I Think I Did it Again…

For someone who was planning on taking a break from training this summer, my race calendar is sure filling up:
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I have my sights set on a few half-marathons and like I said earlier in this post, I still want to focus on getting faster.  A few night ago hubs was watching Chicagoland and they were showing highlights and behind the scenes from 2013 Chicago Marathon.  I became really sad that I turned down the opportunity to run this year.  Since then, I’ve thought long and hard about my goals, what my life could like in the next year or two: this could be last year in a long time that I’ll even be able to run the marathon.  We’re not guaranteed another day, much less a year and who’s to say that I won’t be deployed next fall.  So, started looking into fundraising again for Salute, Inc.  I know that I can beat my time if I train a little smarter this time around.  I can sit here and think of a million reasons not to do it, but ultimately I’m sure I would regret it come race day.  I was talking about it with my boss a few days ago and he offered me this advice: “You know what to expect this time around and everything gets easier with more practice”.  So I came up with a training plan that I believe was attainable with my schedule and that would get me to the finish line, ran it by hubs and he said that if I want to do it, I have his support 100%.
I was still on the fence about it when I got to work today.  I was talking with a co-worker about signing up for distance races.  He was hesitating about signing up for his first half with no really great explanation not to.  Just a lot of excuses and I said to him, “Sometimes you just gotta do it without thinking, rip the bandaid off!” All the while my Team Salute application sat on my desk, filled out just waiting to get e-mailed.   What gave me the final push to “rip the bandaid off”?  This video.  It almost brought tears to my eyes.

There’s no other feeling like crossing the finish line after running 26.2 miles and enduring months of training.

My biggest hesitation about training for the marathon is the one thing I’m most proud of: My daughter.  I’m having a hard with “the mom guilt”.  Part of me feels like I should be spending every free moment I have with her since she’s growing up so quickly, but I also know that I need to make time for the things that I enjoyed prior to having her.  When I went back to work, my mom told me this: “It’s not the quantity of time you spend with her, but the quality of time that matters.”  I try to keep reminding myself of this when life outside of the home gets crazy busy.  With the way my training schedule is set up I have Sundays to give her and Larry my undivided attention.  No barre, no running.  Sundays will be designated family time this summer and I’m looking forward to it.

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Question of the day: Active Moms out there…how do you balance work, home and a training schedule?

Can’t get Enough

Happy Monday!  How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours was excellent, but as usual, it went by way too quickly.

On Saturday, Larry and I decided to do something that we’ve never done before in our 8 years of being together:  We took the Amtrak from Milwaukee to Chicago for a day trip.  Just the two of us.  We had an absolute blast.

We boarded the early train and played tourists for the day.  Even though we visited some “touristy” places, we also checked out some places off the beaten path.

Our first stop was Willis (Sears) Tower, since it’s right near Union Station.  We got there early and we still had a good amount of time to wait.  By the time we left at around 11am, the wait was up to three hours!  So I suggest getting there very early.  And it’s FREE for military members :-)

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It was our first time there since they put in the sky decks.  I walked out there with no problems…but I think Larry was a little nervous ;-) I’m pretty fearless when it comes to heights and things of that nature so I LOVED this!

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After our visit to Willis Tower, we were hungry for some brunch so we headed west to check out Little Goat.  Stephanie Izard opened this restaurant shortly before we moved and it’s always been on my list of places to try.  We decided to walk there (about 1 mile) and we waited 45 minutes to eat.  It was totally worth it.  The food was amazing and I’d highly recommend it.  There’s also a cute coffee shop/bakery attached to the diner.

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After brunch, we headed North and met up with some friends at Old Town Social.  After a few drinks, Larry and I headed to Fleet Feet Old Town-the best Fleet Feet I’ve ever been to to check out some running gear.  They have everything you need at this store.  I’m seriously thinking about Newton’s for my next pair of running shoes and I just found out that they offer military/police discounts with a valid .mil or .gov e-mail.

From Fleet Feet we headed back downtown for cupcakes, a glass of wine at Eataly and a bite to eat at Pizzeria Uno.  It wouldn’t be a day trip in Chicago without a stop for deep dish pizza.

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Before we knew it, it was time to board the last train back home.  We both said that we’d rather do something like that each month than have a bunch of random date nights through the month.  It was a nice break from reality.  We love our daughter unconditionally, but sometimes mom and dad need a break ;-) It was nice to get home and spend the rest of our weekend with the little princess.

IMG_2551Where’s your favorite place to take a day trip?   Chicago is definitely mine!  It’s a short 2 hour drive or hour and a half train ride away!  Doesn’t get much better than that…unless of course you lived there ;-)

Get Lucky Chicago Recap

I am happy to announce that I survived a 1/2 marathon with very minimal train (6 miles was my longest training run-on a treadmill) and while breaking the rule-“nothing new on race day” and I have very little soreness today.

My mom and I completed the Get Lucky Chicago 1/2 marathon yesterday.  It was my 5th one and her first.

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I was very nervous for this race for severals reasons:  the weather in the Midwest has been less than stellar for outside running, so most of my running was done on a treadmill.  I had only trained up to 6 miles when the normal amount is 10.  I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my mom since she did properly train.  Needless to say, I am grateful that muscle memory kicked in and I was able to complete the race with my mom.  Today we both said that we will do longer runs on the weekends so that we don’t lose any base training for upcoming races.

Weekend Details

We drove down to Chicago on Friday afternoon with two of my mom’s friends who were also doing the race with us.  We stayed at the Congress Hotel, which was Team Ortho’s host hotel.  It was an ideal location because packet pickup was right at the hotel and there was a shuttle for us on race day to take us to the starting line since it was about a 20 minute drive away.  After we picked up our packets, we walked down to Garmin to say hi to my friend Kristine and then it was off to Eataly for some carb loading.  I decided on pizza-it was pretty amazing.  After dinner, we ventured downstairs to check out the desserts.

eatalydessertsWe took a cab back to our hotel and spent the rest of the evening getting our gear ready to go and catching up on Runner’s World magazine.  I was in bed by 8:45 and it felt great :-)

Race Day

We walked to closest Starbucks and hopped on the shuttle at 7:30.  The race started in Jackson park, near the Museum of Science and Industry.  I was excited to run a new part of the lakefront path.  When we lived in Chicago, I usually ran more north of museum campus so it was nice to see the skyline coming from the south.

We got to the race pretty early, so hung out, stretched and beat the long port a potty lines :-)

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At 9 am we were on our way!  I told my mom from the beginning that I would be staying her pace the entire time.  We started off at comfortable pace.  I kept one ear bud out so that I could talk with my mom and communicate with other runners if I needed to.  It was a great idea since there was ice on the path and runners ahead of you would yell out “Ice” so that you were aware of what was ahead.  The path was also very narrow, so it was nice to be able to hear if other runners behind you were trying to pass.

The course was an out and back and I was little surprised to see the turn around point at around mile 5.  It wasn’t until about mile 7 that my mom wanted to stop and walk for about a minute.  It was then that I started to feel my quads cramp up.  We ran the rest of the course and maybe stopped for walking breaks about 3 more times.  Even though it can be difficult to run at someone else’s pace, I’m really glad that I stayed with my mom.  It was nice to be able to have someone to talk to and keep your mind distracted.  While I was motivating her, I really actually just trying to keep myself motivated.  The race was route was really well laid out, until the end.  There was one point where we ran past the finish line, saw mile marker 13 and still had to keep running.  I was not a fan and it totally messed me up mentally.  That last mile was a tough one.  My Garmin was right on track with the mile markers until about mile 10, then it became slightly off, but still close enough.  At the end of our race, my Garmin told me I ran 12.95 miles in 2:18 minutes.

I’m so proud of my mom and the timing we got for her first 1/2!  She’s addicted :-)  This was my first time running with compression socks from PRO Compression and my calves feel awesome today!  Normally, my calves are what bother me the most after a long run because I tend to run more on my toes.  I’m not sure if it was the compression socks or the fact that it was a nice and easy pace, but my legs feel great today and I will definitely be wearing these for all longer runs.

The Get Lucky Chicago 1/2 marathon was a great way to start off the 2014 racing season. My goal is keep logging longer runs on the weekend and to earn a new 1/2 marathon PR at my next run which is the Rock n Sole on June 14th!

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Weekend Catch Up 10/28

Hi friends!  I hope everyone had a great weekend, I know we sure did!  We were super busy with lots of family stuff in Chicago on Saturday.  Back in August, at Madelyn’s birthday party, my SIL asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.  I gladly accepted the offer and on Saturday we set out to look for some dresses.  After trying on a few dresses, we found one that looked great on all of us.

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This one was my favorite of all the dresses we tried on.  It’s the perfect material for a June wedding, it looked great on everyone, and it was very comfortable.  I can’t wait to see them in the actual color that the bride to be picked out!

We also celebrated Grandma Rita’s 90th birthday in Chicago.  I’m amazed at Larry’s Grandma: not only does she still live by herself, but the woman drives and loves going to the casino :-)  She’s quite the little ball of fire!

On Sunday, we took the babes and walked around the mall for a little bit.  I had some birthday money I wanted to spend and I also wanted to check out Williams-Sonoma to get a head start on my Thanksgiving Day prep:

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I used this last year when I made my first Thanksgiving turkey and it went over very well.  So, I’ll be using this again this year and in the future, until I get brave enough to venture out and try something new ;-)

After the mall, I came home and got ready for a baby shower for a girl at work.  I was going to bring my little miss, but she was passed out on the ride home from the mall and didn’t even blink an eye when I took her out of her carseat and into her crib.

Speaking of Madelyn…this past week I bought her her first pair of boots!  She didn’t know what to make of them at first and had a hard time figuring out how to walk in them.  By the time I picked her up on Friday, she was walking all over in those things.

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I die over the cuteness :-)

Today, I finally made it out to my garden to plant some garlic.  I hope I didn’t wait too long.  The weather is supposed to be decent this week-nothing below freezing.  Instead of planting 100 heads of garlic, like the previous owners did, I opted for 40 heads.  I think that should be sufficient.

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I’m really excited about gardening in 2014.  I’ll definitely have more time to plan out what I want to plant back there.  We are also in the process of transitioning half of our garden space back into the backyard.  After assessing how much of it we used this past summer, we decided that 6 raised garden beds is just too much for us.  If it was our only hobby, then maybe.  And we’d like Madelyn to have a bigger yard area to play in than what we have now.  Removing 3 of the beds would open up a ton of space and give us back a good chunk of our yard.

P.S. Does anyone have tips for growing beets?  I planted a TON of those tiny seeds in July and I only got TWO beets!  I don’t know if I planted them too late in the season or what, but it was very frustrating given how much time I spent doing it.  The two beets that I did harvest ended up in a juice this past weekend.  Apple, beet and ginger.  YUM!

Marathon Virgin No Longer

There’s something to be said about your first time.  You’re nervous, excited and scared.  You don’t know what to expect.  What will it feel like?  What if I don’t finish?  How do I keep from going too fast too soon?  Did I prepare enough?  The marathon distance can be very intimidating for a first-timer, but the high you experience when you reach the finish line is unlike any other.  And just like with anything else, it gets better with time and practice ;-) (Or so I hear…)
finisherLooking back at my months of training, I can honestly say that I did not give my training 100%.  There were times when I’d adjust the mileage and skip out on the occasional buildup run-once when I was on our anniversary trip to Michigan and also the weekend of Madelyn’s first birthday.  If I could do it over again, there are some things I’d do differently-both in preparation and on race day.
  1. Follow the marathon plan you’ve chosen.  Bart & Hal know a thing or two about marathon training.  It’s okay to move your long run around (doing it on Sunday instead of Saturday), but if you want to be successful, don’t skimp out on mileage.
  2. Get serious about nutrition.  During marathon training, I was not a carb queen much to my surprise.  I did eat relatively healthy but my breakfast before most of my workouts consisted of coffee, water and a banana.  Post workout would be a protein shake.  No good for those longer runs.  The week before the marathon, I loaded up on the good carbs as best as I could.  Next time I’ll plan out my pre & post run meals/protein & carb ratios out a little better.
  3. Have a hydration plan in place and use it on those long practice runs. Toward the end, I switched over to Endurolyte tablets by Hammer.  I liked them because they were just little electrolyte capsules I could just chug with water or Gatorade and I didn’t have to worry about carrying chews or trying to suck down a gel packet.  I used them a few times on my practice runs and my system worked well.  However, you tend to forget about replenishing your electrolytes when you’re running the streets of Chicago, high on life.  There were a few times when I’d pass by a water stop, chug my water and continue on my way without even giving my electrolytes a second thought.  Do whatever you can to try and remember to get the proper nutrition in during the race.
  4. Don’t forget your sunglasses/visor/hat.  The whole time I trained, I wore either my sunglasses or visor and low and behold, on race day I left both of them in hubs’ car.  Don’t do that.  Squinting is no fun, it causes headaches and wrinkles.  The last thing you want to do is weave in and out of the course to get to the shadier spots.  Which brings me to my next point.
  5. STUDY your race course and hug the corners as best you can.  A few weeks prior to race day, Larry posted this article stating that if runners don’t hug the corners of the courses 36 turns, they could possibly add up to a half mile to their race.26.8miles
  6. Set multiple goals for yourself.  You never know what can happen on race day and if you only set one goal (i.e. a finish time) and you don’t achieve it, it will take away from the awesomeness that was just accomplished.  Look back at your training.  You had good days and not so great days.  The same thing can happen when it comes to marathon time.  Not to mention other things you can’t control.  Like the weather.  Or the sun.  Goal #1 for me was just to finish.  Goal #2 was to finish in under 5 hours.  Goal #2 didn’t happen, but I did achieve my main goal and now, I can take everything I learned and put it into practice when it comes time for marathon numero 2.
  7. Write your name somewhere visible on yourself.  I wish I would’ve done this!! I saw lots of people with iron ons, bright tape & black sharpie (if you don’t want to ruin a shirt), and people who wrote their names on their arm with sharpies.  Strangers will call out your name and cheer you on during the race and it’s really motivating.
  8. ENJOY every single moment!  The marathon was honestly the fastest 5 hours of my life.  There will be times on the course when you’re on top of the world one mile and the next mile, you’re hating life, questioning your sanity and wondering why you thought this was a good idea.  Then you’ll hear Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful as you approach the finish and realize that those few miles of agony were totally and utterly worth it.

Chicago Marathon Recap

Brace yourselves people, this will be a long one. So grab some coffee or wine, sit back and enjoy.*
And just like that, it’s over and done with.  After months of preparation, training, sweat and tears, the Chicago Marathon weekend came and went in the blink of an eye, and it could not have been more amazing.
Larry, Madelyn and I met my mom and sister at a park & ride on the way to Chicago on Saturday at 8am and they followed us to our hotel in Rosemont, which is right near O’hare airport.  Months ago, I had looked up hotels in downtown Chicago, including the marathon host hotel, The Hilton, and even with “special” marathon deals, I couldn’t believe how outrageous it was.  It would’ve cost us over $600 for a two night stay.  Luckily, my husband has some  connections in the hotel industry and was able to get us a really great deal at the Aloft Hotel.
aloftAfter we dropped off our bags and got settled into the room, we all piled into one car, headed to Panera for a quick breakfast and drove down to the McCormick Place to brave the race expo.  When we got off the expressway, you could feel the buzz and energy that the marathon created in the city.  There were people everywhere carrying their clear, plastic expo bags.  I was getting even more excited and slightly nervous.  The packet pick up at the expo was very well organized.  The only issue I had with it, was the way they had the BIB pick up and T-Shirt pick up on two completely different ends of the expo.  Since I was planning on walking around, I didn’t mind so much, but for someone who wanted to get in and out, I could see it being a hassle.
IMG_2151The expo wasn’t too insane and Madelyn was being the perfect angel, so we were lucky enough to get through all of the booths.  I wish we would’ve had a little bit more time to spend there because there are some booths that I would’ve liked to have spent more time at but the little one did start to get antsy toward the end.  The main thing is, I was able to give my remaining donations to Team Salute and visit my wonderful friend, Kristine, at the Garmin booth.  I was having a crisis with my foot pod the night before the expo and lucky for me, Kristine and the people at Garmin were able to fix it.  What a lifesaver!
IMG_2170The expo also had a lot of fun & interactive stuff set up:
Take a magnet, write a message
take a magnet & write a message
IMG_2160 IMG_2180After the expo, we headed to the Niketown on Michigan Ave to pick up some Chicago marathon swag.  The Nike clothing exhibit at the expo was INSANE!  Niketown had a much more stress-free atmosphere plus they had a DJ spinning and the employees were all dancing.  It was a lot of fun and it helped pump me up for race day.
When we were done shopping and mom and Melissa were done standing in line for popcorn, we headed to Scoozi! for a pre-marathon dinner.  Before we left for Chicago, I “googled” Chicago marathon pasta dinners and Scoozi! was one of the restaurants that came up as having a special pre-marathon dinner.  I had a couple of Italian restaurants in mind that I would’ve liked to have taken my mom and sister to, but I wanted something that was definitely kid-friendly, as Madelyn’s behavior in restaurants is very unpredictable these days.  And of course, she was on her best behavior.  We even received a compliment from the people next to us about how well behaved she was :-) {Proud mommy moment}.
Back to food.  Scoozi! was offering a family style meal.  We picked what kind of salad we wanted (Caeser-soooo good!), two pasta dishes, and tiramisu for dessert.  Everything was phenomenal and the service was excellent.  The only thing missing was a glass of wine, which I wanted so badly, but decided to wait until after the marathon.
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After I carbo-loaded, we headed back to the hotel, organized all of my stuff for race day, and was in bed by 8:45pm.  It was awesome getting to that early.
The next morning, I woke up at 4am.  I got ready, drank some coffee, and we were out the door and in the car by 5am-bagel with peanut butter and banana in hand.  We drove to the CTA blue line stop, parked for $5, and took the blue line all the way to the Monroe stop.  It was super early for everyone (not so much for me, since 4:30 is my usual wake up call), but my cheerleaders were excited and in good spirits!
lpicWe arrived at the Monroe stop at around 6am.  I couldn’t believe how many people were up and around.  It was pretty neat to see Michigan Avenue buzzing with so many people at that time of the day.  We walked to the Hilton Hotel where Team Salute had a room set up for their runners and at about 7am, I said good-bye to my family and I was out the door to my start corral.
startIt was a brisk morning, so I brought a light jacket with me.  Looking back, I wish I would’ve just sucked it up, or better yet, bought a cheap jacket at Goodwill to just toss because I really liked that jacket!  Oh well, I just keep reminding myself that all the tossed clothes went to a good cause and that hubs needs to take me back to San Francisco so that I can buy another one ;-)
By the time I got through the gates and past security, I waited in my corral for about a half hour.  It was nice to talk to other people around me and shake off some nervous energy.  At exactly 8 am we were off and running!
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I couldn’t believe how fast the first mile went.  I looked at my watch and realized that I was running a lot faster than what I was planning for.  When I first set out to train for the marathon, my ultimate goal was just to finish.  I had never ran a marathon before so I didn’t know what to expect.  As it got closer to race day, I thought maybe I’d like to try and run it under 5 hours.  In planning for that, at mile 2, I slowed down my pace and kept it up the first half of the race.  Miles 1-13 were a breeze.  The weather was gorgeous, the crowds were AMAZING!  My favorite neighborhoods to run through were Boystown and Old Town.  There was a point in Boystown when the cheering of the crowd completely drowned out the music I had going in my right earbud.  I couldn’t stop smiling!  The crowd was just as amazing in Old Town and the Lululemon cheering squad was so much fun.  I love all of their signs!
When I approached the second half of the race, I had never been so excited to see a 13 mile marker.  I was at the halfway point and well on my way to finishing within my goal time.  At about mile 16, the top of my left foot started to hurt.  I ran through it because the pain wasn’t too bad, but by mile 17 I had stopped to check it out.  I thought maybe I had tied my shoelace too tight, so I retied it to be a little bit looser and continued on my way.  It seemed to have helped until mile 18 when it started to hurt a little bit more and instead of powering through the pain, I stopped to walk.  I alternated walking and running for the rest of the race, but by mile 20 I knew that my goal time was not going to happen and at that point, my main goal was just to finish this thing with all that I had.  I saw my family again (the first time was in Lakeview at around mile 7) at mile 23, and I told them that I wanted to die! A little dramatic I know.  I thought to myself, “okay only 3 more miles to go-you run that all the time!)  I tried my hardest but my legs (and injured foot) could only take so much.  It wasn’t until mile 25 when I got my second wind after a spectator shouted, “You only have one more mile! You can do anything for a mile!!”  With that encouragement and Salt & Pepa’s Push It blasting in my ear, I got my second wind and gave that marathon everything I had left.  For anyone who’s ever ran the Chicago Marathon, you know how awesome the turn is at Roosevelt.  As I was still running on Michigan Avenue, approaching Roosevelt, Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful” came on my playlist.  I lost it.  To hear that song while making the turn on Roosevelt, up the hill to the finish line is scene that will forever play in my head.  When you make that turn, you know you’re almost there.  The cheering section is out of this world.  You know that when you make that turn, nothing else is standing in your way to the finish line.  I cried when I crossed the finish line.  I had made it!  I set out to accomplish a goal and to fulfill a dream of mine for 4 years and I did it.  I wanted to hug the stranger next me I was so happy, but I refrained.
After I sprinted to the finish, my legs were completely useless.  I could barely walk.  I texted my husband to tell him that I had finished and, because of security, he wanted me to walk to meet them.  I had to sit in the grass and stretch a bit before I could set out to find them.  When I did eventually get to him, I hugged him and with tears in my eyes, I said to him, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”  Which is exactly what I said to him after 6 hours of natural childbirth :-)
After a lot of stretching and usage of “the stick”, I was able to muster up the strength to head back to The Hilton to change clothes and freshen up.
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Looks can be deceiving.  I’m smiling on the outside and crying in pain on the inside :-) It took me forever to walk to Lou Malnati’s for pizza, but that buttery deep dish and 312 were totally worth it!
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Drooling as we speak.  Later that night, I added a charm to my necklace that my mom had bought for me at the expo the day before.  I earned this runner girl necklace at the Zooma 1/2 marathon where I PR’d and took 15 minutes off of my time.  I waited until I had completed the Chicago Marathon to add the 26.2 charm-I didn’t want to jinx it.
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20 minutes after I completed the marathon, my sister asked me if I’d be signing up for another one.  I laughed.  It’s like asking someone who just went through childbirth if they were ready to have another baby.  I told her I couldn’t answer that in my current state of being :-) But that night, I knew the answer.  Looking back at my training, and even race day there are some things that I should’ve done differently (saving those details for a different post).  But yes, I do want to sign up for another one because I know that I can do better.  I remember the first 1/2 marathon I ever ran.  I didn’t train as properly as I should’ve.  My time was not what I was capable of, and my body felt like it had been hit by a truck.  3 half marathons later, I felt just fine after my most recent one in August.
I completed my first marathon in 5:07:41.  The one thing that I learned that day is that the body will do anything you set your mind to.  If you believe you can do it, you can!  If you sit and doubt yourself and you don’t try, then you fail.
Chicago has, once again, stolen my heart.  I’m so happy that I was able to run my first marathon in the city where I truly fell in love with the sport of running.  I miss the city and the lakefront running path a little more every time I have to leave.  Hubs and I talk about how when we retire, we’re going to buy a condo and retire in the city, which is completely opposite of what people do.  Until then, I’m lucky enough to be a 2 hour car ride away.
ChitizzleP.S. Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win the KIND bar giveaway!

Zoom Zoom!

This past Saturday, I logged half-marathon numero 4 in the books.  After running this race, I’d say I’m right on track for my full in October.  I felt great afterward-like I could’ve kept going and not at all like I was going to die (a feeling I have experienced before).  I also earned my personal best, finishing the race in 2:10 exactly-a whopping 15 minutes off of my previous best 1/2 marathon training time.  I rock.
PRZooma
I’ve had my sights set on Zooma Chicago for a few months.  I had hesitations about it because it fell on the weekend before Madelyn’s birthday (lots of DIY projects in the works), and I felt like I should be getting stuff ready for her party.  But alas, I decided to go for it-could I really pass up a race that offered bubbly libations at the finish line? I think not.  So I packed up the babes and headed down to the Windy City with Madelyn & my mom-my race day babysitter.
We arrived at our hotel around 3:30pm, checked in, strapped Madelyn into the BOB and headed over to pick up my race packet at the new and beautiful Langham Hotel.  The race “swag” was one of the best ones I’ve ever received.  In the bag was a stainless steel water bottle, a dry-fit shirt that fit wonderfully, and a yoga mat.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the race expo.  I think because the race was located in a big city, I was expecting a bigger expo/race and it was not the case.  BUT I was really happy with the intimacy of this expo because I got to meet and talk with Dimity McDowell, co-author of Train Like a Mother & Run Like a Mother and Maryellen Carbonneau, founder of Fellow Flowers.
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 After the expo, we continued on our walk until we stumbled upon Rosebud Italian restaurant, where Madelyn and I feasted on spaghetti & meatballs and this mama enjoyed a much needed glass of wine…long gone are the days where baby girl would just sit in her carseat and peacefully sleep.  We enjoy taking her to restaurants, but I was reminded on Friday why we take her to noisy establishments rather than ones that are a little fancier and quieter.
The next morning we woke up bright and early and headed down to Montrose Harbor which was where the race was being held.  In all my years of living in Chicago, I have never been to this harbor or beach.  I usually ran Belmont Harbor and south.  I was happy that the race started right on time and I crossed the start line at exactly 7:01 am (another plus to smaller-ish races).  There were about 1,000 or so participants and the begining, like any other race, started out a little congested.  The race had two distance components: a 10k and a half marathon and we all started out running together.  It wasn’t until the two distances split off where I started to feel a little more relaxed and less like I was in a “race”.
The course was much different than any other Chicago race I’ve ever done.  Normally, the streets are blocked off and there are tons of people cheering you on, but on Saturday I ran along the lakefront path with recreational runners and I LOVED it much more than I thought I was going to.  I’ve never been a fan of smaller races in small towns, but it was an awesome feeling to run a smaller race in a big city with beautiful lake views.  When we ran past Belmont Harbor, I was brought back to the time I went of my first run along the lake path in Chicago.  I was new to the city and Larry had just left for Afghanistan.  It was nice to be back to where my love of running all started.  I felt relaxed the rest of the race and kept about a 9:50 pace.  Toward the end, my legs started to get a little weak and I walked for a few minutes.  I reminded myself that I was only halfway through my marathon training and I didn’t want to push it and hurt myself.  When I saw the finish line, I sprinted it in for a time of 2:10.  My fasted 1/2 marathon time to date…not too shabby for someone who was very pregnant a year ago.
zoomafinish
 I think I’ve discussed this before, but since having Madelyn I have gotten quite a bit faster.  I’m not sure if it’s because I worked out through my pregnancy with all the extra weight or if it’s the fact that I know in my head that I don’t have all day to do this.  Either way, I’m very happy with my increased speed and it’s something I do want to keep working toward improving.
peanutzooma
My main motivation to finish :-) She was passed out when I crossed the finish line, but she woke up and celebrated with me shortly after.

In the past Few Weeks…

One thing I’ve learned since going back to work full-time?  Weekly blogging with a newborn is pretty impossible for me.  My day starts out at 4am: I pump, get ready for work, get little miss up and ready for daycare, feed her, make myself some coffee and we’re out the door at 5:50ish a.m.  I drop her off at daycare around 6 and am at work by 6:30 am.  I work 10 hour days and am lucky enough to have an hour a day to workout-so really it ends up being about a 9 hour day.  I leave work between 4:30-4:45pm to pick up Madelyn from daycare and I get home around 5pm.  When I get home, I get settled in, make dinner, spend time with my husband & baby and start our bedtime routine around 8:30-9.  I’m usually in bed around 9:45-10.  Sleep & repeat.  It’s a very long day but it’s worth the 3 day weekend I get to enjoy :-)

Since my last post we’ve had some pretty eventful things happening here:

1. Madelyn came down with a cold and got so congested that we ended up at an Urgent Care.  The little girl had such a hard time breathing it scared the bejeezus out of Larry and me.

2. Whatever germs Madelyn picked up from daycare, she decided to share with the rest of us and we all took turns being sick the past few weeks.

3. I celebrated 28 years of life.  After a certain age, birthdays stop being exciting.  I was at the tail end of a really bad cold this year and we had drill the following day, so I spent my birthday with my family eating pizza, drinking wine & snacking on birthday cake. It was perfect.

4.  I ventured down to Chicago with my husband and mom and we ran The Hot Chocolate 5k.  It was my first run postpartum and it felt really good.  I ran with my mom whose pace is  just a tad slower than mine-but I wasn’t trying to set any PR with this little race.  My only goal was to have fun-which I did!

5.  I’ve had a not so great few weeks of tracking my weekly weight watchers points.  The good news is I haven’t gained any weight. Bad news? I haven’t lost weight either.  Another blogger pointed out to me that MyFitnessPal DOES take into account breastfeeding so I may be switching back to that because A-it’s free and B-I had success with it before I got pregnant.

6. I found an “in studio” barre class to take in the Milwaukee area.  I liked it, but I want to try another class during the week before I give a full review.

7. Hubs and I spent the night in Chicago this weekend for some much needed husband/wife time.  My mom kept Madelyn for us while we wined and dined in the Windy city.  It was hard leaving her behind but I had peace of mind knowing she was at home and in good hands.  We found a good price on hotwire.com and stayed in a really nice hotel located right off of Michigan Ave.

Larry took me on a little shopping spree and out to dinner at RPM Italian.  I’m a HUGE fan of Giuliana & Bill so I was super excited to try out their new restaurant.  Like every other Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, it did not disappoint.  The food was awesome, the service was spectacular, and the atmosphere was very Modern without being too pretentious.  Their entrees were made to share which I like when you have a small group because then you get to try a variety of foods.  It was a fun getting all dressed up to go out.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done that and Chicago is the perfect city for it.

I’m off to browse through the Thanksgiving issue of the Food Network magazine.  I’m hosting for the first time this year and I’m pretty excited/nervous! Wish me luck!

Pumpkin pie is a must-have at our Thanksgiving dinner.  Larry loves it!  I love mixing cranberry sauce and stuffing together the day after.

What’s your favorite/must have Thanksgiving entree?     

37 1/2 Weeks

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  Ours was pretty jam packed.  Saturday consisted of a relaxing spa day with my mom, Sunday LC and I ventured to Chicago for the day to watch his dad sail at Belmont harbor.  We started our day off at one of our favorite brunch places, Orange (they now serve gluten-free pancakes!)

The one thing that I love about this place (besides the awesome food) is that you can create your own fresh fruit juice.  The waitress recommended a juice combo that I never thought of but was amazingly delicious: Orange, carrot and watermelon! Not something I would normally come up with but it was so good!

 

After brunch, we headed down to Belmont harbor to watch LC’s dad sail. Then we walked around downtown and made a few stops at our favorite spots: Sprinkles, Lululemon & Lou Malnati’s for Chicago style pizza.

Today I had a doctor’s appointment and afterward, LC and I headed to Wisconsin State Fair.  We spent the day grazing on fair food, looking at farm animals and walking the huge expo center.  Usually we leave there empty handed, a lot of the stuff can be junk.  But this time, we left with a new kitchen appliance: The Vitamix.  We’re both actually very excited about this new toy and can’t wait to use it.

I would think that all the walking that I did between yesterday and today would jump start something with the baby, but so far we’ve got nothing.  We are definitely on baby watch over here though.  I called my mom today just to chat and she answered the phone: “Are you on your way to the hospital?!” Not yet!  Also, my mother in law texted me to see how my appointment went today and to see if the doctor had anything to say.  The doctor did check me: I’m 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced.  She left us with “See you next week unless something happens before then.” I wasn’t going to get checked at first because it really doesn’t mean a whole lot, but I was curious to see if these “Braxton Hicks” contractions I’ve been having are actually doing anything.

Nothing really new to report except I feel huge and getting in and out of bed is becoming a very daunting task.  On Saturday night, I was having some fun “pre-labor” contractions in my lower back.  Hubs ran and got me a heating pad and I fell asleep shortly after that.  At almost 38 weeks, I’ve gained 30lbs.  Working out has definitely slowed down and I’ve been pretty much just sticking to walking.  It’s the only thing that feels somewhat good at this point.  I’m so excited for the cooler temps this week (hello 70’s!) so  I can actually walk outside.

What’s new with baby this week? Baby’s now considered full-term!  Even though my due date is still about 2 1/2 weeks away, baby can safely be delivered at any time.  According to BabyCenter, baby is about 6 1/3 pounds and 19 inches long.  I have a feeling that baby is bigger than that; hubs and I were both in the 8 lb range as babies and I was two weeks early.

We’re both thrilled to become parents this month.  The hospital bags are packed and baby’s bag and carseat are already in the car.  Now we’re just waiting.  Oliver has been extra cuddly and attentive today.  He’s been following me everywhere and hasn’t really left my side.  Maybe he can sense something??

 

We’re officially on baby watch over here! Hopefully not too much longer.

The End of an Era

This week has been the most stressful, yet exciting and at the same time kind of sad week of my life.  Big “emotional rollercoaster” if you will.  Hubs was doing some days at the base this week and on Tuesday we found out that he is being put on orders to work at the base for a few months with the potential of a full-time position.  Nice, right?  Well, he informed me that these orders don’t include housing, which I knew already and that they start May 1st.  I look at the calendar.  “So you mean to tell me we have to move to WI in 25 days and I’m not even in Chicago during the week to pack and get everything ready?”  That is exactly what he was telling me.

Panic mode, followed by excitement, followed by “what-ifs” flooded my mind.  I was surprisingly very calm given the situation.  I pause and look at him for a minute, “Okay, so we’re really doing this?” is what I responded with.  After he left my office, I immediately got on craigslist and started looking for a house.  I thought for sure all the good May 1st rentals would be gone.  I e-mailed my cousin who owns a few duplexes in the area and found out she had just rented one last week.  Bummer.  I lined up a few places for us to see and in record time (2 days), LC and I found the perfect home that would work for us right now.  It’s in an apartment complex, which I wanted to avoid, but is set up totally different than where we live now.  No shared hallway (therefore, no stinky smells coming from other apartments), private entrance, attached garage, washer and dryer IN UNIT (hallelujah!), a private patio area for grilling and al fresco dining, a grassy area for Oliver to play, fireplace, and a pool!  A pool…every “pregnant in the dead of summer” girl’s dream.

Even though we don’t plan on being in the house for more than a year, we’re hoping to buy our own place by next year, I wanted to make this house as much of a home as I can.  After all, this is the first place we’re bringing baby home to.  We were given permission to paint and LC said no.  We went back and forth on this and he agreed to the baby’s room and an accent wall in our bedroom.

As excited as I am that we will be moving back closer to my family and friends, I can’t help but be a little bit worried.  We’re still waiting to hear whether or not my position at the base will move from temporary to full-time.  Hiring for that starts next week, so here’s to hoping.  Also, at any point after LC’s orders are up, if there isn’t a full-time spot for him at the base, he will have to commute back and forth from Chicago.  So we’re taking a HUGE leap of faith in doing this, but I feel confident that everything will work out.

And Chicago…I’m very sad to be leaving the city.  I’m a city girl at heart.  I’ve lived there for almost 4 years and have considered it my home.  Every time I drive in and see the skyline, I can’t help but get excited :-) So I think that will be the hardest part for me out of all this.  Today, while I was laying in bed, thinking about how nice it would be to bundle up, grab some coffee and take Oliver for a walk in Grant Park.  I definitely forgot where I was (we’re in WI for Easter weekend & Oliver is with his grandparents in Chicago). Luckily, LC’s family and friends still live there so we will for sure be back for lots of visits and I still plan on taking the little one on walks through Lincoln Park, the zoo, Cubs’ games, and the Green City Market.  I will definitely miss the running scene in Chicago among lots of other things, but I’ll save that for another day.

Obviously, the name of the blog will be changing and I’m open to any suggestions on the name and how to make improvements on the blog.

I’m off to get a workout in, have lunch and a little retail therapy with a friend, and sign the lease to our new home today!  Enjoy your weekend.