Tag Archives: sports

Adventures in Exercise: Open-Water Swimming

I am hoping that next year I’ll start posting more regularly. But for now, I’m going to post about some things that happened this year that I never blogged about when they happened.

One item that’s been on my bucket list for years has been doing an open-water swim, so I made it my mission to do it in 2016. I’d heard about the James Doty Memorial Mile Swim, down on the beach in Southie, so after spending several weeks swimming at the gym in the morning whenever I could, one Saturday in June I went down to the beach and signed up. They gave me a bathing cap with a number on it and wrote the number on my arm.

At the beginning, I had some doubts about whether I could keep doing it, but as I kept going, I felt better and better. We started off all pretty close together, but at one point we were so spread out that I couldn’t see anyone else and started to worry that I’d gotten lost. And then, 33 minutes after I started, it was over! That wouldn’t be a great time for me in the pool, but I’ll cut myself some slack since it was the first time I’d swum in open water. And since it was a nice day in June, the water wasn’t that cold once I started moving!

The whole event was incredibly well-run but also very low-key. They explained everything to us before we started, including that it was very safe and that the only sea creatures we were likely to encounter were a type of jellyfish that doesn’t sting. Everyone I talked to was incredibly nice, and they had food for us afterwards.

One reason I wanted to do an open-water swim is  in preparation for doing a triathlon next year. I’m making that one of my 2017 goals. The only challenges I’d foreseen in doing a sprint triathlon were that I will need to do some major work to be ready for the bike part (that’s still true) and that I’d need to learn how to handle swimming in open water. Now I’ve got that down!


Maybe I’m a Runner Now

Two weeks ago, I ran half-marathon number five. It was my best half marathon, both in terms of my time and in terms of how I felt. Here’s why this one was different.


I’ve posted about how miserable and lonely I was this summer in the aftermath of the fire. Early in the summer, I was making an attempt to eat healthier and exercise, but I abandoned that completely as the apartment situation got more and more depressing. It’s a cruel irony that you need healthy living the most when life is hardest, which is also when it’s hardest to do it. I stopped paying attention to eating healthy and ate a lot of crap, and I couldn’t force myself to exercise. One day, when I was particularly down and it was good running weather, I tried to get up and out of the house to run. I made it a total of two blocks.


I haven’t weighed myself in a long time, but I know I gained weight. A lot of my clothes weren’t fitting me right, and when I saw pictures of myself taken in July, I burst into tears. I looked hideous, and much heavier than I should be.


So when things calmed down, I signed up for the Bay State Half Marathon, the same one I did last year. I’d come so close to breaking two hours before, and I felt like I was really capable of it now.


While this was my fifth half-marathon, the training for it felt different from any of the others. Before, I often felt like I had to force myself to get up and run. This time, I got into a good routine and was actually looking forward to my runs. I think it helped that I started my new job a few weeks into the training—having a new routine in general helped me fit in a new running routine. I started using MyFitnessPal more consistently and keeping better track of what I ate.


When I set that goal of breaking two hours, I’d thought that I would barely make it. Instead, while I was running, I looked at my watch at one point to see how I was doing and thought, “Wow…you totally have this!” I ended up finishing in 1:54:56—ten minutes faster than last year. The weather undoubtedly helped (it was nice and cool that morning), but I’m still thrilled with my time.

Half Marathon 2015

I’ve never really gotten the “runner’s high” that I hear people talk about, but during this training, I had way more runs where I felt great afterwards than runs where I felt lousy. I still haven’t weighed myself, so I don’t know if I actually lost weight, but I certainly feel better, and definitely more motivated to keep working out. When I first started getting into half-marathons, I blogged about how I still didn’t think of myself as “a runner.”

Well…it took a while, but I think now, maybe I do.

Update on Life

A lot’s been happening with me recently, and I thought I’d take a minute to recount it here.


If I’m being honest, I have to admit that lately I’ve felt really, really lonely. It seems like it’s been weeks since I had a real, honest conversation with someone.


So for now, I’ll write about some of the good things that have been happening.


First, I bought a car!


Even though I’m thirty, this is actually the first car I’ve ever owned. I had a car as a teenager, but it was only “mine” for a year, since it became my sister’s after I went to college. I also don’t really enjoy driving and don’t need to drive to get to most places I need to go. But sometimes I do need to get out of the city and I was sick of depending on other people for rides. So now I have this car! I mostly just drive to chorus every week and I drove to Marblehead a few weeks ago to meet my cousin’s cute new baby. But it’s nice having the option to drive places if I have to.


Second, I finished my fourth half-marathon!

bay state half marathon

Even writing that is weird. How did I become the kind of person who does four half-marathons? I still do not think of myself as a runner. I’m not an athlete and I’m actually kind of lazy about exercise most of the time. And yet…I just did this fourth half-marathon (the Bay State Half Marathon in Lowell) and got a really good time for me. This is a really flat course (there’s a marathon at the same time, and since it’s so flat, people use it to qualify for Boston- even their advertisements say so) and the weather was perfect and autumn-y, so that’s part of where the good time came from. But I also just feel faster, and while it might be awhile before I do another half, I kind of want to try again and maybe break two hours. It feels possible!


Third, I’ve had a couple of fun experiences at book signings lately. The first one was with none other than Neil Patrick Harris! He was doing a signing of his new memoir at Brookline Booksmith, so I got a ticket. None of my friends ended up going, but I made friends with the people around me in line. (Although two of them, who actually ended up being pretty cool once I talked to them, started off their time in line having this really graphic conversation about how someone they knew had an infection and I was dying to say, “Guys, I JUST ATE.”) They were hurrying everyone through the HUGE line as quickly as they could, so there wasn’t time to take a picture with him, but my new line-friends and I took each other’s pictures and sent them to each other.


I had all these things I was going to say to NPH, like, “Congratulations on the Oscars! Are you going for a hosting EGOT?” (They’d just announced the day before that he was going to be the Oscar host.) Or, “Will you sing ‘The Confrontation’ with me?” But they all flew out of my head and I just ended up saying something like, “Thank you for being here!” and that I liked what I’d read of the book while standing in line. So I don’t think I left much of an impression on NPH, but I’m glad I went.


The other book signing experience was last weekend at the Boston Book Festival. You remember my post about the book series I loved as a kid? Well, I was really excited when I learned that Ann M. Martin, the creator of The Baby-Sitters Club, would be there. So of course I went to her panel and got her autograph and a picture with her afterwards! Ten-year-old Katie is so jealous of thirty-year-old Katie. (I met some cool people in that line, too. Lots of interesting people to meet at book signings.)


I always try to do NaNoWriMo and never succeed. I do have a new idea this year, though, so we’ll see how I do. Some writing completed is always better than nothing, after all. You can friend me there if you want—purebrightfire is my name there.


And happy belated Halloween!


This Is our F***ing City

I know I’m a week late on this, but I could not let the occasion of the Red Sox winning the World Series pass by without commenting on it here.

Here’s me after the Sox won in 2004 for the first time in eighty-six years:

I’d just bought the hat that day. It had dawned on me that I didn’t have a Sox hat and I wanted to be wearing one if the Sox won the World Series that night.

And I was wearing it in 2007, and again last week.

The rest of Boston sports I can take or leave (and I still kind of dislike the Patriots), but I love the Red Sox. It’s funny, but I strongly associate the Sox with me creating this blog. I distinctly remember that right around when I started this blog, I was really worried about Jon Lester, who’d just been diagnosed with cancer. Seven years later, he’s been cured, has won the World Series twice, and mostly been a pretty awesome pitcher.

I can’t believe that after such a long drought, we’ve now won three World Series in nine years. And I was thinking how all three wins followed a disappointing year- 2004 was after the disastrous Aaron Boone ALCS of 2003, 2007 was after a year where the Sox fell apart in August and September (right when I started this blog), and this year, it followed the worst year for the Sox in recent memory. Worst to first feels pretty good.

There’s been a lot written about how this championship also happened after the Marathon bombings. I’m kind of hesitant to contribute to that because while sports certainly boost people’s spirits…it’s still just sports, and doesn’t change all that happened last April. But sports do bring people together in both the best and worst of times, and with all the negative things that sports contribute to society, their power to foster togetherness is one big positive.

This is our f***ing city. Until next year, go Sox!

Some Good Things

It’s been a bit since my last post, and I’ll write about something more interesting pretty soon. Sometimes it’s hard to find things to write about when life is good. Which it is right now, I’m happy to report. Not because of one huge reason (I’m still single, sadly), but lots of things are going right lately. And it can be obnoxious to talk about how great your life is (see this article!), but on a blog about my life, I do want to share what’s going on with me.

So here are some reasons I’ve been happy lately:

-One of my goals for the year was to write more fiction, and I have. A long time ago, I used to try submitting short stories to magazines, but after awhile I just…stopped. Until this year, when I started submitting a couple of stories around. Recently, I found out that one of them was accepted! My short story “Things You Don’t Know I Know about You” is forthcoming in The Sierra Nevada Review, and it will be out in May. Yea!

-I made my sales goal at work, which means I’m getting a bonus in a couple of months.

-I completed a 10K yesterday and got a good time for me! I finished in 53:29, which is a 8:37 pace, faster than I usually run.

-I’ve been better lately about exercising and not eating crap.

-My roommate and I got a better Internet connection. I then joined Netflix, and then I bought a Roku. The Roku has massively improved my life. I’m now catching up with TV shows I should have been watching. Parks and Recreation is now one of my new favorites—I’ll do a post in the near future about everything I’ve been catching up with. Breaking Bad is probably next.

-But I’m not starting Breaking Bad until baseball is over because RED SOX IN THE ALCS WOO!

-It’s fall and the weather is lovely and I recently went apple picking because YEA NEW ENGLAND.

-I’ve picked up a little side project editing college essays for high school kids, and I’m enjoying it.

-The Boston Book Festival is coming up this weekend- I’ve meant to go every other year, but have always been busy. This is the first year I’m making it.

-BC’s football team still isn’t great, but they’re at least better than they were last year.

-I saw a great play called The Power of Duff last weekend. After I see a good play, it makes me want to see [Allie Brosh] ALL the theater! [/Allie Brosh] So maybe there’s more theater for me in the near future.

-Speaking of Allie Brosh, her book is coming out at the end of the month!

-My friends are awesome, although that’s not new.

-My furry friend is also awesome.

How Not to Be a Snob

I feel like lately, I see more and more people copping to being some kind of “snob.” Music snobs. Beer snobs. Wine snobs. Book snobs. TV snobs. Food snobs. Fitness snobs. And the thing is, they don’t even say it in an embarrassed, yeah-I-know-I-shouldn’t kind of way. They’re proud to be snobs. They are proud to look down on others.

So it’s time to make something clear here.

It’s okay to have likes and dislikes. It’s okay to have opinions.

It is not okay to be a snob. Ever. For any reason.

This is especially relevant now that Aaron Fucking Sorkin has come out with a new show that’s been blasted for using the same kind of snobbery that pissed me off so much when he tried it with Studio 60. As usual, if you don’t like it, you’re too stupid to get it—or, despite being  a reporter for a major newspaper, you’re a silly “Internet girl.” The fact that so many people defend what he says and does is what makes posts like this necessary.

So how do you know if you’re a snob or just expressing your opinion? It’s pretty easy. Let’s have a brief primer on what kinds of snobs there are and the things they say:

The Music Snob

One of the most infuriating kinds. You know those people—the ones who look down on you as a person if you like that overplayed pop song or that indie band who went too mainstream. The ones who consider pensive indie rock or less-mainstream classic rock the only music that matters. The ones who will tell you how wrong you are for listening to what you’re listening to. And 90% of the time, music snobs are people with no musical talent themselves. But they’re so good at listening, you guys! Their ears are so discriminating!

What it’s okay to say: “I actually don’t really like them. That one song gets on my nerves.”

“I did like them, but now they’re starting to annoy me.”


What it’s not okay to say: “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how anyone can listen to them.”

“See, this is what you shouldbe listening to.”

*eye roll* “Is this [non-snobby band]? Really?”


The Beer Snob

Here’s the thing: beer is inherently something not snobby. It’s the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world. Historically, it’s been a drink for the masses, for the common man. Some people don’t like it, but most people who aren’t teetotalers have tried it at some point.

So of course people felt like they had to invent reasons to feel superior for drinking beer. Microbrews! Craft beer! Light beer sucks! You’re an idiot for drinking Miller and Bud!

And the worst part is, they consume their pretentious obscure brew so fucking slowly, because they want to savor it and not, of course, because it actually tastes like crap, that it’s going to be awhile before they get so drunk they forget to keep putting up the snobby charade.

What it’s okay to say: “I don’t really like that beer…it tastes too watered-down to me.”

“Have you ever tried this? I’ve been getting into craft beer lately.”

What it’s not okay to say:  “I don’t know how you can drink that. You don’t think it tastes like shit?”

“Oh, come on. Don’t they have any good beer?”

The Wine Snob

This kind of snob has been around longer than the beer snob, and thankfully, it’s less culturally acceptable among people my age. You know exactly who these people are—people who, like the characters in Sideways, swirl the wine around in their glasses, stick their noses in to smell it before tasting, and go into monologues about the quality of the wine until people’s eyes glaze over. Save it for the country club dinner, dude.

What it’s okay to say: “I’ve been getting into wine tasting lately. It’s really interesting!”


What it’s not okay to say: Pretty much anything else. No one cares.

The Book Snob

Here’s where I should make something clear: there is a difference between snarking on something you don’t like and snarking on the people who enjoy that thing. On the TV front, I used to be a big fan of Television Without Pity, and on the book front, there’s nothing wrong with making fun of a particularly cringeworthy book. A few years ago, the Twilight series was the snark of choice, and now it seems like every other post on my Google Reader is about how much Fifty Shades of Gray sucks—Lorraine’sposts are especially funny. (For the record, I have never read Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray and don’t plan to.)

What’s not okay is making fun of the people who read those books—stereotyping them, insulting their intelligence—or telling people that they shouldn’t read it, like Joel Stein did with young adult books. I’ve seen a lot of photos begging people not to read Fifty Shades of Gray. But my feeling about this, which I’ve expressed before, is that at least they’re reading something—in an age when books have never been more threatened, why would you want to discourage people from reading?

What it’s okay to say: “Oh, my God, [plot point or badly written phrase] is so ridiculous.”

What it’s not okay to say: “Don’t listen to her—she’s just some idiot who likes Twilight.”

The TV Snob

This is an unusual one because it has nothing to do with what the snob likes and everything to do with what the snob dislikes: reality TV, Two and a Half Men, and sometimes just TV in general. It’s funny—people don’t generally get snobby about watching critically acclaimed shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, etc., but certain people will make sure to let you know what they think of you watching American Idol or Jersey Shore. I don’t think they realize that most people aren’t actually taking their reality shows that seriously. And if you’re one of those people who uses that tone to inform people that you don’t watch TV…um, kindly shut the fuck up. Contrary to what you may think, this makes you less interesting, not more.


What it’s okay to say: “I actually don’t have a TV. I just decided there were other things I’d rather spend my money on than cable.”

“I don’t really like reality shows. They’re all so staged.”


What it’s not okay to say: “Um, I don’t watch TV.”

“Um, I don’t watchreality shows.”

“You actually like that show?”


The Food Snob

There are about a million varieties of this one. There are the snobs who won’t eat in chain restaurants. The snobs who don’t eat junk food and make sure to let you know what they think of people who do. The snobs wholook down on you for eating meat. The snobs who look down on you for not eating organic. The snobs who look down on you for eating the healthy diet that you’re not forcing on anyone else.

Who really cares? This is a why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along kind of thing. You eat what you like, I’ll eat what I like, if we’re eating together we’ll figure out together what works for us. It’s really quite simple.

What it’s okay to say: “I don’t really like that restaurant. What about this one instead?”

“I’ve been trying to eat healthier—I found some really great organic recipes!”

What it’s not okay to say: “That is not food. How can you eat that?”

“You like Domino’s? Have you never had any other kind of pizza before?” (Side note: a friend of a friend actually said this to me once, and I kind of wanted to smack him.)


The Fitness Snob

So you work out. Great! You should be working out! You’re an inspiration to us all! But for the love of God, we do not need to hear about how much you work out and how we should all be doing it, too. Not everybody likes yoga or running or strength training. And those of us who do aren’t necessarily willing to run five miles at 6AM every day and then work out again at night. (So that I don’t sound bitter, I need to clarify that I’ve run two half marathons and am not averse to working out, just to hearing about how much other people do.) If someone asks you for workout tips, you give them—otherwise, you say nothing.


What it’s okay to say: “I’m really getting into running lately. It’s kind of addictive!”

“I’m really liking yoga. I feel great after I do it.”

What it’s not okay to say: “Oh, I feel so great after running five miles before work, like I do every day. Have you been working out lately?”

“The world would be a better place if everyone did yoga.” (I’ve mentioned this before, but someone actually said this to me at a party once.)

The Snobby Snob

Most people know better than to be this kind of snob, but some people have managed to surprise me. I had a roommate who went to Cornell and, like Andy on The Office, mentioned it every two seconds. His family had money and in his mind, anyone who didn’t come from a liberal, educated, East Coast background was probably stupid. The 2008 Democratic National Convention happened not long after I moved in, and when we watched this guy speak, after his great mention of how “we need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney,” my roommate said, “There’s no way he came up with that line himself.”

Yeah. I’m not even going to give examples of what to say and what not to say because, frankly, everyone should already know that.

I’m sure there are plenty of other kinds of snobs I haven’t mentioned. What other kinds of snobby things do people say that they shouldn’t?

1/2 + 1/2 = ?

Yesterday, I completed my second half-marathon, this time in Boston. Megan also ran it—her first half-marathon—and did awesome!

Here we are at the finish.

This course was hilly and difficult, much harder than the Princess race—the hardest part of that one was getting up at 3 AM. But I’m really happy to say I finished with a respectable time, although it wasn’t as fast as I wanted it to be due to the heat. I really do not do well exercising in heat—that’s one reason I did swimming for so long, I think! But yesterday was unseasonably hot out—80 degrees in Boston in October! WTF? I want my nice fall weather! So while I made really good time for the first eight miles, I hit a wall when we had to run uphill over a bridge where there was no shade, and around Mile 11 I threw up. I think I may have had a bit of heat exhaustion—it wasn’t until after I finished and got some Gatorade that I started to feel better. As much of a pain as training in the winter for the Princess race was, it was MUCH easier than running in the heat. But I’m really happy that after that unfortunate detour I was still able to finish!

I have to say, though, it will be awhile before I attempt another half-marathon—I’m thinking next fall I might do one in Newton, but my next athletic attempt will probably be an open-water swim. While I was training for this race, I ended up neglecting other forms of exercise I love—swimming, yoga, Zumba, classes at the gym like Pilates and abs workouts. While I enjoy running, I don’t live and breathe it like a lot of serious runners do. I’ve heard people talk about getting a “runner’s high,” and I have no idea what that is. Actually, when I run I get more angry than anything else—my mind tends to wander and I imagine scenarios, and by the end of the run I’m mad at someone for something that never happened.

This is the thing, though: never in a million years did I think that I’d be someone who completed two half-marathons in less than eight months. If you check my bucket list, I talk about the open-water swim and eventually a triathlon (although I have some serious catching up to do with cycling before I can do one of those), but nothing about running. I did JV track for three years in high school, but I never thought of myself as A Runner. As a kid, I knew adults who were serious runners—so serious that they wouldn’t do a popular two-mile race in my hometown because “it’s only two miles,” and I used to roll my eyes at that. Now, I can actually relate to that mentality.

I wish someone would tell this to high school and college students. When it comes to sports, it’s so easy to feel like whatever you are as a teenager is what you’ll be for the rest of your life—in my case, mediocre swimmer and girl-who-only-does-JV-track-so-she’s-doing-something-during-the-offseason. But none of that really matters after you graduate—after that, you don’t do anything for scholarships or to get colleges’ attention, but just because you want to. Look at me—I always thought of myself as a terrible athlete as I was growing up, and I still don’t consider myself a good one, but here I am doing two half-marathons in a year, thinking about doing another one, and hoping to do at least a couple of shorter road races by the end of the year.

If you didn’t know me, you might think that perhaps I actually am A Runner. I certainly don’t think of myself that way, but the point is that if I wanted to be A Runner, I could be.


In the past year and a half, I’ve started watching and enjoying How I Met Your Mother. That deserves a whole post in itself, but one of the many things I appreciate about the show is its ability to coin terms that sum up common experiences of yuppiehood—like “graduation goggles” = the nostalgic feeling you suddenly get when something you didn’t like, i.e. high school or a bad relationship, is ending, and “couples coma” = inability of long-term couples to leave their house to go out like single people.

Two weeks ago, I attended my five-year college graduation, and two terms from HIMYM kept coming to mind. One, my personal favorite, was “woo girl.”

Not going to lie—sometimes I am a woo girl, and I definitely was for all of reunion weekend.

The other was “revertigo.”

Because that’s what the whole weekend was—revertigo to when we were back in college.

Now, if you haven’t figured this out yet, I loved college. LOVED. To the point where I sometimes worry about coming across as one of those obnoxious people who’s obsessed with her alma mater. It took me years to stop regretting that it was over. I loved the classes, I loved the dorms, I loved the parties, I loved having all my friends in one place.

And you know what? So did everyone else in my class. I was once asked to sum up BC students in one word, and what I came up with was “enthusiastic.” Whether it’s sports, music, academic research, political activism, religion, volunteer work, or just having a good time, everyone at BC is excited about something. And everyone is excited about being there. Whenever I started telling people from work how excited I was about my college reunion, they would look at me like I was nuts. Most colleges do not have three-day reunion weekends that involve large nighttime parties and staying in dorms. But most colleges are not Boston College.

Things started for me the Wednesday before, when Christina flew in from California to stay with me for a couple of days. I had not physically seen her in almost two years, so being able to hang out with her again was amazing.

I took a day off work on Friday, and Christina and I grabbed our suitcases and hopped on the T to Chestnut Hill. We checked into the dorm, which happened to be Edmond’s Hall (the apostrophe usage is correct there—the hall is named after a guy named Edmond Walsh), where I’d lived both my sophomore and junior years. These dorms fit four people in two bedrooms and have common rooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen. We had a large group going—thirteen people in all—so while we weren’t all close together, most of us were on the same floor. Christina got lunch at Flat Bread’s, a place she went to so many times when she lived here that the owner immediately said upon seeing her, “Hey! Where’ve you been?”

Then we went to an official BC event, the lobsterbake, and caught up with some old friends who had lived on our floor in Loyola Hall freshman year. After the lobsterbake, we headed to Cleveland Circle to buy some booze and snacks for an unofficial event that night—our friend Carr’s birthday party in the dorms.

I saw people at that party whom I hadn’t seen in years. There was all kinds of what we called “nostalgic alcohol”—all the crappy stuff we used to drink. Beer like Keystone and Natty Light, and Smirnoff Ices, which was what my junior year roommates, who hadn’t yet developed a taste for most alcohol, spent the whole year drinking. We started the party with a Power Hour to a nostalgic playlist—songs from the 90s to 2006—and we reminisced about when life revolved around AIM and everyone used to put up R. Kelly as an away message: “It’s the freakin’ weekend, baby, I’m about to have me some fun.”

Around eleven, we headed down to the Edmond’s lobby, where the residential life staff (current BC students working there for the summer) was making us soak-up-the-alcohol pancakes. Yes, really—I love that they even thought of that. Later that night, I went to hang out in another room where there was a game of Kings going on and caught up with Bridget, in from DC.

And although I wasn’t there for this, Erin and Lindsey tell me that as they had just stopped talking and laid down to go to sleep that night, they suddenly heard a voice outside the window yell, “CLASS OF 06, BITCHES!” Which, along with the numerous shouts of, “Coll-EGE!” I heard over the weekend, became our catchphrase.

The next morning, I’d signed up for an alumni 5k, but, as I expected, I didn’t get up in time. So later, my friends and I headed over to another official event, a barbeque for the 5-year and 10-year reunion crowds. I saw my friends Nico and April, who were married last fall and now live on Long Island, for the first time in a long time. The food was good but I ended up with a bit of a necklace tan—awesome.

After the barbeque, Jackie and Lindsey and I decided to take a spin around campus. The dustbowl, where we used to sit under trees and read like the kids on the brochures, is sadly a thing of the past as the college starts its latest construction project.

Gasson Tower, our signature building, is looking good, though.

I bought some BC sweatpants, went to the Saturday night alumni Mass, and then headed back to Edmond’s, where Christina, Lindsey, Erin, Jackie, Bridget, and I had decided to settle the Presto’s/Pino’s debate once and for all. Presto’s and Pino’s are two New York-style pizza places a few doors down from each other in Cleveland Circle. Their pizzas are very similar, and people have been debating which one is better pretty much since they’ve existed. So we ordered one from Pino’s and one from Presto’s and decided to taste test.

Pino’s came first, although we’d ordered from them second. Considering one notorious incident in college when Jon (absent from the reunion due to his upcoming wedding) bitched them out for taking ninety minutes and delivering the wrong order, that was pretty impressive. Presto’s also came on time, and rather than making us go to the lobby, they delivered it right to the dorm room.

In the end, Lindsey, Erin and I voted for Pino’s, Christina and Bridget voted for Presto’s, and Jackie remained undecided. So Pino’s was the narrow winner.

I don’t know what I was laughing about in that picture, but I look really happy. Even though everyone thinks of crazy parties when they think of college, some of my favorite moments involved my friends and I hanging around the dorms with takeout (freshman year, we used to discuss the meaning of life while eating Chinese), so I’m glad I got to experience that again.

Then came the weekend’s main event: the class of 2006 party in the Mods. The Mods are two-story townhouse dorms for seniors notorious for being the party dorms. (They were originally constructed as temporary housing—that was back in 1970.) If people were going to only one official event, this was it. There was a cash bar and a DJ in the Mod lot, and despite the lack of some favorites played, lots of dancing and picture-taking and having a good time.

After that, we all headed back into Edmond’s to continue the partying. Not only was Res Life serving pancakes again, but this time the BC police were helping them.

We played some Beirut like old times, and then everyone on the ninth floor dragged their kitchen tables out to the hallway so we could start a massive flip-cup game.

Yeah. Revertigo. And it was awesome.

I talked with people I hadn’t seen in a long time until four in the morning. The next day, we got up and headed to another official event, a jazz brunch. Most of the rest of the class of 2006 had decided to sleep in, so it was largely us with a bunch of people at their 30-year and 40-year reunion.

The last event, after we checked out of the dorms, was a Red Sox game against Oakland. This event had sold out quickly, so it ended up being a date for me and Erin.

Sox won!

Christina stayed with me for another night, headed down to Fall River for a few days to visit some of her friends there, and then came back up for a night to have dinner with Julie and me and then catch her flight home.

It was seriously one of the best weekends of my life, and even with all these details, I feel like it’s hard for me to convey just how awesome it was. And the thing is, it was an entirely mutual feeling—EVERYONE had a great time. EVERYONE was smiling and getting into everything. EVERYONE came away wishing they could go back to college, as we’d just squeezed all of the best parts of it into one weekend. I guess that’s just the enthusiasm that BC students are known for.

Princess Me!

Two weeks ago, I was here:

If you couldn’t tell from the picture, “here” was Disney World. Specifically, for the Princess Half-Marathon!

Last year, my sister ran the Boston Marathon. I am not quite that crazy, but I thought a half-marathon might be something I could manage. When Caroline mentioned that the Princess race would take place during her spring break from law school, I hesitated at first. “I don’t know if I have time to train.” “It’s in Florida- it will be hot.” But then I looked at the half marathon training schedule and realized that it was completely do-able. So I was in.

I am amazed that I actually managed to stick to the training schedule, which involved four days of running per week, including one long run over the weekends. While I do like to run, and like other forms of exercise as well, I have a tendency to be lazy. I have a whole gamut of excuses for skipping the gym—everything from “It’s raining” to “I don’t want to miss The Office.”

Furthermore, if you haven’t been paying attention to the weather in Boston, we’ve gotten snow up to Shaq’s earlobes this winter. This meant running on the sidewalks involved getting my feet soaked in frozen puddles, trying not to slip on ice, climbing over snowbanks to avoid stepping on puddles or ice, trying to squeeze around people when the sidewalks were too narrow from the snow, being stopped dead in my tracks when I realized that a sidewalk hadn’t been shoveled and having to figure out how to get off the sidewalk without stepping in knee-deep snow…you get the picture. After awhile, I started longing for Florida just so I could run a long distance without being interrupted by the elements.

We had to get up at 3 in the morning for the half-marathon to be on the bus by 4 and start the race by 6:30. And so my sister and I, along with 13,000 other runners (mostly women, and many of whom were wearing tutus, tiaras, or princess costumes) ran 13.1 miles.

Along the way, we saw all kinds of Disney characters and entertainment:

And when it was over, we spent the rest of the day in Disney World!
I love Disney World. I had been twice before, once when I was eight and once when I was thirteen, and I think I was just as excited this time. We covered a lot of ground in one day- we got to the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM), and World Showcase in EPCOT on a one-day pass.

The day after that, we headed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which was awesome. We went on all the rides (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is maybe the best ride I’ve ever been on ANYWHERE), hung out in the wand shop and Honeydukes, and had ourselves some butterbeer.

And what’s next? Well, I think I’ve caught the running bug. I still don’t want to run a marathon (I don’t like running that much), but I think I’m going to sign up for some 5ks and possibly another half marathon.

I don’t think any other race will give me a number like this, though:

Sure Jesus Walked on Water, but Michael Phelps Swims Through Land

Wish I could say I came up with the title myself, but I have to credit this web site for it.

I love the Olympics, both winter and summer. It’s a chance to see interesting sports that aren’t on TV on a regular basis. I especially love watching swimming because I swam competitively growing up. And I’m glad that swimming, a sport whose world championships are usually buried on Fox Sports or ESPN2, has been receiving a lot of attention lately. All because my Olympic boyfriend has actually done it.

I love Michael Phelps, and first of all, let’s get the shallow part out of the way. Yes, I find him attractive. He has a perfect body, a gorgeous smile, and a kind of adorably imperfect face. My last two years of college, he was all over my dorm room walls.

But aside from that, I’ve loved him since Athens because I’m so impressed with him. What he did in Athens was hard enough—six golds, two bronzes—and I remember thinking that he handled himself very well in interviews. Whenever someone talked to him about his swims, he’d turn it around and say something like, “Yes, our whole team did well.” And then, in a move that got a lot of publicity at the time, he let Ian Crocker take his spot in the medley relay, ensuring that both of them would get a gold medal.

Then there was this Olympics, with the eight gold medal swims that kept getting more and more amazing. The unbelievable 4 x 100 relay (thank you, Jason Lezak). The 200 fly where he broke a world record with water in his goggles (seriously, I still can’t get my mind around that). The 100 fly where he was in seventh place at the fifty, then came back and out-touched the Serbian dude by one freaking hundredth of a second. Out of his eight wins, seven of them were world records.

I don’t understand how he did it. Not physically, I mean. I have no doubts that he’s capable of doing all that. He’s a freak of nature. The media have analyzed his anatomy to death—his wingspan (6’7”) is three inches longer than his height, he’s double-jointed, he has size 14 feet, he has to eat 12,000 calories a day, and I’ve even heard that his body produces less lactic acid than normal people’s.

What I don’t get is how he did it mentally. NBC was depending on him to continue winning gold medals to help their ratings. One of his sponsors, I forget which one, promised him a million-dollar bonus if he got eight golds. The media acted like anything less than eight gold medals was abject failure. And I’d say at least half of the American Olympic coverage focused on him.

Like I said, I used to swim, and granted, I’m a nervous person, but I used to make myself sick before meets, going over all my strategies in my head and worrying about making my target times, and the only person putting pressure on me was me. When it’s international media putting pressure on you, how in the world do you block that out? How do you keep that focus? Especially since you not only have to swim in prelims, semifinals, and finals, but also be drug tested constantly and have to answer Andrea Kremer’s annoying, repetitive questions after every race? Forget the superhuman athletic feats and physical features. That’s superhuman grace under pressure.

And even that’s not as amazing as his other accomplishment—bringing this much media attention to a sport that gets less time on ESPN than bowling. On Saturday, when he won his last gold medal for the medley relay, I was in a bar celebrating Julie’s birthday, and when it was time for that relay, everyone gathered around the TVs to watch. And when they won, everybody cheered and started yelling, “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

This, mind you, was in Boston. Home of the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, Bruins, and some of the most enthusiastic fans of mainstream sports in the world. And here everybody was, all united in cheering for athletes they might never have heard of until that week.

Olympic swimming is over until 2012. But if my Olympic boyfriend’s accomplishments succeed in keeping swimming in people’s consciousness until London, that might be his most incredible feat yet.