musings on running, life, and everything in between


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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Catch up

It’s the end of semester, so it’s been hectic. And I’m behind on everything. Almost to the end, though…just a few more days.

Last week was all about hills and trails. To stave off the growing gloom (or “The Nothing” a la Neverending Story as I’ve been calling it), I tried to get out into more natural sunlight. That meant some running on Waterfall Glen and the Salt Creek Trail. The Waterfall Glen Run was gorgeous, perfectly clear sky, warm (50’s!), and quiet. I couldn’t help but play tourist and snap a bunch of pics.  

There were surprising bits of bright green. I think nature is confused by the spring-like weather.

  It’s funny how things can look different with small changes. I usually run the loop counter-clockwise, which admittedly, is the “easier” way to handle the hills. This time, I decided to try something different and run it clockwise. Wow, big difference. For one, it felt like I was going up hill quite a bit more. According to the GPS, looks like it was! (I ran an out and back so that’s why the elevation map takes a big dip in the middle and is mirrored after that).

The scenery also looked new to me and I paused at some of the forks in the route, confused. It felt new to me to run it differently. Sometimes it’s good to mix things up 🙂  Gets you out of your normal rut!

I’ve been trying to enjoy the smaller things more as well. The other week was the most gorgeous sunset I’ve seen. I felt a bit silly, but I actually stopped and pulled over to take a picture of it (safety first, friends). It was funny because a cyclist headed in the other direction also stopped, walked across the street to the park, and took a picture. I grinned, and he responded, “How can you not?!”

I had a trail race Saturday (my first! but race review will be another post) so I decided to do my long run Friday. I didn’t feel like running the neighborhood blocks so did it out at Salt Creek Trail. And look! I found a section of real trail! I realized I usually don’t run that far out (or I haven’t lately) so I’ve missed the sign previously. Turns out it’s only 1.1 miles, but it was still fun to see unpaved bits out there.

It’s no Waterfall Glen, but the Salt Creek has its own tiny hills…

Finally, I did my first trail race, the Hateya Trail Race in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It was very funny, if a bit bloody. But you’ll have to hang around next post for the race recap.

Between that (there was an optional river crossing, which I took) and the very rainy cookie run my running group did, I spent much of this weekend with wet running gear and shoes on. I think it might be time to break in a new pair of shoes. I did a bit of research and bought a pair of Altra Superior 2 trail shoes. I might start breaking them in today. They’re my first Altra’s so I’ll let you know how that goes!

Anyhow, friends. I hope you’re hanging in there. It’s a tough time of year, but my runs have been saving me. So get out there!

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Battling Fatigue & Re-prioritizing

This last week or so has been an interesting shape-shifting one of trying new things, RE-viewing (as in viewing differently), and trying to figure out what makes everything work for me. I’m working on viewing things positively to off-set the doldrums, but it’s a struggle. And as we move into the bleakness of the winter, I know I’m not alone in my resistance to that internal and external darkness.

I got a chance to go for a gorgeous long run (10 miles) Saturday with a great group of ladies. I think it may have been Jenny’s first real run back with a group on one of the long runs! It was actually still sunrise when we started at Waterfall Glen, but the sun came up quickly and gave us some gorgeous clear blue skies. It was nice to mix up the usual folks I’ve been running with, get out into nature, and not have to do an out-and-back run. The hills were also different. I can’t say that I loved them, but you know, good for you, etc etc. This first photo is one of my favorites, and definitely reminds me that shadows can only exist alongside light.

The obligatory potty stop. Ah, the sexiness of runners. The leaves are still hanging in there, so great colors still enclosing us. Between that and the bright sun, I know this is probably one of the few opportunities left before we go brown and grey. It really was a blessing to get out there on that day.
I actually ended up bringing up the rear with Erin, who kept profusely apologizing for holding me back. I had no desire to go any faster, though. Jenny can’t pace for her life, ha, so she’s always sprinting ahead. She’s fast, and i wasn’t feeling it. So I let the rest of the group pull ahead, while Erin and I kept it right under 9:30. Here’s a pic of Erin waving by to the speedier ladies 🙂It was great to run with Erin as she tends to run super-early with Patty so I don’t run with her much. It also reminded me how restrictive training plans can be when you have to hit certain distances and paces and can’t run with others. I decided it was good to enjoy the runs lately for what they are before training starts up again. I think alot of people face post-race doldrums, and maybe some of it is that, but I’m also trying to really shift my feelings about it. Jen was complaining to me recently that she felt aimless without a plan. While I still feel a little panicky when I look at my calendar and I have no idea what to run, I also feel a freedom in just running as slow as I want. Or doing yoga instead of running. And really just trying to listen to my body. Although, I have to say that I slept funny and my back was tight. I tried to do yoga and 15 minutes in, I think I strained it more. Maybe I should just stick to running after all…

One of the pluses and minuses of Waterfall Glen is that there is water. But it’s a hand-pump and the water tastes like metal.

In other news, my experimenting with diet to combat depression/fatigue continues. I decided that I would try cutting wheat and almost all sugar first to see how I feel. I don’t like the wholesale cutting of grains most diets have you do (especially since not all include gluten), but I’ve noticed that when I eat whole wheat breads, my stomach feels queasy (but not white bread. go figure). This meant, I was pulling out a new tool to cook my spaghetti squash. My parents gave me a pressure cooker when they moved out of state. I’ve never used one. And actually, they said they got it as a gift years ago and had never used/opened it either. HA. I was looking at the Nom Nom Paleo website for some new recipes and saw one for cooking spaghetti squash with a pressure cooker. One thing I dislike about spaghetti squash is the cooking time for it. Using a pressure cooker cut my time in almost a third. Win. And it wasn’t too hard to use! I’ll have to explore more uses for it. I will say, the idea of a pressure cooker is a bit nerve-racking for me. I’m a clutz and over hurried, so I kept envisioning an exploding pot because I didn’t latch something correctly. Fortunately, this did not happen…this time.
I’m not sure this diet is “working” in that I feel less tired/depressed, although most elimination-type diets recommend at least 21 days for any real results. I was actually complaining to someone recently about how it seems like I have alot of things I have to keep in place to deal with fatigue, depression, and general life. And she helped me by re-examining it as the opportunity to live life to the fullest, to do everything you can. We only have one life to live (that we know of anyway!). Instead of seeing it as a burden of one more thing to do, look at it as an opportunity you get to engage in. It sounds great in theory, but it’s different in practice. Still, I found it interesting to think about.

I think all of this internal stuff has gotten me thinking about what is important to me, what the point to what I do is, and what I find rewarding. It’s easy to get wrapped up in competition and numbers and how you’re constantly failing compared to someone else. I realize, though, that you are the only one to live your life. You live in your own head, and you get to dictate the terms of what that space looks like. I can be as crazy as I want and run my mental hamster wheels, or I can refuse to engage in that spinning wheel of death. It’s funny, I’ve recently been thinking about re-reading Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” and someone brought it up in class last night. His odd passive yet resistant response of “I would prefer not to” is an interesting one. It’s an odd story, but I do think about how we can choose to NOT engage. There is always an option.

Anyone else read that story? Thoughts on engaging or disengaging with the mental noise?

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Sad Zombies, Run!

I was running the other day thinking about sadness. I wrestle with depression and have for a very long time. It’s been awhile since I’ve had any significant reoccurrences of it, but there’s one looming that I’m fighting. Interestingly enough, there have been a couple popular culture intersections about the importance (?) of sadness, which I realize is NOT the same thing as depression, but bear with me.

I went to watch Disney/Pixar’s film Inside Out, which is about a little girl (Riley) who moves cross-country with her family and the various emotion entities that are part of her identity–specifically: joy, sadness, disgust, anger, and fear. They take turns being in charge, but joy is the most dominant emotion/entity. Without getting too much into the plot, joy and sadness get lost in a part of Riley’s brain/psyche and have to find their way back. In the meanwhile, Riley has some serious mood swings as the other emotions take turns trying to be in charge, and it isn’t going well for her.


Image from from Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out

At one point, joy and sadness–polar opposites obviously–have a falling out and joy has the opportunity to leave sadness forever behind. And she does.


From Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out

But only for a short time, as she realizes that sadness also has power and a purpose to play in all of our lives. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but it was a surprisingly moving film and one I’d recommend. My son, who is averse to movies, loved it and asked to watch it again. I read an interview with the director, who said he did alot of research and consultation with psychologists about what emotions to include and the science behind our personalities.

This brings me to my other connection about sadness and one that is actually running-related. I’ve heralded my deep deep love of the running app, Zombies, Run to anyone who would listen. For those uninitiated, it’s an app that is part audio-book, part running motivation, part genius. Season 4 was $7.99 for all of the updates, missions, etc. totally worth it. It takes place in a post-zombie apocalyptic world, and you are Runner 5. You are part of a community, Abel Township, that is struggling to survive. As a runner, you bring back supplies, people, and other missions as needed. The audio clips play “live,” as if you were really Runner 5 and all the people are talking to you directly, etc. There’s quite a big of governmental intrigue, mad scientists, and love involved.

The clips, which are probably only about 1-2 minutes) play every 5 minutes or so (although you can adjust this), and then it works with your music for the gaps in between (and it’s great because it can now work with other music apps you have like Spotify or RockMyRun. Before you had to have playlists specifically on your phone). It’s even got specific race-length missions, and even a 5k training app. On your runs, you pick up various supplies. You can turn this feature on or off, so you can be alerted every time you pick up a sports bra (there’s an unwieldy number of sports bras in the zombie apocalypse) or medicine or whatever else. You can then use these supplies to build your base. There’s a virtual base where you build houses, farms, etc. The more supplies you pick up, the larger your Abel township gets. There’s a whole virtual community online, and people submit pictures of what their Runner 5 or Sam Yao or any other character looks like. Since it’s Radio, you have to use your imagination!

I was recently able to get the fourth season–woohoo! It’s what got me running through an entire winter several years ago–my first all-outdoor run winter. You look forward to the runs as you want to find out what happens next. There’s even a “zombie chase” feature if you want to incorporate intervals into your run! I often joke about having no concrete skills to offer in the post-apocalypse. This app offers me the hope of at least being a runner, haha.

Anyhow, without giving away too much about the storyline, one of the main points of conflict is a character who wants to mind control everyone left on the planet so that they can be blissed out and happy all of the time. No suffering. No one wants to be mind controlled, though, right? And how can there be true happiness if there’s not suffering to make it all the sweeter? When I think about the lobotomies or electric shock therapy people used to try and “cure” depression, I shudder. The lengths we go to try and cure ourselves. But perhaps it is a delicate balance of sadness and joy. I don’t know. Feel free to field advice my way.

Ok, on to the real running bit of this blog. I went with more braids yesterday for the long run. Corn rows–or recently I found someone called them Dutch braids.

Anna and I went out to Waterfall Glen yesterday, and those hills and the humidity kicked my butt. I had to cut the run short from 12 to 10. I thought about forcing myself to gut out 2 more, but I was tired. And I have 20 this weekend. I will actually have to chop up the 20 as I have a half marathon Saturday evening (the Full Moon Half in Kohler, WI). I’m opting for running 7 earlier in the morning instead of trying to run 7 before and then racing the last 13 (*shudder*). I have mixed feelings about chopping up my first 20 for this training cycle, but it can’t be helped. The only other option I could think of was to run Thursday and then just race Saturday, but that also seemed unpleasant…Either way, it’ll be a learning experience. 🙂

It was a tough run, so I decided to treat myself to some compression. I love these Lunatik Athletiks rainbow Zuza socks.

More attempts to eat healthier. This was essentially a garbage salad. Romaine and spinach with peppers, white beans, leftover lentil salad from the previous night, and leftover guac. It was ok. Our household is working on not wasting food so garbage salads work.   Anyhow, it’s finally Friday. Have a great long run and weekend! Wish me luck on the half (pipe in with your experience if you have any with chopping up long runs or this race in particular), and share your advice on how you deal with depression.

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Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Race Recap

I did the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Race this weekend at Waterfall Glen (obviously) in Darien, IL. It’s right by Argonne Labs, as a point of reference. Waterfall Glen is a crushed limestone loop through forest preserve, which is just under 10 miles. It’s surprisingly hilly and rather pretty with open grassy areas, more wooded sections, and some small bodies of water. There are some horse riders on the trail at times. I’ve actually never seen one, but I’ve seen “signs” of their passing (ewwww). There are also a fair amount of mountain bikers and cyclists who share the wide path. I think there are some paths that are more grassy/”real” trail, but I’ve not done those sections so I have no idea. There are some offshoots of the main path that I don’t venture on for fear of running more than i need to, haha.

I actually had 16 miles on the training plan–10 at marathon pace, so having a 10 mile race on that day was fortuitous in terms of helping me work on the “race pace.” However, that also meant I had to tack on miles before and/or after. I decided to do 5 or so before and a short cooldown after.

I didn’t do the packet pickup (a friend in BFF did it for me), so I can’t speak that much to it. They offered it at three different locations in the Chicago metro area, which was pretty awesome/convenient, though. I was surprised, though, that when I got my stuff, it was just the shirt and bib. There weren’t even any safety pins, and as far as I can tell, no goody bag either (virtual or otherwise). Someone said that they thought all the money went to the Lagunitas beer afterwards, but as a non-drinker, that’s pretty disappointing. This was F3’s first year running the event (it’s been directed by a variety of other people before), so I’m a little surprised they didn’t offer a discount code for one of their other races.

Anyhow, I decided to do 5 miles before the race and headed out of my house around 5:30 (it’s about a 20 minute drive from home). The race started at 7:30, so I figured I’d give myself an hour and a half to get my 5 in, do my business (ahem), and line up for the start. It’s always vaguely paradoxically inspiring and depressing to get up before/with the sun (BTW, I got a new phone and the pics are so much better!). I figured I would be one of the first people at the race (except for the organizers obviously), but there was constant flow of cars pulling in when I got there. I did see alot of printed maps out (who deos that anymore?) as people were driving in, so I’m not sure what that was about… Also, the idea of standing around 1.5 hours before a race sounds awful. I decided not to run the same trail that the race was on to keep it novel or whatever, so I hit the roads (I also secretly hoped it wouldn’t be quite as hilly. Yeah, I was delusional). I didn’t see folks as I was heading out for the 5, but I did see alot more as I made my way back. I’m not sure if people were tacking on mileage or if they were warming up, maybe a bit of both. It was a very humid and somewhat warm morning at that time already, so I was pretty drenched by 7 am. Lovely. I also saw the port-a-potty line looked like a 90’s-style Ticketmaster line, so I got in it right away before even looking for my friends. I spent the entire 25 minutes before lining up waiting to get through the line. They need to work on that for next year. Anyhow, if you squint, you can seem me smack dab in the middle of the line with a blue tank and pink compression socks, grey hat, in front of a guy with a maroon shirt (one really nice feature of the race is free race photos! The watermarked ones are from the site. All others are my own).
Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Mile Race -81Because the loop itself is under 10 miles, the race had to start on the grass outside of the trail. There were pseudo-corrals marking people’s paces. They used these to do staggered start times to keep from overcrowding the path, which was good. It’s a little weird starting off trying to hustle by running on bump grass and then dodging under trees to dart onto the path. To accommodate the crowd, the start is at the area for the Argonne childcare center so there’s not really an “official” entrance there. With all the rain we’ve been having, it was a little muddy.

Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Mile Race -4I saw most of my the girls in my running group before the race and started with a bunch of them in the 10 minute corral. We were planning on running faster than that pace but didn’t feel like pushing our way up to the right section. We talked about our race plan, which was none. Ha. None of us could decide how much we were going to push it in terms of pace. Most of them hadn’t run the race or the trail before. We all went out with a “meh” in regards to time. I started out with Margaret, Corey and Amy (both who did Ragnar), and Emily. I ran with Corey and Amy for the first couple of miles and then pulled forward after some of the hills before mile 3.

So here’s the thing. People talk ALOT about Big Bertha and Waterfall Glen. What they don’t tell you is that Big Bertha is not just a single giant hill. It’s a series of rolling upward climbs over a half mile. It’s supposedly only 125 feet, but it feels like alot. Talking to the BFF girls afterwards, I forgot to warn them that. They did the same thing I did two years ago at my first run of the course. They held back because they kept waiting for a single giant hill all the way to mile 8 and then realized they must have finished it. Just to get a sense, here’s my Garmin stats. You can see the start of the climb right before mile 3. All in all, there’s just under 300 feet climbed and lost.


I started the race comfortably around 8:40’s and then just never seemed to budge from there, even though I felt like I was pushing harder. I ended averaging 8:42, and I swear it felt like I was doing race pace. I also kept checking my pace on my watch, and I thought it was pacing me ok. Sigh. This is what happens when you don’t wear a pace bracelet…Mile 7 was the only mile I got within spitting distance of race pace, so I am a bit frustrated and will need to consider what is going on.

The last part of this race that drives you mad is the finish. Again because the loop is short, they had you start on the grass and they have you finish on the grass. That ducking under the trees to emerge off the trail was even muddier by the time you got back. You also had to run back over the grass and even MORE to get to the finish line. If you’re not watching carefully, you don’t see that you have just under a quarter mile of weird bump, muddy grass to loop out and back towards the finish. It’s maddening to run parallel and past the finish to run back to it. In the pic below you can see a string of runners running parallel to the finish out to the far end of the field, and then you can run back down a dirt/gravel path to the finish.   I usually refuse to look at race photos because they are horrible (see the example below). I am tired, exhibiting my bad form of swinging my arms across my body, and look like I am not enjoying myself. This is not something I want to frame and look at to inspire myself about the joy of running. Ha. You can’t see it in this picture, but I finished right behind a couple that crossed while holding hands. The thought briefly crossed my mind to run between them. I know, I am an awful human being. I also didn’t have the energy to kick it in enough though I did steadily gain on them. If you want to see this cute, photogenic couple, though, here you go (

Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Mile Race -761

I’m not 100% sure this woman is the winner, but I think she was (if she was, she had a 1:05 time–compare to my 1:27). I love her picture. She looks like she’s having fun. I swear 90% of the finish pictures I flipped through looking for friends show running as a horrible, painful thing to do. Everyone is stopping their watch, grimacing, or looking completely fatigued. This lady, who I saw running the roads before the race and doing a cooldown on the trail after, looked fresh, joyful, and strong. She’s my role model.  Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Mile Race -382I also saw this photo which has an awesome shirt feature (the woman in the background). If you can’t read it, it says, “I run because I REALLY really like dessert.”

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The post-race was ok. It was buggy and everyone was soaked in their own sweat so we didn’t linger super-long. I didn’t even bother trying to get a massage. Laying prone for mosquitoes to feast on me seemed like a big mistake. There were some awesome popsicles from Johnny Pops, though, which were amazing. AND, we had time to get a cute, pretend-fancy pose photo with most of the BFF girls. 

I don’t remember getting a medal the last time I ran the race two years ago. These were cute, though. They were spinner medals, so the green tree in the middle actually spins around inside. It reminded me of that random time traveling watch thing Hermione uses in Harry Potter. Too bad, it isn’t. I could use one of those 🙂

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All in all, it’s a nice race and a good mixup from your traditional road race. I think they need to work on their port-a-potties before the race. Aid stations and volunteers along the course were great. If you do run it in the future, mentally prepare yourself for the series of climbs of Big Bertha and the weird longish run over the grass  and mud at the end!

In other news, I’ve been recruiting my kids to exercise alongside me. In my attempts to maximize cross-training time and time with children, I convince them it’s fun to do the videos alongside me. Usually they do the first 5 minutes and then just watch. To make it more interactive yesterday, I made them pretend weights to do alongside. Otherwise, they try to use my 5 pounders, and that makes me nervous as I envision squashed toes. The 3 y.o. is doing her fierce face like the women in the video (who she kept asking why they were so angry, haha). 

Also, because I got a new phone, I thought I would let my 5 y.o. use my old one for photos. He has a kiddy camera but it’s so grainy. Somehow he got it in his head to do timed runs back and forth in the house. He asked me to show him how to use the timer on the phone, and I thought nothing of it. And then he started running back and forth trying to beat his time. Ha.

Anyhow, have a great day everyone! It’s a hot sticky one, so take it easy.

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Donuts, deer, and Ragnar

Today was National Donut Day. I took one for the team and ate a donut. Mostly to justify buying more coffee…Dunkin Donuts was giving away free donuts with a purchase of a beverage.

I know, I know, I didn’t buy my donut local or gourmet or whatever. And my coffee was full of sugar and cream (or whatever that white stuff they call cream is). But my local coffee shop only carries the local gourmet donuts on the weekend, and I had both screaming whining children with me in the car on the way to the zoo. So drive-through major chain it was. I regretted not buying the larger size…or maybe double fisting it.

Today was a great day for the zoo. Greyish and cool. This was particularly helpful for my red-headed friend and her milky-white children (on a side note, they are going to attend the Redhead Days festival this weekend. Yup, it’s a thing, and they are a mostly red-headed family, although the palest of that lot is a blonde. She thinks that 3/4 is good enough. Ha). It was a pretty great trip minus the five million schools that all decided to make today their field trip day. We even did a little trail hike that we’d never been on before. Who knew?

It was a sudden turn for the cold, though, as two days ago, we were doing this.

And celebrating the birth of summer like this

But then, you know, it’s Chicago. So it’s cold again today. Sigh. BUT, I did get some hot and hilly training in before the weather dropped. I was able to work out some last minute childcare stuff, get a decent run in, AND try out the Dear Kates (but you’ll have to wait until next TMI Thursday for the review). One of my favorite runs is Waterfall Glen in Darien, IL. It’s crushed limestone, pretty, and you’re forced to run about 10 miles. Oh and there’s a handheld pump. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I headed to Waterfall Glen with the best of intentions, of doing at least 9 miles if not 10. However, my over-exuberance at Orange Theory so quickly on the heels of my tempo run Tuesday was a mistake. My quads were tight and sore, and it was crazy hot (for me). I dialed down my expectations to 3.5 miles out and back. Within that hour, I drank through both bottles on my belt and was fantasizing about more. I saw horse poop, a million dragon flies, a surprising number of walkers, a blue jay, and a deer. I also ran a bunch of hills with sore quads. That sucked. This was nice, though (that’s a small pond in the middle if you can’t tell).

And look! Another (better) picture of a deer! I actually debated taking a picture of the horse poop on the trail, but I thought I’d spare you. I have to say that I was pretty excited to see the finish sign at the trailhead. I was surprisingly sweaty, tired, and thirsty.

Ironically, part of my podcast was about people with chronic blushing problems. Could my face be any redder here?

Thank God you have to work hard for any extra water you want after your run! Yup, they force you to pump your own water from a lovely handheld pump that makes your hands reek of metal. At least the water is cold. And the pump IS a nice shade of blue 🙂Of course, that meant only one thing later in the day. BROWNIE SUNDAE.   

Finally, we are in the single digits for days until Ragnar. So I figured it was time to dig out this box. Yup, when you’ve captained two years in a row, you get a box of random stuff marked “Ragnar.”  And inside, is this magic box of goodness. Streamers, van markers, an ungodly number of glowstick things, random tulle/netting, team magnets, Biofreeze, maps, and batons won from the last two years (second place last year and third the year before). Um, I’m still waiting on some people to pick those up…aaaaaannny day now…Our team theme is “ladies from the 80’s” so that netting might come in handy. I kinda missed the 80’s so it’s all conjecture on my part (I blame my crazy Korean parents. I mean, uh, I bring no shame to my family and my parents were amazing!). 

Anyhow, hope everyone has a great long run this weekend! Oh, I almost forgot. I had submitted a selfie for Another Mother Runner’s Saucony selfie contest. I didn’t win, but I did get our pic up on their page (with Kirstin and Corinna). It’s in the first block, bottom left side. And I do think it’s a good one 🙂

Big plans for the weekend? Redhead Days anyone? Race prep?