RunNerdier

musings on running, life, and everything in between


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Monday Catch-Up Madness 

Last week was rough. I was really, really not feeling training. Like really. And then, my Lauren Fleshman “Believe” training journal serendipitously hit the right spot when I turned the page to the “Hit Reset” photo. Perfect timing. The next couple of pages were all about recovering and taking time to relax. MUCH NEEDED reminder. I actually went to yoga class (bottom left pic) the next day that left me a totally sweat-drenched, stretched out recovering and relaxing runner.

The week was also busy. We celebrated the lovely Patty’s birthday Thursday night. Instead of taking a picture of us, I took a picture of the dessert. Patty decided it was an edible flower and ate it. It probably was an edible flower, but the stem/pistil section of it seemed awfully hard and fibrous compared to the edible pansies I’ve seen so I declined. I’m pretty sure training calls for chocolate 🙂

It was also a little tricky getting in all of my runs since the ankle biters were home on spring break. I have a hard time sitting at home with them, so we made TWO excursions to the Museum of Science and Industry–one of which involved the Lego Exhibit, Brick by Brick. That was pretty cool. I realized I have no imagination for Lego-building though. Pathetic. still, my kids really liked it and there were interactive sections where you got to build and play with Legos. They were probably more excited by that than by any of the actual awesome Lego sculptures.

We also went to the Mexican Museum of Fine Art, an amazing and FREE museum in Chicago. I think my favorite piece was this huge, super-intricate beadwork. I could have stayed staring at it for hours. I was super-mom and even thought ahead to bring paper and colored pencils for the kids to try and copy some of it.

Finally, as my activist-training action for the kids, I took them down to the massive Day of Action on April 1, spearheaded by the Chicago Teachers Union. As a former Chicago Public School teacher, a teacher educator, and having multiple friends impacted both on the K-12 and university level by Illinois budget issues, I felt it was important to go show support. The picture makes it look like it was a great adventure. Alas, t’would be a lie, there was so much whining, complaining, and general irritation. The youngest, who is also a wanderer, also managed to escape into the crowd, was picked up by a cop, and I was called to the stage to get her. Mother of the year. This would be her second time getting lost in a large public space–this happened at the Field Museum a couple weeks prior–and being helped by security to locate her parents. I swear parents would be so much happier if we could chip our children.

Speaking of education, one of my students was demonstrating a reading strategy the other day and she handed out these write-ups. Mine, not sure if it was happenstance or purposeful, was with the word “run.” Love it.

Finally, last long run as a group before Boston weekend. Jen and I are out of town next week and Boston is, insanely, 2 weeks out, so it’s the final group run for our trio (until whatever shakeout run we’ll do in Boston). We decided to go with the hills of the Arboretum. We posed by our favorite sculpture (and those pants I’m wearing are really unflattering, snarf).

Jen and I were also making fun of each other a ton, and I threatened to cut her out of the blog. So instead of tripping each other, we did ridiculous poses showing how we are the best of friends. Ha. We are such great friends that we are going to apply as the two-person “Chasers” for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s weird reality show game, “The Runner.” Because I don’t want to increase the number of people applying, I will make it less easy for you to find the information and not link it. If you’re a runner, though, and have been paying attention at all, you’ve probably seen multiple posts about it already. And if you haven’t, you can use the powers of Google. Hey, how are an academic and a social worker going to make any money otherwise?! We got 6 kids between us to support.

Alas, Patty did not make it into the picture since she was taking it. Kelly (far right), though, who just did an impromptu 50k last weekend, is looking strong! That run was tough, though. We were pelted by hard little bits of snow and a good deal of wind through the whole run. In fact, there was a wind advisory starting right after we finished. Chicago weather has been crazy. It jumped over 30 degrees within 24 hours (and vice versa).

I finally did the math and looked at the actual climb for Boston’s Heartbreak Hill and the climbs from our local runs. Heartbreak Hill is about 95-100 feet climb over a half mile. I’m not sure what the actual math is on the Arboretum hills, but I do know that Big Bertha at Waterfall Glen is about 125 feet of climb over a half mile, so I’m feeling ok about it. Obviously, that’s not been coming at mile 21 of our runs, but still…it’s not quite as insurmountable as thought. See, sometimes the anticipation of something is so much worse than the reality of it.

Anyhow, hope everyone survived spring break if you’ve had it. And good luck if you haven’t yet 🙂 What do you do to recover, relax, and stay in the right frame of mind?


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Hump Day Hill Repeats

Yesterday was rough. I crashed out at 7:30. After sleeping for 10+ hours, I still feel like I could sleep more. There wasn’t anything spectacularly bad, just sheer tiredness. The kind where you want to go to bed and not get out until the next decade. Or at least the next presidential election cycle, right? Sigh.

After dropping off pretty princess at preschool yesterday, I headed to campus and worked most of the day on all the various sundry and unglamorous aspects of professor life. STARTED thinking about some of my writing projects, but only managed to look at my notes and print a few things to get ready. That might need to happen tomorrow as today is filled with a million meetings and a cram session for a faculty book discussion I’m supposed to help lead.

Since I’ve been struggling so much with the speed, I decide to at least do something else different with training to get stronger. I took advantage of being out by Waterfall Glen and decided to go with hill repeats. Sadly, those hills felt/looked much bigger in real life than they do on the elevation map of my Garmin.

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I was going to do all of Big Bertha, but for the sake of time and efficiency, I just decided to do a big hill. Or what I thought was a big hill. Dubious now…Big Bertha is somewhere between miles 4 and 5. It’s about a half mile stretch, I think I got the bottom quarter of it. I didn’t want to spend half a mile doing the downhills because a) it bothered my left Achilles/ankle (I really gotta figure out what’s going on with that) and b) it seemed like too much rest/recovery time doing the downhills.

One of the nice things about the hill was a little overlook at the top so there was some reward for the work.

 

Today’s a rest day. Ideally I would squeeze in a yoga workout, but I think I’m going to have to settle for bringing some of my recovery tools to work (travel stick and foot massage ball) and doing it in between meetings. If I get home before 10, I might do a 10-15 minute yoga stretch routine. Otherwise, it’s too much.

That brings up something I’ve been curious about with ultra running. I stretch myself time-wise to fit in marathon training, and while the 50k seems somewhat more manageable time-wise, everything beyond seems really difficult. I’ve noticed that the bulk of folks who are most active on my trail/ultra running Facebook group are single and/or childless. I’m curious how working moms juggle training for ultras and still parent, work, and not go crazy. I might put it out there. That is definitely one thing that’s prohibitive about training. The other is the amount of traveling that seems involved with getting to races, especially in the Midwest. We only have so much open trail and ultra road races are fairly unpopular it seems. I’m new to all this, so feel free to pipe in with experiences, thoughts, etc. In the meanwhile, I might post on the Flatlanders group for a roll call about working mom ultra runners and how they manage.


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Belated Weekend Write-Up

Ugh, not sure what’s up…maybe the grey? The fickle early spring weather? I’m dragging and this blog-writing has been dragging too. Sigh. My son threw a tantrum yesterday morning that he was tired and just wanted to sleep all day and NOT go to school. #allthefeels He went to school.

The weekend’s run was…ok. 13 miles of trails out at Palos averaging around 10 min miles (with one flight of Swallow stairs). It was great company, but we did 1.5 loops, and that second .5 loop was tiring. The hills felt hillier, the mud muddier. I was just glad Kelly was doing it with me (the others only did about 1 loop). Still, we had a nice little crew out, and it was my first run with Deanna (I think) since the Hateya Trail Race in December (that’s her, third from the left)! And I think my first run with Katie in a year (second from right). Geez, people get busy. Katie’s busy training for a half iron distance triathlon in the fall. Sigh, I still haven’t made it back into the pool since that one time earlier this year…

One of the things I like about trail running is that no one makes you feel like a loser when you walk the hills 🙂

Most of the path was decently dry, but there were definitely some patches that were still bogged down. 

It was nice getting the group together, especially since Laura, Kelly, and I will all be at Ice Age (Laura is doing the half). I was sad to see most of the group break off, leaving me and Kelly to suffer through another 5 miles. I’m not sure if it was the 6 miles I did the day before that left me tired or if I’m just TIRED lately…either way, it’s not doing much for the old self-confidence for Boston. I’m also doing stupid things like looking at my mileage and comparing it to previous training cycles and then berating myself for not running enough.

Sigh. I’m trying to just be in it and just accept where I am, but it’s a bit much right now. For a variety of reasons, I feel pretty checked out from training, work, parenting, life…and I keep dredging the reserves to keep moving and keep doing what I need to, but it’s not great. A friendly recently called me out on some of that behavior and it hurt, but it was also much needed. I can’t keep using excuses of “I’m busy” or “It’s too much” to NOT show up for other people in my life and think I’m “getting away” with it. There does need to be some accountability. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I think I need to find a way to both recharge and re-connect with what I need to do. This is the point where I flash back to those, “Calgon, take me away” commercials of my youth. Ha. A few years ago, I was really working on mindfulness and simplifying. Instead of running around so much like a chicken with its head cut off, I think I need to really slow down and reconsider what I need to do…

We had a pretty open weekend for the first time in a bit, so we decided to go downtown and check out the Field Museum. It was crazy busy, but we got in to see the terra cotta warriors from China exhibit. It was pretty amazing to think that there were thousands of these buried. I was slightly disappointed to see that there were less than a dozen figures on display, but it makes sense. They are over 2000 years old, so I’m sure it’s quite a production just to transport these. I was fascinated to see that they weren’t all the same. Meaning, it’s not like they were stuck in a mold and cranked out. Each figure was different with different facial features, positions, and clothing. Amazing.

They had a mock-up of what they thought these warriors looked like back in the day PAINTED. They weren’t just the raw terra cotta color, but they were painted to look more life-like. I guess there were enough bits of paint for them to reconstruct the appearance. The almost cartoonish brightness of the colors reminded me of the Sistine Chapel when they started restoring the panels. People had assumed for a long time that the somber, dark colors were what they were painted like. When they started restoring them, though, they were startled by how shockingly bright they were. It’s funny to think that the sepia-toned images of history we have get translated into us thinking that’s the color people lived in 🙂

Gotta say, you can’t beat Chicago’s skyline on a blue day.

I was really excited to get Japanese food afterwards at a joint within walking distance. The ramen, sadly, wasn’t as good as it looked in this picture. The broth was super-yummy and flavorful, but the noodles were on the dry side. Still, we don’t often get a chance to eat Japanese since the kids don’t do sushi, so it was a fantastic end to a pretty good day.

The boy also really enjoyed the ramen broth. I tried to convince him to either hold the bowl and drink it (the more Chinese-way) or stoop over the bowl and quickly spoon the broth into his mouth (the more Korean-way…I think, anyway, I could totally be wrong). He decided to go with a completely different method, the straw.


Anyhow, how do you try to juggle things in your life, be present and show up? But also not fry out completely? How do you keep your training fresh? Or at least grounded?


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When your long run sucks

This weekend was the first 20 miler of this training cycle. Because this cycle has been so off, I’ve been dreading this run. Patty and Jen also had not been looking forward to it, and the run took quite a bit of finagling since one of us had childcare issues. All of Patty’s talk about hill training and my final examination of Boston’s elevation map convinced us to head out to Waterfall Glen.

We got a little crew going for our Saturday morning. Ayesha (first from left) only did one loop with us. She’s training with Every Mother Counts for the Big Sur Marathon Relay, so she needed some hills as well. Kelly, second from left, did an earlier loop and ran her second loop with us on our first. She’s also doing the Ice Age 50k.

Here’s a less posed shot, where we look much more excited than we actually felt. Poor Jen got cut off.

The big joke starting out was that nobody had their watch on them (well, none of us that ran the two loops together. Ironically, Kelly and Ayesha did.). I had my Garmin, but for some reason the battery was almost dead. It didn’t really matter as we had a rough sense of the distance, just over 9.5 miles for a loop, but we all know it doesn’t count if it’s not on the Garmin.

The first loop was ok. I was grateful for Kelly’s Garmin as I could tell we were above pace for most of it. I love Jenny, but she can’t pace herself at all and she’s inclined towards speed. She led the group, so I was constantly hollering to pull it back. The Garmin helped validate my sense of pace. We decided to head out on the trail clockwise first, which meant we headed into Big Berth (a 125 foot climb over a half mile, between mile markers 4 and 5) uphill. I’ve found it helps to reverse the route for a second loop to keep things fresh. Knowing that Big Bertha is more uphill clockwise, I opted to have us head into it on our first loop when our legs were fresher. I can not say it helped us tremendously. Sigh. It never felt easy. I never hit a groove with the run. It was just straight plodding. The funniest quote from the run, though, “What the heck is that? It sounds like a fire alarm.” “Frogs.” City kids. The frogs were definitely in a dither heralding in spring for us. It broke up the monotony of the brown woods a bit.

We took a short break at the end of the first loop to send off Kelly and Ayesha, refuel, and take a bathroom break. It took a lot of self-talk, cajoling, and mutual harassment to get going again. For me, it kind of went downhill from there. The whole second loop was a struggle. I felt like I was constantly out of breath, the hills felt like mountains, and I went to a bad place mentally. I also almost had an emergency bathroom break in the woods, but a fellow runner told me we weren’t far from a port-a-potty when she saw me break into the woods. There is a port-a-potty midway along the loop, which we were still at least a mile from (and I couldn’t wait for), but this was one at one of the parking lots less than a half mile from where I stopped. I had high hopes for that bathroom break to renew my spirits. Alas, t’was not to be. After initial sense of relief, it was back to plodding.

I lagged behind the group for a good chunk of the run, and Patty held back with me. I have no idea what pace we were going, but Emily, Jen, and Jenny were pushing faster than I felt I wanted or could go. We were all having a rough time of it, evidenced by the minimal talking on the run (5-7 women on a run and silence? Unheard of!). That trio, though, believes more in the “end the misery faster” school of thought. Whereas, I tend to believe it will be worse if you try to push yourself faster through a tough run. Patty was with me, and we coached each other through walk breaks, hills, and the run overall. She even stopped to take a couple photos of me to break it up 🙂

THIS is where I started really wishing Boston was over. I wanted to walk so much more than I did, but marathoners (at least most of the ones I know) are firm believers in running the distance. Any walking is seen as a cop-out or not “really” counting. Ultra/trail runners seem to follow more of the “time on your feet” thinking, so whether you’re walking or running, you’re moving and covering the ground. I hated that whole battle of “I can do it” and “I want to lay down right now.” Really, without Patty, I think I would have walked the last 2 miles in. Which would have only prolonged the agony. And made me even more insecure and self-doubting, so thanks Patty!

In all honesty, I was having some trouble with the ankles/Achilles on the hills, particularly downhill, so I will be headed to see Craig this week.

I had to laugh, though, when we finally hauled it back in to the trailhead and this is what we saw.

Yup, 21st century folks. 3 individuals tired from a hard 20 milers documenting their tiredness for social media. Gotta love it. I was jealous they got to lay down. And for convoluted reasons, I had to drive Patty’s car home while everyone moaned about feeling nauseous and sharing photos. I drove in sullen depression. Quite a great run.

Most of us, I found out later, lay around the house for several hours in a general nauseated malaise. There were rumors that someone may have thrown up in their mouth during the run as well. God, running is so sexy. Despite all this trauma/drama, most of us were out at a mutual friend’s 40th birthday party. And just to show, I can clean myself up once in a blue moon (literally), here’s a nice shot of me and Jen not running or in sweaty workout clothes.

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I also spent part of Sunday shoving my face full of these delicious dumplings. They’re called wahng mahndoo (that is my phonetic spelling), which translates into something like king dumplings and are sold from a little shack outside of Joong Boo Foods (Korean supermarket) in Chicago. $2 each and they were huge. Of course, I ate 2. The one on the left is black rice with sweet bean, and the one on the right is kimchi. They also had a pork one that was already eaten by one of the kids. So good. I texted my friend when I was at the store to see if she needed anything. She requested 4 dumplings and nothing else when she heard I was there. Ha.

Anyhow, so what do you do when you have a crap run?

a. Ignore it and pretend it never happened (my family’s go-to reaction to anything difficult)

b. Look in the mirror, practice a winner’s smile, and say out loud to yourself, “Gosh darn it, you work hard, you look strong, and people like you.”

c. Give up running altogether as you’ve realized it’s not right for you after all.

d. Moan, groan, and bellyache about it to anyone who will listen, and then move the f* on. It’s a run, not world hunger, or nuclear disarmament. You could even try some Vonnegut on it, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

You can try and guess what I should do. What would YOU do?

P.S. Can we talk for a minute about how daylight savings it the curse of all parents? Got up at 7:30 this morning with one kid missing the bus, so a frenzy of lunch-packing, clothes-changing, and general chaos. Sigh.


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Hilly hump day …

Ok, so after much haranguing, harumphing, and general boohooing, I finally looked at an elevation map of the Boston Marathon. I was totally in that “ignorance is bliss” stage. Not SO ignorant that I didn’t know Boston was hilly nor unfamiliar with the dreaded “Heartbreak Hill.” However, when I finally decided to do some Googling and actually SEE what all the insanity was about, I wasn’t sure I made the right choice. Here’s the comparison between Chicago and Boston by the numbers.

But then, here it is visually (I didn’t even bother attaching an elevation map of Chicago. It’s essentially a flat line…).

Click here for image source

It’s a NET decline…but you can see that there are pretty significant climbs. Now, when you consider climbs, you have to consider not just the amount of climb, but how quickly it happens. I’ve run many a path I thought it was flat on an out-and-back run, and realized that there was a slight decline on the way out, which feels mountainous on the way back. Also, the reason it’s called Heartbreak Hill is that it hits right at the point in the marathon where a lot of people bonk, doubt their sanity, or start crying for their moms. Right around/after mile 20. From the bit I’ve read, people will also trash their legs taking the downhill the first half of the marathon too hard. By the time you get to Heartbreak Hill, you don’t have much left.

That is why I’m glad I’ve gotten TWO, count them TWO, hill workouts in this week. Well, part of last week (Saturday’s long run) and Tuesday’s run. Here’s Kelly’s Gramin elevation breakdown from our Palos adventure.

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It was also GLORIOUSLY warm on Tuesday, hot even, so I decided to be in nature and do the hills of Morton Arboretum. I’m not gonna lie, I was tired and took them too fast. I even did some form drills–overachiever, I know.

Here are some very professional-looking shots of my run… I know my hair looks crazy, but I feel silly enough taking selfies running. To spend time fixing myself to take the selfie when I’m a hot sweaty mess? Meh. As I said to someone last week, I like to keep expectations low so people are amazed when I can clean up 🙂

This picture was to show some of the elevation change at the Arboretum, but the 3-dimensional aspect isn’t quite capture, so it just looks like flat brown grass all the way to the water. I promise it looked hilly.

This “strength” bench is still one of my favorite bits.

You can see from my Garmin data, though…hardly impressive compared to BostonSnip20160309_2

I’m gonna have to get out to Palos more or do interval hill repeats at Big Bertha at Waterfall Glen. Ugh. This whole Boston training thing is draining. Really. Jen and I have been constant Negative Nellie’s about it. It’s not simply good enough to train for a marathon, but you have to do all this extra stuff you’re not used to running as a flatlander. Yes, yes, I know it’s “good for us.”

Boo, I don’t like things that are good for me. And, the insecurity complexes come out when I read about other run bloggers trying to PR at Boston and such. My training mileage is barely breaking 35 miles right now. This coming off of last fall’s training where I was running 55+ miles weekly BEFORE peaking. Patty, Jen, and I are trying to talk ourselves up about the FUN we are going to have at Boston and it probably (at least for me and Jen as of right now) is a “once in a lifetime” experience (although this year’s Boston jacket is so ugly, I feel like I will need to run it again to get a better one. Insanity, right?). Still, I can’t help but wonder if I will feel like a failure if I don’t reach some non-determined goal time. I told Jen last night that we should force ourselves to stop and take photos to “ruin” our end times and not think about the clock. We’ll see.

It IS hard, though, isn’t it? To not compare yourself to other people? Whether it is in regards to running, parenting, or general appearances. It’s a struggle to accept what is right FOR YOU and not for someone else. Long ago, I became a distance runner because I accepted that I wasn’t fast. Then I got a bit faster and started fixating on time and wanting to be “above average” (I’m pretty happy with race times if I’m above the midpoint time, ha). Then, when everyone started running marathons, I felt the need to be “above average” by qualifying for Boston (let’s ignore the fact that the average person does not run marathons, so that fact alone makes one above average…or at least NOT average). And now that I’m training for Boston, I feel a bit unsure I guess. I am NOT going to be above average there. And the more stable-minded, balanced folk reading this might ask, “What’s wrong with average?” Or maybe “average” is relative. I’m not even sure if this makes sense. The mind hamsters on their wheels are spinning and going nowhere, right?

It’s just that lately, even that pressure of getting out and doing the tempo runs or intervals is feeling burdensome, because there’s no clear goal. I am not going to be “above average” at Boston, so then I just want to go out and run now for fun. But I also have a hard time completely accepting that.

So I guess I’m at a crossroads of sorts in trying to figure out my feelings about running and racing (which are NOT synonymous, by the way). I still love running, but I’m trying to figure out what kind of training makes sense for me after Boston. Stay tuned! And feel free to pipe up with your thoughts on mixing things up and trying to figure out your own truth.


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Been too long

Ok, so it’s been the LONGEST time since I last posted. I’m not gonna lie. I’m in a funk. Between feeling burnt out crispy with running, teaching 3 nights a week back to back (for 4+ hours), and the winter, it’s been tough. Just to give you a sense of what that means, here’s an exchange I had with Jen last night. I guess she and Jenny had a discussion about me during yesterday’s long run. I was in DC for the weekend so I did my long run earlier in the week (more on that in a bit).

Do you like how her offer of “taking me out” gets meet with immediate suspicion? Although, on the flipside, do you like how Jen downgraded the “taking you out” part to just all going out? Gotta love my friends, right? But seriously, it’s nice to know that people care enough to make sure I don’t go off the deep end.

I’m in DC for the weekend, really 36 hours for some English teacher conference planning (neeeeeerds, I know). Anyhow, I had the opportunity to meet Tracey last year at the same planning meeting and she was pregnant at the time, but we got to talking about running. We ACTUALLY got to run together this time since baby has since exited the womb and she’s back running. She just did a half marathon last month! Admittedly, she tried to duck me about running early Sunday morning, but I convinced her 🙂 AND, this makes her officially my first running buddy from traveling on the blog. Woohoo! So here we are at the mall. You may remember a similar (solo) picture from this run/trip last year.

And of course, we had to stop by and see the Obama’s. They had coffee ready for us.

And to top it all off for fabulousness, I got a free extra drink after the run! I was asking about the “flat white” drink at Starbucks (not my preferred caffeinated beverage vendor, but the only thing open in our neck of the woods). I’m not sure if they were being very generous or just confused, but I got both my almond milk cap and flat white! Extra caffeine is never a bad thing. Also, I tend to get “fancy” drinks only after a run. I’m all about the black coffee otherwise.

EDITED TO INCLUDE: Ha. I forgot. During our run I saw a black squirrel, and I commented to Tracey that we don’t see those in Illinois, and did they have them in Arizona. “Uh, is that like a groundhog?” So, no, they don’t have squirrels everywhere like the midwest. Furthermore, Tracey said “I run by javelinas and coyotes, is that like the same thing?” Um, no. Differences in running around the country!

Because I didn’t feel like finagling a 12+ mile run out of town when our time was so booked, I decided to do my long run Thursday. To try and shake things up, I decided to head out to the hills and trails of Waterfall Glen. There was a threatened fierce blizzard Wednesday night, but that didn’t really manifest. There WAS snow on the ground, though. You can see some of the path was less travelled than others. It was gorgeous and quiet. Really beautiful, and the sun started to come out. I’ve also been realizing that running in snow might help your form, but that’s another post.

The snow was powdery enough, and the trail was probably clear before the “storm,” so I decided against the Yak Trax and went with my trail shoes. I wish they were more water-resistant as my feet did get wet, but I definitely didn’t find myself missing the Trax. With the exception of some squishing around from the soft snow, I didn’t have much issue running in it. Of course, I also visited one of my favorite port-a-potties. Right around the halfway point 🙂

I also realized that I haven’t run much at Waterfall Glen in the winter. I’ve run it in the fall and early spring, but with all of the snow we’ve gotten the last couple of winters it’s been tricky trying to get any decent running there in February. With all of the foliage gone, though, I stopped around mile 5 because I noticed the foundations of an old building. I think usually there are at least some leaves covering easy viewing of it, even though it’s just a few feet from the path. I think it might be the remains of the Old Lincoln Park Nursery on this map? I did see another building ruin a bit further later on the run as well, so I’m not sure. Still, it was cool to see something that I’ve run by so many times before. Forcing myself to do hill work at Big Bertha? Not cool. But I was channeling my inner Patty Herrera (who’s obsessing about Boston’s hills) to get out there and do it.


I really did need that long run as a break from the routine, and my run with Tracey this morning. This face just about sums up how I’ve been feeling lately, both about running and life in general.

I thought about doing some very bloggery “Top 10 Things to Do to Shake Up Your Run,” but I’m a lazy blogger. So here’s a couple things, 1) Take a break. Cut yourself some slack and go do something else. 2) Try running somewhere new or WITH someone new. If you feel like you’re in a rut or routine, do something to shake it up.

There. I know. Life changing. But get out there and do something. Nobody’s making you run, so if it’s not fun, do something else. Just keep moving.


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Happy National Paczki Day!

I had trouble sleeping last night, so I got up at 5:20 am and headed to the local bakery because today is NATIONAL PACZKI DAY! If you don’t know what a paczki is or don’t live near a bakery that makes them, I am sorry for you. It’s essentially a lighty, airy donut with a filling. For your viewing pleasure, here’s the breakdown of the dozen I got: fresh strawberry, custard, chocolate, and cheese.

If you live in the Chicago area, with its huge Polish population, you  know it’s a big deal. Even knowing that, and knowing the bakery opens at 5 am, I was still taken aback by how busy it was. Line to the door. One woman had even pre-ordered 12 dozen. That’s right, 12×12=144 paczki.

I’ve decided to indulge today and seriously shift my diet starting tomorrow (I know, I know). I don’t own a scale, but I think I’ve gained a little bit of weight. Hardly “racing weight.” So I’m cutting sugar (sigh) and wheat (not grains, but I eat too much wheat and it’s pretty processed–plus I get more creative and veggie-heavy when I cut it. I need to start taking my training a little more seriously. Keep me accountable, folks, and chime in!

Which brings me to training. We did our long run out at Morton Arboretum this weekend. Some serious hills. Well, as serious as you can get around here anyway…

I was annoyed, though, I forgot my Garmin and had to use my Strava. My pace looks like it’s all over the place because a) it was, haha, and b) I didn’t pause it for potty breaks, general confusion, etc.

This lovely crew!

We did a couple loops, and the second time we passed this bench, I made us take a picture. How could I not force a bunch of awesome, strong women NOT pose on it? You can see that some felt “stronger” than others. Ha.

And just to give you a window into how crazy distance runners are, someone in this picture had fallen earlier in the run (don’t text and run over a pothole) and broken two fingers and finished the run without much complaint. She didn’t know it was broken, and none of us took it that seriously. There may have been a doctor in the group as well…although to be fair, she’s an infectious disease specialist. Runners really are insane.

The rest of the weekend was pretty fun. I finished up a multi-week project, reusing all of our old broken restaurant crayons to make Lego crayons for Valentine’s giveaways. Ok, so actually making them was NOT fun (i.e., oven burns are the gift that keeps on giving. The initial burn hurts, but then every time anything other than cold water hits it, it hurts again.), but seeing the end results was pretty rockin’. And usually, I’m the mom that barely remembers to even get cards, but I’d seen something similar (except in heart shapes) and I’ve been itching to find a way to use all the free crayons we get from restaurants, random holidays, etc. I find purging things so satisfying.

We also went to a local establishment for our annual lobster eating. Every year, a bar near us has a lobster special, one whole lobster for $12.99, around Valentine’s. I don’t love lobster, but it’s fun to do now and then, especially for so cheap. My husband, who grew up spending some time in the summer at his grandparents’ place in Maine, LOVES lobster and always goes on about the lobstermen fishing them straight out of the ocean and bringing it to their table. THIS is definitely not that, but it’s an affordable way to eat some lobster and relive some of those memories. We also discovered that the youngest one also likes lobster. And yes, I know that’s not how you really eat lobster.

Anyhow, it snowed an inch or two last night which will probably kick today’s intervals/tempo (2×2 marathon pace miles) indoors. Chatted with Bill today, and he was talking about how important speedwork was in helping you work on form and activate your glutes and such. I’ve been ignoring the speed workouts as I’ve been trying to deal with my various tightnesses and wonkiness, but it’s time to put it back in. I re-shifted the training plan a bit, but more on that next blog. In the meanwhile, happy running!