Thursday, November 16, 2017

8 Minute Memoir, Day 30: Road Trip

When I saw this topic come up, I smiled.  I am a sucker for a good road trip.  Being that I live in the city and most of my family lives 1.5+ hours away, that means even a simple visit home can be an easy change of pace.  But what I'm really thinking of are those pack up the car, load up on snacks, passenger seat navigating/dj-ing, long distance adventures.  Throughout the last decade, Tom and I have been lucky enough to have some pretty amazing expeditions!

In 2008, for example, we drove to Colorado with his younger brother.  It was my second time in the state, and it was a really fun trip.  We went in the middle of winter where it was snowy and cold and majestic.  Over New Year's Weekend in 2009, we decided to drive down to Shreveport, Louisiana.  Our reasoning was that we wanted to go somewhere warm and we'd never been there.  It was a rather quick trip, but a memorable one...  The brakes went out on Tom's old Volvo so we were stranded for a few days in a tiny, pretty rural town while they got fixed.   In May 2010, we drove to Las Vegas with a few close friends and had an incredible time out in the desert, a trip that is still one of my favorites.  Later that year, we made a whirlwind trip to Washington D.C. to attend The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (when I say whirlwind, I mean, we were there and back in less than 36 hours!)  It was worth it, and certainly makes for a good story!

Then of course, there was the road trip that wasn't to Colorado in 2014, the accident that happened instead. Heartbreaking, but since then we've been able to go on some great adventures.  We've gone to Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska (exciting, I know, haha) and we have plans for more.  I will never pass up an opportunity go on a road trip--I hope that sense of wanderlust never fades.

8 Minute Memoir, Day 29: Birth Order

I find birth order to be quite an intriguing concept.  Though I think the stereotypes that go along with birth order can be a bit much sometimes, I do think there is some truth to it.  I've seen it not only in my own family, but in others as well.  I looked up a list of birth order traits to see what the most commonly held ideals were and I found it pretty interesting, especially when applied to my own life.

I'm both an older and a middle sibling, so that means I'm filled with ambition and responsibility but I'm also looking for a middle ground.  I'm a peacekeeper but I'm generally on the side of what is right or fair in the current rule of law.  I find I'm pretty driven and I'm good setting the example.  I don't really feel like I fit the "middle child" stereotype of being invisible or feeling left out, which is something I will certainly be cognizant of should I have an oldest, middle, and youngest child. 

I think birth order effects you as much as your geographic location growing up or your home environment.  While I've seen the typical traits play out in those around me, I also have friends whose families do not necessarily fit the types of personality dictated by birth order.  (If I ever go back to school, it will be to study psychology because I just find it so damn fascinating and also because I get to see psychology in action at work every day.  Pretty neat stuff!)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Running in Chicago in the Fall

One foot in front of the other on
a beautiful Chicago day.  It's fall,
but today somehow feels more
like summertime; though the sun
shines effervescently, her shadows
are long--as is my pace, my rhythm,
steady.  The lakefront calls like a
siren, and then, I've gone farther

than I expected (before I even
realize it.)  It's almost like magic,
my legs carrying me effortlessly
through one of the most stunning
afternoons I've seen in a long time.
The breeze is steady and propels me

onward, forward motion a welcome
certainty, familiar (like a comfortable
sweater, or freshly washed linens at
the end of a long day).  Left, right;

breathe in
and out.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jess Goes Running: A Marathon Weekend, A Recovery Staycation

Hi!  It's still crazy to me that only a few days ago I ran and completed the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  Just a moment that is full of magic, a memory that I will be drawing on as inspiration for many months to come.  I wrote about the race itself, the morning leading up to and the moments directly afterwards, but of course, there are details of the overall experience that I've left out up until this point... it's time to change that!  While the race is obviously the pinnacle of things, a lot happened both before the marathon and afterwards!  It truly was a marathon weekend of sorts.

Last Friday, I met Tom at work.  We took the brown line to the green line in order to get to McCormick Place for the Abbott Health and Fitness Expo.  The weather really was not pleasant; it was rather drizzly and cold.  We got to McCormick Place and then made the long walk to the Lakeside Center.  Seeing the signage and the obvious vastness of the expo before we even stepped inside was pretty intense, and I have to say, that was when it was really starting to hit me what I was about to undertake.  We checked in, went to get our bib numbers, then walked through the expo to get our shirts.

Wow, it was unlike any race expo that I'd ever been to, and I have been to many!  There were so many different sponsors and vendors.  We got our gear bags and t-shirts in the back of the huge expo hall, then continued our way through the line of booths.  Of course, we had to stop for a photo before leaving:

If we weren't ready for the marathon before the expo, it definitely put us in the mood!  The weather had turned much more rainy and miserable, so instead of taking the CTA home we decided to get a Lyft instead.  It was rush hour on a rainy Friday evening, so the drive back was slow, but our driver and fellow Line passenger were both very chill and it was an enjoyable ride.  On the way home, we ordered dinner from Calo Ristorante in Andersonville... can you guess what was on the menu?

Spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread.  Delicious!  We ended up getting takeout beef and broccoli for dinner on Saturday night, as our pre-race dinner.  It was the perfect mixture of fiber and protein and was very filling. While we're on the subject, Saturday was a day for preparation and rest.  I actually ended up having to work from 5 am-3 pm but in a way, it was good because it kept me moving and loose and also kept me on an easy schedule.  That night, I just made sure that my gear check bag and my marathon day clothing was all in order and ready to go.  My hip had been bothering me since after my run on Friday afternoon (my last run of training a 2.4 mile outing up to campus and back) and I was concerned that it would hamper my running abilities on Sunday morning.  Luckily, it didn't bother me at all during the marathon and hasn't bothered me since.

After the race on Sunday afternoon, we were exhausted!  We took the red line back up to Edgewater, crawled back to the apartment, and took the best showers of our lives.  For the rest of the evening, we pretty much just sat on the couch in a happy (and sore!) haze, ordered a pizza and cheesy garlic bread from JB Alberto's, and went to bed early--early and in pain.  Oh man, I was so sore on Sunday night and into Monday in a way like none other!  I guess that's to be expected after putting your body through 26.2 miles.

We didn't set an alarm and just slept until we woke up on Monday morning.  Since we'd gone to bed so early, we woke up relatively early, too.  Breakfast at Ann Sather followed once we finally got moving and then we continued onward to get our medals engraved at the Nike store down on Michigan.  It took about two and a half hours, but we left with an even more meaningful memento of our historic races.  The staff at Nike did a great job of controlling the crowd and keeping the line moving.  We also picked up some sweet marathon "Finisher" gear, too!  Next year, we may go to Fleet Feet for their engraving party but we found out about it after the fact.  We also made sure to pick up our commemorative copies of the Chicago Tribune and definitely looked up our names and finishing times among over 43,000 other runners.  What an amazing feeling, to be part of such a momentous occasion.

The rest of the week, we have spent relaxing and recovering and laying low.  On Tuesday, the weather was overcast and dreary.  We ended up out at IKEA, walking around and picking up a few things for the apartment.  We also went to a record store and added a few albums to our collection.  Yesterday was our "Treat Yo Self" day, complete with a spa pedicure and a massage--it was my first massage but definitely won't be my last!  The spa pedicure was a gift from a sweet coworker of mine and it was the perfect way to pamper ourselves after 18 weeks of training!  

Today is my last day of vacation, as I go back to work tomorrow; Tom still has a few more days off.  I feel refreshed, relaxed, and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.  I am very grateful for the uninterrupted time that Tom and I have gotten to spend together this week.  It's been very much needed and I certainly do not take it for granted; I'll be drawing from this wonderful week when the hours at work get long over the next couple of months.  Completing the marathon lifted such a weight off of my shoulders and also filled me with a huge sense of accomplishment and confidence that I know will benefit me in areas of my life other than just running.  I believe I am only just starting to understand all the ways that becoming a marathoner has changed and will continue change my life.  I'm really excited to see what I can do now that I've met such a huge, long standing goal!

I haven't been running since the marathon, but I'm thinking that's likely going to change today.  It's just so nice out!  The first sunshine we've had since Monday morning.  Especially after my massage yesterday, I feel more or less back to normal.  I intend on making yoga a regular part of my week, whether that's on Thursday nights with Tom or the Friday morning class I've attended previously.  I hope to run outside for as long as I can, and at that point I'll move into the gym.  I want to continue to work on strengthening, especially my core.  As far as my plans for future races, I'll likely end up doing a turkey trot of some sort in November.  I'm already signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K in 2018, and I'm hoping I'll get the opportunity to complete the Chicagoland Half Marathon Series, competing in both the Chicago Spring Half Marathon and the Half Marathon in the fall.  

Also, if all goes according to plan, I'll be training again next summer to give the Chicago Marathon another go.  I really want to do it again, since I have a time to beat and all.  Knowing that I can do it, that I can complete 26.2 miles, makes the prospect of training for another one much easier and much less daunting.  Of course, I'm sure that other opportunities for races will come up here and there, but one thing I know for sure is that I've fallen in love with running again.  Can't wait to get out there and get those miles!  

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Jess Goes Running: Champagne Wishes and Marathon Dreams

The 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon was this past Sunday and, spoiler alert...

We're marathoners!  We did it!! What an experience!  But to really get a feel for it we have to start from the beginning...

(Very long race report after the jump--thanks for reading!)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training, the last few weeks

Well, here we are.  17 days away from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  And it looks like all systems go for me--I'll be crossing the start line on October 8th!  I had a feeling that the last few weeks of training would likely be the most important and I was more or less correct.  Not only did I start running again, the very act of which had been causing me a lot of anxiety, but I ran my farthest distance ever, and then ran even farther than that.  I also graduated from physical therapy, after 2 long months!  Which brings us to today, 17 days away.  Am I nervous?  Yes, without a doubt!  But I am also excited, and determined.  This journey has been 2 years in the making and it is so close now.

My first farthest distance was 17 miles...  and it almost felt effortless.  The weather was cool and overcast and I settled into a rhythm early on.  I almost couldn't believe it, and I felt so fortunate to have had the experience.  Then I did the famous 20 mile long run--the longest distance of marathon training.  I set out on a Friday morning where it was already warm when I left and around 87 degrees at the midpoint of my run.  The first half wasn't so bad, but it definitely fell apart a little bit at the halfway point.  Luckily I had some great support along the way in Tom and my friend and running buddy Vicky (both of whom have also been training for the marathon over the last few months), who both encouraged me to keep going when I thought I'd have to quit.  It was hard, but I did it!  Five years ago I never imagined I'd be here, about to run a marathon.  What an awesome gift to myself, as cheesy as that sounds.

(Top: 17; Bottom: 20.)

Graduating PT was also a big deal for me, and a great feeling!  Even though I spent all summer going to Athletico twice a week, in a way I got kind of used to it and I am grateful for the experience.  My physical therapist did everything she could to get me over the diagnosis of recalcitrant plantar fasciitis and ready for the marathon.  I am so much stronger than I was two months ago, and I have a plan to continue gaining strength.  I have learned a lot about how my body operates and have seen just how connected every part is.  I feel better about running the marathon knowing I've spent the last couple months working on improving my fitness and strength.  In a way, I almost felt sad saying farewell--but this is my first weekend without a PT appointment and I gotta say, I am feeling pretty okay about it now!

So, what's next for me?  Tomorrow, I plan on running 6-8 miles at a gentle pace.  I managed to get a knot in my right quad at work, which is a returning issue from a few weeks ago, so I have been very careful while on the job and at home.  I've also been rolling it out a lot, and I'm feeling like tomorrow I should be able to give it a shot.  Saturday, just a 2-3 mile shakeout run before work.  And then, on Sunday, the Chicago Half Marathon!  I am so excited to be running this race again...  It is one of my favorites, and after not getting to participate last year because of my injury, I am glad to have the chance this time. (I ran it in both 2014 and 2015.) I am not going for a PR and treating this as a training run, especially with the warmer temperatures, but I am also going to give it my very best.  Vicky and I are going to the Expo tomorrow for packet pickup (I'll be picking up Tom's packet while I'm there also) and then on Sunday morning, we'll be running!  It's supposed to be in the 70s so I am hoping there will at least be a breeze.  We shall see!

After that, the next few weeks consist of easy runs until the big day.  I'm trying to stay hydrated and eat healthy, decreasing my alcohol consumption, and trying to get good sleep, too!  Taper time is here.  I've had such a strange training season, but I am still so happy to be here.  I am confident in my abilities to cross the finish line and I'm ready to leave it all out there on the course.  In a way, I feel like running this is like a love letter to the city--because marathon training has been, and is, such a labor of love for me.  And yet, I can't imagine it any other way.  Here I am, 17 days away from being a marathoner.  Here's to October 8th!

Friday, September 1, 2017

8 Minute Memoir, Day 28: Indulge

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but here goes!  Just last week, Tom and I indulged a bit during our stay at Sofitel Chicago.  We had a 2 night reservation and we enjoyed every second.  When we checked in, we were offered an upgrade to a room on a higher floor and we took it--ending up on the 30th.  The room itself was plush and inviting but the views were great and it was amazing being up that high.

Anyway, I am a huge proponent of the "staycation"--getting a hotel downtown or in a nearby suburb for a night or two, just to get away, a brief change of scenery.  I consider travel to be an extravagance that I am lucky to be able to indulge in, and I hope to never lose my sense of adventure and wanderlust.  I also consider writing and running two indulgences that I am lucky to engage with on a regular basis... they are crucial to my day-to-day, and even if I'm anxious or going through a phase, I cannot imagine life with them.

See also: a high quality, interesting, and fulfilling meal, followed by delectable dessert; a hot bath and a good book; sleeping in brand new sheets for the first time; a long massage and limber limbs; wheels on the ground in a brand new destination; waking up in the middle of the night to pouring rain.

(8 Minute Memoir prompts from Ann Dee Ellis.)