Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Go(al)ing at it a little differently in 2016

For the last two years I have written a New Year's post about my goals for the upcoming year. I was always super excited to write that post and thrilled at the possibilities ahead of me for the year to come. However, this year is a little different because of where my head is at. I am demoralized. I am jaded. And I am just not that thrilled with where my life is at right now. Of all the goals that I wrote down last year, I really do not think I achieved any of them. And that sucks. To sit back and look at 2015 and not really be happy with much of it really sucks. I would have to say the highlight of the year was this summer when I was off from work and just traveling and enjoying myself with few cares. It was awesome. Why can't life be one giant long summer vacation? Oh yeah, because that's not real life. So with my actual real life, instead of making a bunch of goals this year that are mildly specific and ones that I may not reach, I have one goal for 2016, and that goal is to BE HAPPY.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Run Your 'Hood

I love activewear. It's no secret that I love wearing sweats and leggings all the damn time. If I was allowed to wear them to work everyday, I would. I wear them to work out, I shower, and then I put on clean activewear to do whatever it is I am going to do during the day. It's magical. People are always asking me "Are you on your way to the gym?" to which I have to reply with "No, this is just how I dress." I make no apologies for it. It's what I am most comfortable wearing and that's all that matters.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Today was a good day...

In the words of Ice Cube, "Today was a good day." It was a damn good Saturday, but I'm not that surprised, as most of my weekends are quite enjoyable. With Thanksgiving approaching and soon after that, winter break, I am thrilled to have some days off from work. This whole work 5-days a week doing something I don't enjoy anymore is not really my thing, but I'm making do. I'm trying not to dwell on the negative, because basically, that gets me nowhere except a one-way ticket to sadness and I've been experiencing too much of that lately. Everyday, I seem to go through the motions at work and just keep moving along. I look forward to days off and weekends like crazy and when I have them, I take full advantage doing things that I really enjoy doing. Today combined so many things I enjoy and in a time that I have been struggling tremendously, it was a day I needed. It was also a day where I had a smile plastered on my face for most of it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happiness is...

So yeah, my last post wasn't the pinnacle of positive. Heck, it wasn't even close. I know that. But I also know that I am not in a good head space right now, or as my mom said, I am in "a dark place." I don't know if I would go as far to call it "a dark place," but it certainly isn't a light one. I know reading that post made some people uncomfortable, but I won't apologize for how I feel or for putting it out there. It was personal, it was embarrassing, it was kind of sad, but it did make me feel a little better. And although my life isn't as I want it to be right now, I know it's not a bad life at all. Time will pass and I will eventually come out of this. And when I do, which will hopefully be sooner than later, I hope to be stronger and happier. 

So with that being said, here is a list of everyday things (and some not-so-everyday treats thrown in there) that make me happy, make me smile, and make me feel grateful. On any given day, I encounter, experience, eat/drink, etc... at least one of these, if not a couple of them, and that's pretty darn great. That fact is not lost on me. So for me, happiness is...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Real Talk

Not everyone is happy all the damn time, and if I am going to be super real right now (as I usually am), the past couple of weeks have been really hard for me; I have not been happy. Of course I have my little moments (yes plural) of happiness each day, but it just seems that I just can't get a string of them together. I can't seem to get a real win. Nothing seems to be going the way I want it to or feel it should be going with work, dating, running, and my overall self-image. Every time I think it's going to get better, it doesn't. Time and time again of failing, it gets demoralizing. I really want to get back to my happy-go-lucky self (which I know exists and is actually pretty great to be around), but every time I think I make headway, I seem to get knocked back down. Although it's usually something minor, it affects me. I want to be positive, see the silver-lining in things, and hope they will turn around, but it hasn't been happening. Every time I try and give whatever and whoever the benefit of the doubt, it doesn't work out for me. I figure if one thing doesn't happen for me, there is no way I could fail again. And again. But I do. What gives? I'm frustrated. I'm sad. And I'm really starting to lose faith that things will actually work in my favor all of these categories, let alone one.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Chicago 26.2: A recap of #10

Well ladies and gentlemen, I am officially a ten-time marathoner. I'm not gonna lie, that feels pretty great. But thats really the only thing that I am feeling good about right now. My body hurts and I'm pissed about my time. I know that being able to run 26.2 miles one time is a big deal, so ten is great, but this race was just not my race. Not even close. And I can't help but be super disappointed about this.

I had a very different mindset coming into this race than I did last year in Chicago. Last year I was aiming for a PR and walked away without it. (I can't even go back and think about that because it will make me cry.) This year, I knew that a PR wasn't going to happen and and pretty much had expected that. I knew I'd be okay if I finished this race under 4:45. With the feelings of perpetual leg fatigue most of training, putting on ten pounds out of nowhere (stop telling me its muscle from training cause its not), and the whole bladder issue, I knew this wasn't going to be my best race. I also however, did not expect it to be one of my worst. And that sucks. It really fucking sucks.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Big F*%$ing Deal

For the last 17 weeks, I have been training for the Chicago Marathon.

I've been training through the summer heat and humidity.

I've run through DC, Spain, Portugal, Prague, Chicago, Boston, and of course through NYC.

I've been eating lots of carbs (and everything else within a one millimeter vicinity).

I've been hydrating and sleeping excessively.

I've been wearing compression socks for countless hours.

I've been listening to some of the same songs over and over again.

I've drunk a ton of chocolate milk and watermelon juice and Nuun. 

I've been worrying.

I've been crying.

I've been training for a marathon.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Summer is Dunzo

Well, September has come and its almost gone and I didn't write one post this month. What the heck?!?! This is hasn't happened once since starting this blog and I'm not about to have it happen now. So, as I sit in the hospital during my Remicade treatment, why not write a post of what's been going on lately? Right?!?!?

I feel like a lot has been going on, but at the same time, very little has also been going on. Summer is officially over and that's fucking depressing. I really had such an incredible summer that, like every other teacher out there, I didn't want it to end. (I also am in severe denial that my tan is fading. Sigh.) So now that summer is dunzo, the school year is in full swing, and fall has begun, here's what's been going on with me...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Blogiversary Numero Cuatro!

Happy fourth anniversary to Someone Will Appreciate!!! Today this little blog of mine turned four and every time I have an anniversary for it, I am kind of shocked and excited. I know that not many people read my blog but I still really enjoy writing. It's a huge outlet for me. I obviously go through periods of writing a bunch and then not having anything really to discuss. I don't want to post just for the sake of posting, so when I do take the time to sit down and write (type), I feel like there is a reason behind it whether its to preserve a memory, act as a form of therapy, share information, or to just tell a funny story.

Monday, August 24, 2015

An Oasis Indeed

Last summer I did one of the most rewarding things of my life: I volunteered at CCFA's Camp Oasis. I vowed after being there that I would most definitely be back again this summer. Well, I just finished my second week there and once again, it ended up being being one of the highlights of my summer and something that really left an impression on me. (If you haven't read last summer's post, go quickly and read it. Seriously. NOW. Like, for real.) Even though nothing will compare to my first summer at Camp Oasis, this one was pretty fantastic for many of the same reasons, but also quite a few new ones. I knew what to expect as far as activities, I knew most of the people now, and I was a little more used to overnight camp living.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Current Dating Sitch: SUCKY

Almost all of my blog posts lately have had to do with travel because that's been a huge part of life lately. Along with running. And laying out in the sun. And going out. Yes me, going out lately. Who would have thunk it? After being an anti-social hermit pretty much all year due to my ridiculously hectic schedule, constant exhaustion, and let's be honest, a serious lack of desire to go out, I have actually been less rigid and more open-minded this summer and therefore have allowed myself to have some fun. And date a little too. (Mostly a little because I have barely been in NYC this summer.) This change usually happens with me in the summer and as soon as school starts, I morph back into my usual rigid, über disciplined self.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Two loves today: Campuses and Stadiums!!

On my last night in Boston I slept pretty decently, even with my ridiculously sore calves. I didn't set an alarm for this morning and actually slept until almost eight. I didn't want to waste a morning not running while here but also didn't want to force my legs when they are this sore. (I really don't remember a time they have been this tender and sore.) I have an 18-miler this weekend and need them to feel decent, dare I even say good. I've given up on them feeling fresh unless I totally sit still for a few days and that's nearly impossible. Anyway, I decided to do a walk/run along the Harbor and the water. It's something I've never done before and it was beautiful. The sky was blue (thank god!) and clear and I walked a bunch and then incorporated some running. I even passed the site of the Boston Tea Party which was pretty cool. I am embarrassed to say I recall nothing of this historically (when and why it happened) but I do know it was super important. So there's that. I also noticed there was a Legal Seafood ridiculously close which would have been nice to know Monday when I got here starving. But now I know. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Rain rain, go away!

Day two in Boston started with what else? A run! Duh. I slept like garbage last night and was up way before my alarm this morning because of it. My legs were sore, I was so hungry since I had eaten my linner around 4:30, and the news last night kept talking about the storms that were going to come through today and all the rain so of course I was stressed over that a bit. I knew if I woke up early, I'd hopefully get my run in before the storms. My alarm was set for 7:30 (super late for me) but when I got up at 6, I let myself lie in bed for a half hour before heading out. My plan was to run to Harvard and MIT and back. I wanted to run across the Charles River at least once this trip. I took Newbury street over to Mass Ave and made it to and over the bridge. I hit MIT around mile 3 and my legs were so heavy so I turned around and headed back to the hotel. I still had a solid run and did the route I had planned. The drizzle started around mile 4 but it felt good and kind of a relief. I stopped and picked up a fresh green juice on my way to the hotel and made my plan for the rest of the day. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Oh Hey, I'm in America

This summer really has been great so far with trips to DC, Chicago, and of course, Europe. And although I have traveled quite a bit, I wanted to fit in at least one more small trip so I decided to hit up Boston. Yes friends, it's #RayRayMiniBostonVacay!! I've been to Boston twice before and have done all the major tourist things but still know what a great city it is and wanted to return to do some of them again and to obviously experience some new stuff as well. 

I booked myself a cheap bus ticket on Megabus (just like with DC) and a not-so-cheap hotel room a couple of weeks ago and went on my merry way this morning. I arrived in Boston around 2:15 and walked immediately to my hotel to get settled in and study the map a bit. That took all of ten minutes and I was out the door ready to explore. My first stop, which was only one block away from the hotel was Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Of course this is a prime tourist destination and I had to hit it up because it's a must-see even though loaded with slow walking people. I was starving and knew that I wanted a lobster roll for my first meal here. Well that or fried clams. I was planning to eat both of those while in Boston but since my hotel was close to the North End I figured I'd go to Neptune Oyster for linner. I hadn't eaten lunch so knew I could eat a big meal and spend a bit more money on it. After all, a good lobster roll (or shall I say lobstah roll) doesn't come cheap. At 3:30 on a Monday, the wait for a seat at bar was 45 minutes. I couldn't believe it; I can't imagine what it's like at a normal meal hour. I was so hungry but wanted this and only this so I put my name down, gave them my phone number to call when a seat was available and headed out to kill time. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hmmmm...

I just finished my third trip of the summer and just like the other ones (DC and Europe), this one was fantastic. I just got back from eight days at home in Chicago and as I usually am, was so pumped to go there and then was so sad when I left. I feel like each time I come to Chicago lately I have a better time than the last. I don't know why exactly, but I do. I see old my friends and new ones, eat my favorite foods, relax at home, and explore the city. I just love it. I don't know if this is a sign to move back home or what but this is definitely something that crossed my mind A LOT this trip home.

I was in the city a lot this trip, not even doing anything remotely social, but mostly just enjoying what the city has to offer. None of it was really new to me, but it just made me think how if I lived here I could do it all the time and be totally happy doing so. Chicago is known as one of the best cities around in the summer and it sucks me in every time I'm here. #summertimechi is the real deal, folks.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A few more things...

I have now been back In NYC for a couple days after yet another incredible European trip. Traveling really fills with me with so much happiness. It brings me such joy to be able to see new things and experience different cultures. It's always eye-opening and simply unforgettable. 

Many of you have kept up with this blog (and my IG and FB) over the course of #RayRaysEuroVacay2 which I really appreciate, so thank you for that. I love talking about what I've seen and done and am happy to (over)share everything. There is so much to write about each day that sometimes, believe it or not, I don't cover everything happening! Quite a few people have asked me questions about my trip about things I didn't really write about or discuss here. After all was said and done, I guess they are still important too so I thought I'd address them here; if not for you, but for me too. Because after all, as I've said any times before, this blog is mostly for me for the memories, to vent, and get some of my thoughts out and put them from keyboard to blog post. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Europe (take 2) by the Numbers...

Well guys, another European vacation is in the books!! I can't believe its over already and I'm sad something I looked forward to for so long as now passed, but it was so phenomenal once again. Although my first trip to Europe was unforgettable and amazing, this one came in pretty darn close to that. You'll never forget your first, but seeing all new countries, cities, landscapes, buildings, etc... this time around was so amazing and also something I will never forget.

Everyday I went to bed totally exhausted, happy, and fulfilled.  And every morning I woke up excited, energetic, and ready to take on the day ahead of me. Since this no longer was my first time traveling abroad alone, although nervous, I felt more comfortable and confident exploring different countries on my own. Going with Insight for part of the trip (nine days of it) was also a good call again because I was able to cover so much more ground going from city to city and not worrying about how I was going to get there, where I was going to stay, and not having to get tickets or wait in lines at the very big tourist attractions. They covered that for us and I still got plenty of solo exploring time which was über important to me.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What are you looking at Swan?

Day 18 

Ah, my last full day of #RayRaysEuroVacay2 began with, what else? A run. I had to get one more of them in while in Europe and this one took me up and back over the Charles Bridge (of course) and around Old Town Square. Then it was back to the hotel to shower, eat, and head out for my Terezín concentration camp tour. 

Thankfully this time around it all worked out and I want able to go. On the bus I overheard a woman talking about Living Environment and I went back to sit by her and she was from Long Island and a special education teacher who pushed in a LE class. We briefly chatted about it and it was nice once again to speak with Americans, and about a something we have in common. There was also another couple from New York and the husband's mother lives in Northbrook and their niece went to U of I. Small world yet again. I talked to these four people most of the time during this five hour tour. Once the bus got going, I actually fell asleep and before I knew it, we had reached Terezín. When we got there, there was a huge cemetery out front with tombstones of those that died there. Some had names and some just had numbers. There were just so many. So sad. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Peacocks!!!

Day 17

Today started with another morning run. My destination was the John Lennon Wall to see it with no one else around so I could get a good panoramic. It was a great success and was so awesome to be the only person there. I took my time really looking at different parts of it up close and taking it all in and really appreciating it. I know I've said this before, but one of the things I love about early morning runs in big cities is that you get some of the best tourist attractions all to yourself. On the way back over the little love lock bridge, I noticed an awesome quote graffitied on it that I must have missed yesterday and on my way to the wall. It just made me so happy and put some extra pep in my very heavy step. My legs and feet have been sore the last couple days from all the running and walking and cobblestones, but I don't really want to slow down because there are so few days left and then I can rest all I want (well, minus turning up the marathon training). 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Finally some synagogues!!

Day 16

Even though I went to bed late last night, I still woke up before my alarm. Perhaps I was excited for my run and tour/plans for the day, or I am just getting use to six hours of sleep. I ran over to the river again and over the Charles Bridge which was much nicer without a million tourists, then parallel with the river to another bridge and went across and did this with two other bridges before running back to the hotel. When I got back to hotel, I showered and got dressed and headed down to eat. I said "Fuck it" to the dress today and threw on a pair of one of my new Under Armour shorts that I bought in Madrid with a tank top. Ahhhhhh. Comfort. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Czech Me Out

Day 15

I actually allowed myself to sleep in today because I was leaving and didn't really have time to do much. I woke up at 7:30 but forced myself back asleep until 9. After going to sleep a little after two in the morning last night I was hoping to sleep later but I think I was just anxious about moving on to the next and last part of this adventure. 

For breakfast I walked over to a café near my hotel and got a fresh juice with orange, kale, spinach, melon, and banana and a little bocadillo with ham and cheese. All of that only cost 3.75 euro too. At home the juice alone would easily have been $8. And it was absolutely delicious. The perfect little last Spanish breakfast. When I got back to the hotel I checked out and my car had arrived to take me the airport. I had a 2:00 flight and had the car get me at 11:00 just to be safe. I am so happy I pre-arranged all the transfers to the hotels and airports because it makes it less stressful getting a cab in a foreign country. When I got to the airport, which was enormous, and only took like 20 minutes to get too, I was so early that there was no one even at the counter so I plopped on the floor and just waited. I was at the airport almost as long as in the air on the actual flight. Figures. Security here seemed very lax as I only showed my passport when I checked in at the desk. Then to get into security, I just scanned my ticket at a security gate like they have at big business buildings with ID. My passport was not asked for again. I found that quite strange. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I heart Retiro Park!!

Day 14


Today was my last full day in Spain so I had to start it off when one last run here. I knew I wanted to hit up Retiro Park again at sunrise so I did just that. I didn't have to set an alarm this morning but I wanted to 1) see the sunrise again 2) beat the heat. I had another awesome, smile-filled run in the park and really think this is one of the best parks I have ever run in. It might take a close second to Central Park.

Post-run I didn't have to rush to do anything which was nice. I had a nice leisurely breakfast, washed my running clothes one last time (hopefully), and tried to figure out what to see today. I looked in my Spain travel book because I had seen everything on my checklist. I found one thing in there I wanted to see so decided perhaps I would go see the University if not too far. I went down the front desk to ask for some ideas with my map. Everything the front desk guy told me to see in the city I had seen. He was super impressed with all the ground I covered the last two days so he asked a colleague and she also said I had seen all the good stuff except one museum that I wasn't thrilled to go to and said the University was a train and bus ride away so I passed on that and decided I would explore Retiro Park a little more and then maybe do a little wandering and shopping. I could always just relax and lay in the sun in the park too. I soooo wish there was a beach here. Barcelona-1, Madrid-0 on that front. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Another Day, Another Palace...

Day 13

This morning was amazing again because I had another great run. My cousin had told me about Retiro Park and how she used to hang out there when she lived here. It was close to my hotel (yet I didn't find it yesterday) so I sought it out this morning (of course it was only three blocks away, but in the direction I didn't go yesterday) and it was awesome. It seems like the Central Park of Madrid. On the up and back on the loop (I didn't go all the way around because I wasn't sure if the distance, I got to see the Puerto de Alcalá (which I looked up when j got home). There were a ton of runners and paths and even a reservoir with a kick-ass sunrise. There I was again, running around like a grinning idiot, happy as a clam. I plan to go back tomorrow morning to run it again but I do want to research the paths more for the distances. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Holy Toledo!!!

Day 12

After a great nights sleep and a solid breakfast, it was time to hit the road. Instead of going directly to Madrid, we are going to Toledo first to see the city and then go on to Madrid. The last few days have had some respite from the heat wave but we are going right back into it today. 

On the way to Toledo, we made a stop to see the town of Ávila. This medieval city has ancient Romanesque walls that surround it. It was a pretty view and straight out of an old movie. After this, we made a quick stop to get something I've been so excited to eat here: Churros con Chocolate. I've had a churros or two at breakfast and they were great, but having the thick chocolate drink to dip them in took it up a notch. It was waaay too rich of a drink to have on its own, but just perfect to add more flavor and texture to the delish churros. I'm sure I'll have it again in my next three days in Madrid because YOLO. Then it was back on the road again heading to Toledo. Once there, we made a quick stop for a wonderful panoramic view of the entire city and to be super corny, "Holy Toledo", it was pretty. Hardee-har-hat. I couldn't resist saying it at least once. Everything is so old and made of stone, it's up on a hill with the the Tagus River below and surrounding it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ooooooh to Plaza Mayor

Day 11

Today is my half birthday and I have to say, right now 33 and a half feels pretty great!! I'm rolling on a whole eight hours of sleep from last night so there's that too. That's the most I've slept in one night since I've been in Europe this trip and it was needed. With an early morning wake-up to head back to Spain to Salamanca after a quick trip to Fatima, Portugal, it was great to get in early last night, just relax, and get a good nights rest.

I had never heard of the town of Fatima before this trip but it has major Catholic significance. On May 13 of 1917 and on every 13th of the months until October of that year the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mother of God) appeared to three children that lived there and gave them a message. This was considered to be a miracle in this town and people flocked there to hopefully get a glimpse themselves. It has since become a very holy and sacred place because of this. (This kind of story reminds me when people find images of Jesus on toast or a Dorito or something.) 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cristiano...Where are you?

Day 10


OMG, today started so incredibly. I had set my alarm for 5:45 because I wanted to catch the sunrise on the Tagus River on my run. I was so excited when I got up to get started. By 6:00 I was out the door and running down the Avendida de Liberdade. I ran through the empty streets to the Plaza into the pastel colored sky and was just in awe. I was smiling ear to ear the entire time. The sky was gorgeous with the water in one direction with the orange sun rising and I could see the Cristo Rei and the 25 de Abril bridge in the other direction. It was pure happiness and I just felt so grateful for this experience. When I got to the water, I started running parallel to it, watching the sun get higher and higher and just taking it all in. There was some really cool street art along the way and people stumbling out of clubs as well. I ended up running five miles total; the temp was perfect, the pace was great, and it was just such a fantastic start to my day. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Look out Lisbon!

Day 9


I had the best sleep of the trip last night; almost a whole 7 hours. Maybe it was the Bendryl or maybe it was sheer exhaustion, or a combo of both, but I welcome it. When I woke up, I packed up and headed down to breakfast. Usually I bring my phone or iPad with me while I eat, but today I didn't and just sat there alone eating (which I really don't mind) and then realized I was staring off into space, eating alone and was reminded of Steven Glansberg from Superbad and starting laughing out loud to myself. You know that scene in the cafeteria when Seth doesn't want to be left alone to eat dessert? Hope so. If not, YouTube it. It's funny.

Then it was on the road to Portugal. This was going to be a long ride, but we were going to gain and hour on the way (it's on the same time zone as London). After about an hour and a half into the drive, we stopped in the town of Jabùgo to see a Spanish ham factory. The best hams in all of Spain are made here, Salamanca, and in another small town in Spain. At this factory, which produces Iberian hams, we had to put on a sanitary gown and hat to protect our clothing from dripping oil from the hanging hams. Lovely. They showed us the process of how the hams are made and gave information on how they are cured and dried and everything. It smelled awful in there but was interesting. I love me some swine and have been eating ham almost every day so far so I may as well learn a little bit about it. There were also hams hanging everywhere. The entire time I kept thinking how much my brother would have enjoyed this; especially the samples at the end.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Another day, another Cathedral and Palace

Day 8

This morning began with my alarm clock going off with the sky still dark. I did this on purpose too. What's wrong with me? But since I was going to be in this hotel in Seville for two nights, I wanted to get a run in this morning. I got in a solid four miles at a consistent pace and the heat wasn't bad at all. When I came back, I quickly showered, inhaled some breakfast, and then it was time to hit the road to Plaza de España. On the way there we passed a lot of the buildings that belonged to other countries many years ago from the 1929 World's Fair that are all something else now. They are all architecturally unique to their countries which was neat to see. Once we got to the Plaza de España, (where part of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones was filmed. I've never seen it but was told that by the guide) which was Spain's pavilion in the fair we got to look around and wander a bit alone. It was a very cool space with four Venetian style bridges and curved hallways. I definitely enjoyed seeing this. It was gorgeous. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pretty, beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, etc...

Day 7

After a fantastic night in Granada, I had a hard time falling asleep last night. Going on like a solid five hours of sleep, it was time to get up and eat breakfast. I have decided breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day here. The Iberian ham, manchego cheese, bread, a churro, a Nutella (!!) pasty and fruit and fruit I ate was all delish. They even had the mini takeaway Nutellas at breakfast this morning, so of course, I took two for the road. Then it was on the road to Córdoba. After it being 100 degrees yesterday in Granada, it was supposed to be almost 115 there today (thankfully it didn't quite get there but was three digits again. Sigh). Sure, it's a dry heat, but damn, it's hot out! 

Of course I fell asleep a bit on the way to Córdoba and along the way we passed olive grove after olive grove. I missed some of the information on all of it because I was in and out of sleep but we made a pit stop at one of them that used to have a train station that is now a store. It had all kinds of olive oil products, almonds, and figs and other goodies and was cool to check out. I snuck off and walked on the grove and looked at the olives on the trees. I wish I liked olives, but i don't. They are gross. Period. I do however like olive oil and Kiehls Olive oil shampoo and conditioner. Totally related, I know. From there, our next stop was La Mezquita, the former mosque, now cathedral in Córdoba. This place, built in 1236, was enormous. Like so big! Inside were columns and columns (and columns) with marble and stone and the arches were amazing too. It was so big! Oh wait, did I say that already. Cause it was big!! This cathedral still has services everyday and is now owned by the Catholic Archdiocese. The pulpit (I think that's what it called) was also amazing. So much detail. So many colors and gold. Truly an incredible work of art. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Oh, I'm sorry, it's the Moops

Day 6

Another bright and early wake up call got me out of bed this morning. I have not been falling asleep until at least midnight here most likely due to excitement and the extra daylight. I don't mind so much right now, even with the early wake-up calls since I have time to nap on the bus. 

Breakfast was absolutely delicious. I had one of my favorite cheese, Manchego, which I forgot was Spanish (and hope to eat a lot more of), Spanish ham, potatoes, my first churros of the trip and some fruit. A nice big breakfast! You know what I haven't seen yet at breakfast? Nutella!! I thought it was everywhere in Europe; I mean it was last time I was here. I guess maybe it's not a as popular in Spain. I was counting on taking a a few on the road with me for when I get a little craving. After breakfast and a check on the news on my iPad, it was on the road to Granada to see the Alhambra, which apparently is the largest tourist attraction in all of Spain. Who knew? I had never heard of it before but decided to read up on it in my travel book on the way there.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I can cook!!

Day 5

This morning it was off to Valencia. My wake-up call was at 6:30 and it was tough getting up. I had another delicious breakfast and we hit the road. I almost promptly fell asleep on the bus and then we made a quick stop in the town of Tarragona to see the famous Pont de Diable (Devils Bridge) also known as Sant Bartomeu Bridge, which is an aqueduct that dates back to the first century. This Roman Era bridge is still standing strong and quite a piece of engineering. It was here I realized I had left my sunglasses in my other purse in my suitcase. Ugh. I was either going to have to squint all day or buy a new pair in town. New glasses it was. 

Our bus had WiFi on it which is awesome! I was able to catch up on the news and celeb gossip on my iPad and I also did some research on Valencia to know what I had to see. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

More Garlic Mayo!!

Day 4


Today my tour officially began, but before all that, I decided that I would run one more time in Barcelona. I set my alarm for 6:40 and was out in the street by 7:00. I just did a down and back on Ave. Diagonal and my first two miles were fast; under 9:00 minutes each. Then my legs really started feeling it and the last two were horrible but I got in my planned four. Since I will most likely missing my long training runs while here, it's important I get my short ones in if I can. Plus I like being out in the city before it wakes. One little surprise I didn't expect this morning was the site of...wait for it...a dick!!! Ahhhhh. That's right, I saw a Spanish penis. As I was running back the hotel, I passed a few people on the road, mostly others running or going for a walk. I then passed and a young man with a backpack. His fly was wide open and his penis was just flopping in and out of it. I looked in horror and then began giggling as I ran. WTF? I could not believe what I just saw. Was he airing that sucker out? Did he not feel the breeze on his weiner? Was that on purpose? OMG. I have seen few homeless or crazy people here so I don't know what the deal was with that guy, but it definitely was a surprise ending to my run. Eeeek. 

After my run, I quickly showered and headed down to breakfast. There was a good spread and they even had champagne as well as fresh peach juice for bellinis and orange juice  for mimosas. So fancy. There was also a full salad bar. Odd. I passed on all of that but got tons of fresh fruit, probably one of the best croissants I've ever had and some not good eggs and bacon. European bacon is not American bacon and yet I try it every time and am disappointed. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Life's a Beach

Day 3

After finally getting some decent sleep last night, I was going to use today as a "chill" day. I fell asleep a little after midnight last night, woke up wide awake around 4 and finally fell back asleep at 5:30 to finally wake up at 10:00 to my alarm. I probably could have kept sleeping if not for that alarm but I didn't want to waste a day, even if it is a relaxing day. I never sleep that late on vacation (or in my real life) but I think my body needed it. I laid in bed for about a half hour then promptly got dressed, inhaled a Kind bar and headed out to the beach. Luckily, to my surprise actually, I had two drawstring backpacks in my suitcase that I didn't know we're in there but were perfect to take with me to the beach. I didn't have to be back for anything all day until welcome drinks at seven at my hotel. I actually got see who is going to be in my tour group for the next nine days today. (More on that later.) I have had mixed feelings about being in a group (just like last time) but it's not for a long time and I don't have to worry about transportation to all the other cities in Spain I wanted to see, arranging hotels there, and organizing separate private tours. 

I took the train directly to the beach and claimed my spot in the sand. I was hoping it wouldn't be as crowded as it was yesterday but no luck, it is the weekend after all. The beach is very nice, clean, and free. And easily accessible as well. I wish this was the case in NYC, but no such luck. Blah. As I was on the beach I heard some American wish another a happy Fourth of July and I totally had forgotten today was the fourth because it's clearly not a holiday here. But I do guess it was only fitting I hit the beach today because, 'Merica. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

From Sunrise to Sunset

Day 2

Today started running (literally) on VERY little sleep. I fell asleep last night a little after nine then was up again around 11 and didn't fall back asleep until almost 2:30 in the morning only to have my alarm go off at 5:10 for my sunrise running tour. I think the lack of sleep was part jet-lag (which I am having a big issue with) and part excitement for today. I guess it goes with the territory and I accept that. 

I got dressed bright and early and hopped in a cab to Plaça Catalunya in the center of the city. I didn't want to take the Metro for my first time that early in the morning. When I got to the Plaça Catalunya I immediately spotted my running guide (Luca) with his backpack and Go Pro ready. It was just me and him for our run which was a nice surprise. (FYI I booked this tour a couple weeks ago and it's called Go!Running Tours Barcelona.) I'm glad it wasn't a group; it gave it a way more personal touch. Doing a running tour is something I had never done before and I was excited to see what it would be like. We immediately got going because I told him I wanted to see the sunrise over the Sea. He ran at a little faster pace than I am use to but that was fine for the push. We first ran down Las Ramblas which was almost empty minus the people coming home from the clubs. I love having some of the most touristy places of big cities virtually to myself on early morning runs. It's a cool feeling. We then made our way past the Christopher Columbus statue and down the the water, which is where I wanted to run so badly! We saw the sunrise over the Mediiterrean Sea and it was beautiful. Although kind of cloudy, I am so glad I got to see it. Throughout the entire run Luca was snapping pics with the GoPro which was cool and although I've never taken a good running picture in my life, maybe one of these will turn out acceptable. (They were all emailed to me to keep!) We made our way past a lot of places I saw on the bus yesterday (Port Olímpic, Port Vell, La Barcenoleta, Olympic Village) and saw a bunch of places I didn't see, like the Zoo, the Cathedral of Barcelona and The Waterfall in Citadel Park which was absolutely beautiful. And without other people around, it makes it that much more awesome. We then made our way around tiny side streets of the city which made me feel like I was back in Italy. It had a very Roman and Venetian feel and was so cool. I never would have navigated that myself. He showed me so much and was very knowledgable. All in all, we covered about 7 miles at probably a 9 minute mile. Fast for me. But good for me. And informative. Win-win. There were picture stops along the way from both him and I and I thoroughly enjoyed this tour. Although expensive, I hate not doing stuff on vacation because of cost (to a certain degree) because who knows when you will be back again. Throughout the entire run I imagined how much my mother would have enjoyed doing it this as well. 


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bienvenidos a BarTHelona

Day 1

And we're off! #RayRaysEuroVacay2 is underway!  First stop: BarTHelona. I've been here one day only and am already working with the Spanish lisp that so many Spaniards use. Look at me immersing myself in the culture so quickly. I'm a natural. Yeth, yeth I am!! 

My flight out of Newark to Barcelona was last night. Of course, as almost all of my flights go, this one was delayed a bit. We were supposed to take off at 7:15 but didn't end off taking off until 8:15. I had already taken my Tylenol PM at 6:45 to ensure I'd get some sleep on the flight so was ready to get in the air. I was able to watch Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and Broad City (!!!) on the flight before falling asleep on and off a bunch and we finally landed in Barcelona at 9:00 am local time (3:00 am NYC time). They are six hours ahead of New York so I had the entire day ahead of me on just like 3-4 hours of sleep. Ugh. Because of this I was definitely anticipating a lot of jet lag but had to get out there and explore Barcelona immediately. I knew I could (and would) go to bed early tonight because I had to be up super early the next day for my sunrise running tour. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

DC Day 2: Giving me A HUGE travel bug

So Day two of #rayraysDCweekendgetaway is done. Boo. But yay to a fantastic weekend!! After many margaritas and Coronas last night, my stomach was not too happy with me this morning. At all. I woke up at 6 and decided that I would try and fall back asleep and rehydrate some more before going on my run. After the tornado warning last night (yes, that happened here), I was relieved to see the sun shining this morning. Unfortunately the high temps and humidity were both still around. Finally around 8:30, I got out of bed, drank some Vitamin Water and got ready for my run. This is much later than I would ever go for a run in this heat, but it was my last chance here so I had to do it. I wasn't sure how my legs would feel after putting in about 20 miles on them yesterday but they felt great! I was pleasantly surprised by this. I had five miles on the training plan for today so I started out heading up to the Capitol.  Going there, I realized how much closer I was than I thought. Apparently I took the very long way yesterday which made it seem super far when in reality it was literally like eight minutes away. From there I headed down Constitution Ave again past many of the Smithsonian museums and headed straight to the National Mall again. I had to see the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial one more time! I made my way there, took some pics, and then headed to the White House again, because I just had to. When in Rome, right?!?! I could smell the Tequila sweating out of me but felt great afterwards. During this run I also had that feeling of utter happiness and gratefulness for my love of running. It allows me to see so much more on my feet wherever I go. It's a pretty cool thing!! 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

DC: Hot Temps and Hotter Security

This weekend I decided to treat myself to a mini, pre-#rayrayseurovacay2; I went on, shall we say #rayraysDCweekendgetaway. I just love making hashtags for these. #sorrynotsorry. But anyway, there was no specific reason I went except that I wanted to. With all the traveling I did last summer on #rayrayspacNWvacay I had racked up enough credit with hotels.com to earn a free nights stay in any hotel in the US up to $250 a night. Pretty sweet, right? Well, the offer expired July 17 and since I'll be in Europe then, I had to act on this before then if I wanted to use it. I thought about using it on a staycation in NYC but quickly decided against that. I figured it was only right to spend money to save money (as so many of us do) so I was going to use this and make a fun weekend of it. The only decision now was choosing between Boston and DC and find a weekend with no race or event. Well, this weekend was the only one, and DC it was. I've been watching a ridiculous amount of Scandal lately on Netflix so seeing all the beautiful the DC scenery made my decision super easy. Olivia Pope, I was coming for a visit. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

You know I'm a runner because...

Today is National Running Day! Yes, this is a real holiday for us runners so Happy National Running Day to you and yours. Last year on this day I wrote about all the reasons that I run and what running gives to me but this year I am going to write about all the characteristics that I possess that gives me a away as a runner.

Sometimes I feel weird calling myself a "runner" because I am not very fast or built like a runner at all; however, I get out there and run 5 days a week and compete in races so yes, I am a runner. And believe me, if you saw my closets and drawers (and shoe collection) you would know this all to be true. So how does one know I am a runner? They know I'm a runner because...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

3 Cheers for 11 years!

Today marks my 11th Anniversary of me living in New York City. Wooooooot. Seriously, eleven years here. It's amazing to me that I have lived here this long and NYC is the place I now call my home. This is especially crazy when I still get moments, quite often actually, where I have to pinch myself because I feel so lucky and grateful to live here.

I officially became a New Yorker last year when I hit the ten year mark. Even though I caught on pretty quickly on how to survive and succeed here, myself of any of my family members expected me to still be out here after all this time. But, I love this city. The architecture. The food. The opportunities. The pace. The energy. There is just something special about New York. Some people can't handle it, but I think I thrive on it and feed off it. It just suits me. As much as I love Chicago and my family there, New York has a hold on me and a very special place in my heart.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

I know, I know...I haven't written lately. Some of you care. Some of you don't even notice. Either way, it's cool. Part of the reason I haven't posted was because nothing too exciting has gone on worth an entire post. Part of it was a little bit of writers block. And part of it was that I wasn't totally sure anyone really found it interesting what has been happening. But then I realized that I don't really care if other people read this or not, or care or not because ultimately, this blog is for me. It's for me to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life. And when I look back on these in a few weeks, months, or even years, I can remember what happened, how I felt, and how it shaped me even more.

The end of April and beginning of May has had its ups and downs as usual so here it goes...

Friday, April 10, 2015

An Active Spring Break

I am currently on Spring Break and this break was beyond overdo. Although I am nowhere warm and tropical, a week off work is just what I needed. Work has been hellish and I want to cry everyday I go in there and it sucks feeling that way. I feel overworked and under appreciated and I just don't want to be there anymore. This year has been incredibly overwhelming and stressful with all my roles and responsibilities and I these days off are just what the doctor ordered. I went home to Chicago for this break to just hang out and see my family and relax.

More and more it seems that the more time I get off from work, even on the weekends, the more and more I realize what it is I love doing: and that is working out. I know it sounds super lame, but I seriously have such great days when they consist of a great run or group fitness class, whether its SoulCycle or something else. Challenging myself in these classes and getting out and being active makes me ridiculously happy.  It gives me not only a sense of accomplishment but its fun for me.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

It's over.

Well, today marked the last day of the basketball season for me. As long and exhausting as it has been, I didn't want it to end. Basketball is one of my great loves and will always be. Getting re-involved with it at such a competitive level this year again was invigorating. And fun. Besides my running, this gave me a purpose. So needless to say, I wasn't ready for it to end, and certainly not this way. We lost in the championship game this afternoon by four points. As I continue to wipe the tears from eyes, I know that I will eventually get over this in a few days, but for now, I am really sad.

At the end of October, I held my first basketball tryouts. It was kind of surreal but I felt I was a natural. I had played basketball for such a long time and have such a passion for it, I was psyched (and terrified) for the season. I came in with high expectations for this season, but wasn't totally sure that winning the city championship was a realistic goal. I wasn't totally confident in the skills of all the girls. As the season went on, I realized two things: 1) I had underestimated the girls tremendously. They were much better than I had originally given them credit for. And 2) The idea of winning a championship could definitely become a reality.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lately...

I know I have been kind of MIA lately but life has been so hectic. A lot has been going on and my mind has been racing and my body has been moving. It's been hard to slow down for a second and really write. Nothing specific has really happened that has inspired me to write a post but since so much has been happening, I thought I'd kind of put it out there what I've been doing and what I've been into.

In the last month, I still have been living the usual life of working out, work, basketball, sleep, repeat. Of course there is eating in there (you can trust me on that), but that's about it.  I have time for the occasional errands and TV (duh!!) but not much else because in the little down time I get, I try to get just lay around alone to maintain my sanity. It's amazing though how you can be around people literally all day and then want some alone time, but then be lonely. But it's true because it happens to me every day.

All in all though, I can't really complain that much of my recent coming and goings, but here's the recent scoop of what's new. Here's what's been happening lately...

1) I discovered Broad City. Ummm where has this show been all my life? I don't know why it took me so long to find my absolute new favorite TV show, but this is it. Broad City is the shit. My parents bought Amazon Prime when it went on sale a few weeks ago and I got access to the account, naturally. I then ordered the Amazon Fire stick, and vóila, this was on there. I had heard about it a few times in passing but didn't really know what it was about. But as soon as I started it, I couldn't stop. It was freaking hilarious. Abbi and Ilana are my spirit animals and we need to be friends. They are too fucking funny. Seriously, if you haven't seen this show, start now. I am now all caught up with real time and it sucks having to wait a week in between episodes. #firstworldproblems

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Times Have Certainly Changed..

I have been teaching now for ten years. Many of my freshman students this year were born in 1999 or 2000. I was a senior in high school myself when they were born. (If I had made some unwise decisions that year, these could literally be my children.) They are so young. Or wait, perhaps I am so old. Ugh. But regardless, I forget how much times have changed since I was in high school. My students are definitely living in a very different high school world than I lived in.

The other day in class I mentioned dial-up internet to them and no one had a clue exactly what that even meant. I had to go on to explain to them what it was and how it worked. They looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language and couldn't even imagine what I was talking about. They don't realize how good they have it now with wi-fi and smartphones and iPods and everything else that goes along with it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lots of Firsts and Lots of Fun

Intense. Competitive. Animated. Loud. Sensitive. All words used to describe me as an athlete and now, as a coach. As our regular season of basketball begins to wind down and the playoff hunt is about to begin, I really can't believe all that this season has held. There have been many ups, and very few downs, thankfully, but all the new experiences I have gained from my first year coaching basketball have been educational and so much freaking fun. There have been so many firsts for me, and I still can't believe I am head coach of a girls varsity basketball team. It just seems so grown up. So serious. So awesome. But I guess that's me these days.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sunrise Sensations

I am a morning person. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed ready to take on the day ahead of me. I do my workouts early in the morning before work starts and its the best way to start my day. I find that on days that I don't workout, I am actually not as awake and personable as my usual charming self. I need those morning endorphins to get me going. I really believe they make me a better person.

Running has allowed me to explore places of this city, and others that I wouldn't necessarily have gotten to see. Whenever I am on vacation I like to go for my morning runs and explore places (with map and phone in hand) that I may not have a chance to see otherwise. I feel that I have gotten to see so much more of some cities, especially on my Europe vacation and even last summer to the Pacific Northwest, because of my passion for running.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Perfect Lazy Day

I thought after running two marathons, life would slow down and I wouldn't be perpetually exhausted. Turns out I was wrong. At the end of October, post-Chicago Marathon, but still pre-NYC Marathon, I finished coaching bowling and started coaching basketball. It was something I was beyond excited for and literally couldn't wait to begin. Now that the season is in full swing and playoffs are approaching, I am so tired. All the damn time. Practice or games every single day, and now on weekends. I mean, I knew it would be this big of a time commitment, but I didn't realize how much energy it would take and how overwhelmed I would feel. This season is draining me. (But at least I am having so much fun doing it.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drool.

I was reading the internet today and checking my Instagram and Facebook feeds, like I do every day, multiple times a day, and randomly came across a number of new foods just recently released and in stores already or are coming out very shortly. It seemed like every other thing I was seeing online today was about food. I usually notice this kind of stuff when I'm starving, but this time, it was just so odd that I kept seeing food. New stuff coming out. Re-releases of old favorites. And everything looked pretty damn good. And of course pretty much all of what I saw is loaded with sugar and fat. Naturally. Drool.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Super Spin Songs!!

About two years ago I got my certification to become a spin instructor. I was enjoying taking spin classes so much, I wanted to be able to teach them. I am high energy and enthusiastic so combine this with my love for spinning, I thought it would be great. I couldn't audition for SoulCycle or Flywheel because I didn't have enough experience or the time to make it my full time job which those two studios pretty much require. So the next best thing was to audition at local gyms in hopes of getting a class there. I ended up getting a gig at Boom! Fitness, a local gym in my neighborhood as well as in Murray Hill and got on their sub list. When I finally taught my first class, it was amazing! I loved every second of it. Was I really getting paid to do something I love? To encourage and motivate others to get in shape and get a great workout? To actually earn money while exercising? It was crazy how great it was.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

IG So Me.


Insta. IG. The Gram. Whatever you might call it, Instagram is the shit. I love it. I mean, who doesn't? I'm not gonna lie, when it first came out, I totally didn't get it. I was like "What's the point of just posting a picture?" It just didn't make sense to me. But now, I get it. I totally get it. And I really, really like it. I like posting my own pics. And I like looking at other people's pics.

I don't follow a ridiculous amount of people on Instagram. I follow a bunch of friends, some random Chicago and NYC scenery and food accounts, some workout and inspirational accounts, and then some humor accounts. (Surprisingly enough I follow very few celebrities. And of those, not surprisingly enough most of them are either reality stars of athletes. The reason I don't follow many celebrities is that many of them post waaaay too often and its them posting selflies and/or advertising some product they clearly don't use but are being paid to pretend to use. (For the record I totally hate-follow Kim Kardashian. She's sucks. I cringe at everything she posts, but won't unfollow her.  I realize I am the problem with our shameful society and one of the reasons she is the most followed celeb on Instagram, but I am not at the point of unfollow yet. And I stress yet. Ugh, she's seriously the worst.)