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:
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.

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

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.


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 :-)


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!



My Favorite Fitness Apps

Happy New Year!  How did you celebrate?  We went to dinner and then went to my sister’s for  NYE house party-if you’re going to go out, house parties are the best option in my opinion.  Things got a little cray and I woke up with a slight headache New Year’s day.  Not my intention at all, BUT I did manage to drag myself out of bed and head to Barre Bee Fit: I wanted to start the year off on a good note ;-)  And guess what?  I felt much better after a sweat session!
So, I finally finished reading Gone Girl. OH MY GOD!  This book was a page turner and kept me up last night waaaayy past my bedtime just so I could finish it.  The ending?  You either love it or hate it.  I was dissapointed at first until I read the author’s explanation and it made total sense.  There’s a movie coming out in October 2014 starring Ben Affleck-I can’t wait for that.
So now that we’ve got our 2014 goals in place, I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite health and fitness apps.  I love discovering new apps that help make life a little easier {Chase lets us deposit checks right from our phone-I can’t remember the last time I stepped foot in a bank}.  I’ve listed a few of my favorites here and hopefully you’ll find something new-to-you that will help you stay healthy this year.
1. MyFitnessPal.  It’s a free online calorie and food tracker.  You can sync up with you facebook friends or contacts and send each other motivational messages too.  Their food database is HUGE!  Be careful though, users can add in nutrtional information and sometimes it can be inaccurate.
2. Water Your Body.  Is drinking more water on your list for the year?  This app is GREAT for keeping track of your fluid intake.  You can even set up your phone to send you reminders to drink throughout the day.  Coffee, water & tea all count…wine does not ;-)
3. Healthy Out.  I just downloaded this app so I haven’t had much experience with it, but I can tell that I’m going to love it.  It’s an app that gives you restaurant recommendations and menu options based on what dietary preferences you choose.  You can choose low fat, gluten-free, lactose free, paleo, etc and it will tell you what dishes at local restaurants meet your criteria.  It also lists the nutritional information.
4. Caynax HIIT.  I’m a big fan of HIIT workouts when there are time constraints or when you just want a good, sweaty workout.  This app lets you design your own HIIT workouts and sends out a beeping noise when it’s time to change your intesity level-so there’s no having to stare at the timer throughout your workout.
5. PumpUp.  This app customizes workouts for you based on what you’re looking to accomplish.  You decide if your goal is to lose weight, get toned, build muscle, be healthy.  Then it asks your fitness level, how much time you want to spend workout, and whether you’re at home, gym or traveling.  It also asks what equipment you have available to you and then creates your own personal workout.  I love for when I don’t really know what I want to do at the gym and rather than walk around aimlessly, I have a plan of action.
6. Nike + Running.  Whenever I forget my Garmin or I turn it on and realize it’s dead, this is my go-to GPS run tracker.  I love this app.  Sometimes even better than my Garmin.  I love that your Facebook friends can send you cheers along the way, something really inspiring during those long, tough runs.  It also gives you pace and distance updates through audio and you can choose a power song if you have a song that really gets you moving.
What are some of your favorite apps, fitness or other?  I love the retail me not app and Target’s Cartwheel app!  I always manage to find coupons or save money with those :-)

Goals for 2014

It’s that time of year again: to think about 2014 and what I hope to accomplish.  2013 was a year of big events and accomplishments and I think 2014 will be a year of improvement.  Starting with a big one.

1. Marriage.  I’m not going to lie and say it was all rainbows and smiles over here…2013 was a tough year for us.  I can say that it was our most challenging year and it tested us immensely.  I was so focused on being a good mother to Madelyn while trying to maintain my own self-identity that I completely neglected my marriage and my husband.  We hit a turning point in our marriage in the middle of this year and realized that things needed to change in order for this to work.  So, my goal is to make more time for “us”, have fun, get back to where we were and try to let the little things go.  The last part is definitely not my personality, but I’m a work in progress ;-)

308853_10100227533543018_204625537_n2. Mother/Daughter dates.  Madelyn is the coolest little girl I know.  She’s so smart, it amazes me every single day.  She’s growing up WAY TOO FAST.  I wish life had a pause button sometimes.  Now that she’s a bit older and mobile, I want to make more time to do stuff with her besides shopping and grocery store trips.  I have 3 day weekends and I need to start taking more advantage of them.  I also need to get her into some kind of swim class or other sport to burn off some of her energy.  She is constantly on the go!

3. Run my fastest 1/2 marathon.  This year I earned a half-marathon PR without even trying.  Next year, I’d like to focus on getting faster and at try to run it a little bit faster.  I have a time goal in mind, but I’m keeping that to myself ;-)

4. Complete my first mud run.  When hubs did tough mudder a few years ago, I said there was absolutely no way that I would ever do one with him.  Now, I’m changing my tune :-) They look like a of fun so I’m hoping to either do Tough Mudder or another muddy obstacle course race.

5. Keep better track of what I’m eating.  I love to eat.  When I was marathon training, I didn’t track calories, but I made a more conscious effort to eat well because I noticed a difference in my running the next day if I ate crappy food the day prior.  After the marathon, that kind of fell off so I’m working at it again.  I don’t plan on counting calories, but just writing down what I eat just to make myself more aware.  There might even be a Paleo Diet challenge in the future.

6. Get Strong. Tone up. Get to my happy weight.  During marathon training, I lost 10 pounds.  I’ve since gained some of it back but I’m okay with that.  I’m still about 10 pounds lighter than when I got pregnant with Madelyn.  I’m not so much focused on the number of the scale as much as I am focused on feeling and looking my best.  This year, I want to tone up and get stronger.

7. Take a camera class and learn how to use my camera.  When I found out I was pregnant with Madelyn, we bought a fancy SLR camera.  I know how to point and shoot.  That is it.  Because I know that camera is capable of so much more, I’m planning on taking a camera class this year to learn how to use it to its full potential.

8.  Travel more.  Every year Larry and I travel somewhere for our anniversary.  We do this instead of buying presents.  Our first year was to Door County and last year was to Michigan for wine tasting.  I’d like to get out of the Midwest this next year.  No set plans yet, so we’ll see.  I do know that a trip to Memphis is in the books for my sister in law’s bachelorette party!  Can’t wait for that :-)

9. NASM personal training certification.  Back in October, I bit the bullet and decided to start studying for my personal training certification.  There are so many out there to choose from but at the end of the day I decided to go with NASM.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet.  I have a few grand ideas floating around in my head.  For now, I’d love to teach a fitness class a couple nights a week, but we’ll see what happens.  I’m taking it one step at a time.

Any fun plans for this evening? Tonight we’re going to an early dinner and then heading over to my sister’s house for a NYE party.  Nothing too crazy :-)


Christmas with the Campbells

IMG_2398Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  I hope you celebrated the holidays surrounded by the people you love and care about most.  I’ve had the past five days off of work and I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by.  I wish that all companies could shut down between Christmas and New Years.  That would be nice :-)

Our Christmas started on Sunday with a trip down to Chicago to celebrate with my in-laws.  We were expecting it to just be us, larry’s two sisters and their significant others but when we walked in, we were greeted by 20 other family members.  It was a nice surprise to see all of his cousins, aunts and uncles, since we don’t get to see them too often.

On Tuesday, I started my morning off with a workout at Barre Bee Fit, headed to a doctor’s appointment, did some last minute grocery shopping, came home and got ready for church and Christmas eve at my mom’s house.  Madelyn hung out at daycare until about 1pm.  It just made it easier with the doctor’s appointment and shopping.  I plan on taking off of work New Years’ Eve and spending the day doing something fun with her.  We met my uncle and aunt at my mom’s house, had some drinks and appetizers and headed to church.

After church, we came home, ate dinner and opened up presents.  My mom made a prime rib roast, asparagus, mashed potatoes along side a glass of wine.  Everything was amazing.  Madelyn lucked out in the present department this year, even though she was more interested in playing with her old toys instead of opening her new ones.



She also was a fan of hiding on us and playing peek-a-boo…


Santa was good to me as well.  I got this bag from lululemon along with some running socks and some other odds and ends :-)

We celebrated Christmas Day by opening gifts with Madelyn.  While we were trying to get her to open her duplo blocks, she was more interested in the pen that was on the table :-) We still had fun with her this year, but I’m looking forward to when she gets to be a little bit older and gets really excited for Christmas.  While I cooked up brunch for my family, Larry got to work assembling toys and putting batteries in where they needed to go.

I made an egg bake with mushrooms, onions, spinach, garlic, bacon, goat gouda and goat cheddar.  I seasoned it with Thyme, Rosemary, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder and added in 1 cup of soy milk and 3 tbsp on flour.  It turned out really good.  So good in fact that I forgot to snap any food pictures today because I was more concerned about eating :-) I served that along side some polish sausage, fruit, Kringles and cinnamon roll french toast bake—AMAZING!  This french toast bake was super easy and was incredibly delicious.  This definitely goes into a Sunday brunch rotation :-)

Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to focus on getting back on track with healthy eating and setting goals for 2014!  Last year, I posted my 2013 goals.  While I accomplished most of them, there are still a few that are a work in progress :-)

I’ll be back this week to talk about 2013 highlights, goals and other fun stuff!

I hope Santa was good to you all as well ;-) 


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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!



The same day that I signed my life away up for the 2013 Chicago Marathon, I also committed to fundraising with Team Salute.  Salute Inc is an organization that helps out active duty military members, veterans and their families.

As most of you know I am a military mama by day and a blogger by night.


I joined the military when I was 18, left for basic training one month after high school graduation and I had no idea where it would take me in life or who I would meet along the way.  Each experience and person has shaped me in some way and in the past 10 years of serving in the Air National Guard, I have earned my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from UW-Milwaukee, I have been paid to travel to some very awesome places and the people I have met: not enough good words can be said about the people.  The Guard is truly like a little family-and in my case, I spend more time during the week with my co-workers than I do my actual family.


When I chose to fundraise for Team Salute, I knew people at work would be very receptive I just wasn’t sure how receptive they would be.  This was the first time I’ve ever fundraised this amount and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The amount of support I received from co-workers, family and friends has been overwhelming.  When I got an e-mail notification of my first big donation from a fellow co-worker, my heart filled with gratitude and I got tears in my eyes.

Watching the donations come in the past few weeks has just been amazing.  On Saturday, I surpassed my fundraising goal of $800 and I still have until Sunday, October 13th to raise money.  This post isn’t a plug to get more money (although if you want to donate click here-it goes to a great cause!), I just simply wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me in one way or another.  Whether it was through a donation, words of encouragement, tidbits of advice or just simply listening to me go on about my marathon training-your support has been incredible and I am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.

Stay tuned: Later this week (FRIDAY!) I will be hosting a Giveaway on the blog! Check back here for the details Friday morning.

26.2 Things that Marathon Training Has Taught Me

Well, today I finished my last long run before the Chicago marathon.  It was a nice and easy 8 miler in the perfect weather-foggy, misty and low 60s.  I would say that I’m looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday mornings, but who am I kidding?  I have a 1 year old.


I can’t believe that next weekend, my 18 weeks of training will have come to an end. The marathon training will no longer consume me and I will have my freedom back!  Okay, so that might be a little bit dramatic but I never realized what a sacrifice it really was until I started doing it.  There were many Friday nights that I had to pass up wine nights with my sister because of a long run on Saturday.  And Saturday mornings with my little munchkin have been cut short (although this week, we are for sure making up for lost time!).  Even though marathon training has involved some sacrifices, I have learned a lot about myself, running, and life in general.  I wouldn’t give back the last 18 weeks for anything.

1. I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to.  I set a goal and I did whatever I could to accomplish it. I didn’t let the obstacles stand in my way.  For that, it makes this marathon so much sweeter.

2. Never underestimate the importance of a well-fitted sports bra.  Moving comfort so far as been my sports bra brand of choice.  It keeps everything in place.

3. Just buy the shoes.  The most important investment you’ll make during marathon training.  GET FITTED and buy the shoes.

shoes4. Recovery days are just as important as build up runs.  Take advantage of nap times and rainy Sundays.  Household chores can wait.

5. Yoga. Love it. Do it.  

6. Learn from bad experiences.

7. Miles, no matter how many of them are walked, with the jogger count as double.  That thing is a beast.  And if you can push your 22lb baby up a killer hill at the end of a 8 mile run, well it counts as 16.

stroller8. Long runs are done better with friends.  Join a running group, especially for your long runs.  My worst run ever was a 15 miler done all by myself.  I wanted to quit, I questioned my sanity.  I was a hot, sweaty mess.  Run groups usually have water stops along the way and it’s nice to get out and meet some people.

9. Be obsessed with barre workouts.  Not only is it great cross training, it gives you killer-looking quads ;-) p5710. Bad runs happen. They can be humbling. learn from them and move on.

11. It’s okay to adjust your training schedule.  Such is life.

12. Eat like you’re going to run after.  I cannot express the importance of good nutrition during marathon training.  Say yes to whole, unprocessed foods and say NO to hot wings.  Trust me on this one.

13. Don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself.  When I first started getting up there in mileage, I had some guilt about leaving Madelyn.  I tried to bring her with me on as many shorter runs as I could, but I reserved Saturdays for myself and I believe that it helped me become a more patient, attentive mom.  A wise woman once told me, “It’s not about the quantity of time, but the quality”.

14. No matter what place you’ve finished, you’ve won.  Someone asked me once if I thought I was going to win.  I laughed.  They were completely serious.  I will certainly not take 1st place, but I hope to finish, and for me, accomplishing this goal is winning.

15. Recovery can be torturous but totally worth it when you can walk the next day.  Ice baths…we have a love/hate relationship. icebath16. When you run without headphones, you discover that fellow runners are very friendly.  I ran with one earbud out this weekend and I couldn’t believe how many people waved and said “Good morning!” to me as we crossed paths.

17. Be observant.  A new, but kind of “sad that I have to do this” game that I play when I’m running alone on a path is “Can I identify the person that just passed me in the event they turned around and attacked me?”  Sad but true.  It helps time go by.  And makes me think out my escape route in the event that ever happened.

18. Marathon training should NOT be used as a weight-loss tool.  When I started training, I was where I was pre-baby, weight-wise.  Would I have liked to have lost more? Absolutely, but overall I was pretty happy where I was.  Over the course of the 18 weeks, I have lost a solid 10lbs and have lost inches in my waist and my thighs.  Would I recommend marathon training as a weight loss tool? NO WAY! You’ll go crazy.  Especially when you’re running 15-20 miles in one day and you just want to eat everything in sight for that entire day.  Besides, when you do reach your weight-loss goal mid training, what becomes your motivation to keep going?

19. Hills…they never get easier, you just get better and learn to appreciate the flatness of Chicago.

20. You can’t help but talk about your marathon training.  Sorry that I’m not sorry?  It pops up in random conversation (and leads to complimentary Lululemon shorts!)  Other runners and fitness-minded people get it, but I’m sure some of my co-workers can’t wait for me to just run the damn thing already.  Then, I will be that girl who has ran a marathon :-)

21. Some days, silence really is golden.  This weekend, the waves crashing against the shore was my background music.  I can’t believe I’ve been missing that every time I run along this path.

silentrun22.Yurbuds.  The best earbuds ever.

23. Some nights, you just have to choose the wine, pizza & great conversation. It’s good for your soul.

24. You can do it. You are DOING it.  There were some mornings when I’d wake up and think to myself, “I can’t do this.”  I remember saying this to my doctor when I was in labor with Madelyn and her response was, ” But you are doing it.”  I have way too much invested to let negative thoughts get the best of me.

25. Foam roller. Buy one.  Breath into the pain; it hurts so good.  I believe the foam roller is the next best thing to a deep tissue massage.  And I want this shirt.

26. Watch out for bikers. Of the bicycle variety. They come out of nowhere.

.1. Stride glide. Invest in it and use it where needed.

.2. Be grateful.  Even though some days I complain about doing it, I am grateful for every day that I get to run.  One of the things that “wow” me about the Chicago Marathon are the people out there doing the wheelchair races.  In ways, that seems so much more difficult to me than it would be just to run it.  Those people are amazing.

I’m looking forward to shorter runs this week and I’m going to use my time to venture out a little bit in our new neighborhood.  Most of my week day runs have been done at work with a running buddy, but since I’m home for who knows how long, I’ll be trudging along with Madelyn in the jogger.  And doing yoga.  Lots and lots of yoga.  Namaste my friends :-)

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Why I Run


A few days ago, a Facebook page that I “like”, Fellow Flowers posted a video titled, “Why Women Run.”  It touches on how Fellow Flowers came to be and how the sport of running has changed these women’s lives.  It made me think about my own personal relationship with running, how I came to be a “runner” and most importantly why am I choosing to run 26.2 miles in two weeks.

I started running as a way to lose weight in high school with one of my best friends.  It was a much simpler time, before Garmins and iPods.  I’m not sure how far I ran or how fast, but we would just run until we got tired.  I kept running through college as a way stay in shape and to keep up with my Air Force PT tests.  It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago where I signed up for my first race and running became more to me than a way to keep the pounds away.  Since 2008, I’ve ran a number of 5ks, 10ks, participated in a snowy Shamrock Shuffle 8k, and have run 4 half marathons.

When I tell people that I’m running the Chicago Marathon, I get a lot of different responses: “That’s awesome!” “I’m so proud of you!” How far is that?” “You’re crazy.” “Why?”

There was one point in my training where I had a really bad build up run.  All I kept asking myself is, “Why am I doing this? What’s the point?”  I’m proud to say that I only had ONE training run like that.  The rest of it has been a pretty positive experience.

So, how did my goal of running the Chicago Marathon come to be this year?  In January, instead of making resolutions, I make goals.  The two top goals of the year were to buy a house (check!) and run the Chicago Marathon.  When I went to register for the race, the website had been shut down due to too many people trying to all register at once and, for the first time in Chicago Marathon history, the registration was being opened a few days later in a lottery.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn’t make it in the lottery system and I thought my goal of running the Chicago marathon would have to get pushed off another year.  Then the tragedy in Boston happened.  I was at Target when hubs texted me the awful news.  As a runner, I knew what a honor and big deal it was to make it to the Boston Marathon.  Not just anyone can sign up for it.  You have to qualify in a previous marathon.  It’s a big deal.  Something happened that day that made me realize that if I really wanted to run Chicago in 2013 I needed to make it happen one way or another.  How did I know I was guaranteed next year?  And so I started to look into charities.

Asking people for money has never really been my “thing.”  I started looking at different charities and I couldn’t believe some of the fundraising minimums.  $1500 is a bit too high pressure for me.  There were so many to choose from:  Do I run for cancer? Or this women’s cancer charity? They give pedicures before the race! Or childhood illnesses?  I do have a child after all.  What about PAWS?  Oliver might appreciate that.  Then I saw Team Salute and I knew that was my charity.  The fundraising minimum is only $700 but you do have to pay for your own registration fee, which I was completely fine with since I was going to do that anyway.  Team Salute raises money for military members, veterans and their families.  It’s an awesome charity and I felt that this was way of giving back to those in need because the military has done so much for me and my family.  You can check out my Team Salute story here.

So why am I running 26.2 miles?  Because I can.  Because I believe it’s important to set goals and not let obstacles stand in the way of them.  Because I want Madelyn to know that you can do anything you set your mind to.  And because I like to run.  Some days I do have to push myself to get out there.  Other days, I cannot wait to hit the ground running.  It’s my therapy.  It’s a brainstorming session.  It allows me to think about anything and everything or nothing at all.  It’s a release from a stressful day.  I believe that it makes me a better wife and mother.  Although my husband may beg to differ some days :-)  Yes, some may think I’m crazy but it’s been an amazing journey so far and has taught me a lot about myself.

Today I decided that I was going to treat myself to some new gear at Lululemon.  I was in the dressing room with Madelyn trying on a few pairs of shorts and a running skirt.  When I came out of the fitting room the store manager asked me what I was shopping for.  I told her that I was running the Chicago Marathon in a few weeks and that I couldn’t decide if I wanted the shorts (which I was used to running in) or the running skirt-because it was cute and comfy.  She looked at Madelyn and asked how old she was and I responded with a year.  The store manager said, “I’ll tell you what.  Since I think it’s so amazing that you are not only running a marathon, but that you’re running your first marathon 1 year post baby I’m going to give you these shorts to run in for the marathon.”  I looked at her and asked, “Are you serious?” She said, “Absolutely.  I think it’s awesome that you have such a great goal and you’re on your way to achieving it.  All you have to do is let me know how they were to run in.”  I said thank you about a hundred times and left with my shorts, my skirt, tears in my eyes and a heart full of gratitude.


It restores my faith in humanity when people do amazingly selfless things for other people.  2 more weeks until Chicago!! To say I’m ready and excited is an understatement.