Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wanted: Quick Cold Remedies

I wish this could be a super excited, "I'm pumped for my marathon!" post. But it's not going to be. Instead, it's a plead for any of your amazing-never-before-revealed "How to get rid of a cold in 24 hours" tips. I was feeling a little better yesterday, and I thought that getting some good sleep would help combat this little bump in the road cold that I am experiencing. I've been trying to go to bed early and wake up early so it won't be a shock for the 7 am start to the marathon on Saturday, but when my alarm went off at 6:00 am this morning, I knew I would NOT be getting out of bed. Getting rest to get rid of this cold is more important, so I went back to sleep and woke up at 9:15. Now I just feel kind of...blah. For lack of any better descriptors. Most of it is in my head (literally!), with a runny nose and that "foggy" feeling. My body feels a little tired, but not achy. No fever, and therefore, no swine flu! Just the common cold. My current plan of attack includes:
  • Lots of water
  • Hot showers
  • Hot tea with honey
  • Emergen-C Super Energy Booster drink mix
  • Rest rest rest
Any at home tips to share? I'm hoping this will pass as quickly as it came, but I don't want to take any chances! Although I'm not currently super hungry, I'm still trying to get in my carb-loading fuel. At least this forces me to cut back on my M&M habit. Read More......

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One of those days...

Do you ever have "one of those days?" Today was my "one of those days." I like to think I'm a fairly positive person, but the combination of a bunch of little things can really get to me sometimes. Today's a rest day for me (as is tomorrow!), so I can't take my frustrations out on a run. My lovely readers get to enjoy them all instead! Feel free to skip over this post, I promise to be back to happiness and RUNNING talk soon! Life's little annoyances, as follows:

Pending Cold

I had a bit of a sore throat yesterday, which I tried to attack with tea with honey, salt water gurgling, and throat lozenges. My throat felt better this morning, but I still feel kind of icky-ish. I chugged green tea + regular tea + honey at work, and I'm hoping some rest tonight will knock it out. They also had some "Emergen-C Super Energy Booster" powders at work, which is basically 100000000% of your daily need of vitamin C, so I might as well try one. The worst that could happen is I end up with some very vitamin-rich urine. Now is NOT the time to get sick.

Annoying Customers

I had a customer today who told me not once, not twice, but THREE times that I needed to write down his order, for fear of me messing it up. Normally, I write down everyone's order, but if it's only one or two people and it's simple, I don't bother because after a year and a half of working there, I can remember that you ordered a coffee, an OJ, an omelet, and blueberry pancakes. This guy made me repeat what he ordered, and when I got something "wrong," (which he did NOT tell me in the first place), he went on to tell me for the first time that I should write things down. When his food came out, he said he wanted a separate plate for part of his food, which he didn't tell me in the first place. Told me again to write things down. I don't actually have ESP, so I can't remember things if you never tell me them. Later I think he felt bad and he tried to rationalize telling me to write things down. Okay, you do your job, and let me do mine. I'm a good server, thanks.

It might have been okay if it ended here, but he came back to give me my tip, and he further went on to comment on how the bus boys handle dirty dishes and then reset the tables with silverware. This could mean that they touch where someone has been eating and then teach clean forks with the same hands. Understandable, yes. But he didn't stop there. Like many restaurants, our bus boys are Mexican. He went on to comment that, although they may not have been to Mexico recently, you can't be too careful with things like the swine flu going around. I had to hold my tongue. Obviously our bus boys commute from Mexico City on a daily basis. What??

The Job Hunt

I've applied to 121 jobs and had two interviews. During the first one, they explained that they don't usually hire new grads (...why am I here?) and they tried to reschedule my interview the day before I was scheduled to interview (I bought a plane ticket to come, can you squeeze me in? Thanks.). Then they never returned any of my phone calls. Fantastic. I'm still waiting to hear from interview #2, which was six weeks ago. Thye need to have the position "approved" before they can offer it to me, meaning they need to make sure that the budget allots for hiring another nurse. Understandable. I asked them two weeks ago when they would know this. "Soon," they said. I asked them last week when they would know. "Soon," they said. I asked them today when they would know about the approval. "The position will be approved by Tuesday." Does this mean it WILL be approved, or it is still PENDING approval? Oh, it's still pending. Tuesday is thirteen days before I'm supposed to start. That means that I would have to give notice at my current job, find an apartment, pack all my stuff, and move halfway across the country in twelve days. It would obviously be fine because I don't have anything else on the table job-wise, but seriously, this is a bit ridiculous in my book. Is this normal?

Jury Duty

In the mail today, I received a summons for standby jury duty at the end of May. Basically, I have to call the night before I'm supposed to report for jury duty to see if they want me to come in. This really isn't a tragedy, more of an annoyance. I'm assuming you can get out of jury duty if you move out of the state? If that even happens. Who knows.

New Car!

Okay, I'll throw something positive in here. Our beloved minivan died a few weeks ago (transmission!), so my parents decided it was time to buy a new car. My father is well known for his ability to take months (or YEARS) to make a decision, but today the price was right and my mom and I headed out to buy a new car. We are now the proud owners of a 2009 Honda Civic EX. (The EX means it has a moonroof, which is all my mom really cared about.) Woohoo!

In conclusion...

The weather is still looking good for Saturday! I just need to kick this cold, and then I can use the marathon to run off all the little things! Thanks for reading my list of life's little stresses! Overall, I know that I lead a very good life and have a lot to be thankful for, but sometimes life just gets to you. Tomorrow is a new day!
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to beat taper madness...Susan style

Many people talk about taper madness, a time during which runners anticipate their marathon with phantom injury pangs and thoughts of "What? I can't run 26.2 miles!" How do I get around taper madness? Distractions! Doing activities that I enjoy to take the place of running during taper time keeps my mind off of all the crazy thoughts I could be thinking of. Before I started nursing school, I took a cake decorating class at Joann Fabrics, and I learned a couple different basic techniques. I would bake cakes and then take them to work since I'm the only one at home who can eat the cake. When nursing school started, I was INSANELY busy and therefore cut back on my baking. In the past few weeks, people at work started talking about "the cakes Susan used to make," so I figured it was about time to make a new one. I like to go all out, so it was time to experiment! Here's the result:

Peanut Butter Banana Illini Fondant Cake

I started off by making one layer of peanut butter cake and one layer of banana cake. I'd never made a cake from scratch before, but it was really easy and they tasted great! If you've ever read about my pre-run breakfast, you would know that I love to eat peanut butter toast with's such a great combination, so I tried to do it in cake form! I was going to add chocolate icing, but I forgot cocoa powder at the store, so vanilla it was. This was also my first time decorating a cake with fondant, which is the really smooth icing that many people use on their wedding cakes. It often doesn't taste good, but I made a marshmallow fondant (basically marshmallows + powdered sugar) which didn't taste too bad. As I was making the icing, I asked my dad to pick the colors. Naturally, he said orange and blue, the colors of the University of Illinois, his alma mater. That took care of my decoration decisions! Picture time:

Peanut butter layer with some frosting to separate it from the banana layer!

Banana layer! It tastes just like good.

Annnnnd decorated! From the top!

Side view.

I took the cake to work with me, and everyone was so excited! No one wanted to cut into it, but eventually they did and now all I have left is two slices. Good thing, otherwise I would eat it all myself...not so good for the upcoming marathon.

My last run before the marathon was today. I'll do a two mile run on Friday, but that's not really anything substantial. If the forecast stays the same for Saturday, then the weather will be much like today. 50-ish, partly cloudy...hopefully with a little less wind today! I wore shorts and a tank top, and I was cool but comfortable. I've done most of my training for this marathon in cold temperatures, so the race day apparel is still a little up in the air. Probably shorts with a tank top and a long sleeve shirt to start.

Tuesday, April 28
4.14 miles in 31:21, avg pace of 7:35

Maybe a tad on the fast side, but I really had to go to the bathroom at the end! I think I'll survive. I kind of have a sore throat that started yesterday...nothing major, but I hope it doesn't turn into anything. I'm drinking tea with honey, gargling with warm salt water (yum!), and sucking on throat lozenges...hopefully knocking out this sore throat soon. No getting sick now! I'll rest up a little more while watching the Biggest Loser tonight!

Let me know if you need a cake...I'd love to make you one! :)

Read More......

Monday, April 27, 2009

Marathon Game Plan

Marathon week is here! Five days until the big day, so all I can really do now is sit back and wait. (And not gain five pounds by eating everything in sight, which is quite difficult.) I had a three mile run this morning, which was so short! It takes 1.5-2 mile just to get warmed up, and then the run is pretty much over! My favorite part of run is when I get to where I have 2.5 miles to go because at 8:00 min/mile pace, that's twenty minutes. And no matter how bad I feel, I can always convince myself that I can run for twenty minutes. I can run for over two hours, twenty minutes is a piece of cake! (More on cake in a later post!) However, when you only run three miles, you hit the "twenty minutes to go" mark only four minutes into your loses its effect. ANYWAY.

Monday, April 27
3.04 miles in 23:48, avg pace of 7:49

The run was over before I knew it even started. Weather is awesome today, and still looks good for Saturday:

Saturday, May 2
High: 56 °F RealFeel®: 51 °F
Clouds and sun

Looking better for me and my fantastic spectators. As much as I don't want to run in the rain, I'm sure my family doesn't want to watch me run in the rain, although they would be there no matter what because they love me. Awww. :)

Marathon Goals

Since it is marathon week, now is as good a time as ever to lay out my marathon goals. Mini history lesson for those new to the program:

2006 Marine Corps Marathon, 3:51. Challenge: Marching for eight hours starting at 3pm the day before the marathon.

2007 Chicago Marathon, 4:12. Challenge: HEAT WAVE.

Excellent. With a little background knowledge, here are my goals for Saturday:

Goal A: First and foremost, I want to qualify for Boston. 3:40 (8:24 min/mile) is qualifying for a 24 year old female such as myself. I think that this is definitely doable given my training thus far.

Goal B: I'm thinking a reasonable, attainable time goal for me would be 3:30 (8:01 min/mile). All of my long runs (16+ miles) have hovered around an average pace of 8:01-8:06, which makes me think this is a goal I can achieve, especially since the day before my two 20 milers, I worked from 5:30am-3pm (serving = on my feet the whole time) and then ran 10 miles. I will be much better rested come Saturday.

Goal C: Anything under 3:30 would be awesome. Based on how I feel on race day, I think that 3:25 (7:50 min/mile) is a possibility, but I don't want to go out at 7:50 pace. To beat the Rocket Scientist's time, I have to run under 3:23:10 (7:46 min/mile)...probably not this time around, but you never know.

Game Plan

I plan to attack the splits like I've been doing in my long runs. I'll shoot to be around 8:15 for the first two miles, then drop down to the 8:00 pace. Around the third mile is when I usually start hitting the right pace, so this will allow time for my legs to warm up and get into long run mode. The plan is to hold this 8:00 pace until around the half (give or freaking out if I run 7:52 or 8:10 or whatever, it will all average out), when I plan to evaluate how I'm feeling to see what my plan is for the second half. If I feel like I can drop time on my miles, I'll go right ahead and aim for 7:50's. If I want to hold pace, then we can do that too. In my 20 milers, my last five miles were my fastest, so it gives me confidence that I can run strong to the end.

Honestly? I think that I can run faster than 3:30. However, I don't want to go out too fast and then die late in the race. My overall plan for 2009 is to qualify for Boston this spring, and then be more aggressive in a fall marathon to really see what I can do (with added speedwork, a little higher mileage, etc). I don't know if this is the best way to go about it, but I will feel more comfortable on Saturday if I am more conservative with my time goals.

Of course, the general plan is to be flexible and take what comes on race day. I can't do anything to change my training now, what will be, will be. (But I can freak out a little between now and then, right??)
Read More......

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Embrace the Cheese!

I didn't post yesterday, but I wanted to extend my thoughts to Jenna as her family fights through this tough time in their lives. Life is short, and even shorter for some people for reason we don't understand. I don't know Jenna personally, and I only found her blog through this tragedy, but I hope her family stays strong. With nearly 800 comments on her blog, I hope that she and her family are receiving the support and time they need virtually, physically, and emotionally.

Yesterday I headed down to Chicago to pick up my race packet for the Wisconsin Marathon next weekend. Since they were trying to draw a Chicago crowd to the race (advertising that it was only an hour from Chicago), it made sense to have a pick-up location in Chicago in case people just wanted to drive up Saturday morning without getting a hotel. We're heading up the night before since it's about an hour and fifteen minutes from my house, and that would mean a very early wake-up call in order to get there in time (7 am start!), plus the added stress and everything. Hotel it is.

After navigating the streets of Chicago (which are always a mess), I reached the pick-up location, which was just a running store in Chicago. No expo, no huge crowd, just the three guys who happened to work in the store. This was definitely a huge change from my previous marathons (Marine Corps, Chicago), where you picked up your packet in a giant expo center and then wandered around every running vendor you could ever imagine. I'm a running nerd, so I enjoy doing that quite a bit, but it's nice to experience different things, and maybe I'll really like a smaller marathon. We'll find out soon enough! My packet/goodie bag contained the following loot:

I got a reusable bag, some Shot Bloks, a Hammer Gel (apple cinnamon...I'll probably donate this to the Rocket Scientist or something...I'm not an apple cinnamon fan, let alone in gel form), a bunch of ads for future local races (not pictured), my number, my shoe tag, and my race tshirt that says, "Embrace the Cheese!". Awesome. The race shirt is actually a nice technical shirt, but despite being a size small, it's a bit too big for me. It probably fits a guy who wears a small well, but for us smaller females, not so much!

When I picked up my packet, the running store guy looked up my name and then proclaimed, "540! Your lucky number!" I sure hope so, I told him. (I also wanted to add that 3:40 is my lucky number, but I refrained.)

It's been pouring here since yesterday and is supposed to continue to storm for the next day or two. I'm hoping Mother Nature gets it all out of her system before Saturday! The current forecast looks pretty good:

Saturday, May 2
High: 54 °F RealFeel®: 49 °F
Partly sunny

I would definitely take it! Another rest day for me today as I continue to taper. I worked the upstairs section at work yesterday (I was supposed to work it next Sunday, but any marathoner knows that stairs spell disaster after a marathon, so I switched for this week instead.), so I considered that a mini-workout. Off to enjoy some indoor activities, compliments of the rain! I hope you're all enjoying your weekend, hopefully with some sun! Read More......

Friday, April 24, 2009

Last long run!

Today was my last "long" run before the marathon next Saturday! I use quotations marks because eight miles doesn't really seem like a long run to me anymore, which is a good sign for next week! It is GLORIOUSLY warm here (high of 85 today!!!!), which made for a toasty run. I ditched my shirt after two miles and then had high hopes that the water fountains would be turned on. When I reached the water fountain, it was still dry. However, I did run past multiple fire hydrant flushings, so I'm thinking that means that the water fountains will be turned on soon! Maybe? Hopefully?

Friday, April 24
8.07 miles in 1:02:31, avg pace of 7:45

Soooo I probably ran too fast today, and I definitely plan on running a little slower come marathon day (I will outline my grand plan in the coming days!), but it was a good last long run. The pace felt good, so knowing that I plan on going a little slower on the big day makes me think that the distance will come along as well. At least that's what I'm telling myself, especially since my little four mile runs this week felt like they took forever. Those are the days when I'm like...26 miles?? How am I supposed to do THAT??

Crazy taper thoughts, I'm thinking.

When I got back, I grabbed a book and headed outside to soak up the sun for a little bit. My pasty Chicago whiteness scares me sometimes, and I figured a little vitamin D would be good for me. It's our first 80 degree day since sometime in October (fact compliment of the newspaper), so woohoo!! We'll see if it sticks around at all.

Alright, off to enjoy the rest of the day, and I hope the sun is shining in your neck of the woods!
Read More......

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TIaRT: Boston and Marathon Madness

It's Thursday, which means it is time for Take It and Run Thursday! This week's theme is Boston and Marathon Madness:
Boston feels like the unofficial kickoff to this year's marathon season. In celebration of the start, we thought it would be helpful to collect training plans that you have used for marathon training and create a clearinghouse for training plans. Take a minute to jot down your plans or talk about your plans and then link them to the article so others can use and review them as they create their own.
I've trained for and completed two marathons: Marine Corps 2006 and Chicago 2007. For both marathons, I used Hal Higdon's Novice I training plan. I essentially ran four days per week, with a long run building up to one 20 mile run to top of a 40 mile week. He always had cross training for one day, but I admittedly never really cross trained. For Marine Corps, I was in marching band season, so I usually counted that as cross training. For Chicago, I was serving four to five days per week, so I counted that as cross training. Was it really cross training? Probably not, but when you're on your feet so much, it was nice to have an extra day off.

Hal recommends this program for people who are doing their first marathon and are looking to finish injury-free. For my first marathon, I didn't really know any better, so it sounded good to me. The plan came through and I finished without any pains, although the last five miles were pretty tough. When I was getting ready for my second marathon, I thought about upgrading to Hal's intermediate plan, but I hadn't been running as much prior to when training was supposed to start. (I graduated from college and then went on a three week tour of Europe...not exactly when I wanted to be focusing on marathon training!) Since my base was next to nothing, I stuck with the novice program one more time. Due to the toasty circumstances that were Chicago 2007, I'm not sure it really mattered which plan you followed!

In getting ready to do my third marathon (next weekend!), I decided that I wanted to do a plan with more mileage and definitely more than one twenty mile run. I've been usually Hal Higdon's Intermediate II training plan, which builds up to three 20 mile runs in 50 mile weeks. Since I switched my marathon last minute, I've only done two 20 milers, but I really think that Hal's weekend mileage will serve me well at my next marathon. Running ten miles the day before a twenty mile run definitely teaches your legs what it is like to run tired, and it also gives me the confidence to know that I can successfully run the distance come race day. I guess we'll know better how it works out in nine days!

For my next marathon (always planning ahead!), I think I'm going to try Pete Pfitzinger's programs. Many runners use Pfitz with a lot of success, and I think that adding speed work (tempo runs, intervals) into my marathon training will definitely give me a boost. Hal has advanced programs that include speedwork, but they include six days of running per week, and that is a bit too much for me!

I think that the best training plan is the one that works for YOU. You can run any number of miles per week, with or without speed work, run doubles, or cross train three days a week, but if it doesn't fit into your life, you aren't going to be happy and successful with your plan. Could we all run faster if we ran 100 mile weeks? Maybe, but I don't think I'm ever going to find out!

Four miles today! We're nine days out from marathon day, so taper taper taper it is!

Thursday, April 23
4.12 miles in 32:07, avg pace of 7:48

It was a fantastic 65 degrees today, which would be a little too warm for me come race day. is currently predicting rain for race day, but I'm hoping that will change before we get there!
Read More......

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grill Season!!

Amazinggggg day in Chicagoland! Naturally, it was a rest day, which is really making me think that I need to stop running because all my rest days lead to gorgeous spring weather. Since I didn't have running (or work!) to occupy my time, I decided to take advantage of the fact that today was PERFECT for grilling. I say that like I grill all the time, which, let me tell you, is far from the truth. I had to ask my mom to start the grill because I have no clue how. Oops? When I was little, I would get really excited when my dad would let me flip burgers on the grill. He wouldn't let me add the cheese because I was still too young (and too short) to get that close to the grill, but with the long-armed-flipper-thing, I could flip the burgers all I wanted.

I was an easy-to-entertain child.

After flipping through some cooking magazines, I found this Grilled Chicken with Mango-Pineapple Salsa in Cooking Light. Chicken? Pineapple? Anything that resembles salsa? I'm in.

Paired with brown rice and grilled zucchini (brushed with olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper, yum!), we were all set for a fantastic meal. And since pictures are worth a thousand words:

Grilling action shot! I'm wearing short sleeves, and the sun is out! Woohoo!

Classic Susan pose while grilling! If only the trees had some leaves...

Zucchini and chicken on the grill! My food photography skills are lacking.

Zucchini with some grill lines. I wasn't sure whether I liked the round slices or long slices better, so I made both!

Dinner was fantastic! I highly recommend this recipe. It has a little bit of a bite to it (compliments of a jalapeno and some crushed red pepper), but I really liked it. Great for spring!


Check out Carrots 'N' Cake for another Stonyfield Giveaway! You know you want to win this pack...I'm trying to enter as many Stonyfield giveaways as I can find!

Aron over at Runner's Rambles is having an Exercise Anywhere giveaway! I could definitely use some exercise cards in my life!
Read More......

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eight Things

Can I just say how much I LOVE runners?? It's been so exciting reading everyone's posts about Boston, whether you ran it, knew someone who ran it, wanted Kara and Ryan to win it, hope to run it next year (!!), or just love to watching people run! People at work have no clue how long a marathon is, let alone that the Boston Marathon was yesterday. I'm not an emotional person by any means, but I was getting teary-eyed when the lead women reached Wellesley, as I listened to the girls screaming...and I was only watching it on TV! It's so awesome how everyone can come together around an event such as the Boston Marathon.

Loooong day at work today. I opened at 5:30 (the WORST part about my job...I am NOT a morning person!), and we were slow in the morning which makes the day seem really long. Luckily it picked up at lunch, but I was tired when I got home! I only had a four mile run today, which I thought about putting off until tomorrow. However, running today meant total rest tomorrow, which would be nice, so I just got it out of the way today. Of course, our weather has been terrrible lately, so it was 40, windy, and drizzling when I ran. It actually wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be (did I just say that??), minus almost getting hit by eight million cars. That's what I get for running around the local community college with a bunch of nineteen year old drivers, I suppose.

Tuesday, April 21
4.13 miles in 32:25, avg pace of 7:51

I took the first two miles easy, running about eight minute miles before naturally speeding up to about 7:45. Still under control, which is a good sign since I can easily speed up to a much faster pace without noticing. Continuing to take it easy with eleven days until the marathon! Crazy.

Time to watch the Biggest Loser, but not until after this little survey, compliments of Mica!

8 Things to which I am looking forward
  1. The Wisconsin Marathon on May 2
  2. Starting my career as a nurse...hopefully soon!
  3. SUMMER!
  4. Dinner. (Always.)
  5. Having the day off tomorrow!
  6. Watching the Biggest Loser
  7. Seeing the Rocket Scientist on May 1 (such a supportive boyfriend!)
  8. Baseball season! Go Cubbies!
8 Things I did yesterday
  1. Watched the Boston Marathon on TV!
  2. Registered for the marathon on May 2...haha
  3. Freaked out about the possibility of being a real nurse and moving
  4. Applied to six more jobs (total: 108 jobs applied for...please don't tell me about the nursing shortage!)
  5. Ate wayyyy too many M&M's
  6. Chased down a customer who ordered food to go, but I forgot to give them their fruit cup
  7. Ran six miles!
  8. Put away my laundry. (So exciting)
8 Things I wish I could do/I want to do
  1. Speak Spanish. (Note: I took seven years of German. Look where that got me?)
  2. Run Boston!
  4. Be more outgoing. I'm super shy, in general.
  5. Figure out what I want to do in life.
  6. Travel the world!!
  7. Like oatmeal. I don't think it's going to happen.
  8. Go back to college. Like back in time.
8 Shows I watch
  1. ER (RIP)
  2. Gilmore Girls (RIP)
  3. The Biggest Loser
  4. The Bachelor/Bachelorette
  5. Greek
  6. The Real World (depending on the season)
  7. Jon and Katie Plus Eight/18 Kids and Counting/Big People Little World/any reality show on TLC
  8. America's Next Top Model (which makes me wish I had long legs...)
That's all for now! Time to watch people sweat on The Biggest Loser! Read More......

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marathon Monday!

You know you're a running nerd when you get excited about watching a marathon on TV. I woke up this morning in time to watch Boston on the video feed, but it wasn't working...seemed to be a common theme for many people. We have one of those super random TV packages, so I searched the channels, hoping to find some marathon coverage. I found it on a channel I'd never heard of before, and I got to watch all the live coverage! The sad part was that I had to leave for work when the lead women were around mile 21, so I didn't get to see the exciting finish! I watched a video on youtube (what a glorious invention) when I got home, but I really wanted to know what happened! It boggles my mind that a 26.2 mile race can be won by a second. My heart sank when Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall didn't win, but it's so awesome that two Americans were in the top three! I thoroughly enjoyed how the commentators kept saying how slow the women's race was. I wish 6:10 was a slow marathon pace for me! Watching the Boston Marathon got me REALLY excited for the possibility of running it next year.

Knock on wood.

In the spirit of Marathon Monday, I actually registered for the Wisconsin Marathon today. Twelve days until race day! I can't quite comprehend that since I never really came to terms with the fact that I was switching my marathon from Delaware to Wisconsin. I guess that's good for taper madness, as I didn't really think about it at all last week. Don't worry, once we hit the ten day mark, I will become weather obsessed and check the weather report every hour, on the hour. We've been hitting at least three of the four seasons per day here for the past few days, so hopefully it will pick one before marathon day, or at least stick to two of the four. Six miles today in the sun/clouds/wind/rain...Mother Nature needs to stop being so finicky!

Monday, April 20
6.06 miles in 45:59, avg pace of 7:35

I ran past the high school girls track team, which I think was a bit confusing for them because I was wearing one of my high school track shirts from back in the day. I'm going to put this in writing so I can follow through on it...This was my LAST speedy run before the marathon. I always tend to pick it up in my runs when I'm feeling good (which is quite often), but I need to rest before the marathon. No more sub-7 miles!

Twelve days til marathon day....yikessssss.
Read More......

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rocket Scientist Weekend

Fun weekend with the boyfriend! I'm thinking I'm going to call him The Rocket Scientist instead of "the boyfriend" because:

1) He is a rocket scientist (degree in aerospace engineering!)
2) He's working on becoming Dr. Rocket Scientist (in PhD form).
3) It's fun to call him a rocket scientist.

Done and done.

Anyway, The Rocket Scientist landed on Friday night, and the exciting part was that I got to call 911 on the way to the airport! There was a car on fire on the side of the highway...we're talking smoke and GIANT flames and all that jazz. I'm sure eight million people had already called, but you never know so I called them anyway. 911 said that people were already on the way, but I felt like I did my duty in reporting it anyway. For the rest of the evening, we pretty much just hung out and talked and stuff because we're such exciting people. Our conversations tend to be about running (where I talk about whatever I've been reading about lately, and he tells me I spend too much time reading about random running stuff), whatever he is doing in lab (combustion stuff that I don't understand, no matter how often he explains it to me), or what I should do with my life (this has yet to be solved). I'm not really a fan of talking on the phone/online (although I should be with the whole long distance relationship thing, but whatever), so basically we just babble for hours. It works. We went out for ice cream (Oberweis, yum!) and babbled some more until we were old and tired and went to bed at 11. Excellent.

Saturday was an AMAZING day in Chicagoland. It was partly sunny with a high in the 70's! So good, except for running, yikes! We had twelve miles on the docket:

Saturday, April 18
12.11 miles in 1:36:05, avg pace of 7:56

Do not be fooled by the pace on this was killer!! We started off in shorts and tank tops, then we ditched our tops after two miles because it was sooo toasty outside! The sun came out and it was hot! Since it was only twelve miles, we figured we didn't need to put out water, and I had high hopes that the water fountains would be turned on. We hit the first water fountain around mile six, and we were parched! However, the water fountains aren't on yet. My hopes and dreams were shattered, and I almost cried, but of course I had no water in my body to shed a tear. (End drama.) The first six miles of the run weren't too bad, but the last six were not fun. The Rocket Scientist's (so fun to say!) back was hurting him, and so we had multiple stops where he stretched a little while I rubbed his back. We eventually finished, but it was not a good confidence booster as my last double digit run before the marathon!

After rehydrating and enjoying a fantastic lunch, we watched the Cubs beat the Cardinals in extra innings (from my couch, although I thought about getting last minute tickets...). The evening was spent watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall and drinking beer with some friends. Funny movie, if you've never seen it!

This morning was a complete turnaround from yesterday! Rainy and in the 40's. That's what I get for complaining about a hot run, I suppose, but my body is definitely not used to running in anything above 40 degrees! I had a short four miles today, but The Rocket Scientist had six, so I let him wander my neighborhood for a little bit after we did the first four together.

Sunday, April 19
4.01 miles in 31:50, avg pace of 7:56

Same pace as yesterday, but felt MUCH better. Here's to hoping the marathon isn't super warm. We headed over to my place of work for breakfast, which is always fun because everyone wants to say hi to the boy that they always hear about (...they refer to him as the guy who is kidnapping me to New Jersey. Details.), and the food is good! I had some blackberry-banana pancakes, sausage links, and potatoes, while he had a red pepper, green pepper, onion, and Cajun sausage frittata. So good!

We spent the rest of the afternoon reading the newspaper (I LOVE the Sunday paper) and watching cop chases on TV. The weekend went SO fast, and he's back off to New Jersey. We semi-officially decided that I'm going to do the Wisconsin Marathon on May 2, and being the awesome boyfriend that he is, he wants to come watch, so I should see him in a short two weeks! Now I just need to register...and get a hotel...

SO EXCITED for the Boston Marathon tomorrow! I'm going to be watching online until I have to head to work, which should be perfectly timed for me to miss the elites finish. Go Kara! Go Ryan!

Hope everyone had an awesome weekend...which it already sounds like from the blogs I've caught up on!
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Fly by posting!

Super excited for today!! It is SEVENTY degrees outside, which I haven't seen in at least six or seven months. We don't do transitions too well here in's either 30 degrees or 70, but no 50's or anything in the middle. I was going to run before work today (didn't have to go in until 11), but it was only 45 degrees when I woke up, and I wanted to take advantage of the heat wave this afternoon. I ran in shorts and a sports top (tank top type thing?) and I was SWEATING when I was done. After only four miles! I know I sweat all winter while running, but there's something different about actually being sweaty and seeing it on your skin! I've missed it.

Friday, April 17
4.04 miles in 28:41, avg pace of 7:06

Sooooo I was flying because I wanted to squeeze in my run between getting home from work and having to pick my mom up from work (one of our cars died a couple weeks!). The phone was ringing as I walked in the door, so that was perfect timing. I've been hustling around, showering, and doing some final cleaning before I leave to pick up my boyfriend up at the airport! He lands in about twenty minutes, so I wanted to say hi before I jet (anyone noting all my flying references?? hahah I at least make myself laugh, if no one else!) off to the airport to pick him up. He's only here until Sunday evening, but tomorrow is supposed to be gorgeous, so we'll be able to get a nice long run in together. Yay!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend, whatever your plans may be, and since I might not get a chance, GOOD LUCK to those running Boston on Monday, especially The Running Laminator and Frayed Laces! You guys are going to rock Boston!!
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

TIaRT: Running Blogs

My first Take It and Run Thursday from Runners Lounge! This week's theme is Running Blogs: How and Why?

I'm fairly new to the running blog world, as I started about four months ago, and some people have been around for years! I'm not a blogging newbie, as I had a livejournal in college, where I loved being a part of various communities (running, medical, nursing, food, cupcakes, etc). It was fun to read about other people's running questions, race reports, and daily adventures in running, and I liked to share what I did in life with other people as well. Most of my readers were just friends who happened to know that I had the LJ (I didn't even call it a blog!), but it was still fun because, um, who doesn't like to talk about themselves?? I was introduced to the blogging community outside of livejournal when I stumbled across the Runner's World forums and people had links to their blogs in their signatures. What do runners like to do when they're not running? Talk about running! So of course I thought it was awesome that people posted about their daily runs, what food they eat, what races they ran, etc.

After reading blogs for a couple years (and spotting some bloggers at the Chicago Marathon...I felt like I "knew" them!), I decided to start my own. I wasn't quite sure people would be all that interested in my running, but I like to read about other people's adventures, so I figured people would like to read about mine! That, and I was really excited to join the running blog community. After reading some blogs for awhile, I realized how supportive (and awesome!) it must be to "know" runners around the country (and world!). I wanted to get to know these people who I've been reading about! Although I've only been in the running blog world for a short time, it's been amazing! I've learned about recovery socks and new foods (Greek smoothies...more bars than you would ever imagine), wallowed about the weather/been envious of people in other parts of the country, and started to connect with other runners, getting excited to see how their training pays off in races. Marathons/races are started to come up, and it will be so fun to read races reports from people who I've been following. Also, it's exciting to have people comment and realize that other people are listening to you and care about your running.

I'm sooo glad to be a part of the running blog community, and I hope I can contribute my part to this great group of runners!


Rest day for me! The weather is always AWESOME on my rest days, it makes me think I should take them more often so the weather will be gorgeous all the time! But I guess I'll keep on running...

The boyfriend arrives for a weekend visit tomorrow! No plans yet, other than heading to my place of work to get some pancakes! Yummy. :)


Another Stonyfield Farm giveaway over at Hangry Pants! Check it out!
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Overheard While Running

This post will be the continuation of my "Overheard While Running" theme, where I share, um, things overheard while running. (I'm so creative, right?) Anyway, the first installment can be found here, and the second is as follows:

I was running one of my usual routes today, and I ran by two elementary school age girls playing outside in their front yard. (Note: It's almost 60 here...people are leaving their homes for reasons other than work, school, or the grocery store.) As I ran by, one of the girls yelled, "Soup for two dollars!! Want some soup?? Two dollars!" This seemed a bit odd, as I've never been offered soup while running. Lemonade, yes. Beer, yes. (That's what I get for running by frat houses.) Soup, no. Lo and behold, the girl was holding a can of soup in her hand. Why anyone, especially someone who is clearly without cash, would want to buy soup from a random house is beyond me. But I've learned throughout the years to not question the logic of eight year olds.

You would think the story would end here, but oh no no no. On my return trip (out-and-backs are my favorite runs), I ran past the same girls. The one girl yelled to the other girl, "Don't bother, she's the one who didn't buy the soup." It sounds as though they had many people take them up on their offer, although I don't quite think that was the case. At any rate, it sounds like the soup stand is now the new lemonade stand.

Run for the day:

Wednesday, April 15 (Happy Tax Day to the accountants of the world!)
5.07 miles in 37:36, avg pace of 7:25

It is GLORIOUS outside, which I know I say whenever I can wear shorts, but it really is. Sunny and in the high 50' is good. Still deciding about the marathons, but luckily the random step back week and taper week number one are quite similar, so I'm buying myself some more time. A decision should be made this weekend...especially since I'm hoping to know more about the job situation this week too.

I can't deal with all these decisions, or the implications of decisions actually being made. Marathon? Two marathons? Moving? Actually being a nurse??? I'm predicting an impending freak out.

Let's distract ourselves with some giveaways:

Julie GoLean is hosting a Kernel Seasons giveaway! Yummmm popcorn!

The Fitnessista is hosting a Stonyfield giveaway! This looks amazing!
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Decisions and Testudo Pumpkin!

I woke up a little earlier today than usual (around 7:15) because I wanted to get my run in before work, and I’ve found that I like eating before running, so I needed to digest a little first!  It’s a good thing I woke up when I did because our neighbors are having their driveway replaced, and the workers showed up at 7:30 to start chiseling away the driveway!  Since I can’t sleep through anything (really…breathe too loud and you will wake me up), I’m glad I didn’t have plans to sleep in today.  It reminded me of college when the garbage men would empty the dumpsters outside my dorm at 6:30 in the morning, or when they were doing construction outside my window at the same time.  6:30 in the morning on a college campus??  Are you crazy??  People are sleeping!  Anyway, I survived.

Eight miles on the docket for today.  It was supposed to rain all day, but it held off…must be my good luck holding over from yesterday!  It’s still cloudy, grey, windy-ish, and in the high 30’s, so it’s kind of a blah day.  The sun is supposed to show up tomorrow, so hip hip hooray for that!  I totally wasn’t feeling the run because it was gross outside, but things turned around once I got going.

Tuesday, April 14
8.03 miles in 59:51, avg pace of 7:27

Nothing too exciting, but it was nice to have some pep in my step during the second half of the run.  I’m just waiting for the day to come when I can retire my tights for the summer…

You may remember my little dilemma over which marathon to run, and I still haven’t come to a conclusion yet!  Boyfriend’s shins are feeling better, but he got sick at the end of last week, so he missed the planned 20 miler.  Boo!  I’m still nervous about doing the Delaware Marathon because I don’t know about the job situation (yet!  ugh), and it might be warm on that day.  The Wisconsin Marathon would be in its first year, and it’s SO SOON, but I’d start tapering this week and it would be fine.  I tried to discuss the situation with the boy, and he’s realllllly set on running a marathon together.  I guess he doesn’t care what kind of time we run, since he ran his first in 3:23, and I don’t really plan on running faster than that.  He just wants to do one side-by-side.  (Which is fine, but the Delaware Marathon??  If I knew he wanted to do one just “for fun,” we could have picked a much more exciting marathon.  But I digress.)

My maybe-possibly-I-could-be-crazy plan is as follows:  Do the Wisconsin Marathon on May 2, and run for my BQ (fingers crossed!  knock on wood!).  Then, on May 17, run the Delaware Marathon with the boy and therefore earn my spot as a Marathon Maniac.  I have zero experience with running two marathons in the same year, let alone the same month, but if we’re just going to do a marathon for fun, then why not?  My legs have felt pretty good after my 20 milers, and while I know there’s a huge difference between 20 miles and 26.2 miles, I would like to think that my recovery wouldn’t be miserable between the two.


Last, but certainly not least, here’s my work of art circa Halloween 2007.  Testudo Pumpkin!!
 Halloween 011Halloween 010
I did them both on the same pumpkin, just a little offset from each other.  The top one is the old school mascot, and the second one is the more recent mascot.  I love my Terps!!

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Rain, rain, go away!

It's raining here again in Chicago, and it's looking like that's going to be the theme of the week! Rain tomorrow, sunny for a few days, then rain this weekend. FUN. Good thing my dad just found three umbrellas in the back of one of our cars.

I definitely had a good weekend! Saturday was spent wedding dress shopping with one of my friends from high school. We have different tastes in what we think is pretty, so I tried to judge what she liked and based my comments on that. I didn't want to insult her FAVORITE dress, but if I thought it didn't look great, I found a nice way to say it. Her mom and another one of our friends from high school came long too, so she could get a bunch of different opinions. I think this is her favorite so far:

That's the model from David's Bridal, not my friend! I'm not sure how I feel about the red on a wedding's not something I would do, but more power to you if that's what you want. The dress also comes in white-on-white, but of course they don't have a sample or pictures of it, so you'd have to order it to see if you liked it. That seems a bit troublesome for your wedding dress! There's another dress in the running, but I can't find a picture of it, and she's going to look at other stores as well. They haven't set a wedding date yet, so no pressure yet. After dress shopping, we headed back to her house and played Guitar Hero/Rock Band (which I am MISERABLE at) and then watched The Ten Commandments. Such. A. Long. Movie. Oh my goodness.

Sunday was Easter! We thought we would be crazy busy at work, but that wasn't the case! Lots of big parties, but with eight servers working, it really wasn't that busy. And people didn't tip well! It's Easter people, be nice! Oh well. We colored Easter eggs later that evening when my sister and her roommates came over. Since I like to relate everything to my love for Maryland (note my graduation cap in the header of the site), I had to make a Maryland egg! Here's how it turned out:

Not exactly a masterpiece, but it's hard to recreate a flag on an egg, especially when working with crayons. The cross-type thing should really be red and white, but let's not get too picky. Maybe tomorrow I'll post my Testudo pumpkin, which really was something special!

We followed egg decorating with Easter dinner, complete with ham, CHEESEY POTATOES!!, green beans, orange jello, and rolls. Oh, and of course pie! French Silk, naturally. Guess what I'm having for dessert the rest of the week??

So, fun weekend overall! I started this week off with an easy five mile run, luckily before the rain hit! It was a bit chilly and I knew the rain was coming, so I kept bargaining/pleading in my head. "Okay, PLEASE don't rain until the last two miles." "No no, last mile." "Okay, I could handle the last few minutes." Something must have worked because it only misted for about a minute, but started raining on my way to work! Good timing. The run was nothing too exciting, just a quick five.

Monday, April 13
5.08 miles in 40:43, avg pace of 8:01

Cubbies win!!! Home opener today, but I'm glad I wasn't there because baseball games in cold and rain are the epitome of misery. Not that I would know from experience or anything...

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Friday, April 10, 2009

I am super fantastic!

Another end to my second fifty mile week! And what a good one it was! My runs are usually shifted around a bit because I always work either Saturday or Sunday (or both!), and that's not very conducive to Sunday long runs. I've been able to do them on Fridays for a little while now, which is nice in that I get them over with before the weekend!

I did my ten miles after working at 5:30am yesterday. It was one of those days where it wasn't SUPER busy, but it was steady all day so there wasn't really any time for a break. Since I didn't get to eat much at work, I had a Luna Bar and a banana when I got home. I tried the Carmel Nut Brownie flavor, and it was pretty good, but I'm not sure how much I like the Luna bars...something just seems different to me. There are plenty of bars and non-bar food to eat, so I suppose I'll make it! Spring showed up a little bit yesterday, so I got to run in a tshirt and shorts! Woohoo! However, I guess the theme of April is wind, so I had to deal with that both yesterday and today.

Thursday, April 9
10.16 miles in 1:15:49, avg pace of 7:28

I realized with about a mile to go that I was probably running too fast, and I was like, um, that might not be so super for a 20 mile run the next day. But, it was a little too late at that point. I went to bed early (okay, that means like 10:30 for me) since I had woken up so early, but I was still super tired when my alarm went off at 7:30 this morning. I reset it and crawled out of bed at 8:00, but my legs felt tired and I totally wasn't in the mood to run, let alone twenty miles!

But, you gotta do what you gotta do, so I started my standard pre-race breakfast. Toast (from the toaster oven since our toaster is offically broken) with peanut butter and a banana, as always. I drove out to drop off my waters, which was when I realized that it was still soooooo windy! The runners that I passed did not look like happy campers, and they looked cold! So not motivational, especially since I was hoping to run in shorts. Tights it was. I decided to pin my beloved Honey Stinger Energy Chews to the inside of my tights, as I wanted to practice eating on the run. I'm not really planning on walking through the aid stations like I have in my previous marathons, so I thought it would be a good idea to practice half-choking half-breathing. Woo! I finished gearing up and headed out the door. Two hours and forty-two minutes later, here's what I had:

Friday, April 10
20.11 miles in 2:41:14, avg pace of 8:01
Splits galore: 8:14, 8:12, 8:03, 8:01, 8:13, 8:04, 8:00, 8:07, 7:53, 8:16, 7:59, 8:01, 8:02, 8:09, 7:55, 8:03, 7:55, 7:58, 7:52, 7:20, 0:47 (7:33)

I'm sooooo happy with this run! I can tell in my splits where I was running directly into the wind (I could feel it too!), and I'm happy that my pace remained fairly consistent even though I was facing the wind head-on. I felt less tired than I did for my last 20 miler, and I think the fact that I can run 7:20 for my last mile is a good sign that the next six are totally do-able. I would definitely be pleased if this is how my marathon splits go! This run actually went really fast...the miles just kind of clicked off and I only hated life when the wind felt like I was running into a wall! Running and chewing the energy chews actually went really well. Since the chews were next to my body the entire time, they were super soft and mushy and therefore easy to chew! I recently discovered that Garmin records "stopped time," and I only stopped for 2:33 during the entire run! That was so I didn't run into a tree when I went to pick up my water bottles.

Recovery! I was in full-on recovery mode today. When I got home, I walked a little and then stretched. Then, I decided to up my recovery, and enjoyed the following while hopping into an ice bath:

Recovery smoothie! It sounded like it would taste good, and the protein couldn't hurt, so I mixed it in with cold water (you can also use milk or soy milk, if you're in the mood for extra calcium!) and drank away! It was definitely yummy, and you should give it a try sometime! Like I said, I sipped this while in an ice bath! Or, at least my wimpy version of an ice bath...I don't actually use ice! I climb in the tub and turn the water on to the coldest it will go and let it fill up around me. The water is still FREEZING, and it's easier for me to adjust to the temperature as it sneaks up versus an initial total plunge. I'm actually pretty good at ice baths as long as my toes stay out of the water...I can't stand cold toes! I stayed in for about fifteen minutes while reading the new Runner's World (woohoo!).

PS If you want to check out my wonky (is that a real word?) thumb nails, look closely in the picture. I've done a little reading about it, and I think they might be like that forever. Get your iron, kids!

The rest of my day involved walking around a little town (about an hour away from my house) looking at cute shops with my mom! Walking is also good for recovery, so two thumbs up for that. We found lots of various flavored soaps, more decorations than you would know what to do with, and a visit to Great Harvest! My mouth drools when I see Great Harvest bread on Kath Eats Real Food, and I knew there was one in the town we were visiting, so we had to make a trip there! They were soooooo nice there! They cut off huge chunks of different breads so I could try them. We ended up bringing home a loaf of Popeye bread, which has parmesan, peppers, spinch, and so so good! My mom has celiac disease, and she had heard that they make gluten-free bread, so she asked them about it. The guy who was helping us said that, yes, they have it, but they usually only bake it on Wednesday. However, someone had ordered a loaf and hadn't picked it up, so they had an extra. Since it was two days old (which is really no big deal), he gave it to us for free! How often does that happen?? Like I said, it was a great experience, and I wish they were closer!

Time to actually make the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I talked about (twice!) earlier this week...and then tomorrow is a fun day of wedding dress shopping with one of my best friends from high school! I haven't seen her in over a year, so it will be fun to help her pick out her dream dress! Have an awesome weekend, and Happy Easter and Happy Passover!
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Running Story

So, someone commented on my post the other day, asking how I got into running/marathons. Well, ask that question, and you will open a can of you get to hear my whole running story! You might want to grab your favorite beverage and kick up your feet…this is a long one!

In the beginning…

I've been running since the seventh grade (1997!), when I joined the junior high cross country team. What motivated me to do this? Was it the awesome gym shorts we ran in? My undying love for running? Just something to do in the afternoon? None of the above, actually. You see, throughout my entire childhood, I always admired my older brother, and therefore wanted to do everything that he did. This included, but was not limited to: watching him beat the entire game of Mario Brothers on Nintendo, "helping" him bake (this meant I was on clean up duty), playing the trombone, taking German as a foreign language, and yes, joining the cross country team.

Junior High – Let’s Get Physical

I don't think I ever really thought about whether I would like it or not, I just did it. I had been to multiple of my brother's cross country/track meets, and it's not that he was a super-star or anything. (He went to the state meet in relays as a sprinter...distance was never his thing, but he just liked it and it helped keep him in shape.) It seemed like an okay thing to do, and if my brother liked it, then I would too! It had worked out so far in life, so I figured I’d go with it. In junior high cross country, girls run 1.5 miles in races. I laugh at this distance now, but that was some SERIOUS mileage back in the day. I was happy if I ran the whole thing, although in actuality I took many walk breaks. (As a sidenote, we always did our pre-race stretches while singing Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical"...awesome.) I have no clue what my times were like, although I assure you they weren't blazing by any means, and I usually came in somewhere around the middle to end of the pack.

Although I wasn't that great of a cross country runner, I was an awesome track runner! The 800 and 1600 were my events of choice, and I usually placed in the top three or four. Let's forget the fact that there were usually only four-five girls in those races. My goal in the 1600 was to not get lapped by the lead girl from our team (our track was five laps to the mile), and I really wanted to break seven minutes...something I never did in junior high. However, I guess I didn't hate it, so onto high school we go.

High School – The faster we run, the sooner we’re done!

Let me tell you that high school cross country was a HUGE step up from junior high. We actually ran more than two miles in practice, and our coaches seemed to know what they were talking about and were runners themselves! Imagine that. Practice started at 6 am two weeks before school started, and I barely made it through those first two weeks. My legs hurt, I was so out of shape, and I didn't really have any friends on the team. Between all those factors, I wasn't enjoying myself at all, and I almost quit. However, I wasn't sure what else I would do with my time. (I was kind of lying to myself...I was still in band, but that, for the most part, wasn't an after school activity.) I figured it had to get better, so I stuck around. Good thing I did!

Freshman and sophomore year cross country weren't really anything to write home about. I remember running maybe in the top quarter of the JV team, and my times weren't too bad for the 2.5 mile course we ran. I wasn't quite as neurotic as I am about keeping track as I am now, so I don't know what my times were like! Freshman year, I played softball (my other love!) for my high school instead of running track, but I quickly learned that I should stick with park district softball instead of high school. It was more fun, and I was much better at I joined the track team sophomore year. I ran the 800, 1600, 3200, 3200 relay, and the mile relay if my coach wanted a good laugh. Breaking a seven minute mile was no longer ad issue, and I spent sophomore year chasing down the six minute barrier. I remember running 6:00.02 once...and then in the last meet of the season, I finally ran 5:58. Woohoo!

Onto junior year! What a year. Cross country was, again, nothing to write home about. I was usually near the top of the JV team, and I thought that I was setting myself up for a pretty good track season. However, when track season rolled around, I was always tired...I would fall asleep during movies in school, fall asleep doing my homework, and while fartleking in practice, my "fast" was a jog, and my "slow" was a walk. No matter how hard I tried, running was impossible. My coach finally pulled me out of a 3200 during indoor track and told me I wasn't racing again until I went to the doctor. The doctor sent me to get some blood drawn, which led to the discovery that I was incredibly anemic. The nurse asked me what I did in school, and I told her I ran track. She responded with, "Running?? I don't even know how you're walking right now." I don't remember what my hemoglobin was, but I know they were close to giving me a blood transfusion. Instead, I was put on a massive daily dose of iron. It took a little while to rebuild my iron stores, and my junior year track season was never salvaged, but I eventually felt better and could finally run well come summer. (My thumb nails, however, have yet to recover. They became super ridged when I was anemic, and no matter what my iron status is, they don't change.)

I continued to take the little green iron pills, and my running friends would ask me if they could borrow them since I started running so well. During all summers in high school, I did "summer running," which meant running at six in the morning Monday through Friday. All other summers, I ran with the JV girls, but the summer before senior year, I could hang with the varsity girls and was put on the varsity roster when the season started. We considered this a victory for JV girls, as one of "us" made it into one of "them." I had a pretty good season, running "top seven varsity" in the big Saturday invitational meets. We even made it to the state meet that year. They changed distances my senior year, so girls ran three miles instead of 2.5. I believe I broke twenty minutes once, although there was a whole ordeal with that race so I don't have any official time. Somewhere around 19:30-ish. Anyway, the stars weren't quite aligned for me, as the night before the conference meet, I pulled a muscle during marching band rehearsal and couldn't run for the rest of the season. I missed the entire state series and had to cheer my team on from the sidelines. I was so disappointed because...hello?? Who hurts herself during marching band? Seriously. Believe it or not, the world kept on turning.

Senior year track! My coach finally took me seriously and realized that I was a hard worker and was worth investing some time in. I also realized that I was a pretty good runner myself, which is something I wish I had figured out sooner. I really began to do well in the 1600 and 3200, and I discovered that my calling is in longer distances. My PR in the 3200 ended up being 12:34, and in the last race of my high school career, I ran a PR of 5:40 in the 1600. There were certainly plenty of people ahead of me, but those are pretty respectable times and I was happy with them.

College – They have hills in Maryland! I didn't run for a team in college, so it was just up to me to hit the roads. I wasn't running the five to six days per week that I was used to, but I still got out there fairly consistently, give or take. During the first few weeks of school, I ran around campus, trying to figure out where everything was. (I usually got lost and then would remember that I’m from the Prairie State whenever I encountered a hill). My running picked up a bit when I met my boyfriend (on a band trip!), as he is a runner, and many of our first "dates" were going running together. He turned out to be a pretty good running buddy, as our paces were similar enough for every day running. We ran together through most of college, doing a lot of 4-8 miles runs, I'd say.

My races in college were pretty limited. I ran a 10k on a whim in 46:28. My friend and I did a half marathon together (that we didn't train for...oops), and we ran 2:05. I did the Cherry Blossom 10 mile with no race specific training, and I ran 1:17:47. A 5k here or there, running somewhere in the 23-ish range. Between marching/pep band (weekend commitments galore!), limited training, and the cost of races (I'm cheap), I never really got around to running many races. However, one of my cross country friends from high school did the Chicago Marathon our junior year of college, which got me thinking...I could do a marathon too! I became obsessed with reading about training, reading about running, reading about marathons...That's when I found the Runner's World forums and would spend tons of time reading through all the posts. The more I read, the more fun it seemed…My boyfriend thought I was crazy.

The end of junior year, I signed up to run the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon. I used Hal Higdon's Beginner program, getting my mileage up to 40 miles/week and doing one 20 miler. I read about hydration, gels, pacing, etc, but I don’t think any of it really hits until you’re doing it. I tried to choke down a gel during a training run, but I thought it was disgusting and moved onto shot blocks. Still not my favorite, but I decided to go with them for the marathon. I took a gamble signing up for this marathon, as the football schedule had yet to be released. When it was, I found that we had a home football game the day before the marathon, and since I was in the marching band (remember, I’m cool), I was going to be on my feet (in a wool uniform, carrying a trombone, standing, cheering, playing) for at least eight hours the day before my marathon. To make matters worse, it was announced the week of the marathon that our kickoff for the game was to be at 7pm. I had hoped to be in bed around then! Luckily, my band director was also running the marathon, and I ran into him at the expo, where he asked what time I planned on running. I told him maybe 3:40 (Boston, anyone?), and he said I wasn’t going to run that time if I stayed at the game, so he told me I could leave after our halftime show. Note: This still meant at least six hours on my feet. Not ideal conditions, but what can you do?

Mini marathon weekend recap: Lunch with boyfriend’s parents (where his mom told me not to die, essentially), pre-game marching band rehearsal, marching, more marching, football game, halftime, go home, stuff face with more pasta, find out football team lost, bed, wake up, run 21 miles, essentially hit the wall (maybe?), finish marathon (yay! 3:51!), feel awesome for about an hour, vomit fest 2006 (boyfriend thought I was dying), home, soup, bed.

Post-College – aka dear college, please take me back

I contribute missing Boston by 11 minutes to marching the day beforehand. Again, band interfering with my running…You think I would have learned. However, this meant that I was soooo close, and I could definitely do qualify on my second marathon! Registered for the 2007 Chicago Marathon, followed Hal Higdon’s Beginner plan again. Had plans for an awesome, Boston-bound marathon until HEAT WAVE 2007 struck. What a miserable day. Any plans for Boston were thrown out at the half, and the good part was that I still finished…before the race was cancelled.

In January 2008, I started a crazy we-cram-two-years-into-one-year nursing program, so I decided to take the year off of marathoning. I still ran 20-35 miles per week, depending how many exams I had (I remember having a quiz/test for all but three days in February. FUN.), and how the weather was (it was an ungodly cold winter). My boyfriend, however, got over his “marathons are crazy” idea when his grad school friend asked him to run a marathon with her. (I guess it’s crazy only when I do it? What?) Anyway, he finished his first marathon in 3:23. Well, I can’t be topped like that, so guess what my new goal is?? Not only must I qualify for Boston, but I must beat his time…obviously. I’m not sure I’m planning on doing that this time around, although it is definitely a longer term goal. Competition is good in relationships, right?

So that’s where we are now. I’m training for my third marathon, and I definitely hope to qualify for Boston this time around. Third time’s the charm! If not, I will do a fall marathon to attempt again. (I really want to run Boston 2010 because I like nice, even numbers, so 2010 is perfect, and it’s the 114th running of it, which is also an awesome number. Yes, I’m weird.) I’m not sure what my others goals are. I’ve never trained for/raced a half marathon, so I wonder how fast I could go. I haven’t really trained for any sort of shorter distance since high school, so it would be interesting to see what I could do. Additionally, I haven’t swam laps in a long time, or ridden my bike that often, but I think it would be an amazing challenge to do an Ironman. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

And that, my friends, is my running story. If you stuck with me to the end, thanks and congratulations! I hope you enjoyed my life as runner, and I hope to be running long enough to rewrite this in ten, twenty, thirty years from now! (Or longer…)

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Honey Stinger Chews = Yummm

Rest day today! And I have the day off work...fantastic. However, when I don't do either on any day, I feel really blah since I'm used to doing some kind of physical activity every day! I woke up and tried Power Yoga #3, as well as doing some crunches (bikini season is coming...slowly...but it's coming!). This was my second time actually doing yoga, and I was smart in using a "beginner" version this time. Some of the poses were harder to hold, but I liked when we would "flow" through poses pretty quickly. I like to be's more interesting to me than holding positions. Maybe I'm not meant for yoga?

And let's not even discuss the oatmeal I tried to make this morning. FAIL. I hope my toaster works again soon.

In more delightful news, these babies were delivered by the mailman today:

Honey Stinger Energy Chews!! I ordered a twelve pack, which should last me to the marathon. I've only had the Cherry Blossom flavor, but I went ahead and ordered Fruit Smoothie, which includes cherry, orange, and berry flavors. I'm excited to use them on my long run this weekend!

Also, you can see Gatsby (my lucky elephant!) and Hobey Baker (a tiger from Princeton dressed up like the hockey player...I also have a Woodrow Wilson one...thanks boyfriend!) in the background. :)

Tonight's agenda includes: my first time making black bean burgers (!!) and actually baking those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that I never got around to yesterday!

Stay tuned for a post on how I got into running, which I'll do tonight or tomorrow...I know you're on the edge of your seat waiting!

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Questionnaire Time!

Sarah over at the Skinny Runner sent me this survey. The rules are:
1.) Fill it out
2.) Change one question with one of your own
3.) Add an additional question
4.) Send it to 3 people.

1. What are your current obsessions? I suppose running is an obsession, since I do it or something related to it every day. Additionally, JOB HUNTING is something I dedicate an obscene amount of time to. I've applied to almost 100 jobs...don't mention the nursing shortage to me, thanks. On a positive note, I was obsessed with watching Gilmore Girls, and I just finished all seven seasons a couple weeks ago. The plus side of not having 40 hours/week employment.

2. Which item from your closet are you wearing most often? Either my serving uniform (boring!), or my Nike black stretch comfortable, and they look nice enough to go in public in. I consider that a win in my book.

3. Last thing you bought for myself? Yesterday I ordered a twelve pack of Honey Stinger Energy Chews from Running Warehouse (dot com!). Yum! To be a little more exciting, I bought a new shirt over the weekend, as well as a cute pair of shoes. Now I just need to find somewhere to wear them...I'm more of a "flip flops go with everything, including my prom dress" kind of girl. True story.

4. What’s for dinner? Most likely leftovers from last night's BBQ chicken salad. With some fruit on the side...and a roll, if I didn't eat them all yet. FYI...make this salad! It was soooooo good! I added cucumber and red pepper (a salad isn't a salad without cucumber...), and put some pepper, garlic, and soy sauce on the chicken. Super tasty.

5. Say something to the person who tagged you: I'm new to your blog, but I love it so far! I'm totally jealous of where you live, and don't we all want to be a skinny runner??

6. What is one item you could not live without? Umm that's a tough one...I'm not too attached to "stuff." However, if my parents disappeared, I'm not sure what I would do.

7. Vacation spots you must visit before you die? I want to visit so many places!! I've never been to eastern Europe, I'd love to check out Russia, China, Japan, AUSTRALIA, South America, Africa (to see elephants!!)...everywhere! I don't know which places I MUST visit, but there are definitely tons I'd love to go. IF anyone wants to send me on an all-expenses-paid trip, I won't argue! All that being said, I could go to Rome any day of the week and be ridiculously happy.

8. Three things to do before you die:

a. Run Boston! Or, it'd be fun to be a pacer to help people meet their goals.

b. Live happily ever after. (I'm a princess...right?) No really...husband, kids, all that jazz.

c. Figure out how to combine nutrition/nursing/health/fitness in a career...and actually do it. Or at least volunteer to do it.

9. What are you reading right now? I'm in the middle of Memoirs of a Geisha, and I just checked out In Defense of Food from the library.

10. What is the last movie you saw and enjoyed? Rate it out of 5 stars. Hahha um, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Don't laugh! Okay, laugh, but I'd read all the books so I figured I might as well see both movies. They were pretty good! Nothing inspiring or super deep, but entertaining. Four out of five stars. I'm easily entertained.

11. What’s your guilty pleasure? Ice cream! I eat it almost every day. So so so so so good.

12. What’s your favorite smell? Oh dear, I'm not sure! Home made cookies just out of the oven...or the smell of onions cooking! Anything that reminds me of summer...lemonade, people grilling (except not when I'm running), pools...

13. Best thing you ate or drank lately? I usually get an "Orchard Valley Roll-up" from work, and I had it for lunch's chicken, bacon, onions, and brie cheese in a wheat tortilla with a honey dijon dipping sauce. Yum! The best part is eating half today and having half for lunch tomorrow! Double the yum.

14. Care to share some wisdom? I cut this out from a newspaper since I like ice cream so much, but it's really a good one, "My advice to you is not to inquire why or wither, but just enjoy the ice cream while it's on your plate." Compliments of Thornton Wilder. And, compliments of my junior year of high school English teacher, "Boredom is an act of choice."

15. Describe one of your happiest moments. After I graduated from college, my roommate of three years and I took a three week tour of Europe to celebrate graduation/prevent us from being separated for just a little longer. We went through a tour group, so most of the planning was done for us...we were just there to have fun! It was so exciting and fun to be in a new country every day or two, and we didn't have much of a worry in the world. It was definitely a happy three weeks.

16. What was your best Halloween costume? I was GI Joe in kindergarten. Made my mom proud. However, she did make my costume and even put camo face paint on me. I didn't understand why I couldn't take my brother's fake rifle to school with me as part of my costume. I was five.

17. What do you have an addiction to? Maybe the internet...Diet Pepsi...Ice cream! Although I could probably get by without any of them if I wanted/needed to.

18. What do you do that you would be embarassed for others to know about? I *love* to dance around my room to music (or sing in the car!)...I just hope no one can see in my window because although I think I'm a rockstar when it comes to dancing, not everyone shares my opinion!

Alright, tag time! I tag:

Mica of MicaPie
Wiggs of The Beholder
Jess of Run-Girl-Run


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