My Story

Update:  On Friday, August 27, 2010 the love of my life, Chris, asked me to marry him.  I immediately said yes!

 My name is Jessica, but I also go by Jes (with one s).  I am 29 years old and live in Orlando, FL. I love running, reading, cooking, hanging out with friends, chemistry (yes, I'm a nerd), skydiving, hang gliding, and just being happy.  Let me begin by giving you a history of my blog, life, and how both have progressed since I started running.
Chris and I, Easter 2010
Growing up I repeatedly said that I despised running, but I always secretly envied those powerful looking women I would see running outside.  I very much so wanted to be one, because they looked so confident, like they could accomplish anything!  Off and on for several years I had attempted to start running, but my commitment did not last, mostly because I was not sharing my experience with anyone else.  I needed encouragement and someone to help hold me accountable for my goals.

In January of 2007, my roommate at the time and I decided we wanted to start running.  We were both going for our Master's degrees in forensic science, so we had similar schedules.  We both wanted to get in shape, and I was craving the strength and independence that I imagined runners had.  We figured what better time to start than a new year.  We started with a half a mile around the track at the gym.  It was hard!  Each week we started adding another quarter of a mile, until we hit a mile and a half.  Keep in mind that we knew little about running, and we were both running with cheap shoes.  (I wanted to make sure I was going to stick with it before spending my precious starving-graduate-student-money on expensive running shoes.)  Eventually I was so proud that I started telling a co-worker, Joe, about my running success.  Joe was a triathlete, so he understood my excitement.  His encouragement helped keep us going.  He eventually challenged us to run a 5K.  The roommate and I trained, and eventually we ran our first 5K!  From that point on, I was hooked!  I felt amazing, confident, and happier than I had been in a long time!  
Our First 5K!!
That year the roommate and I continued to add one mile to our long runs ever month.  I also met my super amazing boyfriend (now fiance!), Chris, in that year (we have now been dating 3 years).  He was also a runner, and training with him helped increase my speed.  All the while I started reading blogs of other runners, and I found them to be very inspiring.  It was great to share my stories and read about others experiences.  The roommate and I also enrolled in total immersion swim lessons, which did not end up very well for me.  Despite my dreams of being a triathlete, I did not manage to learn how to free-style swim and breathe at the same time.  In December 2007, I ran my first half-marathon I felt like I was flying!  My time was so much better than I had anticipated it being, and that just made me feel more great!  The roommate had run a 5K that day, and soon after decided she wanted to run a half-marathon too.
First Half-Marathon!
During the next couple months as we trained for her half-marathon, I was working on finishing my thesis research and writing my thesis.  I was also dealing with the frustrations of finding a job and figuring out the rest of my life.  I had always claimed that I hated Florida and wanted to move, but that was before I met Chris.  Our relationship was going very well; however, I had a job interview that went great for a job in Georgia, so I was at a crossroads.  The job was great, but I did not feel like was going to be challenged enough.  I loved research and knew I was going to miss it.  I also did not want to move away from Chris.  Since losing my dad in 2005, I had begun to realize that there was so much more to life than being so focused at school.  I wanted to make sure I accomplished my academic and career goals, but was still living a happy life that felt fulfilled in other areas.  During all of this, I was still working out and running a bit, but my blogging had pretty much stopped.
Last picture I have with my dad.
Graduating with my BS degree in August 2005.
It was around that time that my adviser convinced me to go for my PhD in chemistry with an emphasis on forensic science.  While it is always a good idea to attend different schools for different degrees, I stayed where I was.  There were not many schools that offered the degree that I wanted, plus I really wanted to stay local and see how my relationship was going to progress.  Life after losing a parent has new perspective.  You realize what is important to you.  This way I could have the life I wanted both personally and by achieving my life-long goal of earning my doctorate degree.  While this would result in my being a college student longer than most, it was not as though I did not have a job or was living off of student loans.  The school paid for me to go to school and work them.  Plus this way I would end up with a degree that would allow me to have a job that I would love and find challenging.

In February of 2008, I ran my second half-marathon with the roommate (her first).  It was the worst race that I have ever run.  I even cried at the finish.  Between having a tough time mentally over-coming the terrible race, and my very quickly approaching thesis defense, my running took a drastic decrease along with my blogging.  In April of 2008 I successfully defended my thesis, and in May I graduated (a few days after finding out my godson, Nicholas Danger was middle name ever!).  I spent the summer working long hours, and studying for my proficiency exams.  That is also when I found our first kitty, Zack, while out for run, and I spent lots of time taking care of him. I also gained a niece (Joy) about a week before finding Zack, and she is just the most precious little girl in the world!
Second Half-Marathon
In the fall of 2008, I started the PhD program and my blogging stopped until 2009. Although I was not blogging, I was still running. I had started running with a group of girls that I worked with, and we trained for a 15K that took place in March.  After that race, our running group pretty much broke-up, but I began weight training with one of the co-workers/friend, Caitlin.  We both loved weight training, especially with the goal of getting into shape for a cruise.  We kept up running short distances, although the weight training was more of our focus at the time.  Oh yeah, and right after our cruise, Chris and I went to LondonAlso that summer I moved in with my amazing boyfriend and said a sad good-bye to my original running partner and former roommate as she moved away for a job.
Cruise picture of old roommate/running partner at left
and marathon training partner, Caitlin, at right
London, in front of  St. Paul's Cathedral
Caitlin and continued weight training and running until the fall of 2009 when the dreaded Chemical Thermodynamics class and seminar class began and life as we knew it stopped.  Thermo consumed our lives.  I'm honesetly not sure how we didn't end up killing one another, but we somehow passed.  That officially marked the end of classes for my college career!  I did run very occasionally, but it was not consistent at all.

By the end of 2009 I finally had the freedom to focus solely on my research and no longer had my nights and weekends consumed with homework and studying.  My confidence in my self image had dropped since I had not been working out consistently, and I was being more negative than positive when it came to my self image.  I also had not been eating as healthy as I had been wanting.  I decided to change all of that!  I made two  New Year's resolutions / 2010 goals
  1. To be less critical of myself and more confident in myself.  
  2. To see how many of the 52 weeks out of the year I can run at least 3 days in the week.  I am not putting any distance, pace, or time limits on this goal.  I personally prefer to run outdoors, so I imagine most of the runs will be outside; however, I will run indoors if the weather is bad.  If any knee injuries spring up, as they have in the past, I will try using the elliptical (of course I won't do any running if the injury is too bad); otherwise, I prefer not to use the elliptical.
2010 so far has been wonderful!  I have been consistently running, and I can tell a big difference in not only my body but mostly my attitude.  I had forgotten how great consistent running felt!  I also began cooking and eating more vegetables and fruits, which naturally made me feel better.  Then I discovered Operation Beautiful which tied in wonderfully with my first resolution!  From there I discovered other healthy living blogs which have been great inspiration for exercise goals as well as providing new recipes and just an overall positive perspective on life.  This year I have really made a point to keep up with my blogging, because I realized how much I missed it and missed the inspiration provided by reading other blogger's posts.

My friend Caitlin and I decided that we wanted to run a marathon.  I finally chose the 26.2 with Donna The National Marathon To Finish Breast Cancer, because a family friend, Linda, very recently passed away from breast cancer.
Caitlin, her bf/my friend Ryan, and I after our latest race in April 2010.
Photo taken by
I am really excited to have my friend Caitlin by my side for marathon training and the support of my amazing boyfriend, Chris, my awesome family (and I include Chris's family in that bunch), my terrific friends, and all of the wonderful bloggers out there in "Blog Land".  Thank you all so much for reading that lengthy story.  I plan to continue blogging about fitness, delicious food, my journey toward obtaining my doctorate degree, and all those happy events in life that make it worth living.

Keep on smiling!

P.S.  I also really want to accomplish my goal of becoming a triathlete.  I plan to finally figure out I did finally figure out the whole breathing-while-swimming concept and eventually will train for my first triathlon.  (Please feel free to send me tips and suggestions!)

"The essence of intelligence is skill in extracting meaning from everyday experience." ~Unknown~

Written April 2010 

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