Extremely Easy Slow Cooker Chicken

Do I have an easy slow cooker recipe for you guys. If you even want to call it that. I stumbled upon this inspiration from Lina’s blog and it has been added to our monthly rotation of week night dinners. Lina is the Chief Training Officer of The Barre Code and writes an awesome blog focused on fitness, health and wellness.

Step one-buy a whole chicken. Cut up some of your favorite vegetables that will hold up nicely in the slow cooker (carrots, parsnips, onions, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, celery).

IMG_2881Lay the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season the chicken to taste. I used sea salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Place the chicken on top of the veggies. Placing the chicken on top of the veggies will help keep the chicken from falling apart too much. Turn the slow cooker onto low and cook for about 8 hours.

IMG_2882You want the internal temperature of the leg to be 160 degrees. The cooking time will vary based on the weight of your chicken. No need to add water or broth to this. It will not burn, the vegetables and the chicken will make its own lovely broth.

When it’s done, scoop out some veggies and cut the chicken off the bone. Dish up and eat! It’s that easy.

IMG_2886I’ve made this now twice and both times it was delicious and satisfying. My ONLY complaint is not having crispy skin. I usually pick the skin off anyway, but I think next time I will place the chicken in the broiler for a few minutes after it’s done slow cooking. I’ll make sure to report back :-)

It’s Friday! Hallelujah!!!! It’s been an extra long work week and I’ve been looking forward to my wine date tonight with my friend, Jen, all week. The rest of my weekend will be filled with Christmas cookie baking, birthday celebrating, and maybe some Christmas shopping (I only have 1 thing purchased!). I’m really looking forward to baking cookies this year, it will be Madelyn’s first year participating! She’s the best kind of kitchen helper :-)

madelynpancakes

Taking a Break

joyofrunningThis past October, I ran my second Chicago marathon. After months of early morning training runs, hours spent away from home, and in bed early on Friday nights, I was able to shave off over 24 minutes from last year’s race. Thrilled to say the very least!

everymileismagnificentComing off of a good training cycle and race, all I wanted to do was keep running, but I knew that I had to (and deserved to) take a break. My body needed it both mentally and physically. My goal was to take at least a week off from any type of strenuous exercise, but naturally I lasted 4 days. My race was on Sunday and by Thursday I was back to taking class at The Barre Code. Two weeks later I was back on the treadmill logging miles and doing speedwork.

Something happened in November. I’m not sure if it was the cold snap and the fact that I dislike the treadmill or if I jumped back into it too quickly, but I lost my motivation and my will to run. November’s mileage total equaled a measly 10. That’s quite a decline coming from a month where I logged almost 60 miles. Last month, running became something I dreaded, not anything I looked forward to and it was then that I decided to take a little break. I think I even let my Garmin die for the first time in years.

So what did I do instead?

-I attended more classes barre classes. I took class whenever my schedule would allow it, which averaged 3 times a week. Not running gave me time to do a workout that I love just as much as running.

backtobarre

-I enjoyed many glasses of vino, craft beer and late nights on the couch with my husband and early mornings making pumpkin pancakes with my daughter.

-I celebrated turning 30. (heading to NYC at the end of this month!)

bestbirthdayever

Overall, it was a great month. The thought of running was always on my mind. I walked past my Garmin every morning, wondering if I should plug it in but the desire just wasn’t there. Physically, I was there, but mentally I was just burned out.

I think taking a month off from logging miles, aiming to beat last run’s time, and having a regimented schedule did some good. Last week, I finally had the urge to charge my Garmin back up, put on my running shoes and headed to the lakefront for a 3 mile run. It was a cool, early evening run–it was starting to get dark outside. I ran without headphones for safety reasons. It was actually very calming to listen to my own breathing pattern. It was then that I knew the break was a good thing because I instantly missed that post-run high you get after a good run. I had no expectations for this run. I had no time goals. Even with taking a month long break, I was back to my normal comfortable pace and had negative splits.

3mile

The quote listed above (run often, run long, but never outrun your joy of running) couldn’t be more true. When a hobby you once loved stops being fun and becomes more of a chore, what’s the point? I LOVE the feeling that comes along with completing a marathon. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced with any other race distance, but it can be time consuming and sacrificial, especially with a family and a full-time job.

At the end of the month, I set a list of goals for myself of things I’d like to accomplish for the upcoming year. There will be a running goal on there for sure, but I don’t foresee a marathon in my future next year. I do want to do another one but in 2015 I’d like to work on getting faster and maintaining it over a longer distance as well as fueling for a longer race (half marathons). I want to get back to running because I love it, not because I have to.

Runners out there, have you ever taken a break? How long and for what reason? I believe last time I took a long break was during my pregnancy with Madelyn.

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup 2014

My third year hosting Thanksgiving went off without a hitch and I am finally recovered from my turkey coma. I’m definitely getting the hang of this whole making a big feast for 9 or more people and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

This year I stuck with some old tried & true recipes but snuck in a few new ones along with some modifications to some previous items.

What stayed the same? Well the Williams-Sonoma Turkey Brine. You can never go wrong with the Apple & Spices Turkey Brine. I’ve been brining my turkey for three years now and there’s not a thing I would do different. The turkey never dries out and it tastes delicious.

IMG_2836-My mom’s gluten-free cornbread stuffing. I don’t know what she puts in it, but it’s amazing and I’m always so sad when the leftovers are gone. I know she makes it with Pamela’s gluten-free cornbread and sausage. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.

-Dutch Apple Pie. I’m not normally one for a freezer to oven pie, but I purchased one last year from one of my co-worker’s kid who was having a fundraiser at school. It was one of the best apple pies I have ever tasted {My guests even agreed}. The parents hand pick the apples and make the pies all from scratch! They were so good, I ordered two this year. I’m not really sure why, but I felt like it was necessary :-)

This year I {nervously} made modifications to my famous sweet potato casserole. For the past three years, I have received rave reviews on this dish. My sister, who despises sweet potatoes (how are we even related?!) said this dish is the only sweet potato dish she will eat. They’re that good, so why would I want to change them, right? Well, for starters I replaced to the two cups of sugar with two cups of coconut sugar (a healthy alternative to regular sugar you can read about here). 1 cup of all purpose flour got switched to coconut flour (making it completely grain free), the brown sugar got cut in half, and 12 Tbsp of dairy free butter got replaced with 6 tbsp of ghee.  It tasted even better this year than it did last year.

-Mashed potatoes. While I was at Williams-Sonoma picking up my turkey brine, I came across this little taste of heaven:

heaveninatinI texted my mom a picture that stated: “I know that I’m not in charge of making the mashed potatoes, but you have to add this.” Done and Done. Everyone loved them and the smell of the truffles filled up my kitchen as they were heating up in the oven. So good, I want to go back and get more to add to a cauli-flower mash.

Something new. For the past two years, I’ve kept it pretty basic when it came to the green beans. I’d pretty much sautee them in butter, shallots and garlic and call it a day. Well I didn’t want to have to cook anything while I was trying to get the turkey prepared and ready to serve, so I decided to try out the Detoxinista’s Clean Green Bean Casserole. I wanted something that was dairy-free and that was made with REAL ingredients. It was very good and no one even knew it was vegan. The only person I told before serving it was my husband. The sauce that goes along with this dish is so delicious, it’s hard to believe it’s not cream based. I’m glad I had some left over. I’m thinking it would be a good partner in crime with fried eggs.

Here’s some pics from our Thanksgiving feast!

IMG_2838 IMG_2839 IMG_2841  Everything was so delicious! The crumbly topping on my sweet potatoes got brown very quickly, but they were still good :-)

Of course we enough leftovers to last us a couple of days, and we finished off the turkey with some delicious soup filled with onions, garlic, parsnips and carrots.  I’m already looking forward to cooking next year’s feast.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day Food? Mine would have to be a heaping serving of my mom’s cornbread stuffing with a little dab of cranberry sauce for that sweet and savory taste!

 

SPIRE Ride at SPIRE Fitness

spirespinstudioOn Saturday, I decided to try out a new fitness studio in Milwaukee. Since all Saturday classes at The Barre Code were booked solid when I went to sign up for class on Wednesday, I took advantage of the free first class at Spire Fitness.

spirefitness

I first heard about Spire Fitness through a Facebook post. I was really excited to see a spinning studio coming to the Milwaukee area and was very eager to try it out. Spinning was always my go-to heart pumping, cardio workout before I discovered cardio classes at the barre. I was a little nervous because the last time I took a spin class I was pregnant with Madelyn, so it has been awhile.

I signed up for the 8:30 a.m. ride with Hubie. When I got there, I checked in and they gave me a fresh towel. I put my stuff in the lockers that they had in the lobby and walked into the cycling studio. It was set up with like your typical spin studio: the bikes were all lined up stadium style with the instructor bike being in the front of class. There were mirrors in the front of the class. In the mirror I read this quote: “The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come.” The words were written backwards on the wall, only to be read the right way in the mirror.  Loved this design element and motivation.

The bikes had dual platform pedals with the option to clip in if you had bike shoes. I don’t have bike shoes, so I chose the bike that also had the shoe straps. I got my bike set up and the instructor looked it over before we began class. There were 5 of us in class and we had one latecomer to the class. For the most part, most of us were new to this studio and needed help adjusting to the bikes. Because of this, class started 6 minutes late. I didn’t care so much because I didn’t have anywhere in particular to be, but I could see how this could be a little annoying if you’re working out before work or something else.

We finally began our workout and it was amazing! From the music and the light changing to the awesome instructor, I had a great workout. We started out with a warm up and the lights were a warm orange. I felt like I was under a heat lamp, warming up my body. Once we started getting into our workout, the lights changed to a cool blue, which helped me focus on working hard. We did 1 minute sprints at the end the lights went out! It was pretty cool to ride in the dark.  Hubie was a wonderful instructor too. He kept reminding us to engage our core and to make smooth circles on the bike, using those push/pull (quads/hamstrings) muscles. He was really motivating, riding with us the entire time. I’ve taken spin classes where the instructor hops off the bike and walks around the room “motivating” (more like shouting at people) to work hard. Not a fan of that. I knew the entire time what I should be doing and how hard I should be working.

Pros:
-Great Instructor
-Free first class
-Easy parking 3rd ward parking @8am
-Fresh towels incase you forget one
-Great retail area
-Option to take other classes: they offer yoga & rowing
-One of a kind cycling experience

spireretail

Cons:
-The price. For a monthly unlimited it is $160, it can be kind of costly.
-Late class start.
-The lockers don’t have locks. They’re just lockers to store your stuff, so I wouldn’t advise bringing anything of value in with you.

Overall, this spin class was really good and I’m looking forward to trying it out again. They offer a new client special of 8 days unlimited classes for $20. I might try it out in December or the first of the year because I’d really love to try out their yoga and rowing classes. This is a great addition to the Milwaukee fitness scene and I’ll definitely be back!

Catch Up

I’m alive! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post. In the little spare time I have, I’ve had my nose in the books, studying for a promotion test that I have to take for work. Good news is that I passed! Bad news? It’s a two-parter, so I’ll be back at it studying for the second part within a week or two. My brain needs a little break right now. I’ll be happy when it’s behind me.
So, what have I been up to since my last post?
Running
Slowly getting back into the swing of things. I ran 4 miles yesterday at a 9:14 pace, longest run post marathon. I headed down to the lakefront after work and it was completely dead compared to the last time I ran down there. I started by the lakefront but ended up running more in neighborhoods. I ran without music and it was very therapeutic. I had a lot of thoughts to last me 4 miles :-) Now that the marathon is behind me, I want to start training with a purpose. During my last two marathons, my goal was just to finish and to beat my previous time (2nd time around). Now, I’d like to focus on getting faster, add in more speed work, and educate myself more on marathon racing/nutrition. Next up on the race list? I am signed up for a Thanksgiving day run…running stroller category! I’ll be doing my first ever 5k while pushing Madelyn in the jogger. That should be interesting. Fingers crossed for good weather.
strollerunCooking
I’ve been dabbling with a little bit of everything the past few weeks: {partly} paleo, vegetarian substitutions, and vegan cooking. I recently purchased this cookbook and made Eat Your Greens Detox Soup. Oh She Glows has been a long time favorite blog of mine, so I was thrilled when I got it in the mail. I’m hoping to make some more meals very soon out of it.
detoxsoup
The soup was delicious, and perfect for a cold, autumn night. It freezes well too. I also changed it up with the old spaghetti squash creations. A few weeks ago, Danielle Walker from Against all Grain put up a picture with a link to a delicious looking casserole type dish: Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash. Once the spaghetti squash was cooked and shredded (thanks hubs!) this was incredibly easy to put together. Just how I like it! We also had leftovers of this that I froze and ate for lunch throughout the week. I really want Danielle’s next cookbook, Against All Grain-Meals Made Simple. I think I’ll add it to my Christmas list.
Celebrating
This past weekend, I celebrated my 30th birthday! It was the perfect weekend filled with all of my favorite things to do with all of my favorite people. I started the weekend off with a class at The Barre Code with my mom and sister, taught by one of my faves :-) Then we headed over to Polished for manicures and mimosas. After that, I went home and took a NAP! (My in-laws had Madelyn). When I woke up, I got dressed and ready to go celebrate with my husband. What I thought was going to just be dinner and drinks somewhere turned out to be a surprise party! I knew Larry had something up his sleeve, I just didn’t know what and to what extent. When we arrived at Camp Bar and he suggested we go “walk around to check it out” as I was trying to Instagram my Old Fashioned (they have THE BEST!),  I was onto him. It was so great to see all of my friends and family there to celebrate. It’s really hard to get surprises past me, so I give them props. If I know something’s going on, I usually bug the person until they just tell me (Larry is usually the only one who caves) and then I get mad at him for telling me. I’m the worst. The biggest surprise of the night? A Michael Kors handbag. And inside the handbag was a wrapped book clueing me in to a New York City trip! I didn’t know when we were going until I opened up the book and saw that we’ll be ringing in 2015 in NYC!!! I’m thrilled! Larry knows that I’ve always wanted to visit NYC during the holidays. Well played husband, well played.
bestbirthdayeverThere’s a story behind the book. It’s a kids series called Larry gets lost in…(Fill in the city). My mom got Madelyn her first one when she went to San Francisco and every time we’re in a city where they sell the book, we buy it. When I surprised Larry with his trip to Boston, I had the book gift-wrapped with baseball tickets inside. She has San Fran, Chicago, Boston & NYC.
The next morning, I started my day off with a run and then we enjoyed a peaceful, childless brunch before picking up Madelyn at our meeting spot. My mom cooked a delicious meal from Against All Grain. And of course birthday cake. She bought me tickets to a Broadway show in NYC. I was super excited to be spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square-something on the bucket list-until I read all of these horrible reviews basically giving advice not to do it. I went back and forth on it for a couple of days and then decided that it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s the reason Larry bought the tickets for the dates he did, and the older I get, the less appealing it will probably be. So, we’ve decided to brave the craziness and do it!
Other things on my NYC to do list so far: Run through Central Park, Frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, Ice skating at Rockefeller Center, visit Babycakes Bakery NYC, The 9/11 memorial museum, and a Carriage Ride through Central Park. I told my husband we will need a vacation after this trip :-)
It’s been a great month so far and I have lots to look forward to. The next few months are going to fly!
What are some other must see/eat/do things in NYC? What’s your favorite way to ring in the New Year? I’m a bum, I prefer staying in, making dinner and fancy drinks at home over getting dressed up to go out. This year will be a nice change of pace!

Zero Week

Recovering from a marathon is just as important as training for one. It can take weeks for your body to fully recover from the strain of running that 26.2 miles.

Of course by the next day, I was wondering when I’d be able to run again. After coming off of months of training and completing a successful race, the last thing I wanted to do was sit still but I knew that I would have to (and deserved to!) if I wanted to get back to running without any problems. So rather than sit and pout about not running, I enjoyed in a little overindulgence, something that I did not do during marathon training. Here’s what zero week looked like for me after this last training cycle.

Monday
The day after. Lower body is extremely sore. Right hamstring is a little more painful than the rest of my body. My stomach was finally feeling back to normal and I ate a cupcake for breakfast. We set out to get my medal engraved at Fleet Feet Old Town and while we were waiting, we ventured down the street to a local restaurant and I ate a delicious burger with bacon and horseradish sauce with a bloody mary. I ate everything. It was amazing. That night we came back home and ate leftover Lou Malnati’s and I’m pretty certain I ate another cupcake.

sprinklesTuesday
Back to work. Started the morning off with a cupcake and coffee ;-) Took a half day to spend the morning with Madelyn’s class. It was her first official field trip and they were going to the pumpkin farm so I volunteered to chaperone. Seeing her on the yellow school bus for the first time was so cute and exciting yet sad at the same time. Our baby is officially gone and she now a big girl…

schoolbus

On the way into work that afternoon, I scheduled myself an hour long massage that evening and finally used that gift card from Valentine’s Day…After I get a massage, I always tell myself that I need to do it more often. The therapist said that my shoulders and back were especially tight and could use more work. Just an excuse for me to go back, no one wants tight shoulders and back.

Wednesday
Alright, time to stop eating cupcakes for breakfast. My legs feel back to normal again, maybe it’s time to do something productive, I’m feeling restless. Got into work and rode the bike for 5 miles + did some very light weights to workout my arms. Had a protein shake for breakfast followed by a salad for lunch. There ends my no working out for the week…came home and started drafting my post for the marathon recap and had a little treat :-)

treats

Thursday
Couldn’t hold out any longer. Back to barre I go. Ate a veggie burger from Trader Joe’s for dinner and I was surprised at how good it was. Starting to like myself again after days of endless indulging…

backtobarre

Friday
No working out today. Instead I took time for myself to get a haircut since my last one was in June! People with curly hair who wear it up most of the time can get away with that. Ate Chinese takeout for dinner and it was amazing. Crab Rangoon for the win.

Saturday
Started our morning off with fluffy, cooked to perfection trader joe’s pumpkin pancakes! Seriously, the gluten-free mix is so good! After breakfast I spent the rest of the day catching up on housework that’s been neglected over the past few months and I started potty training Madelyn. She was ready, she just needed that extra push. So far so good. I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday. I was supposed to go to a retirement party with Larry but I was just feeling a bit under the weather. So after Madelyn went to bed, I enjoyed a nice bubble bath with a glass of this delicious red wine. My favorite red table blend.

itheeredSunday
Feeling better a ton better. One week after the marathon. Went to barre with my mom and then out for a coffee and breakfast. After breakfast I enjoyed some shopping at the mall. We had family pictures the next day (Monday), and I had to find clothes for all of us to wear. It was a lot of fun! Madelyn was the hardest one to shop for. I had in my mind what I wanted her wear, but I had a very hard time finding it. I think I pulled it off without having us looking too matchy match. You’ll just have to wait for the pictures ;-) 

So now that zero week is officially over, it’s time to kick it up a notch. I started adding cardio classes at The Barre Code back into my routine (TBC & Brawl so far this week). They’re just as challenging as I remember. I THINK I may try running later today. If the weather is nice, I plan on taking my little peanut out in the jogger for a leisurely run and a workout in the park. Fingers crossed the weather is in our favor.

It was nice to give my body a little break from running and working out in general. I could’ve used some more sleep in there, but there’s always something to be done. I’m looking forward to getting back into my fitness routine and trying out some new classes in the Milwaukee area. A new spin studio just opened up nearby and I can’t wait to try it out. I’m also looking forward to taking my husband to Orange Theory for a mini “date night”! ;-)

Those of you coming off of a long training cycle, what do you look forward to most the week after? Sleep. Always sleep.

Chicago Marathon 2014 Recap

Running can be tricky. Sure, how hard can it really be? Lace up your shoes, put one foot in front of the other and go. You can do everything right and some days you just don’t have it. Other days you feel on top of the world. I would have to say that this year’s Chicago Marathon fell somewhere in between the spectrum of feeling on top of the world and then praying that it wouldn’t come crashing down during the last 6 miles.

The Friday Before
We headed down to Chicago Friday late afternoon. We decided to spend some time with my in-laws who were watching Madelyn for us race weekend so that it could be as stress-free as possible. Last year, we took her along to the expo and hubs carted her around the city to see me at various locations. It was interesting to say the least. This year, she spend the weekend with her grandparents which was nice because they don’t live as close my mom and sister do. When we arrived at my in-laws, my MIL had a variety of different pastas and veggies waiting for us. Along with lots of water and wine. The food was delicious as was the pre-celebration cake that she had also purchased:

marathoncake

Chicago Marathon: Run Maria Run

The next morning, we woke up early, ate some breakfast, kissed our little girl good-bye and headed down to meet my sister and mom for the expo.

The Expo & Post Race Meal
Just as overwhelming as it was last year, without or without a stroller ;-) At least this year, I was able to enjoy it a little bit more and stand in line at the Nike counter in peace.

everymileismagnificentThe Chicago Marathon expo is unlike any other I’ve ever been to. Even though going through the whole thing can be totally overwhelming, I can’t believe how well-organized it all is. I could’ve easily been in and out of there in 15 minutes if I wanted to. But clearly, that was not the case. We walked around the whole thing and checked out all the marathon swag. This year, I made sure to pack water and snacks to eat while I browsed. After purchasing some shirts, a jacket, a movie and winning an entry to the 2015 Puerto Rico Marathon(!!!!!),

PR Marathon

we decided to make our way back to our hotel to get settled in before dinner. I was even able to squeeze in a NAP before our early dinner reservations. We ate at La Madia, which was walking distance from the hotel. It was a “new to us” contemporary pizzeria and I’m so glad we ventured out of our comfort zone because the food was amazing. We started our meal off with a spinach and taleggio fondue that had a hint of truffle oil. It came with the most amazing warm bread puff which we ordered more of. I feel like restaurants either give you too much dip or not enough dippers :-) Never the perfect amount. We also tried the marsala glaze and whipped ricotta bruchette. So unique and delicious. For my main entree I went with Chianti braised short ribs with risotto. I ate pretty much everything. It was so good that I almost wanted to lick my plate ;-) No worries, I refrained. After dinner the “kids” (hubs & my sister) went out for a few drinks while I headed back to the hotel with my mom to get ready for the next day. After I had everything laid out, we watched Transcend on my laptop. Amazing movie. So inspiring! And if you’re a runner, I highly suggest it. I could go on about how awesome it was, but that’s a different post for a different day.

The Day Of…
We took a short cab ride over to the Hilton on Michigan where Team Salute had a banquet room reserved. It was so nice having a place to hang out with my family before the race and to check my bag without having to stand in a crazy line. I’ve definitely been spoiled that way the last two years. Team Salute offered a light breakfast and beverages for the runners and their families, massages post race, and a BATHROOM!

premarathon

The best cheerleaders EVER!!!!

While I was in the bathroom, the person in charge Team Salute called for the people in the first corral to head down to the start. I figured I had plenty of time since we were right there and I didn’t have a bag to check. WRONG! I left about a half hour before the corral closed and the lines were absolutely insane. I kept looking at my watch, trying not to panic and laughed when I heard a guy say, “They’re not going to start a race with this many people waiting to check their bags!” Ignorance must be bliss because I was starting to freak out. Everyone around me had clear plastic bags to check, while I was just trying to get into my corral. Just then, I saw a guy in a bright neon jacket waiving people through who did not have bags to check. I made a mad dash for it and got to my corral at 7:19am. It closed at 7:20. Just as I was calming down, it hit me. I had to go to the bathroom again! I knew it would be a short bathroom trip but the lines to the port o pottys were insane. There was no way I would make it in time. I debated whether or not I should just start the race and then go at the first port o potty station. I knew that I didn’t want to start the marathon out like this so I waited in line. For 9 minutes. At 7:29 I was back just in the knick of time for a 7:30 start. Talk about close calls.

crowd

 Miles 1-13.1
Easy with a few challenges thrown in there. I started the marathon with a race pace band from r2r pace bands. My goal for the band that I decided to go with was 4:25. I had three goals set for the this race: A)Beat my time from last year  B)Come in under 4:45 C)Finish in the 4:30s. I decided that this year I would forgo my headphones the first half of the race so that I wouldn’t get too excited and start out too fast. My plan was to use them during the second half when you hit a few dead spots on the south side. I’m so glad that I decided to do this. The crowds were absolutely insane and incredibly motivating! Despite a few hiccups in the first half, I had so much fun! The first half of this course is so fun to me because mainly I know where I’m going. I easier for me to mentally push myself because I could do the first 13.1 miles with very little guidance. I knew what side of the street to be running on in order to hug the corners. I felt really good. But from the moment that I started running, I could feel that my shoes were tied too loosely. I had thought about stopping the first chance I got to tie them up better, but foolishly I kept going. While I was out on the course I did manage to see this guy again!

drdribble

He goes by “Dr. Dribble”. He dribbled two basketballs the entire time!!! Talk about talent! Side note…I hate taking pictures while I’m running :-) Shortly after I hit the 8 mile marker somewhere on Broadway in Lakeview, I saw my cheerleaders! Perfect opportunity to re-tie my shoes! I stopped over quickly, told them that I was feeling good and headed back on my way. As I was running, I then realized that they were much too tight :-/ I found an aid station shortly before mile 12, sat down, took one of my socks off and put some vasoline on the bottom of my foot (I was feeling a blister form) and headed back on my way. I looked at my watch and at my pace band and I was now almost 3 minutes behind my pace. Instead of looking at where I needed to be overall, I looked at what each mile needed to be and tried to stay with that as best as I could. I crossed the half in 2:14:23. Only about 3 minutes ahead of my time last year. I knew that I was going to have to push myself hard the second half if I wanted to beat last year’s time.

Miles 13.1-26.2
I was definitely in my own little world during this race. I can barely remember any of the spectator signs on the course. I was so focused on my pace for each mile and making sure I was hydrating and fueling properly. It was around mile 14 that I tried putting my headphones in. For some reason, they just weren’t fitting right, and were becoming more of a distraction than anything so I tucked them back into my flip belt. I’m glad that I did because I remember the atmosphere so clearly. People cheering me on by name. The sights, sounds and smells while running through Charity Village, Pilsen, and Chinatown. The second half of the race was the most challenging but yet the most rewarding for me. I felt small victories as I ran past certain spots on the course that I remembered stopping at last year because I either had to walk or stop to stretch. When others were stopping to walk, I kept on running. When I did have the urge to stop and walk, I reminded myself that a slow run is faster than walking. I was feeling really good and on pace to finish in the 4:30s until mile 20 came. Mile 20…The proverbial “wall”. It was weird and not like anything I experienced last year. I actually felt good. I wanted to keep running and keep running hard, but every time I tried, I felt like I was going to puke. This feeling lingered for the final 6.2 miles making it the longest of my life. I thought to myself that maybe if I did throw up, I’d feel better and could continue running. But then I kept thinking about becoming dehydrated and not being able to finish that last bit of the race. I would’ve been devastated. There was no way in hell that I was going to let months of hard work and time spent away from my family be for a DNF. So my goal then became, not to puke until I got to the finish line. For 6 miles I alternated 1 minute of walking with running for as long as I could before I felt like I had to stop again. By mile 25, I had nothing left in me. I was hoping to get that second wind, but it never came. I pushed myself, with everything I had left, up that hill on Roosevelt and around that corner to the finish line. And I made it! I crossed the finish line in 4:43:14. 24 minutes faster than my time from last year!! I was thrilled! And I didn’t even puke.

2014medal

Post Race
After hobbling back to the Hilton, I drank a protein drink, changed out of my sweaty clothes, and got a post race quickie massage. After I sat there for a while, we made our way over to Lou Malnatti’s for a celebratory feast & drink :-) I ate two helpings of Lou salad and a slice of pizza. My stomach still wasn’t feeling 100% but it felt good to eat something. While we were sitting there, we also witnessed the Packers pull off a WIN :-) It was a great little Sunday.

We took the L back to our hotel. Traffic was too crazy to try to hail a cab and I needed to keep moving. When we got back to our room, I had a sweet. little treat waiting for me:

sprinkles

From my very thoughtful husband. Way better than flowers. I think I’ll keep you ;-)

After a bath and a short little nap, I laid in our huge king size hotel bed and texted my mom who was on her way back to WI. I thanked her for everything, all of her support and I told her that I was really proud of myself. I managed to shave off nearly a minute a mile and I knew in my heart and soul, that I had given the race everything I had. That to me is by far a much bigger measure than meeting the time goal-pushing the body and mind past a point that you thought was impossible. It truly becomes mental at a certain point and I’m so glad that was able to overcome the obstacles that were thrown my way.

I like this feeling of contentment. Knowing that I gave it my all and I did the best that I could. I have yet to think to myself, “I could’ve done better.”  Sure, there are things that I probably could’ve done differently, but I did the best I could with the hand that was I dealt that Sunday.

I can’t say whether or not there is another Chicago Marathon in my future. I’m content with the results of this race and the experience was the best marathon experience I’ve had. I’ve made good memories with this one and I don’t want to tarnish them. So onto the next :-) I am excited to see what the future holds for me…both running-wise and personally. For now, I’m going to turn my focus back to my family, spend some quality time with that “not so little girl”, and enjoy being “lazy” on Saturdays. I think it’s well deserved.