Aheli, of Aheli Wanders, is one of my dearest friends. You should all absolutely check out her blog and follow along as she travels the world and finds all the best meals both local (Brooklyn) and abroad (any and everywhere). Last week she was kind enough to let me wander with her, answering questions about travel and racing, as well as food, books, and dogs – basically all of my favorite things! While I will absolutely have her return the favor over here at some point, in the meantime I thought I would tell one of my favorite stories: How Aheli and I met, and the moment we knew we would be friends.


In Fall 2007, I studied abroad in Edinburgh. I had been looking forward to study abroad since before I even started college and I couldn’t wait to get off that plane and dive into a totally new experience.


My first night, I nonchalantly hung out in the hallway, ready to meet my new flatmates. I managed to find a group of girls, all standing in a circle talking about plans for the night. One of them asked if anyone planned on going to the Fresher’s Week pub night and I listened as everyone in the circle said no. As soon as it was my turn to speak I’m pretty sure I shouted YES, in typical loud, anything but subtle fashion. The only other girl going, the one who had originally asked, was Aheli and I instantly decided that she was going to be my friend.

I love telling this story with Aheli, because when you hear our individual internal monologues from the evening it’s even easier to truly understand why we are such a good friend match. Namely, we’re both ridiculous. While there was no way we were ever going to be anything but besties, both of us spent the evening second guessing everything and taking turns, not at all dramatically, thinking that omg this is my one shot at having a friend (…) and she already has an established group. WHAT NOW?

“Established group” being relative – we both knew other people in Edinburgh from our home universities, and we both exerted way too much energy trying to figure out what the other’s friend group dynamic was. It’s not even that having a group is a bad thing! Far from it, in fact! But another thing we discovered that we had in common was that we both wanted our study abroad experiences to be different than everyday life back home. The other students from my home university were great, but they were all people I could see anytime. Similarly, the people Aheli knew were all so kind and lovely – and we are actually all friends now! – but back then, I wanted to make sure I made the most of my four months in Scotland and I didn’t want to stick too close to people or things that were familiar – to me or to my new, definitely-going-to-be-my-best friend.

So anyway, we wandered over to the meeting place, in turn walking with other students from my university, other students from her university, a ton of students from our brand NEW university, and talking up a storm, realizing that we have an insane amount in common. Including, apparently, a need to not leave the bar until the party is completely over. Around the time the lights went on and people were making their way towards the door, Aheli and I realized that we had outlasted everyone else, and so the two of us began the trek back to the flat.

Except Aheli wasn’t actually staying at the flat. She had one more night booked in a hotel and so assuring me that it was “just over there” (it wasn’t) she wandered off into the night. I was a little skeptical about this, but realized that having just met her it would be creepy to tell her that this is how ripped from the headlines Law and Order episodes are born.

That would probably be a good enough “how we became friends” story, except the moment that solidified the friendship actually came the next day. I woke up still concerned that I had made a friend, and then sent her out alone into the night with all the drunks and monsters, so as soon as I managed to roll out of bed, I meandered down to her room to see if she had made it back ok. When she opened her door, I’m pretty sure I just went “Oh!”, pointed into her room, and then started quickly walking back down the hall gesturing at her to follow me. Against all reason, Aheli did, and when we got to my room, I flung open my door and just said “sheets!”

When I was getting myself ready to go to Scotland, my mom became fixated on the question of bedsheets. She was a bit nervous about my going abroad by myself and so channeled all her nerves into the idea that if I was only able to make my bed that first night, everything would be ok. As a result, she had me order the bedding package from the university; sheets, a duvet, and pillows would be packaged and waiting for me on arrival. But my mom was not going to leave anything to chance – what happened if there was a delay? A bedding shortage? A duvet heist? – and I didn’t have clean sheets waiting for me? WHAT THEN? So, she insisted that I also pack sheets in my checked luggage, just to have my bases (and bed) covered. “Fine,” I told her, completely out of patience with The Great Bedding Fiasco of 2007, “I’ll bring sheets. But I’m bringing the flamingo ones.”

When I looked into Aheli’s room that first morning in Scotland. I saw that she had also brought bed sheets with her. THE EXACT SAME FLAMINGO SHEETS. It would be one thing if we had both brought, say, pink sheets. But no – we both packed bedding that was green and white striped, with a pink flamingo overlay. And with that, we confirmed that we were absolutely kindred spirits, and have been friends ever since.

All thanks to absurdly wonderful flamingo sheets.






Oh right, I have a blog

I wrote this awhile ago, and it’s just been sitting around waiting to be published. So here we go: The long delayed recap of a couple of April 10ks.


Going into the Scottish 10k I had a list of goals. They were less about the numbers and more about running attitude and I’m pretty happy with how things turned out.

The primary goal I settled on was to try and keep a consistent pace, and I listed a couple of different paces I would be happy with. Apparently my legs misunderstood and/or ignored the part about consistency, and instead decided that they would hit every one of the potential paces. I’m not overly concerned since all paces were sub-8 (with a couple of 7:30s thrown in! At my ego’s request I’m not going to specifically address the elevation profile of those speedier miles…) and there was a lot to deal with on course: crowds, hills, and tired legs from a pretty legitimate week of workouts leading up to the race. Also, a couple of late nights catching up with one of my best friends and roommate for the weekend, 8.

Anyway. Goal 1: Not as “achieved” as it could have been, but I’m not going to call it a fail either.

My second goal was to tackle the hills without fear or crippling self doubt.  Swearing while running was ok, as long as I kept running. I definitely felt the hills more than I did at the Half, but I’m not sure if that was because we were running clockwise, or because my legs weren’t as fresh. But, while I didn’t love them, I didn’t completely hate them either. If nothing else, bagpipers were stationed at the top of most hills, so I could hear the tops getting closer and I was greeted by kilts at the summit. If only that was the case with all hills…

Goal 2: Success

The final goal was just to run happy. To get as close to that magical NYC Half runner’s high as I could. I definitely wasn’t as happy, but I was enjoying myself as I ran. I didn’t think I was over the top happy or anything, but in every picture of me, from both 8 and from the official photographers, I have the biggest smile.

Goal 3: Success!


Courtesy of 8

Overall, I’m happy with how the race went. I was mostly excited for it because of the Scottish theme, and NYRR did not disappoint. 8 and I got to the start with enough time to take advantage of the Scotland photo booth before working our way to the corrals. 8 wasn’t running, but graciously woke up and came with me to cheer, photograph, and hold my sweatshirt, because she is awesome. The race was a little bit frustrating in that it never really opened up, and felt crowded pretty much throughout, but so many people were dressed up and there are worse things than being crowded into a sea of tartan and kilts. As I said, my legs were tired, but not necessarily in a bad way. They were the kind of tired that happens after a good workout. Yes, it was frustrating not being able to run as fast as I know I can, but it was nice to be able to run as fast as I did.

Despite my happy running, by the time I rounded the last turn, I was definitely ready to be done. I still managed to muster up a little bit of leftover energy to sprint to the finish, cheered along by 8. I grabbed a French Toast bagel, found a sunny spot to watch the raffle and dancing at the finish festival for a little bit, and then made my way back to 8’s apartment. After brunch and a nap, I was awake and ready to get out and enjoy New York in a non-running sense, so I think I can put a check next to run/life balance for the weekend as well. Good times.


And I would walk 500 miles…

Obviously, this recap is delayed. When I first wrote it, I included more about my actual time, 48:46 and how all these ‘fast for me’ paces added up to a new PR. But then, I found out that this exists, and I couldn’t pass it up. A literary 10k? YES.


I have a love/hate relationship with James Joyce.


Dublin, 2007

As part of my Literature degree, I had to a take a ‘major figure’ class, a semester long in-depth look at a single author. I didn’t really know much about James Joyce, so I thought he’d be a good choice. I don’t know if it was the professor, who I didn’t love, or the fact that I spent college seemingly on a quest to be an English Major who didn’t actually read, but I came away liking James Joyce in theory, but not necessarily in practice.

Theory, as it turns out, can carry me for at least 6.2 miles. I crossed the finish line happy enough to want to pick up Finnegan’s Wake and dive right in. Powerful stuff, this running.

I can’t speak highly enough of this ‘ramble’. It started in 1984 when the race director likened running a race to slogging through Joyce. Today, actors line the course and read excerpts from Joyce’s works – a different book/story for each mile, finishing with The Dead. The course is pretty, if hilly in spots, but there were spectators all along the course, plenty of water, and supportive volunteers. The actors were great, popping up every time I needed a boost. The organizers had extra numbers printed due to a last minute surge in registrations and we reached course capacity, but I never felt crowded or like resources were spread thin.

The race started with a Boston tribute, and then the Masters runners were off. Three minutes later the rest of us made our way to the start. The weather was gorgeous – sunny, but not overly hot, and the course rolled through the town center and along pretty, very New England, tree lined streets. There were only two hills I’d consider big and they came close enough together, that they barely counted as separate.

I hadn’t planned to run this race. I found out about it three days before, and I didn’t do anything resembling taper or planning for it. I registered the day before the race. I decided not to race race, but to use it as a quick, fun run. But then I started running and despite having run hard throughout the week, I felt good, I felt fast, and I felt like I wanted to see what I could do, so I resurrected the goals from the Scotland Race and set off on round 2. My first mile came in a little too fast at around a 7:15, but it was also on a slight downhill. My pace evened out with the terrain, and I ended up settling into 7:30s. In the end, my average pace was 7:32.


I slowed down a little bit on the bigger hills, but not a lot. I had the advantage of going into the course blind. I had no idea how many hills there were or when they occurred, so I just pretended that each hill was the last one and I did a good job of taking them one at a time without psyching myself out. The gorgeous weather/scenery and literary excerpts definitely helped!

As for running happy, I definitely had that covered. It’s odd. I don’t have any strong feelings towards 10k as a distance, and I always (ya know, all three times) feel like I’m slogging along, and yet I look the happiest in pictures from my 10ks. This race was no exception. I look ridiculously happy in every picture and I crossed the finish line with a giant smile on my face.



I also crossed the finish line with a brand new PR: 46:47. That may have had something to do with the smile.

At the finish, they were handing out pasta, snacks, and Harpoon beer. I grabbed some food and found a nice sunny spot to sit in, basking in the sun and the good PR vibes.



It’s been a good year for PRs. I know at some point I’ll stop PR-ing in every race I run, but I’m ok with that. Right now I’m loving the fact that every PR I have is from an Irish/Irish themed race: St. Pat’s 5k, James Joyce 10k, NYC Half on St. Patrick’s Day, and the Dublin Marathon.

I’ve decided this means that I should just move to Ireland if I want to keep getting faster. Oh the sacrifices I’m willing to make…

My Week in Workouts

Monday (4/1) – 4 mile run, 90 minutes yoga

Tuesday – 35 minutes elliptical, 50 minutes spin

Wednesday – 2000 yard swim, 7 mile run

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Rest

Saturday – NYRR Scotland Run 10k (recap pending)

Sunday – Rest


A few thoughts about the week:

1. I’m just about back to what I would usually consider a “normal” week. This week will (hopefully) be about the same, and then next week I’ll start building on it. Time to get serious about this half ironman.*

...be daintier, Steph. Wow.

…be daintier, Steph. Wow.

*Admittedly the time to get serious was probably about two months ago. But I’m doing what I can with what I’ve got.

2. Another thing I want to get serious about is incorporating more speed work into my regular workouts. I’ve started easing in by treating my shortest run of the week, currently about 4 miles, as an interval workout. For now, that consists of me changing my pace on the treadmill every song, so song by song it looks something like: 7mph, 7.5mph, 7mph, 8mph, 7mph, 8.5mph, 7mph, 8mph, etc. I live in fear of the day my 12+ minute version of OAR’s Crazy Game of Poker comes on during an 8.5 segment. Fear with a side of excitement about how badass I’ll feel when I make it through.

3. I swear chlorine messes with me. One hour(ish) in the pool this week and I dressed for summer in 30 degree weather, forgot my shoes, and took the wrong exit on my regular commute. This is why I can’t judge a certain Olympic athlete who occasionally stumbles over language and is happy to tell the world what he would do in various life situations. If this is me after only 2000 yards, I can only imagine what would happen if I spent an Olympic level amount of time in a pool on a daily basis. I suspect it would not be pretty. Although I wouldn’t say no to the medals.

4. Boston is in less than a week. I’m in full on geek out mode. Anyone running? Spectating?

If you need me, I’ll be over here with my route map and cowbell.



DISCLAIMER: In case it’s not ridiculously clear, I’m not a coach, expert, doctor, or professional of any sort. I’m slowly figuring out what works for me in terms of triathlon training, speed work, and the time limit on being submerged in chlorinated water, but it’s a lot of trial and error. I’m sure I’m not working the most effective methods out there, but I guess I could be doing a lot worse. If you’re looking for advice on your own training, please don’t take anything I say as being backed by authority or expertise. Not that you would – I trust that y’all are smart – but worth mentioning, just the same.

Scotland Run 10k – Thoughts before the race

This weekend, I’m running the Scotland Run 10k in NYC, and I don’t know what to expect.


The original Scotland run: My first Half Marathon in Edinburgh.

Kidding, mostly. I know what I can do if I really push myself, and I know what I’d like to do in ideal conditions, but my weekend is action packed and while I’m ready and excited for the run, it’s not my main priority; It’s just one part of Scotland Week (which is actually A Thing. Who knew?). This definitely isn’t my ‘A’ race of the season, so I’m keeping my goals/expectations reasonable for the sake of a good run/life balance.

Anyway, my goals:

A. Consistent pacing (BONUS: negative split) – I ran my first (ahem, only…) 10k last year, and I raced that much like I did the St. Pat’s 5k. I went out hard, panicked, pulled way back, crashed, and then finished at the pace I probably should have been racing all along. So my goal for this race is to keep things more even, or as even as possible, considering the Central Park hills.

 B. Don’t be scared of the hills – I ran them three weeks ago and I can run them again. This time I’ll be going in the opposite direction (clockwise), which I hear might be harder, but I’m not letting myself think about that. Remember last time when I triple knotted my shoelaces and was ready to take on the world? Yeah, I’ll be rocking the triple knots again, with all the associated attitude.

C. Run happy – This mostly refers to not getting wrapped up in my own little world and staying out of my head. I want to be aware of what’s going on around me, so I can soak it all in. NYC is full of energy and a little bit magic, after all.

So those are the things I want to focus on this race. As for specific pacing, ideally I’d like to try for 7:30 miles. If that’s not happening, I’d settle for half marathon pace, sub 8s, or sub 8:06 (my pace for that last 10k). And if I can’t hit any of those? That’s fine too. My ego may not be the happiest with that, but the rest of me is fine with it. This weekend is definitely more about the people than the run itself, so I’m not going to miss out on things to rest, and I’m not going to kill myself on the course if I think it will knock me out for the rest of the weekend. This weekend I’m staying positive, setting goals, but also embracing the life outside the run. Balance, and all that.

Anyone else running the Scotland Run this weekend?