Half-way There

Remembering that I had an extra hour of sleep the night before did not serve to be the relaxing factor I needed. My nerves were trying to swallow me whole as the day approached. I monitored everything I did: how much water I drank, how much food I ate, when I ate, what I ate, how much I stretched. In a few hours, I would be running my first ever half marathon. Nike+’s Run to the Beat Half Marathon was still scheduled to commence at 9:45 a.m. whether I was ready or not. With a few winks of sleep, warm clothes, a race pack and a pit in my stomach, we set out for London’s O2 Arena in Greenwich to meet our fate. The phrase of the morning seemed to be “well, we are doing this.”

Upon our arrival, we finally were able to perceive how large this event was. Signs the size of billboards, charity tents lining the streets and the main stage were quite a sight as we approached the empty grounds. Our nervous stretching was cut short by the announcement: “Runners, please check your bags and enter the pens.” It was go time. If you haven’t guessed by now, the theme of today was not being ready. We huddled for warmth while making light conversation and static stretching in the cramped pen. If the cold winds were any indication of what was ahead of us, a challenge was surely ahead.

The gun sounded and we were off. Runners jostled and jockeyed for position as we took off down the first straight. Despite my juvenile desire to take part, my running buddies assured me that we should just run our own race. We calculated that we could run 13.1 miles in two hours if we ran 9-minute-miles. Consequently, we held strictly to this pace as the first 3 miles melted away. All we could see infront and behind us was a sea of yellow shirts bobbing up and down. Now for the hills. Hills have never treated anyone nicely, but this was the first test which threw us into the preverbal strainer. Those who had sprinted passed us at the beginning were now starting to suck wind and were falling off. Before we knew it, five miles were done. While reflecting, I cannot recall anything memorable happening until mile 8.

At this time, we had reached the National Park. I had remembered this area from my trip here in September so it was an odd, sweaty homecoming for me. The Greenwich community and fans lined the sides of our path yelling as loud as they could. We could hear the DJ booth ahead and just wanted to get closer. Abandoning all reason, I had to run faster. I felt a new life. As we turned the corner, we ran down the Prime Meridian and bounded down a large hill before we were spit back out on to the street. Here, I was met by my charity fans. Fans from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Research Group were there to cheer on their contributors at this designated spot. I couldn’t slow down. 10 miles killed.

Only a 5K separated me from a huge life accomplishment. I never thought that I would only say that I was happy to run 3.1 miles, but this was exciting. I was almost done and felt no pain. The trouble for me came out of vacancy at this point. I did not want to push too hard to quickly and then die out. I was well aware that I was pushing my pace, but I had no clue what pace I was holding. With an injury plaguing my running buddy, I was on my own for the end. How fast should I go? Should I save it? Why is there no music?! Where are the fans?!

Regardless, it was still time to push to the end. As I came down a familiar stretch of road, I started to envision the finish line and how fulfilled I would feel. Oddly enough, my legs were not on par with my brain. I wanted to sprint, but my legs would not let me. As a result, I decided to hold my pace until I could convince my legs to cooperate. As I got closer, the cheers became louder, the music became deafening and the gloom of this period was lifted. I instinctively started scanning the crowd for friendly faces. Smiles accompanied compliments as we pushed forward. Smile…smile…compliment..smile…and then, a familiar face! Some of the most genuine surprise consumed me as I saw the faces of Jason and Izze against the barracks yelling for me to push to the end. I looked up and that minuscule .1 mile separated me from finishing. Nothing mattered anymore. No pain. No worry. No reservations. With the love and support of those present with me and in spirit, I sprinted to the end with energy I didn’t know I had.

That’s it. It was over. 13.1 miles in the books. I finished in 2449th place with a time of 1:48:26 and a pace of 8:16. On Sunday morning, October 28th, 2012, I set out to challenge myself with two new friends, Zach and Karina. We were a part of a 19,000-person event that raised over 400,000 GBP for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research. The soreness is worth the memories and the experience I’ll never forget.

Cheers.

Orientation Summer Follow-up

Although I am still in the honeymoon stage of my relationship with Orientation, I can’t help but to be affectionately reflective on this experience. With all jokes and sappy reflections aside, I have made and solidified some of my strongest relationships that I’ve ever had this summer.

I was fortunate enough to participate in Common Ground this summer. Although my personal Common Ground experience wasn’t the most memorable, I wanted to help facilitate the experience of incoming students. Through the sweat, frustration, and aimless wandering associated with it, I enjoyed every minute of Common Ground. I was given the opportunity to meet even MORE people during each orientation session and explore the city in a way I never have before. In short, I’m pretty well voiced in the Brookline/Coolidge Corner area.

I was also fortunate enough to meet an impressive bunch of students throughout the summer. I was genuinely impressed with these incoming students because of their motivation, their willingness to participate, and their enthusiasm. Many students  already knew what they wanted to after their undergraduate work as well as how they are going to get there. The maturity and motivation associated with this decisiveness was very motivating for me as their peer.

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In addition to the students I was able to work with, I throughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with my colleagues. Initially, I thought that the competitive nature of our interviews and the selectiveness in choosing the appropriate candidates would translate to a competitive nature among the staff. I was entirely wrong. The hostility and the necessity to prove that one was more involved or better than another didn’t even exist. As an orientation family, we bonded as a unit and tackled countless hurdles that came up.

As this summer wains to a close and we reflect on our experience, our time with orientation was not long at all. Despite the abbreviated time with each other, I feel like the relationships I have formed with my colleagues are some of the strongest I have to this day. Looking back, two weeks of training of 12.5 hour days was the concentrated bubble that we needed. This concentrated time transformed us from a few individuals who vaguely knew each other into a family.

Summer staff grew together as a unit, but the growth of each and everyone one of us was also harbored. As an individual, I feel like Orientation has prepared me for professional encounters, but it has also cultivated my conversational skills and my confidence. This is worth its weight in gold. As a result of this experience, I have grown as an individual, I have become a part of a family, I have expanded my professional network, and I would do it all again at the drop of a hat.

…for my Summer Staff peeps…

Across the Pond

Despite my rekindled nationalism (as a result of the Olympics), I’ve never been more content to get out of the country. Recently, I have been accepted to Boston University’s Internship Abroad Program. On September 1st, I’ll be flying to London-Heathrow for a three month stay in South Kensington, London.

The semester in London will be filled with classes, travel, ultimate frisbee, football (soccer), a law internship, concerts and memories. A semester abroad, to me, means growth as an individual in a professional and informal way. Since there is so much in store in London and so much to digest, I will hosting a TRAVEL BLOG on this WordPress site to document everything to reflect on at a later date.

Cheers!

Becoming a Tough Mudder

I have described myself as “aggressively average” in many aspects of my life. In a world in which “capable” is acceptable–and impressive at that–there aren’t many times in life to test the extent of your ability. Six of us decided that the Tough Mudder was the perfect way to test our strength, agility, and mental grit.

On July 15th, we shipped out from Boston to Mt. Snow in Vermont with naive anticipation and a pack of fake mustaches. Our nervous excitement and calls of “OORAH” led us up the first black diamond ski slope with good spirits. Signs reminding us “Remember you signed a Death Waiver” seemed to have little effect on us…until we hit the first obstacle. Energy, fun, and happiness ground to a halt when we reached the Arctic Enema. A dumpster of ice-water maintained at 34 degrees awaited us just over a wooden ramp. Little did we know, a little electric surprise was lurking in the icy depths too.

SHOCK! That was the reoccurring theme of the day for us. Whether it was the shock of cold water, physical strain, or the oh-so-memorable 10,000 volts, our strength, endurance, and reserve was challenged. Titles like the Electric Eel, Arctic Enema, Dark Lightning, Mount Everest and Electro-shock Therapy were meant to intimidate, but we conquered them all with poise and composure.

My personal success in this event is of no importance without the recognition of my teammates. Our group of six split into groups of three for the race. Alex, Will and I bounded up and down the slopes of the mountain together. We helped each other scale 20-foot walls. We provided mental and emotional support for each other and that was worth its weight in gold.  Together, we completed a challenge of more than 10 miles, more than 23 obstacles, freezing water, 10,000 volts, and numerous mental tests in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

This experience was memorable in itself for the amount of trust and confidence I had to put into others. I had to trust that my teammates would look out for me and bring me up when I needed a boost. This event has brought me closer to my teammates and I consider Will and Alex to be my brothers now. When looking back on this event, I regret nothing and loved every minute of it. Will I do it again? Oh yes. You can only keep a Tough Mudder away for so long.

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Summer Job: Boston University Orientation

In the summer of 2010, I befriended my Student Advisor during my time at Boston University’s orientation.  They looked like they were having so much fun being a resource for incoming BU students.  They were so full of BU spirit and were really easy to talk to.  I asked my Student Advisor about applying for the position as soon as possible, but I was told that you cannot apply until the summer after your sophomore year.  I waited patiently for that year to pass, and applied in January of 2012.

As of March of 2012, I am officially employed as a Student Advisor by Boston University Orientation!  I’m excited to welcome the Class of 2016 to BU, but it’s making me feel old…Yikes!  Regardless of how it makes me feel, it is all happening fast.  This weekend of March 31st-April 1st is the Sargent Camp, a mandatory training exercise in New Hampshire.  Follow that weekend, there are a few more training sessions and then we start receiving incoming students.  In addition to the excitement of working in this amazing setting, I get to live with one of my best buds on campus, Bryan, for the entire summer.

I never realized how much orientation affected me until my interview for this position.  When asked, I didn’t even hesitate to answer.  The people I have met and the relationships I have formed as a result of orientation are priceless.  I still maintain good relationships with my orientation friends and I can’t wait to provide that environment for the next group of incoming freshmen!

I recently had the pleasure of attending Sargent Camp in Hancock, NH as a training exercise/retreat with my future co-workers in the Orientation office.  Everything about this experience was amazing–the people, the energy, the environment–I wish it went on for longer than just one weekend.  I’m really looking forward to working with all of my Orientation peeps this summer! (Attached is a video made by Bryan Sih, Orientation’s videographer)

“Supertourism”

In the words of my coach: “So you started a folk/experimental band…that’s very ‘college’ of you.”

In high school, starting a band meant throwing a bunch of guys in a room with similar musical interests and seeing what came of it.  This is hardly how things should be done.  Every “jam sesh” started as a productive  layering of sound and over-amplified nonsense until the faint hint of a song was produced.  Within an hour or so, things would fall apart into things we SHOULD play or songs we SHOULD cover.  As you may guess, these were hollow checkpoints in our journey.

I went about these same principles in college when looking for a band and the itinerary was almost identical.  All of this changed when a good friend and bandmate said, “Covers?  That’s the easy way out.”

In our three-piece band, I’m lucky enough to have met Bryan and Izze.  Bryan, a self-taught guitarist, continuously strives for uncharted territory in the musical land.  Fed up with the consistency of popular music, he always pushes us to pursue to an odd time signature or a weird riff that would truly make everyone think.

Izze, a vocalists and fellow Long Islander, graces our group with soaring vocals and angelic additions to whatever song we produce.  In conjunction with Bryan, she writes complex lyrics that captivate and perplex a listener.  In recent developments, she has tried to write happier songs with Bryan, but the songs with angst just feel too damn good.

In these two attached videos, I hope you can get a feel for who we are musically.  As we come up with more original songs, I’ll continue positing.

-Drew

–>Click here to see our band page<–

Permanence

20120201-084950.jpgWhat’s more permanent than a tattoo? Now that I have that off of my chest, we can discuss this further.

Tattoos have stigma attached to them and a wealth of knowledge that comes from superiors and loved ones. I chose to remain within the bounds of the advice given to me. Upon the request of my parents, if I got a tattoo, it would have to have meaning and it would have to have be hidden while in the work place. With these claims, I thought of a something meaningful and mustered up the courage to set foot in a tattoo parlor.

My tattoo features a wave and a sanskrit phrase: tat tvam asi.

The wave is a symbol of home. Growing up in a beach town and having the ocean so accessible to me was a big part of my upbringing. Before I left for college, my parents would plan several beach trips as long as the weather was decent. It was also a fond memory with friends. In my last few years of high school, trips to the beach were plentiful and the annual hajj to Hither Hills in Montauk was a must. In 10 or 15 years, I have no idea where I’ll be in life (even geographically speaking). No matter where I am, I wanted the wave to remind me of the beach and the subsequent memories.

The Sanskrit phrase was a result of a class I took on Hinduism in the fall of 2011. Tat tvam asi is a phrase that translates to “that thou are.” Specifically in Vedic context, it is understood to also mean “You are Him.” This point is also reiterated in modern reformist interpretations of hinduism. By “that thou are,” we imply that divinity is in everyone. As a result, the individual has the power to influence the universal essence of the world.

In addition to its meaning, this tattoo was significant to other aspects of my life. By having an acute fear of needles, a tattoo seemed out of the question. I decided to tackle this fear in a rather blunt way. Although I was shaking before the needle touched my back, I knew I should go through with it to dispel my fear. Also, I wanted to prove that I could start something and muster up the courage to finish it.

The journey began on a Friday for my consultation and after I left, I was on the fence about it. I thought the pain would outweigh whatever meaning this tattoo would have for me. I concluded that I needed to go the next morning. I needed to finish what I started and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

-Drew

One Race at a Time

Boston 2011
Waking up at 7:30 on a Sunday morning as a college student is torture–youmust have messed up big to deserve it.

That’s exactly what I thought when I poked my head outside of my room on this morning only to realize that the meteorologists didn’t lie; it was 28 degrees outside.  Who would possibly want to run today?  Although it took some initial coaxing, I begrudgingly chose to run the Winter Classic 5K in Cambridge with two close friends/bandmates.

I always hated running in high school because of the pressure associated with it–the clock documenting every second that I was behind someone else.  This fear and dissent for running melted away upon my discovery of 5Ks. With every step in my erratically paced race, I started to believe those running freaks that talked about the endorphins released from running were like no other.  Needless to say: I am hooked and ready for more.  This race has me ready for many more races whether they are 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, or the revered marathon.

With this post, I plan to run a marathon before turning 21.  Why?  Why not. It’s just another thing to check off of the list of things to do before 30.

-Drew

(PS: I am the guy with the white BU shirt in this picture)–19:29