The dog days aren’t over…

Everyone is completely stressed out. Finals are so close. My friends and residents are living off of energy drinks and iced coffee.

I’ve had an amazing week.

Last Friday, I attended a volunteer opportunity sponsored by the leadership chapter I am on the executive board of NRHH. We spent the afternoon at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago learning about why people abandon or mistreat animals and gaining a better understanding of just what the society does. We were given a tour and stopped in room of dogs. Our group leader took two out, and I got to hold Puki, an absolutely adorable dog. He actually seemed to enjoy being held and liked looking out the window while I held him. It was so nice to be near so many animals, since I had been going through withdrawal after not having seen my puppy in weeks.

Puki at the Anti-Cruelty Society

 

After our tour, we moved on to volunteering. We brought along dog and cat toys we made for them earlier in the year and sat down to make more now that we had seen the animals who would be receiving the toys. With them in mind, we got down to work. Not long after we started, two of the workers brought in twin, 2 month-old toy poodles, Electra and Iphigenia. Electra was born with one eye, and Iphigenia was born without either eyes due to inbreeding. Nevertheless, they were so playful and sweet. I couldn’t get over how Iphigenia would walk up against Electra as guidance-that was the sweetest thing ever. And just like my puppy at home, they proudly pranced, not walked, around the room, looking for things to explore. Those dogs were incredible

Iphigenia at the Anti-Cruelty Society

The next day, my resident, my boyfriend and I couldn’t help but walk around the city since it was so beautiful outside. My resident wanted to show my boyfriend a Mariano’s he liked even more than ours on Halsted. I didn’t want to go since we were far from campus and I would be tempted to buy groceries, but after following them through the store, they showed me my dream come true-a dog park! I was so excited. We went in and sat down and I impatiently awaited attention from someone’s dog. After sitting on the bench for quite some time and not getting more than a brief second to pet a dog, I moved to the ground. I quickly made friends with an old golden retriever. Such a sweet and awesome dog. He let me pet him for 10 minutes straight-and even came back for more.

Golden retriever at the dog park

It’s safe to say my dog encounters last weekend helped me get through the week ahead of me-all that stood between me and my puppy at home. After a wonderful reuniting today, I sit here writing. Bear is huge. No longer the tiny baby we brought home in January. I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by and how big he’s gotten. He’s still our lovable, playful puppy, he’s just a big puppy!

Bear!

Pretty sure I went dog crazy this week! What a great time.

 

 

Crisis Averted

I was becoming very concerned about the strike that was announced by the faculty union. Namely, the idea that finals would be postponed as well as graduation, which would mean that my transcripts would be delayed and applying to medical school would not happen in a timely manner. But, thankfully, the strike was called off and I can go about planning my schedule as is.

So, a few updates…I finally received an email from the Fulbright committee and I did not get the scholarship. It was a bit surprising, but I guess they just wanted someone who has never been to the country before (or went only once in their life). Otherwise, I’m not sure what in my application was not up to par with what they were looking for (and neither does Beth Powers, who helped me greatly on preparing my application). OH WELL! At least I know what I’m doing for the rest of the year, kind of.

My plan B if the Fulbright thing didn’t work out was to just work for a year as a scribe, researcher and now maybe at the writing center. I’m thankful that I have options as many of my friends who are graduating may have difficulty finding a job. However, I’m not going to make any quick decisions yet. I am still waiting on my MCAT score.

My fear at this moment is if I scored the same or below how I did the first time. It looks VERY bad to the admission committee if you do the same or worse than your first time (mainly because it means that you didn’t study differently or did not care enough to make sure you would do well the second time). While I did change the way I studied as well as the material I studied from, I did not discontinue my obligations (such as work, club stuff, etc). Specifically, I took tests constantly and reviewed missed problems over and over until I remembered the answer (and thus remembering the reason why the answer was correct and why the other answers were wrong). This process was stressed the most with the practice exams I took (the AAMC ones) and my Berkeley Review books’ materials were on the back burner as test day came closer and closer. I completely had no idea how to study for verbal the second time around, so I focused more on improving my science scores (since those are easier to improve compared to verbal reasoning). While I do wish I practiced verbal passages more, I’m not sure how beneficial it would have been for me to do that compared to focusing on science.

If I miraculously do well, even 1 point more than my score from last year, I’ll apply on time as planned. Depending on my score, I’ll either apply to only MD/PhD programs, mix of MD/PhD and MD programs, or MD only / DO only programs. Whatever score I get, I’ll just have to be as realistic as possible with my decisions.

So, if I don’t do well at all, then I’ll most likely retake it for a third time. I know the pre-health advisor told me it may not be worth it, but I think if I really decided the entire summer to nothing but living and breathing the MCAT, maybe then I would attain the score I want. After all, these past two times I had classes to worry about, jobs to work, club meetings to attend etc…if all of those disappear when I graduate and I turn into a hermit, and I do well…then I’d say it’s worth it to give myself that chance to do that method. I’d hate my guts, but I know I would be really proud of myself if it meant I’d get an insane score!

Oh well, I find out VERY soon how I did…so check out next week’s post for my reaction and actual plans to fill my gap year!

This week I have my second genetics lab exam and I’m also working 4 5pm-2am shifts. I’m kind of stressing about this, but luckily after this Saturday I have the time to study for finals like a crazy person. I originally only had to work 2 of these shifts, but two of the other scribes asked me for assistance (and being nice, I accepted). One of the girls is taking her MCAT that week, and the other wanted to be with her mother during surgery. I know that if I was in their position I would want someone to help out too…so yeah, went ahead and accepted it at the expense of me not getting much sleep this week…but I’ll be fine! I find a way to give myself energy.

Super happy I don’t have to depend on things like coffee to keep me awake. I don’t even really know how I keep my eyes open, hah! When I’m under pressure, I guess my sympathetic nervous system heightens quite a bit.

Once this semester ends and I graduate, I think the first thing I’m going to do is find some kind of spa that gives a nice massage and pretty facials. Maybe I’ll cut my hair short again too. We’ll see how the weather looks. (:

Get ready for this year’s RECESS

It’s back. It has been a longstanding UIC tradition. It’s time for RECESS!

For those who are not familiar with this event, RECESS is basically a time to unwind right before finals. It’s meant for students to be entertained. This year, the Student Activities Board (SAB) and UIC Undergraduate Student Government (USG) are partnering up to bring you this great event on April 30 from 3-6 p.m.

There is a spin to this year’s RECESS, though. This year, the event will be in the style of an obstacle course race in which 20 teams will compete against each other until one team gets the gold! The teams will consist of four students and if interested, they can register here. Registration is now open and will end on Sunday, April 27th. Only the first 20 teams will be able to participate so please get your submissions in soon!

The event will kick off with a 30 minute opening ceremony full of warm-ups and fun games for all students. Then at 3:30, the event will begin and run until 5:30. At 5:30, the closing ceremony will begin with a pyrotechnic show and close with the announcement of the teams that clock-out in first, second, and third place. The winning teams will receive gold, silver, or bronze medals for their success. Other teams will receive a complimentary prize for their participation.

SAB, the USG team, and I have all been working hard on getting this event together since the beginning of the semester. Get excited for this year’s RECESS!

Until next time…

Mike

The customer is always right?

For those of you who may work in retail or customer service, the phrase “the customer is always right” is the WORST!  I know from personal experience.  I work in an industry that is a melting pot of knowledge, technology, trends that come and go, doctors recommendations, and a range of customers with a variety of needs: the running shoe industry.

Now, I first started working at a running specialty shoe store in the summer of 2001 when I was a going to be a Sophomore of high school.  I was very young and naive about pretty much everything.  I went through months and months of training about the technology of shoes, fitting customers properly, and customer service.  So, with 13 years experience, I’d say I have a pretty good grasp on the concept of customer service.  As a customer, I expect knowledge about the questions I have (or ways to get the answers to my questions), I expect that the employee is going to care about helping me, and I expect to be treated in a friendly manner.  I don’t think those are too much to ask because that is exactly what I will give my customers when they walk in my store. I rarely ever complain about services unless it truly put me out of my way, because honestly people complain about ANYTHING.

I rant about this a bit because I have been on both sides of bad experiences.  I have had shoes thrown at me, I have had customers belittle me and treat me like a doormat they can step on, all while still trying to help with a smile on my face.  It is not easy.  Last week, my mom broke the screen of her phone and it completely shattered.  She has an Iphone 4 and it is the very first smartphone she has ever had.  Now, I won’t name the phone provider, but I will explain what an awful experience it was to get her phone replaced.

It started out with multiple phone calls.  We made the switch to this company about a year ago (buying 6 phones, all with insurance).  So, replacing one hadn’t been attempted yet.  Trying to make a claim was almost impossible.  First, it’s all the security questions.  Yes. I understand there are people who try to scam but how many times to I have to tell you how to spell my name and the street I was born on.  Second, the shipping address she gave they claimed was “not a valid address.”  She gave the address to the business she works.  They were supposed to call her to remedy that.  They didn’t.  She calls back the next night (her fingers are starting to get cut because of the shattered screen) and she keeps getting hung up on while they keep transferring her to department after department.  FINALLY after the claim is made and they send her the phone the next day that was $50 more than they originally said (at the very valid address she gave them in the first place), they said she could bring it in any store to help her transfer all of her stuff.  No problem!

I first thought maybe I should go with her to make sure she gets the help she needs.  But it didn’t end up happening that way.  She spent an hour waiting for someone to help her.  When she was called the girl helping her was rude, ignorant and could care less about helping her.  My mom needed assistance in her Apple ID and ICloud.  Pretty simple request, I think.  No.  This girl didn’t even activate the phone for her.  So, she comes home with a new phone that doesn’t work.  I was pretty upset about it because it was a pretty ridiculous process already.  She went back, and I went with her.

When we walk in, my mom points out the girl who “helped” her before.  The girl walks up and asks “did you figure out your Apple ID stuff,” kind of killing us with kindness.  I told her SHE had to assist her with that.  THAT’S what my mom asked her to do.  I explained that my mom didn’t understand what she was talking about and left empty handed because she couldn’t care to give her the customer service she deserved.  Now, I was pretty heated at this moment but then when the girl had the audacity to say “Well, she wasn’t willing to work with me!”  I almost lost it! You NEVER talk to a customer like that.  I told her that I work in retail and I understand how customer service works.  When you have a customer who needs your help, you help them to the best of your ability. PERIOD.

One of the technicians came over and started helping us then and she was just amazing.  Answered all of our questions, activated the phone, transferred everything, reminded us about wiping data out of the old phone, that we have 14 days to return the old phone, and so on.  She was so incredibly nice and THAT is how customer service should be.

I still hate the phrase “the customer is always right.” Because they are not always right.  But the communication between the employee and the customer needs to be caring, helpful, and friendly. Both parties have a responsibility to be courteous of one another.  So, if I am not up to your standards as a salesperson, that’s on me.  This situation was obviously making my mom go out of her way and that girl was disrespectful to her.  When you’re rude to me, I might say something.  But when you’re disrespectful to my mom…..you better believe I’m gonna say something!!!! :)

Registration and looking ahead

It’s always just stay, it’s always just stay / Never just go, never just go…

Whenever registration tickets begin, it kind of feels like “happy Hunger Games!” for me and I’m left praying the odds will be ever in my favor. With limited spots and preferred professors/time slots, everyone seems to rush to register for all of the spots that would be most convenient to me. Luckily, this past semester, with more credit hours accumulated, I was able to register pretty early and I was able to craft my schedule more thoughtfully. With this school year winding down, it’s hard not to just look ahead at what’s to come.

There’s a famous quote by Lao Tzu that says, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” I have an unfortunate tendency to live in anywhere but the present. Sometime, of course, it’s debilitating because I unravel things that happened over and over in my head because I’m too caught up on little details to focus on what’s happening now. However, at times it helps me because I’m constantly mentally planning ahead and envisioning what I want to do. I get very excited about imagining what I will be doing a week from today…a month from today…a semester, a year, 10 years…

Just looking ahead to next year though, I am so excited to say that I will be returning to Courtyard residence hall as a Peer Mentor again! I will be living on the third floor this time, which I think may be a little different from my experience on first floor, and I can’t wait to see what it’s like to live in a 8-person cluster for the first time. I am so happy to be rehired and can’t wait to interact with residents again—with more experience this time as well!

In any case, now that my plans are more aligned and I am registered for courses, what’s left for me is to finish off the semester as strongly as possible. I’ve been actually doing a pretty good job keeping up with things (for once!), and I’m excited to see what’s coming!

In case you had trouble registering for classes you want this time, here are some little tips for you in the future that helped me out a lot!:

1) Actually CHECK your registration time

It always surprises me how many people seem to neglect to check their time to register. UIC is usually pretty good about reminding you to check about your registration through email, so always be on the lookout for those reminders. It’s really easy and fast – just log into your my.uic.eduaccount and then click on Registration under the Academics tab. Then LOG THAT DATE into your calendar, whether that means setting a phone reminder, inputting it into Google docs, or writing it on a sticky note. You don’t want to forget and miss out on your best time to register!

2) Plan out your courses in advance!

The scheduling tab on the my.uic.edu website will have the next semester class schedules and course code numbers listed early, so it will definitely be to your advantage to figure out what exactly you are taking next semester and making sure the times will work out for you. You don’t want a nasty surprise on your registration day when you realize two or more of your classes have time conflicts, and you have to rearrange your whole course plan for the next few semesters! Write down the different time options for your classes and start with the one that is least flexible and build the rest of your schedule from there. You will have a much easier time of figuring out what class works where! In addition to that, have a contingency plan ready if needed. If the CRN you picked out beforehand ends up full when you register, it’ll be more stressful to scramble to figure out a completely new schedule on the spot. Try to have a few possible course plans mapped out for your next semester so that you might be ready to switch things around. If that proves difficult with the courses you have to take for your major, be sure to make an appointment with your advisor early and ask for assistance!

3) Know your preferences!

Will you be braindead until 10 AM? Then AVOID those 8 AMs and 9 AMs! That can be tough sometimes depending on class availabilities, but try to play to your strengths as much as possible. Some people value being done early in the day over sleeping in – then you might want to end your day at 2 or 3 PM if possible. Some people value having entire days off (I’m always envious of them!) and don’t mind going from 8 AM to 4 PM in order to have an extra day off during the week. In addition, when scheduling your classes, try to think ahead and figure out times that you will probably spend studying or participating in an activity. If you have a 3 hour gap between classes, maybe you’ll head to the gym for a workout or hit the library to get some studying done. Visualize your schedule out for each day so that there are no surprises when the semester begins.

Hopefully that makes registration a little bit more stress-free! In the end, the number one tip is to be as prepared as possible when the time comes again!

We fell in love in stereo / Then he broke my heart in stereo

(Love in Stereo - Sky Ferreira)

The End is Near……………..

Not bombarding you with opinions and information today. Instead, I’m sympathizing; with these last few weeks winding down, things sure are getting pretty difficult. Presentations and projects are around every corner, last minute Fall 2014 and graduation plans are being made, and all the while, finals are steadily creeping up on us.

It is so important to take care of yourself so that everything you need to complete can have your absolute best efforts in it. I know it’s easy to tell yourself that it’s almost summer and that you can relax then, but find some time amongst the chaos that is the final days and weeks of school. If you do (without overindulging), I can guarantee your peace of mind and grades will be in a much better state. Here’s how:

Go on a walk in the city.

Get ice cream, frozen yogurt, or any other delicious frozen treat.

Go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Watch a movie.

Read a book (for fun).

Go out for lunch.

Start a blog!

Jog around.

Shop-spring and summer wardrobe time!

(Weather permitting) lay in the grass and look at the clouds.

Go to Starbucks.

Go to Mariano’s and eat something good!

Explore the neighborhoods around UIC.

Get a bike. If you already have one, ride it around town.

Cook something delicious.

Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time (parent? friend?)

Watch mindless (or not so mindless) television.

Play video games.

Stretch.

Get a message.

Exercise.

Do what makes you happy! Good luck.

 

You did good, son

It really feels good to hold events for the public, whether it is going to some space like a high school class or just nearby on campus. Being there for the whole experience is the icing on top of the cake! Watching my fellow future physicians suture for the first time was really exciting, and even though I probably won’t be a plastic surgeon (my first few sutures were quite terrible, lol), I hope that the activity instilled more motivation to pursue medicine in general. The CHI-FEST Suture Clinic, partnered with Kaplan and the U.S. Army, was a great success! I’m so proud of my pre-medical club members who participated in CHI-FEST (Community Health Initiative) as well as those who figured out all of the logistical details to make these events possible.

SFP CHI-FEST Suture Clinic with Kaplan and U.S. Army

We had a great turn out at the SFP CHI-FEST Suture Clinic Event partnered with Kaplan and the U.S. Army. We learned the simple, interrupted suture as well as the simple running suture (I did not attempt the latter because I was still busy learning the first one well without cramping my fingers with the tools, lol!).

A few things about CHI-FEST: Society of Future Physicians (SFP) has a history of holding this event annually with other pre-medical organizations to engage the community concerning health topics as well as creating opportunities to network with each other and get to know current health professionals in the field. As the vision of CHI-FEST is noble, the actual orchestration of making this event possible was never really realized for the past 4 years that I have been here. There would be a medical student panel and physician panel, which was great, but nothing larger-scale than that for the public.

This year, however, we were able to have this super awesome suture clinic at UIC, invite UIC medical students for a panel and invite UIC alumni who were physicians (and a PharmD!) for a panel, have a space for our Health Education Program and Social Outreach Program members to present their community projects / educate fellow college members on health issues and had a “pre-health mixer” where we got to meet and network with other students. Ah, it was fantastic!

 

SFP CHI-FEST - Milie's Pig Foot

My horrible suturing, haha! We used pig feet to learn how to suture with 3.0 nylon and silk. The techniques were just like the ones I see the ER doctors use in the actual ER (like if someone comes in with their skin cut from glass). My first few sutures were pretty bad (so loose), but it got better as I struggled less with the tools.

SFP CHI-FEST - Alison's Pig Foot

My friend Alison had great suturing technique! "Future plastic surgeon!" - U.S. Army representatives who taught us how to suture.

Those events spanned a hectic 2 days, and before that we also had our elections for SFP. I had to run over from the UIC Student Research Forum (SRF) to get there because the staff were still tallying up the judge’s scores. This was my first time presenting a research poster at the UIC SRF event and it was really awesome! I’ve always wanted to go and present my research, but it would always be during class time and I could not afford to miss class. This year, while it did coalesce with BIOS 221 (genetics lab), we were just doing class presentations and the instructor said I could be excused. Phew!

There were so many different topics and the judges were varied as well. My poster is basic science heavy, so when my first judge told me he was a law professor, my mind was like “Oh crap I have no idea how this will be, but here I go!” When I had two judges from the medicine department come by, that was a ton easier to talk about my research and they seemed pretty interested in my work (which got me more excited to talk about it, haha!). I didn’t win an award, but that’s OK! The experience was really fun! The reception right after presentations was nice since there was food and whatnot. I sat next to an orthopedic surgeon and we talked about charting and documentation (told him I was a scribe!). After my talk with him, I think he’ll probably look into hiring scribes for his office, haha! Too bad I can’t scribe outside of my job, but I don’t mind. I really love my scribe job, as inconvenient as the hours are with my school schedule and research schedule. I’m just happy that the semester is almost over so that I can spend my summer doing research and working in the hospital (and paying off those loans!).

UIC SRF Maharshi and Milie

I took a picture with my fellow SFP pal in front of his poster at the UIC Student Research Forum! Thanks Maharshi for the photo!

I still haven’t heard back from Fulbright yet, but I’ll definitely keep you all in touch with my plans! I have a weird feeling it will be announced when my MCAT scores come out (April 22 apparently).

Ah, what else is new…oh yes I attended the 42nd Annual Chancellor’s Student Service and Leadership Awards! I’ve never been to this event before, and I also did not know who nominated me for an award (the Chancellor’s Student Service Award) since the person remained to be anonymous on the online form. Well, whoever you are, thank you so much for the nomination! I wish I understood that I received the award (I thought it was just a nomination, so I didn’t think about dressing up all fancy like everyone else was). Three of my fellow SFP members were inducted into the Activities Honorary Society (a big deal), so I was glad to watch them light their candles! I felt very proud that they were representing the organization as well as their other organizations that they’re a part of at UIC.

42nd Annual Chancellor's Student Service and Leadership Awards

I went to the 42nd Annual chancellor's Student Service and leadership Awards and here is a picture of the inductees for the Activities Honorary Society. Congratulations to my fellow SFP Members/Friends Avni Bavishi, Elizabeth Garcia and Masood Qader! Another shout out to a fellow blogger, Michael Queroz!

Eek. Only a few more weeks until I graduate…which means only a few more weeks until I stop blogging! :( I’ll have to make my own blog I guess, haha! When I have time…which somehow I manage to make time for…

LOVE!

Re-inspired to make a difference

Last week, I attended the Chancellor’s Student Service Leadership Awards. It was my fourth time attending this event and I still leave the ceremony even more proud of UIC and its students.
I had the honor to receive the Chancellor’s Student Service Award for the fourth year in a row, as well as being inducted into the Alumni Association Activities Honorary Society. I was very happy that I was being inducted into such a longstanding honors tradition at UIC, one that stems back from the days when UIC’s campus was at Navy Pier.

Activities Honorary Society induction

However, it wasn’t the fact that I received the awards that made me happiest. Instead, it was seeing the tremendous impact and leadership skills that the students bring not only to our university, but to the greater community as well. So many students at UIC, many of them the ones who sit next to you in class or that you see in the Inner Circle, are involved in on-campus extra-curriculars and external organizations that make a positive impact on society. As I sat in the ceremony, I never knew that the girl that I always see in my nutrition class has also served over 100 hours volunteering for a hospital. Or the guy that I ate near during the reception also spends countless hours assuring that homeless people have food and that the health needs are met for children. UIC has so many students that do so much to benefit those that need it. UIC is a prime example that many college students aren’t just party loving, nap taking, lazy young adults.
The event inspired me, and I’m sure countless others, to do even more for people in need – or even just the campus! It made me remember the importance of giving back and the great feeling that comes along with it. Perhaps, instead of watching a marathon of my favorite show on a Saturday morning, I can instead go out and find an outlet to give back. Or instead of napping on a Sunday afternoon, I can go out and help someone just for the great feeling that comes along with it.
The bottom line is, I feel like there is always more that I can do for the school and the larger community. It’s important to never get lazy and content – always strive to do better and give better.
How about you? What can you do to make a difference?
Until next time…
Mike

Award and me!

Summer in the city

Winter is something we, as Chicagoans, tolerate.  At first, usually in November, we don’t mind it.  The first snow is exciting.  The kids hope for snow days.  Parents don’t.  But we can all admit that winter in November and December is easier to tolerate than in MARCH! And after days and days AND DAYS of the Polar Vortex, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that WE WILL HAVE WARM WEATHER AGAIN.  Let’s face it, summer in Chicago is pretty amazing and that’s why we tolerate those awful 9 months of winter.

Now that I can actually see warm weather in our future, I am getting really excited for the next few months.  As, I’m sure, every student is aware we have one month left of school.  Now, I like being in school and learning.  But I LOVE my free time and I am approaching the end of my last semester of classes before my student teaching seminar.  It’s a great feeling.

Another thing I look forward to is wearing shorts and tank tops.  Two weeks ago, I started an exercise and diet regimen.  The past polar vortex filled winter, I was very busy and VERY stressed.  Not a good combo for staying fit.  But now, I have the time and the motivation.  The first week, I lost two pounds and about an inch and I plan on losing more.  Not that I think I’m fat.  But because I want to feel comfortable in shorts, tank tops and heaven forbid, a bathing suit!!

Every year I go to Lollapalooza and I am sad to report this may be the first year in 5 years I don’t attend.  Partly because I wasn’t able to get tickets.  Thousands of people storm the website when tickets go on sale and buy as many as they can.  Then they sell them for profit.  It’s totally unfair.  Also, the lineup is not as great as previous years.  I do like Lorde a lot.  But I’m not going to pay some person $200 ($100 more than the website charges) to see her.  Instead, I plan on going to see Jack White at the Chicago Theatre on July 23rd and Luke Brian, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice and Cole Swindell at Soldier Field on August 31st.

In addition to those concerts, I have a wedding, some birthdays, including my twenty-first birthday ;), I’m going to read for FUN, run some 5ks, enjoy some playoff hockey and White Sox baseball, and most importantly, I am going to relax.  After all, that’s what summer is about right?

I cannot wait for summer in the city!!!

 

Shamrock Shuffling

I turn the music up / I got my records on / I shut the world outside until the lights come on…

Happy Spring, Chicago! At last the seemingly endless winter has ended. It’s terrific to be able to walk outside in just a light jacket or even short sleeves again! I even joined some students who were studying the quad the other day between classes. It was quite a wonderful sight to see after a long, harsh winter that left most of campus empty with people rushing to get indoors all the time. I’m hoping the warmth is here to stay!

With summer approaching fast, I’m excited for many new races to try, and I’m already signed up for a few of them in the summer and the fall, including a color run for the very first time! It’s been on my bucket list for a long time now to do a color run, so I can’t wait to be able to run the Color In Motion 5K in June with a few of my friends. I also tossed my name in for the lottery for a chance to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon…I’m not sure if I’ll get lucky and be selected, but if I actually do get the opportunity to run it, I’d be so excited, although probably quite nervous as well. I remember how tough the Half Marathon was…running twice that distance would be extremely challenging.

To get myself excited and kick off the running season, I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 8K! The race
was on Sunday, March 30th, the last day of Spring Break, so I found it to be the perfect way to end my week of relaxation before going back to school refreshed. Although it was my second time running the Shamrock Shuffle, it was actuaully my first time ever running an entire race with somebody! One of my best friends Brandon and I ran the entire 5 miles together, and it was a very motivating experience. It was his first race ever, which was pretty amazing since he never an a 5K, which is what most runners start with.
I especially love the Shamrock Shuffle because while it’s more challenging than a 5K, it’s not overly strenuous like a half marathon or 10 mile run that would require weeks and weeks of training. Brandon and I ran in Wave 2, which started around 9 AM. I was hoping that starting later would mean that it might be a bit warmer, but alas that was not the case! Even though the weather is much nicer now, it was still absolutely frigid just a few weeks ago. As someone who feels cold very easily, I was shivering while I was running all the way until mile 4!

(Brandon also laughed at me because at one point I resorted to running with both of my hands tucked across my chest beneath my armpits to keep them warm. I must have looked really silly running like that, but hey, it was really cold! My fingers were FREEZING!)

I’m really proud of both of us. Even though we had anticipated that we would need to walk at some point during the race to recover, we actually never stopped or even slowed down until the finish line! Additionally, I achieved a personal landmark of not listening to music while I ran. That was a definite first for me, since usually I  am crazy reliant on my music to help me get through the tougher times during a run. I think I should try running without music more often, as it really made me focus more on my breathing and made me pay attention to my surroundings. Hopefully, with the upcoming good weather, I’ll have plenty of chances to go jogging outside and explore new running locations!

As we soar walls, every siren is a symphony / And every tear’s a waterfall

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