Take Time Tuesday: Feelin’ Lucky

March is finally almost over, and I, for one, could not be happier. My primary sentiment lately has been, “Eff this month,” so I’m thrilled to turn the calendar tomorrow. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, March. Or do. SEE IF I CARE.

But even though this month has been a challenge, to say the least, for nearly every bad thing that happened, I had something good happen to counter it. So, in the spirit of positivity and gratitude (and because Katie once again organized a Take Time Tuesday), I bring you Take Time Tuesday: Feelin’ Lucky.

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– Despite the less-than-awesome events of this past month, I’ve actually had a shocking streak of luck. Things started at the beginning of March when I won the RedEye’s last Free Things February giveaway and walked away with $20 in Curb credits (Curb, for those of you unaware, is an app that allows you to hail and pay for a cab through the app. Kind of like Uber, but exclusively with cab companies, and with no surprise surge fees, obviously, since they’re regular cabs.). My luck continued with winning three boxes of Kodiak Cakes mix from Erica, and THEN winning an INBar sampler pack from Erica as well. I can’t even begin to count how many of her giveaways I’ve entered and never won, so to win two in one month was shocking, to say the least! And on top of all of that, over St. Patrick’s Day, Curb emailed users with a code they could enter to get either $5, $10, or $15 in credits on their account. I entered the code in my app and was quite surprised to find a $15 credit added to my account. I used those credits to get myself home after the whole fainting incident at the doctor. I’m very grateful for all of those things!

– I’m grateful for my friends, old and new, who have absolutely knocked it out of the park in the being-there-for-me-when-I-most-needed-them department this month. In January and February combined, I spent time with my friends a grand total of three times. In March, I spent time with my friends on nine different occasions, from birthday parties with church friends to long runs with my CARA friends to dinner with college friends to Velvet Taco with blog friends and so much more. I have to give a special shoutout to my best friend in particular, who showed time and time and time again why we’re best friends and who has appeared more times in my Lent gratitude journal than…anything or anyone. Having someone who just gets you and can make you laugh even when you’re heartbroken over loss or raging mad over cranky shins is possibly the best feeling in the world. Love love love.

– I’m grateful for my family. We always do our own little March Madness pool, which means I’ve been in touch with all of them more this month than usual (though I have very little to say at this point, now that my national champion Gonzaga lost on Sunday. SIGH.). My mom, dad, and brother also came to Chicago two weekends ago, and I got to spend a lot of time with them on Friday night and Saturday. Giordano’s was involved.

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Related: I am grateful for Giordano’s. You can all keep your Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s — Giordano’s will always be my favorite Chicago style pizza.

My dad and brother also helped me with a bunch of domestic duties I couldn’t do on my own, like opening my stuck jar of coconut oil and changing a burnt out lightbulb I couldn’t reach, and I really appreciated that :)

– I’m grateful for all of you! I feel like things have been way, way heavier than normal around here lately, and I really appreciate the support…and that I didn’t scare anyone away with all of my real talk posts. So thanks :)

What are you grateful for this month?

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Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K Race Recap

Alternate title: Stress City.

I drug myself out of bed to go to November Project on Wednesday morning, because one does not make friends at November Project by not attending November Project, no matter how slushy the ground may be. The last Wednesday of every month is PR Day (which I knew ahead of time), and, for November Project Chicago, this apparently means running Cricket Hill, over and over and over again.

All told, I think I made seven trips up and down Cricket Hill during November Project on Wednesday, and my calves were SCREAMING. I anticipated major soreness Thursday as a result, but happily had no problems…until I went for an intended three miler Thursday afternoon.

Literally on my first step, my left shin hurt. This, alone, wasn’t concerning — I often have a weird ache or two when I start running that quickly fades away. But this shin pain wasn’t fading away, and with a race coming up on Sunday, I decided to cut my run to two miles.

I came home to stretch and foam roll, as one does, but neither of these things touched my shin soreness. I put on compression socks, iced, and drafted an email to my boyfriend physical therapist that I planned to send the following morning if my shin still hurt. I’m no stranger to shin splints, but in my experience, the only way for my shin splints to heal is to stop running entirely for awhile. That’s all well and good when I’m not training, but right now I am training — in addition to Shamrock, I have two 10 milers, a 5K, a half marathon, and Ragnar all on my calendar for the next two and a half months. Stopping all running for a month isn’t exactly an option at this point. I also did the hop test to see what would happen, and immediately panicked once I failed it.

Friday morning arrived and my shin still hurt, so I sent my email to my PT and continued panicking all day. It hurt just to exist on Friday, and walking made me want to cry. Not exactly how I wanted to feel with 48 hours until my first race of 2015. My PT (bless him) emailed me back quickly, said it sounds like tendenitis, and told me to ice and roll the my calf, and NO RUNNING until the race, where I should run/walk if my pain ever got above a three. And also, how about you come into the clinic next week and I’ll take a look at it? Sighhhhhhh.

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I iced like a maniac all evening Friday, and it felt a little better, though I still couldn’t even come close to passing the hop test, which was terrifying. Tendenitis is one thing — a stress fracture is QUITE another. I’ve tried to be very careful in training–my mileage does increase by more than 10% per week (only because my mileage has been so low that increasing my weekly mileage by 10% would often mean adding on, like, less than a mile per week. Haha.), but my long runs never increase by more than one mile–so I didn’t feel like I was the “ideal” candidate for a stress fracture…aside from the whole “I didn’t run all January, and when I did run in February, it was pretty much just on a treadmill once a week” thing, but this whole hop test thing was freaking. me. out.

I volunteered at the expo on Saturday (more on that later this week), and my shin held up all right during that, though not so much in my trip to Target after the fact. I spent just about all of Saturday afternoon on my floor with my beloved bag of frozen peas and prayed for the best.

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(Look! I got a new rug to match my new bedding!)

I woke up STRESSED OUT OF MY MIND on Sunday. I know this is pretty silly, but I felt a lot of pressure to perform well at Shamrock due to…my bib number. I KNOW, I KNOW. I actually know even more than most, because I volunteered at participant packet pickup, so I know for sure that bib number had nothing to do with anything at this race, at least for us non-elites. Plenty of people in Corral A had bib numbers over 1000, so the fact that my bib number was below 1000 (and I was in Corral C) meant nothing. But it felt like it meant something, and being in Corral C felt like it meant something, and being in Wave One and having a red bib REALLY felt like it meant something. Shamrock and the Marathon are not the same thing, but you have no idea how much I envy/respect the people fast enough for Wave One and red bibs at the Chicago Marathon. I see those people are Serious Runners, inspiring awe in my lowly Corral G/blue bib self. I aspire to be one of those people, so being one of those people at Shamrock made me feel like I needed to live up to Serious Runner standards.

I obviously had no clue what to expect out of my race due to my shin (which felt better on Sunday than it had felt since my run on Thursday), but I really wanted to do well. I have an extremely hard time going into a race not hoping to PR or expecting to take it easy, and Shamrock was no exception.

My shin hurt briefly while running, but soon enough my brain didn’t have the ability to worry about shin, because survival became the #1 priority. When I began this training cycle, I retired my Garmin and switched over to a Polar M400 (which I LOVE, btw), and it struggled from a GPS standpoint (either that, or I did a TERRIBLE job of running the tangents–my watch measured me running 5.19 miles, which is almost a quarter mile more than I should have run–so my splits could be wrong, but according to my M400, I ran an 8:10 first mile and 7:34 second mile. YIKES. Talk about going out way, WAY too fast. By the time we turned onto LaSalle, my legs felt like they could fall off: not exactly how I like to feel less than halfway into a race.

Franklin was a NIGHTMARE thanks to the strong winds out of the south. I tried my best to draft behind people, but that didn’t work out so well. I. Was. Dying. Breathing hurt. Running hurt. Everything hurt. I, once again, remembered why I prefer long distance races to short distance races. I started telling myself, “You. Have. Got. This,” with each step, and pondered the grammatical correctness of such a mantra (I don’t think that’s very good English — “You have this” or “You got this” probably would’ve been better, but I like my mantras to have even syllables since it makes life easier to say each word on each step for me. Feel free to roll your eyes at my weirdness.) as we turned onto Harrison. I liked being on Harrison: on Harrison I could see the building at Harrison and State, which was only two blocks from Michigan, which was less than a mile from the end. And boy oh boy did I want this race to end.

I kept chugging along, thankful to at least mostly be out of the wind at this point, and did everything I could to hang on down Michigan, up Roosevelt, and around the corner to Columbus, including breaking out my favorite marathon mantra that gets me through ALL of Michigan Ave. on marathon day: “Round the corner, up the hill, round the corner, then you’re done.”

I kept an eye on my watch heading up Roosevelt and though I knew a PR was out of the question, I aimed to finish in under 43 minutes. I just squeaked in with a final time of 42:58. That’s actually a personal worst for me by about 30 seconds, but given the conditions and circumstances (not just my pesky shin, but also the fact that I have done literally two speed workouts in all of 2015, compared to 2014, when I was doing both intervals and hills once a week), I’m not too torn up about it.

I gasped for air for awhile and then made my way over to the hospitality tent, which is probably my main motivation for running the Shuffle in the first place. See: oatmeal bar.

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Thank you, B of A. I <3 you (<– not true. But that was quite possibly the best oatmeal I’ve ever had). I planned to meet one of my CARA friends in the hospitality tent, so I hung around there for quite some time. Long enough to get lunch all of 90 minutes after my killer oatmeal.

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Thank you, B of A.

All in all, I had a MUCH better race experience than anticipated. As I write this on Sunday afternoon, I still can’t pass the hop test, but at least I can, you know, walk. We’ll see what comes of my PT injury screen on Wednesday — hopefully not much of anything, other than a brief reunion with my PT. I didn’t plan to run again this week until Wednesday anyway, so this shouldn’t put too much of a damper on my training. Fingers crossed for good news!

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Thursday Things

1. Hooray!

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I *almost* bought a three day pass this year, but in the end I just couldn’t convince myself to pull the trigger. One day of Lolla has always been PLENTY exhausting for me, and obviously Lolla and marathon training coincide, which makes the whole Friday thing a bit of a challenge. Part of me wanted to see if I could do it, but not knowing the lineup ahead of time made me too nervous to drop $275 on something that may or may not pan out. To be honest, I’m not DYING over the lineup like I was last year, so I’m fine with just going one day.

I did have a really hard time deciding between Saturday and Sunday, though. RL Grime (<3) is playing Saturday, as is Ryn Weaver, my newest musical obsession. I even pre-ordered her album on iTunes, which is something I’ve never done before. On the other hand, Florence + the Machine and Of Monsters and Men are playing Sunday (though I think they’re both headlining, which means I’ll have some decisions to make and will likely split my time between the two). Saturday’s an easier day to go, but I’ve already seen RL Grime three times…but I’ve never seen Ryn Weaver, and I haven’t heard that she has any plans to play Chicago any time soon. As Tuesday’s post should’ve shown, I obviously like Florence + the Machine, and I’m still kicking myself over missing Of Monsters and Men when they played Chicago in 2013 because I really like them, BUT they’re playing the Aragon in May, BUT it’s $40, which is more than I usually pay for a show and it’s on a Tuesday, which isn’t great because I’d have to skip dance, but at least I’d have the option of seeing them, which it doesn’t seem like I have with Ryn Weaver. WHAT TO DOOOOOOOOOOO.

Well, the rabid teenagers/scalpers scooping up Lolla tickets made my decision for me, as by the time I got past the standby page, all of the Saturday tickets were sold out. So that solved that problem. I’ll be going on Sunday this year, and FOR SURE want to see:

– Florence + the Machine
– Of Monsters and Men
– Kygo
– ODESZA
– George Ezra
– and Halsey because apparently everyone at SXSW loved her, and if you can’t trust the trendsetters at SXSW, who CAN you trust, you know? On an unrelated note, attending SXSW is pretty much one of my biggest life goals/dreams.

(Please don’t mind me and my extremely eclectic music taste. I’m that person who when you ask me, “So what kind of music are you into?” and I say, “Everything,” I’m not being difficult: I’m being honest. I mostly rotate between EDM, indie, and pop, depending on my mood, though I also listen to country every day when I wake up. Soo…yeah. It’s pretty hard to do wrong by me when it comes to music haha.)

After they release the actual schedule, I’ll start doing my research (i.e.: tireless YouTubing) to figure out who else I want to see. But having six in mind isn’t so bad to start with. I saw seven acts in some capacity last year and five the year before, so six should be good.

Also, I am ABSOLUTELY taking the Monday after Lolla off work this year. Made that mistake last year, WILL NEVER MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN. Lolla hangovers (induced by too much concerting, not too much drinking — I’ve never had anything but water at Lolla) are no. joke.

2. Once upon two times, I passed out as a result of getting poked (when I got my ears pierced in fifth grade and when I got a flu shot in college). Since The Great Flu Shot Incident of 2010, I’ve kindly requested/demanded to any and all nurses who come at me with needles that they allow me to lie down prior to stabbing me. Fortunately, they’ve all been accommodating, and I’ve found my needle anxiety has greatly decreased as a result. In fact, when I got the first in a series of three shots at my doctor’s appointment in January, I didn’t have any problems whatsoever! Hallelujah — I was cured!

Last Monday, I went to the doctor for shot #2 in the series, and I felt cool as a cucumber…right up until the point where they brought me to the back and the nurse directed me to one of those padded chairs they put you in to draw your blood. I got a bit nervous, but figured that I’m a big girl and not wanting to put the nurse out of her way, I merely told her I’m not very good with shots. She assured me that she used to work in pediatrics, so I would be just fine. She swapped my arm, poked me (not really at all painful), and then offered me a juice box, which of course I took because hello, juice box. She brought me some crackers, too, and then briefly walked away to do whatever nurse-y things she had to do in regards to my shot. I wouldn’t know what these nurse-y things are, because seconds after she left, I passed out cold.

Sigh.

Passed out hot is actually probably the better way of putting it, because when I came to I was 1) sweating bullets 2) nauseous as hell 3) experiencing tingling hands 4) FREAKING THE EFF OUT. I don’t know what passing out is like for everyone, but when I pass out, I’m in a very realistic feeling dream, then hear someone saying my name but feel so tired that I don’t want to wake up (this has happened every single time I’ve passed out), then come to. Let me tell you, it is EXTREMELY jarring to wake up like that and realize all at once what happened. The nurse was very nice about things, placing an ice pack on my face and neck to cool me off (didn’t help), getting me a wheelchair to move me to a room so I could lie down, and consistently reassuring me that I was okay (while I continued alternating between saying, “Oh God, I feel SO SICK,” and “WHY ARE MY HANDS TINGLING?!?!?!?” [she didn’t answer my question, but a different nurse told me it was because of the adrenaline my body released, which made me feel better about things, because I thought I was having a reaction to the shot itself, since I’ve never had tingly hands after passing out before]). Eventually she coaxed me into the wheelchair, after which I promptly threw up. So that was fun.

All told, what should’ve been a five minute doctor’s appointment turned out to be an hour-long stay at the doctor’s office, because it took me for.ev.er. to recover enough from fainting to feel like I could actually, you know, stand using my own power. I still have to get round three of this immunization, obviously, but you better believe I will INSIST on lying down next time. No more chairs for me!

3. It’s almost Easter (!!), which means I’ve now dedicated much of my free time to figuring out what I want to bake. Easter is my favorite day of the whole entire year for many reasons–primarily religious reasons–but also because Easter means Lent is over, which means I can stop turning people down when the offer to take me out for ice cream/frozen yogurt/macarons/to buy me a cookie at Whole Foods (though all of those situations occurred because of the whole breakup/dead dog thing, so hopefully I won’t have too many more occasions where people offer that anyway!). I’ve been MUCH more thorough in my Lenten fast this year and have strictly refrained from my prior forms of “this isn’t really cheating, is it?” cheats, including (but not limited to), granola, sweetened cereal, graham crackers, pancakes, plain frozen yogurt, and any form of sweetener (honey or brown sugar) in my oatmeal. None of it! I set my limit at 4g of sugar in a serving (excluding juice and fruit), and only broke that (thus far) with three Chobani Simply 100s (which only had 6g of sugar, so whatever. Close enough.), and half of a protein bar yesterday, because it was an EMERGENCY (I had forgotten my morning snack, and I needed to save my afternoon snack for afternoon since I went climbing after work and wanted some pre-climb fuel). I’ve lost a whopping zero pounds and zero inches, despite drastically decreasing my usual sugar consumption AND running more, for those curious what kind of effect that has had on my overall health, but since that’s not really the point of Lent, I’m fine with it.

ANYWAY. What I wanted to get to in all of this rambling was that I can start baking again, but as I don’t plan to have any company on Easter, I don’t want to make *too* much. And thus I am at a loss for what I should make. So this is me soliciting suggestions, and/or inviting you over for Easter so you can eat what I bake :)

Have you ever fainted?
Easter plans?

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