Why Every Young Person Should Run a Half Marathon

Tomorrow, I’m running my fourth half-marathon in Charlottesville, Virginia. While that sounds kind of insane to the average person, the truth is–running these kinds of races is one of the best things I’ve done for myself in college. And you read that right; it’s something you do for yourself

On the verge of my race tomorrow, it’s making me think about why running these races is so amazing and challenging. And why every young person can and should run one. Each of these examples is definitely something that has happened to me, in some context–the ridiculous, the embarrassing, and the awesome alike.

On the one side, a half-marathon is 13.1 miles of:

1.pain

2.struggle

3.trouble breathing aka sucking wind

4.having to go o the bathroom at least once and being pissed you didn’t before the race


5.joint abuse

6. brutal hills

7.fatigue

8.being left alone with your own torturous thoughts telling you that you can’t finish

9. CHAFING (awful.)

10. being passed by people left and right and thinking you’re slow as hell

11. dropping your entire water cup on your shirt instead of in your mouth

12. doing this with gatorade and being sticky for the rest of the race

13. being able to see the finish line and having to run a 2 mile loop back (curse you, Nike Women’s Half in DC)

14. having that old ankle injury or IT band trouble start to twinge around mile 9 and hoping you won’t have to walk

15. having to tie your shoes

16. not having enough energy to wipe the sweat off your face

17. having marathoners pass you even though they’re running twice the distance

18. missing your family or friends who are trying to cheer for you and not getting that extra boost

19. wondering if you look like a kangaroo on heroine in photographs

20. realizing your socks are not fitting right and that a blister is gradually forming getting worse with every step

21. just hauling yourself a long ass distance.

However, running a half-marathon is also 13.1 miles of:

1.time for yourself

2. meeting really cool strangers

3. realizing the true value of water and food at fuel stations

4. being thankful for amazing volunteers

5. being thankful for incredible fans and their inspirational signs

6. the guy that pulls his car out to the side of the road at 7:30am to play music for you as you pass.

7. finding your stride


8. thinking about life

9. feeling the strength of your legs

10. marveling at the power of the human body

11. seeing a stranger with a prosthetic leg and an 80 or so year old man pass you

12. realizing that you have a great thing going in this life, and if you don’t, that maybe you should do something about it

13. inspiration

14.sight-seeing

15. sweaty palms

16.  banana craving and then eating that banana as soon as you finish

17. strangers thinking you’re their hero

18. passing that girl who dusted you at the starting line with a mile to go

19. crossing the half-way mark

20. seeing the 13 mile sign and kicking in your last bit of adrenaline for a sprinting finish

21. getting a shiny medal and nice t-shirt and loads of free food and maybe even a free beer if you’re extra lucky

22. having the excuse of having just ran a race when you look pathetic on the stairs for the rest of the weekend

23. the glorious pain of ice baths

24. planning for your next race

25. becoming addicted to racing.

There’s obviously a lot more that fits into either column, because a race is really personal. Maybe you won’t look like a kangaroo on heroine; you might look like a koala on crack. Or maybe you’re extremely photogenic during races and everyone else hates you.

But the first thing to realize is that it’s definitely do-able. If you enjoy running at all and you could finish about 6 miles today, you could get to half-marathon shape in no time. Hell, I barely trained for this race anyway.

Need advice on half marathons or want to make a comment? Shoot me an e-mail or comment here. I’m no pro, though! (:

 

Best,

Jenna

Pure Glamour: My First Red Carpet Experience and How Not to Interview

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before the event!

This Monday, I got to go to my very first red carpet premiere event and interview actual celebrities and watch them drink champagne and giggle with each other and be generally fabulous. Obviously, it was awesome.

I don’t often write a story exclusively on the part of my life where I enjoy being pretty and professional, because I feel like people give me weird looks sometimes when I do. And because I feel like it sounds more feminine and empowering to always talk about my adventures in mud and grime and sweat. But in all honesty, that other half of me is going strong, and this Monday was the perfect opportunity for me to get my glam side on.

When my editor at D.C. Magazine asked me if I wanted to go to a red carpet premiere, I looked at the email and literally said out-loud “is that even a question?” No matter, that it was a Monday and I don’t actually live in D.C. and had to be up at 8am the next day to go to work. Pshaw. It’s the red carpet. And I’d never been before.

Of course, the first thing I did when I got the news was do some internet stalking, because isn’t that what everyone ever does? Before a first date, your potential mate has probably googled you, your brother, and each of your ex-girlfriends. Twice. But I digress.

I googled “Turn”, a new show premiering April 6th on AMC, and saw that it starred Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot, Nymphomania, The Adventures of Tin Tin, Hong Kong, and other cool titles as well as Heather Lind of Boardwalk Empire, Kevin McNally who’s in all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and several other fabulous names. The show would be based on a book, which already made me give it some respect: Washington Spies by Alexander Rose. Even better. Spies, espionage, NSA scandal-sneaky business and national secrets are hot right now.

the cast being goofy with each other!

the cast being goofy with each other!

And this show is about the O.G. American spy ring, who literally stole British secrets right from their Red Coats during the Revolutionary War. A story that no one has told before, about the Culper Ring- the spies that obviously succeeded because they were hidden from public knowledge for so long. You know about Benedict Arnold and Nathan Hale because they failed. But, as Alexander Rose told us at a panel after the premiere, that does NOT make you a successful spy.

This show was sounding pretty awesome, and when I started seeing ads all over the metro and online, I knew I was in for an exciting event.

Monday, I hopped on the Marc Train for that delightful hour-ish long ride stuffed in with other commuters en route to the National Archives where the event would be hosted. Upon arrival, I spotted a red carpet outside and knew I was in the right place.
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Skip past the whole me-awkwardly-waiting-because-I-am-always-always-always-early bit, and I’m standing on the red carpet, my foot marking my spot that read “DC Magazine”. Big leagues.

I promptly became BFFs with the reporter alongside me and pulled out my iPhone, hoping that its devil spawn battery would not forsake me now. And then they just started walking out. Before I could even really get too nervous, Heather Lind was there posing on the carpet in her gorgeous ensemble, Kevin McNally following close behind.

Lind was the first to speak to us, and we did kind of  a group reporter session, which felt more like a fun chat. If you get the chance to do this, (lol me giving advice), make sure that you get your questions in and don’t let that one annoying guy ask question after question leaving you stand there, awkwardly smiling and nodding and wanting to kick him backwards in the shin. Pipe up and be heard; though it’s not always that easy. Lind gave us some great material about her character, Anna Strong, who she described as a kind of “early feminist” and a “no nonsense” kind of woman.

After we spoke with Lind, we heard from Kevin McNally, who told us a bit about his favorite spots in DC including Capital Grille, Seth Numrich about being one of the few Americans on the cast, Samuel Roukin who described his experience playing the villain Captain Simcoe as “delicious” and Jamie Bell who joked around with us about the cold weather filming in Richmond, Virginia and his amazing experience playing a real man, Abraham Woodhull, who made a difference in the Revolutionary War.
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And then we got to see the pilot, which was fantastic…no spoilers here! You’ll have to tune in April 6th to find out.

 

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Jenna

Weekly Adventure: The Tango Dance Lesson

Lately, my boyfriend and I have been really into the idea of taking dance lessons of some kind–the “idea” meaning we hadn’t actually done anything like that since we first started talking about it and spent more time enjoying the misty, out-of-reality, dreamlike image of us gliding along the dancefloor like professionals.

Given the timing of the Olympics, I obviously had U.S. ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White in mind. (Buzzfeed’s comparison of them to modern day Disney characters is beyond accurate.)

Though my recent adventures with roller skating definitely solidified the idea that I wouldn’t be able to take my skating skills to the ice, the dance part was still on the more open-ended side of the scale. I enjoy dancing in various clubs, and not just grinding or swaying- I throw a few two-steps in there, and try to get my heartrate rising, and maybe think that I know how to swing-dance even when I don’t.

We were ready to get some rollerskating on, '80's style. Not as easy as it looks.

We were ready to get some rollerskating on, ’80’s style. Not as easy as it looks.

However, we finally got our chance to take part in some real life dancing when he and I met up with a friend of a friend who went to Yale who me met through various random circumstances and ended up going to this Lithuanian Dance hall night called “Save Your Soul”  where I promptly got sweaty, gross, and had a lot of fun dancing. It only happens once a month but is probably one of the most fun things I’ve done since moving to Baltimore, which is saying a lot.

Our friend of a friend that we met introduced us to the real world of actual dance lessons: Argentinian Tango.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been coordinating a date to meet up and practice the first few basics of the tango so that my boyfriend and I can join in at the Charles Village Tango Lessons currently being offered. Last night, we finally got that chance, and I had my first real dance lesson of my life (besides ballet lessons when I was maybe 5 and had no idea what was going on).

beautiful tango dancers

Let me start by saying that dancing is as athletic, technical, and challenging as any sport I’ve ever done, and you have to look elegant while doing it. Of course I arrived in my stereotypical black skinny jeans and loose blouse, wearing socks and boots that were not the appropriate footwear to slide across the floor as a tango dancer would. Classic.

When we started, our friend began by playing music and asking us to walk in a circle, our heels in the air, our bodies angled forward. We were to walk on the first and the third beats. One, pause, three, pause, walk.

Next, we linked up together to try–me, following backwards, while he led me forward.

From what I’ve learned as the female in the dance, tango is really about feeling your partner’s every weight shift and responding to it gracefully, setting your weight down as he places his feet, shifting as he shifts.

When we were first starting, I often forget to just listen to his movements. I, the forever athlete, was trying to mirror memorized movements. I was trying to learn a new sea kayaking paddling stroke in my head (turn the blade towards your feet, move outwards in a c formation, pull towards your hip), when I should have been feeling the motion and the music more.

Slowly, it got easier and we added more steps besides just walking backward and forward together. We tried a “rock step”, which is exactly what it sounds like- rocking back and forth. We added an outside step. We mixed the steps together and tried to time it with the music.

Finally, we ended the night with the “ocho”- a move more for the female part. I was getting a little nervous, as I usually have little coordination when it comes to this kind of thing. In an ocho, the female is rotated by the male and moves backwards in an almost serpentine way, making figure 8’s with her feet as he turns her and dances forward.

Here’s a video of how it’s meant to be done:

After watching that video, I was a little intimidated to say the least, and the idea of holding my weight paused as he shifted me was really confusing. After a few tries though, we started to get it, and even managed to kind-of get back into normal steps after dancing ochos.

As we turned off the final song and wiped surprising amounts of sweat from our brows, my knees were aching (I keep too much of a straight leg while dancing, I need to find more soft knees), and we were starving. Dancing is way more tiring than you expect it to be, especially while learning something new.

On Thursday, we’ll be starting our professional lessons! I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to tell then (hopefully no disasters!).

Best,

Jenna

Weekly Adventure: The Snow Day

Yesterday evening just before 8PM, I was anxious to escape my nearly three hour lecture class: there’s only three students and one teacher, and we read text like we’re mining for bits of gold between the lines–closely and painstakingly. Facing away from the window and having only my computer to entertain me, I clicked on the Johns Hopkins Emergency Announcement that had been e-mailed to me.

It was going to be a snow-day the next day.

Immediately, I mentally became the little girl that used to run around in zip-off soccer pants and three layers of hoodies with some plastic rain boots and maybe a snow suit- if my mom got to me before I got myself out the door. I became the young Jenna who loved leaping into snow heaps and running around, not afraid of falling or sliding or getting hit by a stray snowball.

I was ready to get out of that class and get into the snow as soon as possible, which was already rapidly falling at around 8:30.

Of course, I am no longer 12 and my wardrobe is no longer just soccer clothes and hoodies.

I’ve advanced beyond that, and discovered a few tricks that actually allow me to both enjoy the snow and also repurpose some really cute clothes I’ve got–keeping myself warm, stylish, and water-resistant.

One of my favorite purchases I’ve made this winter season was, of course, on the dreaded Black Friday.

My sister and I decided that we wanted to participate this year for “anthropological reasons”, you know, to watch all the crazies fight over the last flat screen TV. Which did happen.

a screenshot of a facebook "mupload" of the line at Target on Black Friday. #terrifying

a screenshot of a Facebook “mupload” of the line at Target on Black Friday. #terrifying

But we also wanted to invest in some new clothes for ourselves, especially me who’s going to be graduating and really needs some new, nice clothing that I can wear pretty much anywhere no matter what I’m doing and still look half decent. No easy feat, I know.

What I ended up buying, for like 70% off, was this women’s water resistant zip-up Avanti black coat with gold detailings from J.C. Penny (http://www.jcpenney.com/).

I got this coat, which was originally over $100 back in December, for just $40. (Not only am I outdoorsy and make attempts at fashion, but I’m also very thrifty.)

Black Women’s Avanti Coat.

Find here: http://tinyurl.com/lnwvpgo.

This coat is especially nifty because of the gold hardware, which I think makes it look really unique and and luxurious, as well as the side panels which are actually knit-trim (hard to tell in the image).

The belt adds a slimming, sleek effect while the polyster/spandex material makes it a great, all-weather coat.  It’s easy to layer with, and the pockets can fit rather large wallets and cell phones in them. The zipper is also off-center, making the jacket especially memorable.

THIS, my friends, is the very coat I wore to frolic in the snow last night and today, and it’s also the coat I wore to an interview (where I got the job. Nailed it.) It’s all about the versatility- in lifestyle, and in dress.

Me, in a snowy wonderland wearing my Avanti coat and most excellent furry llama hat.

Take that Winter Storm Pax!

 

Stay safe everyone, and go play in the snow.

Best,

Jenna