Thursday Things

1. I’ve decided, possibly but hopefully not too late in the year, to expand my gardening repertoire to things I can eat.

foodgarden

Behold! My vegetable and herb garden.

For reasons beyond my understanding, some time many years ago, a neighbor who moved on long before I came into the picture decided to fill an old-timey claw foot bathtub with dirt, put it in the courtyard, and plant inside of it. A rotation of building residents have used it over the years, and since its former users moved out, my future landlord granted me permission to use it this season after seeing my flower setup. (To alleviate any confusion here: I decided many months ago to move out of my current apartment, but instead of going the Craigslist route like I have in the past, this time I’ll be moving into an established apartment with a roommate I already know. Since I decided to move well before planting season began and knew exactly where I’d be moving, I figured it’d make the most sense to plant everything at my new apartment rather than plant at my current place and try to move everything a couple months later.)

The bathtub obviously has a lot more space than your standard container, and I’ve wanted to try my hand at growing things I can eat for quite some time, so I figured this was my golden opportunity. I’m starting small this year with one basil plant, one dill plant, one oregano plant, and one tomato plant. The herbs, obviously, came ready to eat, so I only have to try to not kill those to consider them a success. The tomato plant, on the other hand, is a total gamble. I have no idea what will happen, but if I can keep it alive and get at least one tomato out of it this year, I’ll be beyond proud of myself. (I bought an “early girl” tomato plant, which is supposed to produce fruit faster than standard tomato plants. Hopefully that’ll help me out in my quest to not fail at tomato gardening.)

2. At the Chicago Flower and Garden Show earlier this year, I picked up a few free packets of wildflower seeds. I planted them on the other side of the bathtub from the herbs/tomato a couple of weeks ago, and really didn’t expect anything to happen, since I’ve never had any success trying to get seeds to grow. But look what happened this time!

flowersprouts

I have sprouts! I have no idea which kind of flowers these may turn out to be, but they look distinctly different from the weeds that sprout in the tub on what seems like a daily basis, so I’m sure they’re from the seed packet. I’m so excited! I also have two packets of milkweed seeds I was going to plant, but upon further seed packet inspection, I saw that I’m only supposed to plant those seeds in early spring or late fall, so I’ll hold off on putting those into the ground until October or so, when I also plan to plant tulip and daffodil bulbs to hopefully have a lovely spring garden next year!

3. I crossed one more item of my Chicago Bucket List on Tuesday: eat at Pequod’s. Pequod’s consistently tops the list of the best place to get pizza in Chicago. I had never been, partially because the rumors of long waits intimidated me, and partially because Giordano’s has the best pizza in Chicago and yes, that is absolutely a hill I’m willing to die on, but on Tuesday I was in the neighborhood with several other people from my company for our annual volunteering day, and our group leader had decided we should go there for lunch. While I still maintain that Giordano’s is the best, I have to say, that caramelized cheese on the crust of Pequod’s pizza really was something else. I definitely see why people like it so much! It beats Lou Malnati’s by a mile, that’s for sure.

Have you ever had Pequod’s pizza?
What do I need to do to keep my tomato plant alive and thriving?

Chicago Marathon Training Week 2

Sunday, June 11: 30 minutes strength training
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men. I intended to go to the gym immediately after church on Sunday afternoon, and brought all my gear along with me to expedite the process. When I got to the locker room, I unearthed a shirt, my shoes, two pairs of socks, two sports bras, and zero pairs of shorts. That obviously didn’t do me much good (though pat on the back, self, for being doubly sure to not forget a sports bra, the usual derailer of my gym plans), so I trudged home in the blazing sunshine, cursing the weather and hating everything about summer. My plan for Sunday’s cross training had been to bike 40 minutes and strength train for 30, but since I don’t have a bike at home and had absolutely NO interest in emerging from my air conditioned cocoon to go back to the gym, I ditched the 40 minutes of cardio and just did Body Flexor 2.0 on the NTC app. Better than nothing, I guess, though certainly not what I had hoped for.

Monday, June 12: 2.75 miles in 32:14 for an 11:44 pace + SPF
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men. My training plan called for me to run seven miles on Monday, and I had been dreading it for days. The forecasted high for Monday refused to drop below 90, and I knew seven miles on an afternoon like that would not be easy. By the time I left work, I decided it would actually be impossible.

mondayweather

NOPE.

I live in a fairly shaded neighborhood, so I decided to run laps around the blocks with the most shade, going as slow as necessary and taking walk breaks if I felt like I needed them, with the goal of hitting 3.5 miles, but allowing myself to quit at any time if that seemed unreasonable. It clearly did, so when I got close to home at 2.75 miles, I called it quits for the day. I had run long enough to log 30 minutes of exercise for the day and get to 10,000 steps, and that was good enough for me on Monday. Marathon training is all about pushing yourself to get things done even when it seems impossible, but there’s a distinct difference between things seeming impossible because of limits you put on yourself and things seeming impossible because conditions make it unsafe to complete said thing. Monday’s weather fell into the second category, and I’m definitely not losing any sleep over shortchanging myself on a run this early in the season.

Tuesday, June 13: Dance + P
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men! I expected to need to take a rest day today, but then my schedule changed and I was able to go to class. Currently batting .000 on planned workouts this week! *pats self on back*

Nearly everyone forgot the majority of what we did last Tuesday, so, as always, we had to review for way too long and learned basically nothing new. Maybe it’s not fair to expect people to take an eight week adult beginner hip hop class seriously, but…I really wish people would take this class more seriously. When I took my very first class a lifetime ago, I practiced nearly every day because I knew there would be a performance at the end, and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. Sometimes I’d forget bits and pieces of the choreography, but practicing it, even for just five minutes, helped me remember at least 75% of what we did, so it was easy to add in the parts I forgot the following week and move on. We would learn three to four combos per session when I started, and now we’re lucky to get through two, because we’re stuck reviewing forever and ever and ever and ever. Obviously I could go take classes somewhere else, but 1) as with marathon training, I’m mostly in this for the social aspect, and this is where my friends are and 2) while I know of plenty of other studios around the city that have dance classes for adults, I don’t know of any others that have a structured schedule where you work towards a performance at the end. Having a performance at the end motivates me much more than going to an hour long class, learning four eight counts of choreography, and then never doing that dance again. So while I could take class elsewhere, I’d rather not take class elsewhere. I just want people to step up in class right now and invest just the tiniest bit of additional effort into this thing they dropped $100+ on.

Wednesday, June 14: 40 minutes (ish) XT (yoga)
This one:


AH, THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN!! On Wednesday, I had a company event out in the suburbs (which I should’ve taken into consideration when I wrote down my marathon training plan, because they put reminders on our calendars about this, like, six months ago.). While I knew getting back into the city after the event would likely be a two-hour affair, I also knew I could very easily duck out during the post-event happy hour and get back at a semi-reasonable time that would still allow me to get in a 40 minute tempo run. HOWEVER. About a week ago, I was invited to Harry Potter trivia on Wednesday night, and since that was obviously non-negotiable, I no longer had time in the evening to run. Because “40 minute run” does not equal “40 minute process” (when you add in warming up, cooling down, showering, etc.) and consider that I had a late night on Tuesday, I knew there was no way I could get in a run on Wednesday. Yoga, on the other hand, was a more reasonable morning option, since it requires basically rolling out of bed and opening YouTube. So, yoga it was.

Then it stormed all late afternoon/evening on Wednesday (which would’ve kept me from running anyway, so I guess that’s fine) and since half of our trivia team was coming from basically Wisconsin, and the other half wanted to take Ubers which, unsurprisingly, had an insane surge on them, everyone bailed and trivia ended up not happening for me anyway. I drowned my feelings in chocolate chip pancakes for dinner instead, because I am the embodiment of healthy eating during marathon season.

Thursday, June 15: 3.25 miles in 33:19 for a 10:14 pace.
AH, THE BEST…oh, never mind. You know where this is going.

Two weeks ago, I was stressing out about how on earth I was going to manage to get in all of my workouts AND a therapy session this week. It just didn’t seem like a possibility. While normally I’d skip therapy on a week when I absolutely can’t find time for it, my therapist is going on vacation for the next week and a half, so my options were to somehow create more time for myself this week or go two and a half weeks without therapy. As I pondered this, I remembered that my company gives us one free half day in June, July, and August that we can use whenever and however we please. Knowing that four additional hours of free time would make a WORLD of difference and knowing that I didn’t have any reason later in June to take a half day, I took my half day on Thursday.

This should’ve worked out just fine, but I got to therapy 20 minutes late, which meant my session went 20 minutes long, and I had also scheduled a doctor appointment for later that afternoon. All of these combined to make it so I literally did not have 40 minutes to do the 40 minute tempo run I intended to do. I set out to try to do a four mile tempo run, hoping it’d take less than 40 minutes, but I went out WAY too fast and absolutely crashed and burned in the third mile. My heart rate was sky high and I couldn’t catch my breath, so I stopped at 3.25 and took a shortcut home. Once I got home, I had exactly nine minutes to get ready to leave for the doctor, so needless to say, stretching, foam rolling, and physical therapy did not happen on Thursday.

Friday, June 16: Rest

Saturday, June 17: 7.2 miles in 1:14:18 for a 10:18 pace + SPF
I thought we were going to break the record for earliest rained on long run, but that ended up not happening. It rained on my way to our run, but stopped by the time I got there. Mercifully, it stayed breezy and overcast for the duration of our run, which made the whole experience one billion times better than I expected. I felt much better on this run than I felt the week before. I’m beginning to suspect that my lack of heat acclimation, though certainly real, was compounded by sunny runs. If it could only be sunny at times I don’t need to run for the rest of marathon season, I would be totally okay with that.

I don’t think I need to say that this week did not at all go according to my original plan. While I’ve been around the marathoning block enough times to know that one week of subpar training won’t destroy the entire season, it was discouraging, particularly on Monday and Thursday, to have things go so differently than I hoped. Fortunately, this week’s forecast looks much more promising (just in time for cutback week, of course 😛 ), so hopefully I’ll get back on track in the coming days and spend a lot less time questioning why on earth I insist on putting myself through this every year!

 

Thursday Things

1. I’ve officially lost all sense of shame.

tennisshoes

Sigh.

I really thought I had a good 20 or so years in me until I started wearing tennis shoes with skirts on my way to work, but clearly that’s not the case. I take a walk at lunch nearly every day, and last year I bought Superfeet flip flops for that specific purpose. While the flip flops are far and away the most supportive and foot-friendly flip flops I’ve ever worn, they’re also quite heavy, and I’ve noticed I have to walk much slower in them than I can walk in tennis shoes. The straps also rub against the tops of my feet, causing minor chafing (though maybe Body Glide would solve that problem?), so I’m loathe to wear them when I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking, like on work days. So now I’m That Person, sacrificing all attempts at style or fashion in the name of comfort and foot health. Though if I were the one making the fashion rules, practical footwear would be the only kind of footwear, so perhaps we can say I’m just adhering to my own style guidelines.

2. I have a gym membership dilemma, and I’m soliciting your opinions.

I am a person who, nine times out of ten, can only convince herself to go to the gym when it is so pathetically convenient, it might actually be more of a hassle to not go to the gym than to go to the gym. If the gym is out of my way at all, I’m not going. My current gym is on my way to just about anywhere and, for times when I don’t feel like taking the CTA, is also a short walk from my apartment.

Later this year, I’ll be moving, and my current gym will be on my way to literally nowhere. I also know that the monthly rate at my gym will increase substantially for me in a few months, which makes remaining a member of that gym fairly unappealing, despite the fact that I like my gym a lot.

I have two viable options for a new gym: joining the one in my office building, or joining one a couple of blocks from my office building.

The gym in my building is certainly the most economical option. It’s $35/month for employees of my company with no initiation fee, members have 24/7 access, and it would allow me to use the showers in the building on the extremely off chance that I someday decide I want to work out during lunch, or run to work instead of taking the CTA. However, despite members having access to the gym at any time, the gym is only staffed on weekdays. This is all well and good if I want to work out on a weekday, which I anticipate will happen with a fair amount of regularity after the Chicago Marathon. For the next four and a half months, though, the only time I expect to regularly need gym access is on a Sunday for cross training, because, believe it or not, I don’t have a stationary bike, an elliptical, or a full selection of strength training equipment in my apartment. The idea of likely being the only person in the gym makes me quite nervous. What if I get hurt? What if I have an emergency? What if there’s one other person in the gym, and that person is a creep?

The other gym is not quite as convenient as my office gym, given that it’s not, you know, an elevator ride away, but is a very short walk from the office. It’s also substantially more expensive, to the tune of nearly $90/month, plus an obscene initiation fee. It also has substantially more amenities than the gym in my office building from an equipment, class, and perks standpoint (unsurprisingly. I’d expect a real gym to offer its members a lot more than an office gym). It’s not open 24/7, but it’s nearly open that often and, of course, it’s staffed at all times.

With how often I expect to go to the gym for the rest of the summer, the gym in my office seems like the most logical choice. $90/month works outs to $22.50/visit if you assume I’m only going on Sundays, which is my current plan. That’s a lot more than the $8.75/visit it would be to use the gym in my office at the same frequency. The lack of staffing just makes me nervous :/ And I can’t exactly bring a buddy to my office gym, because that would require having an office buddy, which I most certainly do not have. I don’t even really have a team anymore (I was previously on a team of three people + one part-time remote person who lives in Florida. My two former coworkers both quit last month, completely independently of each other [one got poached; the other had been looking for months and got an offer one week to the day of the first one’s last day], so now I am, as I very much enjoy saying, “an island unto myself!” But at least my boss’s boss, who has now become my boss, has no intention of letting me go, and now I have things to do at work, which is a nice change of pace.), never mind friends. So if you have thoughts on the best course of action, here, I’m all ears.

3. Raise your hand if you watched the Tony Awards on Sunday! *raises hand and waves it about enthusiastically*

Circumstances beyond my control kept me from watching the entirety of the awards show, but I did watch a fair portion of it (and caught up on what I missed via YouTube the next day). I’ve always liked musical theater, but I feel like this past year was the first time I started really paying attention to what’s happening on Broadway rather than getting into shows long after they’ve blown up, gone on five different tours, been done by every other high school in America, etc. So, due to my newfound affinity for what’s happening on The Great White Way, I decided to watch the Tonys this year.

EXCELLENT LIFE DECISION. Man, what a cool awards show! While the Grammys have plenty of musical performances and the Emmys and Oscars show clips of the nominated work, I think the Tonys are really in a category of their own in terms of putting on a display of the art celebrated during the show. You can easily buy an album that got garnered a Grammy album (or stream it, or however you go about getting your music). You can easily watch a TV show or go to just about any movie that gets an Oscar nomination. But Broadway shows are totally different. You can buy or stream the soundtrack, usually, but seeing the original cast perform any of the show usually requires a trip to New York, which isn’t quite as easy as logging into Netflix. While we certainly don’t see shows in their entirety during the Tonys, we at least get to see part of it, which I think is SO COOL.

I knew Ben Platt was almost guaranteed to win Best Actor for his performance in Dear Evan Hansen, and I was really hoping the show would win Best Musical as well. When Lin-Manuel Miranda turned out to be the one to present Dear Evan Hansen with the award for Best Musical, it was like all of my Broadway interests collided 😀 I was a little bummed that the Dear Evan Hansen performance was Waving Through a Window, though. I really wanted them to do You Will be Found. My brother, who saw the show in New York in January, thought they might’ve done Words Fail, but I imagine that wasn’t on the table because a lot of makeup artists did a lot of hard work on Sunday afternoon to make everyone look pretty, and all that work would’ve been for naught had Ben Platt sung Words Fail. It’s Quiet Uptown from Hamilton doesn’t hold a candle to the emotional gut-punch that is Words Fail, in my opinion. It gets more heartbreaking every time I listen to it.

I also now, more than ever, desperately want to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway with the original cast. Ben Platt’s contract currently only goes until November, which doesn’t give me much time, plus tickets are MAD expensive, and not just on the secondary market (to the tune of $250+ mad expensive). I could literally get a round trip flight to New York for less than a ticket to Dear Evan Hansen would cost. But Ben Platt is such a genius…. I need to win the lottery.

Do you watch awards shows? I rarely do, but I could definitely see myself watching the Tonys more often in the future!
Which do you pick when you’re forced to choose: function or fashion? I am all aboard the function train. Give me comfort and practicality or give me…a reason to not have to be somewhere that requires me to wear uncomfortable or impractical clothes. Haha.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

Sunday, June 4: Rest.
Unplanned rest day! Off to a great start! Haha. If I had known my schedule for this day when I put together my marathon training plan, I would’ve scheduled a rest day from the get-go. I had an event to attend that had me out of the house from about 7:45 a.m. until 7 p.m., so needless to say, I didn’t have much free time to do any sort of workout on Sunday.

Monday, June 5: 6 miles in 1:02:45 for a 10:28 pace + SP
I had an extremely unimpressive eight mile long run on Saturday where I averaged an 11:20 pace, so this made me feel much better about myself. The temperature dropped substantially between Saturday and Monday, which I imagine accounted for a lot of why this run went so much better than Saturday’s. I looked back on weather statistics, and over the past 11 weeks (as of Monday), we had only had 10 days where it was 80 degrees or warmer, and only four of those days were consecutive. Ten days out of 77 isn’t very many, and probably helps explain my utter lack of heat acclimation. Not that I’m complaining! If we can continue to average one 80+ degree day per week(ish) for the remainder of summer, I’ll be a very happy camper.

Anyway, it was comfortable on Monday, albeit a bit windy. My right knee (the one that had runner’s knee in 2014) started to bother me about halfway through my run. This isn’t the first time has happened recently, though interestingly enough the times it has happened recently, I’ve always been in the same pair of shoes (I have two identical pairs that I rotate between on a weekly basis). While the shoes could possibly account for the discomfort, I want to make a serious effort to build up glute strength to make sure that isn’t the culprit before I retire the shoes for good (especially since they have less than 100 miles on them!). To that end, I made sure to do PT exercises (clams and leg lifts) after my run).

(As a reminder, I plan to log my stretching (S), physical therapy exercises (P) and foam rolling (F) for each day so I remember how frequently I’ve done these three things I attempt to do, minimally, after each run. “SP” today means I stretched and did PT, but did not foam roll).

Tuesday, June 6: Dance + P
OOF. That’s what I have to say about dance this week. I’ve been at this for about four and a half years now, and I’d say at least 90 percent of the combos I’ve learned thus far would best be labeled “hip hop lite.” Sure, sometimes it’s fast and challenging, but most of the time the routines (and music) are fairly innocuous. Not so on Tuesday! After spending (too many, in my opinion) weeks going over a long combo to Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic, we started on Kendrick Lamar’s M.A.A.D. City last week and spent the almost the entirety of this class rehearsing and adding to it. M.A.A.D. City is definitely not hip hop lite, and neither is the routine. It’s easily the most aggressive combo I’ve learned in this class in four and a half years, and I was sweating buckets by the time class ended. It’s intense, but I won’t lie, I LOVE it. This is exactly the kind of dancing I think of when I think of hip hop. It’s mean, hard, loud, nasty (not, like, dirty nasty, but angry nasty), get your heart rate up (so you don’t feel like you’re cheating by calling it cross training) dancing, and I really hope we do more of this in the future.

Wednesday, June 7: 4 miles (pace) in 36:52 for a 9:13 pace + SPF
To start, I should note that I don’t think I actually ran four miles on Wednesday. I ran the same four mile route I’ve done dozens of times, and somehow, my watch told me I hit four miles .15 miles earlier than usual. According to Cool Running, this means I ran a 9:35 pace, which, if I had kept going would’ve taken 38:18.

Hal Higdon’s Marathon 3 (and HM3, for that matter) programs have one speed workout per week on non-cutback weeks: a pace run or a tempo run. Pace runs, unsurprisingly, are meant to be run at marathon pace. It’s pretty straightforward, unless you’re me, and don’t have a clue what that means for you this year. I would like to PR at Chicago this October if possible, which means sub-4:52, which means a sub-11:08 pace. My ultimate goal would be to run a 10:30-10:45 pace marathon (4:35-4:41 finishing time). That pace, though, is pretty close to my easy run pace, at least right now, when the weather isn’t crushingly hot and life isn’t terrible. My thought, therefore, is that while 10:30(ish) is a reasonable pace for me to run at any time, I should run faster than my goal marathon pace so that this still counts as speed work. This might be flawed thinking, but considering how I’ve never had a “marathon pace,” it’s the best I can think of to do. All of this will probably change once it gets really hot and I get really, really slow, anyway.

My knee didn’t bother me during this run at all (same shoes as Monday), but the ankle/foot I injured during the Chicago Marathon last year did. I started noticing soreness in it Monday morning, but only when I was wearing not-great shoes (flip flops, primarily). This was the first time it had bothered me in supportive footwear. I’m still not convinced I had a stress reaction and not peroneal tendonitis, so I looked up some peroneal tendonitis stretches and rehab exercises, and plan to incorporate those into my usual routine in an attempt to “pre-hab” the soreness away (and avoid any trips to the physical therapist).

Thursday, June 8: 40 minutes XT (yoga)
This one:

I am all aboard the Yoga with Adriene train these days (and by “these days” I mean “at least the entirety of 2017”), and my usual game plan is to scroll through her entire library of videos on YouTube, find the one I haven’t done with a run time closest to the amount of time I’m supposed to spend cross training today, and do it. This one fit the bill on Thursday (though I do think eventually I’m going to have to start repeating videos). This was a LOT easier than usual, but that’s all right.

Friday, June 9: Rest

Saturday, June 10: 6.08 miles in 1:03:05 for a 10:21 pace + SPF
First day of summer camp yay!

marathontraining2017

Okay, so maybe marathon training isn’t technically summer camp, but so much of the first day of training feels like the first day of camp: seeing which counselors (group leaders) came back, which directors (site coordinators) came back, which campers (runners) came back, being outside in the hot weather, feeling secluded from the rest of the world (trust me, 6:30 on Saturday morning feels pretty secluded, even in Chicago). Maybe all these camp parallels are part of why I like training so much…

Anyway, I was particularly excited to see one of my former running buddies return after a two year hiatus, so we ran together on Saturday and caught up on the major life events we’ve experienced since October 12, 2014. To my great dismay, I found the pace on Saturday to be a bit intense, and my legs were definitely feeling it by mile four or so (yikes). I’m hoping it was mostly a heat acclimation thing and that I’ll be all right as time goes on and I get more used to running in hot weather, because it’s going to be a disappointing summer, to say the least, if I don’t have the ability to keep up with a 10:30 pace and can’t run with my friends, particularly since my friends are the main reason I keep doing this whole marathoning thing.

Speaking of the weather, this week is going to be ROUGH. I don’t have much flexibility outside of my working hours this week, so there isn’t really room to rearrange runs to accommodate for miserable weather conditions. My goal for this week is mostly to survive, and if that means walking or cutting runs short, so be it.

Thursday Things

1. Last Friday night was my last free Friday night until the Chicago Marathon is over (I’ll occasionally have long runs on Sundays, in which case I’ll have a free Friday, but those will be few and far between), so I celebrated with a Jack Johnson concert!

jackjohnson1

The concert took place at Northerly Island, and the forecast all week called for rain. Fortunately, by Thursday the meteorologists were calling for “considerable cloudiness,” and when Friday itself rolled around, it was just as nice as the rest of the week had been.

I did not do my due diligence and went into the concert fairly unprepared, which meant I mostly stood around and enjoyed the music rather than singing along at the top of my lungs. Jack Johnson’s music is so relaxing and chill, though, that I didn’t mind.

jackjohnson2

I did get particularly excited, though, when about halfway through the show, Jack Johnson announced that ANTHONY RIZZO was at the show *all of the heart-eyed emojis*. I don’t find it particularly easy to pick a favorite Cubs player, but if I had to pick-if I were buying a jersey, for example–I’d pick Rizzo. He got engaged the night before and was there to celebrate, according to the picture he posted on Twitter. I don’t particularly care why he was there. I just think it’s cool that we both chose to spend our Friday night the same way. #besties

2. If you are not like me and don’t have your Saturday mornings booked from now until early October, CrossTown Fitness has launched a new stand up paddle boarding class for the summer that I think sounds awesome. The class takes place at North Ave. Beach on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. (though check the online schedule for specifics, including cancellations) and includes 30 minutes of an HIIT workout on the beach followed by 30 minutes of SUP on Lake Michigan. It’s also free if you’re a CrossTown Fitness member, which, considering that your average SUP rental will cost you about $30 for an hour, is a pretty good deal, I’d say!

3. I did the coolest thing of my whole entire LIFE (up to this point) on Tuesday!

So, I’m a pretty big history nerd. I can spend hours upon hours reading historic information, browsing historic maps, looking at historic pictures. If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to travel through time between the past and the present invisibly. I don’t want to alter the course of history at all: I just want to see it with my own two eyes. I want to see what Chicago looked like before the fire. I want to see how the neighborhoods have changed. I want to see which buildings existed 100 years ago, what they housed, what their interiors looked like. I want to know what it was like walking down the sidewalks during the 1850s, the 1920s, the 1960s, and every time before June of 2012 when I moved here. This, clearly, is an impossible wish, but it doesn’t change the fact that I desperately want to know what it was like to be here long before I was here.

Because of that, whenever I have the opportunity to in any way engage with history, I jump on it. Tuesday was the 125th anniversary of the first elevated rail service in the city of Chicago (which, through mergers and consolidation, resulted in today’s CTA). To celebrate, the CTA brought out its Heritage Fleet: one, two-car 4000-series train built in 1923, and one 2400-series train, built in 1976, both of which took continuous trips around the Loop on Tuesday afternoon.

I’ll be honest: I really thought I was the only person who could possibly find riding a 94-year-old train around the Loop interesting, but I was quite wrong! The platform at Clark and Lake was PACKED when I got there, particularly by the entrance, so I kept walking down east down the platform, and by an incredible stroke of luck, managed to stop right where the front door of the first train car stopped once it arrived in the Loop. After letting a variety of important people off the train, I got on and went for a ride!

cta4000series-1

You guys. It was SO COOL. Look at all the differences!

Seats without indentations indicating where each person should sit, plus bars that only wrap around the corner of the seat, rather than over the back of the entire seat. Notice the open window as well: the windows on these trains can open from the bottom (which seems insanely dangerous?! How did kids not fall out of the windows?? There aren’t screens, and the windows go WAY lower then the ones on the current train models, landing around your waist rather than just under your shoulder.), because the trains in 1923, unsurprisingly, didn’t have air conditioning.

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Incandescent lighting, rather than fluorescent lighting.

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Wooden floors.

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A string that ran down the center of the car to hold for stability, rather than the poles that run from the ceiling to the tops of seats or hand straps that span the length of the car (there were hand straps at the front and back of the car, however).

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And, of course, a slew of historic CTA ads, not all of which were necessarily historically accurate to the the time of the train’s service (it stopped running in 1973, so obviously the ad for the new Red Line, debuting in 1993–which, side note, was not a new line in the sense that it didn’t exist before that, but rather was a new route with a new name, as the colored line names didn’t begun until 1993 [crazy, right? That’s only 24 years ago!]–was not on the train any time during its 50 year service, spanning 1923 to 1973), but were fascinating nevertheless.

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The train was crowded, but it was SO worth it. Traveling the same way people nearly 100 years ago would’ve traveled absolutely made my day 😀

Have you ever ridden in a historic vehicle?
What was the last concert you saw?

Goals for 2017: May Check-In

One of these months, I’ll actually get this post up close to the end of the month, not at what feels like halfway through the next month. That month is clearly not this month, though, and now that I’ve used the word “month” way too many times for one paragraph, on to the check-in!

Goal #1: Publish at least one freelance piece
While I didn’t technically accomplish this goal as-written in May, by this time next month, I should be able to say that I have! It sort of feels like cheating, because I didn’t get this freelance assignment the way I expected to get it (pitching ideas to people I’d never met). Rather, an editor I already knew, who I had spoken to a few months ago and told in no uncertain terms that I was ready and able to write an article whenever she needed one, reached out to me at the end of May and asked if I could write a piece for her publication. I said yes in a heartbeat, of course, and I’ve been working on that ever since!

Having an actual assignment made it a little too easy for me to give myself permission to slack off with pitching, so that fell by the wayside as the month came to a close. I got a lot done during the start of the month, though! I followed up on a pitch I sent in April (no response) and sent out three other pitches, one of which got rejected immediately because the publication was already working on a piece almost identical to the one I pitched, the other two of which went ignored. I was surprisingly happy about the one that got rejected, though, because of why it got rejected. Even though I won’t get to write the article, it made me feel like I was on to something with my idea and gave me confidence that the idea would’ve been picked up if I had pitched it earlier. Plus, I’ve now pitched that editor twice, and though I’ve been rejected both times, I feel a little more confident – like she knows who I am and remembers my name, which will hopefully help me in the future if I can come up with an idea someone else hasn’t already pitched 😛

Goal #2: Get rid of at least 50 things
CRUSHED IT. I had already hit my 50 things target last month, but when I had free time over Memorial Day, I went on a purge binge (which I realize sounds like a contradiction) and got rid of so. much. stuff. I’m up to 173 items thrown away/recycled/donated at this point. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in this department, but I’m also flabbergasted by how much stuff I still have.

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HOW. How have I donated all the running clothes I don’t like/wear and STILL have that much left over? Granted, I can’t wear all of these clothes at all times–I’m not going to wear tank tops in January, or pullovers in July–but I still think it’s ridiculous how many shirts I still have after getting rid of everything I didn’t want. I should probably work on getting less emotionally attached to some of these things if I ever hope to fit all my workout clothes in one place. And this, of course, is just clothes I’m talking about. This doesn’t even cover all the stuff, and how I spent hours cleaning my entire closet over Memorial Day weekend and, when I put everything that I decided to keep back in my closet, nothing looked different.

Goal #3: Finish Dutch on Duolingo
I’m not done, but I’m getting much closer! Only three more lessons to go! Duolingo recently introduced a new “health” feature this month that has become the bane of my Duolingoing experience. You start the day with five health points. Every time you make a mistake on a new lesson, you lose a health point. If you lose all five, Duolingo won’t let you continue without paying a ridiculous number of gems (in-app “money” you earn from finishing lessons or keeping up with your daily goal) or wait 24 hours (or so – it’s close to 24 hours, if not 24 exactly) for your health to refill. While I like that this keeps me from spending forever and ever on a new lesson, I think it’s really stupid that they punish you for not knowing translations they’ve never taught you. As far as I can tell, you don’t lose health points for making mistakes on lessons you’ve already completed, which I think would make WAY more sense. They should punish you for forgetting what you’ve learned, not punish you for not knowing something you’ve never learned *eye-roll emoji*

Goal #4: Stay healthy and out of PT
Well, aside from a nasty cold I had at the beginning of the month, I did a decent job of staying healthy 😛 In terms of how this goal breaks down:

– Strength train once per week, minimally, during running season: Well, I didn’t strength train once per week, but I did strength train more than once this month, which is at least more than I could say for April.
– Stretch after every run: Nope
– Foam roll after every run, even if that means with a Moji rather than a full-blown foam roller: Nope
– Do at least three PT exercises twice per week: Nope

So, here’s the thing with this goal. I haven’t been keeping close tabs on my exact post-run routine, and when I reflect on the month, I tend to remember the times I neglected stretching/foam rolling/PT rather than the times I followed through on this, and therefore assume I failed the entire month. To address that, and hopefully help me remember to do these things, I plan to implement what I’m calling “SPF” during marathon season: Stretching, P(t), Foam rolling. I hope to report on whether or not I SPF-ed during my weekly marathon training recaps, which will help me get a better idea of when I’m getting these things done and when I’m not. Knowing when I’m more likely to skip out on something will hopefully help me avoid that, and also avoid the fatalistic, woe is me, I suck at cross training mentality I’ve fallen into.

Marathon Season 2017

Well, folks, here we are. Another Chicago Marathon season is upon us.

This is my fifth consecutive marathon season, which I would prefer not to discuss because that makes me feel both old and crazy. Never, ever, in a hundred million years, when I set out on my first marathon training run in 2013 did I expect that I’d still be doing this five years later. I never went into marathon training expecting to be one and done, but I also did not at all realize that marathon training would come to be such a major part of my life. I feel like I exist in two states: marathon training and the off season, one of which rigidly controls my life for 18 weeks, and one of which lets me sleep in as late as I want on Saturdays (guess which one is which?).

Regardless, I do really enjoy marathon training–I certainly enjoy it more than marathon running, let me tell you!–and I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time.

As you may recall, I trained for my spring half marathons using Hal Higdon’s HM3 program and loved it. I am a three-day-a-week runner through and through, so finding a half marathon training plan that only expected me to run three times per week was a dream come true. I finally didn’t feel like I was floundering around, pretending like I had any knowledge or right to self-coach, only to run a race similar to all the others I’d run in the past. Sometime during half marathon training, I thought, “Man, it would be so great if Hal Higdon would come up with an M3 program, too.”

Ask and ye shall receive!

I went to his website, and it turns out he had created an Marathon 3 program. Hooray! At long last, I could actually follow a marathon training plan instead of taking what CARA gave me and completely rewriting it to fit what I wanted!

When I looked into the M3 program, though, my hopes and dreams of a perfectly followed marathon training plan evaporated. M3 lasts 24 weeks (lolnope), calls for three 20 milers (LOLNOPE), and, most problematically, did not match up with the long run mileage for Novice 1, which is what CARA–and thus my CARA group/friends–follows. After never running the same mileage as my group last year, I was really looking forward to sticking with them this year, and didn’t want to have to do a bunch of miles on my own again.

So, I took to Excel and started doing some math. I put in the M3 plan, the Novice 1 plan, and a combined M3/Novice 1 plan, where I’d follow M3 mileage/training on the weekdays and Novice 1 training on the weekends. To my great delight, I discovered that my combined plan averaged 1.8 fewer miles/week than M3 as written, and only .61 fewer miles per week than Novice 1 as written. That adds up to 32.5 fewer miles compared to M3 as written over the course of the entire training program (about the equivalent of one high mileage week), and only 15 fewer miles (the equivalent of one of the lowest mileage cutback weeks) compared to Novice 1 as written over the course of the entire training program. That difference seemed so insignificant to me in the grand scheme of things that I decided my combined plan would be a worthwhile approach for training this year.

Because M3 is 24 weeks long, and 24 weeks before the Chicago Marathon just so happened to start the day after the Illinois Half Marathon, when my half marathon training ended, I decided I’d follow the first six weeks of M3 as written and call it “base building.” I got off to a rough start, being sick with a nasty cold in week two, but since then I’ve been right on track with my training.

I’m both excited and nervous about training this way this year. Even though I’m only running three times per week, my overall mileage will be substantially higher than ever before. My weekly mileage tops out at 35, which is just about as high as I like to go (and is even really particularly reasonable to go when you only run three times per week) and I only have to do one 20 miler, but since my average weekly mileage is higher than in the past, I should top 400 miles in marathon season for the first time ever. For comparison’s sake, I ran 377.7 miles total during the 2015 marathon training season (since I ran two marathons in 2016, I don’t think that data is really reliable as an indicator of my average marathon training season). If I follow my plan exactly this year, I should run 446.3 miles (68.6 additional miles – roughly the equivalent of two additional peak weeks). I’m really hoping higher mileage will pay off on race day (

All of this mileage is made up in weekday miles, and while I don’t think the plan is entirely unreasonable, it is a little worrisome that I never run fewer than four miles on a weekday during training (not including taper), and I only run four miles twice. I’m not wild about running long distances on weekdays just because it takes so. much. time. when you’re running a 10:30 or slower (probably slower, as the weather heats up) pace, and that’s a lot to handle after work twice a week. But…it is only twice a week. The plan does call for three weekday 10 milers, so we’ll see what happens with that. In four seasons of marathon training, I’ve only ever convinced myself to do a weekday 10 miler once, and it was on a day I wasn’t working, so going into this expecting to run three weekday 10 milers in one season feels…a bit ambitious. Though maybe when you’re routinely running seven or eight miles on a weekday, 10 won’t feel quite as long.

One other big change I’m making this year is in my cross training. For the past two seasons, I haven’t followed any specific plan for cross training, other than “find a yoga video on YouTube on Sunday” and “do an NTC workout on Thursday.” This time, I have prescribed amounts of time I should be spending on cross training, and on Sundays, it’s a lot of time. Like, more than an hour, every single Sunday lot of time. Because I don’t think I can do any one activity other than running for more than an hour, I’ve decided my Sunday cross training sessions will be split in two: half on the bike/elliptical, doing very easy cardio, and half doing strength training (ideally really focusing on strength, not HIIT and calling it strength because I have to do two pushups in 45 minutes). I’m a little nervous about this for a two reasons: 1) I do my long runs on Saturdays, which is why I’ve always done yoga on Sundays: to recover and 2) my longest weekday runs are on Mondays. I could, I suppose, switch them to Wednesdays, but that means all of my speedwork will be on Mondays. I’m not against doing speedwork on Mondays, but if my concern here is fatigue and soreness, I’m not sure that doing speedwork is going to be any easier/more effective than a long, easy run. Lately, I’ve been pretty sore in the days following strength training, but I think that’s because of how hard I fell off the strength training wagon in April. I’m hoping that if I get into a routine, I won’t be as sore the next day, and these Monday long(ish) runs won’t be totally unreasonable. I’ll probably play things by ear, and if I need to switch a Monday and Wednesday run, so be it. The M3 plan calls for a rest day on Monday, running on Tuesday, cross training on Wednesday, running on Thursday, a rest day on Friday, the long run on Saturday, and cross training on Sunday. Because of my Tuesday dance classes, that’s not a viable option for me, hence shifting everything forward a day (run on Monday, cross train with dance on Tuesday, run on Wednesday, add a day of cross training (always and only yoga) on Thursday, rest on Friday, long run Saturday, cross train Sunday). Another option would be to do easy cardio for half the time on Sunday and yoga for the other half of my time on Sunday, moving strength training back to where I’ve usually had it on Thursdays. Right now, I just have “XT” on my schedule for all Thursdays and Sundays, which hopefully will allow me to feel flexible in what I decide to do those days.

So that’s the plan for this year! I’m really, really excited about the training schedule I’ve put together and am super curious to see what kind of results it yields.