Thursday, March 31, 2016

Random Things On a Thursday (#7)

Hello, hello again. Here we are for another Random Things. Let's get started...!

7 is my favorite number!
What a fun way to start off Random things list #7. I do enjoy the number 7!

This week has been hard
It has. There's no way around it, it has been a difficult week energy-wise. I have felt totally spent all week long, and I'm positive it's because I've added in morning workouts three days a week (no matter how easy they are). I know this is just a hump I have to get over, because any time I've started working out after a break from it I've felt tired and sluggish during the day, and this is no exception. I actually think today I may finally get a break because I wasn't yawning on my drive in.

What makes it feel about 10 times worse is that I'm training someone at work (since I'm leaving my department), and in addition I'm being trained for my new role. So it's a lot of actually having to have my brain engaged throughout the day, and no one likes that :P. I'm kidding, of course, it's just that being tired and having to pay attention are a terrible combination.

New Job Stuff
Like I said, I've been training for a few days but sh*t gets real tomorrow because that's when I switch desks! I've slowly been packing up to move, and I'm excited that I'll finally get to live over near my new work family.

Patronus 5k
I forgot to mention last weekend that I used my mini-tri to count towards one of my backlogged virtual runs. Since I needed a boost, it seemed fitting to use the 5k at the end towards the HRC Patronus 5k:

HRC has some of the best medals. Here's the back:

Fitting...given the point of that little tri.

New Shoos
I got new running shoes on Tuesday! I'd attempted to get some new ones a few weeks ago with my mom, but the New Balance store in my home town is now a high-quality shoe store (they sell tons of brands now) and they didn't have 1260s in my size. Luckily, there's a New Balance store down the street from my office so I went over at lunch to grab a pair. While I was there I tried on the men's 1260s (for purely aesthetic reasons). Alas, the toe box was not as wide as my 9Ds, and the arch felt funny, and you might remember from a recent post that I'm not going to screw around with shoes anymore...

So I stuck with the women's 9Ds in blue and gray:

Hamster Mohawk
The other day I had Dresden out and his fur was looking extra here's a picture of my adorable hamster's mohawk:

Also...Nigel eating a bone. In the Dirt.
That pretty much explains it:

I think that's all I have for today! This weekend is the Shamrock Shuffle, so I'll be back at some point with a recap of that, in addition to the normal workout update. It will be a fun and busy weekend and I can't wait!


Currently Reading:
Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Weekly Workout Wrapup (Monday 21st - Sunday 27th)

Hello everyone, I'm back again! I missed a few workouts this week, but overall things felt very solid. This week I'm gearing up for the Shamrock Shuffle, which I'm SUPER excited for! It's my first year running it and I'm doing it with a very good friend, so I'm exited!!

Until then, enjoy this wrap up!

I think I mentioned in last week's post that I had a doctor's appointment on Monday, and then I had a bunch of errands to run, so I did not swim on Monday. Womp womp. Gotta get all of these appointments out of the way now while I have time!

Bike and lift. We did 15 minutes on the spin bike, and then the following lifts. I took a picture of our log but it's pretty difficult to read, so I typed it up for your viewing pleasure:

Only slightly disappointed about the second deadlift and bench sets...but it was a heavy set day so I'm not too broken up about it. It'd be nice if that bench had worked though :(

Rest day! (I also got my nails done :P)

Thursday, March 24th - 4 miles (treadmill), three lifts, abs
There's been this weird trend in the last few months (since he was promoted) where Cam ends up working really late on Thursdays. It happens occasionally on a different day, but he really does work a lot of late Thursdays...and that's what happened this week. Instead, I ran into these folks at the gym:
(Those are Cam's parents.)
Aside from him having to completely miss our workout, I wasn't too upset (that makes me sound terrible, doesn't it?). I wanted to get a good run in with some speedwork, so I hit the treadmill for four miles. After I ran a quarter of a mile, I increased the pace for the next quarter, then ran three-quarters at an 'easy' pace. My average mile pace was 11:15 min/mile:
My heart rate was in the high 150s to low 160s the whole time (my 20% for the week!), and I'm hoping runs like this will help me pick the pace up. I have a 5k I want to PR in June...and there is definitely work to be done! After reading Runs for Cookies' update post about heart rate training I am confident I can get there!

After this run I decided to do some weights as well. I did:
I foam rolled when I got back to Cam's house, and I need to be much better about doing so. All up and down my left leg I'm still having issues in certain spots (glute medius/piriformis and IT Band, specifically), but I could barely hold myself up after lifting so the effort I gave was mediocre.

I ended up skipping hot yoga on Friday. Last week's class was such a struggle for me, and I was pretty freaking tired this week so I skipped yoga and hung out with Cam and Dan and played some Frisbee instead. Can't say I'm disappointed in the choice!

Saturday -
cycle and lift
Cam and I hit the gym before I went home (to make cookies). We started with 20 minutes on the spin bike (while listening to some moe. so we wouldn't be bored out of our skulls) and then lifted.

I admit I wimped out on leg press. I hate it to begin with, and my legs were still tired from the speed work on Thursday. It's okay though...I also did squats on Thursday after the speed work. So yeah, not upset about leg press at all.

Sunday - 5 miles
I fail-whaled at getting up early to go for an Easter morning run, but realized if I did everything on my to-do list before breakfast, I could run after. And that's exactly what I did! I took Nigel out for my 5-miler, but my poor pooch clearly did not have 5 miles in mind. I dropped him off at home at 4.25, and completed the last three-quarters of a mile by myself.

I really nailed this "long" run from a HR training standpoint. I kept a 12:12 min/mile pace, and my average heart rate was right on target, at 147.

I also decided to count this as my Voldemort V Miler for the Hogwarts Running Club. I signed up for it as part of the Time Turner event in the fall, and I was finally able to complete it!
The Dark Mark in the center spins!
I felt really good after this run, but I had a slight twinge in my hamstring that I rolled out and massaged a bit before our Easter guests came over. My knee and ankle felt good for the whole run, so I'm confident that if I keep tending to these spots (and balancing on the other side) I can stave off any additional injuries.

Annnnnd that's it for the week! See you next Monday with another update!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Random Things on a Thursday (#6)

Hello there! It's time for more random Thursday things. Off we go!

First of All...
I hope I didn't sound standoffish when I posted about the reunion yesterday. I have some friends who have said things to me before along the lines of, "You were friends with everyone in high school!'

I definitely was not. Looking back, there were a lot of people I was friendly with, but I was not, by any means, truly 'friends with everyone'. I actually left high school feeling like most people didn't like me. Thinking about going to a reunion and being surrounded by all those people and old memories makes me kind of anxious.

You see...for me, high school wasn't some kind of "glory days". My dad died less than six months before I started high school, and family stability was on the rocks for a while while we figured out how to be a family of three. It was not my prime in any way, and my freshman and sophomore years were definitely periods of darkness in my life. Looking back, it's actually no wonder I feel like people didn't like me. I didn't really like myself. I was awkward and ashamed of a lot of things, I had the beginnings of depression, I was sad and belligerent, and I definitely had a chip on my shoulder.

My dad dying felt really...unfair. It sounds like a stupid, selfish, teenage-angsty thing to say, but there you go. After all, plenty of kids had bad family lives or divorced parents or whatever. But what made it so bad for me (this is an explanation of my behavior, not a sympathy ploy) was that, while those kids tended to find some other kid who they could relate one in my life understood what I was going through. Until my friend Danielle and I connected before my senior year (because I found out her dad had died a few years after mine) I did not have anyone who knew what it was like to be a teenage girl who lost her dad. Basically...I had a bunch of emotions that I didn't know how to deal with, and those memories are fully associated with the people I was around at the time.

So, uh, sorry guys if you hated me because I was mean to you.

This is probably one of the reasons I didn't keep in touch with a ton of people from high school. I didn't want to remember high school, and I still kind of don't - so people picking fights right away about whether or not kids can come to a reunion just seems so effing petty. I thought we were adults now. I thought we'd moved on from the high school bullshit. Apparently not?

Anyways. I'm sure I'll go because there are people I want to see in person who have said they plan on coming. I might just need to have the Wack Pack on standby for when I need some stability ;)

That was way longer than I intended it to be. Whoops.

Moving on to the rest of Random Things!

I have mad DOMS from our deadlifts on Tuesday. I love DLs, but I hate them too.

That is all I have to say about it. Time to move on to squats today!

Birthday Suits and Dublocorns
On Monday I mentioned that I went to a baby shower this weekend. Well I was running late getting ready for the shower because of my Sunday workout and had no idea what to wear. Fifteen minutes before she was going to come pick me up, I texted Jennie to ask what she was wearing. As I sent the text I thought, "This will be taken one of two ways...but she'll know what I mean!"


For the record, Anna (Jennie's daughter) is always wearing a cute dress. I stopped trying to compete long ago because there is no way to out-cute a five year old who dresses like she does. WIN for me though, because Anna and I are like two peas in a pod and we got to buddy it up for the whole shower after Jennie had to leave. I love hanging out with Anna. Always makes my day :D

Back to texts: Cam also sent me this gem last week. I cannot remember what the hell we were joking about, but he still surprises me with the things he comes up with!

The love of my life, ladies and gents.

Lindt Pineapple
In case you didn't know...Lindt makes chocolate with pineapple in it. Um...can we say my life is complete??

Couch to 5k
C25k starts at my office next week, and I'm coaching! I'll be there for the 6am session every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I'm using this as a chance to get ready for training (since I'll have to run or swim in the mornings).

I'm actually looking forward to not having to get up as early as I do right now...I am not looking forward to rushing through my shower time to get to my desk by 7. Or to packing yet another bag to take with me in the mornings. *le sigh*

I forgot to mention when I wrote about my mini-tri that I was shocked how accurate the 920xt was on the treadmill. My Forerunner 15 has a footpod paired with it, and because of the footpod (and metrics acquired during outdoor runs), I always knew I could rely on the Garmin data to be more accurate than the treadmill data. But I used my 920xt on Sunday, and was surprised to look down and see it was keeping track of my distance despite being inside.

It turns out (as I learned from DC Rainmaker) that the 920xt used WDR (wrist based detection) to estimate your speed and distance on a treadmill. It actually works very similarly to the footpod, as the unit collects data during outdoor runs and then uses it to estimate your treadmill stats. DC says it's not really accurate because other wrist based movements can interfere. I did notice a tiny bit of variation: Even though I kept the speed constant on the treadmill my Garmin mile times did vary slightly (12:20/12:24/12:16). That said, the Garmin and treadmill both got me to 3.1 miles at almost the same time, so no complaints here. I think this is a very cool feature!

Last But Not Least
I got my new glasses this week! I elected to go with a deeper frame this time around, and in my favorite color. Cam said they make me look like a Bernie Sanders supporting hipster...and I'm totally cool with that. They're not as stylish as my old ones, but they're functionally better. So there ya go. I'm still waiting on the fun, "cheapo" pair I ordered (still not cheap, but comparatively they were), which should be in soon! I'll post a picture when I get them. Here are my new nerdy blue frames though:

And there you have my random things for Thursday...the ins and outs of the week.

Peace out til next time, people.


Currently Reading:
Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


You probably feel extra special to get two blog posts in one day, and you are. I actually have quite a few drafted posts ready to go up...some are just missing pictures and others I'm waiting "for the right time". Well...right now is the right time for this one because I need to get all the feels out of my head.


This year marks 10 years since I graduated from high school. Almost every time I get together with the few friends I have from high school there's a lingering question..."Are we having a reunion?"

Well, I was added to a Facebook group a few days ago that confirmed we are indeed having one! Some people started threads about what they're up to, and then the dreaded question popped up. A question I need to write about because I feel like everything seemed to devolve after it was asked:

"Hey! I have a kid! Can we do this at a time and place so I can bring my kid too?!"

Ah, yes. Parents. I am totally respectful of the fact that a ton of my classmates are parents now (one even offered to lend me a child so I wouldn't feel left out). I joked that I'm mildly allergic to kids, but the truth is that I do like (some) children.

I will say though...I'm kind of shocked that this was even brought up. I have never in my life heard of a school reunion that involved toddlers, and as I've mentioned this to coworkers, parents, and other friends and family, they've all been really surprised that people want to bring their children.

I probably sound like I'm really against the idea, and I suppose I initially leaned that way because I expected it to be at night, at a bar...not in the middle of the day at a park. Honestly, I'd be cool with either, as long as no one gets mad at me for tripping over their three year old and swearing like a sailor.

Regardless, I took to the internet to discover if there's some etiquette or protocol to handle this, and I haven't found anything useful. But I did find this article which pointed out...allowing kids might turn it into one giant Mommy-Daddy play date, instead of what it's supposed to be:

All of us getting drunk and being awkward because it's been 10 years and we probably don't really care what everyone else has been up to, but we want to see if those few people we lost touch with are coming.

Now before I proceed, I want to pause to remind the audience: All of this is coming from someone who's intentionally waiting until after their 30th birthday to have kids. I'm waiting because I fully realize that kids come with close to nothing but responsibility. I am not ready to relinquish my youthful independence yet. I feel like every time I hold a baby people ask, "Can you feel your ovaries exploding?!" And I'm always like, "No. My ovaries are rational. I look at this baby and they tell me, 'This thing you're holding? It is a poop filled bundle of 100% pure responsibility. You can totally wait a while to have one of your own.'"

But I'm also not heartless, and I get that people with kids need and want flexibility.

So now there is a solution floating around...because I volunteered to coordinate one (not to sound all self-important). I totally get that it can be hard for parents to get a sitter and/or things come up with their kid(s) and/or they have an infant that doesn't do well with bottles, etc. The childless, semi-heartless part of me wants to say, "Well. You're a parent now. Those are the sacrifices you make..."

But again, not actually heartless. So while another group plans the adult-only event, I'm going to figure out if there are enough people interested to formally plan a family-friendly event in addition to the adult-only one. If there is, great! I'll plan it. If there's not, great! I won't.

And now no one is ever allowed to say I don't like children ;)

*I have to add, mad props to the one person (who has kids) who messaged me to tell me it's really swell that I'm willing to plan something like this for other people's kids. There's actually a lot of negative feedback on the other end making me feel like it was fruitless to even offer. In my opinion: I think people from both sides are lacking empathy at the moment. Like I said, I totally get both views, but I'm a humanist and if there is a solution to placate both parties I am all for bringing that to fruition.

(Now that I've said I'll plan part of this if necessary ) I hate to be a Negative Nancy, but the more I read through the Facebook thread, the more unsure I feel about the whole spiel. It's like once you put the high schoolers back in a group together everyone they're in high school.

We have all undoubtedly changed in many ways. Everything about my life has done a complete 180 since I was a teenager. I'm still stubborn and whatnot, but I'm a lot nicer about it now than I was when I was 17-18.

There are a few people I'd like to reconnect with in person who I think I'd only see if I went to a reunion. Sadly (and probably predictably as well) I just do not care about seeing a majority of these people, and I doubt they care to see me. It's like every day someone I don't care to see pops up on this thing and the little voice in my head goes, 'Eugh. Oh yeah. You. *sigh*'

Not to mention, the odds of running into That Bitch Who Kicked Me Out of Her Wedding For 'Stealing Her Thunder' By Having Non-Elective Surgery are very high. Ugh. Talk about people I don't want to see.

I'm not the first person to say these things, and I doubt I'll be the last. I'm sure loads of people feel this way about reunions. I've been kind of speculating and dreading mine for years...and decision time is rapidly approaching.

So there's all that. I'll let you know what I end up deciding to do...


(And yet another post I've gotten to the end of through which I've probably made everyone on both sides sufficiently mad enough to have lost all of my readership. If anyone from CLS '06 is reading...see you guys this summer! Maybe. You can berate me then.)

Attacks in Brussels

I realized yesterday that I've been using my Thursday posts as a blog dump for a lot of stuff during the week, and I need to get better about not doing that.

So today I'm going to take a minute to freak out a little bit (about something that happened yesterday).

When I got in my car yestermorn, the first thing I heard about were the attacks in Brussels. First I want to say...this sucks. These attacks suck, no matter where they happen (because they haven't just been happening in Europe). They are horrible and heart wrenching and it sucks that no matter what is done they cannot be wholly stopped or prevented. And that is what makes them scary.

The Brussels attacks were talked about my entire way to work. Airports and train stations. Numbers of deceased. Stranded travelers...

...and then I realized that, since November, three of the four cities the boys and I going to later this year have been targeted by terrorist attacks.

Don't get me wrong, I am still excited about going to Europe in the fall. I'm excited about all of the things we'll see and do, and I'm excited because it's the first time Cam and Dan and Jeff will go on a trip like this.

But it's also unnerving. Every time something like this happens you hear about stranded tourists, and the thought of being one of those tourists is very scary. It does not matter how well you know a place or how prepared you think you are...when there is a terrorist attack everything goes out the window, and cities momentarily stop functioning how they normally do.

I remember talking to Hannah and our friend Vanessa about the 7/7 train attacks in London in 2005. Vanessa worked in Oxford Street and lived half an hour away by train, but after the attacks the trains shut down...and she was stuck. Just stuck at work, and ended up having to walk out of London to get home. I can't imagine having to do that and knowing where I was going, let alone not knowing.

I'm not trying to blow things out of proportion, all the 'what ifs' just hit me in a weird way yesterday. Unfortunately, it's a real fear. Not one that I'll let rule my life, but there's always gonna be that dumb little voice inside your head whispering, 'What if...?'

In case you're little voice sounds a bit like Voldemort ;P


To lighten this post up a bit...
I just found out that Bayer has a program called FeedABee where they will send you free seeds to plant. The seeds are for flowers that bees (and other pollinators, like butterflies and hummingbirds!) are drawn to. I just ordered some seeds - I read it can take a while to get them, but I'll plant them when they come (and every year until I run out). Bees and other pollinators are vital to our eco and agricultural systems, but their numbers have declined in recent years due not only to pesticides, but also to the decreasing number of wildflowers. By planting the seeds from FeedABee (or any of the attractant plants below) you can help strengthen the pollinator community!*

*Please make sure you are not sowing a plant that is considered invasive in your community. You can search the US Department of Agriculture's website for you state here (or if you're outside the US you can search here), and it will provide a list of state-specific threats (plants) to avoid. You probably won't come across a problem, but cover your bases! Invasive species are a real issue!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Weekly Workout Wrapup (Monday 14th - Sunday 20th)

I'm really proud of this week because it feels like I finally got back into the groove with workouts. Work has still not been tamed - no where close to it. But I'm heading into the week feeling good.'s the roundup of last week!

Monday, March 14th
I finally got back into the groove and Cam and I met to swim. I got in 1,500 yards both with and without tools, and didn't push things too much because I just wanted to feel good in the water. Here are the stats:

Tuesday, March 15th
Spin and lift. I (once again) forgot to get a picture of our lift book, but it took a lot out of both of us this week because it was a 10/8/10 week.

It was like 15 minutes of spin and 4 lifts (I think).

Wednesday, March 16th

Rest day!

Thursday, March 17th
As previously mentioned, there is no picture of our lift book. Oops again. I warmed up with two miles on the treadmill (which included some speed work), and then we did our remaining lifts for the week.

Friday, March 18th
After work I had some time to burn before hot yoga, so I ran about two miles on the paths near my office:

Also, people driving around here are total jerks and try to block or speed through intersections so they don't have to wait the 5 seconds it will take me to cross the cross walk. I totally don't get it.

Hot yoga was okay - I think I was slightly dehydrated from my run, and that might be what made me feel a bit lightheaded and sick at times, but it could also have been all the up-and-down in the flows we were doing. I normally have a problem in hot yoga going from being down on the mat to standing, and we did a lot of that during class. For the first time ever I left the room to cool off during the class. And for the first time since I've gone, class ran loooong. On the one day I really needed it to not run long (I had a dinner thing to go to). It all ended up being okay in the end, but it was not very relaxing to leave class, look at my watch, and realize I was running hella late.

Oh goes on!

Saturday, March 19th

So I mentioned that I had a dinner thing on Friday. At said dinner thing I had a few glasses of wine...I should not have. No more wine, ever. It was such a great reminder to me to just not drink. I spent all of Saturday feeling like I needed to take a nap.

On Saturday I managed to get through yoga, then my mom and I ran some errands, and then after that everything I did was done grudgingly, because I really just wanted to take a nap. I didn't though because I didn't want to throw off my sleep schedule, so I stayed up until 8:30 and then went to bed.

My life is so enthralling, I know.

Sunday, March 20th
Sunday is what I'm most proud of. I needed to do something that I could feel proud of...something to help me like myself a little bit more, and I got it in my head to complete an indoor Sprint distance tri on my own.

That little voice in my head prevailed, and I did my little tri.

I wasn't sure I'd have enough time because I had a baby shower to go to (and I almost didn't have enough time) but I managed to fit everything in. A 1/2 mile (900 yard) swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. I tracked each activity individually and did not count transitions (because it was a bit difficult since I was at the gym):
I only tracked time on the bike since it was indoors.
Total time: 1:27:55

I did it. Easily, even. Yes, I know it was indoors, but there was something about doing all three of these activities right in a row that proved something to me about myself. That I can do it (and I can do it without bike shorts!).

The outcome? I'm now registered for a sprint tri as part of my summer training. Sunday, July 10th, I'll be doing the Lake Zurich triathlon (Sprint distance). I need to practice transitions and want to get a feel for the drop off/set up part of things. All in all...I'm looking forward to it!

So yeah...that was the highlight of my weekend.


Currently Reading:
Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)

OH EM GEEE YOU GUYS!! I finally finished Ghost Story (I say 'finally' like it took me years - it didn't - I started it like a week ago). I've been waiting and waiting (and finishing other books) to start this one, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed when I started up the audiobook and the reader wasn't James Marsden. Apparently he had a conflict when the book needed to be recorded, and they had a reader named John Glover do it instead. I looked for a rentable version of Marsden's reading but couldn't find one, so I held out through the Glover one. I won't say that Glover's reading wasn't good - it was. He did a great, very consistent job. I'm just so used to Marsden's version and characters (I mean, he IS Harry Dresden) and the disappointment never really went away.

The story though? Brilliant. Kept me guessing (per usual) about how Harry was going to get out of things with all the twists and turns the book took. I am so used to Harry Potter where the rules of magic are pretty static, and you learn early on that some things just can't be changed, but Butcher is continuously...not playing with, but twisting and manipulating the "Laws of Magic" in his books to evolve the plot. It's a totally different type of world than something like HP, and I enjoy it. You see...Harry Dresden's world is created as something fluid and morphing, stitched together with other dimensions that continuously influence each other, so it makes sense that the laws of magic and fate (though still very concrete) are able to be twisted as well. That definitely happened a lot in Harry's little Ghost Story, and I'm looking forward to plunging into the next few adventures!

Overall, The Dresden Files will be a lifelong favorite, for sure.

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Cabin Weekend - Year 3 (lots of pictures)

Here it is, only two weeks late! My post about our winter cabin weekend away!!

Some Background
Every year since Cam and I started dating, we go away for a weekend with our friends (The Wack Pack) to be obnoxious, play board games, have Nerf gun fights, and eat and drink things that are terrible for us.

Two years ago (the first year we did this), we went to an honest to goodness log cabin house out in the northwestern IL boonies. No television, no internet (creepy basement bathroom included). Last year's choice was slightly less was like a vacation home, but was definitely just like house sitting for a weekend.

This year we elected to go back to that first cabin again, bringing back all the good feels from Year 1. We'll go through it by day, shall we?

Day 1 - Thursday
This should actually be "Night 1" but we'll go with Day 1. Cam and I met at my house after work and got ready to go...packed up the coolers and cars, I finished making a few things to take with (homemade high protein ranch dressing!), and hit the road!

And then we had to stop at Aldi to buy potatoes, since I'd left the bag I needed on my dining room table. I also got trail mix and a box mix for peanut butter cookies, because who just buys one thing?

And then we went to Starbucks because...well it's pretty obvious.

But then we were back on the road!
We made really good time and got to the cabin just before 8.

I'm sure you want to know what it looks like, so here are a few pictures (inside and out) that I took before we left on Sunday (I didn't take them when we got there because it was very, very light pollution!):

From the outside:

The living room (the front door is all the way to the right, you can't see it here):

I took the previous picture while standing under this staircase (and you can see a bit of the kitchen on the right):

And here's the living room from above:

The only upstairs room is the master bed/bath:

Going back downstairs, if you walk under the staircase it leads to two "kids" rooms, a laundry room, bathroom, and immediately to the left are the basement stairs:

Cam and I had the room on the left, which we shared with Dan (he took the bunk, which you can see on the right). Also...this cabin has the absolute most comfortable beds on this planet:

Above the bunk between those support beams there's a well-hidden trap door that leads into a crawlspace next to the master serves a wonderful purpose during Nerf gun fights:

And, of course, the Nerf dart that was shot up into a light fixture in the kitchen two years ago:

Our friends Jake and Katie got there first and were just finishing their dinner. I put together mine and Cam's (homemade white pizza and salad...yummmm!!!), while the boys sorted through the Nerf guns to start some fights...and promptly discovered that we had no clips for the automatic guns. (We take our Nerf guns seriously.)

This was devastating for them in the moment.

We texted our other friends to see if they had them stored at their houses, but no one did. It ended up not mattering though - Jake had bought a bunch of quick shot Halo-series Nerf guns (boys will be boys), and we had a few non-automatic ones (like MY Zombie Crossbow):
I did actually just find it laying like this Friday morning. I'm not kidding either, it is MINE. Everyone knows it's automatically mine in a fight, and I hand picked it the first year we did all this. My Walking Dead obsession may have had something to do with the choice...
...but we had enough guns and ammo to keep us well supplied and fighting all weekend. (We still don't know where those clips are either...)

Sarah and Eric showed up as Cam and I finished eating, and our friend Dan got there a little bit after that. Okay, truth is I can't remember because I was huddled up in a chair, ten steps into La La Land. BUT I did wake up at midnight for second dinner (another slice of pizza with Dan, and one sip of Angry Orchard)...and then went to bed.

I am fun times, kids. I got a lot of flack for the one sip of Angry Orchard too.

Day 2 - Friday
Admittedly, I was shattered on Thursday night because I get up at 4:30 for work on weekdays, so going to half-bed at 10:30 and then full-bed at midnight wasn't shocking. I woke up Friday morning around 7:30 and got up to make coffee since I was planning on going for a run.

I drank my coffee and ate some yogurt while I finished 80/20 Running, and got ready and excited for my run...and then realized the temperature was still below freezing. It was going to get warmer though, so I figured I'd put my run off until later in the morning.

I  waited until about an hour after breakfast (best quote of the morning: "This is not as classy as having mimosas with breakfast, but it's just as delicious." Sarah said, while Dan made margaritas) and then headed out for four (hilly) miles - PSA, I did not have a margarita before this run:

Just a reminder...I come from somewhere totally flat. Even a moderate incline slows me down quite a bit, and I had one long, monster hill to get up during this.

So the fact that I just kept plodding through this run is something I'm fairly proud of. This was also the Friday after the Hustle, and I'd just been telling the Wack Pack about it. So as I started going up the steepest incline I kept telling myself, 'Just keep going - this is not 94 flights of stairs, you can do it!'

I also reminded myself that I got to go down the hill as long as I got up it. That helped too.

I made it two miles out and then turned around for the (much easier) trek home.

Here's a collage of pictures I snapped on the 'back' portion of my out-and-back:
The bottom left was my view just before descending the steepest incline of the run.
Not pictured:


There was a herd of sheep on my right as I crawled up the hill the first time, and they were so comical. I told myself I'd take a picture on my way back if they were still there, but they weren't. You see, as I was running past them (dying, out of breath because I was going uphill) every single one of them turned to look at me as I passed. Once I was past ALL of them I turned to glace at them and I had about thirty pairs of sheepy-eyes looking at me. It was hilarious! Every one had the same look on their face - 'Who the eff is this person?' It was great.

Also funny: That I finished 80/20 Running, a book about using your heart rate to control your speed, the morning I had my first ever rolling-hill run. Of course. It was so much easier to control my heart rate on the way back since it was mostly decline, but all rules went out the window for about the first half of the run.

The rest of the day passed with the standard: Nerf gun fights, coloring, food, board games, alcohol...etc. (Pics in the next section.)

Day 3 - Saturday
Mostly, Saturday is a huge blur in my head. We slept late. We ate breakfast

And then...(dun dun dun)

After breakfast we were all sitting around talking, getting ready for Nerf fights, and suddenly there were these three loud BANGS on the door. Like, really loud and scary. I was standing in the kitchen holding my cross bow, right across from the front door and I just held the crossbow up slowly, thinking...'What if the person on the other side has a real gun...?'

We all looked at each other, panicking, and then someone went over and opened the door...

And it was our friend Jeff.

Originally we didn't think he'd be coming because of work, but lo and behold, he decided to make us all shit our pants surprise us!

The rest of the day commenced with Nerf gun fights and some board games.

Then Sarah and I went for a hike and didn't die:

We hiked downhill to see the lake right by the cabin, which looks more like a river when you're next to it because it's so narrow. We opted to take a different route up when we saw these cute stairs leading to someone's property...and it turns out they legit just led to someone's property. We had to trespass (and try not to slip down a muddy, icy hill in the woods) to get UP the steps, only to find out that we'd have to slip up some other slopes and extra-tresspass just to get around their house because the stairs we went up went straight to someone's back door, and there was no actual path around the house.

We did it though...and came face to face with the neighbor, tuning up his ATV. Awkward...

After a few more miles we went back to the cabin for showers and lunch. I also did a lot of coloring. I did most of this at the cabin over the weekend, but added some gel pen flair when I got home:

Other things?

Cam fell asleep on me and later claimed he wasn't sleeping:

Katie decided to see how many colored pencils she could fit in Jake's beard (final count was 22 or 23...):

We played more board games (including our maiden voyage of the Settlers of Catan expansion Cities & Knights):
(I am all time banker and Rule Master because no one else is brave enough.)
I also made dinner at midnight. In case anyone is wondering...brats, baked potatoes, and Caesar salad goes over really well at midnight.

And then...bed.

Day 4 - Sunday
Sunday is always the day we wake up, start cleaning, and get ready to leave. Check out was 11:00 for us, and most of us were in bed until 8:30 or 9. I got up, made coffee, and started cleaning the kitchen, and was soon joined by the rest of them.

After gathering all of our Nerf gun darts and board games, and after packing the coolers and scarfing down some left overs for breakfast it was time to pack up the cars and say goodbye.

Jeff and Eric insisted on posing for a photo:

Oh yeah, and I took a picture of the creepy wood pile (I don't know why, it just skeeved me out):

And I snapped some shots as we drove through the park on our way out:

We stopped briefly to hug and say goodbye, and then it was time to head home.

After Cam and I got out on the highway we saw this truck. It adequately described everything I wanted in that moment:

Alas, coffee was not had. We opted for water, and two hours later we were home.

The end!

Sorry it took so long, it was just a lot to put together! But there you have it.

Have a great Sunday, and I'll be back again tomorrow with my workout update for the week!


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Random Things on a Thursday (#5)

I'm finally back with some (fairly exciting though lengthy) random things. Enjoy!

It's St Patrick's Day... I might as well mention...
I am soooooo excited for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in a few weeks on April 3rd. A few months ago one of my best friends from high school (and college, come to think) asked if I wanted to run it with her, and since I've never run it before I figured why not?! We're going all out for it too! We'll go to the expo the day before to pick up our packets (I've never been to a race expo), and then that night we're gonna hang out at her place and make race tutus. I've never worn a tutu during a race (I wore a DIY sparkle run skirt for the Corporate Challenge last year), so it will be a new experience! I have all the tutu-makings in my car, ready to go. I almost wasn't able to get green tulle (apparently the stuff I wanted to buy was recalled?) - but I persevered and got it, with some extra colors and sparkle for flair. I'll be sure to get pictures of the two of us.

I also ordered an Irish green Hogwarts Running Club shirt so that anyone from HRC who's running the race can spot me. I was going to wear my Holyhead Harpies shirt (another HP reference for you there) but...well there's a story and it's boring. So I'll be wearing the HRC shirt for the run, and maybe the Harpies shirt after. Haven't decided. Here's the shirt though:

It says "Run like You Know Who is chasing you" on the back!
And did I mention how excited I am?!?! Wooooo!

You'll probably wonder why I didn't mention this's definitely more important, but I had a nice segue into the Shuffle thing with it being St Patrick's day and all.

Anyways...I've kept this totally off social media so far, but I guess it's time to make the announcement online: I'm moving to a different department at my company! I interviewed the first week of the month and got the offer last Wednesday. Things sure moved fast!

To answer the FAQ: It is definitely a step up (hence "promotion") and I get a nice pay bump. I'll learn a ton of new skills in this position that will prepare me for other roles at the company. I start transitioning on Monday with half-days (mornings in my current department, afternoons in the new one) and will be fully transitioned by April 1st (no foolin'!).

I won't lie...I'm excited, but nervous. First off, there are all those feelings that come with a new job. The feelings of not knowing what exactly is coming or what I'll be doing day-to-day. I am very lucky that my physical surroundings won't change much. I don't have to change floors, I'm just moving one department over -  I get to be closer to the printer (but further away from the bathrooms and kitchen)! My hours will only change a little - I have to come in and stay a full 30 minutes later than I'm used to! I know and am comfortable with so many people on my floor and in my new department. I am leaving one fantastic and supportive manager for another equally awesome and supportive one. I really am very lucky in so many ways.

Mostly, I'm nervous because I have a busy few months ahead of me, and now I get to add job training on top of it. Never mind the triathlon and marathon, I'm actually pretty busy at work too. I'm doing logistics planning for our company's version of Take Your Kids to Work Day, which we have 2 days for. Double the fun, yay! On top of that PrideZ has a total of 7 events being planned for Pride Month (June). Seven. And as Events and Logistics Lead for our office...well, I'm sure you can deduce the rest.

That's not all either...Hannah is visiting from England the last week of June, and because of all the stuff going on with PrideZ, I'll be balancing her visit with some stuff that I have to pop in and say hi for at work.

I will certainly be a busy bee in all areas of my here's to the spring and summer months!

I've never even seen that movie, so it can't be a reference. That said, this weekend those of us going to Europe in the fall sat down to discuss where we want to go. We haven't worked out the particulars, but I'll at least be able to book some flights at the end of the month.

This trip has totally evolved. Initially we were only going to Berlin and Amsterdam, but over two weeks that's a lot of time in two places. Last month we found out that Brennan (Cam's brother) will be starting school in The Netherlands in the fall, so he won't be able to do the whole trip with us. Since that's now the case, the four of us flying over there decided to spread things out over a few extra cities. So now, we'll be exploring the following:

  • Paris (fly in + 3 days)
  • Brussels (3 days)
  • Berlin (4 days)
  • Amsterdam (4 days + fly out)
I'm pretty excited because I've never been to any of these cities. I'm also nervous because I've never been to any of these cities...but I'm sure we'll figure things out as we go ;)

Vega Protein Powder
I have finally tried this protein powder. It was recommended a lot during Swim Bike Fuel, and although I don't use protein powder a lot, I have meant to try it because I think it will end up being a godsend this summer (gotta plan that all out now too). I happened to be at Costco last Saturday when they were sampling the vanilla with greens flavor, so it gave me a chance to "try-before-you-buy". I liked it enough that I got a container for the Costco price of $29.99 - and just by chance, Cam and I used it before our workout on Sunday.

Bottom line is, we both liked it. I'm not a huge fan of protein powders in general, but they serve their purpose. I wanted to get Vega because it's vegan, and Cam told me he's had digestive problems with whey powders in the past. This one (obviously) has a greens powder mixed into it - that made it a bit grainy, but not unpalatable. I mixed it with half soy milk and half water, but I may try unsweetened almond or oat milk instead. It depends. was a good buy. Now I have to start experimenting with smoothie recipes so I can come up with something when my combination of morning and afternoon workouts start!

I learned from another blogger that TYR has this great offer where you can buy last seasons discontinued swim suit patterns for almost half price. The only downside is you don't get to pick the pattern/color...but that's really not something I care about (although I admit that I pray to not get pink). Last week I ordered a two new suits in the same style as my current one (Maxfit), because the lyrca one I have has lost almost all of its color (probably from chlorine in the hot tub...and washing it a few times at Cam's).
The suit I currently have ^.
I ordered one polyester and one lycra suit, and they were delivered this week. I was very excited when I opened them (neither design was hideous!) but I wasn't sure they were the right size because I ordered them at work when I didn't have my other suit on hand.

Turns out I ordered a size down from what I needed. Womp womp. I tried them on anyways and they fit okay in the hips, but the length was painfully short because I have a long torso. So I'll be sending them back for a refund, and placed a new order for the size up...except they don't have the lycra Maxfit suit offered in my size, so I had to order a different style. We'll see how it works!

Overall though, it's a great offer and they have all sizes and suit styles (men's/women's/kids). It's worth checking out if you need a new suit and don't really care about color!

I'm sorry (but not) - I have to mention it. I do my best not to talk about politics here, and I think I've only done so one other time...but this election cycle circus is insane.

The things some people are saying and's like everyone's found out the world is ending and some people are trying to make it through rationally, while others are going apeshit. I don't understand what has happened to American politics, but in many ways it's nothing to be proud of, and it's honestly become embarrassing.

I simply do not understand how we could make national history by electing a black man to the presidency, and then 8 years later have a Republican front runner with no political background, who has defined himself as a bigot with no actual plans for leading the country. My mistake - he "has a plan" for everything - he simply cannot communicate what those plans are with actual words. I mean...I've heard people claim he has a plan or has good ideas....please! You people saying that, share whatever drugs you're taking so the rest of us can experience whatever delusion you're under, because it's a good one.

I hope Donald Trump is doing this as some elaborate hoax to demonstrate how broken the Republican party is and makes a fool of all of his supporters as he's now outed them in angry, violent, hate-filled mobs. It's scary. But please, please let it be a joke...

And for the record, I voted in the primaries for the first time since I started voting in 2008. I voted for Bernie Sanders. That's right, I am more than okay with "THE SOCIALIST!" If he doesn't get the nomination I honestly don't know what I'll do, because I really don't believe in Clinton - she's consistently outed herself as a hypocrite over the last few weeks - and I refuse to vote Republican, as they have made a mockery of this country.

So yeah. Rock and a hard place if Bernie doesn't make it in.

(At this point I'm sure I've sufficiently offended everyone, and probably have no more readers. Whoops.)

More Busy
I mentioned being busy at work, but this weekend kicks off many more weekends of doing stuff. I had a lot of "time off" from various obligations the last two months (thank goodness too, it was getting unbearable), but starting this weekend I have some kind of thing to go to nearly every weekend for the foreseeable future.


The Cabin
Oh yeah. That. Still working on it...

I also have two other kind of interesting posts in the works. I was going to put both of them in here, but they ended up being wayyyy too long so I'll just post them separately. For once, I have too many posts to post!

And that is all, peeps. Have a great Thursday!


Currently Reading:
Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13) - Jim Butcher (audiobook) - so close to being finished!
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Monday, March 14, 2016


I don't have a workout wrap up for you this week because last week was abysmal when it came to working out. However, I do have lots of insight to share about my tendinitis, and after just one run this week I think I finally got to the root of my problem.

It all started with a 4 mile run on Tuesday.

When I left work on Tuesday it was gorgeous out. It was some of the best weather in months, and when I got in my car and the thermostat read seventy degrees, I texted Cam that we should skip the weight room and head outside instead. I mean, I love lifting and everything, but it does not compare to running outside on a beautiful day. Since I had no idea when the next day like that would be, I was ready to ax the gym. (Sidenote: Good decision since the rest of the week got progressively colder, and turned into a rainy and gross weekend.)

When Cam got home we got his bike ready and I put on my running shoes - the only ones I had with me were my Brooks Glycerins, which I haven't run in for a long while (this is important). We needed veggies for dinner and planned out a few vague "seeing points" (points on our routes where we'd see each other) and left, agreeing to meet at the nearest grocery store.

The first half mile of my run felt awkward (as is the norm for me) but by the time I got to the store (1.8 miles) I felt pretty good. Since I know you totally care about what I bought: I'd originally planned on broccoli for dinner, but asparagus was on sale for 87 cents a pound (!!!) and I couldn't pass it up so I got both (I also got a Cadbury Carmello to share after dinner. Don't judge.).

Anyways...when we left Cam gave me a suggested route so I could hit 4 miles, and I gradually realized as I went that, not only was it mostly up was into the wind! Awesome. As soon as I try to focus on flat, easy runs I figure out where all the "hills" are (it's in quotes because I live in northern Illinois where real hills don't actually exist, leading even slight inclines to feel like Everest). Anywho, I slowed my pace to keep my heart rate down and did pretty well with the long slope I had to go up.

The bad news came after I hit 3 left lower leg was killing me. I can't really describe it - if you've ever had really tight calves during a run or walk and they don't stop burning, it was like that, but on the lateral (outside) part of my leg about 2 inches above my ankle bone. It burned and hurt. A lot. I walked for about a quarter mile, then started running again when it died down a bit. Cam rejoined me shortly after I started running again, but when I got to 3.75 miles I told him I just wanted to walk the rest of the way, so that's what we did. Here are the splits:

Avg HR was 145bmp, Avg pace 12:51.
I'm really happy that my steady "easy" pace has planted itself right around 11:45-12:00 min/mile. I'm going to focus on increasing that by June before training starts, but I'm happy with it for now.

Now the big announcement:

For once, I think I know what started the problem. Like...the whole tendinitis thing. I think it was the well as a small selection of bad decisions on my part...

I'll preface this by saying I'm not going to chance it anymore - I'm not going to wear them when I run. They're a decent shoe for short walks, but there's not chance I'm running in them again, because I do think they're the culprit.

I got the Glycerins at the recommendation of my LRS (local running store) in August. I'd been wearing New Balance 1260s, which are a very sturdy shoe, but the Glycerins are a neutral shoe. The week my tendinitis started was the week after my 12 mile long run during my half marathon training, which I ran in the Glycerins. I remember I wanted to run the 12-miler my 1260s but I forgot them at home and only had the Glycerins in my car at Cam's, so I decided to use them even though the longest I'd run in them was 3 miles (bad idea).

I also sprained my ankle 6 days after that run (which undoubtedly added to the problem). But when I talked to my doctor and PT about everything I assured them over and over that I had not been having ankle pain prior to the week of the ankle sprain, and I still stand by that.

Another reason suspect the Glycerins specifically is that I ran a very hilly route in my New Balance 1260s last Friday at the cabin,, and I did not have any pain even resembling this. I had to stretch and ice afterwards, yes, but I didn't feel sore and incapacitated during the actual run.

This past weekend I also ran an easy (and flat) 5k in my 1260s, and aside from the normal amount of soreness I've experienced lately, I didn't have any other issues, and I didn't have to stop and walk at all because of pain.

So what was a hypothesis before ('I wonder if it was the shoes') has now solidified itself to near fact. I mean...according to Garmin Connect, I have 250 miles on my 1260s, and only 15 on the Glycerins (this should be bumped up to about 35 because I did a lot of walking and PT in them over the last few months).

Moral of the Story...
If you are a runner, walker, or aspiring to either, be diligent about your shoes! If something in your body - especially feet, legs, hips, or low back - seems off, don't forget to consider your shoes as a contributor to the problem! As it happens, my problem is not only in my spans the entire lateral side of my left leg, as well as in my hip. I don't think all of this was caused solely by the shoes, though I do think they are the prime culprit for the tendinitis. I know some of my issues come from bad posture and sitting positions, but I definitely think these issues were exacerbated by wearing the wrong shoe.

I'll be purchasing new 1260s in a few weeks, and then I'll be looking for another sturdy shoe to rotate in for my short runs. Until then, there will be a lot of icing, foam rolling, and stretching in my schedule so I can get a hold on all of this again before my summer training starts. I feel like I've been sidelined by this injury for too long, and I'm ready to be done with it.

Again, I'm sorry there's no workout update for you this week. My life was really pitiful on that end, but I'm happy that I seem to have rooted out where the tendinitis started, and I feel like I can do a bit more about it now that I know the problem is tied to my shoes.

Also...I'm sorry I haven't managed to post about the cabin yet (because I know you're all chomping at the bit to read about it...). It's been a bit crazy for me with things, and I just haven't had time to write it up. I'm hoping to get it up early this week :)

Until then...have a great week!


Currently Reading:
Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

It's a MARATHON, not a sprint.

I've decided to postpone writing about the cabin for another day or two because I actually have some kind of major news.

This is something that people in my day-to-day life know about because I've slowly been exposing them to the idea, but it's not something I've mentioned at all on social media (though I dropped a really small hint here, if you wanna go find it). Nothing was truly official until yesterday it is!

On October 9th, 2016...

I will be running the Chicago Marathon!

You read that right. I registered yesterday, so it's official!

I've had this idea in my head for a while, and I even mentioned it as a possibility in my 100th post, but I haven't said anything about it since. I think it's crazy too, since last year when I said I wanted to do the half, I said I had "no desire" to do a full marathon.


So Here's How It Happened

In January I was (again) perusing the Lincoln Park Zoo website trying to figure out if they were going to have a team for 2016. All of my email attempts had been futile, and I was a bit bummed by that. So I went to the marathon website to check if they were listed as a participating charity (so I could get some contact info).

They weren't. But I was really excited when I saw that Ronald McDonald House Charities does have a team. I messaged a friend quickly about something (important for later posts), bookmarked the site, walked away from my computer, then went right back and registered for the team.

And then I got back up and walked away a bit stunned that I'd done it.

I think told four people about it that weekend (my mom and Cam included), and then I didn't tell anyone for weeks. My focus was on the Hustle, and I didn't want to start talking about something so far off until I'd had a good amount of time to wrap my head around it.

Now I have. I'm at the point where I've finished writing up my training planS for the summer...since I'll be training for the triathlon and marathon at the same time. It actually looks fairly insane, so I try not to look at it too much. It's very important to me that I spend the next three months getting ready to tackle my training schedule, as it officially starts on May 30th.

There is also a very specific reason that I chose RMHC as my charity, but I'm going to save that story for a week or two so I can write up a decent post about it that can be passed around (if so desired). I feel like it's a very good reason too, so I'm hopeful that will show in the donations that come in.

Also, to be totally honest and upfront - I'm more worried about raising $1,000 than I am about running the marathon. I don't know why (given how much I raised for the Hustle) but I am. Like...I feel like I've already asked everyone for money and I don't want to annoy people by peddling for donations again.

That said, I do promise (in advance) that this is the last thing I'll be asking for money for this year. I know it's early in the year to say that, but it's true. This is what I'm committing myself to this year, so I promise when I start posting donation links on my blog, they will all link to the same place. And I'm not even gonna post it yet, so there you go! If you have it in your heart and bank account to commit to donating to RMHC, I will provide the opportunity soon.

So. There you have it.

I'm gonna run a marathon!


Currently Reading:
Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Workout Wrapup (Monday 29th - Sunday 6th)

Not to ruin it for you or anything, but because this was the cabin weekend I didn't do a ton of working out this week. We were at the cabin from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon (got home at 2) and the combination of late nights and bad eating...well it went all womp womp. It's one weekend though, and it's a fun one - and that's what life's really about!


Monday, February 29th
Literally my only goal was to make it to the gym and get in the pool instead of going home. After the craziness of the Hustle and lack of sleep, all I really wanted to do was Netflix and Chill. But I told myself that if I got myself into the pool I only had to do 1,000 yards.

And somehow I managed to do it. 500 yards split between front crawl, breast and back stroke; 400 yards with paddles, 100 cool down. Out and done.

Also, I took this picture a few weeks ago and forgot to post it here:
This is the sign at my gym that I was talking about a few months ago!
Tuesday, March 1st
Cam and I made it to the gym for spin and a few lifts. We really half assed it...

Wednesday, March 2nd
Rest day, because I needed it oh so badly... :P Actually, I did some shopping and prep for the weekend, and cleaned a hamster cage.

Thursday, March 4th
Workout time was absorbed by packing and driving (that means there was no workout).

Friday, March 5th
I told you guys I'd get a run in, and I did! I managed 4 miles and felt really great during it, and I'll write about it in my recap of the weekend!

Saturday, March 6th
I didn't go out and run again, but Sarah and I went for a hilly 2.5 mile walk and hike. We almost fell down said hills. It was muddy and icy, but we did it (even if we did boarder on tresspassing...).

Sunday, March 7th
Yeah, no working out happened. Instead, there was lots of cleaning and packing and driving and unpacking and cleaning. Woo...

And there you have it. Nothing to write home about, but oh well. Back to it this week!


Currently Reading:
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower - Matt Fitzgerald (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hustle Up the Hancock Recap

Hello, all!

I've been talking about this consistently for nearly 2 months, and finally the day arrived! Sunday was the Hustle Up the Hancock - a "race" up 94 floors (1,632 steps) to the observation deck of the John Hancock Center in Chicago.

A few facts before we get started: The Hancock is one of the most well known buildings in the city. the 4th tallest, and this was the 19th annual climb event.

Before the Climb

The morning of the climb started very early - my company's team had a 7:15 "launch" time, and we had to be there about an hour before. So my alarm went off at 4:30 (just like on a work day!) and I laid in bed wishing I didn't have to get up (also like your average work day), especially because I hadn't fallen asleep easily or slept well. I actually had a super bizarre dream that I ended up having to carry a 30-lb pug-from-my-past in a back pack all the way to the top of the Hancock. I'm not kidding, I really dreamed that.

The pug in question:

Anyways.  I'd stayed at Cam's Saturday night so I only had to drive the 10 minutes to work and then I carpooled in with some other people (including my bff from work, Travis).

On the way in I drank some regular coffee (and was wired after) and right when we parked I ate a Clif Bar with peanut butter. Pre-event breakfast of champions, I'll tell ya.

We got to the Hancock around 6:15, put all our non-essentials in the trunk, and went off to find the rest of our group. I had some cash donations to turn in, so I did that, went to the bathroom, attached my bib and chip (to my shoe) ,and then spent some time stretching while Travis and I talked to some other coworkers. We're both on PrideZ and we had the chance to meet and connect with a few members from the Chicago office, which was pretty cool.

I also had a funny conversation with some people because I didn't bring or wear my event shirt - and I told them I was thinking about it, but decided against it because it was like tempting fate. I don't wear race shirts until I've done the event because I don't want to jinx things. One person said, "What, are you afraid you won't finish?" And I laughed and said, "Oh no, I can definitely do it. But if I wear that shirt I might fall and break my ankle on the 80th floor and then I'd have to keep going up with a broken ankle!"

They laughed at me again, and I said, "Hey! Every athlete has their superstitions, this is mine!" And it's true!! No tempting fate, people. (Sidenote, the shirt, which I thought at first was really ugly because it's this obnoxious bright orange, is actually one of my favorites now!)

Right around 7:00 our group moved to the start of the full climb line (there's also a half climb)...which was actually a line to the starting line (I know, confusing). With races, they have corrals, but with this event your team assembles to be let into the line. There were something like 4,000 participants, so it must be an efficient way to do it. Our team went right after the elites because apparently our team wins almost every year (whodathunk?!). The estimated time from the start of the climb line to the actual start was about 15 minutes, and takes you from the lower level to the first floor.

As we were approaching the start, there were signs everyone could sign about why we were climbing. I put a message about my grandpa on one, and signed the second since it was just for signatures. I really wanted to write more but didn't have time (which is also why I didn't take a picture).

The starting line was so weird for me because, unlike a road race, they were only letting one person start at a time. So one person would go, and then a buzzer would sound a few seconds later, and then they'd let the next person go. Travis went first, and about 10 seconds later I caught up to him and we did the whole climb together.


All week leading up to the event I was telling people how I couldn't wait for it to be over because, "Stair climbing really isn't my favorite thing to do. I'd rather be running."

No joke, I told that to at least a dozen people this week. But I was committed, and when I commit I like to follow through. Also like every single training climb, when I got to about the 5th or 6th floor I thought, 'Why the effballs am I doing this, and how on Earth am I supposed to do another 90 floors?!?!'

Now the good news about stair climbing, should you ever decide to do a challenge like this - around 25-30 floors after you start, your legs pretty much stop hurting, and it's just your lungs and heart rate to contend with.

To combat weariness, I developed a strategy. A goal, if you will. Every few floors they had volunteers (mostly teenagers) encouraging the climbers, holding signs that said various motivational things, or handing out water. I made it my goal to thank every.single.volunteer. Every one of them! I didn't want a single one to go without a thank you. Then, when Travis and I started passing people, I decided I should also encourage every person we passed.

I am proud to say I followed through with both of those things! Later I ran into one of the security guards going back to the parking garage and I said, "Hey! I remember you! You were on one of the floors before! Thanks again!" and he told our little group that he was so inspired by all the climbers that he's going to participate next year! That was really cool to hear - that just watching us all go by made him want to take part. I think that's pretty cool!

I couldn't believe it, but I was the annoyingly upbeat and optimistic person during the climb. It is so easy when you're climbing to get into the mindset of, 'this is awful, I want it to be over', because you spend so much time with your heart rate soaring:

Average Heart Rate of 165!!!!!!!!!!!!
For me, around the 80th floor I started feeling nauseous from it, which I knew would happen because it happened during training. But's definitely a mind game, and my obnoxiousness was to help people through that mind game.

I think know (because Travis told me...) that the only thing I said that didn't help, was when we got to the half climb point I said, "Just think, if we were doing the half climb we'd be getting off here...but because we're AWESOME we get to keep going! Second half!!"

This was everyone's reaction.
Lol, apparently no one wanted to hear that, but I stand by what I said. It's about the second half and pushing yourself!

I think the real impetus for saying that was that, in the moment, even if my lungs were on fire, I was really, really happy. I've wanted to do this climb since I was 16 years old (12 years!), and I was finally doing it. It was a barrel of fun to be able to climb and keep going, thanking and encouraging people. I had a smile on my face about 90% of the time, and I truly enjoyed (just about) every step.

It also caused me to reflect on my level of endurance, physically and mentally. (Allow me to be vain for just a minute...) I I am really, really fortunate that my body can just pick up and do these things. Yeah, I train and work at stuff like this, but it wasn't until I was almost at the top that I felt anything less than great. I could see people around me struggling, and though my lungs hurt, I felt awesome. Afterwards I really wanted to go for a run...I just didn't have time!

The Finish
The race ended at the 94th floor observation deck, and since the balloon arch was set up just outside the stairwell it was almost like a finisher's chute. It was pretty cool, actually, because you end up going through it one at a time. I crossed the finish line and felt fantastic (as I've already stated), and since I'd had a total Dory moment, forgetting that we'd get medals, I was ecstatic when a volunteer held one out for me!

Travis and I decided to take some selfies, and here are the ones I snagged of myself:

That smile on my face on the left? That doesn't even begin to touch how great I felt about this.

I also pulled my stats and the team stats off the website to share with you - I finished with an official time of 20:55!! And my age group rank is in the top 1/3!

 And look at this, our team DID win!
Our average team time is insane to me. I mean...that's an average!

And nbd or anything, but I wore my medal around town all day, and I also wore it to work on Monday. That's right, I was strutting around all over with that thing on, and I'd do it again! (Watch out guys, there might be another medal-worthy event coming up...)

The Stairs
The second most frequently asked question I answered was "What kind of stairs were they?" So I wanted to be sure to say it here:

They were normal stairs. Just steel stairs in a stair well, and you could comfortable fit two people side by side (with room to spare).

Fun fact though, the floors got smaller as you went up! (Kind of.) From floors 1-70ish there were 20 steps per floor. From 70-90 the number of steps dropped to 14 per floor. It was so exciting, thinking all the floors would be short until the top...and it was A GIANT LIE. It was like not knowing there's a hill at the end of your run, because at floor 90 those 14 steps increased to like 22 per floor! Totally unexpected, and yes, another mind game, but I conquered those things.

Also, I didn't run. I walked. I probably would have died if I'd tried to move faster than I did.

The Cause
Finally...the money raised. When everything with cash donations were said and done, I managed to raise (through the incredible generosity of my friends, family, and coworkers):


Eight hundred twenty-five!!!

That's amazing!!! I ended up being the top fundraiser at my company, which I have to admit feels pretty awesome.

Post Race
After the race we checked out the Expo (across the street and around the corner) and I had a fun time talking to some different vendors (Nuun, Clif Bar, and Fleet Feet were my favorites!). I even scored a free Clif bar when I told them they're my go-to pre-long-run meal (Clif with peanut butter, baby!). I ate a banana and a tangerine and just hung out talking to people until it was time to go.

Afterwards I got an Uber to my friend Gloria's place and we went out for brunch before I had to head home with more stuff to do!

All in all...On Sunday I cruised through nearly 17 hours of the day on very little meaningful sleep, a ton of adrenaline, and lots of endorphins. I ended up having way more fun at the event than I expected - it wasn't all labored breathing and stair climbing after all!

Now my problem: Next year is the 20th anniversary. I'm sure it will be good. *sigh* I might have to do it again.