My name is Michelle, and I am living up my last years in the 20-29 age group, where I actually stand a chance of placing for a short period of time! I live in Rockland, Massachusetts, a small town south of Boston.
I work in healthcare, and I couldn't love my job any more. I have a great group of coworkers, and absolutely love how challenging and exciting my job is all the time. It sounds cheesy, but I sincerely enjoy the opportunity to make a difference every day through the work I do.
I started running long distance in high school, beginning with several half marathons and then completing my first full marathon in college. I am a middle-of-the-pack runner and love traveling to new places and pushing myself beyond my limits. I am an active member of the Colonial Road Runners, a local running club with over 750 members in Southeastern Massachusetts. The comradery of training with such a supportive group has pushed my training to a whole other level through strong accountability and a lot of FUN. I am also a proud member of the Marathon Maniacs, having recently run three marathons in three days (and four in six!) as part of the New England Challenge.
I went to Bates College, a small liberal arts school in Lewiston, Maine, and fell in love with the small New England town that I grew to call home. It was far away from my friends and family in Chicago, but I grew to love everything about life in Maine... lobster bakes on the beach, the community hospital where I worked and decided that I couldn't imagine life without a career in healthcare, and even the brutally cold Maine winters! I didn't stay put for long though, when I got bitten by the travel bug.
|Yes, that's a real panda! Hanging out in Sichuan, China|
First, I traveled to China, where I studied at Nanjing University. I had the opportunity to travel to many of the country's remote regions and largest cities - from Inner Mongolia, where we rode horses and slept in yurts, to Beijing where we toured the Forbidden City and got a taste of city life, to my favorite place in the world - Kunming in Southwest China - where we lived amongst China's ethnic minorities and explored their unique customs and way of life. While there, I ran a marathon in Shanghai - my first (but hopefully not last!) international marathon. It was after my trip to China that I decided to major in Chinese, after falling completely in love with the country and its people.
|I studied flamenco dancing for a year - Viva Espana!|
The following year, I chose to study abroad in Spain, and spent the year traveling all over Europe. I stayed with a host "grandmother" in central Madrid, and learned to adjust to big city life. From long runs through the Buen Retiro (Madrid's equivalent of Central Park), to lazy Saturdays spent in art museums and eating churros con chocolate, to street flea markets on Sundays, it was an incredible experience. While in Spain, I had the opportunity to travel to London, Dublin, Rome, Paris, and many other incredible places - just backpacking through Europe and enjoying every adventure as it came. I also completed the Camino de Santiago with a small group of friends, trekking across Northern Spain on the ancient pilgrimage trail. Truly a life-changing experience.
After college, I accepted a job working in healthcare administration south of Boston. Shortly after moving to Massachusetts and starting my new job, I was diagnosed with Crohn's. Living with Crohn's is one of my reasons for running. More than ever now, I truly appreciate every moment that I feel strong and healthy. My body can do incredible things, and I am learning to honor that.