Thursday Things

1. Since I was abroad when Avengers: Endgame came out, it was obviously high on the priority list to see it after returning. I went to a Thursday late afternoon/early evening showing (and miraculously stayed awake for the whole thing: the only night I kept my eyes open past 8 p.m. all week).

I didn’t like the movie as much as I think I was supposed to. I will admit that one of the things I like most about Marvel movies is the humor, and, as with Infinity War, there wasn’t nearly as much humor in this movie as in, say, Thor: Ragnarok. But beyond the minimal joke-making (which is a personal preference), I had a couple fundamental problems with the plot of the movie (presented below in white text that you’ll need to highlight to see to protect you from spoilers).

I need to get this out of the way to start: I’m on Thanos’s side, and I think he’s the real good guy here, not the Avengers. Maybe he’s not a good guy in the traditional, wholly-pure-with-no-bad-qualities sense, but–and I said this when I left Infinity War–I really believe his heart was in the right place with the snap. He saw a problem with overpopulation and found a way to solve that problem in the most humane way possible. As we learn from what Spider-Man says towards the end of Endgame, being dusted wasn’t a painful or excruciating experience. It was just a thing that happened, and then half of life was gone. Sure, that’s not so great for the people left behind, but as far as wiping out populations goes, that’s about as good of a way as it could happen. No pain, no suffering, no starvation, no horrible illness, no gruesome murders: they were just gone, like that *snaps* (pun moderately intended).

Of course, this belief that Thanos was in the right is based on the assumption that his fundamental argument–the universe is overpopulated–is objectively true. If the universe’s overpopulation is his subjective opinion–if people are not actually running out of resources necessary for survival–that changes things. But since no one ever seemed to argue against his belief (at least not that I remember), I’m operating as if that’s true.

Ok, now that we’ve established that Thanos was in the right, I would like to voice three other complaints (two connected and one not-connected).

Complaint #1: There is no way–NO. WAY.–that all of humanity would still be in shambles FIVE WHOLE YEARS after the snap. I absolutely reject that premise. We as a species are far more resilient than that. Would people still mourn the loss of those they loved? Absolutely. But to the point of being completely unable to function? To the point where wreckage caused by the snap would still be sitting in the parking lot of Citi Field five yeras later?! Absolutely not. I realize that complaining about unrealistic scenarios in superhero movies might be a little ridiculous, but I stand by my complaint. Unrealistic scenarios in superhero movies are usually due to superpowers and/or being in space, not how humans function as a species.

Complaint #2: I also COMPLETELY reject the premise that the Avengers did good by bringing back all those who had been dusted. In fact, I think that was more harmful than dusting all of them in the first place. CAN YOU IMAGINE if the world’s population doubled in an INSTANT?! That would be so destructive. Sure, it’s nice to see your loved ones again. But, in theory–see complaint #1–the world should have adjusted to the new normal by the time everyone came back. If Thanos thought overpopulation was a problem initially, I’m sure it was NOTHING compared to what would happen if the entire population instantly doubled! They should have left well alone and used their superpowers to get people back on their feet after the dusting, not look for a way to go back in time to undo something that probably was for the greater good in the first place.

Complaint #3: I think it is LUDICROUS that the entire end of the movie was a sobfest over Iron Man (who, for the record, is one of my favorite Avengers! I was definitely crying in the theater during his funeral!) while Black Widow got NOTHING but a couple of minutes of Avenger angst. If she hadn’t sacrificed herself so Hawkeye could get the Soul Stone, Iron Man wouldn’t have been able to snap (thus sacrificing himself) in the first place!!!!!! If we’re going to celebrate all the dusted being brought back to life–which I think we shouldn’t, but since the movie thinks we should, let’s just go with that–she absolutely deserved the same level of pomp and circumstance that Iron Man got. She’s the real hero here, and I will not hear otherwise. JUSTICE FOR BLACK WIDOW.

/endspoilers

2. I’m getting a little ahead of myself in the Europe timeline, but I saw this article in the New York Times Morning Briefing on Monday and HAD to comment on it now, since I planned on commenting on the topic later on anyway.

The article is about Duolingo and its extremely limited usefulness as a tool for learning language, and I could not agree more. While the article author has a 500-day streak on Duolingo, I am the proud owner of a 970-day streak – a 970-day streak that should be a 1,223-day streak in my opinion, because I lost my streak in August 2016 over a streak freeze fail. The point is, I started using Duolingo to learn Dutch on January 1, 2016, and have done at least one Dutch lesson every day (except one or two) since then. Even if I only spent five minutes per day on these lessons, that would add up to 6,115 minutes, or 101.92 hours, at this point. If you use my college language classes as a metric for “time spent learning a language” (an imperfect metric, admittedly, but the best one I can come up with easily), a student with perfect attendance would get 2,400 minutes (40 hours) of language instruction in one semester. If that’s the case, I’ve then taken approximately two and a half full semesters of Dutch by now.

The point is, I’ve spent a lot of time learning Dutch on Duolingo: enough time that you’d think I’d be at least moderately capable of handling myself in the Netherlands, right? Or basically capable?

WRONG. I was BLOWN AWAY by how utterly incapable I was of using Dutch in the Netherlands. I could do next to nothing other than say, “Twee” (pronounced tway) when asking for a table at a restaurant (“twee” is “two” in Dutch) and offer up feeble “Dank u wel”s (“thank you”s) when given something – food, silverware, an entrance ticket, my passport back at the airport, etc.

Duolingo did help me understand some basics of Dutch pronunciation, and while it was moderately helpful to know how to pronounce words, it didn’t really do much for me when I didn’t know what the word meant in in the first place, how to use it in a sentence, or how to put together a sentence at all. Sure, I knew more Dutch than I would’ve known if I never did Duolingo. But I didn’t know enough to even come close to getting by after three full years–three full calendar years, plus a quarter!–of using the app daily. That’s a pretty poor review on the usefulness of the system, if you ask me.

3. You will all be happy to know, based on my post last Friday, that I did indeed get tickets to see the Jonas Brothers when they go on tour later this year. Based on the schedules of my concert-attending buddies, I actually opted for tickets to the Grand Rapids show rather than the Chicago show, but I think that’ll be better anyway. Van Andel has literally half the capacity of the United Center, so I’m thinking that’ll make for a more intimate concert experience than I’d have at the UC. Plus, Van Andel was where I saw the Jonas Brothers (and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus) for the Best of Both Worlds Tour in 2007, so it feels appropriate to see them there again. This time, though, I’m paying for my own ticket (rather than my parents paying), so I could get as good of seats as I wanted 😀 Aisle seats on the floor, here we come! If they use the center aisle at any point during the show and I get a high five from Joe, I will sob like a baby. #noshame

Friday Things

1. Greetings! I’ve returned from my trip to Europe and am slowly getting back into the swing of U.S. life. I’ve learned that I should take trips to Europe far more often, because it makes getting up at 5:30 WAY easier. If only I had the energy/motivation to go to the gym to capitalize on the fact that I’m ready to go before the sun’s up 😛

The trip was great, and I’ve officially decided that I’m moving to Europe. (Not really. I mean, if it were in any way feasible, I would in a heartbeat. There’s the whole job thing, and the whole “money is necessary to live” thing, and the whole citizenship thing. But boy, if those minor inconveniences weren’t standing in the way, I’d be packing my bags right now!) Point is, I loved it there. All the history, all the languages, all the culture, all of the investment in public transportation (*heart-eyed emoji*). Yes to all of the above. I was not happy to come home, to put things mildly.

2. I have so much to write about the trip – way too much for one post (even by my novella-length blog post standards). This is going to turn into a bit of a travel blog for awhile. I know some people find reading about other people’s trips boring, so feel free to skip my exhaustive posts if they’re not your thing (or, you know, feel free to skip any of my posts, any time, for any reason. It’s not like I forced anyone to sign a contract agreeing to read my blabbering.).

3. In other news, when we landed in Chicago Wednesday afternoon, I nearly fangirled to death moments after touchdown. Upon checking my email, I discovered that the Jonas Brothers had (FINALLY) announced the tour that coincides with their recent reunion and upcoming album (*all the sobbing emojis*). I am a gigantic Jonas Brothers fan and have been since the Disney Channel introduced me to them in 2007, a fact I will neither hide nor apologize for, and I have literally never been more excited about anything celebrity-related in my life. This is more exciting for me than seeing Hamilton for the first time, which is really saying something.

The tour is coming to Chicago the day after my birthday (I. KNOW. *more fangirling*). I assume Joe Jonas personally insured that this would happen, knowing that, whose non-Broadway celebrity crush loyalties have firmly been in his court for 12 years now, would like nothing more than to (belatedly) celebrate my birthday with him. (My Broadway celebrity crush being Jeremy Jordan, who I was literally willing to cancel my Europe trip to see in Waitress on Broadway right now, had that been at all possible. What can I say? I have a type, that type, obviously, being dark haired, dark eyed, strong eyebrowed, singing men with alliterative, two-first-name names that start with J.)

I am both determined to get tickets and extremely concerned that I won’t get tickets, because something tells me I’m not the only person excited about the Jonas Brothers reunion. I signed up for pre-sale access, but Ticketmaster very much made it sound like everyone who signed up for pre-sale access won’t necessarily get pre-sale access, so all my fingers and toes are crossed. Feel free to cross yours on my behalf as well. I MUST GO TO THIS SHOW.

What have you been up to for the past two weeks?

Thursday Things

1. I had quite the visitor on Friday.

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This is a Virginia Rail. Typically a shy bird that hangs out in freshwater marshes, this one decided to defy all expectations and “hide” in plain sight on my concrete patio.

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I have no idea how he ended up in my courtyard, given that I rarely see birds of any variety in it, never mind birds that should be on the shores of Lake Michigan. He was able to run around the courtyard just fine, and I saw him fly from a sunken staircase up to ground level, so he didn’t seem to have any broken wings. My theory is that he might’ve hit a window somewhere and was recovering from being stunned or he, being a pretty small creature, was having a hard time with the high winds we had Friday and decided to shelter in the courtyard until conditions were a little friendlier.

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Regardless, it was cool to add a new bird to my life list and get to see a Virginia Rail so clearly.

Then on Monday, I had another good bird encounter!

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Check out that fluffy Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! I have a special place in my heart for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers after my traumatic encounter with one two years ago, so I look forward to mid-April when they migrate through the city and I have a chance of seeing them (preferably on trees, not my personal belongings). I saw one in an evergreen last April, and actually saw another one in an evergreen in the same area this past Saturday. Both of those times, they were pretty high up in the tree and fairly easily spooked. But then on my walk at lunch on Monday, I encountered this fellow! I could not believe how brave he was! Granted, my walk wasn’t down the busiest street in Chicago, but this tree was only a couple feet away from the sidewalk. There he was, drilling away without a care in the world other than getting some sap out of that tree. I ❤ migration season.

2. I do not ❤ snow-in-April season.

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Sunday was ridiculous. I know that it sometimes snows in April–sometimes even later than April 14!–but this was next level. It snowed all. day. The city got 5.3 inches, only .1 inches off the all-time single-day record for April in Chicago! I knew it was going to snow on Sunday, but I don’t think anyone expected it to snow so much. There was even thundersnow! It was nuts!

All I could think about on my way to church that morning was how unspeakably glad I was that the Lakefront 10 Miler was on Saturday, not Sunday. I know there were races in the area on Sunday, and I cannot IMAGINE running through that nonsense. It was miserable enough walking the three blocks from my CTA stop to my church, never mind running any sort of substantial distance. I had briefly toyed with the idea of trying to find a 5K to do on Sunday to see if I could take advantage of my current fitness level/PR streak, but never acted on that impulse to see if I could find any races and boy am I glad I didn’t. I almost certainly would’ve DNS-ed.

3. I leave tomorrow for a 12-day trip to Europe. On the one hand, I’m really excited! I’ve wanted to take this trip since…like 2013, I think? I originally planned to take it in 2016, then spent all my money set aside for the trip on physical therapy instead. I wanted to go in 2017, but a family wedding conflicted with when I planned to travel, so then I pushed the trip back to 2018, but another wedding was scheduled for when I wanted to travel. So, 2019 it is! I’ve dreamed about this trip for a really long time, and I’m looking forward to making it a reality.

On the other, more immediate hand, I am SO. STRESSED. about this trip. Or, more specifically, all the things I have to do prior to the trip. I’m not too stressed about being abroad. I’m not traveling alone, which takes some of the pressure off. My stress about being abroad is related to language barriers and general unfamiliarity with my surroundings, but I’m not super stressed about those things – like, a 3/10 on the Bethany Stress Scale. My understanding is that most people speak English in the places I’ll be (particularly in, you know, England. Ha.), between the two of us on the trip we have somewhere between a rudimentary and semi-proficient grasp on the native languages of the other countries we’ll be visiting in case we run into someone who doesn’t speak English, and in my experience visiting new places for the first time, I usually get familiar with my surroundings fairly quickly, so I think that will be okay. I’m a little stressed about the flights, too, but that’s mostly from a duration/anticipated lack of sleep standpoint, and there’s nothing I can really do about either of those things.

However, I’m at approximately a 9.8/10 on the Bethany Stress Scale when it comes to all of the things I need to do between now and tomorrow. I ended up taking this afternoon off work to buy myself some more time, which feels like one of the most ridiculous reasons I’ve ever taken PTO: taking PTO in order to prepare for upcoming PTO. But there was absolutely no way I was going to get through all the packing and chores I need to finish before heading to the airport without an extra four hours (especially since I would really like to go to church tonight, as I won’t be able to go on Good Friday). And then, of course, there were all the things I needed to do before today: itinerary creation, booking transportation, buying tickets for places we want to visit, coordinating with people we’ll meet up with while abroad, getting outlet adapters, getting foreign currency: it has been a lot of work. First world problem work, I suppose, but a gigantic source of stress over the past few weeks nevertheless.

Speaking of which, I don’t expect to have a whole lot of content on the blog while I’m gone. There might be one post if I can get my act together before leaving, but getting my act together for the blog is at the very bottom of my priority list right now. Otherwise, I’ll talk to you all in May!

Any tips on keeping boredom at bay during a trans-Atlantic flight? I can only spend so much time working on my coloring book (my normal way of passing time on flights)

 

Thursday Things

1. In an effort to try to set myself up for success with my half marathon on Saturday, I intended to do two things for the duration of my training cycle: no dessert except on special occasions, and no alcohol, period.

I made it a whopping three days into training before I decided stressful days at work counted as “special occasions,” (as did, as time went on, weekends, days where I ran a lot of miles, days where I just wanted dessert. A lot of occasions became special over the last 12 weeks, ha 😛 ), which I suppose isn’t that surprising. It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth, nor is it a secret that I have little interest in denying that sweet tooth.

I didn’t, however, have a drop of alcohol from the moment I started training until–well, I still haven’t had any. I had hoped to go out for brunch after the race and get a mimosa, but 1) the place where I had brunch that morning doesn’t have alcohol and 2) I was so exhausted, dehydrated, and underfed after the race that alcohol seemed like a really bad idea, so I probably wouldn’t have had one regardless.

Admittedly, it’s not like I accomplished anything particularly notable here, at least for me. Me giving up alcohol for three months is basically the equivalent of a pescatarian who only kind of likes fish going full vegetarian for three months. My drinking on a normal basis is already limited to special occasions, so it’s not like I was making a huge sacrifice here. There were only like two times when it was a real bummer to not be drinking: when I went to Bar Siena during Restaurant Week, and when I went to Girl & the Goat in early March, and wasn’t able to get a fancy cocktail at either of them.

Nevertheless, I thought it was useful to see just how much of a non-issue it was for me to not drink for 12 weeks. I still went to bar trivia with my friends, I still went out to dinner, I still went to get-togethers. I just drank a lot of water (which, considering my training status, probably wasn’t a bad idea anyway!).

2. It weirded me out how…nothing, I guess, I felt after breaking 2:00 in my half marathon Saturday. After the Chicago Marathon in 2018 (and in 2017, even though the only (“only.” It’s hardly an “only” in my opinion) thing I accomplished was not bonking), I basically floated through the next week. I was perpetually on cloud nine, and I 100 percent expected to feel that way if I broke 2:00 in the half. I wanted this as badly as I wanted to break 4:45 in the marathon, and considered it to be as “unattainable” as breaking 4:45 in the marathon (unattainable without concentrated, focused training, that is).

And yes, I’m glad I broke 2:00, but when I reviewed my race photos, I was genuinely surprised to see myself smiling in my finish line photos–like, happy smiling, not smile-for-the-race-camera smiling. My actual thought was, “Oh, I guess I was happier than I remembered.” Like, what?

I think my lack of emotion–which, upon reflection, I don’t think is actual so much a lack of emotion as it as a lack of the emotion I expected–is because honestly, I’m not happy with how the race went. I mean, I’m happy with the outcome, but I’m not happy with the process. I’m not unhappy with the process enough to wish I could do it again, but I guess I am a little bummed I didn’t have the picture-perfect race I hoped for, even if I still got the result I hoped for.

3. I have another race on Saturday! I’m on a mission to do all the Chicago races I like prior to moving (again, not because I’ll be prohibited from doing them after I move, but because I don’t think I’m going to want to do them after I move.), and the Lakefront 10 is one I’ve really enjoyed in the past. I haven’t done it since the Wilson track was added, though, so I’m curious to see what it’ll be like to finish with a lap around the track. I’m also curious to see what it’ll be like to tackle Cricket Hill at the end of the race rather than at, like, mile three, but I’m more curious about that in a dreading it sort of way rather than an interested in seeing what it’ll be like sort of way, ha. I don’t have any real goals/hopes/dreams for it, though the last time I PRed it was right after the Chi Town Half five years ago, so who knows.

Thursday Things

1. Can I spend the entirety of this post stressing about my half marathon on Saturday? Yes, yes I could. (Will I? I guess you’ll have to read the whole thing to find out 😛 )

UGH. I AM SO STRESSED ABOUT MY HALF MARATHON ON SATURDAY. Reasons why I’m stressed:

Reason #1: My shin.
Is it going to hold up? Did I completely overreact to the pain I felt last week? Do I actually have a stress reaction, or fracture, or other terrible, bone-related outcome? Am I going to get partway through the race and have to drop out because the pain is too bad? Am I going to have so much adrenaline that I won’t notice how bad the pain is until after the race, at which point the damage will be done and I’ll definitely have a stress fracture? Am I going to spend all 13.1 miles, all hopefully-just-under-two-hours of running worrying about it, derailing my mental game and ruining my race?

Reason #2: My mental state.
Obviously, I have had saner moments in my life (see: above). I’ve had a hard time sleeping all the way through the night recently, and every time I wake up my mind is already going one billion miles per hour. There’s no bleary-eyed, “What time is it?”, no turning to look at the clock and being relieved I still have time before my alarm goes off. Nope, it’s zero to one hundred–or rather, dreaming one hundred to waking one hundred, because I’m all about stressful dreams these days, apparently. So then I don’t sleep well, and I worry about not sleeping well, and I worry that my worrying is making everything worse and will keep me from having a good race, and round and round we go on the merry-go-round of anxiety.

I found having a visualization session to be very helpful prior to the marathon in October, so I’m trying to do my own at home: putting on some meditation-y music from YouTube, laying down, closing my eyes, and walking (running?) myself mentally through the race: what it’ll look like, what it’ll feel like, etc. It’s somewhat helpful–I suppose I won’t really know how helpful it is until Saturday–except when I see things I don’t want to see in my mind’s eye, like a 2:01 on my watch after I cross the finish line >.< I need to get my head in the game, but right now my head is too stressed to do anything but sit on the sidelines fretting about the game. Things could be going better, clearly.

Reason #3: The forecast.
I KNOW, I KNOW. I don’t need anyone to tell me that worrying about the forecast 1) isn’t going to change it and 2) isn’t going to make anything better for me. Trust me, I know. But I am OUTRAGED that the forecast calls for sun and highs in the 60s on Saturday. OUTRAGED, I SAY!!!!11!1!! *shakes fist at sky* I want 45 and overcast, not 60 and sunny! I would go so far as to say that I need 45 and overcast. Admittedly, the forecast still has time to change, and the race is at 7 a.m., so it’s not like it’s going to be in the 60s and sunny at the start–or, honestly, at the finish–so I’m almost certainly worrying about nothing. But when has knowing that I’m worrying about nothing stopped me?

I need to stop having performance-related running goals, because I clearly am not capable of handling the stress I put on myself as a result of those goals. (As it happens, I’ve gone through some old blog posts prior to goal races this week, looking for reassurance from Past Bethany’s thought patterns, and what do you know? Apparently this is always how I am in the days leading up to a big race. Not a surprise!)

2. Though I’m not doing a good job of it right now, I do need to remember that regardless of what happens on Saturday, it’s not like this entire training cycle was for naught. It helped me get a big, surprising PR at the Shamrock Shuffle. That’s not really what I was shooting for with this training, but it’s also not nothing, so I’ll happily take it. I got a lot stronger through this training, too, which is also not nothing. I set some lifting PRs, which felt good. I also have arm and leg muscles I’m very proud to show off, which is closer to nothing than the other things I’ve gained from this, but still isn’t nothing. Even if I don’t hit my goal time on Saturday, this training made me stronger, faster, and fitter, and that’s worth celebrating in and of itself.

But I still hope I hit my goal time on Saturday.

3. And to reward you for getting through all of my half marathon hand-wringing: a non-half marathon-related item!

It was Election Day (again) in Chicago on Tuesday. Unless something highly unexpected happens, it was my last election prior to my impending suburb move, and that put me in a difficult situation. You see, for the past few years, voting in person on Election Day in Chicago entitles you to an, “I VOTED! DID YOU?” wristband from the Board of Elections (we don’t do stickers in Chicago; the wristbands are our alternative.)

I’ve never voted in person on Election Day since I registered to vote in Illinois. I voted early a few times, but even waiting in those lines got annoying, so after the 2016 presidential primaries I have exclusively voted by mail. The convenience is undeniable: all I have to do is confirm my address online, and the Board of Elections will mail a ballot to my house! A ballot I can fill out whenever I have the time and desire to do so! A ballot I can take DAYS to fill out if need be! It makes voting so easy…but it does come with one major down side. When you vote by mail, you don’t get a wristband, which means you don’t get the opportunity to passively show off how good of a citizen you are on Election Day. Even though I knew I was a good citizen for voting, I wanted tangible evidence of it! I wanted to post smug pictures bragging about my participation in democracy on Facebook too, darn it!

I very, very seriously considered voting in person on Election Day this past Tuesday solely because I wanted a wristband, and this was my last chance to get one. I worried that it would get in the way of my morning strength training workout however (typical), and ultimately decided that for the good of exercising both my body and my right to vote, I should vote by mail instead. I accepted my fate and applied for a ballot online.

The ballot came with an insert that directed you to the a video about how to vote by mail, which I highly recommend watching regardless of whether or not you’ll ever vote by mail in Chicago exclusively for the candidate names on the sample ballot (highlights include Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas on the presidential ballot, Daniel Burnham for Plan Commissioner, William Wrigley, Jr. for Park Commissioner, etc. As someone who occasionally needs to come up with pretend names for training purposes, I applaud whoever at the Board of Elections came up with these candidates).

At the end of the video, the screen shows the Board of Elections’s contact information so you can contact them with questions. When I saw that, I thought, “I should email them and ask them why people who vote by mail don’t get wristbands.” I then continued emptying out the envelope in which my ballot was mailed, when LO AND BEHOLD:

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YOU GUYS. VOTE BY MAILERS GOT WRISTBANDS THIS TIME.

I literally squealed with delight. I couldn’t believe it!! My dream had come true! I could finally be smug on social media, too!!! And all this, after I had accepted my fate of never receiving a wristband!

I, obviously, wore it all day Tuesday.

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So smug.

Thursday Things

1. I don’t usually spend much time at post-race parties, especially post-race parties associated with cold events. I was freezing after the Shuffle and really just wanted to get back to my gear so I could take off my cold, sweaty jacket and put on a warm sweatshirt instead. The quickest way to get back to gear check, though, was through the post-race party, and while I was power walking past Buckingham Fountain, I noticed a long line outside the Advocate tent. There was a sign outside the tent that said they were giving away hot chocolate, and I thought, “Wow, what a good idea! That sounds delicious, but I don’t want to wait in that line.”

I continued on my way to gear check when I heard two people behind me chatting. One of them mentioned how the hot chocolate instantly warmed him up, to which his companion responded with a comment about the thermoses. I then realized that Advocate wasn’t giving away hot chocolate in Styrofoam or even paper cups: they were giving it away in honest-to-goodness THERMOSES that you got to KEEP. WHAT!

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So naturally, I got myself some hot chocolate.

I was so impressed, for multiple reasons. For one thing, this is a really nice thermos! I can’t believe they were just giving them away! For another thing, I loved that they gave you the hot chocolate in something you can keep, rather than use once and toss in the trash. Good on you, Advocate!

Plus, the hot chocolate was delicious, and they had TOPPINGS: whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and crushed candy canes, despite it being March. I would like this at all future cold weather races, please.

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2. Another thing I really like about the Shamrock Shuffle? The lapel pins they hand out at packet pickup.

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It’s such a silly thing, but for whatever reason I’m very proud of my Shamrock Shuffle lapel pin collection.

(You’re welcome for three pictures of my left hand holding things in this post. Ha.)

3. I’m starting to think about (fitness) life after my half marathon in a couple of weeks, and I’m in a bit of bind. I really want to keep up strength training for a variety of reasons (I like being strong, I like how I look when I’m strong, I like being able to do these workouts and still walk and/or use my arms the next day, I don’t want to regress back to square one and have to start all over again with strength training in both the weight and soreness departments), but I also don’t think my current workout schedule is sustainable  long term.

Ideally, I’d like to run Monday/Wednesday/Saturday, strength train Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday, and rest on Friday. My schedule at the moment makes strength training on Sundays and Tuesdays next to impossible, though–but that same schedule also makes running next to impossible on those days. I could shift my rest days to Sunday instead of Friday, I suppose, which would solve part of the problem, but I’d really rather rest the day before my long run rather than the day after my long run.

My schedule complications are why I’ve ended up doing two-a-days to get my strength training in when I’m actively training for a race as well. While I don’t find these two-a-days to be burdensome to the point of not being able to continue them, I’d put them like two percentage points away from being that burdensome. On Mondays and Wednesdays, for example, I usually don’t finish my run and all its related extracurriculars (stretching, PT exercises, foam rolling, showering) until close to 7 p.m., but I have to start my nightly calling-it-a-night process at 8 p.m., which leaves me with one whopping hour of free time per night: an hour that has to include dinner. It’ll be a little better once I can run commute, but run commuting season will only last maybe two months for me this year, because run commuting will be off the table after I move. Unsurprisingly, only having an hour of “free time” twice a week (really more like 30 minutes of free time after you factor dinner into the equation) is really, really wearing on me–especially since I don’t have any free time at all on Tuesdays.

So I don’t know what to do. My ideal schedule will probably be a lot more realistic after the move, but I don’t really want to drop strength training entirely in the mean time. But I also don’t want to keep up this zero free time thing, either. Once again, life is hard.

Thursday Things

1. UGH YOU GUYS. I AM SO MAD ABOUT THE LOLLA LINEUP. CAPS LOCK NECESSARY.

I thought I was over my music festival phase, particularly my Lolla phase. I didn’t have that great of a time when I went in 2016, and I didn’t go in 2017 or 2018 because I had zero interest in attending. The lineups didn’t interest me at all, and hanging out with a bunch of drunk teenagers interested me even less. I thought maybe the penchant for Broadway I developed in 2017 turned me off popular music, and since the Lolla lineup never included, say, the original Broadway cast of Hamilton (omg WHAT IF), I didn’t have any desire to go.

Nope. It’s not that I don’t care about popular music anymore. It’s that the lineups for Lolla from 2016-2018 were awful. I’m not any more into popular music now than I was two years ago, but when I got an email yesterday morning with the Lolla lineup for this summer, my first reaction was, “Noooooooooooo!!!! THIS IS SO GOOD AND I CAN’T GO *all of the sobbing emojis*”

UGH. I want to go so bad. But there’s just no way it’ll happen this year. Lolla is August 1-4, and August 1 is literally the first day I definitely won’t be living in the city anymore. The lease on my current place is up on July 31, and while I don’t know when specifically I’m going to move, I feel pretty confident it’ll be by the end of my lease. And, no, it’s not like there’s a rule against attending if you live outside city limits, but it’s obviously a lot more logistically challenging if you don’t have a house of your own to return to via the CTA at the end of the night. Not to mention that the potential first few days after I move do not seem like the best time to drag myself to a festival that I barely had the endurance to survive when I was 22, never mind when I’m 28. There’s also the fact that I didn’t budget with the expectation of going to Lolla this year, and since I have been budgeting for other major expenses associated with the move (i.e.: needing to buy a car. Blech.), I don’t exactly have the flexibility to change my financial plans for the year to accommodate a Lolla ticket.

So I won’t be attending, even though my 23-year-old self would never, ever forgive my 28-year-old self for skipping when both Flume AND RL Grime are playing. Those were my two favorite DJs in my EDM phase! And frankly, both my 16- and 28-year-old selves will never forgive my 28-year-old self for skipping when Death Cab for Cutie is playing. I’m so sorry, High School Bethany. I apparently will not follow you into the dark *more sobbing emojis*

And those are just the nostalgia acts I’m mad about missing! Twenty One Pilots?! Kacey Musgraves?! Judah & the Lion?! AJR?! Fitz & the Tantrums?! After years of not wanting to see a single act on the entire lineup, there are suddenly enough for me to justify buying a four day pass (which are still on sale, as of Wednesday. Back in MY DAY, those suckers sold out in under an hour.).

Sigh. Growing up is stupid.

2. In happier event news, I went to a few sessions of the Big 10 Tournament last week, and it was so much fun!

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A couple friends invited me to come along with them, so after my run last Wednesday I headed to the United Center in time to see the Northwestern/Illinois game.

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Honestly, the game itself wasn’t that great until the end of the second half, but I suppose that’s what happens when you’re watching two of the worst teams in the conference play each other. The game ended up going into overtime, though, and that was really exciting!

I made it to both evening games on Thursday, arriving around half time of the Minnesota/Penn State game (which also went into overtime!) and staying to the bitter end of Iowa’s blowout of Illinois.

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Even though Iowa destroyed Illinois, who I was cheering for by proxy, since I attended with Illinois alumni (my real Big 10 loyalties lie exclusively with Michigan), I still really enjoyed the game. There were SO MANY Iowa fans there, and they got so excited every time their team did something well! I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such sustained enthusiasm. Iowa won by 21 points, but the way its fans cheered, you’d think it was a one-possession game down to the final buzzer. It made for a really fun atmosphere!

I also realized while I was at the Northwestern/Illinois game that it was the first time I had ever been to a DI basketball game. What! I went to a DIII school, so I’ve been to plenty DIII basketball games–like, almost every home game of my college career, save for my semester in Chicago–but I had never been to a DI game! So that was cool.

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3. I mentioned in my training recap post on Tuesday that I spent most of my time on the bike last Sunday reading Educated. I finished it last Wednesday, and wow, what a story. I don’t think this was really supposed to be the main takeaway of the book, but what really struck me about it was just how much the human body is able to survive. I can’t tell you how many times I expected someone to die from their latest insanely traumatic injury, but (spoiler) no one did, and it blew my mind. It was a really great read, and I definitely recommend it.

I also appreciated that it took me just under seven hours to read. Before Educated, I read The Goldfinch, and that gigantic book took me TWENTY AND A HALF HOURS to read. Holy cow. I thought it would never end! That was also a great book, but boy, it was a commitment.  That’s the one downside of Libby: not knowing how long a book is until it’s too late. If it tells you how long a book is before you borrow it, I haven’t figured out where that information is, so sometimes I do things like check out The Goldfinch because it won a Pulitzer and realize just how much reading I signed myself up for once it downloads and my eyes fall out of my head at the page count, ha.

Is anyone going to Lolla this year? If so, I’d like to formally request to live vicariously through you, thanks.