Friday, May 26, 2017

All the updates at once - Part 1

(It turns out this post was WAY too long to put up all at once, so I'm splitting it up. I still don't know how long it will be...because I'm still not done with it. But on May 1st I promised an update, and it's time for me to get better about posting, so here we go.)

If you follow along here you've probably noticed the chronic absence of posts for the last few months. And I'll admit, life has moved very, very quickly during those months, and part of the lack of posting is because I've been too busy. It has also been up and down and lately (read: since December) and when I sit down to post I have had intense writer's block and can't put what's going on now into words.

And I think it's because I haven't written about all the other stuff that happened.

If you read my Mother's Day post, I let a large part of what happened this winter slip out. In this post, I'm going to talk about all of that. Just put it all out there and then see if maybe the writer's block abates.

This is going to be a very, very long post. I'm like 5 sentences in and I can't even tell you how long it will be. It will probably be a lot of words, and not a lot of pictures. It's going to be all over the place, because it's going to be about personal stuff, training, races, houses, puppies...everything.

This really is all the updates, all at once. As of starting this post, I don't even know if I'll put it all up at once because it might be that long. Who knows.

The truth is, I've been trying to avoid writing a lot of what I'll put in this post. Trying to move on and not let "outsiders" know about everything that happened. Because the truth is, at least for me, blogging tends to show all those people on the outside of your life all the great things that are going on, and it lets you soldier on through the difficult things in peace. At least that's how I do it, because I'm not good at showing people that I'm weak or lack control. That I have weaknesses in my life and character (who'da thought?). Obviously I do, but in this space I can pretend I have it all together (lol).

I'm not saying that hard things aren't ever talked about or shouldn't be, I just feel like I normally reference it all after the fact as "HOW I PREVAILED!" And this time around, some of it just feels too hard, and too private. Like a long, hard, ugly's not something you want people to see, especially when you're not "over" it (whatever the hell that means).

And there was a lot of difficult and ugly crying at the beginning of the year.

Obviously, there is a lot to be said for keeping things private. I've gone back and forth about this a lot trying to decide if it's something I want to write about here. I recognize that I don't have to, and that it's no one's business but my own. Not only because it means sharing this shadow over my heart, but because once it's out on the internet, it's out there for good. All of my friends will know. Any coworker who stumbles on this will know. Anthony's friends and coworkers will know...

...and that's a lot to process.

But all of it gives frame of reference for all the other things that happened since then. My struggles with getting back to training, the complete apathy I felt for a long time about everything that wasn't part of my relationship. And sometimes, in the blogosphere, I feel like the mirage needs to be cleared away to show the desert that's actually there. To show that it's not all good and happy and "hard work allows you to succeed".

Sometimes bad things just happen, and you have no control, and you let that lack of control take you over until you feel ready to grasp the reins again.

So here's that story.


Back at the beginning of December I had just completed my first official half marathon and was relishing in not having a training plan (maybe a little too much). I did a lot of not running and not going to the gym, and I was enjoying being able to be "lazy" and spend extra time with Anthony as we geared up for the holidays.

One such weekend, as I crafted my year's reflection on racing, I found myself dog sitting for my friend's parents...and I also realized my period was a few days late (not unusual though). So I did what any normal girl does, and took a pregnancy test, 100% expecting it to be negative.

Except it wasn't.

In complete disbelief and shock (because remember I was 100% sure I wasn't pregnant), I did the next possible thing and googled how to figure out how pregnant I was. I put in the first day of my last period, and the little Baby Center calculator thing estimated me at almost six weeks.


After the longest hour of my life, Anthony made it to the house and I showed him the test, waited the appropriate number of seconds for him to realize what it actually said, and then there was lots of hugging and smiling and happiness.

Right now you're probably sitting there scratching your head and wondering where my pregnancy announcement has been this whole time...

*lets the wheels spin*

...and now it's probably dawned on you that I am not pregnant. Anymore. ...yeah.

I want to say, before anything else, that though it was unexpected, we wanted this baby. From the first day we were excited and terrified for all of the changes coming our way, but overwhelmingly happy about all of it.

I told my mom two days after getting a positive test result (she was happy and there were some tears), and the following night while we were at the hospital waiting for Anthony's niece to be born his mom made a comment about not believing she'd be a grandma to 4 before 50, and Anthony unceremoniously said, "Well Christina's pregnant too," and that's how they found out. (More tears, all happy). I also scheduled my 10 week appointment with the OB for January 11th...and let the waiting commence.

On December 23rd I had my first experience with pregnancy fatigue after a decent bike workout at the gym (hill intervals!). Also, never fear - practically right away after getting that positive test I did as much research as possible on how to safely stay fit while pregnant and I knew a moderate hill workout would be okay, as long as my heart rate didn't stay too high, for too long.

But that workout left me totally spent, and I wound up in bed by 6:30 because I literally couldn't lift myself to sitting.

The next day, Christmas Eve, I had my first bout of nausea which lasted all day. I nibbled at some food, knowing I "had" to eat, but nausea with Christmas dinner in the books isn't the most enjoyable thing to face. At this point almost none of my family knew (my mom, brother, Jennie and Steve), so when I had some mac and cheese with dinner and realized OMG I WANT TO EAT THIS, I went back for seconds. One of my cousins made a rude (perhaps he was joking) comment about me "carbo loading" for something, and I almost punched him square in the face for being an ass. I still kind of wish I had *side eye*

And that was how I learned that finding that one thing you want to eat outside of being nauseous is probably the sole reason for that whole "don't touch a pregnant woman's food" saying.

There's also SO much out there on the internet about pregnancy, and for pretty much everything you'll read says that pregnancy is different for everyone. You literally cannot get a straight answer for anything. So for me, I spent mornings at work varying between nauseous and ravenous, and it would only lift slightly if I had something like Sprite or green tea, or ate citrus fruit or dry carbs (like crackers or cereal). By the time 2pm hit I'd be starving, and a lot of days the lunch I'd packed was not what I wanted and Anthony would be forced to take me for food I would eat (hello Jimmy John's BLTs).

I was also extremely tired all.the.time. I don't think I can adequately describe pregnancy fatigue. It isn't just being tired like I thought it would be. It was the complete inability to do anything that wasn't 100% crucial to survival, and even then there were things I seriously questioned needing to do (like get up to pee). I'm normally an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of person...but falling asleep at 6:30 is beyond ridiculous, even for me.

But that's how it went through most of January (hence the inability to properly train for a half marathon!).

At this point I'm going to start to intermingle the pregnancy talk with everything else that happened the first few weeks of January, because it was a lot. It was so much that I wrote it all down as it was happening. Yeah, I kept notes on life.

On January 1st we started looking at houses. We saw 8 (some single family, some townhomes) and ended the day disheartened because nothing was anywhere near what we wanted. The good news was that the following Saturday (the 7th) we found a house that we really liked, and we put an offer in (while standing in the kitchen of the house).

And thus, the nail biting that comprises house buying commenced.

On the 11th Anthony and I traipsed to the doctor's office after work for our first ultrasound. What we thought would be our 10 week scan. Only as the tech moved the probe around she got quiet and went from genial and talkative to very quiet, and not nervous but not cheerful. She said that the baby was measuring much smaller than 10 weeks, more like 5 or 6, which sent me into panic mode. The tech ended by saying the doctor would go over everything with us and as I got dressed I started word vomiting scenarios at Anthony based on everything I'd read. Then we went and waited in the doctor's office, nervous and certainly not as happy as when we'd walked in the door.

But he came in and said everything looked normal for week 6 of a pregnancy. He gave me a new due date (September 4th, not August 8th) and said we should come back in a week to make sure things were on track.

The next day more stuff happened with the house. After a few days of back and forth on a price (which included some laughable counteroffers by the sellers, should have seen the red flag it was), our offer on the house was accepted and the inspection was scheduled, which was great news.

Unfortunately, it was followed by some pretty terrible news...right as I was leaving work on the 12th, Anthony told me that he was getting texts from his friend that another childhood friend had been killed in a triple homicide. My heart shattered for Anthony. I thought about Kayla. I thought about finding out she had died two years earlier, while I was surrounded by people at work and feeling like I couldn't escape it and wanting nothing more than to do so. And I knew there wasn't anything I could do to take those feelings away.

It was a hard week, because there were so many mixed emotions. The terrible news about Darrell, the great news about the house, and then on the 18th we had our second ultrasound showing that the baby was growing on schedule for 7 weeks, and even though there wasn't a heartbeat yet, it gave us an incomprehensible feeling of relief (even though what we really wanted was to see that heartbeat).

On Saturday the 21st we drove to the city for Darrell's funeral,..and I can't explain any of the emotions associated with that either. It was my first time meeting any of Anthony's friends (and I met almost all of them), and my heart proceeded to break further as I saw them mourn their childhood friend. As I saw this young man's family (including his three year old daughter with curls like Shirley Temple) speak and sing about and honor the memory of their brother, cousin, father, son, and friend.

And as all of this happened, things with the house progressed. We had the inspection and determined what we wanted fixed in the house (or credited)...and the sellers came back the following week with a completely unreasonable response. And I mean completely. Realistically, we figured we were due at least $5000 in credits, and they offered us a fraction of that. They were offering us almost nothing, and there certainly should have been something.

That Sunday morning (the 22nd), I also noticed some spotting. That was when the internet taught me that something like one third of pregnancies have some sort of spotting, and there's really no way to tell if it's good or bad. You just have to wait and see. Not to give TMI here, but the spotting was brown and the internet assured me this was most likely implantation bleeding, and Anthony and I simply decided we'd have to be patient and relax about it until our next ultrasound the following Monday. I.e. freaking FOREVER away.

Obviously I spent the next few days worrying and updating Anthony about literally every bathroom visit, but I also called my doctor's office and spoke to the medical assistant who assured me some spotting is normal and if it's brown and I had no cramping there was nothing to worry about.

I was horribly sick that Tuesday night. The most nauseous I had been and tired beyond belief. I went to Anthony's house after work (about 4pm), crawled into bed, and fought the urge to throw up until I finally fell asleep for twelve hours.

All the while, the sellers for our house were being more and more ridiculous, and taking longer and longer to respond to any communication. As a matter of fact, there was no more word from them...until Friday.

(This is kind of long...I think I'll leave it there for now so everyone can give their eyes a break. Part 2 is already written so I'll post that tomorrow...I promise this time you don't have to wait a month!)


Sunday, May 14, 2017

This Mother's Day is different.

Happy Mother's Day.

To my own mother and grandmothers, to my Auntie. To the women in my life who have helped and encouraged and loved me the way only mothers can.

And Happy Mother's Day to all of us who have merely glimpsed motherhood, and who will mourn but never forget the children we have lost.


Monday, May 1, 2017

An update is coming...

Let's not beat around the bush...I've been bad about posting lately.

I never even posted house pictures like I said I would a month ago.

Well. The truth is...there is something coming. I started writing it on April 14th. It's currently 11 pages in MS Word and let's just say there's a lot more to go.

So you'll eventually get this mondo update about what's been going on, but I really need the time to put it all in order and figure out how I'm going to deliver it.

I just wanted to stop in and say that.

Here's a dog picture to make up for not posting anything of substance for so long!

PS - he's even cuter in person.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What a week it's been...

I mean that. It has been quite the week.

Quite the month.

Quite the year so far, actually.

January was a total slump, full of heart break and disappointment.

February was all about waiting, waiting, waiting.

March was also about waiting, but things really looked up...

And now we have a house. And a dog. And all that waiting really was worth it (just like everyone said it would be!).

This past week (last Sunday through today...and counting) was all about packing, moving, unpacking, playing with the puppy...etc!

Pictures and more coming soon!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I don't have a whole lot to say about things right now...everything in life seems to be waiting waiting waiting!

I will say this training plan starts next week and I'm just not feeling it. I mean, I'll get out there, I'll do my workouts (especially now that I have a coach and a plan from said coach and whatnot), but I'm not as prepared as I could be.

Mostly, I have spent the last month or so wanting to enjoy not training, so I've allowed myself the opportunity to skip workouts in lieu of other working out my cuddling skills with Anthony or my dogs, my "sleeping in" skills (woo I don't wake up until 6am on weekends!) and the like.

Truth is, life is about to get hectic. I don't want to jinx anything so I'm leaving it there...but next week I might just implode, haha.

And let's agree to not talk about the half in sixteen days. Let's just not. Ill-prepared doesn't even describe it. Longest run so far: 9 miles. I should be at least at 11 by now.


Time to pick up all the slack I've been dragging...


So there's the update, lol.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

Throwback Thursday

It's really not that much of a throw back, but I have a funny story from Sunday that I really want to share, so I'm throwing back!

So I mentioned in my last post that Anthony and I had a wedding to go to on Sunday - one of his friends was getting married. It was kind of weird getting all dressed up on a Sunday (it definitely made it feel a whole lot like Saturday...), but that's what we did!

For reference, my dress:

So you see in that second picture, how it's hugging my hips like that? It's a pretty form fitting dress, and here's the story behind (har har) how it started to not fit.

First up, this is only the second time I've worn this dress. I wore it to my cousin Sarah's wedding in December 2015, and I haven't worn it since. I really don't have much reason to wear a dress like that, and to be honest it always rides up my hips so there's lots of downward-tugging that happens when I do wear it!

Anyways, we got to the venue right on time and headed in to our seats. Shortly after the ceremony, during the post-ceremony, pre-reception mingling I went to the bathroom. Right before exiting I ran my hands down my dress, checked myself out (hey, don't judge), and during the hand-running I came to a very startling and embarrassing realization: The dress had a hole in it.

Not near my butt, not low towards the bottom seam...right smack dab in the middle of my butt, where you could poke a hole through my underwear to my you-know-what.

I couldn't believe it. I just stood there in drunken disbelief for a few moments (legitimately drunken because I was drunk), trying to turn my head enough to get the best look possible in the mirror. It was bad. The more I tried to make it less obvious, the more the hole grew. It was actually getting bigger. What started as a dime-sized hole was quarter size in no time. And then bigger.

I exited the bathroom and walked to Anthony as quickly as possible and told him of the problem.

He laughed. >:o

I'm just kidding about the angry face, I laughed while I was telling him. I finally snagged one of the bridesmaids and asked if there was a sewing kit for the bride's dress in the event of last minute repairs.

There wasn't.

Of course there wasn't. Also, not one person had a safety pin...well, at least not anyone we asked (and the mother of the bride helped with the asking). I was thinking Anthony and I would have to drive back to his house so I could get one...when I realized there was a JoAnn Fabrics across the street from the venue we were at.


I sent begged Anthony to go buy me a travel sewing kit so I could sneak into the bathroom and repair things, and he finally did. Fifteen minutes later he returned with black thread and needles and a few later I was sitting in a bathroom stall, dress in my lap, sewing up the offending hole while I squinted with one drunken eye to make sure my stitches were straight so the fabric wouldn't pull or gather and give some kind of winky bum-hole look to the dress. I sewed and sewed, and then used my teeth to cut the thread.

It is officially the most clutch thing I have ever done in my life :P

It wasn't too long before I was pulling it back on and asking the first person I encountered in the Ladies room to zip me up while I checked to make sure the dress looked okay (read: hole-less).

The result was perfection. You couldn't tell anything had happened. There was no hole, and I slid back into my seat before any part of dinner was served.

We had our fun and our drinks and our dinner, I actually met the bride and groom, and the rest of the night passed without any more holes to mend!

It's the best I could do without asking someone to take a picture of my butt. You can't see my underwear, which you'd be able to if it hadn't been fixed :P

But my absolutely favorite part of this wedding was knowing there's a very good reason for girls everyone to learn how to sew!


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Catching Up

Soooooooooo, it's been a bit! A little while! I'm not doing a great job of posting, but I swear I'm thinking about it all the with every run and trainer ride I'm thinking about a blog post I could be writing! I feel like my life is boring with the normal, daily in-and-out kind of things, but in reality we do have some very exciting things happening, and now that spring is on it's way life is really picking up. No more depressing winter moods affecting every facet of life!

There is just so much going on. Work is crazy busier than our department has ever seen I feel like I've been saying that for the last six months, but for real it's true. Our ticket-intake metrics were higher in 2016 than ever. And that's resulted in some changes (both good and mehhhh), and a lot of overtime for yours truly. I always tell my manager I'm working "accidental" overtime because it's almost never planned. I'll just be sitting at my desk at 3:30 thinking 'I'll wrap up this one last thing before I leave at 3:45...' and half an hour later I realize I'm still at my desk because someone has interrupted me with a problem or question, and my manager will walk by and ask why I'm still at work and I'll say, 'I'm working accidental overtime!'

It's also the reason for all the coffee I drink in the morning (okay not really...honestly it's mostly decaf, I just love coffee). But it makes for a funny story, Friday when I got to work I was in the elevator, and there are these three hilarious women who I run into on my way in every so often, and one of them said, "Only one cup for Friday?!" I looked at her like she was straight up crazy and said, "Oh no...I have a second..." and pulled my leak proof 20 oz coffee mug holding 'cup' number two out of my purse. The entire elevator burst into laughter.

As if I'd be so ill-prepared on any day of the week ;)

Anyways, outside of work I feel like I go a million miles an hour, and I'll be honest, I just don't want to sit down at a desk to blog at the end of a work day! I also don't want blogging to be a's something I like to do when I have time, and if that makes me a bad blogger, so be it! :P

Since there's so much going on, I'll use this as a dumping ground for all the stuff I keep wanting to talk about!

To bring y'all up to speed...
Anthony and I started looking at houses again three weeks ago. I want to put a note here that my agent, Barb, is amazing. I absolutely love her, and she's made this whole process so much easier, even given what's happened (post on that once a house is bought). She knows real estate and she knows the mortgage process, and as a first time buyer she has taken any and all guesswork out of home buying. She's amazing. If anyone in the Northern IL area needs and agent for buying or selling, I recommend her and am more than happy to talk about what it's been like working with her! You can click the link above for her contact info.

Anyways, it's been nice to get back out there and see what's being offered, and it helped that we had some good weather. We made the decision to up our price point as well, which is fine, if dauntingWe can afford slightly more than the first house we put an offer on, but it's still a mental hurdle. We talk a lot about taxes now...probably even more than listing prices!

So the house-looking thing scooting along!

Plans, plans, plans...
Outside of working, pre-training, house hunting, pouring over adorable, adoptable dogs, and watching lots of documentaries on Netflix: We're making plans for the year. Races aside, I have three friends (so far) getting married this year, and there will be travelling for each. From quaint, picturesque Illinois to the North Woods of Wisconsin to Buffalo, NY, there's a lot of planning and saving to be done to see some of my best friends in this world get married! In addition, Anthony's friend is getting married today, so we'll start off with that!

Anthony and I are also trying to plan some kind of "vacation" in the midst of all this (whatever it ends up being), so I'm obviously sitting here wishing I made about $50k more a year, and had about twice as many PTO days... ;)

Fitness Wise...
The same week we started looking at houses again I got back in the gym, on my trainer, and in the pool. It felt good. It has definitely been a challenge, and I've been struggling with some things both mentally and physically, but I'm feeling more myself.

Though I've been running sporadically the last few months, it's been hard to know what my body can handle so it hasn't been happening as often as it should. I also went on Garmin Connect and looked at the last time I swam before February was December 2nd. I swam one mile that day and hadn't been in a pool since, and admittedly my pool time is still lacking. Yikes. That obviously has to change! I'm considering doing a masters class, but I need things to slow down just a bit before I fit a structured (time constrained) workout in each week.

Also, because I was so "bad" about "training" for the Lincoln Presidential Half due to personal health stuff in January and February I decided to scrap my original half marathon training plan and picked up a "gentler" plan to follow for the last 6 weeks of training. **Sidenote: mad props to Steffi for killing it...she's having some great runs!!**

A Note About Running
My notes about running are these: I have had a seriously hard time controlling my heart rate since the beginning of January. I felt like I was going slower and slower and slower with every run, never improving. Bike and swim, totally fine...but running has been killing me. Until the last 10 or so days. Last week I did some intervals that put me at about 4 miles, my run last Saturday (6 miles) was intervals, and yesterday I did another 4 miles of intervals...and NOW I'm seeing a difference in how my heart is reacting when I run. My "easy" runs are becoming a bit easier, and I'm seeing some improvement overall, thank goodness!

That said, I did 9 miles today - my longest run since the half, and it's still a struggle in a lot of ways. Maybe it's because I've done so much winter running on the treadmill so I'm losing some of the outdoor conditioning, maybe it's that I haven't done a ton of distance running the last few's probably a combination of a few things. But running isn't going away. With the Ragnar only three months away I'll be continuing forward from this half marathon with a marathon training plan to get me to the I have to be serious about running. I have to be serious about interval and hill training. And if that means coming up with more creative ways to stay motivated and disciplined, then that's what I'll do!

In all this, and realizing I needed to step up my game, I signed up for my training plan for the Oly in July so I'd know what I'm in for. The plan starts on March 20th, averages 7-11 hours of training a week with a few 3 hour weeks rolled in, and now I'm sitting here thinking pleeeeease let us be closing on a house by then so I don't have to juggle weekend workouts and house hunting...

House hunting has been a weekend thing for us because our work hours conflict and only allow us to view either on Saturday/Sunday or very late on weekdays (which means we haven't even done weekday viewings). We're really hoping that will all be over soon and we can just get settled somewhere. I personally am pulling for sometime before my tri season starts, because it will make my life easier and so much less stressful to have my life in one place. So fingers crossed on all that!

Which reminds me...I'll be changing gyms soon. It's about time. I've been going to LA Fitness for almost two and a half years, but it's never really been convenient. I can't afford somewhere like Lifetime, but there's an XSport Fitness right near my office, and Anthony goes there and likes it well enough. Since none of my swim workouts are on the weekends for my Oly plan I don't have to worry about trekking out there from my house, so...yeah. As soon as we have a contract locked in for a house, that's gonna happen. Perhaps I'm being optimistic that I'll be changing gyms "soon"...but for real I hope I will be!!

There you go. All the busy and crazy with work and life and training and everything.

And now it's time to go eat whatever Anthony's making for breakfast (that smells super good), and head off to the gym before another busy Sunday.

Catch ya later!


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Looking Up

I'm sitting here, my desk (at home) a complete mess of papers and pamphlets with everything from a Dick's credit card application (no thank you), to a list of houses we're viewing tomorrow (yes, please), a Ragnar "Race Bible" (eeeeek!) and a lovely card from my aunt in England (I miss you!!)...and I can actually tell you that I'm excited.

It is odd and weird and hard to say that. I have mixed emotions about being happy like this, kind of like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop (again...), but I'm feeling more like myself. I'm happy and nervous and excited for these next few months.

This week started out as a total struggle for me, and as dorky as it sounds to say it, Valentine's day turned that right around. I took the day off due to a cold, but it was also a much-needed mental health day.

I lounged around, did laundry, had lunch with my cousin and this adorable dude (in his awesome narwhal-as-unicorn shirt!):

...and then Anthony surprised me with flowers and a picnic-in-bed-with-Netflix-and-cuddles. The cuddles were extra needed. I am more than lucky to have him, and I don't know what I'd ever do without his support!
That smile!!!!!!!!!! 😍
The week is ending nicely as well. Tomorrow, Anthony and my mom and I go to look at some houses that actually have me excited. Not just one, but SIX. Six of these places actually look good, which is a breath of fresh air.

On top of that, tonight I get to meet most of my teammates for Ragnar Chicago 2017. Team 38, (The Team That Must Not Be Named!) is getting together for a potluck and discussion about all things Ragnar, hence the mess of papers on my desk!

There are a lot of moving parts with Ragnar, and though I'm "captain" of mine, I've had the help of two amazing women along the way. Tonight we make the bulk of the decisions that will affect each runner (mainly what legs we'll each be running), so there's a lot to do and go over! After that I'll sit down and see what kind of training I might have to supplement in addition to my training plan for the Lake Zurich tri, and I'll make sure all of that will work.

But really, I'm just excited that things seem to be looking up after how stressful and bleak and heartbreaking January turned out to be. Maybe it's just the break in weather we go here in the midwest (it's sixty three degress out right now!!!), but seeing the sun is uplifting and has put me in a can-do mindset!

Anyways. That meetup tonight. I have brownies made, meatballs prepped, my mom cleaned the kitchen floors and bathroom (thanks, mom!), and now it's time for me to hit the pavement for the six miles on this half plan. So off I scoot!

And if you've stuck around for all that, check out this picture that my aunt sent me with her card. When I was in England in September I got to help close the door on a lock, and she took a picture of me doing so. Totally dressed for the occasion! (It's pretty obvious that guy was not thrilled about the photo op!)

Have a good one, and here's to things looking up ;)


Monday, January 30, 2017

What does 2017 have in store?

I don't even know where to start. I think I'll just let January go down as the worst month of my life (if you would like to pretend this is hyperbole, go ahead. It's not.) and leave it at that. Yes. Worse than the month my dad died, as awful as it is to compare. But true.

I don't know if I'll ever post all of the things that happened, but I know there are a few people sitting out there who know and you're probably nodding along, and you understand why I'm saying that.

That's part of why I haven't posted almost all month. Because of all this stuff going on.

But anyways.

To that post. Something slightly more positive. The post I've been saying I'll post about races and goals for the year, because what better to distract me than preparing for race season? Here you go.

2017 'Goals'
I use the word 'goals' loosely, because really I'm not trying to break any records. Not even my own - although it will be awesome if that happens by accident.

I can tell you the races I've signed up for, and I'll be honest, there aren't a ton of them. Because of the whole house-buying thing I have to be really careful about money right now, and I can't go tossing it all at races.

I'm looking at you, Half-Ironman.

I won't lie - that was going to be my A goal this year. Steelhead 70.3. But nearly $300 to register, not including any lodging, travel, or time-off expenses? Well, that's probably not going to happen. I have a while to make up my mind, but let's be realistic. Planning for a half IM would cost just as much as having a house inspected and appraised, and I can't be throwing money like that around right now.

Does it suck to realize that? Yes. But I'd rather get a mortgage with a good rate than have someone asking me what I'm dropping that money on when I'm trying to buy a house!

I also want a new bike before attempting a half, so there's that to factor in.

The good news? Races will always be there, so I'll come back to this one at some point.

2017 Races
All that said, I have registered for a few races. Here goes;

The Lincoln Presidential Half (April 1)
Again, no real goal. I'm running this with my friend Steffi (from 2016's Shamrock Shuffle and the Hot Chocolate 15k). It will be her first half, and she'll probably school me at it since I've spent the last few weeks sucking at training.

BUT...the fun things about this race??

  1. We get to stay with Mama and Papa Bender since they live near Springfield.
  2. Race with a friend, and my stalwart Sherpa (that'd be Anthony!) accompanying us.
    1. We run through all the hot Lincoln spots in Springfield!
    2. 13.1 miles of fun, educational sites
    3. You can wear top hats.
    4. Either Jennie will come to spectate or I get to guest blog! So for the first time ever I promise course pictures!
    5. The medal is a giant penny. If that doesn't sell you on it I don't know what will.
    6. Oh yeah, it's affordable. I registered today and it was $50.
I can't wait. I am quite excited. Here's to my second half!

Ragnar Chicago! (June 9-10)
This is a big one. I'm preparing for this to be the most fun race of the season because people who do Ragnars always say it is.

If you don't know (and I don't expect you to if you're not a race-nut like yours truly), a Ragnar relay is a 200 mile, 12 person relay race from point A to point B. Ragnar Chicago starts in Madison, WI and we will run in relay fashion to Chicago over two days. Each person runs three legs during that time, and each leg is between three and twelve miles long, totaling 11 to 22 miles per runner for the two days.

You run during the day. You run at night. You run in whatever weather you're blessed or cursed with, through hills and bluffs and flats. You just run your leg, and pass off the snap bracelet at exchange points. When you're not running, you're driving/riding between exchange points, supporting your team and other runners.

For me and my team, we initially came together through the Hogwarts Running Club Midwest chapter. About half of us are die hard Potter fans, and we recruited the other half of our runners elsewhere (though we still love them just as much). #TheTeamThatShallNotBeNamed is getting ready to crush Ragnar, and we're all stoked.

That said...organizing a Ragnar is another beast to tackle. I'm technically Captain of my team, but I have to say I have some amazing ladies who have helped me while my life got flip-turned-upside-down last month. I owe them everything, and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

So...that's all happening.

Lake Zurich Triathlon, Olympic distance (July 9)
I registered to LZT shortly after it opened, and I'll start training soon-ish.

To whine for a second: For the first time in months I actually want to swim and I can't. Why? Because swimming is solitary. You can disappear in the water and be alone and no one is going to bother you. But as soon as I want to do it I can't. Yay.

Anyways...I don't know if I'll change my training plan from last year (last year's had so.much.swimming). I'll probably switch it up, tbh. That's a decision for a later date though.

I do have a goal with this (even though I'm not in a goal setting mood) and I'm going to put it here: I'd like to beat my Chicago Triathlon time. My official time for Chicago was 3:21:21. How will I do that?

  1. Admittedly transition was HUGE for Chicago, but I spent 17:26 in transition. That's so.long. Transition for LZ is way smaller (and doesn't include a half mile run to it), so I'm hoping I can bring all that down and firm up my transition times to scrape a good 10 minutes off that time.
  2. Run more. I feel like the run for Chicago was such a weak spot for me because of the heat and GI issues. It will still be super hot for LZ in the middle of July, but I'm hoping all of the running I'll be doing for the half and Ragnar will even the playing field for it a bit more.
  3. Steady bike. Just like last year for Chicago I'll do my bike workouts and aim to excel like I did last year.
A three pronged approach. What could go wrong? (I'm saying that super sarcastically. Everything could go wrong. I have learned from January that life likes to suck like that.)

The Chicago Marathon (October 8)
The list is short and this is the last thing on it but... The Chicago Marathon is happening again this year. For me, I mean. It'd be happening with or without me.

The 40th anniversary is on it's way, and I'm running for #TeamRMHC again. I'm not-so-secretly hoping that there's a giant medal and huge crowd. I can't wait.

Also, though not all about goals, it'd be cool to cut 20 minutes from my time and come in under 5 hours. Just throwing it out there. Guess it's time to up the speed work I do.

Stay tuned to this space for more on that, because I hope to make a bigger deal out of fundraising this year than I did last year. So yeah. Watch out.

So there you go.
2017 races and goals, out there for all of you.

I'm not on my game today so I'm sorry if all of this seems lackluster. The lust will come back, I promise...I just need some time. Thanks for understanding

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!