Thursday Things

1. Well folks, I’m officially a Chicagoan.

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I’ve finally been to Big Star.

I know, I know: I’ve been here for just shy of three years (over three years if you want to count the four months I lived here during my internship towards my total) and never once had I set foot in Big Star until Tuesday. That’s basically grounds for deportation around here. (In my defense, tacos would never be my first choice of food, so Big Star was hardly high on my list of places I needed to try.)

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But it was good! I had the al pastor and de panza tacos (I preferred the de panza over the al pastor), and they were both great. Go-out-of-my-way-and-wait-hours-to-be-seated great? Meh, for me, probably not — but like I said, tacos aren’t my food of choice, so my opinion on the matter isn’t really worth much. I’m glad I can finally say I’ve been, though, and I do get why people go nuts over their food.

2. Every now and again I toss some money in the direction of PAWS Chicago, since I like what they do, believe in their cause, puppies are cute, blah blah blah. Anyway, once you donate so much as a penny to any nonprofit, you are on their mailing list FOR LIFE, and they will send you letter after letter after letter asking for more of your money. Earlier this year, PAWS sent me a letter asking for a donation, but with added incentive: if you donated money in response to that particular letter, they’d let you name one of their future animals. That was more than enough to convince me to donate, and I kindly requested that they name one of their future dogs after my bestest fwend, Louie.

Since then, I would occasionally pop over to PAWS’s website to see if they had any available dogs named Louie. I had never seen any, but last Friday I happened to go over to the site, and lo and behold: they had a Louie puppy!!

While I suppose I can’t verify that this particular Louie is named after my Louie, I absolutely have chosen to believe that this Louie is named after my Louie. Puppies tend to go pretty quickly at PAWS, so on my way home from work I went directly to PAWS, pretending to be a potential adopter (I suppose technically I *am* a potential adopter, because if I were to adopt a dog, I’d adopt it from PAWS, but I do not in any way feel like I’m in a place where I could handle the responsibility of a dog right now) so I could meet Bestest Fwend 2.0.

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(Not the best picture, but the best I have of his precious little puppy face…!)

Oh, you guys, it was such a wonderful moment. Louie the puppy was just as sweet as can be. PAWS thinks Louie is a bloodhound mix, and he certainly acted like one when I met him, sniffing every nook and cranny in the room. He even stuck his head in my work bag to sniff around in there, which I thought was hilarious. I didn’t get any kissies, sadly, but he was oh-so friendly and MORE than happy to snuggle (and sniff my jeans) so I could pet him to my heart’s content.

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It was so, so nice to visit him, and it really meant a lot to me that PAWS would name one of their puppies after my puppy. If I were in a place where I could adopt him, you better believe he’d be coming home with me, because he was just the best. I think he does his namesake proud :)

3. I…think I’ve quit November Project.

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really wanted to like November Project. I tried to like November Project. But there was something about the vibe that just did not work for me. While some people made me feel welcome, more often than not I felt like some rando who had just stumbled upon this group of neon clad burpee-doers at the totem pole on Wednesday mornings. I wouldn’t say I felt excluded, necessarily — just that I didn’t feel like part of the “in group,” and that I definitely felt like there was an “in group” with November Project. Which is fine! Honestly, I don’t know how you could even avoid that in any sort of big group situation like that. We definitely have an “in group” in my CARA group. We ABSOLUTELY have an “in group” in my dance classes. Dance is a little different, because our “in group” formed naturally with those of us who all started class at the same time and continued to take it. With my CARA group, however, I had to make an effort to be part of that “in group” (and by “effort” I mean “go with them to brunch and dinner.” It was a real burden, let me tell you :P ). Could I have put in that effort with November Project and joined the “in group”? Yeah, probably, eventually, after a long time. But given the choice between rejoining my Tuesday breakdance class, where I already am part of the “in group” or forsaking my current friends who I very much like in order to make new friends I don’t desperately need and attempt to break into the “in group” at November Project, I’m going to have to go with sticking with my current friends, because I really like my current friends and miss my current friends and would rather hang out with them anyway. Unfortunately, with November Project in Chicago’s timing, this does have to be an either/or situation right now: I can’t take a Tuesday night breakdance class and do a 6:28 a.m. Wednesday workout, because said Tuesday night breakdance class ends when I would need to be falling asleep to make said 6:28 a.m. Wednesday workout. Friday is my hard-and-fast non-negotiable rest day, so I can’t make those workouts, either (though if they would add a Monday workout…).

If I’m being completely honest, the only thing I ever really looked forward to in regards to November Project was the photos they’d post on Facebook after the workout so I could tag myself and look happy and active and thriving and whatnot, because social media is terrible, when I in fact pretty much never enjoyed the workout and was never actually happy to be there. Showing up just for Facebook pictures seems like a pretty terrible reason to keep doing something I don’t enjoy, especially when said something was dragging me out of bed way too early AND turning all of my Wednesdays into two-a-days, since I never ran enough during November Project to count it (in my opinion) as one of my runs for the week on my current half marathon training plan. That would only get worse once marathon season started (plus there would be the whole issue of sweating, which hasn’t been a problem when it’s been in the 30s and 40s, but would definitely be a problem come summer, since I don’t have time to shower after November Project and had to go straight to work. My coworkers are accommodating, but they’re not that accommodating :P ).

So yeah. Gave it a shot (six shots, actually), and I just don’t think it’s for me, at least not as my life stands right now. Never say never though, right?

Are you a taco fan? Clearly I’m not. However, if someone suggested tapas, I’d be there in a heartbeat.
Who’s going to adopt Louie for me? I promise to dogsit for you whenever you need it…! :D

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Live Grit Lakefront 10 Miler Race Recap

Once upon a year ago, I ran the Lakefront 10 Miler and was pleasantly surprised to see not one but two of my former physical therapists at the post-race party. I enjoy the company of these people and was just thrilled to see them there.

Once upon ten months ago, I began a six month residency at my physical therapy clinic, spending time with both of these therapists (but primarily my boyfriend physical therapist). As you may understand, when you see someone twice a week for six straight months, you begin to feel attached to them (and you start to do things like call them your boyfriend, even though they are distinctly not), and though you could dance around with glee at the thought of not directly depositing your paychecks into your physical therapist’s company’s coffers, the prospect of no longer seeing your physical therapist on a regular basis does cause you some distress. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

Once upon fiveish months ago, CARA opened registration for its annual Lakefront 10 Miler. Approaching the end of my 2014 stint in physical therapy and saddened by the impending end of my relationship with my physical therapist, I did what any logical person in my position would do: I registered for the Lakefront 10 Miler in hopes that he would, once again, be at the post-race party, so I could say hey without swinging by the clinic because I “happened to be in the neighborhood.” (I am never in the neighborhood.)

(Feel free to check your opinions about me being a stalker at the door :P .)

It also just so happened that the Lakefront 10 Miler fell on the same weekend that I was supposed to do a 10 miler for my current half marathon training plan. Given the choice between running 10 miles on my own while dodging race participants or running 10 miles as a race participant, I’d much rather go with the second option.

And that’s the story of what brought me to Montrose Harbor on Saturday morning.

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The weather, in typical spring fashion, has been a bit all over the place this month. There have been weeks where I’ve worn my pea coat one day and no coat two days later. This week was primarily a North Face fleece week–arguably my favorite kind of weather–and the forecast consistently said that it would be in the high 40s at race time on Saturday morning. Per usual, I laid out my race day outfit with care on Friday evening: a short sleeve shirt, arm sleeves, and 3/4 length tights, all of which I thought would be appropriate for those sorts of temperatures.

Then I woke up on Saturday morning.

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What. The. Eff. This is not what I was told!! This is not what I planned for!!

I’m not going to lie: I freaked out when I saw the current temperature. I’ve been building my mileage over the seven weeks or so, but I’ve yet to wear anything less than long sleeves and 3/4 length tights on any of my long runs. I’m not even entirely sure it’s ever hit 50 degrees on any of my long runs. The last time I ran far in those temps was…September? That was seven months ago. In no way did I feel prepared to run 10 miles in Real Feel of 57.

I picked up my “packet” on race day with no problems. CARA, in an effort to go green (and/or save money), did away with the traditional packet entirely this year, which meant no junk (and also no Clif Bar samples :( ) and just gave out bib numbers and shirts.

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I don’t know if it was the weather, the fact that I haven’t had a good night of sleep in probably a week (and had a particularly bad night of sleep Friday night, courtesy of a pesky ear issue I’ve been fighting and the reopening of the Man Cave outside my window), or a combination of the two, but I felt awfully anxious heading into the run on Saturday. I fought this feeling (and it accompanying chest tightness, which is not high on my list of Ways I Like to Feel During a Run) for a good 3.5 miles of the race. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I had NO idea what kind of time I would run on Saturday–when talking with a couple coworkers also running pre-race, I threw out 1:38 as a fairly reasonable estimate–so I put myself near the back of the 9:00 minute pace area when lining up, thinking that seemed fair. Per usual, I liked the thought of PR-ing, but knew realistically that wasn’t particularly likely. Last year at this race, I was primed to blow it out of the water. It was the Saturday before Easter, meaning I hadn’t had sweets in six and a half weeks, so I (theoretically) was at my healthiest. I had done a tempo run and intervals or treadmill hills every single week since January 1. I had already run double digit miles that year, including one 10 miler in March and a kickass half marathon earlier in April. The weather, as far as I remember, must have been somewhere in the 40s or low 50s, since I know I wore my pea coat to the race, and that kind of temperature is my sweet spot for running. Everything was set up for me to do well last year.

This year was a different story. Since Easter two weeks ago, I have subsisted on a diet made up primarily of jelly beans, M&Ms, and Cadbury eggs. I have done exactly two speed workouts in all of 2015 (though you could make the argument that November Project counts as speedwork, based on the interval-style workouts and the fact that we often finish with 10 minutes of very short sprints). My last double digit run was the Chicago Marathon. In fact, I’ve been post-marathon PDR-ing every single weekend since I stared this cycle in February. While I didn’t expect the run to go poorly, I certainly did not expect to crush it in any capacity.

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For whatever reason, the first mile of this race feels so. long. I remember this from last year, and this year it was just as demoralizing as in 2014. My watch hit a mile a bit before hit the mile mark, so even though it said I ran an 8:54 first mile, I thought the clock at the mile marker, which read 9:30 as I passed it, sounded much more reasonable.

From that point on, my watch and the mile markers matched up almost exactly, and I was like a freaking metronome:  9:29, 9:27, 9:35, 9:25, 9:31, 9:35, 9:42, 9:28 (and the last mile, which I’ll get to in a second). This has been the story of my long runs for the past month or so. Historically, I’ve been ALL over the place with my mile splits, but lately, my last mile has been maybe 10-15 seconds slower than my first mile. I don’t know what on earth I did to make this happen, but I am loving it. I feel so satisfied when I review my mile splits and see that I ran so evenly, and I felt even more satisfied seeing that in a race setting.

I wanted to fuel around mile 5, but there were no aid stations until right after mile 6, so I waited to take my Shot Bloks until then. This was right before we turned around and started to head north after Fullerton and OH MY GOSH. While it had been calm at the start, the wind had picked up dramatically over the past hour, and this was rough. Not Shamrock-running-down-Franklin rough, but rough nevertheless. I had opted to wear just shorts and a short sleeve shirt for the race based on the warmer-than-expected conditions, and I was actually fairly cold for the last four miles, which rarely happens to me at the end of a run. I kept thinking the wind would die down as the Lakefront Trail moved away from the lake and we had more trees to protect us, but no such luck. I fought that wind the whole. way. back.

Despite the wind, I more or less managed to keep up my pace (that 9:42 split for the eighth mile being the one exception), and when I hit the mile 9 mark, my legs were feeling surprisingly good. was pretty tired, but my legs weren’t, so I let them have their way, and I just flew. I don’t remember the last time I felt like that — it was like the only thing hold my legs back was my cardiovascular system, which was holding on for dear life in that last mile (I now run with a heart rate monitor, and it’s interesting to review my average HR for this race. While it was almost the same for miles 3-6 [181, 182, 183, 183], it definitely jumped for the last four [187, 188, 190, 194], when I was running into the wind. And yes, my HR is always that [miles 3-6] high on long runs, I don’t know why, but I do know my max HR is no less than 207 not 196 like it “should be” for someone my age, my EKG from the doctor came back clear, leave me alone). I ended up busting out an 8:40 final mile and finished the race in 1:33:53. That’s only 2:21 slower than I ran last year when everything was perfect, and considering I went into the race hoping for a 1:38, I am quite pleased with a 1:33.

I collected my medal and obligatory post-race bagel and banana (…and cookies) and immediately went to retrieve my gear since it was so dang cold with all of that wind. I chatted with Erin for a bit, considered adopting her “basically stop running and you’ll be faster than you’ve been in ages” plan, and the reunited with my boyfriend physical therapist :D (And whined to him about my feet, which continue to go numb every stupid time I run. He has no explanation, though I have Internet-diagnosed myself with medial plantar nerve entrapment, because I match the symptoms, which is enough for me to Internet-diagnose myself with anything. I did not tell my PT that my PFPS knee hurt after the run, because then he’d ask me if I had been doing my exercises, to which I’d have to hang my head and say “No :( ” and then he’d tell me to do my exercises. I figured it’d be easier on everyone to skip that conversation and just start doing my exercises again. Though he was happy to hear that my shin was feeling better, since I actually had gone in to see him [per his request] two and a half weeks ago regarding my shin.)

All in all, a very successful morning :)

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Thursday Things

1. Oh man, team. I (via BuzzFeed, I think?) discovered THE BEST Instagram account earlier this week: Chef Jacques La Merde. I feel like this whole account was designed just for pretension haters like myself, so if you, too, are a pretension hater 1) let’s be besties 2) you need to check out this account. The basic jist of things is that whoever’s behind this account takes everyday junk food and/or food of the masses (i.e. people like me), plates it, and then describes it as if he were a chef at a fancy pants full of itself ~tReNdY~ dining establishment (“Gusher crudo,” for instance). It. Is. Hilarious. Can I get one of these for full-of-themselves studio fitness joints as well, and/or for people of the belief that their way of exercising/eating is THE ONLY way of exercising/eating? Because that would just make me burst with glee.

2. I don’t know WHAT is happening in my life, but I think I stepped into a slightly defunct time machine. HOLY SMOKES. This week has been one insane blast from the past after another, and while it started off as being cutesy and fun, now it’s just weird. Behold:

– The subjects of my dreams for several nights running have either been people that went to high school with me or people that worked at camp with me. I haven’t had any interaction with any of these people in months at best, but far more often, in years. Like, since-I-graduated-in-2008 years. I’m not even Facebook friends with some of them! And yet they are now hanging out in my subconscious.

– On Monday, I was headed to work, minding my own business, when the person sitting next to me on the train needed to get out. I stood up to let him pass, and happened to look up as I sat down, and there, standing by the door of the train and conversing with someone else, was a guy who had been in several of my college classes. WHUT. I didn’t even know he LIVED in Chicago, never mind that we took the same train in the morning. I was so jarred by the whole experience that I immediately LinkedIn stalked him (as one does) once I got to work, and lo and behold: he lives in Chicago. I occasionally run into former classmates on the train, but that’s literally happened three times in my entire Chicago life, which is about 2.75 years old at this point. GAH it was just nuts.

– Monday evening, I was on Facebook, minding my own business, when I got a message. Waaaay back in the day (primarily during high school and my first couple of years of college), I was really active on this one forum, and while I still go by there every once in awhile, most of my friends from that forum stopped posting a long time ago. Well, this message came from one of those friends–I don’t think I’ve said anything beyond “Happy birthday!” to her in at least four years–since she is apparently considering moving to Chicago and wanted the lowdown on where people live in the city. It was an absolutely wonderful surprise, but nevertheless it was an ENORMOUS surprise.

– Wednesday morning, I was November Project-ing, minding my own business, when I saw these two girls running down the Lakefront Trail — two girls who, I kid you not, went to my college. WHAT IS THIS MADNESS. In all my Lakefront Trail-ing–of which there has been PLENTY, let me tell you–I have seen people from college exactly twice. And then I saw TWO girls I knew from college (they probably don’t know/remember me, though I am Facebook friends with one of them…) in the SAME WEEK that I saw this other guy on the train. I just don’t know what to do with myself. I mean, I went to a relatively small college, so if we went to school at the same time, chances are I’ll at least recognize you, if not know you by name, if not had some sort of interaction with you in college (one of the girls running had been in my orientation leader training group in…2011, I believe? 2011 or 2010, I can’t remember.) but at the same time, it was a relatively small college, so it’s not like there are that many of us in Chicago. Outside of events organized by the alumni association, I usually bump into people from my college maybe–MAYBE–once every six months. At best. To bump into THREE people in less than 48 hours was just insane. Hilariously, I actually skipped the annual alumni networking event my alma mater schedules every April that took place last night because I was sick of going and feeling way too college-y, so I long ago decided to not go this year. I enjoyed my time in college, but I’m very much the type of person who likes to close down and totally move on from a chapter in life when it ends, so to see TONS of people from my “college life” inside of my “Chicago life” always makes me feel uncomfortable: like, “What are all of you people doing here? Why aren’t you back in West Michigan where I left you?” I went to an alumni event in January and it was real weird, so I’ve kind of sworn those off for a little while. And goodness gracious, apparently I don’t even NEED alumni events anymore, since I’m running into all sorts of former classmates without even trying o.O

– And to top this all off, I cannot stop listening to My Konstantine by Something Corporate, because apparently it’s 2006 in my mind and I am ALL about that angsty emo music right now. Whhyyyyyyy??

All of this nostalgia, to be honest, has been quite overwhelming, and it’s just a very, very weird feeling. I mean, I get nostalgic every once in awhile, just like everyone else I presume, but this has been like a crushing feeling of nostalgia – this deep desire to go back to high school and college, which is so strange, because I didn’t even LIKE high school! I liked the last two months of high school, but the rest of it, honestly, was terrible, because being a teenager is the literal worst. AND I hated my first two years of college (though the last two were pretty great). And even if I were to go back to West Michigan, it’s not like I could actually relive the “glory days” (LOLOLOLOL those are the last two words I would EVER use to describe my high school experience), because surprise! It’s not 2008 anymore! Even if I did go home, I couldn’t possibly actually relive those experiences–and I don’t even really want to! Those experiences were by and large full of ANGST (and way, way too much homework)…but yet here I am, pining for 2007 like it’s going out of style.

Growing up is strange.

3. Crap. This has gotten way too long and once again is way too void of pictures. UGH blogging is hard. Here: have a totally irrelevant skyline shot from my eight miler two weeks ago, because it’s late and I’m tired and I don’t want to take the time to import the picture I took of Lake Michigan at November Project yesterday…which I meant to blog about today and then didn’t because I ran out of time/words, and yet I’m still rambling. STOP WRITING BETHANY. MORE PRETTIES, LESS TALKY.

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I’m a mess. I apologize.

What are your favorite Instagram accounts? Not that *I* have an Instagram account, but you know. For future reference.
Is there a cure for nostalgia? Or rambliness? Because I think I need to look into both like…yesterday. Hahaha.

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