Sunday, November 19, 2017

"Hello? Excuse Me, Is There a FastPass to the Finish Line?"

Despite endless complaining about how 13.1 miles is after running the 10th Meia Maratona das Cataratas in Foz do Iguaçu, I still signed up for another one. I know, I know. Worst.

Approximately three-ish years ago, I sent a Facebook message to a friend saying that we HAD to complete a race at Disney World during Princess Weekend. At the time, I had no idea that I would actually end up moving to Florida, so it kind of seemed like one of those "Oh, we should do this sometime in the future, whether it be near or distant." and kind of left it at that.

Little did I know, I would actually become a Florida resident and my RunDisney dreams could come to fruition.

RunDisney offers approximately four race weekends throughout the course of the year and the Wine and Dine weekend was the first race weekend that took place after moving here. As soon as I knew that I was officially moving to Florida, I signed up. And since I was CrossFitting and running a lot at the time, I figured I could handle running the Two Course Challenge-- a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday.

Much like my last half, I completed these races with very little training, which is a bad habit that I need to break. Honestly, the worst part wasn't even the running, not for the 10K anyways. The worst part was waking up at 2am to get ready, drive to Disney, and wait for a race that started at 5:30. But luckily this is Disney and there was plenty to do while we were waiting-- character meet and greets, a DJ, crowd interviews, lip sync competitions, etc.

I got into my corral and soon we were off! The first part of the 10K was just down the highway, so it could have been pretty boring. But again, this is Disney. There was a marching band out playing for us, big screens set up with video clips and music, DJs, and more character meet and greets.

It was all downhill once we got to Disney's Hollywood Studios, though. Not literally speaking, of course. Sunset Blvd was all decorated for Christmas and since it was still dark out, the lights were all on. It was so pretty! There was so much music and holiday cheer and we were so close to the end-- it was a lot of fun. So much fun that I called Pops at 6am and wheezed out how freakin' fantastic it was.

After a quick jaunt through Hollywood Studios and a trip around the Boardwalk, we entered Epcot and the finish line was near! It was still dark, so there was a cauldron of fire lit in front of each country and it was just beautiful. I may have teared up a little bit-- sorry not sorry.

I may have also teared up a little bit when I crossed the finish line because I'd finally done a RunDisney race and it was awesome. And the medal was awesome. And I didn't feel like I was going to die.

After just one 10K, I made the bold statement that 10Ks are my favorite distance. At the 5K point of the race, I definitely had enough energy to keep going (thank god!) and I was glad that the race wasn't over yet. 10Ks are just far enough that you have to work, but not far enough to seem impossible. Not too much work that I couldn't go to Magic Kingdom to watch the Hoston Astros World Series Champs parade or to Animal Kingdom for a showing of the Festival of the Lion King, but enough work that I felt like I accomplished something in the morning.

Up next-- Wine and Dine Half Marathon!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

On a Scale of 1-10, I'm a 13.1

Holy Moses.

This past Sunday, June 4, 2017, I ran my first half marathon.

I'll let that sink in.


Remember how I decided to take up running because I was bored? (Seriously, why? Why didn't I take up sun bathing? Or gelato tasting? Or kitten cuddler? Why running?) In Decemeber-ish, maybe even January, I signed up for a couple of 5Ks, almost fell down the rabbit hole of ordering WAY too many virtual run medals, and then challenged myself to run one race each month. #12monthsofraces My intention was to stick to 5ks. Only 5Ks. Quick, easy, fun, done. 5Ks.

So how did I go from a lover of 5Ks to half marathoner in just six months? (Seriously, I don't even believe it when I say that out loud. Or in my head.) Honestly? Mostly stubbornness, pride, and the fact that I didn't want to lose the money I had already paid.

Despite constant searching, there were no 5Ks to be found in/ around Rio de Janeiro during the month of June. (Even though June/ July have the mildest weather here in Rio, so it seems like the perfect time for some races. But what do I know?) It would be hard to complete #12monthsofraces without a June race. So I looked around and somehow stumbled across the 10th Meia Maratona das Cataratas in Foz do Iguaçu. They were offering an 8K and a 21K race and while I would have been happier with the 8K race, I figured that if I was going to pay the money to fly out to Foz do Iguaçu, I was going to do the whole thing. All 21 stinkin' kilometers of it.

Unfortunately, I paid for the race, but then flights and hotel prices kept creepin' up and up. Upwards of $600 for both for the weekend. Which is a lot of money to pay for a race that I wasn't even sure I was going to like. So I kind of figured that was that. No half marathon, no June race, no #12monthsofraces. But then about two weeks before the race, I checked flight prices and hotel prices on a whim. It was about $200 for both, for the whole weekend. Sigh, fiiiiiiine. For $200, I could do it.

The next thing I knew, I had booked a hotel, a flight, and was officially 13 days away from completing my first half marathon.

At which point I had started to panic because I hadn't really been training due to injury, travels, and friends visiting me in Rio. I spent a couple of days running around the Lagoa and a couple more days running at the gym and the whole two weeks panicking.

Next thing I knew, May was over, June was here, and it was race freakin' weekend. On Saturday, I went to Marco das Três Fronteras, which is where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina all come together, to pick up my race kit. Unfortunately, I had a taxi driver waiting for me and the meter runs quickly in Iguaçu, so I didn't get to stay long. So that makes two trips to Marco das Três Fronteras and two times without actually seeing the monument.

My Saturday plan mostly included laying around in my hotel room and reading a book/ watching TV, but the TV was only in Portuguese, it was nice weather, and part of the race kit included free admission to Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, so I decided to leave my hotel room and head to the park. As always, it was so worth it.

Seriously, the falls are flippin' awesome. I would spend all day, every day at the falls, if I didn't have to have a job and such. It was also a little bit sunny and a lot a bit misty, which made for some killer rainbows all. freakin'. day.

Before, during, and after. 
All weekend, the weather was predicting 100% chance of thunderstorms for the entirety of the race. It was freakin' me out. I felt like I wasn't prepared, clothes wise, which was causing me far more anxiety than necessary. And despite telling myself to have little to no expectations, 3 hours of running through a thunderstorm was NOT how I envisioned my first half.

Luckily, it was all for naught, as it didn't even rain once single drop. Not once during the race, and only for about 3.5 seconds after I crossed the finish line. Thank goodness, too, because I had enough to deal with without the rain.

13.1 miles is NO JOKE. It's far as heck.

Foolishly, I'd only been training around the Lagoa or on a treadmill and not including any sort of hill workouts. Dumbbbbb because so much of this course was hills. Not major hills, I think there was only a 750 feet elevation gain throughout the entire course, but goodness gracious, we were going up and down those 750 feet the entire time.

It's just so beautiful.
The first 13K were completed outside of the park, and then, at the 8K mark, we entered the park and ran to the falls. I'll admit, it was gorgeous. And I definitely kept reminding myself to enjoy my surroundings, to look around, to soak it all in. I was doing my first half marathon in FOZ DO FREAKIN' IGUAÇU for cryin' out loud. I thought I was dying, but it was pretty amazing.

My goal was to run a sub-2:45 half and I DID. Which is something that I still cannot believe. This half marathon represents so much-- working hard(-ish) for something that I didn't think I would ever be capable of (or even want to do), pushing myself when I wanted to stop, traveling somewhere alone without meeting anyone on the other side.

I don't think that half marathons are going to become my distance of choice (have I mentioned how FAR 13.1 miles is?!), but I did it. And now I know that I can. And on a scale of 1-10, I can now say that I'm a 13.1.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cardio Is Hard-io: Part 2

Not only did I decide it was a good idea to start killin' it at the box three days a week, I decided that I was going to start running on the reg. New year, new me-- or something like that, amiright?

It started out innocently enough. It was November and I was feeling pretty homesick. I wanted something that was from the States. I needed something that was from the States. It might have been a randomly placed Facebook ad, it might have been a spam email, I don't know how the thought of the Cleveland Turkey Trot crossed my mind, but the fact is that it did. 

I looked at the website, figuring that was as far as this thought was going to go. I mean, I live in Brazil. It's pretty difficult to do a 5K in Cleveland from 5,000+ miles away, right? Wrong. The Cleveland Turkey Trot was also being offered virtually which essentially means that you pay the money and run the distance wherever you are around the world. 

So I paid the money, completed the distance, got the medal and the shirt, and haven't stopped signing up for races since.
"Cleveland" Turkey Trot 2016
After the Turkey Trot, I quickly found myself running in the Circuito das Estações: Verão, which was my first live race besides the Color Run I ran in San Pedro Sula, Honduras a few years back. It wasn't as easy as I would have liked, but I also didn't die. Which might not be the best criteria when talking about how much you like a hobby, but haters gonna hate. I do it for the medals anyways.

Circuito das Estações: Verão 2016
And since it's approximately ten thousand degrees with about 3429% humidity all day, every day in Hell de Janeiro, I joined the gym down the street so that I can run on the treadmill instead of outside.

Since then, I've completed a handful of other races. Which are really nothing to brag about, but yeah, I'm going to do it anyways. Waking up early on a Sunday morning is already a feat in itself.

February: Circuito do Sol- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
March: Circuito das Estações (Outono)- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

March: Athenas 6K- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

April: Serie Delta (Etapa EUA)- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
 I had poured water on myself, I wasn't that sweaty, okay?

April: Color Run- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

April: WRun 4K, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In following the example of my one my friends, I thought it would be a good idea to do "12 Months of Races". AKA, complete a 5K or higher each month for the year of 2017. I've done live races for the months of February, March, and April, and a virtual New Years run for the month of January. I don't know if a virtual run counts, but it's my challenge, so yeah, it counts.

....It's crazy the things that you get yourself into because you are bored and need something to do.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cardio Is Hard-io: Part 1

Guys, I did a thing.

As in, I signed up to join a CrossFit gym (or "box", as those in the CrossFit club call it) and have dragged myself there (almost) every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the past five or six months. Before joining the box, I couldn't even tell you the last time I set foot in a gym. I don't know if I have ever lifted a weight.

Now I do it regularly. And despite the words that come out of my mouth (I complain, a lot) and the expressions on my face, I actually enjoy it. 

On more than one occasion, I've conquered the rope climb. Once or twice, I've even done it without standing on a box to start out. I've had less success conquering the handstands and accompanying handstand push ups. Gonna chalk that lack of success up to psyching myself out, bending my elbows, and then bashing my head into the ground. 

This weekend marks the end of the CrossFit Open 2017. Basically, anyone throughout the entire world who does CrossFit can sign up to complete in the open. It's a five week long event with the winners going on to Regionals and then the games. Each Thursday the workout is announced, both the modified and unmodified versions. Everyone completes the same workout, submits their scores, and then you can see how you compare to everyone else, worldwide.

I'm not doing it for the ranking. I know that I'm not elite, nor will I ever be elite. I'm not the best in our box, I'm not even the best in our class. But throughout the Open, we encouraged each other and we pushed ourselves. PRs were set and new skills were attained. 

17.1, 17.2, 17.3, 17.4, and 17.5
It was hard and it was awful and Dave Castro is the spawn of Satan. In my extensive experience with working out, I've never gotten nervous before a work out before. I was nervous before every single Open workout. But it was also awesome. It was awesome to see what I would do, it was awesome to cheer on my friends. 

It's also over. Which might be the best part.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Two Years.

October 5 marked that time of year again. Not the time of year when all of Cleveland celebrates the fact that the Indians are AL Central champs, although that was happening and was fantastic and wonderful and one of the best times of my life.   

October 5 also marked two years of living life as a Carioca-- aka a person from Rio. 

Two. Years.

It's been two years filled with teaching math until I could do long division in my sleep and science until I could recite the Scientific Method on command. Two years of meeting and observations and birthday lunches and popsicles for desserts. It's also been two years of caipirinhas and weekends at the beach and sunsets at Arpoador.

It's been two years of ups and downs, smiles and tears. It's been two years of this wild and crazy Carioca life. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Indian Summer.

It's been almost a month and it still doesn't seem real. I still cannot look at any of these photos or watch any of these videos without getting goosebumps. 

The Cleveland Indians went to the World Series.

Let me say that again. The team that no one thought would amount to anything. The team voted "most disappointing team in the playoffs" swept the Red Sox to win the ALDS, held the Blue Jays to win the ALCS, and then took on the Chicago Cubs and their 108 year drought in the WORLD SERIES.

And, in the end, we lost. BUT WE WERE THERE.

Seriously. I used to pay $7 for tickets when I was in high school because it was one of the cheapest forms of entertainment in Northeastern Ohio. This year they were in the World Series. And I paid way more than $7 to see them play, but it was worth it.

I went to a couple of games while I was home in August, when playoff dreams were just close enough to start entertaining, but far enough away to not get our hopes up too much. (We are Cleveland fans, after all.) I even tweeted about how sad I was to be at the Jake for the last time until the 2017 season. 

At the end of October, I returned to Rio de Janeiro where I really got my money's worth of MLB.TV when I tuned in to the game almost every night. I watched the Magic Number get smaller and smaller and smaller. And then it happened-- our Magic Number was zero. 

We started talking more and more about the Cleveland Indians in class, and I had the students write good luck messages to the team on our whiteboard. Some favorites included "The Boston teams looks like a baby next to you, Cleveland Indians" and "For the hot dogs!" We might have been big fans of the hot dog races...

Each night, I stayed up waaaay past my bedtime (thank you, two hour time difference) and watched as the Indians were up 1-0, then 2-0, and then as they swept the Boston freakin' Red Sox. It was like a dream come true-- the Cleveland Indians were Central Division Champs

I'll admit, I kind of thought that's where things would end for us. We'd done so well, I figured that the other shoe just had to drop. 

Sweeter words have never been spoken.
But it didn't.  We went on to play the Toronto Blue Jays, and I spent all week receiving picture and video messages of the games from my best friend and brother.  At the end of the week, against all odds and circumstances, and a really unfortunate drone accident, we walked away ALDS champions. 

I think that I went to school with a smile on my face every day for two weeks. The Cleveland Indians, MY Cleveland Indians, were going to the World Series.

I watched Games One through Three on MLB TV and cheered alone in my room. And then I started making plans. I spontaneously bought an incredibly expensive ticket to be home to attend the watch parties for Games 5-7, although I secretly hoped we would have already crushed the Chicago Cubs by then. I didn't, and don't, regret a single penny spent on that ticket.

Upon boarding my flight home, I looked for a flight attendant who looked like they would know a thing or two about baseball and asked if there was a way for them to keep me posted on the score throughout the flight. He looked at me with a questioning look and asked "...What sport is the World Series for?" I had clearly chosen the wrong flight attendant. 

They weren't able to keep me updated, which is okay because I passed out cold for the entire flight and I woke up to at least 50 text messages from my friends and family telling me all about how Cleveland had killed the Cubs in a 7-2 game, how Kipnis hit a three-run homer at Wrigley Field, and how the Indians were up 3-1 in the WORLD SERIES. I couldn't wait to be home.

That night, my family and I bundled up and headed down to the stadium for the watch party. It was freezing, but it was worth it. After all, it's not every day that your team makes it to the World Series. The only thing that would have made it better would have been, you know, a win. But it was okay, the Indians were coming home to win it all in Cleveland.

Over the next few days, you could feel the excitement in Cleveland. It was everywhere. Everywhere I turned, someone was wearing a Tribe shirt. Every single cashier and I talked about how this year was our year and how we couldn't handle the stress of going to Game SevenCleveland felt so alive.

Obviously, Joey and I were unable to actually purchase tickets to watch the games from inside the stadium, but that didn't stop us from driving downtown and watching the game in the plaza next door. It was packed. It was crazy. It was the next best thing to actually being inside the stadium. 

 On the first night, we watched the Indians fall to the Cubs again. But it was okay. We were disappointed, but we still had Game 7. We could do this. Plus, we all had free Doritos Locos Tacos waiting for us at Taco Bell the following day, courtesy of Fransico Lindor and his stolen base.

Thanks Frankie, you da best. 
The next night, we headed downtown again. And again, like the night before, we stood in the plaza between the Jake and Q and cheered on our Tribe. We were bummed, and upset, when we were losing in the first. We shouted angry cheers when Joe Buck was shown on the screen. We all cheered Jose, Jose, Jose when my dude, JRam, was up to bat. There has never been a happier group of people than we were when Rajai Davis tied the game in the eighth. Strangers hugged each other. People cried. We were in it to win it. Lebron knows what's up.


In the end, the Cubs won. Their drought was over and ours lives on for another year.

For the next few days, Cleveland fans were met with many "who blew a 3-1 lead now" a la Golden State versus the Cavs. And, of course, we came back with a "Well, we were missing three of our best players and lost by one run in extra innings of Game 7, sooooo..." The fans took their lead from the players and the management, who must be some of the best in baseball. The players were proud of what they had done and they were disappointed in the loss, but they weren't angry. And, in turn, the fans weren't angry either. Not the real fans anyways. We shared in their disappointment and in their pride. We were all consoled, and even congratulated, by Cubs fans who recognized what it meant for Cleveland to be in the World Series and how hard of a fight we put up.

Cleveland against the world. Cleveland or no where. Cleveland that I love.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Stitch Fix #8: The One Used To Heal This Cleveland Indians Fan's Heart

Despite the fact that I'm really trying to watch my spending in able to achieve my 30 by 30 goal, I couldn't help but schedule another Stitch Fix while I was home to see the Cleveland Indians play in the World Series. Their unfortunate loss in Game 7 is the only explanation for why I look like I've never seen a hairbrush in any of the following photos.

I don't really need any new clothes, rather I need to use the clothes I have more efficiently, so, in my past few fixes, I have just told my stylist to surprise me and included a couple of items that I would love to own, if she came across them. Unfortunately, since I don't order fixes that often, it's harder to develop a "relationship" with a stylist who gets my style. Which is a tricky job because most of the time, I don't even know what my own style is. As a side note, I did have two great stylists in the past, but they are no longer working with Stitch Fix and that kind of breaks my heart.

Market & Spruce Bettey Lace Sleeve Pullover ($64)
The Decision: Keep

This sweater ended up being the only thing from my fix that I kept, but it's okay because I actually really love it. I haven't had a chance to wear it yet, due to it being summer in Brazil, but I cannot wait for the chance to wear it this Christmas. It's beautiful, warm, and not even scratchy!

BC Footwear Glow Caged Wedge ($70)
The Decision: Return

I need to cut my loses and stop requesting shoes in my fixes. I just haven't found a pair that I love yet. These ones are an odd color (for a shoe) and were still too big for my big feet. They were comfortable though, which is a plus when looking at wedge shoes.

41 Hawthorn Jace Embroidered Lace Dress ($68)
The Decision: Return

On paper, this dress is everything I could ever want. Blue, which is my color of choice. Fit and flare, which is my style of choice. Sleeveless, which is my cut of choice. Unfortunately, it wasn't long enough to wear while teaching and I don't really have any occasion to wear a dress like this for anything other than teaching. It was with a very heavy heart that I decided to send this back.

Alice Blue Rangel Henley Blouse ($54)
The Decision: Return

You know the grimace face Emoji? That's the fact I made when I peeked and saw this shirt. And then I made it again when I pulled it out of the box. It was really, really square. Like it was made for a child and not an adult. I also couldn't get my head through the neck hole without un-doing the buttons, but I could hardly get the buttons undone. I had to have my mom helped me, and even she struggled. I also hated the pattern, which at this point, was pretty much a non-issue. Sending this back was a no-brainer.

Renee C Wynne Knit Maxi Dress ($78)
The Decision: Return

A blue dress that I could wear teaching? Why WOULDN'T I keep this dress? Well, it came down to two things. One-- I looked pregnant while wearing it, which isn't a look that anyone who isn't pregnant strives for. Two-- the neckline made me feel like I was breast feeding. This dress was lovely and soft and all things good in a dress, but it made me feel both pregnant and breast feeding which is something that I'm trying to avoid at this point in my life.

So it wasn't a 5/5 and I didn't have either of my favorite stylists, but I still walked away with a gorgeous holiday sweater, so can I really complain? And the reality is that the less I spend now, the most I have to spend on all of the travels that I need to do within the next few years.

Stitch Fix #7: The One Where I Had To Address My Shopping Problem
Stitch Fix #6: The One Where My Stylist Left Me
Stitch Fix #4: The One That Arrived Just In Time For Christmas
Stitch Fix #3: The One That I Had Mailed to Ohio and Brought to Vegas
Stitch Fix #2: The One Where Details Matter
Stitch Fix #1: The One Where I Understood the Obsession