2013 - traveled, volunteered, ran, graduated, & grieved
I traveled to the depths of Jamaica in January 2013 where I lived as one of the every day Jamaicans in this third world country. I was there on a volunteer trip but I got a lifetime of experiences in a short week. I took freezing cold showers, ate my first ever coconut, learned that garlic takes the itching out of bug bites, learned how to play dominoes and cricket, swam in a natural pool with unknown depths in a Jamaican cave, taught some of the most amazing and beautiful children in a local primary school, played soccer on the beach, & jumped off a 40 foot cliff into the ocean. Being somewhere like this makes you feel grateful for the every day luxuries such as great education systems and running hot water that we have here.
In March 2013, I traveled to three beautiful cities in Italy. This trip was a difficult one to get through after finding out 2 days into the trip that my best friend passed away tragically in a car accident back in the United States. However, being in Italy with some amazing college friends was helpful throughout the week. While in Italy, I ate the most amazing pasta dishes, drank the most delicious wine, saw a 6 Nations rugby match in Rome's Olympic stadium, saw the new Pope's very FIRST EVER Sunday blessing, saw the beautiful sights of Florence, gave a presentation to a university in Milan, and saw the AC Milan facility. I even got to see the beautiful view of The Alps on the flight home.
1st Half Marathon - Pittsburgh
In May 2013, I completed my first half marathon in honor of my best friend, Courtney Miller, who passed away on March 16, 2013. It was an amazing feeling to cross the finish line knowing that all of my hard work and dedication had truly been worth it!
In May 2013, I also graduated from Slippery Rock University with my Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training. It was a difficult last few months of school to get through; however, I still managed to graduate with honors! I couldn't have completed this milestone without the support of my friends and family.
2nd Half Marathon - Columbus
In October 2013, I ran my 2nd half marathon for the Nationwide Children's Hospital. I ran with the same 2 girls who completed the Pittsburgh Half Marathon with me in May. Each one of us ran for a cause and someone we loved. This race was very important to me because of it's location. The only times I had ever been to Columbus was to visit Courtney. She was an Ohio State University buckeye. Being in the city that she had lived in for the past 4 years, I knew that I needed to finish this race stronger than ever for her!
I knew on race day that this run would be difficult to finish because of my exhaustion from grieving. I had stopped training almost 5 weeks before the race due to my lack of motivation. Yet, I showed up at the starting line with an open mind to finish even if I had to walk.
Little did I know how inspiring the race was. At each mile marker there was a child who was/is a patient that Nationwide Children's Hospital helped standing and cheering on runners. Seeing the smile on each child's face was a push to strive a little farther on the 13.1 mile run. In which I did, I ended up finishing the race, I never quit running and... I got my personal best time.
2014 - Big Plans, Bright Future
Looking back at 2013, you could say that I did some pretty amazing things and have been to some pretty amazing places. It was a very difficult year for me grieving the loss of Courtney. I know that Courtney will forever be a part of my life's journey and that her memory will ALWAYS be a daily thought of mine. I'm dedicating myself to make 2014 a better year and to find a happier, healthier me. I was recently accepted into Youngstown State University's Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. In May, I will be starting this new chapter of my life to become a DPT as well as competing in my 3rd half marathon. However, before I begin this journey I want to cross something off my bucket list - which is to take a road trip across the United States. Winning the $250 grand prize from Tackk will definitely be helpful in making this dream come true!