I’m Alive!

Well hello! If you follow me on Instagram (something I highly recommend you do if you want to see pics of workouts, food and super cute kiddos), you’d know that I’m still around. Running & eating real food as best as possible.

Since I last left you…in January?! We’ve had lots of things go down on the home front.

  • Someone totaled our car…While parked in front of our house…During my last day of maternity leave. I was on my way into spin class when I got a phone call from Larry asking me to come back home. I immediately thought it was one of the girls. Luckily that wasn’t the case. Since he was home alone with two littles, he needed me to come home so that he could deal with the cops and such. Fun times.
  • Isla came down with a pretty terrible illness that landed us at Children’s hospital for nearly a week. At the end of February, our then almost 4 month old came down with a horrible case of bronchialitis. Because her lungs were so little, she had to follow a certain protocol and meet various requirements before she was allowed to go home. Thankfully, we have a wonderful support system who all helped out with Madelyn and it makes things easier when we live extremely close to Children’s. I told hubs that as long as we have kids 18 and under, we are never moving. Ever.

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    Giving me the look…”put your phone down & get us home ASAP!”
  • In March, we had a small electrical fire with our gas stove. The story is too long to explain and I’ve told it I don’t know how many times, but the bottom line comes down to faulty wiring from the previous owners. It could’ve been so. much. worse. We are lucky to be alive.

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This happened in the middle of March and we are still without a fully functioning kitchen. When this little mishap occurred, we decided to take this as an opportunity to remodel our kitchen. Apparently I picked out a pretty awesome sink…everyone else thinks so too because that sucker has been on backorder since  May. After weekly calls to Louann, they were able to track one down for us in Texas and were supposed to be shipping it this week. So fingers crossed it’s here this week or after the Holiday. Hopefully, our kitchen will be up and running sometime in July. Before our stove was hooked up we were eating at the Whole Foods hot bar, restaurants and my mom’s house. Our insurance is pretty awesome and partially reimbursed us for all of restaurant meals.

So between all of the events listed above plus trying to keep alive and nurture two small human beings, there hasn’t been much “real food”cooking or running…the title of this blog.  I did manage to partially train for a 2 half marathons (within two weeks of each other) and did surprisingly well, but I didn’t set any PR’s. Summer running is always a toss-up.

That’s been our year in a nutshell. In between all the chaos and stress there have been princess parties, story times and lots of laughs. Long days followed by short nights. We’ve spent time trying to find the balance between caring for a new baby while still giving your oldest child your undivided attention (newsflash…that can’t be done.) It’s been an adjustment for everyone and I finally feel like we’re at a good place with everything. Madelyn LOVES playing with her sister and Isla is now at the age where she can interact with Madelyn. Watching these two play together (even with the 3 year age gap) makes my heart very happy. I know it won’t always be that way, (I have a sister, I know how this works.) but I’m going to savor these sweet moments while I can.

Back to It

When I found out I was pregnant and due early November, I realized I would be in my postpartum period over all the holiday goodness. Thankfully, Isla’s birthday was close enough to the holidays that it’s still acceptable to rock stretchy maternity jeans.

I told myself that I wouldn’t start worrying about trying to lose baby weight until after the holidays and until Isla had established a good eating schedule. Since this is the last maternity leave that I’ll ever get, I also promised myself that I wouldn’t do anything but cuddle my new baby for two weeks after she was born. Done and done. For two weeks, I didn’t lift a finger. It was amazing.

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Even though I didn’t really contribute to any household chores during that time, I still couldn’t sit still. The weather has been wonderful for this time of year here in Wisconsin, so we managed a few family walks those first few weeks. Once the weather got cooler, I was on my own. The cool temps felt so refreshing after being inside all day. For the first few weeks I kept the mileage to about two miles or thirty minutes of fast walking. At about four weeks postpartum, I was feeling pretty good and started to add some running in there. Talk about humbling. I stayed pretty active my whole pregnancy, so for that reason I wasn’t expecting it to be so difficult. My legs itched like crazy and my lungs hated me. Not to mention my lower abdominal strength being completely gone. I have some work ahead of me.

I’ve been getting out as often as I can and running the treadmill during nap time and it is getting a little easier than that first time a few weeks ago.

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On Sunday, my sister and I laced up our running shoes and headed out for a run by my mom’s house. It was my first “real” run. We had a distance goal and got it done! We set out to run 3 miles and it felt really good. We ran around Humbolt Park…

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and by the time we got back to my mom’s we were at 2.3 miles. So we ran around a few blocks and during that last stretch of distance, I was running close enough to my old pace again that I was hopeful it won’t be much longer to be back to where I was.

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And I celebrated my first glorious postpartum run with grandma’s 75th birthday cake…

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My first “race” will be a 5k in January. I’m excited to see how I do and where I am as far as speed goes by then. Now that I’ve added cardio back into my life, I’m looking forward to take a barre class next week! My sister and I are doing the last blast of 2015 (75 minute cardio class), but I’m hoping to sneak in a regular barre class before then.

How do you celebrate a really great run?

Any advice on returning back to running after pregnancy or an injury?

What’s on your schedule as far as races go in 2016?

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

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Rock N Sole Run: 5k Recap

I’m alive! Our month has been extremely busy and I feel like we’re finally getting into the “swing” of our new schedule. I’m making the best of a “not so ideal” situation because it looks like it will be this way for awhile.

On Saturday I ran my first official 5k of the year. I signed up for the Rock N Sole run a while ago, while running was still feeling completely normal to me. I figured if race day approached and running didn’t feel great, I could at least manage to walk that distance.

I was a little nervous going into Saturday’s run because the last time I ran (June 3rd) it felt awful and I had to stop and walk about a mile into it. I tried switching to timed intervals of 2 minutes running one minute walking, but the baby wasn’t having it. The little one must’ve been positioned just so that running just didn’t feel good. So, we stopped to walk and my sciatic started bothering me.

I had no expectations with how this run was going to go. I figured I was going to have to stop and walk part of it but, much to my surprise, I finished it with no walking breaks in 31:46. Definitely not my fastest, but also not my slowest either. I’ll take it for being 4 1/2 months pregnant.

rns5kThe Rock n Sole run offers 3 distances: 5k, quarter marathon, and a half marathon. I’ve now run all three distances and the half marathon race was probably my favorite. The 5k comes in close second. The quarter marathon was just a tease distance for me.
3 medalsThe 5k course started at the south entrance of Summerfest and ran along the Summerfest grounds and the lakefront path. The 5k almost feels like a separate race from the quarter and half marathon since the start location is in a difference area. I parked a good distance away from the start and had to walk a few blocks through the area of where the start was for the longer races, and the energy was much more different. When I got to the 5k start, it was a bit more chill and felt a little isolated-kind of out in the middle of a giant parking lot. I loved the course, even though we didn’t get to run over The Bridge, but it got a little crowded when we got back on the running path near the art museum. It was a giant 3.2 mile loop and we ended where we started. Overall, it was a great run and the rainy, misty weather felt great once we got going. Had it been hot and sunny, I don’t think I would’ve made it without stopping. I had my handheld water bottle with me too (a running staple these days) and I think that helped. The positioning of the baby has a lot to do with how I’m feeling. When we first started running the baby was pressed up against my bladder so that every time I stepped, I felt like I had to pee. About 5 minutes in, the little one must’ve shifted because I felt good the rest of the race.

I was feeling so great after running my 5k, that I decided to take a 9am barre class after. I’m participating in a summer “Get Hot” challenge and completing 18 or more classes in 21 days. So far, I’ve completed 15 classes and I have until Sunday to get in the other 3. I’m trying to complete the challenge by Friday. Fingers crossed!

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Anyone complete any races lately where they did surprisingly well? The last 5k I ran was the Bacon Race last summer and I ended up setting a PR without even trying/training!
Race Day Outfit
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1. Moving Comfort Sports Bra-The best running sports bra ever known to woman!
2. For Two Fitness Tank-Running for Two. I love this tank. It fits perfectly and stays put. Too bad I had to keep a sweatshirt on the whole time because it was so cold out!
3. Flip Belt. Held my phone and important things like free Noodles coupons. I used this belt during the Chicago marathon and won’t ever go back. And it’s definitely not riding up these days over the belly so it stays put on my hips.
4. BeMaternity by Ingrid & Isabel from Target. The best maternity workout pants I have yet to find for a great price. While my leggings and yoga pants do fit, they all cut right into my waist giving the illusion that I am wearing pants that are too small for me. Not making me look pregnant, but just large. I like these pants because you can either have the band for under the belly or right over the belly. I will be purchasing more of these pants this weekend.

Highs and Lows from the Weekend

I know. It’s Wednesday night. But the weekend technically ended for me yesterday since I had some extended time off.

-Morning impromptu breakfast dates are kind of the best. Collectivo has the best baked oatmeal in the world.

collectivo-I finally finished painting Madelyn’s room. I painted her trim white and the part where the wall and the closet door meet. I’m happy with the way it turned out. Because I needed a break in between coats to run to Target and to run for my sanity, I didn’t finish until 10pm Friday night. Best night of sleep in a very long time.

sneakpeekbedroom-Madelyn slept until 8am on Saturday. It was amazing.  I should’ve known..

morningtime-Monday she pointed to her throat and said “it hurts.” We spent Tuesday at the doctor’s office and on the couch.

couch-In between the illness and couch time, Madelyn managed to make her daddy a birthday cake. She was such a great help, she even cracked an egg into the batter before I could stop her. Guess who got the crunchy piece of cake? I can just hear her laughing at me…

birthdaycake-My BFF’s husband threw her a surprise 30th birthday. It was fun to see all of my friends. A girlfriend of ours helped out with the decorations and made a collage for her which included some lovely photos of us circa 1990s. Ones I’ve been trying to hide from hubs. We all agreed we have gotten finer with age.

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-Stroller running is getting easier. When Larry and I first set out on our first stroller run of the year with Madelyn, I started out pushing her. I got about a quarter mile in and I told him that he had to take over until we turned around and that I would take her on the turn around. I couldn’t catch my breath. Now we’re running 3 miles at a time and I can run up some decent hills with her at a slow pace.

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What are some of the highlights from your weekend? I discovered some fun new podcasts that I want to write about in another post! Always a win!

Escape Artist & My First 5k of the Year

Is it me, or is this week just flying by? Maybe it’s the fact that today is my last day of work for the week. I wish I had something super fun planned on Friday for Madelyn and myself but I will be finishing up some painting in her new big girl room while she plays with her friends at daycare.

Confession time: She will be 3 in August and she still sleeps in her crib. We haven’t really had a real reason to move her out of it and she goes to sleep so well, that we didn’t want to mess it up. The girl will tell us when she’s tired and say, “Bed, I wanna lay down.” I’m nervous that will all change when we put her into the twin bed we bought at Ikea. We have had a few escape attempts, but none have been successful.

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When your kids are too cute to reprimand…

Yesterday was Earth Day. I so badly wanted to do a run outside, but that wind. And the fact that I saw snow falling from the sky. I decided it was best to take it indoors and so I settle for a little work place treadmill action.

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3 miles in 34 minutes. The treadmill was a little rough today. I did a 5k this weekend while pushing Madelyn in the same amount of time. Something about that fresh air & a little girl shouting “Faster Mommy!” gets the legs running a little quicker.

Speaking of stroller runs, I signed up for my first official “race” of the year. I will be pushing Madelyn along the shores of Lake Michigan on Mother’s Day at the Run Like a Mother Race. I wanted to do this one last year, but for some reason, it didn’t work out. Fingers crossed for good weather.

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Stroller moms out there, do you like running races while pushing the stroller? Any tips or advice?

Parents: best way to keep your kids from walking out of their “big kid” beds? I’m waiting for the day that I wake up and this tiny person is staring at me in my sleep…

Taking a Break

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

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

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

So what did I do instead?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago Marathon 2014 Recap

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

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

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Chicago Marathon: Run Maria Run

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

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

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

PR Marathon

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

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

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The best cheerleaders EVER!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

sprinkles

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

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

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

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

Getting Through The Long Run

Happy Monday guys! We are three weeks away from The Chicago Marathon and that means TAPER TIME! I thought this would be a good time to share what has helped me get through those long build-up runs the past 15 weeks. Here are 10 tips that make running long distance a bit more bearable.

1. Have your route planned before you head out.

18.53It’s so much easier to run long distance if you have a good idea of where you’re going. I’m usually pretty good about this, but I failed on Saturday when I set out for my 20 mile training run. My first loop was 14.9 miles (which was preplanned and routed using MapMyRun). The second loop, I underestimated and by the time I got to my starting, point, saw my watch and then my car, I decided to call it quits. I know that if I had planned that second loop better, 20 miles would’ve happened.

2. Create a killer playlist. Last weekend, I thought I forgot my headphones at home. I was just about to get in my car and drive back and I saw them laying under my seat. I couldn’t fathom running 18 miles in the cold without some sort of distraction. I use Spotify for all my running music and used it to create my Chicago Marathon playlist last year. When I’m not training, I use the free version. I can usually get through a decent run with very little commercials. I found that with some of my training runs, my wireless data would cut out and leave me without music for a little bit. This annoyed me and so I figured if I’m training for a marathon, I might as well treat myself to uninterrupted music. You can download music and play it offline from your mobile device with the premium version. You can also find me *here* if you’re looking for more spotify friends.

3. Run with Friends. Don’t have friends that run? Find new friends! 😉 Or join a running group and make new friends there. I have done most of my build up runs with Badgerland Striders and I have met some fellow Chicago marathoners in the process. Running with people that share a common interest helps pass time and keeps you on track. When you’re running with a friend, no one wants to be the first person to stop and start walking. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and each other.

treatspostrace4. Get inspired. Confession time: some days, running is the last thing I want to do. As much as I LOVE to run, there are days, like Wednesdays after work, where running 10 miles is the last thing I want to be doing. Sometimes those midweek longer runs really take some mental preparation. When I need a little extra inspiration, I will read some of my favorite running blogs (Hungry Runner Girl, Run Eat Repeat, Chic Runner) or scroll through  my Instagram feed for inspirational pics. This usually does the trick and gets me a little bit more excited for my run.

5. Treat yo self! Training for a marathon is no joke. It takes a toll on your body, your mind and your overall well-being. Reward yourself for setting your alarm( on a weekend) to run what some would call a crazy amount of miles.

muchneeded

6. Find a GU that excites you! Because if you’re not running, when else is it acceptable to eat salted carmel GU?

7. Get some fun toys. I would be lost without my Garmin and now add in my bluetooth headphones to running gear I can’t live without. I love uploading my runs and seeing how I’ve improved from last year, where I struggled in my run etc. It’s definitely  more than just a GPS watch.

fast5

8. Have a support system.  Marathon training & sometimes running in general would not be possible if it weren’t for my wonderful husband, mom and sister who have helped to keep an eye on Madelyn while I’ve spent all morning running. This also involves them waking up early on weekends (or staying up after working all night) when they really didn’t have to. It’s nice to be surrounded by loved ones who understand why you want to be in bed by 9pm on a Friday night…

9. Get properly fitted gear. I cannot stress enough the importance of going to get professionally fitted for every pair of shoes you wear. After I had Madelyn, I got fitted at a local running store and they put me in a very stable Brooks’ shoe. I continued to run in this same version of shoe throughout my first marathon training and after. I couldn’t figure out why, later on, my feet were hurting me so badly. They were a great shoe! Turns out, after a while I didn’t need that much stability and I had been running in the wrong shoe. They were right for me after I had a baby, but as I got more strength back in my core, the shoes were a wrong fit for me. Shorts are also a big one for me. Ill-fitting shorts have the power to break your run. My favorites are my Lululemon tracker short. I haven’t really tried any other brand. When you find one that works for you, you stick with it. And sports bras ladies!!! Definitely find a great fitting sports bra. I know that I will NOT be wearing my black Nike one for the marathon. If ever.

10. Recover. Ice baths and foam rolling is where it’s at if you want to walk like a normal person the next day.

iceicebabyAnd sleep. Allow yourself a nap if needed over the weekend of a long run. It will make you feel better. I promise.

Question of the day:  Tell me! What gets you through a long run or a grueling workout?