Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Find what you love and you'll never work (out)

It's a headband: Buy it.
Inspired by Fit and Feminist and Good For Me Girl

I don't like the term "working out." It has so much negative connotation. Most people dread that word, and view it as a chore. Let me get on my soap box ... 

If you can figure out how to "work out" doing something you enjoy, suddenly, "working out" isn't a chore. It's a treat. It's something you look forward to. No more excuses. You work it into your schedule. Because you want to do it. It doesn't feel like work.

I love running. I really do. (It took me a few months to get to that point though.)

Last night it was cold (high 30s), windy, and dark, but I ran 4.28 miles with my Monday night group. (Yes, outside. Layers! They work!) While running, we talked about upcoming races, and next year's goals (marathons) and I don't remember what else. The miles flew by, even with the wind. I always feel very blah at work on Monday, but I always know if I go to my group run, I will feel better. Awesome, even. So I went. And I did feel awesome.

I don't look at running as "working out." Because, as you can hopefully see from the above paragraph, it doesn't feel like "work."

Running isn't a chore for me. It's a treat. It's fun. It feels great. It makes me feel great. It's a way to challenge myself - and a boost to my self-esteem when I meet my challenges. It's a way to meet new people. It's a way to get outside, and see things - last night we enjoyed everyone's Christmas lights! I'll be so sad when those are gone in January. This past weekend, I ran a new trail through a forest preserve - and saw a waterfall! When was the last time you saw a waterfall? 45 minutes from home?

But running costs money. The clothes, shoes, Garmin, races, not to mention a gym membership. It adds up. It's not cheap. We certainly have plenty of other, better (smarter) way to spend our money.

But you know what? I'm worth it. Are you worth it? I know who reads my blog (or at least comments), so I know I'm preaching to the choir, but how are you investing in your health? Because that's what it's about, investing in my physical and mental health.

Have you taken the time to find out how you like to move? Stop forcing yourself to work out in ways that you don't enjoy. Because it'll never stick. Everyone likes something. Maybe it's not running. Maybe it's swimming. Or dance class. Or a team sport. Or wall climbing. Or martial arts. Whatever it is, are you doing it? If no, why not? It's an investment of time and money in yourself - aren't you worth it? (Spoiler: Yes!) It's an investment that pays off so much in improved physical and mental health.

January 1, 2012 is coming up quick. Figure out what you enjoy and then make it your New Years resolution to do it.

Don't forget: Donate $5 to the American Cancer Society and be entered into my FuelBelt raffle.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cross-Training: At the pool

Every runners favorite: cross training
because in 2011, nowhere is off-limits for blog pictures
Well, it must be winter. Because I'm actually cross training. (Are you????)

I didn't really know what cross training was until I checked Wikipedia (basically it's doing other forms of exercise). 

During the cold, dark winter months, I always get reacquainted with swimming, and remember how much I love it. I used to teach swim lessons back in the days when my source of income was from life guarding, and teaching swim lessons was a part of working at the community pool. Seriously, I loved getting paid to basically swim around, tell kids what to do, and play games in the water. I would say maybe that means I should have been a teacher, but swim lessons only lasted an hour, so I'll stick with marketing.

And in the grand circle of life, when I was a kid, I used to take swim lessons at the pool where I eventually taught them. And boy did I take swim lessons. The rule in our house was if you wanted a membership to the community pool (and you did, because that's where all your friends were all summer), you had to take swim lessons. Every summer. And you could stop when you basically passed through all the levels and ran out of classes to take. (I still never mastered the butterfly. Maybe I should work on that as a goal this winter. Judie?) I took swim lessons for probably 10-11 years. I hope that means I have good form. But knowing the type of swim teachers they employed (um, teenagers who needed summer jobs), it very well could be that we learned enough just to not drown.

Anyway, it was cold and rainy today, so I went to the gym and decided to see if I could swim a mile (32 laps). It took me 50 minutes. And it felt really great. I'm sure there's some kind of baptismal metaphor in there, but sometimes it feels really good to be submerged in water, shut off from the world. And if I keep this up, I wonder how fast I can swim a mile by the time spring rolls back around, and the weather improves, and I once again forget how much I enjoy swimming. Because I also really enjoy running ... yes, completing a triathlon is on my to do list. Heck, I might even start taking spin classes at the gym again this winter. 

And luckily I can mix it up with cross training even more at my sister-in-law's dance studio. Hula hooping and belly dance count as cross training, right?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving ... TIME FOR PIE. Which I'll run off with strangers.

Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2011
I love how I'm 29 but my parents still have to document whenever I'm cooking.
Making Artichoke Spinach Dip Stuffed Mushrooms. Recipe.

Pi Pie Plate ... told you I was a dork
Yup, I'm a dork.

Thanksgiving 2011
The mushrooms were a hit. Also, any leftover filling is good (uncooked) with tortilla chips.

Thanksgiving 2011
The place cards were turkeys made from my niece's handprint. They also had magnets on the back.
Also my sister-in-law is only a few craft projects away from being the next Martha Stewart.

Thanksgiving 2011
My brother Mark (one of the hosts) is ready to get down to business.

Thanksgiving 2011
Cuddling with my niece after dinner.
Her shirt said "Everyone is Thankful for ME!"
As the only grandchild and niece or nephew in our immediate family, yes, that is very true.

Thanksgiving 2011
Triple-layer chocolate cake, pumpkin pie!!!!! and wildberry pie

Thanksgiving 2011
The Sailor made triple-layer chocolate cake from scratch. His best one yet! :)

Thanksgiving 2011
"She's part Texan."

This morning, instead of shopping (I never shop on Black Friday anyway, unless it's at a resale store), I got up early and met up with some other lady runners for a 9.5 mile run at Waterfall Glen. FINALLY. I keep hearing about Waterfall Glen, I'm glad I finally had a chance to check it out. It was a nice trail, although some parts had zero shade - something to keep in mind when summer rolls back around. Also FINALLY in the sense that I FINALLY dragged my lazy butt out of bed early on a day off to meet up with a group for a run. And even though we were running for 97 minutes, it went really fast! And not just because we ran faster than I would have if I were running alone.

Post-run photo taken on Amanda's phone by super fast dude in short shorts.
But they are always in short shorts. Source: TooTallFritz.com.

Of course our group was one-third blogger. In the white shirt is Amanda, and Kelly is in the front, second from right. And I'm in the blue top/navy blue jacket.

And as if that wasn't enough, I went to a 1.5 hour Tribal Belly Dance workshop tonight. Actually, it felt good. I guess there is something to "cross training" and using different muscles. Maybe tomorrow I'll even go to the gym and swim a few laps! My legs could use a break.

How did you spend your Black Friday? 

P.S. I'm still accepting donations for my Active Bands giveaway :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Race Report: Running For Kicks 4 Mile Turkey Trot

Me, The Sailor, and "Mike Ryan"
I had big hopes for today's Turkey Trot:
  1. Finish in under 34 minutes
  2. Beat my husband
  3. Meet fellow running bloggers 
I went two for three, so that ain't bad.

I figured my 5K PR is 25:59, a pace of 8:22 or 8:23. If I ran 8:30, I could finish in 34:00 minutes.

The race was great. Up and down rolling (Chicagoland) hills, which I expected from hearing all the Monday night folks talk about. There were clocks at every mile, and my Garmin beeped a little past every mile, but it was close enough. I tried to keep my heart rate around 180, which I think is around 96 percent of my max heart rate.

I was paying attention to the mile splits on the clocks and my Garmin, but I knew I started about 10 seconds after the clock started and as much as I love math, sometimes it's hard to get mental math perfect down to the second while you're pushing yourself. I think I knew I was beating my 5K PR pace, so that felt pretty great. Around miles 2-3, I started regretting the little bit of toast/peanut butter and coffee/soy milk I had for breakfast. I think I should stick to stuff like shot bloks before shorter races.

Running For Kicks 4 Mile Turkey Trot
To quote our third grade teacher,
we are "strong, smart women"
I got to the last 400m and started pushing myself, saw Vera who had already finished and kept pushing, and as soon as the finish line came into view (and I could hear people [men] behind me start sprinting), I sprinted faster. I crossed the finish line/mats, stopped my Garmin and then went off to the side to catch my breath. It took a minute (and pulling down my heart rate strap). Once I recomposed myself, I checked my Garmin. 33:01! WHAT?? A minute faster than my goal!

I saw Amanda at the start and again as I finished, so I went back over to say hi again, and then went back to find Vera and watch for The Sailor to finish. He finished about 10 minutes later. We went and got water and bananas, and then headed home. We had cakes, pies and stuffed mushrooms to make.

So, as you can see, I met my time goal and my beating-the-husband goal, but I didn't meet my two running blogger friends. Next race!

Running For Kicks 4 Mile Turkey Trot
Chip time: 33:00 / 8:15 pace
Overall: 226 / 1,133
F25-29: 9 / 99

Did you race this morning? How did it go?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! That for which I am thankful and unthankful.

This year, I'm thankful for:
The usual: a job, a roof over my head, a loving husband, my health, good friends, etc.

But I'm also thankful for silly little things. Like this one in particular:

snuggied up
Related: I am also thankful for snuggies.
And this little thing:

My niece. Such a little ham.

I'm thankful for Christmas lights!! Seriously. Wish I could leave them up all year. They make everything look happier: 

Christmas lights
An old picture. We moved out of this apartment in 2010.

I'm thankful for the internet. Seriously. Can we just stop and reflect on the greatness that is the world wide web? Because stuff like this exists, and has been viewed over 49 million times. 

Scratch that, that is not why the internet is awesome. It's awesome because it's connecting me with other local runners and hopefully I can stop forcing my husband to run so many races with me. It is also awesome because I could buy a new power adapter for my laptop for $25 less and without making a trip to the Apple store. It's awesome because I've raised $40 so far for the American Cancer Society just through this blog. Want to help me raise more?

OK! Enough with the happy.

I am unthankful for:

Terrible skin. Seriously. I look like I'm 16, not 29.

My car. I guess it could be worse, but so far this year I've spent probably over $1,000 in repairs on that car. Including replacing a less-than-one-year-old alternator and tire.

Reality TV. All the yelling. Stop yelling! And stop giving shows to people who don't actually DO anything.

The "Merry Christmas not Happy Holidays" people. I don't usually get "political" on here, but is Christmas not a holiday? Someone is offering you a friendly greeting, and you are offended?

People who train less but run faster than me. Seriously. I hate reading the "About Me" section on a running blog and they write about how they barely trained for their first half marathon and finished in 2:15.

What are you thankful and unthankful for? 

P.S. Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow morning! I'll be doing the Running For Kicks 4 Mile Turkey Trot with The Sailor, one of my BFFs and some of my other blogger friends (two of whom I've never met in person).   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Most of what you've heard about working at a restaurant is true

Kind of really accurate.
Minus the mishandling of food.
At least in my experience.
I have nothing running-related to write about, so I bring you some life experience blogging:

During college, like many others, I worked at a few restaurants. One that treats you "like family" and another that offers an "Irish" experience. I'll let you figure out which ones I'm talking about.

Anyway, I love reading articles/blog posts/rants about restaurants. From all sides - the articles about what restaurants don't want you to know (which are usually 95% true, at least in my experience), to customer rants, and even better - server rants. So anyway. I'd like to contribute my thoughts on the matter ...

Give your server a break. Seriously, waiting tables can be a real soul-crushing job. Many patrons treat the wait staff more like a servant than a server, and the manager cares more about sales than staff. It's a crappy job that most servers don't like doing, but it's a job that pays their bills (barely). Don't be fooled - sure you might leave your server a nice tip after dinner on a Friday night, but know that servers live for the weekends. During weekday shifts, I had to work three hours of serving to earn the equivalent of my current hourly (salaried) pay. So if each week is three crappy-paying weekday shifts + two decent weekend shifts = hardly a living. Plus consider that they have to carry heavy trays and have probably (definitely) spilled boiling hot soup on themselves at least once and maybe (definitely) burned their hand on an oven making your precious garlic bread AND have to deal with berating from customers who want their bread RIGHT NOW ... seriously, give your server a break!

Your server is probably sleeping with one of the managers. Or you hostess is probably sleeping with one of the bartenders. Not everyone who works in a restaurant is sleeping with someone else from that restaurant, but it sure felt that way. I probably would have too if my "restaurant husband" wasn't gay.

There is a reason people who work in restaurants work in restaurants. And no, it's not because they like food (unless you are at a high-end place and we're talking about the chefs). Maybe they need a job with flexible hours (students, actors, parents, people with more than one job). Maybe they need a job that doesn't require drug testing. Maybe they are not living here legally. Um, I've reached the end of this list.

Everything is mandated in some way. Especially at chain restaurants. Portion sizes aren't the only things that are regulated. Servers can only wait on a certain number of tables at once. Food has to be brought in a certain order (appetizers before salads). There are strict guidelines on how many pieces of bread a table gets. How big a family-style salad is. What glass your drink is served in (although that has to do with making it clear what has alcohol [and what kind of alcohol] and what doesn't).

The stereotypes are true. While there are certainly exceptions, more times than not, your server probably knows what serving you will be like (and what kind of tip you will leave) just by looking at you or within the first 5 seconds of greeting your table. I would apologize ... but most of the time the stereotypes were true. (And no, I won't tell you what they were.)

If someone asks you how you are doing, respond!!! 90% of the time, when I greeted a table with "Hi, my name is Maggie, how are you all this evening?" I was met with silence. Drove me INSANE. How hard is it to say "Fine, and how are you?" If you're an adult, you should know basic manners.

If you are obese and let your obese child order off the adult menu, I am secretly judging you. Seriously. Same if you suck down like five raspberry lemonades before your food arrives. Just because it has fruit in the name doesn't mean it's not mostly sugar. Drink water. Unless you want to get diabetes.

Smokers are the best restaurant customers. Even though I smelled terrible at the end of my shift, I looooved being assigned to the smoking section. They weren't uptight. They weren't in a hurry. I never once got "where's my bread?!?!?" from a smoker. And they are great tippers.

The salad is not the healthy option. I always laughed to myself when I'd ask someone (usually a woman) if she wanted soup or salad and she'd say something like "the salad - I want to be healthy." Really? Iceberg lettuce + salad dressing that is worse for you than the cream sauces on some entrees + croutons + you'll probably want cheese on it? Not healthy. (Go for the brothy soup, especially if it's vegetable or minestrone.)

If you don't have an ID, and you aren't wrinkly with gray hair, you will not get served. Servers can get fired if they are caught serving to someone underage, and if you don't have an ID to prove that you are of age, then that proves the server didn't card you, and the server can get fired. No tip, no matter how big, is worth risking your job. (Because then you get no tips.) I once had a table not tip me because I refused to give someone a sample of wine when she didn't have an ID. YOUR DESIRE TO HAVE A GLASS OF WINE IS NOT WORTH SOMEONE'S JOB.

You get more bees with honey. I never understood the staff who gave the management attitude. I was always super sweet to my managers (and I'm sure it helped that I was a cute 20-year-old redhead and they were all male) and it made things worlds easier on me when I needed their help. Like when a table walked out on a bill - technically that would come out of my tips - but the manager on duty that night wasn't well-respected by most staff, however I was always nice to him, and he comped the meal. He also bought me lunch during my last few shifts when I finally left (that's another thing - I was one of the few to leave on my own accord with two weeks notice - most left because they got fired or just quit on the spot). On the other hand, another server who had a terrible attitude with management got fired for serving someone underage. But it probably had more to do with the fact that management was looking for an excuse to fire him, and he gave them one. I never had management check up on my tables to make sure everyone was 21. Life lesson learned (and I learned this in high school) - be nice, work hard, and you can get away with stuff. Be a jerk, slack off, and you can't.

Don't ask your server to sing happy birthday. Just don't. They don't want to. None of the other servers want to join in and sing along. And your server has 4 other tables that need more bread and you are holding that up. If you must do this, please, for the love of soup, salad and breadsticks, leave a big tip. I'm talking 30% or more. 

Have you ever worked in a restaurant? What else would you add to this list?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Clothing Swap Success ... and Weight Loss Success

My mom raised me with an appreciation of shopping secondhand, as well as wearing the very nice hand-me-downs from her friend's daughter. This appreciation has not been lost on me as I have aged. I still love shopping secondhand - it's cheap and "green" and you are likely supporting a worthy charitable cause. If you have enough time to dig through the racks, I promise you can find some awesome stuff in great condition at a cheap price.

However, my friends and I also appreciate something even better: Clothing swaps!

If you've never heard of it, basically you collect all the clothes/shoes/accessories you would otherwise donate to a resale store, and get together with your friends who have done the same, and then start going through each other's stuff, and keeping what you want. One woman's bound-for-Goodwill clothing is another woman's new work outfit. Best of all? It's free. And you don't have to weed through overstuffed racks of crap to find good stuff.

One of my friends held such a party on Friday night, but I didn't make it. However, I was able to stop by her place on Saturday night, and she let me take all of the leftovers. It was about 20 or so bags worth of stuff. I had to do a lot of shoving, but I somehow fit it all in the trunk of my tiny car.

This plus 5 more bags I had already carried upstairs

It took me almost all of Sunday to go through the bags (I did stop to run 7 miles, shower, and eat lunch and later dinner). I ended up keeping this for myself:

I need better lighting. I promise those are piles of clothes.

Mostly a lot of  skirts, dresses, and tops, but also scarves, belts, coats, shoes, bags ... needless to say, I don't need to go shopping anytime soon. Which is good, because I haven't been shopping for anything other than running clothes for the past few months, and with all the running some of my clothes are getting a little baggy on me.

Because ... I fit into size 8 again! I don't think that has happened since college. So not only did I get tons of new and free clothes, but I had a major ego boost knowing that I am down two dress sizes from a year ago. (Of course women's sizing is so messed up. I'd actually consider myself a size 10, but depending on the brand, size 8 or 12 might fit better. However a year ago, in some brands, size 12 was fitting a little snug.)

The rest of the clothing leftovers will probably be brought to a future Clothing Swap Party at my sister-in-law's dance studio. So, if you're local to me, feel free to join us!

Do you like to shop resale? Have you ever attended a clothing swap party? 

P.S. - Did you know that I'm doing an Active Bands giveaway in exchange for $5 donations to the American Cancer Society? :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

DetermiNation ... CM12 is really happening.

The other day my DetermiNation package came from the American Cancer Society:

The envelope was shiny!

They included a ribbon for me to wear for my uncle

My singlet ... modeled over my work clothes

It's really happening!! No turning back now!! Also, I was talking to my cousin last night (celebrating her 29th birthday!) and told her I was doing the marathon, and she said she'd do it again, once again for World Vision. And she tried to get me to join the World Vision team :)   (Such do-gooders we are.)

The ACS actually encourages us to run in our singlets before our goal race. Probably because it is free promotion for their program. Hey, I work in marketing, I know how it works.

BUT ... the good thing is I don't have to stress over what to wear on race day. Well, at least not which top to wear. And I have 11 months to build an awesome outfit around this top. (11 months to find cute red shorts, and fun compression calf sleeves! Funner than the black ones I already have.)

Oh, did you hear? I'm doing an Active Bands giveaway in exchange for $5 donations to the American Cancer Society :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Funny, My Christmas Wish List is like 90% Running Stuff

Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/Festivus is coming!!

Shopping for a runner in your life? Or, are you a runner wondering what to put on your wish list?

Either way, here are some of the running-related things on MY wish list:

Fancy Display for my Race Medals - $55 from Allied Medal Displays

Or for $20 get a tie rack from Bed Bath & Beyond.

 Turn a race bib into coasters for only $29 (gift certificate)

The days are shorter, time for reflective gear! Sure you can get your runner a dorky reflective vest (they probably already have one though [I do]) or you can get them some sweet reflective tights. Seriously. SOMEONE BUY THESE FOR ME. Size L, color black, THANKS!

Fancy running socks. Most runners have their preference. These are mine. If you're truly curious, I prefer them in black, white, or any of the stripe color combos. And you can never have too many pairs of running socks. However at $12/pair (cheaper on Amazon) they are pricey.

Carbs consumed. Clothes laid out. Garmins charging. Vera and I are ready to do our first ever race together tomorrow! :)

Garmin watch. This isn't actually on MY list (because the one on the right is mine), but if you know a runner who doesn't have a Garmin or Garmin-like device ... they are probably green with envy at everyone else. And the free RunKeeper app just isn't the same. Or maybe they are a lame minimalist runner who doesn't cling to unnecessary creature comforts ... what? Only get this if you really like the person. Because these run $200+.

More on my wish list on Pinterest. (OMG I love that site).

What's on your running wish list?

Friday, November 18, 2011

What does it mean when your car sounds like a strangled cat?

So how was your day?

Did you have to pay $453 because of shoddy car repairs from earlier in the year?

At least I had a pretty awesome day at work (sorry, can't share any details) to balance it out.

For the past few months (yeah, I know), my car has been making this squealing sound. It would only last for a few seconds, and I thought to myself "Hmm, that could be expensive," so I ignored it.

Last night the squealing got louder, lasted longer, happened more frequently and was accompanied by grinding sounds.

Can't really ignore that.

We dropped it off at our new mechanic (whose name is my Mom's maiden name) this morning, and while I waited to hear back, I got some sympathy out of Facebook:

Turns out my alternator - which was only a few months old - was cracked and loose. Bolts were missing. Etc. The belts were actually fine, just needed to be tightened or something. The mechanic could tell the alternator was new, and gave it to me so I could take it back to the other place to see if they would at least refund the price of the part.

Cracked Alternator
The part that cracked off is taped to the top. The hole in the front is where the part should be.

But, the good news is my car no longer sounds like a cat being strangled.

The bad news is I have spent too much damn money on that car this year. And this isn't the first time someone else discovered shoddy work from that mechanic, and shoddy work that ultimately cost me more money for someone else to fix.

You know what would make my day better? If you entered my Active Bands giveaway by donating $5 to the American Cancer Society :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Being Flexible ... and running in COTTON.

Yes, we are in a bathroom.
It was dark outside.
Source: TooTallFritz.com
Like anything in life, to be successful* at running, you need to be flexible.

* "Successful at running" is a moving target. We all set our own goals. 

Based on the fact that I work a day job that requires me to be indoors from around 8am until around 5pm, there are very few days out of the year where I get to enjoy truly "perfect" running weather. (To me, that is temps around 60, daylight, light breeze, no rain.) From November to March - five months out of the year - I know that during the week, if I am running outside, it is in the dark and cold. Really no way around that. So, like most other runners, I deal with it. I wear layers. I put on reflective gear and a super cool headlamp. It beats running on a treadmill.

Yesterday, I saw a message on Facebook that a couple women from a local running FB group were meeting near my office for a run at 5pm. My goal as of late has been to meet new running friends (in person). I could get there in time to run with them ... but I didn't pack my typical cold-weather running clothes. I had my gym bag - clothes for Pilates class and the sweats to wear home.

If I wanted to run, I had to run in (shudder) COTTON. And ... baggy breakaway pants! THE HORROR. (See photographic evidence from Amanda's blog.) Luckily, I did pack my Garmin and HR strap in case I decided to run on the indoor track after Pilates class. PHEW.Otherwise ... without the stats from your run ... did you really run???

Sidenote: I have a fascination of numbers. Hence the "pi" in the name of this blog. (I also love food, hence the "pie.") But seriously. I love RunningAhead.com! So many stats!

Such a tease - the sun was gone by the time we started.
Source: TooTallFritz.com
I was tempted to head to Target during lunch (there is one down the street from my office) and pick up another pair of running tights and a long sleeve tech top. And another set of stretchy knit gloves and ear warmers.

But I didn't. I realized that was stupid. Really, is running in a hooded sweatshirt and breakaway pants really so bad? (Based on last night's run - no. It's how our running forefathers did it, right?) If my ears get cold, I can put up my hood. (It's how the Unibomber did it, right? ) If my hands are cold, I can pull my sleeves down. Susan had a headlamp and Amanda wore a pair of knuckle lights, and that would be enough light for us.

When did running become such a high-maintenance sport? That's not rhetorical - seriously - for those of you that have been running a lot longer than I have, when did the thought of running without all of the extras become a crippling idea? (And I am not claiming to be above it - I love my tech fabric, toe socks, Garmin, Clif shot bloks as much as the next runner.)

How have you been flexible in order to get in a run, or seize a good running opportunity (such as meeting new running friends after work)?

And have you entered my Active Bands giveaway?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fighting Back: Running the 2012 Chicago Marathon on behalf of the ACS

Last year, I watched my cousin run the Chicago Marathon. It was truly inspiring. I thought to myself, "I should run this."

But then reality set in, and I realized 26.2 miles is a long way to go, and I need to get more comfortable with the half marathon distance before tackling a full.

Well, this year, I ran two half marathons (and 10mi and 11.5mi races), and felt great at all of them. So I started thinking, what next? Obviously try to improve my half marathon time, but what else? Am I ready to train for a marathon?

My Uncle Tom, a career soldier in the Army, passed away in 2003 after a battle with cancer. I'm pretty sure it broke all of our hearts - his siblings (my mom, her sister and two brothers), his nieces and nephews (my cousins) and all of those who married into the family. He was a wonderful person. He loved rough housing with his nieces/nephews, loved to play jokes on us and tell us silly stories. He would dress us as Santa on Christmas when we were little.

Chicago Marathon 1988
Chicago Marathon 1988.
Uncle Tom is #5232.
He was also a very private person. After he passed away, my mom and her siblings were going through his things, lots and lots of Army stuff, but they also discovered all of his "running stuff." Race bibs. Pictures. Marathons. The Army National Guard Running Team.

My mom and I went through his running stuff together recently. He ran the Chicago Marathon quite a few times. Including the very first Chicago Marathon in 1977. Running is in my blood, from both sides! (I have many cousins on my Dad's side who run, including one who is a triathlon coach - hi Judie!)

My uncle isn't the only one in my bloodline who has battled cancer. His mom (my Grandma) lost her fight in 1990. His dad (my Grandpa) survived cancer in the 1950s.

A few years ago, I got involved with the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life program. Personally, I've probably raised around $2,000 for the ACS. As a team captain, we've probably raised an additional $2,000. As an Event Co-Chair/committee member, I've helped my event raise over $400,000 for the fight against cancer. I even promised to cut my hair if I reached my fundraising goal. Why? I want to fight back against this terrible disease. I'm not a scientist, so this is how I can do that.

I participate in these events in memory of Tom and Grandma, but really, I run for this person:

3 Generations of Schwartz Women
the one in the middle
I run for my mom. I thank my stars that she has never had a cancer diagnosis. But I understand math. I know the risk. Both of her parents had cancer. Her brother had cancer. Sure, they were all different types of cancer, but it's still f-ing cancer.

So I've decided to run the 2012 Chicago Marathon for the American Cancer Society, because of this (from their web site):

As the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research, having spent more than $3.6 billion on cancer research since 1946, we’ve played a role in nearly every cancer breakthrough in recent history.

I can sit around wondering "Will my mom get cancer someday? Will my kids lose their Grandma when they are 8 years old, like I did?"

Or, I can run. And use my running to raise money. I can fight back. So I am.

Stay tuned ... I'm planning to do some raffles for those who donate to the ACS on my behalf. I'm trying to find stuff that I can get to give away - I just ordered some ActiveBands on clearance with a discount code, so that will probably be my first giveaway. I'm also trying to hit up my friends who have something to donate - a photography session, free ballet classes, art, crafts, knitted goods, etc. Stay tuned! And if you would like to donate something to be raffled off to raise money for the ACS, send me an email. Thanks!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day ... an excuse to post pictures:

In honor of Veterans Day, I share with you pictures of my favorite Sailor in uniform. Because I just can't resist!

Me & Robert
The weekend after his Pass-in-Review (a.k.a. boot camp graduation)

Picking him up after A.T. (annual training) in 2010

Putting on his big boy boots
About to leave for A.T. in 2011

Rob and me
After his PIR

Navy Pass In Review July 17, 2009
Being recognized as the honor grad for his division during PIR

Rob & parents
With his parents after PIR. His Dad is also a Veteran.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's your limit?

I had big exciting plans for tonight's run. I recently discovered a Facebook group of local runners, and a couple of them were meeting up at a location nearish my office shortly after I normally leave work. I packed up some layers of running clothes (temps were supposed to be in the upper 30s by that time), my reflective gear, and even stopped on my way home from work yesterday to buy a headlamp. I was ready to run in the dark with my newest running friends.

Unfortunately it rained all day. Now, I can take running in the cold. And I can take running in the rain. I cannot take running in both at the same time. So I went to the gym instead. But I am the lame one - the other two still met and ran.

So, I ask you this (question that has probably been asked a million times) - what are your weather limits when it comes to running?

For me, when it comes to just going out and running (races are different):
  • I can take temps down to 20 degrees as long as it's not snowing or too windy. I don't think I've run in temps that much colder. (Maybe I will this winter.)
  • I can take heat up to around 90 degrees. I think that's where I maxed out this summer. 
  • I can take the rain if it's around 60 degrees or warmer.
  • I can take snow on the ground if it's not too deep. If it is deep, I'll wait until after the streets are plowed, then I'll run on side streets during daylight.
Otherwise ... I guess I'll run at the gym. Like I did tonight. See - my Garmin was super confused -->

I did 2.5 miles on the 1/8 track (it gets boring after awhile). Then I remembered that the upside to running indoors is access to big foam rollers and a ballet barre for stretching. So there are some benefits to running inside. (I did some ab work too if you're really interested.)

So faithful readers, tell me this, am I a super wuss for not running outside in temps just below 40 degrees with some light rain? In the dark? For the record, the plan was to do 6 miles, so about an hour in that crap.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's that time of year again

Sigh. While everyone else was rejoicing for the extra hour of sleep they got on Saturday night (I'm at that age where no one parties, or if they do, they are in bed by midnight), I was lamenting the inevitable.

I can't decide what is worse.

  1. Running on the dreadmill at the gym.
  2. Running outside in the dark and cold and wind with drivers who aren't looking out for runners. Only to come home to comments from my mother about how she worries about me when I'm running. (I'm pretty sure she worries when I run during the day, and just worries more at night.) 
It varies by day. Some days the thought of running the dark, cold streets is worse. Some days the thought of feeling like a hamster is worse. 

If only my pesky day job didn't get in the way, I could run during daylight hours. Why aren't trails lighted??? That would be so nice. Honestly it's not the cold that bothers me, I just like being able to see while I run, and feel better that a car won't run me over. 

Which do you hate less? Dreadmill, or running outside in the dark and cold? Have you been able to make either more enjoyable? Perhaps I should use this time of year to get re-acquainted with my swimming gear, and take advantage of all of the spinning classes at my gym?

Edited to add: I forgot option 3 - running on the indoor track at the gym. It's a half step-up from the treadmill. At least I'm moving forward and my scenery is changing. It's 1/8 mile though so my scenery only changes for a minute or so.

Also ... woe is me, I have to actually use the membership I pay for at my super nice gym. MY LIFE IS SO HARD, amirite?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Race Report: Palos Park Rec Dept Turkey Trot 5K (and a PR)

It's November! And if there's one thing the running community loves, it's a Thanksgiving themed race.

Seriously though, what's up with that? Is there any other holiday that has so many related races? Is it because the weather is perfect for running? (Probably.) Or that running excessively is the perfect antidote to the gluttonous nature of Thankgiving?

My co-worker is a runner*, and recommended today's race.

She runs, and does 5Ks, but whenever I suggest doing a half marathon, she is uninterested. Says she doesn't have the endurance. But who does, without training? Anyway, it seems so foreign to me to be a runner and not want to torture yourself with training for and finishing at least a half marathon. But perhaps I am the crazy one.  

Today's race did not disappoint. For $18, we had free parking next to the start/finish and a lovely race through a pretty residential neighborhood with lots of fall color while 100,000 other local runners (or so it sounds from the complaints on Facebook) were clogging the streets of Chicago in the name of chocolate. We had no course congestion. There were probably 100 or so finishers in our race.

However, despite the small size, they did 5-year age groups, and TROPHIES.

My co-worker ended up winning our age group (F25-29). But guess who placed second (in our age group)?

Palos Park Rec Turkey Trot 5K - 2nd in my age group
25:59 gets second in an AG when everyone else is downtown running for chocolate

I'm going to try to milk my last months is this age group as much as I can. I know once I hit 30, I'll need faster times to place. 

The Sailor placed third in his age group (M30-34). Not bad considering on our way to the start he said he was just going to "take it easy." Lesson learned: American soldiers never truly take it easy.

Palos Park Rec Turkey Trot 5K - 3rd in his age group
29 and some change gets third in his age group

In addition, we got some festive long sleeve (cotton) shirts and finishers ribbons (like what you got in elementary school for perfect attendance ... I fully intend to hang it with my other race medals). AND they did a raffle with tons of donated stuff from local businesses, and I won a $15 gift certificate to a local pizza place. The overall winners got frozen turkeys, of course.

Not bad for $18 registration fee, eh?? (I'm looking at you Hot Chocolate racers.) (Although, yes, I will admit I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K last year and I love the brown hoodie I got for it.)

Turkey Trot
Yes, I wore this to the movies
Oh, by the way, I PR'd. 25:59. Pace was 8:23. So that's 21 seconds off my last PR. Not bad considering my weekly mileage has dropped since my last half marathon (on October 1). I've been trying to push my pace during my last few runs, knowing that my next "long" (over 10K) race probably won't be until May 6.

By the way, the movie we saw was Tower Heist. The Sailor picked it. It was predictable and exactly what you expect, but that's what we were in the mood for. It's funny to see Ferris Bueller and Zoolander with gray hair though.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Monster Dash photos

Photos from the Monster Dash Obstacle Course 5K

At the start

The Sailor leads our pack

He's having a good time


That is all.