Back to Where it Began



Chicago.  The city where my passion for running truly began.  When I moved to the city, I lived just a few blocks from Belmont harbor.  I started running as a way to de-stress and explore.  I was in a new city, hubs (then boyfriend) had just left for a 6 month deployment to Afghanistan, and I was at a job that I was less than thrilled about.  Running was my way to escape from it all.  

I don’t remember how I found out about it, but my first race was the Nike Human 10k.  It started and ended at Soldier Field.  After that, I tackled a few 5k’s, 8k’s and then in 2010 I felt comfortable enough to sign up for a 1/2 marathon.  My sister and I ran the Chicago Rock n Roll 1/2 on one of the hottest days ever.  It was then that the addiction to long distance running started.  I just knew I could beat my time and with my second 1/2 marathon, I did.

I lived in Chicago for about 4 years and during my time there, I lived in two different apartments.  Both of my apartments happened to be along the Chicago Marathon route-I could sit and watch the marathon from my front windows.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw it.  My mom and sister were visiting from Milwaukee and we saw people lining the streets, Starbucks in hand, waiting to cheer on the runners.  The atmosphere was nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.  Since that first day, I remember feeling so inspired and saying to myself, “I want to do that some day.”  It was in my second apartment on Michigan Avenue where I was near the end of the course.  In 2010, I walked to the spectator area and watched the winner and all of the other elite runners cross the finish line.  Shortly after, I witnessed the wheel chair racers and the runners with prosthetic legs finish.  The feelings that I felt that day can’t be explained in words.  In 2011, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon.  I was all set to start training until a really bad fall and ankle sprain left me sidelined.  I probably could’ve worked my way through it, but then a deployment happened.  Since then, the Chicago Marathon has been on my “list”.  

If I’ve learned anything from last Monday’s horrific events in Boston, it is that there’s no better time that now.  I can keep putting it off another year, but how do I know I’m guaranteed another year?  We take life for granted and it’s horrible that it takes something like what happened Monday to make us stop and appreciate what we have in our lives.  

On Sunday, Madelyn, Larry and I headed down to Chicago for a little family getaway.  We visited the aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo.  One thing that I couldn’t wait to do was wake up early Monday morning and run the Lakeshore path.  Thinking about running the Chicago Marathon this year makes me crazy excited.  You know how when you first start dating someone, your stomach does those crazy flips?  I get that feeling when I think about running 26.2 miles through my favorite city, my second home.

Because the Chicago Marathon sold out and then went into a lottery system, I had to sign up through a charity.  I will be raising money for Team Salute, a charity that gives financial help to veterans-something that is very near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons.  

I could not be more thrilled, excited, nervous and scared all at once.  Training officially starts in June! 



Madelyn-8 Months Old

Standing, waving, laughing, dancing her way into my heart every day.  I often sit and wonder what my life was like before her.  What did I do to fill my time?  How have I lived this long without that smile?

Long gone are the days were I could just put the monthly sticker on her onesie.  I now have to attachment on the chair or else it ends up as a snack 🙂


This month has gone by a lot more quickly than I would’ve liked.  I’m getting ready to leave for a long work trip and I’m having a pretty hard time with it.  The only thing getting me through it will be the location and the fact that my sister’s going with me.  Here’s to hoping that the next month just FLIES by.

Sleep. A dream as usual.  She’s been sleeping until about 7 am and is finally starting to get on a regular nap schedule.  We’ve become those people that plan our every day around her nap time.  Naps in the car just aren’t the same as naps in the crib.  Speaking of crib, we’ve had to lower it because someone has decided it was time to stand and see what was going on there in the world.


Eat.  Some new foods we’ve tried this month: Asparagus, brown rice, lentils, strawberries, sweet potato polenta, and mashed potatoes.  We went out to eat a few weeks ago and I brought along Madelyn’s baby food.  For my meal, I ordered shepherd’s pie and fed her some of my mashed potatoes.  Every time I fed her the baby food, she cried-she preferred the mashed potatoes 🙂 We also introduced her to puffs.  I’m trying to get her to learn to grasp food with her fingers and put them in her mouth.  Breastfeeding has come to a complete end and I’m both sad and relieved about this.  My goal was to continue breastfeeding until I left, but Madelyn had other plans.  One morning when I was feeding her, she kept turning away and fussing-she wanted her bottle instead.  I kept trying and she kept denying me.  So that was our last feeding.  I’m really happy that it happened the way that it did.  If I would’ve had to stop before she was ready, I would’ve felt even more guilty about leaving.


 Play.  She’s going to be crawling any day now and I’m scared that I’m going to miss it.  Madelyn can get up on her hands and knees, but when she tries to go forward she falls right on to her tummy.  She can crawl backward though.  I have off this week, so we will be spending lots of time playing on the floor.  The biggest development-she’s learned to wave “hi” and “bye”.  She will sit and wave to Oliver and her friends at daycare.

It’s crazy to think that when I get home, planning for her first birthday will be well under way.  Happy 8 months to my baby girl, who brings us joy every single day.

52 Cards

Today I reached day 17 of #100daysofworkouts.  I’ve been doing pretty good with this.  Even if I don’t “workout” per se, I count my time doing yard work and running errands all day long as movement-the ultimate goal is to just keep moving.

I was watching The Biggest Loser about a month or so ago and I saw Bob the trainer give his team a last chance workout in which they dealt out a stack of playing cards.  Each suite was an exercise and the number determined how many of each exercise they would do.  This looked like a great way to work up a sweat without having any equipment.  As long as you have a deck of cards, this workout can be done anywhere.


When we do this at work we try to mix it up to keep from getting bored.  But pretty much it goes something like this: Hearts=Cardio (BURPEES!) Diamonds=Push ups or an arm workout (today we did tricep dips), Spades=Abs (in/out with our feet) Clubs=legs (squats today).  We used to do it so that 2 would equal two push ups, but we realized that was kind of a waste, so now we’ve decided that anything under 5, we add 10 to it.  So instead of two push ups, we do 12.  So much more challenging and effective.  I love this workout because you never know the hand you get dealt.  There was a time when we did 14 burpees, flipped another card and had to do 12 more.  Ass kicker!

For dinner tonight I make baked marinated salmon served with a kale salad.


I marinaded the salmon in teriyaki sauce, red chili sauce, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, and juice from one orange.  I placed it in a tupperware container, shook it up and let it sit all day until I came home and baked it.  It was, in my opinion, the best salmon I’ve ever made.

For the kale, I mixed a bunch of bite sized pieces with 1/4 cup olive oil, sea salt, pepper, pine nuts, lemon juice from 1 lemon, lemon zest, parmesan cheese and cranberries.  Sooo good!  Normally when I make kale, I sautee it very lightly in a pan with olive oil, garlic and lemon but I prefer it not cooked-it taste a lot better that way.

People at work ask me why I eat kale over spinach and my response is, “Because it’s healthier!”  Here’s a link that goes a little bit more in depth about the benefits of eating kale.

So, I did something pretty crazy last night.  I signed up for my first 1/2 marathon post Madelyn!  I sat there and stared at the screen thinking, “Do I do this? Do I not?”  I’ve ran 3 1/2 marathons before this, so I’m not sure why I was so hesitant about this one.  So I did it anyway and I’ll be following an 8 week training program to a Tee.  I figure, it will help pass time while I’m away on my deployment and my goal is to beat my 1/2 marathon time of 2:25 which I feel is pretty doable.  Training starts in just a few weeks!  Until then, I’m focusing a lot on strength training in hopes of staying injury free.  I will be running the Rock N Sole Summerfest half marathon and I’m so pumped to run across the Hoan Bridge.

Any plans for a summer race or event? Hubs keeps talking about Tough mudder and other obstacle course races.  Tough Mudder is one that I won’t do, but I’m more than happy to donate money to the wounded warrior project without having to be electrocuted 🙂

This aint no Noodles

Tuesdays are always a rough day for me.  It’s my equivalent to what most people’s Mondays are, but instead of coming off of a two day weekend, I’m returning from a three day weekend (I know I shouldn’t be complaining).  Our weekend was jam packed with house stuff and deployment returns, so I couldn’t get to the grocery store until after work today.  

I had my list in hand and bopped around TJ’s, rounding up this week’s dinner and something super easy & delicious for tonight.  Had we still been in our apartment in Oak Creek, I would’ve had hubs pick up dinner somewhere but since moving into our new house, it feels like I’m cheating on my new & fabulous kitchen when we eat out.  So, in efforts to save time, Hubs and I tag team-ed dinner and cooked up something pretty awesome.



Hubs cut up two chicken breasts into bite size pieces and I cooked them over the stove in a mushroom and sage olive oil, rosemary, fresh garlic, sea salt and garlic powder.  After the chicken was brown, I moved it into a different bowl and in the same pan I cooked one sliced zucchini, chopped tomato, 1/2 sliced sweet onion, a small can of sliced black olives, and sliced mushrooms.  I added in a bit more olive oil and sage.  Once the veggies were almost done, I mixed the chicken back in and let it cook for a few more minutes.  Meanwhile, I had a pot of brown rice penne pasta boiling.  Mix the pasta and veggies together and top with feta cheese and you have yourself a meal.  Within a half hour, a delicious dinner was served.  It’s always nice (and MUCH appreciated) when hubs helps out in the kitchen.

Now that I’m completely done nursing Madelyn (more on that in her monthly post), I feel like I can completely devote myself to eating more consciously and focus on getting to my preferred goal weight.  For the first 6 months of her life, I was more concerned about producing enough food for her and less about shedding the “baby weight”.  At 7 1/2 months postpartum, I am about where I was pre-baby.  For me, the last 10 lbs. (out of 34) came off extremely slow.  I ate really healthy for the most part, but I noticed that when I tried to cut calories my milk supply dropped so I more so used Weight Watchers and Myfitnesspal as a guide to make sure I wasn’t eating too little or that I wasn’t going overboard.  Now that I’m only nourishing myself, I can be a little bit more strict with my diet and amp up the activity just a little bit more.  

I had planned to run outside when I got to work this morning, but mother nature put the kabosh on those plans.  So I took my workout to the treadmill.  Because we’re a Guard base, we don’t have a big, Active Duty type gym.  Our “gym” consists of two treadmills, two bikes and an elliptical along with various weight machines.  I got lucky and was able to get on a treadmill right away.  In order to beat the boredom of the ‘mill, I did a variety of things: Steady running, sprints, hills, etc.  It helped pass time and I burned a lot of calories!  Win win. 


 After my ADD-type run, I hit the mat for some ab work: Sit ups, planks, side planks, bicycles, wall sits and stretching.  I finally feel back to my old self again as far as workouts go.  I actually feel like I have gotten a little faster and my endurance has improved since having a baby.  Maybe working out with that baby bump had something to do with it?  I’m not sure, but it feels great to be back at it and motivated.  

Weekend Tidbits

Homeownership kept us pretty busy this weekend.  It was the first weekend we’ve been able to just futz around the house and get outside in the yard.  We spent a lot of time at Home Depot and World Market.

When we bought our house, we inherited a TON of garden space.


I wasn’t joking.  When I first saw the space I was overwhelmed and immediately wanted to convert it back to a yard.  The only thing I’ve ever grown is a baby!  Then, during our second walk through I thought, “Well maybe we’ll take out the first three and keep the three beds behind the garage.”  After the previous owners accepted our offer, I met with the Mrs. and she informed me that the 100 heads of garlic were growing in one of the beds that I wanted to take out.

I finally got back there this week and saw the garlic starting to sprout.  I got really excited and started to plan out what else I’m going to plant back there.  I planted some carrots in the same bed as the garlic.  I’m not sure of how they’re going to come out: those seeds are tiny! And I thought of a better way to plant them after I kind of just spread them around.  The rest of the planting and gardening will resume after I get back home in the beginning of June.

Another project I wanted to get done before I left at the end of this month was the accent wall in our bedroom.

bedroom wall before
bedroom wall before

  I used a wall stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils to transform our wall into this:


It was a really tedious job but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  The color is Special Gray from Sherwin Williams.  All the walls were painted with a matte paint and the accent wall was painted with a high gloss paint.  I used the matte paint to go over the high gloss paint.  I’m really glad I stuck with the same color.  Unless you’re a stenciling expert, if you’re going to do this, I would recommend sticking with similar colors.  There were a few little mistakes but it’s really hard to see them, which I’m very thankful for.

The very BEST part of my weekend came today when I was reunited with my sister.  She’s been deployed for two months and we’re so happy to have her home.  Madelyn has missed her auntie!


When Melissa and I found out the date and time of when she was scheduled to come home we decided to not tell my mom, but rather surprise her at work.  Thankfully, everything fell into place and we were able to pull of an awesome surprise homecoming!

Welcome home to my sister and best friend!  We have some wine dates to catch up on 🙂