Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's the Happiest Time of the Year!

It's the happiest time of the year!  Christmas?  New Year?  My dad's birthday (Dec 29th)?  Well, ok, all of those are great in their own way (except for the New Year, I'm still out on my feelings for that).  But I'm not referring to any of those.  I'm referring to marathon training!  That's right, it's marathon training - part 2!  I'm training for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon at the end of April.  Since I'm going to follow the same 18 week training program that I followed for my first marathon, the 2011 Chicago Marathon, training officially starts this week!

I was really excited to start marathon training again!  It's like when you have a baby (well, I've never had a baby, but this is what I've heard), when you have a baby and even though you are in agonizing pain, you forget it all afterwards when you hold your little bundle of joy!  Training for my last marathon started great and pretty much continued great, even though there was that 5 week period of time when I was so tired of running that I thought I would never (ever) run again!  But holding my little bundle of joy (the finisher's medal - lol), made it all worth it! 

Holding my little "bundle of joy!"

So much so, that I couldn't wait to run another one!  After a few bumps in the road with my knee, I felt I was ready to start my training this week!

The first week's schedule calls for weekday runs of 3 miles, 3 miles, 3 miles and a weekend long run of 6 miles.  After much debating, I figured I would start my 3 miles on Tuesday.  But on Monday, December 26th, after learning that my friend Kelly from Running (Kell)ometers was going to run with a running group out of our local running store, I was torn.  This running group runs every Monday night at 6:00 pm.  I am never able to go because I don't get home from work until 6:00 and I have personal training.  Even though I didn't have work that day, I still had personal training.  I decided that I was not going to go.  Then my friend Mike called me (Marathon Man was from date #2 I had before) and said he was thinking of going and wanted to know if I wanted to go.  Now I knew 2 people going and I had already really wanted to go.  So as I was sitting in the parking lot of the gym (couldn't marathon man have called me sooner?), I had to decide right away what I wanted to do.  Should I be responsible and go to my personal training or ditch it and run with people I'm never able to run with!  I opted for being irresponsible for a change and ditch my personal training (I felt really bad when I texted my trainer!).

But I went for the run and decided to call it a marathon training day - day 1!  Even though my schedule called for 3 miles, I ended up running 4.3 miles.  My knees actually felt really good!  The only issue I had was that I was running a little too fast for me right now.  I haven't been running much since my little knee issue.  And the hills in the neighborhood were killing me!  If not for the fact that I was running with Kelly and her dog Pepper, I would have stopped to walk for sure!

After the run in front of Running For Kicks
Kelly, Pepper and me
Tuesday was marathon training day #2!  I thought that the 3 miles would go pretty easy.  Weather was not too cold.  Luckily the rain had stopped.  But as soon as my foot hit the pavement, my knee was in trouble.  Then I realized that I didn't have my knee strap on and went back in to get it.  But again, my knee was not feeling too well.  I was going to do 2 laps around my neighborhood which is about 3 miles.  But after close to one lap (about 1.36 miles in) I realized I was running at an 11 minute mile pace and also felt a pain in my knee.  I decided to stop and walk for a minute.  I thought about cutting my run short (this loop passes my house) and I was going to stop at 1.5 miles.  I decided even if I walked a little bit, I should at least try for 2 miles or 2.5 miles. 

However, I changed up my path a little bit as I passed some obnoxious little shits teenagers that had nothing else better to do  were hanging out.  Yeah, the teenagers were out last night since they are all on Christmas break!  And running past them in the dark was just not so much fun!  Let's just say the word "assholes" shot out of my mouth at some point.  I know, very lady-like!

I ended up stopping at 2.75 miles figuring it was close enough to 3 miles.  Bad knees, not listening to headphones (since it was dark and I needed to pay attention to my surroundings), and little shits made this run the worst run I had since my mini meltdown after Thanksgiving! 

In fact, I started re-thinking marathon training for a split second too.  It was training day 2 and I was having problems!  I have 17.5 weeks of this left to go!  It shook my confidence a little bit to say the least.  But as the wise runner once said (actually, it was Kelly on Facebook last night), "Tomorrow is always another day. There will be good days and bad days out on the trail, but the good outweighing the bad is what keeps us asking for more!" 

Training day number 3 will be on Thursday as a cousin wants to go to the gym with me.  I'm hoping for the best!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Ultimate Before!

Yesterday I got an email from about a local Chicago 8k I do every year, the Shamrock Shuffle 8k.  They combined all the pictures from 2006 on of the Shamrock Shuffle 8k into one site for your viewing (and re-ordering) pleasure!

They actually only had 2 years listed, 2007 and 2009, even though I ran this run since 2004, missing only 1 year.  I happened to pull up 2007 and WHOA!  That was a sight!  This run is either in March or April every year.  I'm guessing this was late March or early April.  I started Weight Watchers in May 2007.  Therefore, these pictures were taken about 1 or 1.5 months prior to starting the weight loss process.  This is most definitely my heaviest weight to date!  And the pictures do not disappoint!  How about I throw in a 2011 Marathon photo after, just for shits and giggles.

2007 Shamrock Shuffle 8k

2007 Shamrock Shuffle 8k

2011 Chicago Marathon

2011 Chicago Marathon
 Now, as much as I want to delete those previous run photos from the existence of this planet, I have to look back and smile for a few reasons. 

#1 - Look how far I've come.  And even though I have rough patches and I gained a little weight back, it's still an amazing accomplishment that I sometimes forget about. 

#2 - In the 2007 picture, I'm running.  I'm running an 8k!  And to think I even ran my first half marathon the year before in 2006, still overweight!  I did it back then.  All too often, I hear people say they can't do something until they lose weight.  They think they are too big, too heavy.  They don't even try.  This proves you can do anything you set your mind to.  Do you think running an 8k (or half marathon) or even a 5k was easy for me back then?  No!  I walked parts of it.  But I finished!  And I didn't give up!  Again, this is also an amazing accomplishment!

I hope you all have a happy holiday season!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!...and Running News

It's Christmas time!  It seems that no matter the chaos or stress of shopping, decorating, preparing, etc., I get in an extremely happy mood this time of the year (especially the week right before!).  I love looking at the lights on houses, I put lights on my own house, I love seeing the tree in my living room.  It's such a festive time of the year!  (Can you tell how happy I am??  lol).

In preparation for Christmas, there is one (and only one) type of cookie I make.  Pizzelles!  I probably posted about them last year.  They are delicious and a favorite of my family.  I have since inherited the pizzelle making process.  Pizzelle's are Italian waffle-like cookies.  Traditionally I think they are anise flavored, however, I do not like anise flavor and our recipe is a vanilla recipe.  My favorite!  This year, my cousin wanted to help me make them.  They are her favorite cookie and I always give her some.  She thought she could share in the joy!  I warned her that pizzelle's are labor intensive cookies, you make the batter but your arm just about falls off from trying to stir the thick mess!  Then you have to drop two balls of batter on the pizzelle grill and press down for about a minute.  You can only make two at a time and we make about 100!    Here are a few pics to commemorate it!

My cousin making pizzelles

A few of the finished product!
 Luckily, my cousin had a good time making them and she made about 90% of it for me this year!  Woohoo!  I may enlist her help every year!

Afterwards, I did something totally out of character, I made more cookies!  Actually, I helped my cousin make some.  We made some sugar cookies and frosted them, some macaroons and some chocolate covered pretzels.  I have never made chocolate covered pretzels and was amazed at how easy they are! 

Me making the chocolate pretzels. 
Yes, it was a sweats kind of day!  (And laundry day!)

Some of the finished product.
 A few nights before my cookie extravaganza, I was invited out for another cousin's birthday.  How about a photo op!  I clean up kind of well, huh??

Me on the left and a cousin on the right.
 How about some more Christmas pictures?

First, I'm not a crafty person AT ALL!  I usually hate even doing crafts!  But a friend showed me an ornament wreath and even though she offered to make me one, I decided to be bold and try this myself!  After I had it all done and was trying to hang it up, I dropped it and all the ornaments went flying!  Luckily they are shatter proof. I almost gave up and threw it out but persevered!  It actually didn't take long to fix it and I like it better than before. It just needs a bow and maybe some garland weaving through it but I'm pleased with my results!  Nothing beats making something yourself!  Especially when you don't think you can!

My ornament wreath! Not bad for a not-crafty person!
  Now for some other random Christmas pictures!

My grandmother always made our stockings when we are born.  Here is mine.

Here is the whole family's stockings.  I leave mine at my parents with all the rest! 

Picture of my Christmas Tree.  We spent a whole $30 this year instead of the normal $15!

Running News:

I started running again!  Yay!  I was out for 3 weeks while waiting for a doctor appointment.  When he told me it was runner's knee (full recap in this post), he gave me some exercises to do but said I can still run! 

I started out slowly though.  Last week, I ran 2 miles (about 11:00+ min pace), then 2.5 miles (10:30 pace), then 3 miles (9:58 pace).  Actually I didn't look at my pace for the entire run.  I don't want to go fast, I just wanted to run at a nice, easy, comfortable pace so I don't hurt myself.  I can pick up speed later.  So when I finished the 3 miles at a sub-10 min pace, I was a little surprised and happy.  That was a comfortable pace!  Nice!  So getting back into some faster paces shouldn't be too difficult hopefully!

My marathon training starts next week.  Therefore, I haven't wanted to run too much right now just to give myself a break.  But I did want to get a few miles under my belt.  I figure I will have to run enough once I start training again!  And can I tell you, it felt SO GREAT to be running again!  I missed it!  I almost can't believe how much I miss running when I don't do it!  It never used to be that way!  When I started running last week, I had to stop myself from running every day!  And my knees felt pretty good too.  Hopefully it stays that way!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!  I hope you all have a great one!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yup! I'm a badass!

I think when you officially get diagnosed with a running related injury, you should be considered a badass runner!  Don't you all agree?  When you can start pulling out terms like "IT band" and "runner's knee", I think it's official.  Ok, maybe not a badass runner.  I guess it just means I have some work to do to get back into good running shape!

Yesterday, I went to see a doctor about my knees.  He's a regular doctor but I was referred to him by my marathon pace leader.  She had seen him previously and he is a marathoner.  Runner's know it's best to see a doctor that knows specifically about running.  Other doctors will tell you just not to run.  Runner doctors (yes, it's a technical term) will see what you have to work on so you can get back out there to run.  By the way, my dad told me he was going to tell me that I had to stop running.  I said "No Dad, runner doctors don't tell you to stop running!"  When I told the doctor this, he said he has only ever told 3 people to stop running in 30 years of practicing and he said he thinks he cried more than they did!

If you read this post, you will remember that I had a mini-meltdown after Thanksgiving.  After deciding to go for a 6 mile run on Saturday after Thanksgiving, I quickly realized that the pain I was having in my knee was still there.  As I typically do, I decided to run through the pain.  Almost after that, I decided I might have to only do 5 miles or 4 miles instead of the scheduled 6 I wanted to do.  Within the first mile, I cut it down to a definite 4 miles (2 miles out and 2 miles back).  As I got to the halfway point (2 miles out), I stopped to walk for a minute.  Now, I never usually stop to walk on a 4 mile run.  But the knee pain was still there and I wanted to assess the situation.  I quickly decided that I should stop running.  I thought if I continued running and doing the same thing as I always do, I could permanently injure myself.  So I thought the best thing to do was to stop running now and see a doctor about the issue.  I don't want to permanently injure myself since I want to start training right after Christmas for the Illinois marathon at the end of April.  

But now I was 2 miles away from home. Sure I could have done a run/walk home, but I had a pity party on my walk home instead.  I was frustrated and started to cry!  If you know me, you know I cry when I get really frustrated.  And I get frustrated when I feel like I can't (or shouldn't) do something.   Let me sum that up for you...  ME + CAN'T = FRUSTRATED = CRY.  Now we are all on the same page?  So I haven't run a single mile since that day.

Back to my badass-ness (again, technical term) and the Dr. visit.  In a nutshell, I have runner's knee.  For those that like long medical terminology, Runner's Knee is also called Chrondromalacia Patellae or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.  And for those that like medical definitions, you can google it.  For now, I'll just tell you what it means for me.

The doctor put me through a series of tests which involved taking off my shoes and socks, standing on one leg (several different times), laying on my stomach, laying on my back, laying on my side, put your leg this way, stretch it that way, blah blah blah.  And over and over I heard, "This is the worst I've seen!" or "Oh my god!" or "We need to take you out back and shoot you because it can't possibly be that bad!"  (Seriously he said that!). 

He did say I was young (thanks Doc!) and healthy (thanks again Doc!) so my issues are completely fixable! 

1. My knee points outward instead of forward.  And my arch rolls inward (fallen arches), which is the opposite of the way my knee points.  Therefore this puts added pressure on your knee and instead of your bone or something (uh, yeah, I'm not a doctor) moving nice and smoothly through your femur bone, it tends to snap across it which can cause a popping or grinding sound (and my knees grind horribly!). 

2.  I have incredibly bad hip flexibility.  This is why he wanted to shoot me.  He said he had the worst until he's seen me.  Therefore, I have to fix it or he has to shoot me.  I told him I will fix it!

3.  I have weak butt muscles (insert your own joke here)!  He had me stand on one foot and he put his thumbs on my spine and grabbed my waist.  When I stood on my left leg, he said I passed.  When I stood on my right leg, he said I failed.  I found out that my butt when I stand on my right side dips down instead of staying straight, which means my butt muscles are weak.  I wonder if it means though that they are only weak on my right side and I have unbalanced butt muscles??  Hm...  Anyway, runner's need a strong butt and core section.

4.  Incredibly tight IT band.

To make a long story...uh...long...he told me I could either see a physical therapist or try a few exercises he gives me and see him in about 3-4 weeks.  He said with the exercises he gives me, I should show an 85% improvement within 3 weeks.  I think I may just try that first instead of physical therapy.

1.  One exercise that I have to do is to strengthen a muscle on the knee.  The doctor pressed down on the side of my knee with his finger and said "Flex this muscle." My response was "Uh, muscle?  Uh, I don't know how!"  He said "Exactly!"  Frankly, I didn't know that there was a muscle there to flex!  I basically have to do the following exercise 50x in the morning and 50x in the evening with both legs every day.  It is called the Terminal Knee Extension.  The exercise can be described as follows:   "To perform a terminal knee extension exercise on the floor, sit upright with your leg straight and place a rolled-up towel, foam roller or other cylinder-shaped object under your knee. Flex your toes toward your shins and straighten you knee as far as possible."  The doctor told me to focus on lifting the leg up by pushing the knee downward.  Here is a video I found on you tube but I do it sitting up.

2.  The other exercise I have to do is a stretch for my hips.  This is called Psoas re-sets.  The Psoas is a muscle at your hip.  For stability and to make sure I'm not turning my body, I have to stand facing a wall with my hands on the wall for stability.  When I get better at it, I don't have to hold on to the wall.  Then simply, take one leg and while keeping it straight, lift it to the back as far as I can and hold it for 10 seconds. Repeat 1 time.  Then bend the leg at a 90 degree angle and repeat the exercise 2x.  I have to do this stretch with both legs 5 times a day every day.

3.  Arch supports or motion control running shoes.  Basically the running shoes that I got fitted for at a running store prior to marathon training are the wrong shoes.  They are cushion shoes and I need motion control shoes that won't let my foot/arch fall inward.  He said right now to just by some arch support inserts and next time I get new running shoes, buy motion control ones.  I actually believe the trail running shoes I purchased are motion control shoes with good arch supports.

NOTE:  He said the Patellar Tendon Strap was probably a very good thing for me to use while marathon training and running the marathon because it absorbed some of the stress that would have otherwise have gone to my knee due to the arch issue. 

I'm a badass!  Ok, maybe not a badass!  The good new is that I can run.  He said there is no problem with me continuing to run!  He said just try to go at a slightly slower pace for now until I do some of these exercises.

MORAL OF THE STORYIf you have a pain and it doesn't go away, see a doctor.  And for runners, see a doctor that knows about running.  I feel much better now that I saw the doctor and can get exercises to help me prepare for my upcoming marathon training!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Women's Self Defense Seminar

Last Saturday, my cousin Toni and I went to a Women's Self Defense Seminar.  I saw the link for this seminar posted on facebook on one of my running groups group pages.  I've always wanted to go to one of these seminars and thought this was a great time!  There was a Christmas special he was offering, $10 for 2.5 hours!  Sweet! 

At first I was a little freaked out to find that it was in a residential neighborhood instead of in a gym somewhere.  Then I found it was in someone's garage.  I was wondering how serious this was going to be.  Also, my cousin and I got there right at 2:00 when it was supposed to start, we were trying to get there early but that didn't happen.  When we walked in, there were no other women there, just 4 guys!  Uh, yeah, we were a little freaked out.  But then the women showed up and the instructor started the class.

The point of the seminar is not to learn all kinds of kickboxing moves.  The point of it is to learn some moves that you may be able to use in order to defend yourself if you are being attacked.  They are defensive moves.  Back when I was about 11 years old, my dad signed my brother and myself up for some Judo classes (we went to like 8-16 weeks, I can't remember because it was a long time ago).  Judo is a defensive form of martial arts that is supposed to subdue or immobilize someone.  This self defense class was a combination of different defensive martial arts, including Judo.  Therefore, I remembered the purpose of it and some of the moves I learned way back when.

The fun part?  We actually practiced on live people!  When appropriate, they wore helmets, pads and cups for protection.  A few things we learned:

1. The wrist grab - if someone grabs your wrist, you pull your arm towards where their thumb is and twist out of the hold.  This will work for either arm. 

After you remove your arm, you can try to defend yourself (basically hurt or immobilize your attacker so you can get away).  So the next thing we learned is to poke their eyes with our thumbs.   After that, take the bottom part of the palm of your hands and hit your attacker repeatedly in the face with force moving them backward.  Now, you can either get away or do my favorite...kick in the groin!  Ouch!

2.  Grab from behind - if they grab you from behind, there are a few things to do.  The first, if their arms around around your body and arms, you do a move that resembles the superman!  You thrust your butt back as hard as you can as you fling your arms forward (in kind of a superman position).  Then to immobilize them, you take your elbows (reminder, they are behind you) and elbow them in the ribs/chest several times as hard as you can, then do a backward kick (cuz we can and we are awesome!).

If they grab you from behind but your arms are free, you put your hands into fits and hit the tops of their hands with your knuckles as hard as you can (it really does hurt) and they will let go.  Then repeat the above steps (elbow and kick).

3.  If they are coming at you to grab at your neck - Poke them in the eyes with your thumbs before they grab you!  Then grab behind their heads and pull down.  Take your knees and knee them twice in the chest.  The next is hard to explain but you cub one hand by their chin and the other at the top of your head and twist them down to the ground.

4. Grab around neck from behind - take both of your hands and pull their arm down a little (so they don't choke you). Step with one foot to the side of them and simply bend over.  They will do a little flip and end up on the ground.  Then you can take your foot and slam it into their ribs.

There may have been more things we learned.  These were just some basics.  He actually had us each stand in the center of the mat for 3 minutes while the "attackers" came at us from the front or back and we had to try to defend ourselves using our new moves.  It was a little intimidating at first to think we had to do this for 3 minutes!  It seemed like it would be such a long time!  Actually it went by quicker than I expected.

Our instructor then put together a video montage of us doing our 3 minutes.  I have attached the You Tube video montage!  Note, the face masks are pretty hard but we were getting so much into it and afterwards, I had a sore side of my hand from the hammer punches to the mask and it got all bruised and swollen!  lol

The lady in the yellow shirt was awesome!  Basically she towered over these attackers and just started pushing them out of her way.  Pretty funny!  I'm in the purple t-shirt.  My cousin is in the gray v-neck with sweatpants. Enjoy!  See if you can recognize the moves I explained above!  Look closely and you will see some groin kicks!!

All in all, we had a great time and learned some great moves.  Will we remember to use them if being attacked?  Hopefully we will never have to find out.  But the key is to just do something!  There is no real wrong way to defend yourself.  If it gets the attacker away from you, you did the right move!  Maybe I'll have to test it out on some of my dates!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Was I being punked?

Off topic blog post: Dating 101

First, let me apologize to my blogger friends that are also my facebook friends as you may have heard some of this already.  Of course, have no fear, I will poor my heart and soul out on here and give you ALL the nitty-gritty details!

It's no secret I'm not married.  It's also no secret that I HATE dating!  Especially in my early 30's!  It's fun in your 20's as there are no expectations of "Why aren't you married yet."  I imagine it's fun in your 40's or 50's as I would think people have moved past the fact that you aren't married.  But in your 30's?  You get this a lot:  Why aren't you married?  What's wrong with you?  Are you crazy?  Are you gay? (Yes, it's true, people think it, they just may not vocalize it, although I have had it vocalized too! lol).

There is this underlying assumption and expectation that by a certain age (usually no later than 30), you should be married, about to be married (aka engaged), at least in a serious relationship that will eventually end with engagement and marriage, or at least have a kid (even out of wedlock)!  lol.  If you are single and 30, there must be something wrong with you!

So in true form, after my last relationship didn't work out (aka Mr. Nebraska), I decided to get back into it fairly quickly by joining  I soon realized that it was a mistake.  I thought I was ready to date or at least it would help me forget about Mr. NE.  It didn't.  And a few months into it, I realized every single person that showed interest in me, I turned down.  I did try to show interest in a few others with no luck.  But as some family/friends pointed out, I wasn't giving ANYONE a chance.  I would see their email and roll my eyes and either dismiss it altogether or respond with a polite "not interested" email.  (With you can pay for 6 months and get an additional 6 months free.  But with this you have to send at least 5 emails to new people every month.  Therefore, I would use my "rejection emails" to people as part of my 5 emails so I wouldn't have to pay for the second 6 months).   It's a way to cheat the system!  lol

After about 4-5 months of this, and with the suggestion of my cousin, I decided to give one a chance.  My cousin was thrilled and told me to get drunk, naked and make bad decisions or at least naughty ones.  We will call him Mr. Lithuanian (my cousin and I always give them names so it's easier to remember them by, i.e. Veggie Man, Marathon Man, etc.).  Mr. Lithuanian made reference to a Lithuanian dish they were eating on Thanksgiving, hence the name.

DATE DAY.  It wasn't confirmed we were going out that day.  I emailed him with the suggestion of going out that day (Sunday) or next weekend.  He emailed me at about 10:00 a.m. telling me he was going to call me in a "few moments."  I guess that meant about 3:00 p.m. (problem #1).  Fine, I'll look past that.  He was watching the Bears game with his dad.  He asked me if I wanted to go out for and early dinner "like right now."  Uh, sure...I'll be up for that.  We decided to meet at 4:30 (as I was traveling out his way).  He suggested meeting in a church parking lot and taking a walk to look at Christmas lights on the way to the restaurant and then also walking back a different way to look at more.  I thought that sounded kind of nice!

Wait, did I tell you want almost the first thing he said to me was on the phone?  After the initial, "Hi, this is (Mr. Lithuanian), he proceeds to ask me, "Why aren't you married? What's wrong with you? Are you crazy?  I assume you are relatively intelligent so what's the deal?"  To which I respond, "What? Why aren't you married?"  Turns out he was joking as he proceeded to ask me if I had good balance, etc.  I was just a little taken aback (this should be problem #2 but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt since I'm incredibly sarcastic myself).

I rush to get there on time.  I was actually about 2 minutes late.  I assumed he would be there already because he said he lived right by this place.  I hate being late on a date!  Well, it turns out he was late, at least 10 minutes (problem #2 but I can easily overlook this!).   He also mentioned on the phone that he would bring some hot tea (since I mentioned I liked tea) for our walk (ok, bonus point #1).

We get there and go on our walk.  It was getting dark at this point and I probably should have been walking in a more well lit area but I didn't feel threatened by him and I had just gotten down with my self defense class the day more (more on Self Defense 101 next post) so I felt I could take him out! lol

Our walk was ok.  It was kind of a little too long with not enough Christmas lights to see.  Luckily the weather wasn't too cold so I wasn't completely freezing!  He did go past houses and make comments on who lives there, what is up with them, etc.  lol.  Ok so he knows the area well.  There were no sidewalks to walk on and we had to make sure we didn't get hit by a car on the way! 

Finally we get to the restaurant which was Italian food (bonus point #2 for picking Italian).  Normal date conversation proceeds.  After dinner, well of course the bill comes.  He doesn't say anything when he looks at it and proceeds to mess around with getting money out.  Now, what I typically do it offer to pay for my half.  What I expect on a first date is for him to tell me, "Oh no, I got this! Don't worry about it!"  So here is what happened:

Mr. Lithuanian: (Reaches in pocket for money)
Me: Oh well, I'll pay for half!
Mr. L: Ok.
Me: (Completely speechless, would have started to laugh if he weren't there)
Me: Oh well, I wasn't sure what your thoughts are on that topic.
Mr. L: (Says nothing).

Uh, really?  He just let me pay for half?  On the first date? (Problem #3 and 4...because it's such a big problem!).  I have no mind paying for myself when we are several dates in.  But I think the way it goes on a first date is: he offers to pay, female offers to pay for half, he definitely DOES NOT let his female date pay for half!  He even came back after leaving the tip, had $2 left and gave one to me and kept one.

Fine.  I got an inside chuckle out of this and we left.  Walked back a different way that had more sidewalks so as not to get run over.  He proceeded to tell me where he went to elementary school, which window was his third grade class and what his teachers name was, showed me where just about all his old childhood friends lived and gave me their names (first and last), showed me where he used to skateboard, etc.  Really, I am NOT making this up!  (I really think this is Problem #5 actually!).

I could tell he was trying to get a feel for my comfort level with him as while giving me a rundown on his childhood, he was more touchy with my arms and even tried to put his arm around my shoulders and keep it there for a minute.  I made sure to keep my hands nice and warm in my pockets so there would be no attempt for him to grab one!

I forgot to give you problems #6, 7, and 8!  He lives with his parents!  He's 35 and lives with his parents!  Ok, he has a semi-good reason for this: he cut back on his work and is getting his PhD.  But really, in my opinion, at 35 years old you should NOT move back in with your parents unless you ABSOLUTELY have to!  (It really does put a wrench in dating, btw).  In this day and age and with the economy, some good reasons are: you temporarily got laid off, your parents are ill and you need to care for them, your parents lost their job and you are helping them out...

We finally get back to our cars after making it through his entire childhood looking at Christmas lights.  I was relieved because I really had to use the bathroom (note to self: always use the bathroom before you leave the restaurant).  We talked a little more by the cars and he asked if I wanted to go bowling next time (since I said I liked bowling and he does too).  I said sure as I try not to be too judgmental (can you tell?) and thought I would give him another chance. 

Now before the awkward end of a date where someone is deciding if they should go in for a goodnight kiss, I usually make it a habit of going in for a goodnight hug!  I also make it a habit of turning my head so as there is no question I am not interested in said "goodnight kiss".  So in true form, I go in for my hug, he plants a big kiss on my cheek (lol) and gives me a bear hug of all bear hugs that I didn't think he would ever let me go!  And in which I thanked him for dinner (I should have instead thanked him for letting me pay for my half of dinner) and the walk and said goodnight and which he finally let me go!  I got in my car played with a few things, turned my car on and looked up to see him half hanging out of his car waving at me!  Uh...of course I waved back!  You can't not no matter how strange that is.

I mean, seriously!  Am I being punked here?  Where is Ashton Kutcher?  Where is Candid Camera?  Where?  Where I ask you!  It's got to be here somewhere!

Of course, he texted me later to thank me for the date and to inform me of a good Hallmark Christmas movie that was going to be on at 9:00 p.m. that night.  lol.  (Really, where are the cameras?)

Did I miss anything here?  I really don't think so.  That just about sums it up.  Yes, I will give it another chance.  First dates can be weird, especially blind first dates!  I really don't think my opinion will change much but hey, you never know.  Maybe he will let me pay for the entire second date?? 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1st? Goals!

(First, my friend Kelly was featured on Run, Jodi, Run's blog.  You can check out her post here!).

Wow! It's December 1st already?  Where has this year gone?  (And if you find out where 2009 and 2010 went, let me know that too, ok?). 

Many people this time of year say Adios, Ciao, Au Revoir, Sayonara to healthy eating and exercise!  I see it every year at the gym and at my weight watchers meetings.  The gyms become a ghost town.  My meeting centers will contain about 6 die hard members!

Not me!  I always think this is the BEST time of the year to incorporate these healthy lifestyle goals!  Eating healthy is not about the 1 or 2 holiday meals you eat, or the night you get together with your friends to celebrate, or even your work party lunch/dinner.  There are 31 days in the month of december. 

Yes, there are parties.  Yes, you have to spend time Christmas shopping (unless you are one of those crazy black friday shoppers that get it all done before December! Who are you people!).  Yes, you have to spend time decorating your house and tree.  But with 31 days in the year?  Even if you only ate right 20 days out of 31 days.  Even if you worked out 15 days out of 31.  Isn't that better than nothing? 

What better way to not feel guilty about that Christmas dinner than with a little run?  Or an exercise class?  Or some weights at the gym?  Or even just a walk with family or friends?  You can gain 10 lbs, you can remain the same, or you may be able to lose a little weight (if that's your goal).

So, these are my goals for December
1. Get back in touch with my online weight watcher group of ladies I know.  In doing this, they create challenges to help you maintain your healthy eating goals.  I plan on doing their December challenge, which essentially means counting my points, getting in the required amount of water, dairy, um...I forget what else!  See!  I need help!  lol.  Oh well, eating grains and protein, etc.  Oh and exercise!....brings me to #2...

2.  I am going to do a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week.  Now, this can be 30 minutes of hard exercise at the gym or 30 minutes of walking or anything in between.  As long as I do extra movement for 30 minutes, I'm covered.  The only exception I'm going to make is that I'm not going to count my walk to the train in the morning.  I feel like that could be cheating!

As for running, well, I said it before.  That's going on hold temporarily.  I did make a doctor appointment just to have my ankle and my knee/IT band checked out.  But the appt is in 2 weeks.  I think the rest will do some good.  Although it will do some "not so good" as I will be a little out of running shape when I get back into it.  My aches and pains are completely minor at this point.  The doctor appointment is just a preventative measure so I don't make things go from minor to not-so-minor.

Actually, I almost didn't make the appointment.  Sometimes I feel it's not bad.  It's hardly anything!  Maybe it will heal itself and just go away.  But I listened to others and I think at least seeing the doctor is good.  I'll keep you posted!

Have a good December! What are your goals?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Being Smart

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!  I spent the day at my cousin Angel and Brent's house. Also in attendance were my Aunt and Uncle, my parents and a few "strays" (their word, not mine!)  They always invite a former neighbor.  This year there was also another strange man there.  I still don't know which family member he knew and I don't even remember his name.  Since it was a small crowd this year, it's always nice to have a few more people there.  There was the usual Thanksgiving grub.  I managed to only make one trip to the table.  I thought I did pretty well with the food except an hour later, I felt like I ate 4 lbs of food!  I didn't even eat the pie (I took it home because I can't pass up my Aunt's homemade pumpkin pie and homemade peach pie with peaches she picked herself)!  How does this always happen?

I did have a turkey trot run on Thanksgiving morning.  It was a hilly 4 miles.  I decided that I was going to take it easy.  I wasn't trying to break any records.  So I just jogged along.  I don't even remember my finishing time right now.  I'm sure it's just a click away on the computer but when you know you did crappy time-wise, you really just don't care!  My pace ended up about 10:50's.  Eh...

Friday, I went into work ALL day.  Technically we were closed but my boss was going on vacation the following day and we needed to get stuff finished for a deadline.

Saturday, my friend Brenda invited me over to her house for a late Thanksgiving.  When she asked me on Friday, I really didn't want to go for more turkey!  I was still stuffed from Thursday's meal!  But I couldn't refuse as I don't see her often and I'm godmother to her 8 month old daughter.  It's a good thing I went because her mother cancelled and her brother and his family cancelled!  So it ended up being just Brenda, her husband Anthony and myself!  Oh, and let's not forget the 20 pound turkey!  FOR 3 PEOPLE!

Sunday, I had a baptism to attend for one of my other cousins Tina.  Her baby Nicholas was born a month ago and I hadn't seen him yet.  One word: Adorable!

Also on Sunday, I went to my other cousin (whoa, lots of cousins!) Jessie's house.  We want to start eating healthy again (although she is pregnant and has some leeway here! lol) so we made a vegetable soup and a roasted red pepper hummus.  Two words:  SO GOOD!  The hummus is the best batch we have ever made!

Now for running.  On Saturday, I went for a run in the morning.  I've done 6 miles on Saturday recently so I thought I would keep with the 6 for my long runs for now.  Needless to say, when I started running, the same old issues arose.  The IT band around my knee area was bothering me immediately.  Also, my ankle has never felt better for the older issues I was having.  As I have been doing lately, I thought I would just run through the pain.  It usually goes away or I just run anyway.  I noticed after a mile that I was running slow (about 10:30 min miles).  I thought about shortening up my run, thinking of doing 4 or 5 miles (instead of 6).  Since my knee was continuing to bother me, I decided to just do 4 miles, 2 out and 2 back.  When I got 2 out, I decided to walk for a minute.  While walking, this is what went through my mind:

Why are you running?  Your knee and ankle aren't any better!  If you keep running for the next month, it won't get better and you will not be able to train for the spring marathon like you wanted!  You should just stop right now!  Don't be stupid and injure yourself more! 

So I decided to walk home.  After cutting some corners, it probably ended up being about a 1.5 mile walk.  Needless to say, I was pretty depressed on my walk.  After thinking about not running for a month and possibly seeing a doctor in the meantime, I started to cry.  (Unfortunately, this wasn't going to be the only time that day I cried!). 

Now, I feel like such a big baby when I cry over little things.  But I was frustrated and I have a tendency to cry when I'm frustrated.  And having to walk 1.5 miles home, I was left with my thoughts, which were pretty depressed at that moment!  During the walk, I did stop crying.  But 5 minutes later, I said to myself, "All I want to do is run!" And I started crying again!  Haha!  I can laugh now because it is pretty funny looking back on it. 

So the plan is to be smart.  I'm going to stop running temporarily and contact a doctor.  I asked my marathon pace leader for a recommendation and she mentioned a doctor not far from where I live that she went to before who is also a marathoner.  I might look into that.

By the way, the other time I cried that day?  Let's just say it involved me and my tire.  Again, nothing serious.  Just frustrated!

Today, I'm so sick!  My stomach is so upset.  I've barely eaten anything all day.  I would have stayed in bed but I have to finish up work for a deadline today.  I'll probably skip out a little early.  I'm also contemplating not coming in tomorrow.  I'll see how things go.  All I want to do right now is curl up in a little ball in my bed and not move!  Guess I have to cancel my personal training for tonight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Goal Changes

The title of my blog has really been bothering me.  When I started the blog, the title meant "getting to my weight goal" since I had been struggling with losing the same 10 lbs for a year!  It worked!  I made my goal!

So after new goal was the marathon!  For about 10 months, the title of my blog was "Get to Goal - 2011 Chicago Marathon".  Well, that's over.  I finished.  By the way, look what I got in my email!

That's right!  It's really official now!

What I want to do is get some sort of frame and put my bib, medal, picture and possible this certificate (although that might just go in a scrap book of some kind).  But I'm not a crafty person so I hope to get on this soon!

Back to the title of my post.  I could continue to try to get back down to my weight goal, since I put on a few pounds.  I could count down to my next marathon, but I haven't made that official yet so I don't want to do that. 

I don't know what goal I'm trying to get to now! 

I know some people completely change their entire blog and restart completely over.  I don't want to do that either!  I guess I just have to get my mindset right. I need to figure out the next important step in my life!  Maybe "Get to Goal - finding the perfect husband!"  lol! 

I am also rethinking doing a Triathlon this coming year.  It's something I really want to do but the other thing I really want to do is two marathons. I think with the training for the marathons, I won't be properly trained for a triathlon.  But I'll continue to think about it.  If I don't do the triathlon in 2012, maybe 2013.

Switching gears.  My new trainer, Jordan, is not a runner.  In fact, on the last training day with Mike, she was observing and said "I don't like to run."  Yesterday, after mentioning my hilly 6 miles last weekend and my upcoming hilly 4 mile turkey trot, she said she wanted to do a 5k but has never done one and is a little nervous (she then said she did run a little but not since starting at this gym).  She said she didn't want to do a 5k alone.  I told her I would do one with her.  She seemed excited and actually wanted to know about the upcoming 5k I was thinking about doing on December 18th.  I told her I would give her the info.  My only issue is that I was thinking of trying to PR.  But if she signed up, I would be running with her.  So I might not be going for a PR then.  Although, she might actually be a fast runner and I could still PR!

I just thought it was ironic and kind of nice to be helping my trainer with something instead of the other way around!  We will see if she actually signs up for her very first 5k!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

**Don't forget to check out my friend Kelly's new running blog!  Click here!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Hi my fellow blogger friends?  Did you miss me?  No need to answer, I know you did!!

First, let me share a new running blog with you.  My friend Kelly started a new running blog!  Check it out here and show her some support!  You may remember Kelly from this post.  Hope she didn't mind me posting that!  Too late now!  I met Kelly at the start of my marathon training group.  We were both first time marathon runners.  She's definitely not new to running.  And it's been great getting to know and run with her.  I've said it before, running friends are awesome!

Now for vacation talk.  Have you ever been on a cruise?  This was my first time being on a cruise.  It's a strange feeling not having anywhere to go. You are stuck!  It was fun though.  It went out of Long Beach, CA and we sailed to Catalina and Ensenada.  We didn't have my time on Catalina.  My friend Wayne and I decided to spend it zip lining!  I've always wanted to do this and now was the opportunity!

Wayne and I
Me zip lining!!
We had a great time!  We were nervous at first.  Wayne was nervous because he was afraid of heights.  I was nervous because there is actually SO MUCH you have to know in order to go zip lining!  Things to do and not to do!  But I didn't mess up and we lived to write about it! And we got to bring our cameras which is how we got these wonderful pictures!

Ensenada could have been better.  There wasn't much to do.  We did a little sightseeing and more drinking (lol). 

I did manage to work out twice on the ship.  Yes, I'm one of those crazy workout freaks dedicated workout people that works out on vacation.  One day I ran 3 miles on the track at the top of the ship.  I hate running in circles but with the gorgeous day and the fantastic view, there was no way I was heading to the gym!

The running track (around a mini golf course)
The view I had while running!!
I mean seriously!  Could the view be any better?

On Thursday I did manage to go to the gym.  This is a picture of the view that you get on the treadmills.

Also not a bad view!

Here are a few more random vacation pictures.

The cruise ship
The entire group.  We went for a wedding of my friends cousin.
So, that's the vacation in a very small nutshell!  Eating, drinking...more eating...more drinking.  Do you see a theme?

With that said, I really need to get back to the healthier eating!  I've definitely gained some weight and I feel it!  I can't use the marathon excuse anymore!  So I've got to hit the bricks!  It's just so hard to get back into it when you have fallen so far off the deep end!  lol

I also ran a couple of runs since you saw me last.  The first was the hot chocolate 5k.  Due to an incident, the course was rerouted at the last minute.  The results came in and my time was 29:49. I was NOT too thrilled but chalked it up to a few factors:  it was very crowded and I hadn't run much since the marathon due to my ankle.  Later, I came to find out the course turned out to be 3.25 miles instead of 3.1.  So they estimated our 5k results and my estimated 5k time turned out to be 28:26.  Better but not a PR.

Then I ran a 5k in my neighborhood.  The Tinley Park 5k.  This was a run that I PR'd in last year (which is my current PR of 27:55).  I had my heart all set on earning a new PR!  Well, they changed the course, it was super windy, etc.  Needless to say, I did NOT PR.  I was extremely upset.  I gave that run all I had but only mustered a 28:19.  Sigh! 

So, my new goal is to PR at a 5k!  lol.  I'm going to sign up for a run in December although I'm unsure which one. 

Hope you all have been having a fantastic November.  I can't believe it's almost over and Thanksgiving is next week already!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On the Horizon

I hope you all had a nice Halloween yesterday!  Can you believe it's already November 1st!  Where did this year go?

First of all, I'm giving a shout out to my poor friends in the East who had SNOW!  Ahhhhh!!!!!   That word should never come in October!  Ever!  I'm just glad it didn't come here!  I'm not ready for it. 

Well, I'm going to be a busy girl!  All fun stuff, of course! I have scheduled 3 short runs this month and I'm going on vacation next week (much needed!!).

First, let me tell you on the happenings with my ankle.  I cut it off.  Yup.  That solved the problem.  No really, I went to a free screening with a physical therapist that I have access to through my run group.  After several exercises, she told me that I have incredibly flexible ankles and feet.  I do remember my podiatrist telling me once that I have really flexible toes (the best he's ever seen!  Whatever that means) and asked if I was a dancer.  Uh, can I get a "hell no!"  Definitely not a dancer!

So I have really flexible ankles.  She said it almost appears that I have absolutely no ligaments in my ankle with how far they bend, but of course, I do have ligaments.  Well, as much as you think flexibility is a good thing, apparently too much flexibility in your ankles in a bad thing.  You are more prone to injuries because your ankles are weaker.  And actually, the ankle that hurts was one that I injured at college dancing drunk on tables in a parking garage due to uneven pavement. 

But I've laid off of running for 2 weeks hoping to see an improvement.  I think it did help but I still feel the injury.  The therapist said as long as the pain stays low (level 3 or less out of 10), she said I should be fine to run.  I did a short 2 mile treadmill run after my personal training yesterday. 

I'm almost a little afraid to run though.  I was really nervous the first mile of my run yesterday.  I think I just need to get back on that horse.  After all, I signed up for a 5k this weekend.

After much peer pressure from a friend and my old trainer, I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 5k in Chicago this Saturday.  I mean, the name says it all!  Chocolate!  A girls best friend!  That and diamonds.  lol

I did the Hot Chocolate last year but it was the 15k that they have.  I did not sign up for the 15k this year.  Too much for me right now.  Needless to say, you get chocolate in your goodie bag, chocolate after the run (fondue) and hot chocolate.  It was so cold last year that I actually ended up getting sick from the run!  I think it's going to be about 20 degrees warmer this year.

Next week, I'm going on vacation!  A cruise!  I've never been on a cruise and I'm super excited!  It's out of Long Beach and goes to Catalina and Ensenada.  A friend invited me.  They are going because of a family wedding and he has to pay for 2 tickets regardless of whether he brings someone or not, so I was the lucky invitee!  I know him and his sister (I've been friends with them since I was in 6th or 7th grade) so at least I know a few people there.  I will definitely post on how the cruise goes!

So I have the hot chocolate run before I leave, and I have a turkey trot run, the Sunday after I get back!  No room for the lazy!  Actually, the cruise ship has a gym and I'm crazy enough to use it.  I do work out on vacation! 

Then I have another turkey trot (4 miles) on Thanksgiving morning.  Is it just me or is the best time for a run Thanksgiving morning!  You know you will eat a lot of food that day no matter how hard you try not to.  I love running on Thanksgiving morning!

So, that's my November happenings in a nutshell!  Let's just hope the weather stays decent and that horrible 4 letter S word stays away until at least December!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Injuries and Goals


First of all, let me say I've been a little uninspired!  I think it's a normal feeling to have after training for such a huge goal as a marathon and then it's over and, then what?  So I'm trying to get my mojo back.  Let's just say it's difficult right now because I've banned myself from running for a little while. 

I've had a pesky sore ankle since about 2 weeks before the marathon (which makes it now about 4 weeks).  It doesn't hurt all the time and it's not even a major pain.  It really doesn't hurt when I run but that doesn't really mean anything.  So, I've taken the advice of my trainer and decided to give it a rest.  It's been about 1 week since I've run (although I only ran 1 mile and 2 miles last week).  I'll give it a rest through this week and see how it feels.  I really don't want to stay away from running though and may take it back up next week.

I've toyed with the idea of going to the doctor but that's no fun!  lol.  Actually, I really do think it's just minor and needs rest.  So going to the doctor would be a waste of time, in my opinion.  But I may consider it if it doesn't seem to get better or gets worse. 

I did call the injury prevention and rehabilitation number that we had through our running group, so I'm just waiting for a call back from them.

Another injury?  That pesky IT band.  Can we just get rid of that?  Do we need it?  Anyway, my knee was hurting and after telling my trainer and mentioned where it hurt, he said it was the IT.  First of all, I didn't realize that that knee pain could be IT related!  So we did some stretching for it.  You may find me occasionally sitting on the floor at work stretching it!  I hope no one sees me!  Haha!


Other than that, I have some pretty lofty goals for next year.  I want to try to do two different marathons.  I was thinking of doing one in late April/beginning of May.  Then another in October (most likely Chicago again).  I also want to try a triathlon.  I'm undecided if I should do a sprint one or regular one.  The biking part is what gets me.  But I will check out all triathlons and see what the dates are and decide which works best with my schedule and go from there. 

Combine all of this with the Warrior Dash in June and a few half marathons sprinkled's looking pretty busy.  I will keep you all informed on how my schedule ends up looking.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Life After...

Life after the marathon.  What can I say?  It's been a strange feeling.  I was working out minimally the first week.  I didn't run.  Personal training was light.  My eating was still not stellar.

For me, working out is a stress reliever.  It puts me in a good mood.  If I've been grumpy all day, I kick my butt in the gym or running and I feel 10x better! 

But I really wanted to work on recovering so I didn't want to push the activity.  But...

Minimal activity + less-than-stellar eating = depressed Mandy! 

Yes, I like to use my nickname when I talk about myself in the 3rd person.

After talking with my personal trainer Mike (more on him in a minute), I was complaining about my lack of self control with my eating/snacking.  He always preaches about eating good.  So I finally asked him, "What did you eat today?"

Mike's menu: Oatmeal with raspberries/blueberries, Fiber One Bar, Turkey Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread (loaded with veggies), yogurt, veggie burrito bowl from Chipotle (no cheese/sour cream, light guac and brown rice).  What!?!  Brown Rice?  Apparently they have brown rice now!  Sweet!!  lol.

Anyway, the moral of the story.  First of all, that is one healthy menu!  Secondly, it sounds delicious to me!  I love all that stuff.  That's the way I ate (mostly) when I lost all my weight in the first place.  And it sounds better than the crap I've been eating that I don't really even care for or like that's high in fat and calories!

So I was completely inspired.  Funny how one thing can turn your whole thinking around.  It just made me remember that it is possible!  Granted, our daily lives are different because he is up all day and has no time to snack, whereas I sit at my desk all day where I can snack whenever I want!  But I'm still inspired.  So, today has been a good day so far.  And I'll make it continue all week.

I really need to focus on my eating right now since I'm not running as much as I was!  I went from running 35-40+ miles a week plus personal training plus another day of cross-training to maybe working out 5 hours a week! 

But I did have an awesome weekend.  Oh wait, the rest of the "Mike" story.  He's leaving my gym.  I still have PT sessions left for a few months.  He does want me to come to the new gym (of course) after I'm done and will give a reduced rate from their normal session price.  But I'm not sure I will do that.  So he is recommending I get the trainer, Megan.  I've seen her workout and she is pretty good.  I think it will be a good change for me to work out with a new trainer.  I think Mike came into my life at the perfect time, right before marathon training, to help me prepare for the marathon (since he is a marathoner).  But I am getting a little tired of some of the sessions, so even though I was sad that Mike said he was leaving because we get along great (sarcasm and back and forth banter), I'm looking forward to a change in my sessions.

Ok, last weekend. 

First, my dad's restaurant had a charity chili eating competition between the Chicago Fire Dept and the Police Dept.  It went to the charity of their choice.  2/3 to the winning team, 1/3 to the losing team.  The Police Dept won.  It was a fun competition and the local news channels were there.  You did see me on a clip of a few of the news casts but not much.  I ended up helping pass the bowls of chili to the firemen when they needed more. 

I'm in the green shirt (putting my waitressing skills to good use).  My dad is in the back standing up in the black chef's coat.  My mom you can barely see, but she is on the upper right, near the doorway looking at the guy with the camera phone.

Anyway, the other part of my weekend?  A trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan to see my friend Kelly run the marathon.  She was the one that ended up not finishing in Chicago the other weekend because she threw up.  She wanted to finish a marathon and signed up for Grand Rapids.

In a nutshell, I think she started this marathon out too fast.  I saw her at mile 7.  I ran with her from 17-18.  Then at mile 22, she told me she threw up after mile 18 and couldn't continue running.  But being determined to finish, she walked from 18.5 to the finish (I walked from 22-finish with her).  She threw up at least another 4 times.  I felt really bad but just tried to stay encouraging.  She was really grateful I went to help her along.  I was really glad too because I wasn't sure if I should or not.  But it ended up being only a 2.5 hour drive, and considering the rough time she had, I'm glad I was there to try and help her through it.  And she got her medal!

Kelly and I after the run!
Congratulations Kelly!  Never gave up!

So, that's life after the marathon.  A little dull.  A little exciting.  Now I just really have to find new goals to work towards.  Right now, it's getting my eating in check.  And getting ready for my vacation in November!  It's a cruise!  Nice!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 Chicago Marathon - Part 2

Part two of my marathon experience started at 4:30 am. My plan was to go to bed by 10:00 pm the evening before. However, I didn’t get home Saturday night until 9:00 pm (after leaving my parents restaurant for dinner). Then, because I’m a procrastinator, I decided that I should make a “2011 marathon” playlist on my phone. See, I had started doing this back in July, but about 1 week ago, I got a new phone. I was able to put some songs back on but never made a new playlist.

After playing with that for an hour, I decided I should at least make an attempt to get my stuff together for the next morning, since I had to get up so early! Finally 10:30 pm rolled around and off to bed I went!

4:30 came too fast! No normal person should have to get up when it’s still that dark outside! But up I was. I carefully put everything I needed to bring into a bag and crossed it off my checklist! I didn’t want to forget anything like I did for my 20-miler (where I forgot my garmin and my headphones!!).

5:15 came and I headed downtown. My plan was to leave at 5:15 to get to my parking area at 5:45. That left me enough time to walk to the hotel where my charity group was going to be at so I can take a team photo.

UPS for DownS Charity Athlete Team Photo
 A couple funny stories here.  Well, the grapes at the bottom?  There really is no good reason for that.  These were people from Australia that picked to run for our charity.  There was no good reason for the grapes.  They just said "We are going to have a 'grape" time" and " 'Raisin' awareness for UPS for DownS."  Cute!
The other funny story about this photo?  Well, I am smack dab in the middle near the top.  No, that's not the funny part!  Do you see that my body is slightly turned?  Well, we were joking around how horrible it would be to fall off and hurt ourselves right before the marathon.  The woman behind me grabbed my arm and said she wasn't going to let me fall (I don't know this woman).  I laughed and said thank you...and waited for her to release my arm.  And waited... She wasn't going to let me go!  So I joked, "I think it's awesome that you are still holding on to me!" hoping that might make her realize to let me go.  But no!  She said "I'm a mom!"  And continued to hold me for the entire photo shoot!!  I was actually annoyed but I wasn't going to say anything!...I wanted to say "Look lady!  Let go of my arm already!!"  lol
Back to the marathon!  After the team photo, I went back to the hotel to meet up with my running group (who ironically was at the same hotel as my charity group).  I caught up with them and had a nice time finishing getting ready for the know, bib on shirt, timing tag on shoe, writing on my arms!

Part of the 10 min mile pace group I ran with all summer.
 (Me, Kelly, Christine and our pace leader Jeanne...left to right)

On my arm to remind me to smile at every mile!
 Then it was time to go down to the marathon!  While running around trying to get to the start (I thought I was supposed to be relaxed!!), my trainer called to find out where I was and what I was wearing. Get your mind out of the gutters people!  He wanted to know what I was wearing so he could try to find me before the run!!  I kind of said where I was (I really wasn't exactly sure as it was SO chaotic)!  He said he was there too!  I was not about to look for him!  I had to find the start!  After about 20 mins and going completely out of our way, who do I run in to?  My trainer!  We were not in the same location when we talked on the phone!  How in the world did we come upon each other with ALL those people there!  So he gave me a hug and wished me luck!
My friend Kelly and I were going to start together.  We made a pact that if at any time either one of us had to slow down, the other one would keep going and not wait.  We were both running our first marathon and wanted to get as good of a time as possible.
Trying to get into the starting area was a nightmare.  We couldn't!  There were fences to keep runners in the street and spectators outside with only little gaps every now and again to let the runners in.  People were trying to hop the fence and we saw one guy get snagged and practically fall over the fence!  I was hoping he didn't badly cut himself!  Kelly wanted to hop the fence too.  I was a little hesitant.  For one, I was never good at climbing fences. Secondly, I just saw that guy fall over it!  We decided to wait as close to an opening gap as possible.  I told her once the line started moving, we would be fine, which is what happened.

After the start sounded, Kelly and I walking to the starting line
 And we were off!  Kelly and I kept a nice 10:15 pace to start out.  We run really well together while pacing ourselves!  We weren't going to listen to our music while running together so that when we really needed music, we wouldn't be bored of it by then!
I noticed there was a problem around mile 8.  The weather was too warm for a marathon (it was in the upper 60's and sunny by this point and would be in the mid-70's by the finish!  With pure sun!!).  So around mile 8, Kelly seems to be struggling a bit and simply says, "this is going to be a bad run day for me."  During our training, when one of us was having a problem on a long run, we referred to it as a "bad run day."  Well, I wasn't happy to hear that from her because we were only at mile 8!  I tried giving her a pep talk, "Take deep breaths Kelly.  Keep your head up.  Slow the pace if you have to."  She said she was ok but that soon she would have to back away from me.  My parents were going to be around mile 10 and asked if she wanted to try to hang in there until we saw my parents.  She said yes.  Finally around 10.5, we saw my parents!  My dad was almost too slow to snap the picture but he managed to!

Looking and feeling strong at mile 10.5!!

My mom holding the sign for me!
 Immediately after seeing my parents, Kelly put her hand out to give me five and told me she was slowing down.  I wished her luck, told her to stay positive and keep her head up and went on my way.  I didn't want to leave her but that was the pact we made.  I just thought it would be the other way around.  I always think Kelly is the better runner but as she told me around mile 8, I do better running in the heat than she does.  Throughout the whole marathon, my mind always thought of Kelly and hoped she was doing ok.
I felt really strong through the first half!  But between mile 15 and 16, I started to struggle just a bit.  My quads were starting to feel sore.  Also, by mile 15, I received a text from Dave (see my first post, he and Jodi were in from Ohio cheering on some friends of theirs).  Read Dave's blog and Jodi's blog to see how it is to be a spectator at the Chicago Marathon. 

Anyway, Dave told me he wasn't getting any of my runner tracker information.  I told him I was at mile 15.  He said he and Jodi were between 16 & 17 and they would look for me.  My parents also told me they were between mile 16 & 17 (in fact, they told me to slow down because they couldn't keep up!! Haha!!).  So I knew I just had to make it to that point to get some family and friend support.  My parents told me they were on the north side of the street.  Dave and Jodi told me they were on the right side of the street.  I wasn't sure if at that point the street went north/south or east/west.  I thought my parents were on the opposite side of the street from Dave and Jodi!  And they both said they were right over a bridge.  I stayed on the right side when I noticed the street went north/south and that people were on the east or west side of the street (thanks for nothing dad!!  haha!).  I didn't think I would see my parents because there were so many people around!  I took my headphones off so that I could listen if someone yelled my name!  And finally I saw them!

See me in the black?  In fact, I'm pointing and smiling thinking, "oh there they are!"

 Right after my parents gave me some water and wished me luck, I was on my way.  And not long after (about 10 seconds), I saw Dave and Jodi.  I ran over to say hi and they gave me a little hug and hopped on the course.  I was stunned.  I didn't know what they were doing.  In fact I think I said, "What are you guys doing? ... Are you guys running with me?"  And they said they were running with me to mile 18 where they were going to meet their other friends.  I was thrilled.  To this point, I had people that were supposed to come down and one was supposed to run with me but they backed out at the last minute.  So when Dave and Jodi jumped on the course with me, I was so happy! 
And in true runner form, they knew exactly what to say, "You are doing great!  Need some gu?  Do you want to listen to your music?  How are you feeling?  Are you smiling at every mile? (that would be Dave!")
By the way, I was smiling at every mile.  If I didn't smile at the mile marker, I smiled immediately afterwards.  I told Dave I needed to smile at mile 17 and he told me we passed it!  Ironic because for an entire week, Dave has been harassing (yes Dave, harassing!) me to remember to smile at every mile and the one mile I was with them, I forgot!  So I smile a little late and went on with Dave and Jodi. 
Mile 18 came and Dave and Jodi gave me a hug and got off the course to wait for their friends.  I was sad to see them go because my quads in my legs were starting to get angry at me!  Yes, quads can get angry at you!  So mile 18.5-19.5, I lost the mojo a little.  I started to walk.  I went to the bathroom.  I tried to mentally regroup.  I felt a little like I was quitting because I stopped so soon after running with Dave and Jodi.  But after 19.5, I shook it off.  I needed to keep running!
Originally my parents were going to be around mile 20, but they had a little mishap with the train and went the wrong way, so they texted me and told me they would be at mile 23.   By the way, in Chicago during the marathon, spectators all get around using the trains (aka "El" for elevated trains or Subway if it's underground).  My dad snapped a picture of the mayhem of the trains that day!

One of the subway stops.  The trains come pretty regularly so it's the best way to get around the marathon.
  From mile 20 on, my quads were so sore.  I don't even remember any other pain or even being really winded or mentally tired.  I just remember that the only reason I ever stopped to walk was because my quads hurt so bad!!  Also from mile 20 on, I'm not sure if I smiled at every mile!  I tried.  I didn't swear at the mile markers like I did during my 20 mile run so that's was a positive!
Coming up on mile 23 and I knew my parents were close!  I was going to stop, grab another water and regroup and continue on. In true form, my dad snapped a photo!  My favorite photo of my life!!

Mile 23!  I look like I'm rocking this marathon out!
 Seriously, I look like it's only mile 1 in this picture!  I think I'm going to have to frame this one!  I love it because it's near the end of the marathon and I have a huge smile on my face!  No one needs to know I was hurting and really not this happy at this point! Haha!!

My dad also took a video (which I have to get for you all) at this same point.  I did NOT know he was videotaping!  He's cheering and all I'm saying is "Do you have water?"  When they said it was in the bag and I didn't ask for water ahead of time, I responded "You should be prepared!"  lol.  Then I waved bye and off I went!  My cousin told me later she kept replaying that video for her family because she was shocked that was how I looked at mile 23!  She told me I didn't even look like I was tired!

Now, I had texted my trainer because he promised to run the end with me.  But after not receiving a text in a while (I knew he was running part with a friend of his), I figured I would not see him and I just had to mentally prepare to run the end by myself. 

Mile 24-25 was really hard.  I walked often.  My legs hurt.  It was hot.  I was done.  I knew the end was near.  I ran as much as I could. 

In Chicago, 90% of the runs end right after a bridge (aka hill).  It's the worse thing ever!  I was about mile 26 and here is the bridge (aka hill of death!).  I ran up half and started to walk up the other half.  So close to the finish, that was the last thing I wanted to do!  I didn't want to stop and walk!  So at the top of the hill of death, I took a deep breath, told myself I just had to round the corner and run the straight to the finish!  It took everything I had to want to start running again. 

There was no sprinting to the finish.  I didn't care.  Did a few seconds really make a big difference at this point?  No way!  There were signs saying 800 m, 400 m and 200 m (was there a 600 m??).  And at the 200 meter sign from the finish, there was a guy on the ground with medics around him.  In fact, throughout the whole second half of the race, I saw people down on the ground, going down, throwing up.  I didn't care too much about time at that point, I just wanted to remain upright!

And cross the finish I did!!  Yay!!  I smiled, I didn't cry!  I was happy I finished and I was now a "marathoner!!".  Then they put the medal around my neck and I almost lost it.  I almost started to cry. 

My original goal was to finish in about 4:30.  I knew that would be difficult and really wanted to try to finish under 4:45.  I knew my time was around 4:50.  Considering the heat, I was thrilled.  I didn't care!  I was under 5 hours.  When I started training, I just wanted to finish.  Then, I thought under 5:30.  Then I thought I wanted to finish any where in the 4's!  So 4:50 was just fine with me!

The way the marathon was set up at the end was horrible!  They had things blocked off to the spectators so it made it difficult to get to my family!  I've never seen a run set up like this!  I finally got to my parents.  They didn't have a lot of time because they had to get back to their respective restaurants but we talked about the run a little and posed for pictures in front of the signs that one of their workers, Kitty, made for me!

They left and I went back to the hotel to meet back with my running group and get my gear.  Everyone congratulated me on my first marathon finish.  Then I saw my friend Kelly.  She tells me that she did not finish and burst into tears.  I was shocked!  What happened?  Kelly is the better runner (in my mind).  She said she threw up at mile 15 and they put her on a stretcher, put in an IV and hauled her to medical. 

The one thing the marathon doesn't mess around with in Chicago is when runners are ill.  Especially when it's that hot.  I felt really bad for Kelly.  She said after they released her, they dropped her off right by the finish line where she saw people crossing (and she burst into tears again).  I hugged her, told her it was ok.  I told her it was better to be safe that sorry!  I said there are always other marathons.  I tried to say all the right things but I knew how disappointed and upset she was and I knew I would feel the same way if the rolls were reversed.  It had to be hard for her too because people kept coming up to me to congratulate me and I knew that made her feel horrible.  She told me how proud she was of me though and she was glad I had a good first marathon!

So sorry...there's more!

I talked to Dave and they were still waiting for their friends to finish.  I decided to head back over to where they were and wait with them.  I was glad I was able to catch back up with them before they left and to thank them again for running with me!  Running friends and blog friends are so awesome!

Unfortunately for Dave and Jodi, their friends no longer had their phones with them and had no way to contact them.  And with the way the marathon was set up, it was virtually impossible to randomly try to find someone.  After waiting for a while, they decided maybe they should go back to the hotel and wait for their friends there.  As I was walking to my car and only being gone from Dave and Jodi for 5-10 minutes, I hear "AMANDA!"  In fact, I heard, "There she is!  Amanda!!"  I look and it's Dave and Jodi's friends!  I was on the phone with my cousin, I told her I had to call her back and immediately told Deb and Mellisa that I just left Dave and Jodi and that I would call them.  I called Dave and told him I found his friends.  I walked back with Deb and Mellisa to make sure they found Dave and Jodi.  I gave them all hugs again and left. 

This was Deb's first marathon and she was running for Determination for Cancer in memory of her mom.  Mellisa had run several marathons before and has also done triathlons (can you say "great shape!!").  Deb was a little upset on how her marathon went, she finished later than she wanted and wasn't feeling well from a cold.  I think she did awesome!  I mean, she ran a marathon!  That's more than most people did that day!

I showered and went home.  I mean, I went home and showered!  lol.  Then my cousins picked me up to go to my parent's restaurant for my marathon meal!  I usually try to eat healthy and there are things there I never eat!  I decided to have...a mint chocolate chip shake, 3 hot wings and 3 poppers (it helps to know the owners!!), and a cheeseburger!  Delish!

Oh I forgot to mention.  You know how I said Dave didn't get my runner tracker updates?  In fact, no one got mine!  Later that day, I got worried, what if my shoe tag wasn't working!  What if it didn't register any of my times??  In fact, that's exactly what happened.  There were no results online for me!  It was as if I didn't even run the marathon!  I emailed the marathon peeps and two days later emailed them again.  They responded and said they were reviewing these on a case by case basis and would let me know.

I was pretty upset.  I knew I ran it.  I knew I finished.  I had the medal and the pictures!  And everyone kept telling me the same thing!  But I still wanted it to be official. 

I didn't think the marathon peeps (yes that's their name) would do anything about it.  So I talked myself into believing it was ok.  But Wednesday I got an email saying...

"Congratulations from Bank of America on finishing the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon! Your recorded finish time was 4:53:06 and you placed 21771 out of 35,628 finishers."

I was at work and was in a meeting and when I returned to my desk, that is what I saw!  I literary said out loud, "You have got to be kidding me!"  Then I almost started to cry!  If I wasn't at work, I would have!  I went and told my co-workers what happened and they could tell how happy I was.  They were thrilled for me!

By the way, I forgave my trainer for not running with me.  He did a great job training me and preparing me for the marathon (even when I didn't know it).  He's not my marathon trainer, he is just a personal trainer.  I just got lucky that he runs marathons and knew the proper way to train me so I was as prepared as possible for the marathon.

So my official time is 4:53:06!  I'll take it!  I had a great first marathon experience and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.  I was thrilled that I felt as good as I did throughout the marathon too.  My half marathons are worse than that!  lol.

So it's official.  I will definitely do more marathons!  I wish I could do another one right now!  And a side note, my friend Kelly signed up to do a Grand Rapids marathon this weekend to try to claim her marathon glory!  I'll be rooting for her from afar!!

Now I just have to figure out my next goal and update the title of my blog!

A little side note, remember from last post that I was nervous and didn't think I could do a marathon.  I didn't think my knees would hold up.  I didn't think I could do it if my cousins didn't come down and physically help me do it? 

I realized that I could do it. I just had to put in the effort and believe in myself.  I never ever thought I could run a marathon.  I mean, really.  I never ever thought I would ever be able to do it and I was never going to even try!!  And I did!  I ran it!  And I finished.  The next day a friend of mine said my statement reminded her of a wizard of oz story...  It's as follows:

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?

Glinda, the Good Witch: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda, the Good Witch: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.