June 28, 2011

The Survival Race

This past Saturday I ‘competed’ in The Survival Race, a 5k with a bunch of different obstacles thrown in. I’m going to use the word ‘competed’ loosely, because let’s be honest, running is not my forte. Even so, I think that this was the first time I ever went on a run over three miles long and came out thinking, “Wow! That was a good time!”  

Karen, me, & Jess before the mud
Naturally, as soon as I saw that one of the guys running was dressed up as the old WWF wrestler Golddust , I knew I was going to be entertained. On the run I got a chance to talk to him and told him that my friend and I discussed wearing costumes, but the heat really outweighed the pro list for putting on such attire. He agreed he hadn't really thought that through. I saw him after he completed the race, looking hot and sticky with makeup smeared all down his face. Although honestly, hmmm… I guess I fit the same visual criteria after the race too; maybe I should have dressed up.

I think a big part of making my workouts fun involves keeping my mind actively engaged in what I’m doing. Since I sometimes have a hard time walking and chewing gum simultaneously, The Survival Race forced me to keep my focus on the muddy/hilly/sandy/hole-y ground. Oh, I also envisioned someone chasing me with a chain saw, you know, to make it a true Survival Race. Doing so completely kept my mind off of how much I hate running, whether or not my knees hurt, or thinking about the million things I like doing more than running (no offense to those real runners out there). I think it also helped that around every corner there was some little obstacle to keep me enthusiastic about what I was doing.
The first obstacle we encountered was this pit of mud we were supposed to trudge through. I saw some people running up on the sides of it trying not to get their sneakers dirty, but I immediately decided, “No Hill, you’re going right through it, you’re going to commit to getting dirty,” and I did. Naturally though, that mud stuck to my shoes like Glee on Lady Gaga. Mud isn’t so lightweight, but fortunately it hardened pretty quickly, crusted, and fell off throughout the race.
I continued the run, actually passed some people (cyber high-five), and shockingly finished as the second girl in our time slot (I did not get a medal though, WWWAAAAHHHH). There were definitely a couple things that I found more short(er)-person friendly. For example, we had to go through all these tunnels that were really low to the ground, crawl through bungee-chord created spider webs, and crawl under logs. I guess you could argue that I had an easier time climbing up the nets and jumping over the wall of fire (okay, so the wall of fire consisted of dura-flame logs that fueled about 4-inches of flame …on a good day), but still…I really like to complain. J. 
Karen, Jess, & me after the mud!
 Right at the end of the run there was this pit of mud, gravel, and water that we had to basically army-crawl through to go under these branches that were only a foot or so above the water. I came to this one branch which was particularly low, heard the crowd yelling at me to embrace it, held my breath and plunged. Thank God my friend waited until after the race to tell me that she was thinking of all the worms that were probably in that pit. I repeat, thank God. I don’t do worms.  

I got to donate my sneakers to the Crown Ministry Group after the race, which runs the GreenSneakers program for local charity; a really interesting cause.
Anyways, I had a good weekend; I got to do this race and spend a lot of time with my family and catch up on some much-needed rest.

À la prochaine!

June 22, 2011


This cow knows what I'm talking about...
I wish I was talking about fast breaks or defense here, but that's not the way this entry's going to go. Now that I’ve been home for well over a month, I’ve got to say that I’ve kind of been feeling a little out of place back here. There are definitely a number of habits that I’ve picked up while I was not in the good ol’ US of A.  For example, when I was in Switzerland ‘participating’ (and I use that term loosely, since French is still so incredibly foreign to me) in a conversation, my role was to listen; I would pay attention for whole conversations and not once give my feedback or input. By the time I left Switzerland I could really keep up with a conversation happening around me, but I still struggled to contribute. I would just listen, soak up what people were saying, and respond to myself in my mind. Guess what happens when I do that now, back home, where people actually speak my language…I’ll tell you! I come off as kind of a weirdo. When I’m talking to a friend, or anyone for that matter, I’m noticing that the people I’m listening to are wondering if I’m actually listening. Sometimes I get the impression that they think I’m judging what they’re saying because I just keep my mouth shut and don’t respond. I mean I am listening (usually!), but it’s just that sometimes I forget that I speak the language here and can actually respond.

On another note, I’ve also noticed that I’m having a hard time being around people for an extended period of time. Let’s be honest, I basically felt like I was in solitary confinement for the majority of my days (minus lunch and practice time). I was left by myself and whatever quirky thoughts were going through my head on any given day. When it came to space, I got to lay all of my stuff out in my apartment and organize everything the way I wanted to. I guess to put it bluntly, I was spoiled. I’m finding that now that I’m around people for extended periods of time, I’m a little more edgy when someone starts cramping my space or going about doing something in a way that seems bizarre to me. I’m constantly telling myself that although I like things done a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s the right way.
I think the best way to put this is just to say that I'm actually feeling  the effects of having been away for a while, which I wasn't entirely expecting. I mean, I re-organized my lifestyle to fit where I was, where even basic everyday tasks felt incredibly different. I have a feeling that I’ll be fully adjusted back to the American ways of things just in time to leave again.

June 2, 2011

It's T-Shirt Time!!!

This past weekend I headed down to Wildwood, NJ with one of my best friends (who helped give me the idea to write my blog, create it, and spice it up), Megan. On the car ride down she asked me how my blog was going and when I told her, "I signed off for the summer," she got really upset with me and told me, "that's not how it works." So, this blog post is dedicated to Megan for a) making me laugh all weekend, and b) reminding me that people enjoy hearing my awkward/crazy/competitive/[insert whatever adjective you want here] stories even if I am stationed in NJ for the summer. Plus, since there's only so much Hillary to go around, my Swiss teammates can get a little piece of my craziness while I am so far away from them =). Today, I'm officially signing 'back on.'
Unfortunately, I don't have as much time to write while I'm home, since I am working, training, and trying to see as many of my friends as possible. Even so, I can give you one anecdote from my weekend.

Each night while I was in Wildwood with Megan, her family and I sat down for dinner. Now, her family knows me pretty well, I've been visiting Wildwood at least once a summer for about five years now, although I have to admit that I'm still generally pretty quiet around them. This year, however, there was a new addition to the household: Pippy. 

Pippy & Chippie
Pippy is a Chiweenie. Pippy enjoys biting anything and everything, from fingers to flower heads, rocks, cigarette butts, and wood chips. Pippy doesn't like to let go of the things she bites. Pippy is very cute and lovable, but Pippy is not the only dog in Megan's family. Enter Chippie. Chippie is a 9-year-old chocolate lab, and probably my favorite dog of all time. Chippie is a trained therapy dog and nuzzles right up to your legs when she sees you. Chippie puts up with Pippy's tugging and nipping and playing like an incredibly patient older sibling, only lifting her lip every once in a while to show Pippy her teeth when she's getting out of control. 

After our last day and dinner in Wildwood I went around and said goodbyes and thank yous to my friend's family. Then came time to say goodbye to Chippie, at which point I started bawling. I can only imagine what Megan's family was thinking when I started crying after saying goodbye to their dog. It's a little bizarre when I think about the things that make me cry. Take, for example, when I got really attached to a stray cat down by school one year. I tried all year to coax the cat into letting me pet it, only succeeding in chasing it into Megan's house and watching it hiss at me. About a week before school ended that year, I saw a similar-looking cat on the side of the road and just lost it. I mean, I didn't know that cat, and Chippie isn't my dog, but I just love animals so much. It's good to have a friend like Megan though, who encourages me to laugh at myself when I become ridiculously overly-attached to things. 

That's all for now! Till next time...

Love you Chippie (and Pippy)!!!