretch along the beach, and maybe I spent part of that run worried that I was lost and never going to find Pete and Mark again and so would die in the woods….but it’s definitely the first run that comes to mind when I think of great runs this year. Runners up: my Philly run in October, running the Tan in Melbourne with Ros,  and (surprisingly) my super hilly training runs for Falmouth.Year in Running: 2013 | My Monotonous Life
  • Best new piece of gear? I’m not a huge gear person (at least I don’t think I am?), but I finally bought a pair of insulated running tights in an effort to do more running this winter than I did last winter, and I la-la-love them. I’m waiting to find another pair on super-sale to snatch up, because I would like to own a pair for every day of the week.
  • Best piece of running advice you received? I’m really not sure how to answer this one, because there isn’t one specific thing that I heard or read that clicked and changed things. I guess the best advice (that I didn’t get from anyone in particular but had the biggest impact on my running this year) was to really embrace strength training – and to do it consistently. The impact on my running was huge! I set PRs in every distance I race in numerous times this year (10k in April and again October, 5 miler in May and again in November, 5k in August). I’ve also been more comfortable running for longer distances than I have been since I was running three seasons of track in high school. The impact on my life wasn’t exactly small, either! My goal this year was simply to get strong, but I was hoping that “get strong” would lead to “get back to my pre-desk job weight”…I’m not there (yet?), but I did lose six stubborn pounds and I am back at my pre-desk job clothing size despite the extra few pounds. I dropped ~3% body fat, too. The mental perks have been great, and I picked up a bunch of bootcamp buddies along the way.
  • Most inspirational runner? This is hard! I am ridiculously lucky to have a lot of inspiring running friends. One of them survived three months in a coma, came out of it barely able to walkYear in Running: 2013 | My Monotonous Life, and is now running half marathons on the regular…and has taught me to appreciate every. freaking. day. (even a bad day is a good day) and every. freaking. run (even a bad run is a good run). One of them survived cancer as a child and is winning age-group medals at races. One of them has dropped heaps of weight and came out of it with a truly inspiring attitude. One of them set amazing goals and wasn’t afraid to talk honestly about the struggles of training and the disappointment of not reaching a goal, yet never gave up. Sorry! I can’t pick just one.
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? PR city! Strong. SO MUCH FUN.

And last, but not least, here’s the recap from my race tracker spreadsheet for 2013…two races left before I’m done for the year (fun ones! Girls Night Out this weekend and the Ugly Sweater Run the following).

Year in Running: 2013 | My Monotonous Life

Mt Washington

A few notes…this is long overdue! I haven’t blogged since July, because I’ve been busy having fun. But this was too awesome not to blog about, so let’s travel back in time! Also, you should grab a beverage or a snack, this is going to be a long one.

Long before it started to feel like summer around here, I was thinking about what I was going to put on my Summer 2013 To Do List (which I never shared here, please forgive me). I can’t remember what first inspired the idea, but hiking Mt Washington in New Hampshire was at the very top of that list. I didn’t know if Pete would be interested, but I knew my friend Mark would be – Mark is an avid hiker and probably the person most responsible for my realization, about six years ago, that I love to hike. Most importantly, Mark is a “yes guy”. As in:

Sarah: Hey, I’m thinking about doing this crazy/random/adventurous/weird thing…you interested?

Mark: YES, of course.

I knew that all I needed to do to make Mt Washington happen was to plant the seed of thought in Mark’s head, so at some point a few months back I mentioned to him in passing that it was on my Summer To Do List….and Mark said YES!  And then our friend Erica said “HELL YES!”. And that is how this came about:

7.18.2013_Mt Wash_22

Much like my trip to Melbourne, there are heaps of photos (see all of them here) and I could tell you stories about our trip for hours, but I’m going to (try to) spare you and take the “things I don’t want to forget” approach:

  • We stopped for gas and snacks just after getting off of Route 3 in the White Mountains, at a podunk general store. We were so focused on trying to decide what exactly we each wanted to snack on, that it took us a while to notice that the photos plastered all over the wall? They were 8.5×11 printouts of pro-gun slogans/photos/memes. Covering Every. Inch. of wall space that wasn’t dedicated to displaying product.  This is one of the signs that was just next to the door.
  • We decided to drive to NH on Wednesday after work and stay overnight about fifteen minutes from the base of the mountain, so that we could get an early start without having to get up before dawn. We got to the hotel around 10:30 and as we were checking in we asked if the pool was still open. The kid checking us in pretty quickly replied “no”, so I asked what the pool hours were, knowing it was unlikely that it would be open before we were planning to leave the next morning, but figuring it was worth checking. That’s when our young friend backtracked a bit…”well, technically it’s open until eleven, but you won’t have enough time.” CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, young sir! It took us less than ten minutes to finish checking in, get to our room, change into bathing suits, and get ourselves to the pool. And then we enjoyed twenty glorious minutes of swimming and splashing and hot tubbing, before someone came to clean up and close down the pool. Erica and I are pretty convinced that if we had hidden Mark somewhere, we could have flirted and convinced the kid to let us stay longer.

7.18.2013_Mt Wash_24

  • It is so surreal at the summit! You have this grueling three hour hike, scrambling up boulders and picking your way through boulder fields…and then there are all these cars and people in flip flops drinking Starbucks iced coffees all over the place! And full on civilization. We were shopping at the gift shop! We had cell service! We mailed postcards! We bought lunch at a cafeteria! You launch straight back out of the wilderness (on trails where death is not that small of a possibility) and back into civilization with the snap of your fingers…and then you hop back on a trail and it’s gone again in a few minutes.
  • Trail names! We had Bruiser (surprisingly, not my trail name!), Frenchy, and Cai (that one’s me) to start…we added “Rob”, Viagra, and He Who Has No Trail Name after making friends at Lakes of the Clouds.
  • Speaking of making friends – that was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip! Lakes is a hut run by the Appalachian Mountain Club that is around 1,000 ft below the summit of Mt Washington. And it’s amazing. They feed you a crazy delicious family style dinner and breakfast, have bunk rooms (with mattress and pillow provided), and bathrooms with cold running water. The bunk rooms sleep between 10-15 people per room, I think – ours had 5 sets of triple bunks. And ours was, obviously, where all the cool kids were. We LOVED the people we met in our bunk room and had tons of fun getting to know them, generally harassing them by giving them trail names they didn’t want (I don’t know why he’s not proud to be Viagra!), and forcing them into playing crazy eights with us past lights out (or “poor man’s Uno”, as our new English friend Rob – trail name “Rob” – dubbed it).

7.18.2013_Mt Wash_41

  • Post-hike swimming (in the lakes for which Lakes of the Clouds hut is named). It started with just soaking our feet in the cold water. Then Mark went in wearing his boxers. Then Erica was convinced to go in wearing her tank top and underwear. Then I was convinced to go in wearing my capris and sports bra (and heart rate monitor…oops! No worries – it still works). It was pretty awesome, despite how cold the water was. Later, while playing crazy eights, we were talking about our respective swims and Rob commented “I felt like that swim really put hair on my chest. Like I could actually feel it growing when I jumped in” and I was all “Oh my God! ME TOO!” ;)

7.18.2013_Mt Wash Swim_4

  • We made friends on the trails, too – I love that it’s so natural in that environment. When you’re all bumping into each other hiking around a mountain, it seems like everyone is super nice and ready to chat. We met Joanna, who was participating in Seek the Peek, along Lions Head Trail on our way up. She and I chatted for a while as we picked our way through the boulder fields – about the mountain, hiking, and how lucky she is to live with the White Mountains in her backyard. Then we ran into her again at the summit – she’s the one that took the first photo in this post! On our second day, we bumped into two parents looking for their kids. We chatted with them about what trails they were hiking and what we were doing and then went on our way. We ran into them again later, after they had reunited with their kids (who aren’t really kids – they’re in college) and were chatting again. As we were heading past them, their daughter looked at Erica and I and said “hey, it’s the crazy eights girls”. Maybe we were a little rowdy?
  • This conversation highlighting my complete lack of US History knowledge:

Erica: “Pierce – was he a president?”

Sarah: “If it wasn’t on West Wing, I don’t know!”

  • Fog, fog, fog. You guys, there was so. much. fog. While I love getting to the top of a mountain and seeing the sweeping views you are rewarded with…there’s something pretty awesome about hiking in the fog, too. It’s eerie and awesome and gross and beautiful all at once.

7.18.2013_Mt Wash_47