What I Learned From My Worst Race Ever

Racing is one of those necessary evils as a runner. In my experience, I've never met any runner who doesn't have any negative feelings (whether that be nerves, dread, or fear) as they get on the line to start a race. But the truth of the matter is, races are a way to set goals, push yourself, and ultimately reach those goals. Plus, finishing a race is always the most satisfying feeling (especially when there's free food at the end!). 

This summer, I'm challenging myself to sign up for a few local road races to motivate myself to keep running over this long break from university. And because I've signed up for my first half-marathon in October (!!!), I'm trying to find some fun races to get used to the longer distance. One way to easily find amazing running events in your area is through Eventbrite- from 5Ks, to beer runs, to relays, they have it all! And if they don't happen to have the kind of race you're looking for, why not make one of your ownYou can sell tickets through Eventbrite, and use it to get the word out, all while supporting local event creation!

If you're thinking of signing up for a race this summer, whether it's your first time, 5th time or 100th time, it really isn't an easy feat. Even us seasoned runners have had our bad moments- from untied shoelaces, to mid-race injuries, to accidental faceplants, anything can happen. But it's important to use those "bad" races as learning opportunities- and that way, they're not actually so bad! 

So to inspire you to race, whether it goes according to plan or not, I thought I would share the story of my worst race ever, and what I've learned from it in hindsight. 

Back when I was in high school, we had an "open" race during the indoor track season. This meant that anyone could participate in any event they chose to- long jump, throws, the 1000 meters, you name it! Naturally, I signed up for the two-mile race because I love distance running (even on a tiny track where I had to do 16 laps). But, of course, no one else is really crazy enough to willingly run the two-mile. I was the only girl who had signed up, so they put me in the boys race with just three other runners. 

I finished my 16 laps slower than I ever had, and blamed the fact that no one was running near me as the reason for my terrible performance. Tired and frustrated, I shrugged it off. But my racing wasn't over. My coach and friends had encouraged me to sign up for a relay race that took place right after the two-mile. I was the last leg of the relay, so I had a bit of time to try and shake the nausea and fatigue I was feeling more and more with each passing moment. 

I knew this wouldn't be a good race. I knew I was going to let my relay team down. But I went out there, grabbed the baton and began the last leg of the race. The first two laps weren't too bad, but it wasn't until lap three where things really started to take a turn for the worst. I was in so much pain that I started to slow down, gasping for air, gagging, and eventually throwing up on the side of the track. But I didn't completely stop running, and was somehow simultaneously throwing up and running those last two laps. I crossed the finish line in dead last, with tears in my eyes, embarrassed at what had just happened. No one was disappointed, though- they just hugged me and said "Hey, you finished!"

What can I say? I'm stubborn. And I always finish a race. 

Despite how cringey (and horrifying) that race was, I look back on it fondly as a reminder that I survived (and completed) a race under terrible circumstances. Even though I'm incredibly proud of myself for finishing that race, I know now that I don't always have to push myself to my limits and that I should listen to my body. But still, remembering how I got through that race always motivates me to push through bearable pain and shut off that whiny voice in my brain that tells me to stop because "I'm too tired and I'd rather be eating pizza."

So, when you have a "bad" race, don't think of it as something truly awful. Bad races are what help you to have good races in the future. You learn far more from the races where you struggle than the races that are a breeze. So even if you have a bad race, keep trying. Sign up for more races, and keep shooting for those goals. 


Second Year Highlights

No one ever tells you how short University truly feels. Well, maybe they do but I guess I just never listened. It's so strange to think that I'm halfway done with University, and that many of older friends are even graduating this month. It just goes to show that it all really does fly by, and you should try your best to cherish every moment (even the stressful ones!).

I'm going to try to not be too cheesy or gushy with this post, but I think that might be hard considering so many wonderful things have come out of this year. I wish I could write an entire post on each of these "highlights," breaking down every little detail of why they matter to me. But for the purposes of this post, I'll keep it short and sweet, focusing on the most important things that have happened this academic year.

Running // My improvement in running actually started over this past summer. I trained hard over those few months, and signed up for a fair few races. I was really worried that come the new cross country season, I wouldn't have been able to keep it up. But, I was pleasantly surprised when my times improved and I was able to keep up with girls that I definitely wouldn't have been able to run with last year. I'm also proud to say that I signed up for many more races this year than last, and have enjoyed every single one of them. Okay, maybe not the race at BUCS where we were trudging through 2 feet of mud and 3 feet of water. At least the social was good ;)

Academics // This year has been a strange one when it comes to academics- I've definitely improved overall, but I've also faced a lot of frustration with certain courses. But I think that's okay- because academics (and life) isn't an upward trajectory. When I was doing very well in one class, I was struggling to earn high marks in another. It isn't always going to be smooth sailing, but you have to learn to pick yourself up and move on. And let me tell you, I learned that the hard way. On a positive note though, I want to give a special shout out to my ethnography course (and my project mates) from this semester. This was a phenomenal class where I felt like I was not only learning how to plan, conduct, and ultimately write an ethnography, but I was actually doing it for myself! It's not too often that a course as good as this comes around.

Trying New Things // As you get older, I feel like it's really hard to have the opportunity to try new things and follow through with them. Sure, you may sign up for some crazy adventurer society, but do you ever do anything beyond scanning the emails? I'm so guilty of this (sorry "Come Dine with Me" society). But this year, I put myself out there more and tried out some new activities that I really ended up enjoying. From learning to reel and swing dance, to trying out skiing for the first time since I was a child, this year was all about taking the leap to try new things.

Cooking // Is it a surprise to anyone that this is on my list? Living in a flat and being "forced" to cook for myself has been such an great experience. Honestly, I'm so glad I know how to cook (from my mom teaching me) and have been able to practice and develop those skills (from cooking on my own). I've tried out so many new recipes this year, from learning how to put together a proper British roast dinner to making Iranian food for the first time last week. I think it's important to not just cook the same few things all the time (okay, you can never go wrong with fajitas), and to always challenge yourself with new and exciting recipes. And over the next few months I'm going to try a bit harder to share some of my favorite student-friendly recipes here on the blog!

Friendships // I'm so glad that this year has brought about so many new friendships as well as the strengthening of old ones. Living with my three flatmates this year has been such a learning experience, and has also made me realize that I live with such wonderful people. We're each so different from one another, but we get along so well. I'm also so happy that even as a second year, I've been able to meet new people. Even if I had known "of" them from halls last year, or had seen them around before, it's been great expand my friend group from what it was in first year. And finally, I'm so incredibly lucky to have met my boyfriend at the beginning of this year. I can't even begin to express how grateful I am to him for making each and every day so special for me- whether we're together or apart.

Despite it's up and downs, this year has been truly remarkable. I'm sad to see it end, but I'm hopeful that my next year in Edinburgh will be just as good- if not better! Until then, I'll be hanging out at home, leaving my school-related worries behind me, and reminiscing about a wonderful school-year gone by.


10 Things You Should Know Before Moving Abroad

If you told little, naive, high school me that I would end up leaving my longtime home for somewhere completely foreign to me, well, I think she'd just be downright amazed. Even now, sometimes I have to stop myself for a second and say "Hey, you did this crazy thing!"

I've been living abroad in Edinburgh for nearly two years now, and while I do get to go home for decent amounts of time like any college student, I do feel like I truly live here. It's such a wonderful thing that I've been able to have this incredible experience, and that my parents have always been fully supportive of it. But it takes more than just a positive attitude and encouraging parents to be able to live abroad.

I know that this coming year, many of my friends from home (and university) will be venturing out into uncharted territory to live abroad for a few months. And I'm sure a few of you reading out there might be thinking of moving abroad for even longer. So I thought I'd use my relative expertise to dish out some advice that might make that transition a little bit smoother.

Every country is different. So I'm not prepared to give out specific advice (unless you're moving to Scotland/the UK, in which case feel free to send me an email here!). Instead, I thought I'd be a bit more general about the overall experience of being abroad so that you know better what to expect when you make a leap of faith like I did two years ago.

It won't be easy // Make no mistake that your abroad experience won't always be like it is in the movies- or on your friends instagram feeds for that matter. Of course, you'll have those "pinch me" moments where the sun is shining, the landscape is perfect, and you'll feel like you could be the covergirl for a year abroad prospectus. But what people share online isn't necessarily real life. Moving abroad is a ginormous transition. You need to accept that the hard times will pass, and that you'll eventually find your groove.

But preparation will make it a bit easier // Do you research. Because if you don't, you might end up floundering. I know it's tempting to be that free-spirited Euro-gypsy who just goes whichever way the wind takes you, but you need to prepare properly. Figure out how finances will work, look into opening an international bank account, and get your visa sorted. Do the preparation, and those spontaneous times will follow.

The differences will be hard // Everyone says the US is just like the UK. That is, people who've never lived in the UK say that. I can tell you now that even I had a hard time adjusting to the differences- in language, in education, and in people. It will be frustrating, and sometimes you'll just want to revert back to what you know.   

But you'll learn to deal with them // The unfamiliar can be a wonderful thing. You'll learn how to adjust to a new language or even just learn a few slang terms. You'll gain a new perspective on international politics. You'll figure out how a different money system works, and won't have to take 10 minutes at the till counting up coins that still seem foreign to you.

You'll need support // You can't just cut your entire family and your closest friends out of your life because you're "finding yourself" in another country. In time, you'll find that you can and should lean on them when things get hard. You'll never get too dependent though, since they'll be thousands of miles away. But just hearing that voice on the end of the phone will perk you up when you're feeling down.

But you'll also meet wonderful people // Finding friendships abroad will open up the world to you. You'll find friends from all over the world who are figuring it out just like you. And even the ones who are local will be special to you, because they'll show you the ropes and serve as a guide through your time abroad. And whenever you need to travel, you'll realize you have a couch to crash on everywhere you go.

You will miss your home at times // This is inevitable. People who say they "never miss home" when they're far away are definitely playing it off. Or they just might be emotionless robots. You might not be crying into your pillow every night, but there will be times when you just wish you could be lying in the comfort of your childhood bed.   

But at other times you won't want to leave // Sometimes going home will make you realize how much you love being abroad. You'll have found a second home somewhere else that feels just as "right" as where you grew up. But consider yourself lucky- this just means that you have two places to go home to. And that is a lovely thing.

Something will go wrong // Big or small, something will turn you into a complete tailspin. And in this unfamiliar place, any feelings of confusion or sadness will be augmented. Without your family to rely on, things will be tougher than ever.

But it will make you stronger // Despite popular belief, living abroad doesn't make you a better person or even a completely different person that you were before. But it does make you stronger. You will learn so much by being in a different place. And by struggling with that learning curve and ultimately surmounting it, you'll gain the type of strength that only comes from facing the unfamiliar.

And I promise that it will all be worth it.


4 Ways to Treat Yourself- Without Blowing Your Budget

I've been facing a bit of a conundrum in my life lately. I want to incentivize my good study habits, but as we near the end of the academic year my bank about is beginning to dwindle away quicker than I anticipated. Maybe you're facing a similar problem to me, or maybe you're just done with your exams and you're bored out of your mind since all your friends want to do is hole up in the library.

There's no way around it: "having fun" usually implies spending a lot of cash. Whether it's a couple of cocktails with girlfriends at your favorite bar, a trip to the movies complete with popcorn and candy, or a shopping spree on the High Street.

But having fun doesn't have to include money. And now that I have to manage two bank accounts, schoolwork, and my sanity I've learned how to enjoy myself without feeling too much money-related guilt afterwards.

So before I share these tips with you today, I also wanted to share this tool with you from Personal Capital which allows you to manage your money and sync up all your accounts in one place.

Now, onto the money-saving tips!

Explore free museums and galleries in your city // How many times have you passed by a museum in your city without giving it a second thought? Newsflash: a lot of those museums are free! Spend half a day soaking up some culture at a natural history museum or art gallery without spending a dime (except if you want to make a small donation- which I would definitely encourage). And it's not just your run-of-the-mill museums that offer free entry, a lot of more off the beaten path historical sites and gardens offer free entry too!

My favorite free museums in Edinburgh include: The National Galleries // The National Museum of Scotland // The Royal Botanic Gardens // The Writer's Museum (I haven't been yet but it's on my list!)

The National Museum of Scotland is always a must!

Shop second-hand // Up until this year, I've always been a skeptic when it comes to second-hand stores. Someone else's clothes? Pass. But ever since I started snooping around Nicholson Street's endless rows of charity shops (and even ended up volunteering in one a few months ago!) I've had a change of heart. It isn't hard to get some really good steals if you're a selective shopper. Think about how used the item looks, what brand it is (I've found some L.K. Bennett before- seriously), and if you'll actually wear it. Charity shops aren't just for clothes though! You can also find cutesy teacups and half-price cookbooks.

Take advantage of student deals at restaurants // Think of your Student ID like a members-only club card that gets you into all the best restaurants for a fraction of the price. Most places in a student-filled city like Edinburgh have discounts dedicated to us ramen-dependent young people. So don't be afraid take advantage! Even if there isn't a student discount on offer, you're bound to find deals for certain times/days of the week if you do some digging online.

My favorite places in Edinburgh that will hook you up with a discount (student or not) are:

The Treehouse cafe for 15% if you flash that ID. Serving up fluffy pancakes, beautifully cooked eggs, and strong coffee, this will be your new favorite brunch spot.

Montpeliers for cheap wine, beer, and cocktails on the weekdays, plus discounted burgers on Wednesdays. Trust me, the cocktails here are dang good.

TriBeCa for 50% off all food on Tuesday's if you're a student. The food is solid, but the milkshakes are insanely good. And 50% off? I don't think you can beat that!

Nutella-smothered pancakes from the Treehouse Cafe. Does it get much better than this?

Cook up a fancy meal instead of going out // Put down the pasta. You know the one- the same kind you make every night. Instead, pick up a cookbook (or pull up BBC Good Food on your phone) and challenge yourself to make a totally-new-to-you recipe. You'll end up spending half of what you normally spend at a restaurant. And now you can spend that other half on a nice bottle of wine. If you're feeling extra ambitious, try whipping up a decadent dessert, like my personal favorite Nigella's molten chocolate babycakes. I promise it will still be instagram-worthy.

Homemade Spanish tapas and (many) glasses of sparkling rosé. 

And, with that, I encourage you all to "Treat yo self" this exam season (did you really think I could get through this post without using the gif?)


Weekends Are for Brunching: A review of All Bar One Edinburgh

There are two things I love the most about brunch:

1.) It's the perfect mix of sweet and savory dishes.
2.) You can eat double the number of calories because it's two meals in one.

With all of my passion for this in-between meal, I could probably write an entire post book about all of the wonderful places I've been for brunch in Edinburgh, Boston, and beyond. But for today, I'll just focus on one in particular.

My blogging buddy Hayley was invited along to All Bar One to sample the brunch menu, and she was kind enough to ask me to tag along. Talk about perks of having big-time blogger friends am I right?

All Bar One has a few locations in Edinburgh, but we went to the one on George Street because it gave us an excuse to do a little bit of window shopping afterwards. The restaurant makes you feel like you're at a hot-spot in town the second you walk in- with chic lighting fixtures, high ceilings, and a cool color scheme you can't help but feel trendy in this space. The wood-paneled bar along the back has seemingly endless shelves of alcohol, enticing you to order a cocktail or two.

Unfortunately, I was far too jet-lagged to indulge in a drink, and Hayley had some revision to do later that day so we opted for a dry brunch instead. As soon as we sat down we both admitted that we had already looked at the menu online and picked out our favorite dishes beforehand. So we were quick to catch the waiters eye so we could order. I immediately ordered a coffee and it was suitably strong. It even came with a mini bottle of milk and a shot glass full of smarties- so unexpected but so cute! Hayley ordered a pineapple juice and I was definitely jealous of her tropical drink.

For my brunch dish, I went with my standby favorite, huevos rancheros. While I was tempted to have a classic eggs benedict, I was curious to see what the Brits' take would be on one of my go-to breakfasts. Whenever I see huevos rancheros on a menu, I'm almost too quick to order it! I had it nearly every morning when I was in California last spring, so I'd consider myself an expert at this point.

The huevos at All Bar One were made with scrambled eggs, which I was skeptical of at first (I've only ever had the dish with fried or sunny-side up eggs), but in the end I was pleasantly surprised. The eggs were well-cooked, and came with fresh avocado, spicy salsa, and some warm tortillas. A little unexpected bonus on the side was the pineapple and habanero ketchup which was a bit sweet for my tastes but paired well with the rest of the dish.

Hayley ordered the classic buttermilk pancakes with bacon, which was sprinkled with lots of fresh fruit- think bananas, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. She seemed to really enjoy it, and if you need further proof then you can go read her blog post here!

The funny thing about going out for a meal with another blogger is that it makes you feel way less awkward about taking photos of our food from all angles. We justify it by saying, well it's practically our job. Luckily, we both had chosen some very photogenic food, which is always a plus when sharing blog photos.

After our brunch we were happy, full, and quite frankly ready for a little snooze. It was the perfect way to start off my last month in Edinburgh before the summer.

If you'd like to keep up with all of my foodie adventures then give me a follow on Instagram!
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