Love, Dad

My sister and I often share funny emails, notes and/or voicemails from my father with each other. I can’t really explain what it is about his messages, but they always bring a smile to our faces. I think it is his witty sense of humor that isn’t over done (which clearly, I didn’t inherit). Or maybe it is the formality of his electronic communication, something he hasn’t fully embraced – you will never see him “lol-ing” or using any sort of emoticon. Sometimes, he gets caught up in work and doesn’t have a lot of time to wonder the aisles of a hallmark looking for the perfect birthday card. I think my sister I have each received at least a few birthday cards that he picked up from the hospital gift shop, wishing us a speedy recovery or sympathizing with us over our loss of a loved one.

Good old Dad.

So, I just had to share with you all the most recent communication I received from him. I missed his call over the weekend and thankfully he decided to leave a voicemail. I’ve transcribed his message below:

“Molly. It’s your father. I am watching the Crossfit Games on ESPN2. I don’t want you doing this anymore. You end up looking like a really scary cyborg. I don’t know if you are checking this out, but, um, think about what you are doing?”

Click.

Ahh, another priceless piece of advice from my dad. But to be honest, I don’t know what he is talking about. Muscles are beautiful, right?

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Look out ladies, as soon as I learn how to do 1 pull up, you are all in trouble.

CrossFit and Bloodies, The Perfect Combo

Matt and I have started to settle into a 2012 weekend routine. And I like it.

Since I started participated in CrossFit with Matt, we now make a weekend activity out of it. We go to one of the morning workouts on either Saturday or Sunday and then enjoy a delicious brunch at one of the local restaurants n Williamsburg. This tradition is something that I now look forward too – especially if it involves a bloody mary!

This weekend, after our workout, we went to a new restaurant, Diner. I heard about this place from a co-worker (I think their cousin may own it, but I am not really sure) and after researching it a little more on Yelp, I decided this would be a good post-workout spot. Well, let me tell you, we were not disappointed.

Williamsburg is known as being a popular location with hispters, and The Diner certainly appeals to that character type. From the red, shack-like appearance, to the menu scribbled on a piece of paper, to our waiter who looked like he was a 70s gym teacher – it was amazing. We split a stick bun (diet, what diet?), and I got eggs and toast while Matt indulged himself with the country breakfast. The bloody mary was good, but it didn’t live up to the bloodies at Daddy-O’s, we favorite spot in the West Village. All in all it was a great experience.

We also spent some time this weekend celebrating some of our favorite friends. Saturday night started off with an engagement party for one of our favorite couples Jen and Nate. We are so thrilled for them and can not wait to hear more about the wedding planning process. I was particularly excited because I clued Jen into the wonderful world of pinterest – I hope she will spending hours on their looking for inspiration!

Afterwards, we met up with a lot of our friends to celebrate Mike Smeets’ birthday. It was quite a night filled with dancing, cupcakes, and a bar the promised “more fun” – Thanks for including us in the festivities!

The Power of Accountability

This year for my birthday Matt gave me a Garmin GPS running watch. I know what you are thinking, that doesn’t seem very romantic. I sort of thought the same thing.

However, when I opened the watch and realized that he purchased the version with the pink stripe and floral face, I knew I had married the most romantic guy ever.

I am a big believer that in order to feel good when you are working out, you should look good. That is why I occasionally allow myself to splurge on workout clothes from Lululemon and cute running skirts. When I was running the Disney Princess Half Marathon with my sister in celebration of her 30th Birthday, I almost leapt out with glee when I overheard another runner say “oh, that girl’s skirt is super cute.”

From that point forward, it didn’t matter if I got a person best time or even finished the race, in my mind, the race was already a success.

But back to my present – the fact Matt spent an extra second to pick out the pink watch truly warmed my heart. I think after 10 years of dating, he is finally starting to learn!

Since receiving this gift, Matt and I have gone on a few runs and I have been blown away with the results.  I now know, down to the hundredth of a mile, just how far I have run. I know my pace throughout the run, my pace per mile and my “real-time” pace during the run. I can track my heart rate and the elevation of the terrain. And with all of this data, I can adjust my pace accordingly and hopefully improve my running.

The watch holds me accountable. I no longer walk up the stairs that lead to the reservoir – I run them. I no longer get slower every mile – I aim to get faster. I no longer think I’ve run 4 miles, when in actuality I have only run 2.

I am pushing myself harder and I am getting faster. It is truly amazing what accountability does for performance.

Now, if only we could think of something like this that would help improve public education and teaching…

10 Miles a Week

When Matt told me that he was only going to run 10 miles PER week for the marathon, I was skeptical. He tried to reassure me that his CrossFit training would get him across the finish line, but I still couldn’t buy into it. About a month ago, Matt did a half marathon and finished in just over 1 hour and 40 minutes. I was impressed; but still, that was only half the distance of a marathon.

Well on Sunday, Matt proved me wrong. He ran his first marathon in 3 hours and 46 minutes. And while the last 5 miles were rough, he finished with a smile on his face. I am so proud of him and totally inspired to run next year!

 

On a totally unrelated note – be on the look out for the very first GUEST BLOGGER post. It is definitely going to be a good one. And if you want to write a guest blog, let me know!

 

Little Things Turns One

Last week I passed an important milestone; my blog, Focus on the Little Things, celebrated its first anniversary. My first post was written on March 2nd, 2010 as I was seating on the couch contemplating my life. I had become so wrapped up in the negative aspects that I was unable to see the countless positive things I had. Thankfully one year later, I was so busy enjoying my life that I didn’t even realize a year had passed.This past year has gone by so quickly and I am certainly in a much better place now than I was last year.

I have found a job that makes me excited to out of bed in the morning. I believe so passionately in the work that I am doing and the organization’s mission. I work with people who have high expectations for me and for themselves and people who strive to make a difference in the way other people live their lives. I am proud to say that I work for Robin Hood.

Matt and I are getting ready to celebrate our wedding in less than four months. And while the planning process got off to a rocky start, things are smooth sailing from now until the big day. Just this morning we were able to check off the last “big ticket item” on our checklist. We can not wait to celebrate this occasion with our friends and family. Already the excitement that other people have shared with us, particularly the two amazing people planning my shower, has been incredible. It is such a good feeling to know that so many other people are just as excited as we are, for us to get married.

After two and a half years, I am slowly starting to adjust to life in New York. No, I am not a Yankees fan, and never will be. But I have come to terms with the fact that Matt and I don’t live in Boston, and probably won’t in the near future. Instead of focusing on the things that I like about Boston that New York lacks, I am trying to focus on the things that New York has that I do like. These things include the following: Central Park, Bleeker Street Pizza, the fact that the Today Show is my local news, Union Square farmers market, Matt Kinsella, riding my bike to Piermont, Rubix Kube and frequent visitors.

This year has been incredible. I owe that to my family, friends and of course Matt. I couldn’t imagine a life without him. He has truly helped me focus on the little things, and sometimes the big things, that make life so amazing.

So thanks for following along… hold on tight, this year is sure to be a good one.

Grooveshark

I was recently introduced to a game changer:.Grooveshark.

Grooveshark is an online music search engine, music streaming service and music recommendation web software application. It allows users to search for, stream, and upload music free of charge that can be played immediately or added to a playlist. Grooveshark streams 50 to 60 million songs per month, to more than 17,000,000 users. As of April 2009, its audience was growing at a rate of 2–3% per day. And on September 18th 2010, it grew by one. Me.

I have been busy searching for songs and creating the perfect playlist. A blend of Train’s Hey Soul Sister,  Enrique Iglesias’ I Like It, Justin Bieber’s Baby and no playlist would be complete without Taio Cruz’s Dynamite. Listening to this playlist gets me fired up to go out, work out, or dominate the work day. In my mind, these are the ingredients for a great playlist.

Thank you Matt Kinsella, for once again turning me on to the wonders of the musical world. I honestly don’t know how I survived before you entered my life. You complete me. :)

Conquering Half Dome

When Matt and I decided to go to Yosemite, I left most of the planning to him. He talked about going on a few hikes, one in particular called “Half Dome.” I didn’t pay much attention to him during these rants… I figured “hey, I’m from New Hampshire. I practically grew up in the mountains. How hard can this hike actually be?” Well, let me tell you…hard.

When I was in 8th grade, my school spend the first third of the year preparing for our trip to Mt. Cardigan. We practiced outdoor survival skills like getting up tents, starting soil, measuring trees and analysing soil. But more than that, we learned teamwork, independence and real problem solving skills. The memories that I formed in 8th grade, particularly on our trip to Mt. Cardigan, are some of the fondest that I have from my childhood.

When Matt was in 8th grade, his school took a trip to Washington D.C. They toured the city and spent the night in a hotel. Honestly, there is no comparison between our experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city of D.C. and think that the city has a lot to offer. However, going with your school won’t provide a very different experience than if you took a family vacation to D.C. That is what made Mt. Cardigan so special. It was an experience that was created by our teachers and more importantly, by ourselves.

For the past 9 years, every time Matt and I go on an outdoorsy type vacation I compare it to Mt. Cardigan. When we went hiking in the White Mountains, it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went hiking and camping in Havasu, Arizona it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went canyoning and ice climbing in Interlaken, Switzerland it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went cliff jumping in Capri, Italy it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. Matt has grown to detest Mt. Cardigan because none of our trips can ever live up to those 4 days.

Well, after successfully hiking to the top of Half Dome last week, I am happy to report (and Matt is EXTREMELY happy to hear) that it was more intense than Mt. Cardigan. After more than 16 miles, 9 hours, 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,  and more than 8 liters of water later we successfully completed Half Dome.

Although we both walked away extremely tired with sore muscles, it was worth it. The views from the top were worth the sheer terror I felt while hoisting myself up the “cables” at the top of the mountain.

So now when Matt and I take our vacations, they will have to live up to the experience of conquering half dome… although, Cardigan will always have a special place in my heart.

Pace Yourself

With two weeks to go until the Pan Mass Challenge I am starting to feel a mix of emotions: excitement, happiness and a small dose of nervousness. Although the PMC has been the best weekend of my life for the past two years, it is not a weekend that passes without a lot of effort. Biking 190 miles in two days is a challenge: mentally and physically. I have been trying to prepare myself with bike rides in Central Park and riding on my trainer while watching the Tour De France (yes, just call me Dupree, from the movie You Me and Dupree). Unfortunately, a lesson that I have been trying to learn for 27 years, is still posing problems for me; the lesson of pacing oneself.

The other day, I decided to ride 3 laps of the park (each lap is 6 miles). I started out strong averaging 18.5 miles per hour. By the second lap, my average dropped to 18.1 and by the third I was down to 17.4. I went out after it and crashed and burned.

One of my most memorable swims was in the 200 backstroke at the Ivy Championships in 2004. I went hard. I was more than 2 full seconds ahead of the field at the halfway point. Unfortunately, I crashed and burned.

Event 16 – Women’s 200 Yard Backstroke

Molly Brethauer       Harvard       JR

28.05        57.59 (29.54)      1:29.20 (31.61)           2:02.95 (33.75)

I finished the event in 5th place.

During my first half marathon, Boston’s Run To Remember, I ran my first mile in 7 minutes. I finished the race in 1 hour and 58 minutes, making my pace over 9 minutes per mile. Again, I crashed and burned.

Today went I rode 4 laps around the park, I tried to pace myself. I started off nice and easy; however it wasn’t long before another bike rode by me… a girl. Clearly my plan of pacing myself went out the window. I raced around for 2 more loops before complete crashing and burning. On my last loop, my average pace dropped significantly. Thankfully, I finished my ride ahead of the girl who caused me to forget my pace.

So while I am still learning to pace myself in many aspects of my life, I can go to sleep tonight, tired, but feeling victorious. I won. Who cares that no one else in the park knew there was a race going on.

 

Hitting the Refresh Button

I just spend my morning at work, sitting at my computer hitting the refresh button on my computer every 10 seconds. What is the cause of this obsessive compulsive action you ask? Lance Armstrong.

I have been a Lance fan from the beginning. But then again, who wasn’t. Anyone who has the ability to transform a sport, through complete domination automatically gains the curiosity, and most often, support from the public. Lance did just that with his historic 7 Tour De France wins. However, what makes Lance’s story so much more spectacular is the fact that he did this, after beating another opponent: cancer.

In October 1996 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, with a tumor that had metastasized to his brain and lungs. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy, and his prognosis was originally poor. He went on to win the Tour de France each year from 1999 to 2005, and is the only person to win seven times.

During his treatment, before his recovery, before he even knew his own fate, he created the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This marked the beginning of Lance’s life as an advocate for people living with cancer and a world representative for the cancer community. With their now infamous yellow wristbands, the Livestrong organization strives to ‘to inspire and empower’ cancer sufferers and their families. The foundation also aims to provide practical information and tools for cancer sufferers in a, public health and research. With over 70 million wristbands sold, the foundation is known around the world and it making a real difference in the lives of cancer patients.

Lance is an inspiration. While I don’t always support all of the decisions he makes, he is the type of person that you want to root for. He represents so much more than winning.

I hope that my commitment to the Pan Mass Challenge can help to make a difference, no matter how small, in the lives of cancer patients. While my fundraising is off to a slow start, I am confident that the support I have seen in the past, will return. For those of you who have already generously make your donation, I thank you. You will be in my thoughts as I ride across the state, and your actions will be felt at the Dana Farber Center.

To make a donation, please visit my profile here: DONATE HERE!

While Lance’s efforts today did not result in a stage win, in my mind, he is still the best rider in the Tour de France . LIVESTRONG!

Pleasurable Pain

As an athlete you often find yourself craving the feeling of soreness. After a hard practice, having the inability to lift your arms above your head without wincing in pain is a wonderful thing. Junior year of high school I began lifting weights for swimming. While my coach was well-respected in the world of swimming, I am not sure I totally approved of the weight training that he had us doing at 15 and 16 years old. We would spend 3 days a week in the weight room curling 40 pound weights with our arms and we instructed to add three 45 pound plates on each side of the leg press. We would lift until we failed, and as a result we would spend the follow day limping around. My high school had 4 floors and students were not allowed to use the elevator. There were days when I literally cried as I climbed the stairs to French class, which was housed on the 4th floor.

While my muscles “bulked up” far more than most teenage girl would want and my swimming suffered as a result of the constant muscle abuse, a small part of me loved the physical torture of lifting. The aching muscles and complete physical exhaustion was the direct result of my efforts. I felt good about the hard work I put in and had the soreness to prove it.

Now a days, I do not experience muscle aches and fatigue as much as I used to. The amount of time I spend working out has drastically decreased and even when I do visit the gym, my intensity is not what it used to be. While I enjoy the “freedom” that comes from workout out on my own terms, and I certainly don’t miss waking up so insanely early, I do miss the feeling of sore muscles. The validation of a hard days work is hard to find these days.

Over the weekend, I spend some time at my parents house. Both of my parents spend the better part of Monday working, so I was left home alone without a car. I decided that I would do some chores around the house and hopefully cross a few things off my father’s “To Do List” as an early father’s day present. I spent the morning spreading bark mulch around the flower beds and the afternoon cleaning the screens from our porch. At the end of the day, I felt good about the work I put in. I am hoping that now, my dad will spend the majority of Father’s Day weekend riding his bike or on the golf course, instead of doing “things” around the house.

Not only do I feel good about myself for helping my dad, but when I woke up the next day, the familiar feeling of soreness had spread across the muscles in my back and legs. While this brought a smile to my face and a sense of satisfaction from the work I put in, it quickly faded when I realized how pathetic it was. I was comparing sore muscles that I got when training, on a fairly elite level, for swimming, to a few hours of yard work. How quickly things change…