Thursday, January 19, 2017

Running: Your Knees

So in the midst of all the crazy things that have been happening around here (house buying and more!) that have distracted me from writing in my good ol' blog, I did get an article from my company's health newsletter that I thought would be cool to share.

When I got to work on Tuesday I had this article in my inbox. It was very well timed, given that the day before I had someone telling me I should stop running 'because it's bad for your knees and I knew a guy once who (fill in ailment here).'

I'm sharing a screenshot of the article since I'm fairly certain the link won't work:

I think the last sentence is interesting: "...this study suggests exercise can be a type of medicine."

I don't really think this part is news. I think it's something a lot of people - particularly those of use who are routinely active, including logging hours and hours at the gym every week - will verify, at least anecdotally. I have no qualms talking about how I use the gym as a "crutch" to help my mood, just how much better I feel when I run or lift (or whatever), and that I really start to get grumpy if I don't.

But anyways, back to the main point! Running may not be bad for your joints!

YES it is high impact exercise, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad for someone who's healthy, and I think it's great that this is being studied.

To throw in my own anecdote: After getting the MRI of my knee (just before my half marathon at Thanksgiving) Dr Gent told me my knee looked great. All parts of it. Bone, cartilage, ligaments, etc...everything looked just how it should and perfectly healthy. And that was after a season of triathlon and marathon training. The verdict? Muscular imbalance, easily addressed with PT exercises, stretching, rolling, and perhaps crossing my legs less at work. *She says as she uncrosses her legs...*

This doesn't mean you can just go and run miles and miles with no consequence. You still have to take care of yourself. Stretching and strength training are an integral part of running, and throwing in an ice bath after a long, hot run is a good idea too.

I guess my whole point with this is not to let some random people with their uninformed opinions detract you from doing something you want to do. I like running, I want to keep doing it as long as possible, and I'm fine ignoring people who tell me I shouldn't keep running marathons because it's "bad for my knees".

You know what else is bad for your knees? Sitting all day! (Don't get me wrong though, I do plenty of that too :P)

Another anecdote to go along with that: At the end of December/beginning of January I was sick and very tired, so I took almost two weeks off from everything. Not being active made my other knee start hurting! It felt like a strain behind my knee and in my hamstring, and a bit like I was hyperextending when activating my hamstring (bending my knee). So weird.

When I started running again I babied it a little. I did yoga for a few days up to my run, including a lot of stretching and foam/RockBall rolling, which I continued before and after runs once I started up again. By the time I finished my third three-miler, all of that strain/pain was gone. It still amazes me the amount of pain and discomfort we can end up in from not being active! No more two week off stints for me! Active lifestyle is the way to go!

I know I don't often ask for opinions and comments here, but I would really be interested in what anyone has to say about this! Have you ever had someone tell you to give up a hobby because it's "bad" for you? What was your reaction? I'm curious!


PS...I promise to post an actual update about stuff at some point. I'm honestly waiting for some stuff to go through with the house so I don't have to knock on wood every five seconds!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 In A Nutshell

Everyone out there has talked about goals for the New Year in their blog posts, and I haven't even completed my recap of last year!

And what a year it was!

Professionally: I was promoted at work (and we moved into our swanky new building)! It was a great move for me personally and professionally. I'm on a much younger team now, and I can say my coworkers are friends as well as colleagues. It's also fun to note that we are definitely a team. The other day I was talking to someone who was trying to get me to take my lunch early/slip out early for the day and I kept saying I couldn't. He asked me if it's because my department monitors our time that closely, and I said, "No. It's part of being on this team. They wouldn't leave me alone on the phones so I'm not going to do that to them." Though it has been insane and crazy and sometimes stressful, I'm glad I made the move. I have learned a ton, will continue to learn, and it should be an interesting 2017!

Personally: Well a lot happened there...! I completed my first two triathlons and I ran my first marathon - things I am unbelievably proud of. I've been bitten by the bug, and it's not going to stop!

I can also honestly say I am very happy right now. Even with the whirlwind of changes that happened this year, I came out of it better. A better person and in a better position personally. I haven't gone all crazy-braggy here on the blog (though I know there are at least a few inquiring minds) but having Anthony enter my life was a complete game changer, 100% for the better. I cannot explain it and I won't bother trying, but 2017 is looking to be a really fun, crazy (and slightly stressful) year for the two of us.

I plan on blogging (probably more towards the end of the month, at the rate I'm going) about 2017 plans and goals, but what I really want to do here is recap my 2016 race season!

So here goes...2016 in all it's glory!

February 28th: Hustle Up the Hancock
The Hustle has been on my bucket list ever since I knew it was a thing, so CHECK!

April 3rd: The Shamrock Shuffle
My first race of the season, run with one of my best friends! The 5 mile route for the Shamrock Shuffle is almost step-for-step the first few and last few miles of the Marathon (both done by Bank of America). My toes were numb for two miles, but it was a great way to start the season, and I'm excited for more races with my dear Steffi in 2017!

April 9th: Illini Veteran's Memorial 5k
The second weekend in April I had the honor to run this small race at the University of Illinois with my Papa Bender - his first 5k in 25 years. It was cold and drizzly, but I wouldn't change the experience at all!

My first active effort at a PR was this race. My best 5k time prior to this race was at the 2015 Chase Corporate Challenge, and I was determined to beat that time. I did so at Busse Woods (where I ran my last race of the season/first official half marathon too!).

I crushed my time, coming in at 30:16 for a new personal best.

This race also wins the "coolest t-shirt" award!

July 10th: ET Lake Zurich Triathlon (sprint)
My first for-real triathlon experience! It was a good one, and far too short. I completed the course in just over 1 hour and 30 minutes, I felt amazing afterwards, and it got me fired up for the distance I would train for an cover in the Chicago Triathlon just over a month later!

August 28: The Chicago Triathlon (international distance) - Part 1, Part 2
I spent all summer training for the Chicago Tri, and it was one of the highlights of my season. It was huge and fun and quite an experience - every triathlete in the area should try it at least once, and see the city from every angle you can imagine. From the lake, to flying through the underbelly of Lower Wacker drive, to the (hot and ridiculously humid) scenic Lakefront - it was fantastic. It's on my list to do again!

September 18th: CARA Ready 2 Run 20 Miler
I don't think I ever blogged about this run (I did mention it briefly here) but oh my god. It was so hard. It wasn't a race, it was a "supported training run" meant to mimic the marathon conditions (mostly the aid stations and pacers). It was so hot, so humid, and in full sun. It was brutal. I was tired and jetlagged from my Europe trip. After 2 weeks of travelling I was toast. At Mile 16 I wanted to cry, and almost did until I realized how painful it was to do so.

Oh, and it was actually 20.2 miles long. -_- Funny, guys.

I made it through - barely. I honestly didn't know if I'd be able to finish the marathon after that race though. The thought of another 6 miles on top of what I'd already done?? WHAT?

The greatest lesson I learned from this run? You taper for a reason.

October 9th: The Chicago Marathon
It finally came! Marathon day! The day I wasn't sure I would make it through (especially after the CARA run). It ended up being one of the best runs of my life. I made it through all 26.2 miles. I hurt towards the end, but I embraced every ounce of hurt and knew I would finish. I knew I'd be doing it again. I loved the day, the crowd, the atmosphere, my friends and family who came to see me...I have done many things I feel proud of, but crossing the line of the marathon is at the top of the list, for sure.

October 29th: The Hot Chocolate 15k
Only 20 days after the marathon I laced up and ran this one with some friends. I was "undertrained" in that I hadn't run much since the marathon, but it ended up being a good, strong "shake out" run. It was a gorgeous day, especially considering it was the end of October in Chicago. I enjoyed all 9 miles and reminisced on the marathon only a few weeks before (was that all? In some ways the memory was so distant, and in others so fresh...!). I ran it with a great group of ladies - Steffi and her sisters - and Anthony got to practice his growing spectathelete skills :P

November 26th: The Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon
My first OFFICIAL half marathon distance, and last race of the season! It was chilly to start, warm to end, and I PR'd the distance by TEN MINUTES over any half-distance I'd run during training. Woot! I also got to see my friend off for her first 5k ever, which was quite the honor! I love welcoming new runners to the fold!

So now some fun roundups:

Favorite Swag: Chicago Triathlon T-Shirt
The Hot Chocolate 15k sweatshirt is a close second, but the ChiTri shirt fits SO well, matches the medal, and is pretty much my favorite t-shirt so it wins!

Favorite Medal: Chicago Marathon
Not just out of pride for having completed my first marathon, but because it has the famous Picasso sculpture on it that I have always believed looks like a weird, giant duck! Next time you're in Chicago give it a visit!

Favorite Race: The Marathon
Why did I give myself such tough choices??? I loved every race this year, but the Marathon takes the cake. Seeing the city on foot and running for RHMC made it amazing. Hands down I will do it again because I have only good things to say about it (even with how much my feet and knees hurt the next day)!

Favorite 'Experience': The Chicago Triathlon
Doing it with a friend, the expo, spending all that time downtown flying through the city, the course, my support crew (my mom and Papa Bender), the amenities, the satisfaction of completing a longer distance in three disciplines...just everything. It made me so proud of myself.

Best Crowd Support: The Marathon
It's just awesome to have an entire city come out to support something you've worked so hard for. The signs, the people who bring their living room and dining room furniture's pretty sweet. Seeing my own family and friends at the half way point (and Anthony, every time I saw him), and having them at the was awesome. Run Chicago, see the city, see the made me want to do it again before I even finished the first time.

 Truly, I had a fantastic season. 2017 will not hold as many races (spoiler alert) but I'm still excited for the ones I will run, and I'll work just as hard every day of training this year - if not harder.

So stay tuned! I have some fun and exciting things planned for 2017, and I can't wait to share them with you!

Farewell were awesome (race-wise) and it's time to usher in a new year of fun and personal challenge!


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Catching up on some randomness...

Every time I even think about writing here I think about how much there is to update on and it's almost overwhelming!

So if you wonder why I haven't been crazy blogging lately, you're about to find out ALLLLL about that.

I could start with the Andrew Jackson spoon ring my cousin made me for my birthday:

It came with a matching magnet...kind of. The magnet has Andrew Jackson with hamsters crawling all over him. (Told you it only kind of matched...)

Or how I just bought Run Fast. Eat Slow and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival tomorrow (yay two day shipping!). I found a few recipes online and tried some out last night, and I think my only New Years "resolution" will be to actually make every recipe in this book. This book has been cropping up all over my life lately - on Facebook and Instagram and other blogs, and it looks promising!

Or we could go with BIGGER changes...(like for real, here's an announcement for you!)

...Anthony and I are going to be moving and buying a house! We officially start looking next month! As in January. Like...three days away. We're currently setting up our first few viewings, and it's already the most stressful thing I've ever done.

Aside from a fridge to put my Andrew Jackson magnet on, I'm just hoping for something with more than one toilet and a yard a) because who wants to shower when someone needs to poop, and 2) because a dog will follow super soon after the house!


So besides that bombshell, what else have I got?

How about I throw some pictures at you from the day (way back in October) that Anthony and I took his nieces and nephew to Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch?

We spent most of our time in the petting zoo area (including feeding birds, which was so fun!) and then managed to be the highlight of the show when we went to feed the giraffe! We also saw the pumpkin crushing dragon, bought some pumpkins of our own to paint/carve before Halloween, and let the kids bounce off some energy on the various play things available. Not only are these kids super good (most of the time), they're fun and adorable to hang out with!

On our way!
For some reason Anthony has said we can't get a Capybara when we move in together. #notfair

Showing off my bird catching skills!

Don't let that cute, brave face fool you. She was totally terrified of the birds.
The forced perspective here is great. She looks so tiny next to gigantic me!

Anthony's face here is ridiculous!

The pumpkin crushing dragon!

Little was completely enthralled!

When we went up to feed the giraffes they seemed totally disinterested...until I dumped out my entire cup of carrots on the balcony. That got them interested!


Mild interest.

Moderate interest.


Definitely over you guys!

Oh...what's this you have to offer>

I'm interested.

The kid wasn't too sure.

Hey, you have a whole cup of these things??


Alright, I like you for real.

You my fave!

Bye bye raffi'.

We take lots of kissy photos.

It was really hard to get the little one to pay attention for this. Note: She didn't.

I heart...!

And for now...that's it. But I'm pretty sure that's enough for today, haha.