I did it again…

6 Feb

I ran through another spider web this morning. I’m not sure why spiders keep spinning webs across streets and how it is that I keep hitting them first out of the group, but I don’t like it one bit.

Thanks to my girls, who attempted to de-web me while laughing their heads off.

Meanwhile, this was me:

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2013 in My Rearview

2 Jan

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day is always a mixed bag of emotions for me. I’m always sad that the holidays are over, but I’m thrilled to have some time to rest. This year that rest is especially important to me. My MBA semester ended just 12 days before Christmas, giving me that long to finish Christmas shopping, wrap and ship gifts, catch up with my lovely friends and family that I neglected all semester, and hit up holiday gatherings. Let’s just say that I’m perfectly happy spending the first day of 2014 resting and using the time before UCF, my alma mater, plays in tonight’s Fiesta Bowl to reflect on 2013.

I anticipated that 2013 would be my best year ever. And it was… I married my best friend! But if you would’ve told me at the start of the year that I would  decide I wanted to get my MBA and actually start the program within months of this decision, I would’ve laughed at you. Hard. I may have even had tears running down my face. With the start of my first semester, my best year ever slowly transitioned to my most challenging year ever. I spent my days trying to strike balance in every aspect of my life, and learning to let go of the things I couldn’t control.

Looking back, I am forever grateful for my husband and his support all year. He cooked. He cleaned. He took care of our dogs. He kept our house together. He kept me together. He reminded me to slow down. He made me laugh. He cheered me on. He reminded me that I can do anything I set out to do. He let me cry. He worked around my crazy schedule. He made me a lot of coffee. And when the semester ended and I had just submitted me last paper, he walked over with drinks to celebrate.

I’m also grateful for my friends. They gave me epic nicknames like “HeMBArie.” They insisted I was destined for greatness. They ran alongside me. They surprised me at my marathon. They listened to me. They made me laugh… a lot. They understood when I couldn’t make it. They kept inviting me. They let loose with me.

It was a great year. Here’s a look back at 2013:

I married my really, really hot best friend.

wedding pic

Just married!

We took a quick minimoon to Amelia Island…

Amelia Island

Our lodge in Amelia Island

And then went on an unforgettable honeymoon trip to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica

Ziplining through the canopies of the Costa Rican jungle

I lost 9 lbs. by cutting my dairy and gluten intake and managed to keep them off during my marathon training.

My little sister married her best friend.

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My gorgeous Sis and her husband

I started my MBA program.

I ran the 2013 Chicago Marathon…

My training partner, Beth, and me at the end of the 2013 Chicago Marathon

My training partner, Beth, and me at the end of the 2013 Chicago Marathon

And the 2013 Turkey Trot.

The 2013 Turkey Trot with my friend Hong

The 2013 Turkey Trot with my friend, Hong

D and I finally visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and tried butterbeer.

The butterbeer stand

The butterbeer stand

I’m looking forward to what 2014 brings my way. I wish you a very happy 2014!

Best 2013 Race Photo

1 Jan
My training partner, Beth, and me at the end of the 2013 Chicago Marathon

My training partner, Beth, and me at the end of the 2013 Chicago Marathon

I rarely purchase race photos because of their ridiculously high prices. However, this photo perfectly captured how great my training partner, Beth, and I felt when we crossed the finish line of the 2013 Chicago Marathon. Anyone that has worked with me in the past (one particular high-five-loving colleague in particular) knows that I much rather prefer a laid-back fist pump to the overly happy high five. Let’s just blame this one on my having just run for 26.2. miles.

This photo made a perfect gift for Beth this Christmas and I printed out a copy for myself as well. Whenever things get tough in 2014, I want to remember how hard I worked to balance all of the demands of 2013 … and how great it felt to cross that finish line.

“Are you still running?”

2 Nov

I’ve gotten this question a lot since I ran the Chicago Marathon. In fact, I get it a lot after every race I run. Usually I look at people and say something like this:

right

GIF Source: Reaction GIFs

Mmmmhmmm.

But this time it’s been a little different. If you’re wondering if I got injured again while running this marathon, I didn’t. Surprisingly I feel great. The first week after the marathon I promised myself to take it easy and not run. After running that far, my body definitely earned the right to sleep in.

The week after the marathon I went on a couple of easy runs with my girls and followed them up with catching up over coffee. It was amazing.

But then almost two weeks after my marathon, I faced another challenge of my tolerance for pain and endurance: I sat for almost five hours getting my new ink.

You see, I had been putting off getting my newest tattoo forever because I was always training for something. New tattoos require healing that running does not afford me so the time was never right. When I signed up for Chicago, I promised myself to finally make time afterwards.

So now when people ask me if I’m still running, my answer is more like this:

shaking_head_breaking_bad

GIF Source: Reaction GIFs

Sad.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to run again in a couple of weeks … Just in time for my annual run of the Turkey Trot. I might even run the Orlando Half Marathon in December. If I do run the half, though, I will have to head home right after the marathon, then shower and  head over to finish the rest of my tattoo.  Ew. Running a half then having to sit still and getting poked at with needles for five hours doesn’t sound like much fun.

And then I’ll be unable to run for another few weeks again. That’s so sad … all I want to do is …

run

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I’m already growing restless.

Also, I’m still on season 3 of Breaking Bad. So. Good. Maybe that’s what I will do with all of my free time during my MBA holiday break. :)

Race Recap: Chicago Marathon 2013

21 Oct

After months of training for the Chicago Marathon in the humid Florida heat, I woke up marathon morning to experience something I had not experienced since our Florida winter from last year: cold. It was downright chilly (in the lower 50′s) when I woke up around 5 AM. Here’s what the weather looked like when I headed to bed the night before:

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It took my Florida mind some time to remember how my body feels in 50 degree weather, but after some thought I decided I didn’t need my long sleeve shirt. I would wear my planned running outfit:

  • Lululemon run tights
  • Lululemon top with built-in bra
  • Lululemon sports bra for additional support
  • Nike Frees and my neon running socks
  • Running gloves, arm warmers and sweatpants
  • iFitness run belt

My friend Beth (and running partner) stopped at K-Mart before leaving for Chicago and bought us some sweats for throwaways. The gloves and arm warmers I planned to hand off to D around mile 4, where he and Beth’s husband, J, anticipated to catch us. Worst case scenario, I could toss the arm warmers and fold up the gloves and jam them in my run belt.

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Before we left our rental. I hadn’t suited up with arm warmers or gloves yet.

However, I digress. The first thing I did when I woke up was go have a cup of old coffee from the day before (mmmm… ) and make my usual pre-long run pancake: one egg plus half a cup of oatmeal.

Easy, healthy pancake

Easy, healthy pancake

I topped my pancake with some peanut butter and ate half of it. Then D pointed out that it was still early and we wouldn’t be starting our race until past 8 AM, so I set the other half aside to take with me.

The old coffee did just the trick [ahem] and got things moving. I then got dressed, braided my hair, and threw on tinted moisturizer with SPF and some stain on my cheeks and lips for the race photos. ;)

We were meeting a friend staying at a hotel just a block away at 6 AM so we ran out of our apartment just after D took the photo of us above. Just as we were walking to our friend’s hotel, I realized that not only had I forgotten the other half of my pancake, but I’d also forgotten a KIND bar. I considered running back to the place, but my friend’s hotel was giving KIND bars to all of its guests and they offered me one. I grabbed it and decided I would look for a Starbucks when we got downtown and buy some oatmeal.

We were staying near the north end of the Magnificent Mile and had planned to walk the mile and a half down to Grant Park. The streets were dark and there were a few people clearly left over from the night before. But more and more runners kept popping out and hitting the streets. We picked one, like the stalkers that we were, and followed her. She led us straight to a subway station!

Waiting for the train downtown.

Waiting for the train downtown.

We made it downtown with plenty of time to find a Starbucks for my oatmeal. We said goodbye to our friend (who’s faster than Beth and I and had an earlier start time) and headed to the Starbucks off S Michigan Ave and E Balbo Ave. As I sat eating my oatmeal, I decided this was a good place as any to meet after the race so I texted the location to D for our post-race meet-up.

We then made our way to the corrals. Security was very similar to that of an arena sporting event: you had to have a ticket bib to get in, and they searched all bags (including my run belt). I felt safe entering the starting corrals.

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the security lines

Then came the wait for the start. We are used to very early morning run start times in order to beat the Florida sun, so having to wait until after 8 AM to start a run was like torture. Beth and I both agreed: we just wanted to get this hell train moving.

At least we had a pretty view:

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Panoramic of the start corrals

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We could finally see the start!

When we started to make our way towards the start line, I shed my sweat pants and added them to a pile of other runners’ throwaways. It always makes me feel better to know that they get donated.

As we crossed the start line, Beth hit start on her Garmin. Which reminds me … we should probably talk about this Garmin. You see, during training we used the Garmin that I borrowed stole from my husband. That is, however, until one week before the marathon when the plastic on the back of the watch broke in a way that the band broke off. Through social media Garmin directed me to their Customer Service, who offered to send me a refurbished watch for $99 in time for the Chicago Marathon. This was super awesome of them, but I haven’t had the best of luck with refurbished anything so I opted against this. I was considering buying a new watch when Beth mentioned she had one she never used. We took it for a test run on our last long run and everything seemed to work out fine, so I decided not to buy a watch right away. I have plenty of other financial obligations right now and not having to add to that was a huge relief.

So we started running. And it was beautiful!

Running the streets of Chicago

Running the streets of Chicago

About five minutes passed and Beth realized her watch should’ve gone off for our first walk break (we run 5 minutes and walk one minute). She something along the lines of “something is wrong.”

I was too distracted by all of the pretty buildings and the awesome crowds to really give it much thought. I assumed it beeped and she just missed it. We walked so that she could figure it out.

After several minutes of walking and tinkering with her watch, she realized she had it set for “run 26.2 miles and walk one minute” intervals. Oops. She fixed it and restarted her watch. Now we were running without knowing exactly when we crossed the start line. Advice: whether you have a watch or not, make sure you look at the clock when you start. I tried to do this, but for the life of me couldn’t find the start clock location. *Sigh*

So we start running again and I suggested we run through the next walk break since we had lost so much time. Again I got lost in the beauty of the city.

The best way to get to know a city is to run through it.

The best way to get to know a city is to run through it.

Beth’s Garmin beeped to let us know that it was a minute walk break, but we ran through it. Then Beth said, “Uh oh… Something’s still wrong.” The watch never beeped to let us know our minute was over. We again slowed to a walk and she started to tinker with it again.

At this point I started to make suggestions: that we could run the entire marathon, walking at water breaks; that we look around and find someone else doing intervals and just follow them. With every suggestion Beth looked at her watch harder. I think my back-up plans were making her nervous. Finally she handed me her watch, where I found that she had set the watch to “run five minutes and walk one hour” intervals. Ha ha ha ha ha ha … We fixed this and started running again. This time we ran through two walk breaks since we had to make up some serious time.

Around mile 4 we started to look around for our crew. I was eager to shed my gloves and arm warmers. Also, I had forgotten to bring sun block so I wanted to get some on before I started to burn.

I spotted my husband not long after and then noticed he was standing near a familiar face: my friend Rox had flown in to surprise me!

Me trying not to sweat on Roxy.

Me trying not to sweat on Roxy.

Rox pointed out that she had never missed any of my marathons, which is very true. Yay! They slathered me up with sunblock after I discarded my arm warmers and gloves and then Beth and I were on our way.

Between miles 4 and 11, the next time we would see our crew, we ran through Chicago’s Boystown and Old Town.

IMG_7775

Boystown

The energy was AMAZING. And I always love a guy in drag.

Somewhere around this time, I had to the use the restroom. We had already run by the first set of portable potties due to the long lines. When the second set came up, the lines were still crazy, but I didn’t want to gamble on running to the third set. We lost around 10 to 15 minutes waiting in line. I could just see our goal of 5:30 slipping away from us.

We finally got back on the road and ran through some more intervals to make up more time. Then, as we had finally started to think nothing else could happen with this damn watch, something worse happened: Beth’s Garmin died. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as Beth yelled expletives at her wrist. I suppose it was meant to be for us to run without the beeps. We started to estimate intervals from the time on my phone. That was fun.

Around mile 11 we saw our crew again. While Beth was busy borrowing her husband’s very non-running watch, I hammed it up with D:

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Seeing my husband was a sight for sore eyes.

Cheesin' at mile 11

Cheesin’ at mile 11

Then off we went with Beth’s husband’s watch to guide the way for the next 15 miles. I meant to get a photo of her wearing a regular timepiece during our run, but forgot. We were too busy trying to make up lost time. But trust me, it made me chuckle every time I looked over at her. But thank God for that watch; I had grown tired of looking at my phone.

The rest of the marathon we ran quieter then we have ever run. We are typically a pair of chatty runners (me more so than her) but instead we ran in almost silence. I think this was for several reasons:

  • The watch drama had caused anxiety that had drained us of energy
  • We were running faster than we had in our training runs in order to try to make up lost time
  • Beth was distracted with estimating five and ones on her husband’s watch.
  • I was distracted looking for runners that were running the same intervals as us.
  • We were both taking in all of the sights

We saw our crew later around mile 19 in one of the Spanish neighborhoods of Chicago. I suspected that Rox, who had lived in Chicago before, was getting them around the city. It was great to see them a third time!

You find out a lot about yourself and others when you race a marathon. During this marathon I found out that Beth and I will take pretzels from complete strangers. As the mile numbers neared 20, more and more people started to offer us pretzels and we would take them in any shape or size. I think the pretzels, coupled with our peanut M&Ms and our chews, are what kept us from hitting a wall. Sure, my legs started to get sore, but I still had energy and so did Beth. Our crew was surprised to see us so upbeat at mile 19.

I remember looking at the mile 21 marker and thinking “we haven’t hit a wall yet!” Then we hit mile 22 and I thought “holy crap… only four more miles to go!” As we hit mile 23 I started to celebrate only having a 5k left in my head. And finally we hit the 25 mile marker and I remember saying to Beth, “I think we might make it to 26.2 after all!”

As we approached the 26 mile marker, we saw our crew cheering us on. It gave us a pep in our step. We were running that marathon high when we rounded the curve and saw the dreaded uphill. I had heard that there was a hill before the finish… I just didn’t realize that it was right before the finish. We didn’t discuss whether to run or walk uphill; we both just powered on up the hill.

And like that, 05:44:20 after we started the 2013 Chicago Marathon, we were done running 26.2 miles!

Marathon

My marathon splits

Yeah, Beth and I totally did this at the end:

finish

I’m not a big high fiver, but there’s something about running a marathon that makes you want to high five every person you see. That’s right; I’ll take pretzels from strangers and high five them. Hey don’t give.

Afterwards volunteers bestowed upon us medals, then we hobbled to grab water, a box of snacks, a bag of ice and our free cup of beer. We sipped on our beers as we made our way to the exit, but had no problem giving up our beers for freedom outside of those gates.

It turned out that our Starbucks meeting spot was perfect. We didn’t have to walk far to meet up with our crew. I was too tired to remember to get a photo of them. Sad. I was apparently also too tired to remember to eat anything out of my snack box.

Our crew did get a photo of Beth and I as we waited for a train on our way to get an Italian beef sandwich.

Ice is good for marathon runners.

Ice is good for marathon runners.

I think the whole “drink a beer and forget to eat the food in my box” was a mistake: I had to jump out of the crowded train after two stops because I felt like I was going to pass out. I leaned against a pole and slid down on to the gross subway platform floor. Call me classy. Then I started to dry heave as D and Rox probably began to try and figure out how to get me to a doctor. One of them handed me a bottle of water and I asked them to tell me what was in the snack box. When D pulled out some sort of beef jerky, I demanded it and devoured it. I followed it up with a granola bar and immediately felt better. Beef jerky and a granola bar go quite a long way. Lesson learned.

As they stood staring at me, unsure of what to do next, I announced that I was ready to go get my Italian beef sandwich on from Portillo’s. They sort of glanced at each other, silently questioning whether they should listen to me. But I think the power of the Italian beef sandwich is strong and they agreed.

And it was the best sandwich ever.

This photo does this Italian beef sandwich no justice.

This photo does this Italian beef sandwich no justice.

I had three goals set up for this marathon:

  1. Run the marathon injury-free and feeling as best as one can while running a marathon*
  2. Run the marathon in 5:30
  3. If that doesn’t happen, run the marathon in 5:45*

*Goal accomplished!!

Two out of three isn’t bad. Next time I’ll make sure we get that watch thing figured out ahead of time. ;)

I would most definitely run the Chicago Marathon again. I loved the city, the food, the crowds and their incredible energy and the accessibility of everything. I  whole-heartedly recommend this race to runners. I also recommend taking pretzels from strangers.

Have you run the Chicago Marathon? What was your favorite part?

Good Luck to Me!

11 Oct

I can’t believe that on Sunday I am running the Chicago Marathon. Here are some random thoughts as I get ready to leave for Chicago …

Weather

After four months of training during the most brutally hot  months of the year, I stepped out of my house for my last short run before the race to find weather like this:

Finally!

Finally!

To say that I loved the new low temps would be an understatement. I was in heaven.

And then there’s this:

Screen shot 2013-10-11 at 5.59.51 AM

The temp from Thursday’s run will be the HIGH for Sunday’s marathon. And the chance of rain has dropped to only 10%! It’s going to be perfect running weather.

Throwaways

Last night I got a text from my friend (and running partner for the marathon) asking me what size I wore and what color sweatpants I wanted. She was at Wal-Mart picking up throwaways for the morning of the race. She sent me this pic:

sweats

Sweatpants: $5.96 at Wal-Mart

I’m a bore so I picked gray. But I wasn’t thinking about others in my decision… I bet someone would’ve loved some nice purple sweats donated to them. There’s always next time.

Fuel

Earlier this week I received a special “care” package from the team at KIND Healthy Snacks.

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KIND Package … Mmm …

Ever since I started my MBA, I haven’t had time to make my homemade peanut butter protein bites, which are the perfect pre-run snack. So instead, I’ve been grabbing KIND bars at the store, which are the next best thing for me. KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein has been my favorite, but I have a feeling I might find a new favorite in here.

Don’t. Get. Sick.

People seem to be sick all around me. I’ve been taking this daily in hopes that I don’t contract deadly disease.

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And finally there’s this:

good-luck-not-hitting-encouragement-ecard-someecards

Source

Much luck to all of you running a race this weekend! I’ll catch you on the flip side of 26.2.

Chicago Marathon Training | Week 18

8 Oct

To tell you that life has been busy lately would be quite the understatement. Sometimes I find myself standing there in a daze, trying to remember what’s next in my long days. Thankfully I have a handy iPhone to remind me of my next steps. If only my iPhone could get me some sleep and some much wanted time with my lady friends!

On the bright side, tapering means I’ve been able to sleep in an extra 30 minutes or so on run days … and running less mileage means I’m not as tired afterwards. I’ve even noticed my coffee intake reduce … slightly.

It helps to remind myself to take everything one day at a time. If you happen to see me out in public talking to myself, here’s what I’m likely saying:

You can do this. Just take it one day at a time. One. Day. At. A time.

Marathon day you’ll find me talking to myself saying something very similar:

You can do this. Just take it one mile at a time. One. Mile. At. A time.

With that, here’s how week 18′s taper went:

Tuesday / Track Easy Run (3 mi)

I could not get up for track. I just couldn’t. I tried. On only a few hours of sleep, I dragged myself out of bed and brushed my teeth. Then after some delirious consideration, I texted my running mate and told her I was going back to bed. Those were the best extra two hours of sleep ever. Then I woke up in a panic … surely if I don’t keep up my training schedule something awful will happen. Pains will appear out of nowhere or my muscles will freeze up or my leg will just plain fall off! So I threw on my running clothes and went for an easy run around my ‘hood.

I’m happy to report that aside from just feeling really tired, my legs were fine. Nothing locked up. Nothing fell off. ;)

  • Distance: 3.22 mi
  • Time: 39:45.64
  • Avg Pace: 12:20/mi

I can’t help but notice that I’m getting slower by the day.

Thursday / Pace Run (6 mi)

I have class Monday and Wednesday nights after work and our group meets Wednesday nights after class. Basically, I didn’t get home from my day until almost midnight. I didn’t fall asleep until almost 1 AM. But because I had cancelled Tuesday, I couldn’t bring myself to do it again. So I dragged myself out of bed with only three hours of sleep with the promise that if we ran fast, I would have time to come home and sleep again.

I love making that promise to myself because I know it’s never true. When I get home I almost always opt to have a really nice long stretching session. That’s alright. Lying to myself seems to work.

  • Distance: 5.36 mi*
  • Time: 01:00:49*
  • Avg Pace: 11:20/mi*

* So… I kinda did it again. I forgot to stop my Garmin and drove a quarter mile down the street before I remembered to hit stop. I think we ran just over 5 miles and our average pace was closer to 12:20/mi.

Saturday Sunday / Long Run (9 mi.)

There was no way I could make it to Saturday’s morning run, so my Chicago Marathon training partner, Beth, and I decided to run on Sunday instead.

We switched things up and decided to run around downtown Orlando (usually we run in Winter Park). It was fun to run my old running routes. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed running by Lake Eola and seeing the fountain, which Beth compared to a giant bidet. I will always now imagine a giant stopping his destruction of downtown Orlando to wash his bottom.

After hitting up Lake Eola, we headed towards Lake Highland Prep and hopped on the Orlando Urban Trail for a couple of miles. It’s been ages since I first ran the trail, so it was nice to run it again.

Before we knew it, our run was over and I was off to shower and start a crazy busy day.

I didn’t have my Garmin on me and I’m too lazy to text my friend and ask her how long it took us to run.

This week will be my final (19th) week of training. This morning I ran a hot, sticky three miles with Beth and Thursday we’ll do the same. And then before we know it, we’ll be standing at the start line of the Chicago Marathon.

What a crazy ride this has been. I can’t believe I’ve survived the summer marathon training without self-combusting. I really, really, really hope that our race day weather gives us some relief from hot and muggy.

Here’s the current forecast:

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 8.19.44 AMHere’s to hoping the rain holds off too!

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