Survey Says

Normally, I’d take this post to tell you my grand, lofty post-marathon fitness plans, but as I’m booted until at least Friday, there isn’t much to say in that department right now, at least definitively. I’ve biked more in the past week than I had in the previous two years in an effort to keep on some semblance of cardiovascular fitness and leg strength and have also done more upper body/core strength training than usual (i.e.: I’m doing it, period.). While the diversification from my usual routine probably isn’t the worst thing in the world, it also isn’t at all what I had in mind for this time period, and I’m hoping that will change for the better sooner rather than later. In the mean time, rather than rambling about what I wish I were doing compared to what I’m doing right now, I thought I’d use this time to do my first survey in many, many moons, courtesy of Emily, who did the same survey a few weeks back on her blog.

1. Do you eat blue cheese?
Yes, though I don’t really go out of my way to eat it. I’m happy to eat blue cheese on a salad or something like that, but I’m probably not going to ask for it if other cheese are an option (unless those other cheese are goat cheese, in which case I would definitely take the blue cheese instead. Try as I might, I just cannot convince myself to like goat cheese.)

2. Can you whistle?
Not even a little bit. My dad’s an expert whistler, but I don’t have a clue how to whistle.

3. Do you get nervous before a doctor’s appointment?
Semi-frequently. I get nervous if I expect to be poked during the appointment or I’m concerned about potential bad news. If I’m just going in for a checkup that won’t require a blood draw or shot, I’m usually fine.

4. How many televisions do you have?
Personally, I own zero. We have one TV in my apartment, but it’s not mine, and I rarely use it aside from major sporting events on network TV (we don’t get any fancy channels) or watching The Bachelor(ette) with my roommates, which is our favorite bonding activity.

5. What do you think of hot dogs?
I think they’re delicious, even though I probably shouldn’t think that.


6. Do you do push-ups?
Not if I can avoid it. If I can’t avoid it, I usually do them from my knees, because I’m lazy and pathetic and use, “I”m not strong and can’t do this,” as an excuse to avoid strength training exercises I find difficult, rather than taking the fact that I find push-ups difficult as the exact reason why I should be doing them. I suck. But hey, maybe all my current upper body strength training will change that!

7. Favorite girl’s and boy’s names?
Good question. I’ve liked the name Natalia for a long time, so I guess we’ll call that my favorite girl’s name of the moment. I don’t know on boy’s names. Hopefully if I ever have a baby boy, my husband will have stronger opinions on boys names than I have!

8. Do you have ADD?
No, not in the actual, diagnosed sense. I’m not always the best about concentrating on the task at hand, but that’s nearly always due to boredom rather than an inability to concentrate.

9. What is one thing you dislike about yourself?
My anxiety. I would give nearly anything to be able to function like a normal adult rather than constantly worrying about fires, things that could cause fires, diagnosed major illnesses, people I love being dead when I don’t hear from them when I expect to hear from them or they don’t arrive to a destination by the time I thought they would, that people think I’m crazy for worrying about all of the aforementioned things, etc. I appreciate that my anxiety gives me the ability to understand what other anxious people feel, but I would really rather that we could all just live with a normal, healthy amount of worry (“I shouldn’t leave these 50 candles burning overnight in my wooden house while I sleep.”) than an all-consuming, at times debilitating amount of worry (“I shouldn’t own candles at all, or matches, or a lighter, or even appliances that use gas. Or electricity. Nor should I live in a structure made of anything but stone or otherwise inflammable material.”)

10. What’s in your pocket right now?
Just Chapstick.

11. Do you own slippers?
Sadly, no. My feet and hands are the first parts of my body to turn ice cold in the fall, winter and spring, so I like to keep my feet as warm as possible, and slippers help with that mightily. I used to have a pair of slippers, and then two summers ago a spider the size of a half dollar built a web around them in the like 40 minutes I was gone for a run, and after that I never wore the slippers again. I finally got rid of them earlier this year because they gave the me creeps just looking at them. That spider was seriously the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in a house. I hope to get some slippers for Christmas, though!

12. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
I, fortunately, have not had any major injuries up to this point *knocks on all wood available*, so this is a difficult question to answer. I’m tempted to say my current foot injury, because it put me in a boot and left me unable to walk until I got the boot, which no other injury has done. I fell on a fireplace hearth as a kid, chipping one of my teeth (a baby tooth, thankfully) and splitting my lip open. I still have a scar from that on my lip, but I almost always forget that it’s even there since I’m so used to it by now.


13. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Yes. Haha. That’s another difficult question. I prefer ice creams with things mixed in, so I’m a big fan of things like moose tracks, cookies & cream, cookie dough, and the like.


14. How do you ring in the New Year?
In a residence. Whose residence that is has varied wildly over the years–my parents’ house, my old apartment, my childhood best friend’s house, and others–but it’s always been at in someone’s house or apartment.

15. Favorite month?
I like nearly any month where I can count on it not being hot and humid, so I tend to be a fan of late fall/early winter–October, November, December. I usually get a little burnt out on not seeing any sunshine by January, February and March, though.

Answer something for yourself!

Thursday Things

1. I’ve been booted😦


When I last left you, I had a diagnosis of peroneal tendonitis from the physical therapist and instructions to go to the doctor early this week if it didn’t get better. Despite taking it fairly easy for most of last week–I didn’t hit 10,000 steps any day except Sunday, obviously, since I ran the marathon that day, and Saturday, post-booting, when I did Open House Chicago–my foot did not get any better at all. I couldn’t walk without wanting to cry, and on Thursday my ankle started doing this extremely concerning thing where it felt like my peroneal tendon was popped out of the groove where its supposed to live in my ankle and would pop back in after several steps. Panicked, I called my podiatrist and changed my appointment from this past Monday up to last Friday.

The podiatrist poked my foot a bit and seemed a bit worried at the fact that I noted discomfort when she poked one particular location. She thought I may have a stress reaction or a stress fracture and ordered an x-ray, which they did in-office in this fancy foot x-raying machine. The x-ray came back clean, but the doctor also noted that stress fractures usually don’t show up on x-rays until two weeks after the fact, so she said I’d need to come back in two weeks and get it checked out again. She also offered the option of an MRI, as that would yield a clearer picture, but she said she would treat me the same way regardless of whether I got the MRI or not, so I opted to not get one for the moment. She gave me a boot with instructions to wear it at all times I was weight bearing, told me I could bike and swim as long as I wore the boot to the bike/pool, and told me I would not be running Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas.

So that’s where things stand right now. To be honest, I don’t really know what to think. Stress fractures and tendonitis are both overuse injuries, and while I would be the first to acknowledge that two marathons in three weeks most certainly fall under the category of “overuse,” at least for someone at my training level, it seems…odd, to put it mildly, that I would go from “no pain whatsoever, not even a twinge” to “unable to walk” over the course of 25 minutes (which was the amount of time it took me to get through the finisher’s chute, to my gear check bag, and up from sitting down on the grass) from an overuse injury. At the same time, I also did not have an “event” that would indicate an acute injury: I didn’t twist my ankle the wrong way, I didn’t fall, I didn’t run into something, etc. The popping sensation is consistent with peronal tendon sublaxation, but that usually comes from ankle sprains, and while I did once sprain my right ankle, that “once” was in gym class in eighth grade, 12 and a half years ago. Now, I suppose it’s possible I tore my retinaculum (the piece of body that keeps your peroneal tendon where it belongs in its groove in your ankle) 12 and a half years ago and somehow had just never pushed my foot/ankle to the point where it would be a problem until I ran two marathons in three weeks, but you would think I would’ve noticed this in SOME capacity over that time. This may have been the stupidest thing I’ve done running-wise, but it is certainly not the first time I’ve done long distance running, and it seems insane, to say the least, that I could’ve injured myself over a decade ago and not had one single symptom until now.

In retrospect, I wish I had gotten the MRI, because even if it didn’t show a stress fracture, it would’ve probably shown what’s going on with my peroneal tendon, which an x-ray can’t do (plus my weekly therapy appointments did an excellent job of getting me to my out-of-pocket limit on my health insurance, after which point everything but emergency room visits is covered at 100%, so it’s not like it’d be anything more than an inconvenience to get an MRI.). I also wish I had gone to my sports doctor rather than the podiatrist, because I feel like my sports doctor listens, while the podiatrist…not so much. This is the same podiatrist who told me I had plantar fasciitis last year, which I somehow managed to contract while making a weird move on a climbing wall (there’s no way I had plantar fasciitis. Nothing about that injury matched anything about plantar fasciitis, other than the fact that the pain was in my foot.). I specifically noted that my foot and ankle hurt, and I don’t think a stress fracture in my foot would make my ankle hurt. My ankle was the FIRST thing that hurt in this whole ordeal – the foot pain came later.

Regardless of what’s going on with my foot, my boot makes it so I can actually walk again, which has been a most welcome change. I feel kind of badass walking around the gym in a boot and working out anyway, and this has been a good way to force me to do upper body and core strength training, since that’s all I can do, and cardio other than running, since I can’t do that at the moment (though biking made my ankle hurt on Tuesday, so I’m not sure I can do that really, either – or at least, I can’t do it on a difficult level). But I do hope to get this all resolved sooner rather than later, both for the sake of my pocketbook (I don’t want to still deal with this after Jan. 1, when my insurance will reset) and for the races I’ve registered for later this year. I’m not making any final calls on Vegas until I get a better idea of what’s actually going on with my foot. I could potentially drop down to the 10K and probably would be able to run/walk or jog that, assuming, of course, that I don’t actually have a stress fracture or subluxation. In those cases, I imagine running at all is a bit out of the question for quite some time.

2. This past weekend I went to TWO different housewarming parties. Those were housewarming parties #2 and #3 that I have been invited to since June, and it makes me feel uncomfortably old. Never once in my life had anyone I known ever hosted a housewarming party until June, but apparently this is a thing that people in their mid-late 20s do. I’ve never even considered hosting a housewarming party. I guess I’ve only ever moved in with people, though, not into a place that wasn’t previously occupied by those who will be my new roommates, and I couldn’t exactly host a housewarming when I originally moved to Chicago and knew no one. My landlord has mentioned possibly selling my current place next year, at which point I would have to move, so maybe I can host a housewarming party then. Or, more likely, move and not really tell anyone about it until long after the fact.

3. When I wasn’t at housewarming parties this weekend (or hiking through the city for Open House Chicago), I was busy getting my fall on. A handful of friends and I went to Indiana on Sunday to County Line Orchard to go apple picking and generally indulge in fall-y goodness (by which I mean eating apple cider donuts and drinking apple cider, naturally).


Holy smokes, was this place a production. Growing up, my family went apple picking at a pretty low key orchard in West Michigan, where you brought your own bags and paid for them at a shed. If you were hungry, you could go to the pie pantry, a simple restaurant/bakery with your standard American fare and fruit-based desserts. Not so at County Line Orchard! They have a barn that seemed to be about the size of my hometown filled with individual stations for buying fudge, desserts, donuts, pies and beverages, a gift shop, all sorts of pumpkin-decorating accessories, and more baking/cooking aids than you could shake a stick at (mixes, jams, spices, etc.). And that was just the main barn. There was also a kitchen barn, which we didn’t even enter, and an entire children’s area with a miniature “train,” petting zoo, and more. And then, of course, the raison d’etre: the apples themselves. We took a tractor ride out to the produce, which, beyond multiple apple orchards, also included a pumpkin patch and a sunflower patch. After filling up the bags the orchard provided (after you paid your $1 admission fee to pick, that is), the tractor dropped us back off at the barn to pay for our spoils. While it was thoroughly unlike any other apple picking experience I’ve ever had, I certainly still enjoyed it. I haven’t been apple picking since college, and it was wonderful to go again.

When was the last time you went apple picking?
Are housewarming parties some marker of adulthood that I’ve missed out on until now? I feel inadequate😦 Haha (not really, don’t worry)

Open House Chicago 2016

My favorite weekend of the year rolled around this past weekend, and, for the fifth year in a row, I spent a good portion of the third weekend on October traipsing around the city for Open House Chicago. I had plans for the entire day Sunday, which meant I needed to squeeze as much into Saturday as possible. This year, I managed to see 10 different venues in six hours, which I believe is an Open House PR for me.

The day began at University Tower on the campus of UIC. I have had many…opinions…on UIC for years, stemming in equal parts from my distaste for brutalistic architecture and my outrage at the neighborhood displacement UIC caused (though, as what is arguably my favorite radio show of all time, Curious City, pointed out earlier this month, perhaps I have beetn slightly misinformed about Daley’s intentions in placing UIC where he did.). Visiting University Tower, though it did little to improve my opinions on brutalistic architecture, did teach me a lot about the campus and its history. Particular tidbits that interested me: the campus presented an interesting design challenge, as the vision for the campus laid out that the campus was to be somewhat “campus-y” (think quads, etc.), but also not look too “campus-y” – the buildings should look more urban than academic. When the campus was opened, it was meant to function exclusively as a 9-5 campus, with no residential students at all. Finally, the entire campus was built to be accessed from the second floor. Elevated walkways connected every original building on campus, so the main entrance of each building was not on the ground level, but one floor up from that. These walkways were meant to allow students to pass between buildings easily without having to wait for traffic. However, all of those walkways have since been demolished, which meant all of of the original buildings had to be retrofitted with first floor entrances. As the architecture student who talked to us said, “Imagine that you designed the greatest airplane that has ever existed, and then chopped the wings off. That’s what happened to this campus.” Fascinating! The views from the 28th floor, of course, were also fantastic.


After University Tower, it was a quick walk across where Morgan used to run through campus to the Behavioral Sciences Building (the BSB), which is quite possibly one of the strangest designed buildings I have ever entered. It felt more like a large sculpture than a building, and I was very grateful that none of the buildings at my alma mater were that confusing.

The BSB is one of the original buildings on campus, and you can still see vestiges of the now-demolished walkways, including this building sign that sits on the rooftop of the first floor:


and this gate, which covers where the walkway used to be. University Tower is in the background, and you can kind of tell that the second floor was meant to be the entrance from this angle.


Big Monster Toy Factory was the next scheduled stop, but the line was really long and time was limited, so after consulting the guide I picked up at University Tower, a quick walk through the West Loop ended at WeWork, a coworking space in a former meatpacking warehouse.


I’ve made no secret about my concern for the preservation of historic buildings, and places like WeWork really make me happy. I see building renovation, even if the renovation completely changes the function and purpose of the building, as the ultimate example of “reduce, reuse, recycle” – reduce the need for new construction (and thus new materials), reuse a building in a way that accommodates modern industry, recycle the materials available to create something new. I’m a big fan.

Another walk ended at Studio Manarchy, which is an art gallery/event space/private residence. It also is home to the biggest camera in the world.


Then it was off to an office I’ve wanted to see for years: Red Frog Events.


I was SO excited when I saw Red Frog on the lineup for this year’s Open House Chicago. When I was graduating from college, Red Frog was on my short list of places I wanted to work, and their office played no small part in making me want to work there (I don’t think I ever actually even applied, but it was a nice thought haha). Red Frog, in case you’re unfamiliar, is the company behind the Warrior Dash (and Firefly Music Festival), and their office is every bit as Millennial as you’d expect from the company that essentially started the obstacle course race scene.

The company’s main conference room has this awesome mason jar light fixture,


and also the company’s mascot, Clifford the Little Red Frog, which cracked me up.


DIRTT Environmental Solutions has been on the Open House lineup for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never had any particular interest in seeing it. This year, though, it was right on the way from Red Frog to downtown, so I saw it at long last. They also had spectacular city views.


The Builders Building was a short trip, since only the atrium was open, but you know, at least it was a pretty atrium.


Then it was off to another Open House mainstay, City Hall.


I’ve never been to City Hall at all, so this ended up being a much more interesting stop for me than I expected. I thought main floor was beautiful, and seeing the Council Chambers was pretty awesome as well. They let us sit in the mayor’s chair, which I most certainly did. There was a lot of information about the history of City Hall as well, which I found fascinating. I didn’t know, for example, that City Hall had had multiple fires, including one in the 50s that burned the entire Council Chambers.

I had hoped to go to the Lyric Opera, but it closed early, so instead followed City Hall with St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Madison, which I had never even noticed before.


There was still some time left at the church for two more stops: the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Building, whose 30th floor was open. The 30th floor was the roof before the building’s addition in the late ’00s and had great views of Millennium Park.


And finally, the day ended at Jay Pritzer Pavilion in Millennium Park, where they let us get up on stage.


As always, I finished the day thoroughly exhausted but also utterly pleased. This is seriously my favorite event of the year, and I’m so glad my foot and I were able to make it through.

Thursday Things

Marathon edition!

1. I spent so much money at the expo, you guys. It was ridiculous. I think I spent more this year than I ever had.


Where did that money go, you ask? Well, in addition to my traditional Christmas ornament and Nike running hat, this year I also bought a Nike hoodie that I’ve already worn more times than I care to admit. It’s so COZY! They had similar style hoodies at the expo last year (“funnel neck,” is what they’re called), and even though I wasn’t all that in love with the design last year, I regretted not buying one because I loved the neckline so much when I saw it on other people. Well, this year I did like the design, so here we are.

Fleet Feet was also having some great sales at the expo, including $20 off SuperFeet sandals, which I’ve been eyeing as a pair of flip flops I can wear without worrying that I’m murdering my feet while also looking vaguely stylish, and 10% of Nathan products. I really needed a new handheld and actually asked for one for my birthday, but my specifications stressed my mom out, so she and my dad gave me money and told me to go buy one myself instead haha. And that’s exactly what I did at the expo! My new one is 18 oz., had a pocket that easily fit my iPhone, AND is insulated, which makes me super excited.

2. I have mixed feelings on this year’s shirt. I don’t mind the design at all, but the color….

I have nothing against neon, but I also have a hard time taking neon seriously, which just might be the most ridiculous phrase I’ve ever written on this blog. I don’t know…I guess since the Chicago Marathon has always had colors I find more “serious” (blue, grey, red) on its shirts since I’ve run, seeing highlighter yellow was a bit jarring and didn’t seem to fit the race’s brand. Not that that means I won’t wear it, obviously. I even wear the 2014 shirt, and I HATED that shirt.

3. Favorite signs along the course this year included, “If Trump can run, so can you,” “Run like there’s a clown behind you,” and of course, the always classic, “This is a lot of work for a free banana.”

4. I cannot believe race registration for NEXT YEAR starts later this month. CARA had better get its act together, because I’m banking on a 5+2 entry for the 2017 race, and HEAVEN HELP ME if I drug myself out to Oak Park on a freezing cold morning and to Soldier Field on a swampy morning to make sure I ran five CARA Circuit races for nothing. I don’t quite understand why registration needs to open so early–just because next year is the 40th anniversay of the race doesn’t mean you need to sign up for it almost an entire year in advance. Unless they’re waiting to see how many entrants they get into the lottery and increase the field size for next year for the anniversary? That’s a nice thought. They keep hyping this anniversary stuff to high heaven, and I really hope they plan to pull out all the stops to celebrate. A stop I’m particularly hoping they’ll pull out: a new race course. I don’t have anything particularly against the course as it stands, but I just think it’d be really, really cool if we could do something different next year. I’d also be SUPER down to run the course backwards. Can you imagine if the last three miles of the course wound through downtown instead of up Michigan Ave.? MAN that’d be cool. You’d still have a hill at the end to keep you honest, since you’d have to run up Columbus from Grand, but then you’d get to ride the downhill after Columbus comes out from under Wacker straight to the finish (current start) line. And you could actually appreciate the LaSalle Street Canyon, which I think is my favorite part of all of downtown, which right now you don’t even notice because you run out of it, not into it. Who can put me in touch with Carey Pinkowski? I’m clearly full of all sorts of great ideas for this race.

5. I didn’t feel super great when I finished running on Sunday, so after I got my gear check bag, I sat down in the grass to collect myself. Once I felt better, I stood up (or rather, got onto my knees and than manuevered myself into a standing position in a downward-dog/inchworm-like fashion) and started walking to the post-race party. As soon as I started walking, I noticed discomfort in my right ankle that I had never felt before, including over the course of the past 26.2 miles I had just run. I chalked this up to your standard post-race soreness and continued hobbling along.

My ankle started to feel worse and worse as the day went on, and eventually the outside of my foot began to hurt as well. I got food with friends after the race, and when we left the bar, I couldn’t even walk without limping. I iced it twice when I got home, but that didn’t really make much of a difference. I then took to my favorite self-diagnosing tool, Google Images, to find myself a diagram of foot and ankle anatomy. Right away, I knew the pain I felt must be coming from my peroneal brevis tendon, since, according to the diagram, that tendon happened to run along the exact path that I felt pain. I diagnosed myself with tendinitis and called it a night.

The following morning, my ankle and foot were still killing me. I hadn’t taken the day off of work, so I managed to drag myself to the office. I was tired and sore and all-around pathetic looking, so in my team’s weekly Monday morning meeting, my boss told me if I wanted to leave early I could: “Like, noon early, if you want.” Didn’t have to tell me twice. I blew through my tasks for the day and then limped out of the office to find myself lunch before going home.

While eating, I started Googling peroneal tendinitis, as one does, and as I was reading about it, decided that my time could be much better spent by getting myself professional medical help rather than Internet medical help. I called my physical therapist’s office and booked an injury screen for 30 minutes later. My physical therapist apparently no longer works at the clinic I’ve gone to ever since I started needing PT, so I saw someone else for my injury screen, but that was fine. She pushed around my foot a bit and told me I had peroneal tendinitis, which confirmed for me, once and for all, that I AM a good Internet diagnoser! Hahaha😛

For those curious, my peroneal tendonitis likely stems from the fact that I’m an overpronater: something I’ve known about myself since I started running in 2011. I tried stability shoes once, and they caused me so much back pain that I was sidelined for months, so I run in neutral shoes instead. That’s never been an issue for me, at least from a peroneal tendon standpoint, until now, and I would bet my next Chicago Marathon race entry on this being an issue because I ran two marathons in three weeks, when normally I wouldn’t run at all for three-four weeks after a marathon. I also probably was not particularly trained to run two marathons in three weeks, which I’m guessing also contributed to this situation.

My instructions were to not exercise in any capacity for 7-10 days, schedule a doctor’s appointment for next week in case it didn’t get better so I could get a PT referral, ice the area regularly, take ibuprofen, foam roll, and walk as little as possible. Since the injury happened all of 24 hours earlier, the PT told me there really wasn’t anything they could do at that point anyway until the inflammation goes down.

So now we wait. As of Tuesday (when I’m writing this), I’m still in a world of pain. I can’t walk – I can only limp. My foot and ankle only don’t hurt when I’m not moving. Ice numbs the pain momentarily, but it comes back as soon as I finish icing, and ibuprofen, even at high doses, hasn’t touched it. The pain hasn’t gotten worse, so I suppose that’s good, but it also hasn’t gotten better at all, which is discouraging, to say the least (though to be fair it has been awhile since I was actually injured, and injuries, unlike soreness, usually don’t clear up in two days, so maybe I’m getting discouraged for nothing). I wasn’t planning to do much exercise this week, so being sidelined entirely for 7-10 days isn’t the end of the world, though that does mean I have to miss dance, and possibly graduation next week, which sucks. And even though I planned to not exercise this week and not run again until next Wednesday from the get-go, I did plan to, you know, move. Not being able to do that in any capacity, including walking, makes me uncomfortable, to say the least. All of this is compounded by the fact that I’m registered to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las vegas Half Marathon exactly one month from today. I planned to ride my marathon fitness into that race and put in the bare minimum amount of “training” (really maitenance more than training) between now and then, shooting for no more than 15 miles/week and maxing out at a 10 mile long run. That plan had me taking most of this week off, with two days of easy yoga at the end of the week, then resuming a training schedule of two days of strength, two days of running, one day of dance, and one day of yoga starting next Monday. I don’t know if any of that is realistic at this point, and obviously throwing some potential PT in there won’t make it any more attainable. I joined my gym almost a year ago for a couple of reasons, but one of those reasons was because it had a pool, and I wanted to have access to a pool “just in case.” I haven’t been in the pool once during my membership, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if that changed sooner rather than later.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Race Recap

Well, that was one of the crazier things I’ve ever done.


I’ll keep this post mostly race-focused and get to all the other stuff that comes along with running a World Marathon Major race later this week, so lets start with Sunday morning. I got up terribly early, as I always do on race morning, and since I had everything organized  was able to get out of the house about 40 minutes after I woke up. I made my way to the CTA and headed to Grant Park, munching on white toast and almond butter, which, by the way, I have gotten SO sick of. I think I need to switch back to peanut butter from almond butter for awhile, because after close to two straight years of eating almond butter every morning, I’m burnt out.

Because I’m slower than I care to acknowledge, I was relegated to Corral H this year, even after trying to lie my way into Corral G so I could hang out with my friends before the race started. To be honest, my annoyance at being in Corral H was 100% an ego thing. Corrals H, J, and K all have grey bibs, and I’ve considered a grey bib to be the mark of a lesser runner…pretty much since I started paying attention to the Chicago Marathon in any capacity. I know I’m not a good marathoner, but I’d like to believe I’m not a bad marathoner, and to me, that meant never wearing a grey bib, ever. Well, I had no such luck this year. My embarassment turned to joy, however, when I realized that the grey gear check is mere steps outside of the finisher’s chute. In fact, there is no gear check closer to the finisher’s chute than the grey gear check. Because of that, I skipped the CARA VIP area at the Palmer House, since given the choice between walking maybe 250 meters to my gear and walking a MILE to my gear, I’d choose 250 meters any day, thanks.

After sunscreening and Body Gliding, I dropped my bag off at gear check and did my best to settle down. I was pretty worked up about the race, which was driving me crazy. I touched on this during my Fox Valley Marathon recap, but there is such an ENORMOUS difference in atmosphere between running a small marathon and a gigantic, world-class marathon. When I ran Fox Valley, I had a hard time even comprehending what I was doing. The whole thing felt so insignificant, so unimportant, so casual–and I don’t mean any of that as a bad thing. It just felt like, “Okay, today we’re going to go run 26.2 miles. See you in a few hours.” Chicago could not POSSIBLY be more different. Chicago feels extremely significant, extremely important, extremely serious. And while I do enjoy the hype and the excitement and the feeling that the entire city of Chicago has come out to celebrate me personally (which isn’t true, but it certainly does feel that way), my GOODNESS does that make things infinitely more stressful. The buildup around Chicago truly makes it feel like it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do in your entire life. And whlie I like the race and certainly expect to continue running it in the future, if I’m being honest, I think I prefer the small race atmosphere a lot more. When I think about the half marathons I’ve run, for example, I’ve prefered the packet-pickup-at-a-local-running-store, show-up-on-the-Lakefront-and-be-back-here-in-13.1-miles sort of affairs to the pomp and circumstance of, say, Rock ‘n’ Roll or the Chicago Half. That isn’t to say that I don’t like Rock ‘n’ Roll or the Chicago Half (well, I don’t like Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago, but that’s only because it takes place in July, and the only thing I like in July is being inside, hiding away from the heat and humidity)–the Chicago Half, in fact, is one of my favorite races. But I find it infinitely less intimidating to run an event that doesn’t make it feel like your entire life hangs in the balance of how you do at this race.


Anyway, knowing that my anxiousness about the race was ridiculous and getting rid of my anxiousness about the race were, as always, two very different things. The gigantic portapotty lines did nothing to ease my concern, either, but fortuantely I managed to make it through mine in about 20 minutes and slipped into Corral H with less than 10 minutes to spare before corrals closed. I shuffled around for awhile and pretty soon after 8:00, we all moved from Congress onto Columbus and trudged towards the start line.


I truly had NO idea what to expect out of myself on Sunday. I have never, ever tried anything as intense as running two marathons in three weeks, and I didn’t have a clue how my body would react to such nonsense. The weather was gorgeous and I was most certainly well rested, so I hoped, minimally, that a sub-5:00 would be in the cards for me, ideally that a PR would be in the cards for me, and perfectly that a 4:45 would be in the cards for me. I didn’t have much in terms of a game plan, other than that I wanted to go out slow and run on the blue line like my life depended on it. About a mile and a half in, however, I realized I was so fixated on sticking to that stupid blue line that I wasn’t even paying the slightest bit of attention to anything going on around me, at which point I figured if I was going to run a race with 1.7 million spectators, I may as well appreciate it, so I stopped caring much about the line and tried to enjoy what I was doing.

Enjoying what I was doing, however, proved to be extremely difficult for a variety of reasons. My stomach was not in the best of moods, and I felt alternately crushingly hungry or vaguely nauseous for the majority of the race. Time and time again I considered making a portapotty stop at one of the aid stations, but I didn’t want to lose time doing that, and didn’t really feel like I needed one anyway, so I never stopped. I had only made it to LaSalle, which is less than three miles into the race, before my legs started to feel tired, which would ultimately prove to be my greatest challenge for the entire event. And on top of all of that, for the first half of the race, I just simply did not want to be there. I already ran one marathon this fall, darn it, and I don’t even LIKE marathons that much–or, at the very least, I certainly don’t like them enough to do two in one month. Now, to be fair, the grass is always greener on the other side, and I ASSURE you that if I had decided to not run Chicago this year after choosing to run Fox Valley, I would’ve been in an equally bad mood, though that time over not running the race instad of running it.

Around mile 11 or so, I told myself that I only had to make it to the halfway point, and then I could start run/walking if I wanted to. I’ve never started walking that early in a marathon before, but I also haven’t ever run another marathon three weeks prior, so I figured I’d be able to forgive myself for it. After I passed the 13.1 mark, I ate some pretzels, which helped me feel better, then ran through the charity block party, which was a blast, and by that point I was to Ashland and it was only another half mile to Damen, which is the earliest I’ve ever started walking before at Chicago, so I told myself I had to make it to Damen, then told myself I had to make it to the 15 mile mark, and THEN I could start run/walking the next time my watch got to a :x0 or a :x5 (since my run/walk intervals are divided up into five minutes, I like to start them on a :x0 or a :x5 to minimize the amount of thinking and math I have to do to know when to start running or walking). That happened right about when we turned onto VanBuren, so that’s where I took my first walk break.

Honestly, I think dropping down to a run/walk at 15 changed the entire race for me. My legs definitely still hurt, but my attitude improved immensely. The next few miles flew by, and I couldn’t believe how quickly I got to Taylor Street. About halfway down Taylor, I found Erin, and she ran and chatted with me for a bit (and showed off this year’s app to me, which was five gazillion times better than the app had ever been in the past in terms of runner tracking). While I was most certainly tired and my legs were most certainly SUPER over this nonsense, mentally, I felt great, which I think is at least half the battle in a marathon. I can’t really compare how my legs felt at mile 18 of Chicago to how they felt at mile 18 of Fox Valley, mostly because I don’t remember how my legs felt at mile 18 of Fox Valley, but I can tell you, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I was in a MUCH better place emotionally at mile 18 during Chicago than at Fox Valley, and that made all the difference in the world.

Pilsen was a ton of fun, and I was still sticking to my run/walk plan like a champ, walking one minute and running four. I only deviated from this plan a couple times. If I ever happened to miss my watch flipping from :x9 to :x0 or :x4 to :x5, I continued running straight through the next five minutes to ensure that I wouldn’t get shortchanged on my walk break and that I wouldn’t have to do math later on. I also felt good enough to occasionally run for nine striaght minutes, so that worked out just fine. Right after we crossed under the Chinatown Gate, I was feeling particularly queasy, so I took a two minute walk break instead of a one minute walk break, though heading into that two minute walk break I had just run nine straight minutes, so I didn’t get too worked up about it.

I was feeling just about as good as I’ve ever felt at mile 23, so I decided I would try to run the rest of the race and see how it went. When run/walking, I was doing about 12:20 miles, and at that point, I thought I might still have the teeniest, tiniest chance of breaking five hours, despite the fact that two separate 4:55 pace groups had long since passed me, and I knew I absolutely needed to run and not walk at all to make that happen. When I got to mile 24, I looked at my watch and it said 4:40. Since my run pace at that point was about 11:50, I knew I definitely did not have enough left in the tank to bust out a sub-10:00 pace for the next 2.2 miles, and allowed myself one more walk break during mile 24. I actually saw one of my CARA friends at this point (she wasn’t running the marathon this year, just spectating), and she gave me a huge hug, which I thought was so nice. I also think since she saw me walking that she thought I was in way worse shape than I was, but that’s okay🙂

I ran the whole last mile + change, per usual, and thought it flew by. I saw a couple more friends along the way and crossed the finish line in 5:07:49, which is either my third slowest marathon or my third fastest marathon, depending on if you’re a pessimist or an optimist😉 I felt okay for the first bit of the interminable walk through the finisher’s chute, but started to feel decidedly less okay as I continued on. When I got back to gear check, I found a nice patch of grass to sit on, where I caught up on my friends’ results, had a banana and a bag of pretzels from the Mariano’s bag we all got at the end, and finally picked myself up off the ground to head to the 27th Mile Post-Race Party.

I’ve never actually attended the party before, but the walk wasn’t quite as awful as I feared. My friends who ran all got beers, while I redeemed my beer ticket for a bag of chips instead, since apparently if you ask, the Goose Island bartender will let you get away with that. We hung around for a bit and then headed out to find food.

Am I, ultimately, glad I did this? For sure. I know I would’ve regretted not doing my birthday marathon, and I know I would’ve regretted not doing Chicago. Is this something I’ll ever do again? Ehh…tbd. The Marine Corps Marathon and the New York City Marathon are both on my bucket list, and I have a hard time believing that I’d be okay skipping Chicago if I were already in the midst of training for a marathon (unless, of course, I ran MCM or NYC at a time where I didn’t live in Chicago.). Truly, running two marathons in three weeks wasn’t terrible. It was a challenge, absolutely, but it wasn’t impossible. I did get injured on Sunday, which was unfortunate, but thankfully I didn’t notice any pain at all until I got up from sitting in the grass after the race (peroneal tendonitis, for those curious), and I got to the finish line of both races without injury, which I didn’t think would happen.

For now, though, I’m just happy that I have another 362 days until I plan to run 26.2 miles at all once again🙂


Chicago Marathon Training Week 18

Sunday, October 2: Yoga.
This one:

It didn’t feel too intense or beyond my skill level while doing it, but my abs were sore the next day for the first time in a billion years (not because my abs are so strong they never get sore, but because I avoid ab work at all costs because I hate it), so it must’ve done more for me than I realized.

Monday, October 3: 4 miles in 40:38 for a 10:09 pace.
Meh. This wasn’t the greatest run of my life. I started too fast and knew I started too fast, but I was in a hurry, as I only had limited time between getting home from work and needing to get to therapy, so I had a hard time settling down. My stomach was also not in the best mood of its life on Monday, which didn’t make this a particularly enjoyable experience.

Tuesday, October 4: Dance.
This was a bit more intense than I would’ve liked class to have been the week of the marathon, but what can ya do? I got through it, and hopefully my teacher didn’t mind too much that I was putting in about 50% effort. And even if he did I…don’t care. Haha. Running always takes priority over dance, sorry not sorry.

Wednesday, October 5: 3 miles in 31:45 for a 10:34 pace.
This turned out to be my last run before the marathon, though I didn’t realize it would be when I set out for it. It wasn’t all that warm by conventional standards when I ran on Wednesday–75 or so, and not too humid–but considering most of my recent runs have been in the 50s and completely overcast, this felt HOT HOT HOT. I had lead legs for the first mile something awful, but I felt better for the last two miles.

Thursday, October 6: Rest.
I had every intention of doing two miles when I got home from work on Thursday, but the weather had other plans, and I didn’t get a run in😦 I was a bit bummed, since I do like the pre-marathon two miler, but I also had a lot of stuff to do Thursday night, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

Friday, October 7: Rest.

Saturday, October 8: Rest.

And that’s a wrap on marathon season 2016! Thanks for sticking through it with me. I have no idea what Sunday will hold, but I’m certainly interested in finding out🙂

Thursday Things

1. So, I’m running a marathon this weekend. Again.

I mean, I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, seeing as how I’ve been blogging about it for four and a half months now. Strangely enough, it does surprise me, though. It’s not that I ever expected to not run both Fox Valley and Chicago after I signed up for Fox Valley and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to run two marathons in three weeks. I guess it’s just not something I ever really considered doing, and even after putting the money down and declaring left and right that I was going to do it, it was still just this far off Thing that was not real and I could worry about later. But now it’s definitely real. Or kind of definitely real. I’m expecting the reality of it all to hit me when I get all my stuff at the expo this weekend. It comes up fairly regularly in my conversations with people–my coworkers, my therapist, my friends. But it’s still bizarre to me that I’m doing this. I’m not that kind of a runner, you know? The kind who does crazy things. The kind who runs marathonS in a year–nay, in a season! In a MONTH! I guess I just don’t feel that…legit? I suppose plenty–by which I mean all–of my non-runner friends/coworkers think I’m insane just by virtue of running any marathon at all, ever, period, so maybe tacking another one on there doesn’t make me seem crazier to them. Maybe it’s all just one blob of crazy once you become the person who’s How I Spent My Summer report would always look like, “Running a lot of miles and routinely waking up before 5 a.m. on weekends to run even more miles. And sometimes doing that on weekdays, too.”

I also expected to feel a lot more worried about this. As I write this on Monday, I feel remarkably zen about the whole thing (well, aside from the fact that my stomach is grumpy today. But I’m guessing [hoping, praying] that that will clear up with a good night of sleep.). I’m not scared for how my body will react. I’m not nervous about not having spectators there for me specifically this year. I’m not even really that intimidated by the distance, which is the biggest surprise to me. Last year, I had the idea that I wanted to try to run Chicago and New York in 2016 (assuming I got into New York, of course, which I didn’t). When I was in the back few miles of Chicago, somewhere along Michigan Ave., I kept second guessing whether or not I’d actually want to run New York and Chicago, because that last 5K is SO MISERABLE. Four weeks isn’t enough time to forget how miserable that last 5K tends to be, and I thought that might discourage me from running both races. But here I am, still acutely aware of how my legs felt from mile 18 on three weeks ago, still perfectly cognizant of the depths of despair to which I sunk from mile 20(ish) on three weeks ago, and even still I’m not dreading Chicago. I’m actually…looking forward to it? I’m truly more curious to see how this goes than I am scared that it may go poorly. If the forecast proves true, Sunday will be the best conditions I’ve ever had for a marathon (55 and overcast, I’ve been begging for you for FOUR YEARS!! Why’d it take you so long to get here?!), and I’m really interested to see how I do in something that’s not mid-70s and sunny, or even mid-60s and sunny. We’ll see, I suppose.

2. That being said, I do, of course, have some (foolish) goals.

A. Finish.
This is always my A goal, and even more so this year.

B. Actually stick to the run/walk plan.
That run/walk plan being 4:1, 3:2, 2:3, 1:4 run:walk, depending on how I’m feeling. That was the goal during Fox Valley, and I failed at it miserably. To be fair, I also felt miserable. But still.

C. Feel good when I finish.
I had Portillo’s AND an enormous brunch after Fox Valley (not right in a row, of course – brunch after the race, Portillo’s much later that night), and I would very much like to have my body be in a state where it can handle such overindulgence again. I would very much NOT like a repeat of either 2013 or 2015, where I felt like crap at the end of the race and could barely stomach the thought of a banana.

D. 4:45.
Ah, that elusive time goal! I’ve been chasing 4:45 pretty much for forever, and the closest I’ve come is 4:52. For those of you keeping score at home, I’ll need to shave a whopping 29 minutes off my time at Fox Valley to hit 4:45. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

3. I don’t really have anything else to blog about, since my weekend last weekend was uneventful, and, well, you all know what I’m doing this weekend. One of these days I’ll start taking pictures again (like, you know, this weekend) so I can stop being a bad blogger and posting picture-free posts.

Who’s going to be at Chicago this weekend??