Requisite Quarantine Check-In

Greetings!

It’s been awhile, obviously. A combination of busyness and lack of interest kept me away from blogging for months, but the more I read other bloggers’ quarantine musings, the more I want to add mine to the mix, so here we are.

Work

I’ve been working from home full time since March 16, and I love it. I’ve often wondered how I would handle being full time remote, and I’m happy to announce that I handle it approximately seventy bajillion times better than I handle being in an office. Since I started at my current company four years ago, I’ve constantly struggled with my desire to be left alone coming into conflict with seemingly everyone else’s desire to come to my cube to chit chat whenever the spirit moved them–which was frequently. Now that I work from home, I am finally, blissfully unbothered from the beginning of my day until the end of it. I can listen to music without headphones whenever I want. People talk to me at scheduled times, not whenever they feel like interrupting me. I don’t have anyone hovering over my shoulder. It’s heavenly, and for the first time basically ever, I don’t dread going into work every day. (Now I only dread it some days πŸ˜‰ ). I would be quite surprised if my boss let me become full time remote permanently, but who knows. It’s a brand new world out there.

(Incidentally, this desire to be left alone at work appears to run in the family. I was telling my aunt this a couple weeks ago when I called to say hello, and she mentioned that she feels the exact same way about work, as does my mom. I used to think it was sad that my mom would go to her car to eat her lunch instead of eating in the break room with her coworkers. Now I get it! Who knew that introversion was genetic?)

Fitness

I clearly picked the right year to take a step back from any sort of race-related running goals and begin to explore running for running’s sake. The Shamrock Shuffle was cancelled, which worked out great for me since my training had been dismal and I was very confident I was going to turn in a personal worst at the race this year. I’m officially still signed up for Rock ‘n’ Roll’s 12K in Chicago this July, but I have no expectation that that will actually happen. Those were the only races I had paid for prior to the shutdown, so I haven’t lost much in that department, especially since Shamrock, to my great surprise, refunded our registration fees.

Rock ‘n’ Roll has hosted some free virtual races, and I’ve done a 5K and 10K with that so far. I technically did the 8K as well, but I forgot to register for it (whoops), so I didn’t get credit for running it. Won’t make that mistake again! I’ve enjoyed the virtual races a lot more than I expected. They motivate me to not phone it in on every single run, which is nice. I’m not setting PRs by any means, but I am running much harder than I would run otherwise (like with the 8K – most of my weekday runs are done at a 10:30-11:00 pace, but I averaged 9:44 on my 8K, and all of my mile splits were sub-10:00). Rock ‘n’ Roll will send you a medal (and face mask, because 2020) if you pay them to, but you can also just do the races for free and not receive any swag, which has been my method up to this point.

I’m usually putting in 13 or so miles per week. The running and biking paths near my house, unsurprisingly, have been crawling with people since this all began, so I generally opt for the grossest possible days and do my runs then. Cold, windy, rainy days are my sweet spot for optimal social distancing while running. I’ve started wearing my Buff and pulling it up over my face when there are people around. It’s extremely uncommon to run with a Buff in my area–I usually see one other runner wearing a Buff or other face covering, at most–and I’m curious to see if that will change at all as this goes on. I would guess that a lot of people view it as unnecessary because social distancing is possible on these paths–in some places, you could easily give people 20 feet of distance while passing if you wanted to–compared to a city sidewalk, where distancing is totally unrealistic.

My strength training/overall workout routine has suffered mightily now that my “gym” is made up of two five-pound and two 10-pound dumbbells. Since the summer of 2018, I was in a nice routine of three strength workouts, three runs, two low-impact cardio (elliptical or stationary bike) workouts, and one dance class per week. I now, in general, do three runs, two strength/cardio hybrid Fitness Blender workouts, and one virtual dance class per week. My usual dance class isn’t available, but I discovered that the Broadway Dance Center in New York has an impressive weekly lineup of Zoom classes. It’s cheaper than my normal class and more appropriate for quarantine, since the classes are all one-offs rather than eight-week sessions that build to a performance. Strength training has been much harder to replace due to my dire lack of equipment. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of fitness in that department through all of this, but what can you do? I suppose something is better than nothing, even if my something feels woefully insufficient. I also don’t like that my activity level in general has gone down. Hitting 10,000 steps per day got harder after I moved from the city to the suburbs last summer, and now it’s downright impossible on days I don’t run. My sleep, however, has been phenomenal–I’m averaging more than an hour more of sleep per night than usual–so at least my FitBit is proud of me in that department.

Health

We’ve had a couple of brushes with the virus in my family. One family member suspected she had contracted the virus while traveling right before quarantine started (like, she got home 24 hours before it started). She had a lot of fatigue and some chest tightness after returning, but since this was way early on and she had been traveling domestically, she wasn’t eligible for a test. She had an antibody test that came back positive, so she might have had it, but who knows how accurate her antibody test was. My brother also almost certainly had it. He lives in the New York City metro area and about a month ago, he and both of his roommates came down with low-grade fevers and completely lost their sense of smell. None of them were eligible for tests, either, but it seems nearly impossible to me that they could have had anything else, given their location, timing, and symptoms.

I’m a bit suspicious that I got it in Hawaii, though that’s purely suspicion. Four days after arriving, both of us on the trip came down with a mysterious, nearly full-body rash. We initially suspected an allergic reaction to our sunscreen (though it seemed wildly unlikely that we BOTH would’ve been allergic to the same sunscreen, especially since it was just Banana Boat, and we’d both used that variety of Banana Boat in the past without issue), so we switched to a hypoallergenic sunscreen and the rash just got worse. Benadryl didn’t touch it. From the get-go, I thought it was a virus (though not the virus – this was the end of January, long before corona seemed like a serious threat to the U.S.). It’s didn’t hurt or itch – it just looked horrible, like every single pore on our faces, ears, necks, chests, stomachs, arms, and legs had been pricked with a pin. On the flight home, I got knocked out with awful cold-like symptoms – sinus pressure, fatigue, headache. I had that for a few days after we got home, and then randomly relapsed two weeks later for a few more days, which has never happened to me before. I had my annual physical scheduled two days after we arrived back from Hawaii, so I brought up the rash while I was there, as it was still active at that point (as were my cold symptoms). The doctor didn’t know what might’ve caused it, so she sent me to the dermatologist who also had no idea what might’ve caused it (but didn’t suspect the sunscreen, because the rash wasn’t on my back, but sunscreen had been). The dermatologist wanted to take a skin biopsy to get a clearer idea of what was going on, so she took a punch out of my arm (leaving me with an ugly scar, sigh) and sent it off to the lab. I was officially diagnosed with perivascular inflammation, and when the dermatologist’s office called with my diagnosis, the PA said that perivascular inflammation is caused by a variety of things, including prescription medication (wasn’t taking any), vitamins (I was taking one I’d been taking for awhile, but only I was taking that and we both got the rash), or…a virus.

I didn’t think anything of it at the time–“the time” being the second week of February–but as the weeks wore on, I started to wonder more and more if maybe that rash had been triggered by a virus, and maybe that virus was SARS-CoV-2.

Fast-forward two months, and what’s the newest buzz about COVID-19 symptoms? Skin reactions, especially in people in their teens and 20s with no other symptoms. HMMM.

Obviously, Hawaii was full of tourists from all over the world, and I feel confident that every single thing we did, from lounging around the pool areas at the two hotels where we stayed to passing through multiple airports to more tourist-focused activities (a full island bus tour of Oahu, Pearl Harbor, the Road to Hana in Maui) either put us in direct, close contact with other tourists or people who would have interacted closely with other tourists. A not-insignificant number of tourists to Hawaii come from China, South Korea, and Japan, which all their first confirmed case of Covid-19 before my trip. Heck, even the U.S. had its first confirmed case of Covid-19 before my trip, and the majority of tourists in Hawaii are U.S. citizens. With what we know about the transmissiblity of the virus, I don’t think it’s all impossible that I could have encountered someone asymptomatic or someone with mild enough symptoms that, in January, wouldn’t have triggered any suspicion. I doubt I’ll ever know. Even if a fail-proof antibody test comes out and I test positive, it still probably won’t confirm when I got it. Of course, everyone these days seems convinced they had it without knowing it, so I could just be one of the masses clinging to unrealistic hope. I’m acting like I haven’t had it–washing my hands manically, wearing a mask when I go out in public, social distancing–which I think is what really matters for now, anyway. But I am curious.

Mental Health

This has been a very weird time to be a person with health anxiety. You would think that a pandemic would make things way, way worse, but oddly it’s been a lot better?? My anxiety about all the ways my body could malfunction and kill me (or the bodies of loved ones could malfunction and kill them) has been way down (though admittedly, my anxiety in general is historically at its worst during the winter, so that fact that we’re solidly in spring by now probably has helped me out a bit), and I haven’t been as continuously anxious as I would have expected if you had told me a year ago that I’d be living through a serious global pandemic in 2020. I still have anxious moments, of course, but when my therapist has asked me how I’m doing, overall, I feel like I’m not really doing much worse than the general population–and that, I think, is what’s at the root of my health anxiety feeling diminished.

Anxiety as a chronic problem (rather than anxiety as a normal, temporary reaction to a threatening circumstance) is always viewed as an overreaction or catastrophizing of a situation. Yes, there are lots and lots and lots of things that could kill anyone of us at any moment (house fires! Gas leaks! Deadly physical conditions, including anything from cancer to meningitis to sepsis to a brain aneurysm to appendicitis to blood clots! Carbon monoxide poisoning! [Those are my anxiety-provokers of choice.] Car accidents! Plane crashes! Mass shootings! Tornadoes! Hurricanes! Earthquakes! The list goes on and on!), but realistically, the chances of any one of things happening to you on a particular day are usually small. If you worry about someone having meningitis because they can’t move their neck, they have a crushing headache, a sky-high fever, and a rash, that’s not anxiety: that’s your fight-or-flight response telling you to get them to the hospital ASAP because they could be severely ill. If you worry about having meningitis because you and everyone you love have meninges that have the ability to swell, that’s anxiety. I frequently fall into the second category.

However! Nowadays, it’s not at all an overreaction to worry that the virus could be anywhere, and you could contract it at any time. That’s reality. An intense desire to wash your hands anytime you touched something you fear might be contaminated is no longer a maladaptive behavior. It’s literally what the CDC tells you to do. It’s like suddenly everyone has gotten on my level, and “my level” is no longer problematic or unhealthy–it’s exactly how you’re supposed to behave.

Like I said, it’s weird.

Life in General

I anticipated that my life would change dramatically in 2020, though unsurprisingly, I did not quite envision that it would change dramatically in the way it did. My original plans for 2020 included becoming a homeowner, getting a dog, and maybe even changing departments within my company, if the stars aligned. All of those things are off the table for now, as this is not really the environment in which I want to buy a home (which consequently means no dog, as my apartment doesn’t allow them) or leave a stable-for-now job (other changes at my company have made the department with the position I was eyeing substantially less stable than my current department). It’s not the end of the world by any means. I’m very happy in my apartment and wasn’t chomping at the bit to move out, and while there have been times where I wasn’t happy with my current career path, these days just having income at all is my gauge for career satisfaction. The entire outside world has turned upside down: no reason to intentionally turn mine upside down when it’s meeting all of my needs.

I’m a little disappointed that those things won’t happen this year, but my desire for stability FAR outweighs my desire for those sorts of changes, so I’m really, truly okay with it. I’m more disappointed about other things I expected to do this year that will no longer happen: a conference I was excited to attend in next week, a trip to Seattle to see my grandparents, spending some time at home in Michigan over the summer, more Jonas Brothers concerts, assuming they toured again in 2020 (which I anticipated they would).

On the other hand, I’m also now able to do things I thought wouldn’t be possible due to my initial 2020 plans. I didn’t think I’d plant anything this year as I expected to move during the summer. Instead, I’ve started a nice little container garden. I planted four heads of lettuce that said they could grow in containers. The garden center also had chamomile and peppermint, so I came up with the bright idea of DIY-ing my own tea this summer. I drink a LOT of chamomile and peppermint tea and thought it would be fun to try to grow own plants and dry the tea-making parts. Will any of it work? Who knows! If not, I invested 10 whole dollars into this project, so I won’t be too torn up if it doesn’t. I’d like to plant flowers, too. Hopefully (?), we’re done with freezes for this year, so maybe that will happen this coming weekend.

I very much need a haircut. I haven’t had a haircut in any capacity, not even a trim, since July 6. I originally hoped to get it cut in early March, but that obviously didn’t happen. I’m weeks away from my hair approaching fall of 2011 lengths, which was both the longest I’ve ever allowed my hair to get and the period of my life where I learned I do not look good with long hair. But alas, I’m guessing a haircut is weeks away at best, if not more. I have a feeling I’m going to become quite adept at top knots if this continues.

 

So there you go! 2700+ words about my past two months. Today, I venture out into the real world (other than the grocery store, that is) for the first time to go to the dentist. Last November, I had a crown placed on a molar I managed to grind a crack into (#anxietyproblems). The area around the crown has hurt whenever I chew anything or eat food that’s not room temperature for the past two weeks, so the dentist considered that a visit-required emergency. If I’m extra lucky, I might need a root canal! Woo! What a time.

Run Walk for Whales 5K Race Recap

I recently returned from eight days in Hawaii, where I spent time on both Oahu and Maui. I always try to run at least a mile when I travel to add the location to my Places I’ve Run list, and hoped to get in short runs on each island. I liked the idea of doing a race so I could also put Hawaii on my States Where I’ve Raced list, but I didn’t put much effort into looking and wasn’t particularly hung up on it. I’m not working to race in all 50 states (at the moment, at least), so it wasn’t a huge concern of mine.

Winter is whale season in Hawaii, and Maui in particular is a hotbed for watching humpack whales. Whales generally arrive around or after Thanksgiving and leave in March, so January and February are the peak months to see mama and baby whales swimming the warm waters off the coast of Maui. I went on a whale watching tour while I was there–another post for another time–and after getting off the boat, decided to continue another mission of mine: finding a pen for a coworker who had requested I bring one back for her from Hawaii. My whale watching tour docked outside the Harbor Shops near Maalaea Harbor, so after the tour, I headed up there to search for a pen.

Right below the permanent Harbor Shops sign was a temporary sign: “Run & Walk for Whales.” Immediately intrigued, I asked my travel buddy, “Do you think the race is this weekend?!” We wandered into the plaza and found more signage that seemed to indicate that the Maui Whale Festival would mostly take place the weekend of February 8 and 9, so I figured the race would be that weekend, too. When we saw a sandwich board that said “Packet Pick-Up,” though, I got more hopeful. We made our way to packet pickup, and lo and behold: the race was scheduled for the following morning! Totally thrilled at this turn of events, I paid far and away the most I’ve ever paid for a 5K ($55 O.O) and got myself signed up for my first Hawaiian race!

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Run and Walk for Whales featured four distances: a 10 mile, a 10K, a 5K and a one mile. My ongoing plantar fasciitis situation led me to take a bunch of time off running, and I had only logged a few miles at all since the beginning of December, making the 5K the most viable option. Plus, I was on vacation! I didn’t want to put too much effort into running πŸ˜›

The race started at 7 a.m., which, given that sunrise on race day wasn’t until 7:02 (and that’s only sunrise, not sun-getting-over-Haleakala rise), seemed surprisingly early. Fortunately, I never fully adjusted to Hawaii time, so even though we had been there for a week by race day, I still wasn’t having much trouble getting out of bed early. We arrived at the race site around 6:30 a.m., got in a (gigantic) line to use the bathroom (no portapotties – the bathrooms available were the ones in the shop complex. Fine by me! I’ll never complain about access to running water before a race.), and then headed over to the start line. The race sent off the 10 milers first, followed by the 10Kers, and then us!

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The course was a pretty simple out-and-back-ish, starting by running around the outside of the shop complex and spitting us out onto Honoapiilani Highway. I quickly discovered that the northbound (“out” portion of the course) part of Honoapiilani Highway is uphill, going from 15 feet to 147 feet over the course of that first mile and a halfish of the race. I wasn’t concerned about my time at all and was actually quite surprised to churn out a 10:02 first mile. Most of my running recently has been decidedly in the 11:30 range, and I didn’t think I had anything much faster than that in me, especially when running uphill.

There was an aid station at the turnaround, and then we got to enjoy a delightful downhill for the return to the Harbor Shops. Encouraged by the change in elevation, the sun cresting over Haleakala, and the time on my watch, I kicked into gear and ran the last mile in 8:36 (having done mile two, half of which was uphill and half of which was down, in 10:18). I was pretty sure I’d be able to finish in under 30 minutes, so I pushed it at the end and crossed the finish line in 29:44. Not my best 5K by a long shot–not a time I’d normally be remotely happy with, in fact–but given the circumstances (having logged a whopping 11 miles in all of 2020 prior to the race, finding out about and signing up for the race 13 hours before it started, being on the tail end of vacation, running in decidedly different conditions than what I’m used to for February, what with the hill and the temperature and the sun and the humidity), I was thrilled to break 30 minutes.

I figured it wasn’t impossible that I might have placed in my age group, given the size of the field, so I insisted on sticking around for the awards just in case. When they read off the awards for the mile run, I found out that the age groups were MUCH bigger than I’m used to (I was in the 11-29 age group, rather than the 25-29 I expect to be in) and thought that meant I wouldn’t stand a chance. Turns out that far fewer women between the ages of 11 and 29 (15) ran the race than those between the ages of 30 and 49 (52), and I ended up taking home second place! It sounded like they were going to email me a certificate to acknowledge this, but I haven’t received anything yet. No matter – I’m perfectly happy just knowing that I came in second. Also, thank goodness I’m not 30 yet: I would have come in eighth in that age group.

This was definitely the most spontaneous race I’ve ever done, and I really enjoyed it! It was super pricey due to our on-site signup (I don’t know how much it cost prior to on-site registration, though presumably not $55), but was a fun way to knock out a race in Hawaii and support a worthy cause at the same time. I don’t know that I’ll ever be back in Hawaii at the right time to do this race in the future, but if I am, I’d happily run it again.

runwalkforwhalesmedal

2019 Running Recap

As always, thanks to Kim for the inspiration!

Races participated in: 5
Races β€œraced” (of x amount above): 0
DNFs:Β 0
DNSs:Β 0

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This was FAR and away my lightest racing year in my running life. I typically do 10-12 races annually, so this was a very big change for me (and my wallet, ha). A variety of things contributed to this: moving out of the city, group leading, needing to adjust my budget for other priorities. I didn’t realize how few races I had run until I actually looked back at it, so I guess I didn’t miss it much!

Distances
8K:
1
10K: 1
10 Mile: 1
Half Marathon: 1
Marathon:
1
States Run In: 4: Illinois, Michigan, California, and Washington.
Countries Run In: 3: United States, England, and the Netherlands. In case you’re wondering, my run to/in Vondelpark in Amsterdam was my favorite run of 2019.
Months Run In:Β 12, barely. I’m finally trying to clear up my foot woes, so I only ran three times in December, but that counts!

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Participation medals received: 5
AG medals received: 0
Favorite medal: Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I’m a big fan of the south view of LaSalle, so I love that it’s on the medal.

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PRs:
8K:
40:24 (1:08 PR)
10 Mile: 1:28:20 (3:12 PR)
Half Marathon: 1:57:27 (5:23 PR)

Obviously, last spring was a bit of a banner season for me. While technically the 8K and 10 mile PRs were icing on the sub-2:00 half cake, I’m almost prouder of them than I am of my half time, since I wasn’t working for those times specifically. I put in a ton of work during my 12 week training cycle for the half, and it felt great to see that work pay off. I’ve never trained as hard as I trained for the first three months of 2019 (though marathon season 2018 comes awfully close) and have never run as fast as a result. On the flip side, I’ve also never had as chronic of an injury as the plantar fasciitis (or whatever) I developed as a result of that volume and intensity. My right foot has been a little more cooperative recently, but from the end of February through the beginning of December, it constantly hurt to one degree or the other. Three days of running is definitely my sweet spot, and I doubt that I’ll ever go back to four days a week like I did during half training.

Miles run in 2019: 808.01. I’m a little disappointed that I ran fewer miles in 2019 than I ran in 2018 (16.01 fewer), especially since I ran SO much more from January to April than, you know, ever. Had my plantar fascia been a bit friendlier, I definitely would’ve surpassed 2018. I did run five more times in 2019 than in 2018, and had I been able to run through December like I wanted to, I would’ve run 12 more times in 2019 than in 2018. I feel like that does a better job of reflecting how much more running I (intended) to do in 2019 than I did in 2018.

Happiness Begins Tour: Rosemont Recap

Because I clearly cannot get enough of the Jonas Brothers, I got a ticket to their show at the Allstate Arena as a birthday present to myself. Having already attended the show in Grand Rapids, where I had what were far and away the best seats of my life, I knew that if I were to go to another show, I wanted to be close to the action. Because of that, I opted to buy a B Stage VIP Bar GA ticket through LaneOne. I had never dealt with LaneOne in any capacity before, but the chatter on Twitter made it seem like you’d get a good experience, so I went for it. After all, I had already seen the show from the front of an arena. I couldn’t see much of what happened on the B Stage in Grand Rapids, so this seemed like the most logical choice (for going to the show a second time, that is).

LaneOne sold two types of B Stage tickets: general admission and seated tables. I figured the only way I could improved upon my Grand Rapids experience would be to be right up against the B Stage, since there was no real barricade separating you from the B Stage like there was from the main stage. In order to have a chance at that happening, I needed a general admission ticket. That being said, the area was pretty small, so it’s not like having a table would have prevented you from having a good view.

happinessbeginsrosemont-laneone

Doors opened for the show at 6:30, but because I wanted to be up against the stage and had PTO to burn, I got to Allstate at 4 p.m. Thankfully it wasn’t oppressively cold the day of the show! I came prepared, though, wearing my parka, a sweatshirt, my warmest glittens, a hat, and Cuddlduds. I also had hand warmers, but I never used those. I bought food at Starbucks ahead of time so I could eat “dinner” while waiting in line (to avoid having to leave the B Stage once I got there) and put all my valuables (wallet, keys, etc.) in my SPIbelt to avoid having to deal with a purse. I’m not gonna lie: I was pretty proud of my preparation, haha.

When I arrived at Allstate, there were only seven other people in the B Stage line, which made me feel pretty good about my chances of getting a spot up against the stage. From my extensive Twitter research, I knew that there was only space for four people on each side, and since I was the eighth person, I felt like I had a solid chance. As the afternoon wore on, we all started chatting, and it turned out that only three girls in front of me had B Side B Stage tickets: everyone else had A Side. With only three others in front of me, I knew I would get up against the stage.

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to waiting in line for two and a half hours, especially since I expected most/all of it to be outside (though they did let us into a vestibule 30-45 minutes before doors opened, which I appreciated), but I ended up really enjoying myself! I talked with the two girls behind me for a good hour or so, comparing Jonas stories and talking about life in general, and it was so much fun! I never got their names, believe it or not, but I still felt like we were great friends by the time we were able to go into the actual arena.

The girls behind me in line were on the A Side of the B Stage, so I latched onto the three ladies in front of me who had B Side tickets and chased after them once the doors opened. Since there were no other people immediately behind us with B Side tickets, the four of us had no problem securing stage-side spots.

Photos really don’t do it justice. It was truly insane how close we were to the stage. There was literally nothing but a thin plastic “wall,” about three or four inches tall, separating me from the actual stage. I had emotionally prepared myself to not be that close, so for it to happen was nuts.

The four of us along the stage spent the next hour freaking out over how amazing our spots were. Two of them were actually a mother/daughter pair! Let me tell you, my mother would not be caught dead at a Jonas Brothers concert, never mind up against the B Stage, haha. In fact, I didn’t even tell my parents I was going to the show, for fear of how much they’d judge me for going to another Jonas Brothers concert when I had already been to one in September πŸ˜› The daughter in the mother/daughter pair stood next to me. She had woken up at 2 a.m., flown into Midway from Nashville, taken a bus from Midway to O’Hare, got picked up at O’Hare by her mom, and then got to Allstate – I don’t even know when. Before noon, I believe. To top it all off, she’s a college student, and had a final paper due the next day. I felt moderately dedicated to the Jonas Brothers for taking a half day at work, but I had nothing on her!

Jordan McGraw and Bebe Rexha opened again, and then it was time for the main event! Since I had already been to the show and knew any pictures I got from the B Stage could never compare to the pictures I got in Grand Rapids (at least while the Jonas Brothers were on the main stage, that is), I kept my phone away for the majority of the concert.

Prior to Thanksgiving, the show started with the Jonas Brothers up on the main stage, had them coming to the B Stage during Used to Be, had them sing Hesitate, a fan request song, Gotta Find You, and start Jealous on the B Stage, return to the main stage for awhile, then come back to the B Stage for the first half of the Mandy Megamix (a mashup of old Jonas Brothers songs) before finishing on the main stage. However, in the first two shows after Thanksgiving, the Jonas Brothers started performing their new Christmas song, Like It’s Christmas, on the main stage in lieu of the fan request. When my show rolled around (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving), I was pretty sure they had dropped the fan request, but came prepared anyway.

happinessbeginsrosemont-blackkeyssign

Alas, they did drop the fan request 😦 I was a bit bummed, not only because I would have DIED if they picked my request, but because that meant they were on the B Stage for less time. Lame. However, I did get to experience Hesitate, a song Joe wrote for Sophie Turner, with none other than the Queen in the North herself (and her parents!) all of like 15 feet away from me. I. KNOW.

When we were all waiting in line, there were rumblings that family was coming to the Rosemont show, because some people who had bought B Stage B Side (my side) tables had their tickets taken away due to VIPs planning to attend the show and needing those tables instead (I assume they got refunds? I wasn’t impacted, so I have no idea what happened to them). Turns out that was correct! Right before the Jonas Brothers came on, Sophie Turner and her parents showed up and claimed their spots at the tables on the other end of the bar area from the stage. It was WILD. I mean, yes, obviously the Jonas Brothers are famous, but I’d be willing to bet that there are a lot more Game of Thrones fans out there than Jonas Brothers fans. I mean, I never took any interest in Game of Thrones, and even I was agog at being that close to one of the stars of the show. I was pretty invested in the show, but I couldn’t help but look over from time to time and be like, “I CANNOT believe that Sophie Turner and I are in the same bar area of this show. Also, holy cow, she is STUNNINGLY beautiful.”

Speaking of beautiful people in my area.

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I don’t know if I can really convey to you how close I was to them. These pictures aren’t zoomed in at all. Like they were RIGHT. THERE. It was insane. When I watch the videos I took while they were on the B Stage, I can literally hear Nick and Kevin’s guitar strings as they strum them. Not the sound the guitar makes: the sounds the strings themselves make when they’re hit. Like I said, insane.

happinessbeginsrosemont-kevinbstage

When the Jonas Brothers come back to the B Stage the second time, Joe goes into a speech about the OG Jonas fans to introduce the Mandy Megamix. As I was proudly rocking my 07-08 tour t-shirt, purchased with, like, half of my monthly allowance at the Best of Both Worlds Tour in Grand Rapids in December 2007, I tried very hard to get them to notice that I had clear proof I was one of those OG fans (you know when an athlete does something impressive and then pinches the top corners of their jersey and shakes it to show off their team name? That’s what I was doing.) Joe was too busy giving his speech to acknowledge me (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself), but Kevin wasn’t! He saw me, smiled, and pointed, and I was so thankful that my seventeen-year-old self had the foresight to buy a t-shirt for…I don’t even know. Somewhere between $35 and $45, I’m sure…that was one size too big (and is STILL one size too big) so that my twenty-nine-year-old self could be recognized for my dedication to the band by Kevin Jonas. While it was no finger graze from Joe like I got in Grand Rapids, it was still EASILY the highlight of my entire night.

Now, the biggest advantage of being stage-side at the B Stage in my eyes (and, I’m sure, the eyes of most other B Stage ticketholders) is that you are one of very few people in the running for Joe’s tambourine. You see, during the Mandy Megamix, Joe plays the tambourine during the Mandy snippet, which is the opening song of the mix. However, when they transition into Paranoid, Joe doesn’t need the tambourine anymore, and for most of (all of?) the tour, has been handing it off to one lucky fan at the B Stage, who then gets to keep it for all eternity. I KNOW, RIGHT. Needless to say, I came prepared for this as well.

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Frankly, I was so proud of my sign that I kind of just wanted to show it off, regardless of whether or not I got the tambourine as a result, haha.

Anyway, Joe finished the Mandy snipped of the megamix on the A Side of the stage, then wandered over in our direction to hand out the tambourine. For a second, I thought I was going to get it and panicked (“what am I going to do when Joe Jonas acknowledges my existence?!?!?”), but he ended up giving it to the girl next to me. I was SO genuinely happy for her! It was a weird feeling, to be honest. I really expected to be jealous and bitter over not getting the tambourine, but I truly think I was happier that the girl next to me got it than I would have been if I had gotten it. Plus, she let me take a picture with it after the show ended!

Soon after that, the Jonas Brothers left the B Stage and spent the rest of the show up front. I must confess that overall, I enjoyed the show less in Rosemont than I did in Grand Rapids. While I was closer to the action in Rosemont than in Grand Rapids, “the action” was by me for such a short time that it was a little bit of a letdown. In fact, I almost felt like I was too close to the stage – like the Jonas Brothers didn’t notice me because I was literally at their feet. That being said, B Stage was a really special experience. Even if the concert itself wasn’t as much fun, I very much enjoyed hanging out with other people who love the Jonas Brothers as much as I do. While I’ll always remember the Grand Rapids show for the concert, I’ll always remember the Rosemont show for the experience.

Now, if anyone would like to make a contribution to Bethany’s Future Jonas Brothers Tours Fund, I’m happy to accept cash and checks πŸ˜›

Thursday Things

1. Greetings! You don’t need me to tell you (though I’m obviously going to anyway) that I’ve started to take a more laissez-faire approach to blogging, where I blog when I have the time and desire to do so rather than sticking to a rigid twice-weekly schedule for the sake of consistency and building my readership, which, let’s be honest, has been a losing battle for the past three or four years anyway, once influencing moved into the Instagram sphere and away from being the exclusive territory of blogging. Of course, I was never an influencer of any sort to begin with, and have never made a penny off this blog, so it’s not like maintaining readership has ever been vital to the health of my blog.

Anyway, the point of that rambling introduction was to say that I have been busy, because I’m a human and it’s the end of the year, and who isn’t? I’m busier than normal, thanks to a gigantic event I have coming up in January. I’ve approximately 12384379347 decisions to make when it comes to that event, ranging from big ones (who’s invited?) to stupid ones (what color should the napkins be?), and even the vendor meetings I thought I’d enjoy have by and large turned out to be enormous headaches. Somewhere between attending these meetings and making these decisions, I’m also supposed to deal with all my normal end-of-the-year stuff, like wrapping up my work goals and having to help everyone whose work intersects with mine wrap up their goals as well, and coordinating where I’ll be when for holidays, and realizing a late Thanksgiving is going to mean very limited Christmas shopping time if I insist on waiting until after Thanksgiving to get started.

2. Conveniently, in the midst of all of this stress/anxiety/misery, the good folks at Disney released Disney+, and I have taken full advantage of its offerings.

So far, I’ve started rewatching Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens, began the new Pixar and Real Life and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series shows, watched the new live-action Lady and the Tramp, and am slowly working my way through Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience, as that movie came out while I was in college and thus tragically fell into the Disney Dead Zone of my life, where I erroneously thought I was too old to watch Disney-related things and was shamefully shy about my love for the Jonas Brothers for fear of judgment from my peers. You are never to old for Disney-related things, as Disney+ has shown me, and I have absolutely outgrown any shame I ever felt about loving the Jonas Brothers, so bring on 10-year-old concert movies!

As I’m sure you’re very curious as to my opinions on the new content I’ve watched, I have to say that I was genuinely shocked at the quality of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Sure, it’s a little corny, and I find it much more difficult to relate to the drama of high school romance these days, but I honestly had very low expectations for the show and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it isn’t awful. Pixar in Real Life has been an absolute delight thus far (all of one episode into it), and I thought Lady and the Tramp was well done (though that has never been one of my go-to Disney movies, so I didn’t know the storyline of it as well as I know the storyline of, say, Mulan).

Literally two days before Disney+ came out, I got an email from Apple letting me know I have a free year of Apple TV because my parents got new iPhones this fall (shoutout to family plans), and I honestly have next to no interest in signing up. Why on earth would I watch grown-up Apple TV when I have a treasure trove of Disney content available at my fingertips? (Although there is a Snoopy series on Apple TV that piqued my interest.) While I enjoy grown-up sitcoms (Friends, Parks & Recreation, etc.), honestly, give me Disney over grown-up entertainment any day. My life has enough stress in it to begin with (see item 1). I don’t need entertainment that adds to my stress. I want lighthearted, enjoyable, wholesome content that by, and as far as I’m concerned, Disney has the corner on that market.

Thursday Things

1. NO.

octobersnow

NO. NO. NO.

I knew snow was in the forecast for this week, but the last time I watched a weather report (Monday morning), Andy Avalos of NBC 5 specifically said it would not accumulate. This is accumulation, Andy Avalos!!!

To be fair, he didn’t call for snow until Thursday afternoon/evening, and this fell Tuesday night into Wednesday morning (?!?!?!). BUT STILL. I didn’t even have a snow brush for my car yet 😦 Thankfully, I was able to borrow one, because I never would have been able to drive to work Wednesday morning otherwise. My car had a solid inch of super heavy, wet snow on it, and there’s no chance I would’ve been able to get it all off without a brush.

2. I have gotten sick way too many times this year, and I am OVER IT.

I woke up around 3 a.m. on Saturday with a sore throat, which was but a harbinger for the misery the rest of the day would hold for me. By the time I went to bed Saturday night, I had a low-grade fever, sinus pressure so ridiculous I thought my cheeks would explode, and such swollen and tender lymph nodes that I could feel them protesting being squished when I would look down. Fortunately, my fever was gone by Sunday afternoon, and I felt more or less like myself by Monday evening. Of course, I had family in town to see me specifically on Saturday, so the timing of the whole situation was a bit of a bummer.

But the bigger bummer is that this is the third time this year this has happened to me: once in March, once in July, and now this. What am I, a kindergartner? I should not get three upper respiratory infections in the space of one calendar year! PLUS, I was similarly sick last December! What gives?? My immune system needs to get itself in shape, because I am not here for this quarterly nonsense.

Oh, and just to add some irony to the whole situation: I had scheduled my flu shot for Sunday, but then I couldn’t get my flu shot on Sunday, because I was too sick to get a flu shot. Figures.

2. While I’m complaining about my health, I’d also like to file a complaint against my stupid teeth. I went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago for my second cleaning of 2019, and it was finally decided that the time has come for me to get a crown. Boo.

This wasn’t an enormous surprise. I made an effort to find a dentist all the way back in 2014 because I had noticed a suspicious black spot on one of my molars and was concerned it was a cavity. Turns out it wasn’t a cavity: it was (at the time) a craze line, a result of me apparently grinding my teeth at night. I didn’t believe I actually ground my teeth while sleeping, but after switching dentists in 2017 and being told by my new dentist, unprompted, that I grind my teeth, I decided these dental experts apparently knew more about me than I knew and agreed to get a night guard. Multiple trips to the dentist and like $300 later, I was the proud owner of my very own, custom-fit night guard, which I’ve worn faithfully (ish) since November or December of 2017. That night guard was supposed to keep my craze line from progressing to a crack. As you might have guessed, it didn’t, and the crack is now big enough for the scrapey hook tool they use at the dentist to catch on it. That means it’s big enough to be a problem, so by this time next week, I’ll have 27 real teeth tops, and one porcelain one. Boo.

I’m told that I should be grateful all I need is a crown, because if I let this go on too much longer, I’d need a root canal. While I suppose I am grateful that I don’t need a root canal (yet), I’m mostly annoyed that I spent $300 to postpone the problem rather than avoiding the problem. I’m also not looking forward to the procedure at. all. I mean, I suppose no one looks forward to dental work, but this is the first time I’ve needed any dental work (other than having my wisdom teeth extracted, that is), so I’m extra nervous about it. The dentist claims it will be fine, but the dentist also claimed that my night guard would keep this from happening, so what does he know?

What’s Next

Ever since I started running in June 2011, I’ve always had a race on my calendar. At times the race has been months away (hello, marathon season 2019), but I’ve always been working towards something: a finish, a goal, etc.

For the first time in over eight years, I don’t have any races on my calendar, and I don’t know when that will change.

I’m on the cusp of moving into a more unpredictable season of life. Because I don’t know exactly what the next few years might hold, I’m hesitant (read: unwilling) to put down big bucks on a race almost a full year in advance (read: the Chicago Marathon) when it’s totally possible I might not be in a position to participate in the event come race day. I don’t feel comfortable committing to year-long race plans or goals right now, and since you have no choice but to commit to something like that with the Chicago Marathon, that means that race specifically is out of the question until things settle down a bit for me. Obviously every race isn’t the Chicago Marathon, but since I have a lot of uncertainty about how things may shake out in the coming months and years, I’m not particularly interested in committing to any races or running-related goals for the time being.

My priorities with running have shifted, for now, from chasing goals to maintaining a base. For the first time ever, I might be able to accurately answer the question, “How many miles do you run per week?”! Finally! (Previously, the answer always depended on what particular race I was training for at the moment.)

I’m actually not running at all right now. I used to always take a full month off of running after a marathon, and I’ve returned to that habit this year. Though I didn’t bring it up much (at all?) during marathon season, the plantar fasciitis that started in my right foot in February hasn’t really improved (imagine that! Continuing to do the same thing that hurt me with absolutely no rehab didn’t magically make it go away!). Because it’s always been more of a nuisance than an actual problem, I haven’t been overly motivated to do anything to try to make it better. In the limited time I’ve taken off since February, however, I’ve noticed that the one thing that consistently eases my plantar fasciitis is not running. So, I’m not running for a month. If it’s STILL bothering me after that point, then I’ll go to physical therapy. Maybe. I’ve known I could probably benefit from physical therapy for over six months now, but since this hasn’t really gotten in the way of my running (or my daily life, outside of having to hobble out of bed every morning due to my sore sole), I haven’t wanted to make the commitment to taking care of it. I don’t really want to deal with this for the rest of my life, though, so if one month off doesn’t fix the problem entirely, I should probably seek out additional help.

Once I do start running again, I’d like to maintain a running base that would allow me to run a 10K or shorter at any time, and allow me to be five or six weeks away from running a half marathon. I plan to do two weekday runs in the three to four mile range and one weekend run of six or seven miles, at least for the remainder of 2019. If I feel like I’d be happier running slightly more than that (three to five miles on weekdays, six to eight miles on weekends), I’ll make adjustments in 2020. Six to eight miles feels very manageable for a consistent long run, as does three to five miles for a weekday run. Anything more than that is when I start to feel like my runs are eating up a bunch of my time, which is one thing when I’m training for something specific, but another thing when I’m running just to maintain fitness. I’ve always used goal races to motivate me to run, and that helped me get through more burdensome longer runs. Since I won’t have a goal race to work towards, I don’t want to put myself in a position where I resent running in general or feel like it’s just one more thing to check off my to-do list. I think keeping my weekly mileage in the 12 to 18 mile range should keep that from happening. Of equal importance, these are all distances I feel like I can handle on the treadmill if necessary. I don’t know what the outdoor running situation will be like in the winter around my current apartment, so I want to keep my mileage at a treadmill-friendly level until I have a better idea of how good my area is at cleaning their sidewalks. If it’s anything like the neighborhoods where I lived in Chicago, I’m not exactly optimistic I’ll find ice-free conditions πŸ˜›

In the mean time, I’ve renewed my focus on strength training, this time with an emphasis on my upper body. I have an event coming up in January where I’ll be wearing a dress that shows off my back and arms, so I’d like to see if I can coax a little more definition out of them. Over the past year and a few months of strength training, I’ve done two days of legs and one day of upper body per week. I’m flipping that between now and January, doing two days of upper body and one day of legs. I’ve found that consistent strength training over about three months or so does amazing things for the muscle definition in my legs, and I’m crossing my fingers that the same thing will happen to my back and arms if I work on those twice a week instead. I’m not unhappy with how my arms or back look right now, so if nothing happens it’s certainly not the end of the world, but I figured it was worth a shot. I’ve also been doing some light cardio (like, 20-minutes-on-the-stationary-bike cardio), and doing HIIT workouts from Fitness Blender once or twice a week. Those workouts are no freaking joke, so once or twice a week is perfectly sufficient for me.

It’s weird to not have any definite races coming up (I might do a turkey trot on or around Thanksgiving. TBD.), but it’s also nice to be able to take a little bit of a break from the constant grind of training. I have a few weekdays during the remainder of the year where I know I won’t be able to get a workout in, and it’s nice to have the flexibility to rearrange my schedule or take an additional rest day to accommodate other life things (like getting a crown next week, ugh. I’d rather do a HIIT workout!). I’m looking forward to a more low-pressure fitness life for awhile and am interested to see how running for running’s sake works out for me.