Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Take Time Tuesday: Blogger Meetup and much much more!

Katie over at Live Half Full is hosting a Take Time Tuesday linkup where each Tuesday, you share some things that you are grateful for.  I am all about this.  Open bandwagon, jump in head-first!

Live Half Full
Where to start?!?!  Where to start?!?!?
This past Sunday I attended a wonderful blogger meetup:
Top row from left to right: Marcia, me, Maggie, Erica, Katie.
Bottom row: Kelly and her adorable dog Napoleon, Lauren.
Photo courtesy of Alissa
Kelly showed exactly why she is the Culinarian as she put together an absolutely incredible brunch spread for us.  I stole this picture from her blog but it really doesn't even do the food justice.
I had an amazing time hanging out and chatting with all of these fabulous women.  I am so blessed to have such a terrific blogger network where everyone brings so many different perspectives and experiences to the table.
On that note, coming soon to my blog near you: a guest post from Erica at Erica FindsErica is from New Jersey, now lives in Chicago, but also spends a lot of time on the West Coast - and she has trained in/run races in many areas across the country.  She will be sharing her thoughts on the regional differences she's experienced while participating in different running communities.  From someone such as yours truly who is incredibly Midwestern (aka a running flatlander), I am super excited for this!
Other things that I am grateful for:
  • Friends, family, and loved ones - as ALWAYS
  • Adam's wealth of experience, knowledge, levelheadedness, and patience - also as ALWAYS
  • My home in the West Loop with all of its great resources and conveniences so close by
  • Running nearly pain-free these last few weeks!  Enjoying my weekly speed workouts and actually seeing/feeling improvement after just a few weeks.  (Instant gratification?  Yes, please.)
  • Getting to explore a new neighborhood in my running shoes, which has deepened my appreciation for the diversity of Chicago's neighborhoods.  More on this soon.
  • Treats!  The boxes of mint-chocolate Oreos and Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies that I have stocked in various places throughout my kitchen.  Ready at a moment's notice in the event of emergency or dire straits.
  • Being able to define "emergency" or "dire straits" however I choose.  Case in point:
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

You only live once. Some more than others.

My first thought of the day needs no introduction:

After spending three years drooling over the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, I finally, finally, finally signed up for it this year.

Despite the three years of droolage, I still spent some time going back and forth on whether or not to pull the trigger.  This was for the sake of my pocketbook.  The race registration fee was $175, which already made me take a deep breath.  But then, add another $13.85 of those stupid Active.com registration fees, and also add another $74 for Adam to attend the post-race party.  I'm not even ready yet to think about the cost of airfare, lodging, and everything else.

All of this just to run a half marathon.  For fun!

I am definitely still experiencing some sticker shock even now.  But I know it'll be worth it once I get to Florida as I really do love Disney.  It'll be awesome to combine my love of running, food, and Disney within the span of one evening.

I'm already starting to keep an eye out for a picture of the 2013 medal, too.  Here's a picture of the medal they gave out last year:

Can't wait to get the 2013 edition for myself!

I am also excited to add Florida to my list of states raced in.  Right now there's a grand total of two (2) states on the list!  (Thank you, thank you, please hold applause.)

On a related note, I think I actually scared Adam the last time we went to Disney.  This is because I take my park visitation strategy very seriously.  Thou shalt never let a good Fastpass go to waste.  Even if it means darting through the crowds while doing my best impression of an NFL running back fueled by speed, agility, and physicality.  And leaving him behind to deal with the blockers.  (Purely hypothetically, of course.)  But that's another story.

"Go wide!!!"

On another related note, and also speaking of running insanity and Disney.  I just heard about the new Dopey Challenge that Disney will be offering in 2014.  As if their Goofy Challenge wasn't enough (running the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday).  The Dopey Challenge entails running a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, the half marathon on Saturday, and the full marathon on Sunday.  That's 48.6 miles in 4 days.

Good lord.  During the peak of my marathon training, I think there were only two months where I ran more than 50 miles within the month.

Too bad they've already created the Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland (a 10K and a half marathon in the same weekend) because I think the 48.6-mile challenge is much more aptly named Dumbo.  But kudos to whoever out there will be able to achieve Dopeyness!  When I said above that we should keep crazy because we only live once?  I guess everyone has a different interpretation of what constitutes crazy.  =)

OK, going back to all of the non-Dopey, non-Goofy, and non-Dumbo peons such as myself!  Unless I sign up for any other halves in 2013 (I'm looking at you, Prairie State), Wine and Dine will be my fifth half marathon in 2013 and my eleventh overall.

Cheers to that!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pi, WGN Blackhawks Live, and double trouble

Happy Pi Day to all!  I know many of you are celebrating today by running 3.14 miles.  I wish you all great Pi runs!!!

I, on the other hand, usually prefer to celebrate Pi Day the more traditional way.

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore...

Actually, I must be a mathematical guru because I've done a traditional Pi Day celebration at least once every few weeks for most of my adult life.  ;-P

Speaking of my life's biggest passions, I was fortunate enough to snag two tickets to a WGN Blackhawks Live radio broadcast event this past Monday.  The two featured guests: Blackhawks forwards Daniel "Car Bomb" Carcillo and Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad.  (Patrick Sharp was originally scheduled to attend, but Sharpie went down with an injury last week so Car Bomb took his place.)

The event consisted of dinner, photo opportunities with the Hawks guests, autographed pictures, and then the live viewing of a WGN radio show with audience-submitted Q&As.

Brandon Saad has become my new favorite Blackhawks player, so I was especially excited to get to meet him in person.

From L to R: Daniel Carcillo, me, and Brandon Saad

Based on what I saw during the event, Brandon is pretty reserved and very down to earth.  During the radio broadcast, he talked about his brother, George, being his biggest influence when growing up.  He described his game-day road routine as just resting and maybe watching a movie. He said he has a weakness for ice cream.  Then when asked if he went out and splurged on anything after finally making it to the NHL, he just said he got an apartment.  (Adam says that Brandon is a true Pittsburgh guy, basically one that never forgets his roots and where he came from.)  I think Brandon is really going to become a huge fan favorite in Chicago, especially amongst the ladies.

Daniel Carcillo, wow!  Car Bomb has a self-described reputation for being a rough, physical player that opponents really dislike.  Therefore, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that he is actually incredibly personable and outgoing.  Carcillo talked about the influence in the NHL and in his career from Gary Roberts, divulged details about his "collapsible" fake teeth, told us about his pet rabbit amidst his Italian family, and shared that his favorite food was bone marrow.  Wow, just wow.  So unique!

The live radio broadcast

I loved seeing how normal the guys were in person (aside from collapsible teeth, of course).  If you saw either of them walking down the street in regular clothing, you might not even recognize them as NHL hockey players.

Overall, the event was awesome but went by way too fast!  I could have sat and listened to Brandon and Car Bomb answering fan questions and sharing details about themselves all night.  It is making me very excited for the Blackhawks Fan Convention in July where there is ample time to hear from the Hawks players and ask them questions, e.g.:

"How you score from the left side?"

OK!  Now on to running updates.  Here's a "run"down of what's going on:
  • I have made it my goal to do speedwork at least once a week.  I did some interval training last Wednesday and last night, and I'm getting into my groove with it.  After such a long period of time away from speedwork, it feels good to crank myself into another gear.  I am excited to see the fruits of the speedwork, hopefully soon!
  • I am attempting to whittle down the number of pairs of running shoes I have.  Therefore, I'm trying to focus more on wearing just one pair of shoes at a time as opposed to wearing whatever random pair catches my eye.  My practice is to retire my running shoes at around 300 miles, and I've got a pair at 255 miles right now.  It's actually become surprisingly motivating to log miles on the one pair and watch the odometer get closer and closer to 300.
  • I just won a free entry to the Chicago 13.1 Half Marathon on June 8, huge thanks to the Chicago Running Bloggers and Maggie!  I ran this race last year and had a great time, despite being so wiped out at the end that I turned down the Lou Malnati's pizza they were serving at the post-race party.  But not to worry, I am bound and determined to make amends for that this year.
Speaking of the Chicago 13.1, I didn't really expect to win the entry but its race date is the day before the PAWS Run For Their Lives 8K on June 9.  The PAWS race, given its cause, is an absolute must-do for me, so there is no way I am going to forgo it.  But given my history of injuries, there's the thought that maybe it's too much for me to run a half marathon on Saturday and an 8K on Sunday...

I have never done two races in the same weekend.  My physical therapy and cross-training efforts have paid off, though, so right now I definitely feel I could do it.  (Last year I was planning to run the Mad Dash to Madison 5K and the PAWS 8K the same weekend.  However, shorter distances are obviously more manageable and the Mad Dash ended up getting cancelled anyways). 

Maybe I don't "race" the PAWS run?  Or, PAWS also offers a 4K walk, and Adam said he'd be willing to participate in the 4K walk with me.  That would be fun!  Decisions, decisions.  Thankfully there's a lot of time to think about it, and the PAWS race offers a lot of flexibility.  To be determined.

Again, happy Pi Day to all as well as a very happy Thursday before St. Patrick's Day weekend!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!!

Do any of you watch Family Guy?  I have never really watched it myself, but there is a scene in one of the episodes that Adam loves that involves the singing of the "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" song.

In case any of you are curious (after this riveting description, how could you NOT be!?!?), here's the video:

Adam plays this scene anytime he has just issued a big report at work.  My understanding is that it's a way to celebrate the relief felt from achieving a big, stressful undertaking.  With that in mind, yours truly was ready to put this video on repeat mode last night after work.  (For all of you finance/accounting aficionados out there that were wondering, I just completed February month-end close.)  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you another day closer to retirement!!!

I kid, I kid.  Okay, with how much my to-do list keeps growing instead of shrinking every day, maybe I only half-kid.  But in any event, I am ready to take a deep breath and catch up on blogging and my life!

Some updates:

Esprit de She

I am so excited to be a race ambassador for the inaugural Esprit de She race in Chicago on July 18!

This race's festivities are pretty much the perfect summertime festival:

An evening 5K or 10K run... followed by a post-race night market that includes a bubbly bar, tapas, and music... including a community night market showcasing fresh produce, local artisans, and creative projects.

How awesome is that!?!?  I am all about night markets and local food, especially during Chicago's heavenly summer.  This race has awesome swag, too - instead of the usual race t-shirt, they are giving out a custom-designed tank top and a tote bag.  Very cool.

Esprit de She has races in several other locations, as well, including Houston, Denver, San Francisco, Atlanta, etc., etc., etc.  For all of your multi-athletes out there, they also have a triathlon in Naperville on June 9, plus some duathlons and triathlons in various other locations and dates.  (Being a multi-athlete is on the list for me to accomplish one of these days...)  But until then -

Come run with me on July 18th!!!  It is going to be a blast!

The Need For Speed

Cue the obligatory quote from "Top Gun":

After taking a month-long hiatus from running back in January, I've been gradually getting back into my running groove.  My injuries have shown a lot of improvement, although I know that I still have to stay on top of my strength-training and stretching.

I was apprehensive about how long it would take me to regain my conditioning.  The endurance has actually come back pretty quickly - I ran 8 miles this past Sunday and felt good.  But my speed (relatively speaking, of course) has REALLY declined.

My comfortable long-run pace, which I was never enamored with, is a good 30-60 seconds per mile slower these days than before.  It hasn't shown much improvement over the last month, either.  Why is speed so difficult to build or regain, but so quick to slip through your fingers/legs?!?  It's frustrating.

I've been purposely not doing speedwork this past month since I didn't want to jump back into it too quickly after my running layoff.  But with my first race of the year coming up on April 20, I am really itching to do whatever I can now to regain my tempo.

Too bad it's snowing gangbusters here in Chicago today otherwise I wanted to do some speedwork tonight.  (On that note, I think I am the only peon that is working a full day in the office today.  Everybody else is working from home or leaving early - not me!  But thank goodness for public transportation on days like today.)  Is it spring yet?

Blogging the Hawks?

My Chicago Blackhawks fever is at an all-time high.  (Yes, even for me.  I know that's hard to believe.)

Brandon Saad, my new favorite Hawks player

I could go into ridiculous detail about the Hawks and their incredible start to the season.  But I'll share just one notable occurrence here.

On February 19th the Hawks played the Vancouver Canucks in a game that would tie the NHL record for best start to a season if the Hawks won.  The game started at 7:30 PM.  Adam and I got tickets off of Stub Hub at about 7:00 PM.  We took a mad (and I mean MAD) dash down Madison (living so close to the United Center is the bestest).  Got to our seats just in time to hear Jim Cornelison belt out the national anthem.  And then later...

Hawks win!!!  Hawks win!!!
It's so addicting.  Seriously.  My Hawks fever is to the point that I am considering starting a second blog just to focus on hockey.  Never mind that I've barely had time to focus on my running blog, let alone a Hawks blog.  (Erin, how the heck do you simultaneously maintain both a running blog AND a fashion blog?!?!?)

But... you only live once, right?

Just for giggles, I went ahead and reserved http://herecomethehawks.blogspot.com.  There's nothing there just yet, but I will be pondering its commencement in the coming weeks.  All Hawks ideas and suggestions welcome!!!

And finally...

Despite everything that I said about not wanting to run the Chicago Marathon this year, I have to admit that there have been moments where I've second-guessed myself.  All along I had anticipated that registration would sell out within a day or two, so my decision would be a foregone conclusion for this year.  But now that they've got this registration lottery open right now for the remaining 15,000 spots, I started toying with the idea of entering the lottery.  Just to let fate really decide.

At the end of the day, I'm not going to enter the lottery.  I wouldn't want to take away a registration spot from someone who REALLY wants to do it.  But, alas, I do miss the days when you didn't have to worry about setting your alarm to register for any race nine months in advance!

I do think the marathon trend and all these big races with their skyrocketing fees are finally starting to get too popular for their own good.  But, that's a whole other topic for another day.

Happy snow day to all!!!