The Dream Star's Corner

Dare to Dream...and DO!
walk. run. fly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Running while traveling

I started the habit of working out while traveling a long time ago. When I was 25, my parents took me on my first cruise (it was awesome!). I wasn't a runner back then (gosh, I'm making myself sound old. It was only 5 years ago haha!), but I worked out about 4-6 days/week. And from all that I heard about people gaining weight in 7-10 days that they are on the cruise ship, well that scared me. I wasn't a weight maniac or anything, but I didn't like the thought of coming home with an altered physique because of one week of gluttony and laziness. So I brought along my workout clothes and hit the gym.

After seeing that it wasn't so bad...and actually quite enjoyable, I made it a habit to always bring workout gear when I traveled. It's kind of nice having a change of scenery and sometimes trying something new (like a new machine). I really got into running while traveling when I went for a run in Brooklyn on New Year's Day after spending New Year's Eve in New York City on January 1, 2010. It was amazing!! It gave me the opportunity to see a city that I was so familiar with (my best friend lives there and I used to visit literally every month for like a full year) in a different way!

I noticed details on the brownstones that I didn't notice before, details about the differing textures on the sidewalks as they varied from concrete to brick, the park, the trees, and I even got a chance to run in some fresh snow! I look forward to running in different cities. So last week and this week I've been on travel for work. Last week, I was in San Diego and DEFINITELY took the opportunity to go for a run in the perfect weather that they have out there.

I stayed near the San Diego marina and fortunately, there was an awesome running path right alongside the harbor. GORGEOUS views... I wanted to run FOREVER!!! But of course, I'm still coming back from injury so it's all about quality runs...not quantity.

This week, I'm staying in Miami, FL. No, I'm not near the beach. I know right? Sucks. But I make the most of my surroundings and decided to run...on the hotel treadmill. I've stayed in this area before and there's nothing to really see outdoors. And the temps are in the 80s. I don't feel like dying in a city so far from home. I just needed to get in a quality long-ish run before the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, and that I did. I ran a sweaty 7 miles on the treadmill and definitely felt like I got in a great workout.

Training shouldn't stop when you leave your zip code and going for a run in a new area, especially a different city is like an added bonus for us fitness freaks. It's a freebie! So go! Enjoy and explore! And see what's around you...

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Seriously Hate Cancer.

So, about a week ago, a good guy that I knew in high school died of a rare form of head and neck cancer. It was so devastating! Well, anytime you hear about someone close to you or anyone in general developing, fighting, or dying from cancer, it's just the most awful news ever. But in his case, it was compounded by the fact that he and his family had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for him to travel to another country for a surgery that MIGHT have given him a chance to live a longer life.

Unfortunately, because the science behind this surgery is so new, and the cost to continue research is so high, everything didn't work out as planned. His family raised the money, he went in for the surgery, and even began to recover, but all of a sudden, things took a turn for the worse and he past away.

Cancer affects us all. My grandfather died from lung cancer. My grandmother died from liver cancer. I never met my biological maternal grandmother because she died when my mom was very young. I do remember my grandfather even though he died when I was about 9 years old and I have fond memories of our time together. But what I hate most about cancer is it can strike at any time and in any capacity! My family is important to me. But for me, something really strikes me when I see my own life reflected in the wake of such a tragedy. There's a feeling of "that could've been me!"

This guy grew up in Baltimore, went to the same high school that I did, went to college to become an engineer like me, and worked just MINUTES away from me doing similar work (something I recently learned while reading more about the more recent events of his life in the newspaper). It really hit so close to home. I'm so grateful to God that it wasn't me, but that doesn't mean that I escaped it by any means. It could happen to me tomorrow, next year, 10 years from now....or to my best friend, her mother, my coworker's sister...ANYONE! And that's what I hate. It has to be stopped!

It's crazy how things work out. Since late last year, I've been trying to run on Fred's Team for the NYC Marathon.

I wanted to join the fight but I didn't really have a particular person or specific type of cancer to focus on until now. I just wanted to help out. But now, this is personal. Cancer took away a young man who MADE IT! Baltimore is a great town, don't get me wrong. But like any city, there are so many paths one could follow that could keep them in an ordinary circumstance which isn't's just ordinary. This guy was doing EXTRAordinary things with his intelligence, influence, and talents! He also left a wife and a very young daughter. No young child should have to suffer because of cancer.

So anyways, I'm all over the place with this post. Apologies.

Well, I still want to fight. I want to join Fred's Team or the DetermiNATION team to FIGHT cancer.

We've gotta keep funding the fight to further the research so we don't lose another person like him. It's just frustrating. I don't want to do the bear minimum. I want to do exceedingly more! I guess I have to rely on God to help me to meet this goal. The researchers need our help. We are able to run, swim, walk, bike, and just fight to get this done! I just want other people to feel as strongly as I do...angry enough to strike out cancer.

This is an all out war. I just hate it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rock n' Roll USA Half Marathon 2012

On Friday night I went to bed around 11 p.m. which was a little later than I really wanted to get in the bed, but whatever. I've ran on less. Besides, with my alarm clock set to 5:20, I figured a good solid 6 hours would do the trick to get me through race day. Honestly, I'm never anxious about having enough energy to run. I am more anxious about being awake enough to not forget anything and to drive with some sort of legal amount of alertness. Once I get to the race, I'm good to go...usually on autopilot but the signals needed to tell my legs to "GO! And DON'T STOP until you see the word FINISH!" seem to work pretty well.

So 3:45 a.m. arrived and my eyes popped WIDE OPEN! O_O It was awful! I could not go back to sleep! The more I told my brain to shut off and go to sleep, the more thoughts popped into my head. Thoughts that had to do with running, not running, the house, upcoming travel, smells from the incense, EVERYTHING!!! And when I finally did empty my head, my body just laid there...tense. Then I couldn't figure out if I had a phantom pain in my foot or if my foot was actually hurting. It was awful.

And like clockwork, I kinda drifted off to sleep at 5 a.m. only to be awaken at 5:20 a.m. by my alarm clock. AWESOME. So I went through my morning pre-race ritual of grabbing my laptop, heading to the kitchen to make my oatmeal and hot tea and then tweeting with all of the other pre-race morning people as I ate. Most of the other RnR folks in the Baltimore area were heading out the door by the time I sat down for breakfast. That didn't make me nervous or anything. Everyone is different. I personally HATE waiting for a race to start. I get so anxious, nervous, excited, that I end up working up a hunger then I get sleepy, then my body plays the "should we get in the port-a-potty line?" game. No thank you. I'd rather walk up to my corral 10 minutes before start time.

I took care of the animals... dressed and headed out of the door with Isajeep in tow at 6:30 a.m.

We arrived at the race site and I was surrounded by giddy, excited, nervous runners.

I felt like I was just going through the motions. I couldn't figure out how to make myself comfortable. The weather was kind of warm, but not really, and it was a little humid. Before I left home, the weather website said that it was 94% humidity out there! So I decided to wear my jacket, I could always tie it around my waist later. I also decided to take my pink Nathan's belt to help me to keep up with my camera. I brought my iPod but didn't really expect to use it given that there were so many bands along the course. But I brought it with me just in case I found myself just wishing the race was over. A good podcast would offer the perfect distraction to pass the time away.

I stood there, still feeling a little sorry for myself and even ventured to say, "I hope the volunteers don't get confused and try to hand me a full marathon medal. I would need to earn that. I'm just not there yet." I also said "This sucks. It's like reliving the news from the doc all over again. How silly will I look in the half marathon corral with a full marathon bib :-/"

Well I think Isajeep had just about enough of being the only other guest at my pity party and told me to just go out there and have fun and no one is worried about you and your marathon bib.

So I said my goodbyes...

Later dude!

I just stopped thinking and just followed my instincts. I saw a line of people walking to get around the corrals so I just followed them. Then I saw a corral that looked kind of empty and the "awkward-what is she doing here" stare-quotient promised to be low so I just let myself in. It was the 3:00 hr pace corral.
I figured if I fall behind from this pace, I still had a few other groups I can fall in with.

Before I could really get into surveying my surroundings from my "holding pen" (that's how I really see corrals and I guess in a way that's what they are), I spotted a gentleman in a bright yellow t-shirt just chit chatting with a young girl. I looked at the girl and thought "hmmm...she looks like someone I know...maybe from another race...maybe from Baltimore - Baltimore - HIGH SCHOOL? - College?!..." then I just blurted it out..."I'm sorry...I know you! What's your name??" And the girl looked a little taken aback...perhaps because I so rudely broke into her conversation lol (Sorry about that!). She told me and I instantly made the connection. She was someone I went to high school with! YES!! And it was someone I actually LIKED! (High school was kind of like a 4 year stint in Walmart for me...well with more intelligent people given its high educational standards but I didn't always care for all of the people)

It was like God came down and sprinkled a little sugar on my day. lol That's probably the best way to describe it. The guy she was talking to had a huge smile on his face and offered to take our picture!

After I apologized profusely for interrupting her conversation, she explained that the gentleman was one of the pace group leaders and she was just introducing herself to him. We talked and caught up and even met another girl in our pace group who has done a couple of triathlons. The three of us talked about races, biking, swimming. It was awesome. More than what I could ask for. Here I thought I would be standing there awkwardly in silence for 45 minutes waiting for our holding pen to be led across the start line but it was quite the opposite. We talked and talked and laughed with our pace leaders and just had a great time all the way up to the start. Once it was time to go, I mentally checked in to my body and said just relax, listen to your body, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY - HAVE FUN!

And yes...FUN was the theme of the day.

I took off with a trot. I didn't plan to run. I told everyone I would walk this one. Walking was the goal! A nice swift concentrated WALK! But there I was...RUNNING! It wasn't a fast run by any stretch of the imagination but it was comfortable. I think we maintained a 13 min/mi pace for most of the race and the plan was to walk through mile markers and water stops. High School Friend and I ran along one another and talked the entire time. She was struggling with some minor IT band issues so it was like an unspoken understanding that we would help each other through this race. Stopping to let the other stretch or taking walk breaks when necessary kind of kept us both in check with our minor injuries. A blessing in disguise.

As promised, I took lots and lots of photos of the city.

And I even got a little preview of the cherry blossoms for my upcoming race, the Cherry Blossom 10-miler!

The pace leader took lots and lots of photos of us and had us cheering and laughing the entire way. He was from Baltimore so OF COURSE he had a very easy going way about him. :)

I got a chance to run with the other one for a bit and he told me that he has ran seven Walt Disney World races including the Goofy challenge. He has also ran the Marine Corps Marathon three times. He and the other gentleman (I suck for not getting their names) pace the Baltimore Marathon 5:15 group every year as well. They made a great team. :)

The weather was beautiful. Later on, I found that some people had some trouble with the weather, but since I wasn't running for speed or time, I don't think I ran into some of the complications they had with the unexpected air quality. It was sunny, not a cloud in the sky, with a light breeze, and yes some humidity. But everyone around me seemed to be enjoying it!

The crowd support was pretty amazing too, especially as we went through the residential part of some of the college areas!

Dear old Howard U! The REAL HU!

I read some great signs and had to stop to take of picture of these two. The 40 just made me laugh. It was my kind of humor.

I even stopped for a beer! Just stopped by a group of people with a little table set up handing out beer and I took one! Why not? It was free, it was around mile 9, I think I was due for one. I didn't snag a pic but just know I enjoyed it. It definitely helped with a some recovery to pull me through to the end. But more importantly, another stranger gave me candy...and not just any candy, the mother of all candy...


I shared with High School Friend of course. :) And then we saw some more BANDS! WOO!

At mile 9...this kid right here?
Some sort of child prodigy killin' the bass!

OMG! He... was...KILLING IT! I definitely would've stopped to record if I could but we were on a roll. It was awesome. I'm talkin, Black Sabbath - awesome. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. I had to remind myself to look forward and running while looking the other way is not the way to do it. I tried to look him up but I'm not sure if that's Izzy or someone different. If you know, please tell me.

We continued to run towards mile 10 and I saw that the police were allowing parts of traffic to open up going the opposite way which was okay. I like a little audience when running. I'm used to it anyway since I'm a city-runner. It just made me feel more comfortable. Then we went through the underpass where this guy was dressed like The Incredibles and blasting music from a radio on his bike. Amazing. I love these people. lol

We came out of the tunnel, walked the hill (I really loved our pacers lol) and then partied to the DJ rockin it on the other side!

We just continued to cruise on around the other side of the Capitol and ended up on this road where you can tell the Marathoners just finished having their way with it.

There were cups EVERYWHERE and banana peels and everything else. Volunteers were working hard to start the clean up.

At this point, I think we had 2 or 3 miles to go so I just focused on finishing. My legs felt pretty good but my quads were feeling a little tight and jumpy. My foot felt awesome. Lefty (as it has been so aptly named) was hangin' in there! Woot!

I could tell High School Friend was beginning to fight with the IT band so I let her work it out on her own. From experience, I knew that it was best for me to just keep running. Stopping a mile or two outside of the finish to walk would allow the soreness to start setting in and I wasn't in the mood to deal with that just yet. So I just trudged along and cheered whenever my pace leader yelled out "GO BAWLMORE! GO! LOOK AT OUR BAWLMORE GIRLS!" lol

And I'm thinkin just like anything else, there are trends in the race-course world. The trend for the past few years has been to put a "WTF?! HILL" at the end of every race and of course this race had one of those. I just ignore them, dig in, lower my eyes and trudge along. Once I got into a comfortable pace, I decided to actually distract myself further with the thought of "I wasn't supposed to make it here but I did...and I did it with all of these people..." and I wanted them to be apart of it... so here you go.

Thank you GOD, High School Friend, Pace Leaders, Isajeep, the people of DC, the wonderful spectators, Competitor Group...Thank you

With the support of you all, I did it. I finished. I finished in less than 3 hours and I felt GREAT afterward. That's all I could ask for. I finished with the confidence needed to know I can keep going (with the list of races I still have laid out ahead of me), and I can keep taking on new challenges (swimming, I'm looking at you). I have a renewed spirit in running and my God, I just love our community! The encouragement and energy I received were something I will NEVER forget!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Finally got my ish together...literally.

Today, I went to the DC Armory for the Rock n' Roll USA packet pick up. Isajeep went with me and we practiced our morning route. There's a crap load of maintenance taking place on the DC Metro this weekend causing delays and inconsistent train arrivals so instead of getting into DC the way I've always done it through the green line, I had to practice going to a different station that actually puts us closer to the start line.

Check out that running form! Some time off did me good!

We were in and out in a flash! I didn't have time to walk around and take pictures since Isajeep and I had to get back to Baltimore so Isajeep could get to work. I went home like a good little lass and did what most people do before a race...

Listened to records and burned incense.

Can't you tell I'm focused on this race? No? Well, you're right. It's been so long since I've been focused on running and given the current state of morale is still kind of in the crapper. It wavers... some days are better than others but today I just don't feel like a runner. I was at the expo and snagged a fortune cookie from the P.F. Changs table and although I didn't have the winning fortune (I forget what you were supposed to win... lettuce wraps or $1,000...big disparity right? Well you see how I compare food to other things. lol OMG I'm digressing like nobody's business. Back to the topic)...

BUT I did get this little gem

And I just HAD to make sure they weren't all running related fortunes. THEY WEREN'T! Isajeep's said something about having a winning personality or something... so this little fortune should mean something right? RIGHT? I don't know what... but I'm saving it.

So I finally got up and got my things together for tomorrow but not before carbo-loading with some beans and rice and yummy calcium vitamins to wash it all down. (-.-)

Yes, everything has gone down hill...even the quality of my carbo-bliss selection. I used to spend time preparing delicious pasta meals every Friday... but my efforts have been reduced to this.

I also figured out that D-tag situation. I never had to use one of those before and focused as hard as possible on getting it on correctly as to not look like a total newb. I'm so used to races using the built in bib tag or just giving us the timing chip (the card lookin thingy). Definitely effed that up the first time I used that thing. Totally ignored the little plastic fasteners and laced the timing chip directly to my sneakers. I didn't just tie my laces around the holes. I actually unlaced my sneakers and tied the thing into my shoe. Talk about an embarrassing moment when I crossed the finish line and realized I had to actually give that thing back. lol

Anywho, here's the 'fit for tomorrow.

Here's hoping I wake up with a positive attitude and with the mental focus to finish with some pride!

The Thrill Is Gone

It's 8:30 p.m. My "race outfit" is somewhere between the hamper and the clean laundry pile downstairs. I haven't eaten one carb... yep, the thrill is gone. Can't wait to get excited about racing again.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

So far to go...

My swim lessons are progressing and I'm still finding the time to bike. I'm also speed walking now...but honestly, if I ever want to take my endurance training to the next level, I have a long road ahead of me.

I'm a little discouraged right now. Why do I feel the need to set these goals for myself? I look around at other people and wonder why I can't be "normal" or "average" and be okay with exercising 2 times a week. I LOVE FITNESS!!! But at the level that I want to compete at, I need to practice strengthening and conditioning other muscle groups that I never had to really use before.

Putting together all of the moving parts for swimming is hard. I just want to do it...but I overthink it...then I get all stressed out about it...then I start screwing up. It's so frustrating. And biking can be tough too. I love it, but it feels like the bike is laughing at my quads and saying "you call THAT 'strong'? pfft!"

I miss's my strong sport and it's something I know... I know I can do it well and I want to get back to it. When I have a tough day in the pool or a hard ride, I just want to lace up and go on a nice comfortable run.

Running is my strong sport!!!

With anything that's new, I just feel out of place. It's hard not to let those silly thoughts of self doubt creep in... I just started with all of these other sports. I guess I have to remember that I didn't just start out running 18-milers. It was an admirable feat if I ran 9 miles in one week only a couple of years ago. I have my work cut out for me, that's true. And if I really want to meet every goal, I have to work.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Race Registration Hoarder

I did it. I registered for the Marine Corps Marathon.

October 28, 2012! Can you feel the honor and excitement??

And yes, I'm still registered for the ING NYC Marathon lottery.

November 4, 2012! "Concrete jungle where dreams are made of..." (Thank you Alicia)

And yes, they are ONE WEEK APART. "Why did you do this", you ask? Well, I'm obsessive compulsive. I don't want to be left out of the most amazing races ever! I know there are others, but when you live in the northeastern sector of the country and you're a runner, these races are on the top 10 must-run list. I really really hope I can run in the New York City marathon, but if things don't work out with the lottery like if I don't get in, I wanted something to fall back on. So I guess you could say the MCM is my "rebound race." Also, when I talked to my best friend about her experience with signing up with a charity, the whole recap sounded a little...iffy. Well, it sounds like it was pretty straight forward for her back in 2009 but after reading how the NYC Marathon has become so huge that the New York Road Runners had to drastically change the parameters for entry, I wouldn't be surprised if this puts major stress on the charities to select people for entry.

Also, I've never raised money for a race before and I really don't want to worry about raising an amount that might seem like a taller order than I could fill from down here in Maryland and in THIS economy. If I'm going to raise money for a cause, I want to do it in a relaxed fashion. I want to do it because it's what I want to do, not just to get into a race. I think that if the challenge is too great for me, I might end up putting more emphasis on getting the money for the race instead of raising money for the cause. I don't want to lose focus on what's important.

And thirdly, why not run a great race in your own backyard? I can save $1,500 (yes that's how much I'm saving for my accommodations in New York) and have a great experience.

So we'll see what's written in the stars for me come April. Either way, the bases are covered. I'm hoarding marathon registrations... and I won't feel bad about it. Okay, I feel a little bad about it. But hey! If NYC works out, I'm sure there will be some lucky person out there who will inherit my bib through the FORMAL bib exchange process. I don't do that illegal stuff.

Here's hoping everything works out the way it's supposed to.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Treadmill Reunion

Last night, my treadmill and I reunited. I swear I heard violins playing as I laced up my Sauconys. It was a beautiful thing. I only "wogged" 4 miles and that took me about an hour. Since there's a cut off time for the half marathon, I think I should go in with some sort of strategy so I'm "training" to walk a 15:00 min/mi. It felt so great to stretch my legs like that. I still can't wait to run but for now, I'll take walking.

Gonna hit the pool tonight... here's hoping things go well. I'm going to practice my kicking and my breathing. I want to find a breathing technique that doesn't confuse my brain... something closer to the way I breathe when I run. Once I get that down, I think everything else will fall into place. But what do I know...

In other news, I was looking at registering for my first triathlon yesterday. It's an olympic distance tri that's really close to my house and it's not until October! That's a plus because I will have more than enough time to train. Swim distance is 0.9 miles, bike distance is about 32 miles and the run distance is 6.5 miles. I feel pretty confident about the bike and DEFINITELY the run. It's the swimming that makes me a little nervous. The race would be one week before the Baltimore Half Marathon and probably a good way to cross train for the NYC Marathon (keeping hope alive that I get in!).

Saturday, March 3, 2012 we think.

While the contractors were busy pouring our beautiful new concrete porch. Isajeep and I were busy staining the wood floors in the dining room, yesterday. Here's a video that he put together. It's all of 45 seconds long.


Please excuse the freeze-frame of my booty and any plumber's crack from Isajeep :)

Unconfined Enthusiasm!

Today was the first day of my 7-week swim lessons...

...and I LOVE IT!!!!!

Inside, I felt like this

but on the outside I looked like this

Can you tell I was excited?

But at first, I was somewhat nervous. The class started out with about 11 or 12 folks, but the two instructors started off by asking for a show of hands for those of us who felt like we were pretty good swimmers but needed a little help with technique. About 5 people raised their hands and they were sent away with one of the instructors to the other side of the pool. He asked for a show of hands of who was petrified of the water and couldn't swim. I didn't want to be too proud and end up embarrassing myself so I raised my hand with the caveat that I wasn't petrified of the water. I mean, I was already in it so that wasn't the case. I just wanted to start from the beginning.

About 6 of us stuck around with the other instructor. We started off with some breathing exercises and getting comfortable with going under water, then we moved on to kicking, floating, then full on freestyle strokes. I was so excited, anxious, and nervous all at the same time. My brain was on overload with trying to get all of the coordination down. I haven't realized until now how uncoordinated I am. Swimming is the ultimate 'pat your head - rub your belly' test. Woo!

And it sucks even more that my lungs are all about breathing the same way I do when I run. It's all good until I'm ready to take in air at the same time I'm supposed to turn my head back down into the water. It was a mess. I did realize what I needed to work on. I need to work on relaxing. I'm far too excited to be doing something that feels like a GREAT ENDURANCE WORKOUT. I also need to work on turning my head. This is a must. I keep raising my head out of the water and it messes me all up. I also need to get comfortable with letting water run out of my mouth instead of swallowing it. That's key. My instructor said that I had a really beautiful strong freestyle form when I was actually doing it right. But that beautiful form only lasted for about 2 strokes.

So I will definitely head to the pool during the week to get some practice in. I have my work cut out for me! But like running and anything else, it will take time to work my way up to tri doll status.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Home repairs

If it wasn't for my bachelor's degree in civil engineering, I'm sure the thought of coordinating a home repair and actually saving money to pay for it would be too overwhelming. Pretty sure I would be a renter for my entire life if I was, let's say...a journalist. Thankfully, I did spend about 6 years of my life building structures and buildings and dealing with multimillion dollar budgets so I tend to be immune to sticker shock when it comes to pricing a home repair.

It's tax season and thankfully I did get a tax refund. Unfortunately a good chunk of it is going toward an unexpected repair - the concrete steps and porch. Well let's back this up...we kinda knew that we would have to get the steps repaired or replaced at some point through the summer but little did we know that the crumbling elevating aid turned death trap would need immediate attention before spring.

My front porch showing its age

Gotta love adulthood.

I could've put it off even longer but I didn't want to look like the old crazy lady who lives in the house that's falling apart. And the lingering thought of someone falling on my property and suing me was beginning to keep me up at night. So I guess for the peace of mind, it's worth it to get the porch and steps taken care of.

Goodbye safety hazard!!

Yes, I know I could do it myself. One of the fun activities I got to do in school while studying to be an engineer was stop everything in the middle of Thanksgiving break to drive an hour and a half back to campus to tend to my concrete cylinder that wasn't curing correctly in the lab. (-.-)

So yes I know how to mix and set concrete and witnessed the building and setting of forms and the like a million times over on a construction site. BUT just because I KNOW how to do it doesn't mean I WANT to do it. That's what those lovely people called 'licensed contractors' are for. :)

Hellooooo fresh concrete!

Contractors get a bad wrap. Many homeowners don't trust them and assume that whatever the repair is couldn't POSSIBLY cost that much. Well in some cases, you're right. Some (a very small percentage) contractors do inflate their prices but there are a good number that just want to do some honest work for honest pay. Definitely look for the contractors with good BBB ratings and with good testimonials. Those are usually the best ones to hire.