Chicago Marathon Training Week 2

Sunday, June 10: 13.18 miles in 2:29:18 for an 11:21 pace.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle by my Garmin. (Not too shabby on the tangents on this one! *brushes shoulder off*)

Monday, June 11: Rest
Traveling back to Chicago from Seattle.

Tuesday, June 12: Dance
We had already learned way more in this session of dance than usual, so I figured missing last week wouldn’t put me too far behind. Boy, was I wrong! When class started, my teacher asked, “Who remembers what we did last week?” then turned the music on to see what would happen. My jaw was basically on the ground when it ended. I couldn’t believe how much they did in one week! I had a LOT of catch-up to do, so this was definitely not one of those phone-it-in sort of classes.

Wednesday, June 13: Rest
Crushing it this week. I originally planned to run seven miles on Wednesday, but I only planned to do that because I have a really bad habit of forgetting to check my work calendar when planning what I expect will be out-of-office events (like running). Had I checked my work calendar, I would’ve seen that I had a work event out in the suburbs from 1:30-4:30, and obviously would not have time to work out as a result. Oh well.

Thursday, June 14: 4.36 miles in 40:36 for a 9:16 pace.
I finally recovered from The Stomach Bug that Would Not Quit on Thursday, and it felt nice to get in a good workout. This was my first Hal Higdon tempo run of marathon training (as a reminder, Hal Higdon tempo runs start slow, gradually build to 10K(ish) pace for 5-10 minutes in the middle of the run, then gradually slow to the end of the prescribed time. I do them in five minute intervals: 0-5 very slow, 5-10 a little faster, 10-15 a little faster than that, etc.), and I think it went well? I’m too impatient to wait around for my watch to find a GPS signal when I run home from work (all the buildings make it take, and now that I know you can edit your distance in Garmin Connect, I just take off running once I’m ready and let the GPS find me whenever it can be bothered to do so. I didn’t have a signal for the first five minutes of this run, so I’m not 100 percent sure that I ran this 100 percent perfectly, but it felt good, and the splits that were measured with GPS are all where I want them, so I’m calling this a successful run.

Friday, June 15: Rest

Saturday, June 16: 7.22 miles in 1:16:07 for a 10:32 pace
This (I assume) was closer to seven miles than 7.22 miles, because my watch got messed up by buildings at the beginning and end of the run. However, MapMyRun refuses to believe it’s possible to run where I ran, so I can’t use that to manually measure my actual distance. After spilling thousands of pixels complaining about my running group at the end of last season, I decided it was time for a change this year. I went to a different location for the run on Saturday, and it was quite different than what I’m used to. The group was much smaller (maybe eight or so people, compared to the 25-30 we’d usually get in my old group), and that automatically made for a much friendlier, less cliquey vibe. Hooray! I also dropped down to the 11:00 pace group, because real talk: my very, very best marathon ever was a hair slower than an 11:00 pace. Training at a 10:30 pace has obviously never helped me run a marathon at a 10:30 pace (or anything even close to a 10:30 pace), so now that I’m not anywhere near my old group anyway, I can drop down to a pace that makes more sense without feeling weird and disloyal about it. An 11:00 marathon will not get me the 4:45 I hope to run in October, but if your long runs are usually supposed to be slower than marathon pace anyway, 11:00 seems reasonable. Plus, this group starts 30 minutes earlier, so running 30 seconds/mile slower doesn’t mean I’m running significantly later into the morning, which was another thing that prevented me from running with the 11:00 pace group in years past. As for the run itself, it went really well. I enjoyed talking with the various people in my group, and the pace was downright easy (I’m sure it was much closer to 11:00 overall than my report shows – my Garmin said I ran an 8:18 first mile, due to the GPS woes, and I can assure you that was not the case). I also haven’t had a seven mile long run since February 24–all my long runs since then have been more than seven miles–which I’m sure also contributed to the ease of this run.


I’m a tiny bit bummed that I’ve already deviated from my schedule for the season by skipping Wednesday’s run, but fortunately having run that half marathon on Sunday more than made up for it mileage wise. I’m also glad I’ll be fully out of vacation mode this week and will hopefully be able to get more into the swing of things in the training department. Even though I’ve technically completed two weeks of marathon training, it doesn’t really feel like marathon season has begun, given how all over the place I’ve been the past two weeks (literally!). I’m looking forward to actually feeling like I’m participating in marathon season…now that it’s the first cutback week 😛


St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Race Recap

I’m so behind on blogging – reading, writing, responding, etc. Ten days out of town will do that to you! I promise I’ll get around to everything…eventually.

Because why run one half marathon in the space of a week when you could run two?

Roughly a year ago, a girl I know from college posted pictures of herself after the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half (?) Marathon. (I don’t remember if she ran the half or the full.) It occurred to me that I, too, am capable of running half marathons, and that the race would be the perfect excuse to go to Seattle (not that I ever need an excuse to go to Seattle). It would also give me the opportunity to visit my grandparents who, at 95 and 97, aren’t getting any younger. I want to spend as much time with them as I can while I can, so I decided in that moment that I’d run Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle in 2018.


Roughly two months after that, I moved into a new position at work, and a few months after that, it occurred to me that this new position would almost certainly require my attendance at a conference in San Diego that, most inconveniently, was a few days before Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle. Not willing to be deterred from my dreams of running Seattle and visiting my grandparents, I decided to make a trip out of the whole thing, flying to San Diego, running Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego (because it was the day before the conference, so why not, if work was paying for my flight?), going to the conference, traveling up the coast to Seattle, running Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle, and then coming back to Chicago.

But this blog post is not about my harebrained, 10-day, 2-half marathon trip idea. (That’s coming later, don’t you worry 😉 ). This blog post is about Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle itself!


I arrived in Seattle a little after midnight Saturday morning, and, after crashing SO HARD at my hotel, eventually dragged myself to the expo Saturday afternoon. The expo was down by CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field: areas of Seattle I had seen plenty of times but never visited. I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed it under normal circumstances, but as I mentioned in my training recap earlier this week, I still wasn’t feeling great and went to the expo unsure of whether or not I’d start the race, never mind finish it.

I took it very easy on Saturday, stuck to the easiest-to-digest foods I could think of/find (chicken noodle soup, toast, baked chicken, bananas – not bad pre-run food, anyway), and hoped for the best. I felt fine when I woke up Sunday morning, so I decided to go for it, with the caveat that “going for it” would mean “going as gently as possible, which might mean walking the entire thing, understanding I may stop at every/all portapotty available, and may drop out at any point along the race.”

I started…not in my assigned corral, because I wanted to have as much time as possible to complete the race. Rock ‘n’ Roll’s enforcement of their corralling system continues to rely entirely on the honor system (and there isn’t any division between the corrals once you get in them anyway), so self-seeding isn’t much of a problem. (As a side note, I used to think it was so stupid that Rock ‘n’ Roll bothered with corrals when they don’t even pretend to enforce them, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I like their method. It’s way less stressful than some races [ahem, Bank of America], because the corrals never close, and I imagine enough people get in the right corral to avoid serious crowding.)

The race started–STARTED–uphill, which was a cruel preview of what was to come for the remaining 13 miles. I knew there would be no avoiding hills in this race–it is Seattle, after all, but cow. Nothing could’ve possibly prepared me for this insanity.


I will refer to this elevation map throughout the post, but for now, please observe the red box on the far left, where I was required to climb 128 feet over the course of half a mile (exactly, in fact). “Mount” Roosevelt, for comparison’s sake, is a roughly 10 foot climb over .18 miles (assuming my Garmin is to be believed. There are also a lot of tall buildings around there, so it’s possible the elevation isn’t 100 percent accurate). Needless to say, I was a bit of my element.

Fortunately, I knew this was going to be an extremely tough course by my standards, so my expectations were basement level before my stomach rebelled. I was in absolutely no hurry, so the 11:xx miles I kept logging were no skin off my nose.

I was also wildly unbothered by how long it was taking me to get through this run because the course was stunning. The weather was perfect, and I do mean perfect–52 and sunny, like That One Day in late September/early October where it finally feels nice to run again (if you’ve trained through a Chicago summer, you know what I’m talking about). Even if it had been warm and/or overcast, though, the scenery was SO beautiful. This was easily the prettiest race I’ve ever run.



Without a doubt, the most insane part of the run was in that purple box on the elevation map. I had received an email a few weeks earlier about a “King/Queen of the Hill” challenge on 19th Street, where the three males and three females who recorded the fastest times up that hill would receive an additional award. I assumed this meant the hill was brutal, but I could not have FATHOMED how insane it was until I actually got there. It was an 82 foot climb over .12 miles. That is a THIRTEEN PERCENT GRADE. (It’s 12.95 percent technically, but whatever. Close enough.). Once again, for comparison’s sake, “Mount” Roosevelt is a 1 percent grade. It was NUTS. I wanted to try to run up it, but halfway through I gave up and hiked the rest. It was, bar none, the steepest hill I’ve ever tried to run, and I am quite certain I was not crowed Queen of the Hill. Did I mention it was nearly 10 miles into the run, too? Oof.

The real cherry on top of this hill sundae (Sunday, since the race was on a Sunday? Heh puns.) was the end of the race though, highlighted in the blue box. After a generous downhill leading into mile 12 and immediately after the 12 mile marker, from about 12.5 on, the whole stupid race was uphill! Again! Hadn’t I suffered enough?! That certainly made the end tough, but I crossed the finish line in 2:29:20, which got me the sub-2:30 I was secretly hoping for and was faster than my two slowest half marathons, so there’s that.

Despite the hills, I LOVED this race and would do it again in a heartbeat. I am, admittedly, obsessed with Seattle, so I’m sure that helped my positive feelings about the event. The one thing I didn’t love about the race, though? The fact that the t-shirt and medal were almost identical to the ones I received for doing Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego the week before. I really hope this isn’t a new trend for Rock ‘n’ Roll, where all of their shirts and medals are Variations on a Theme of Exactly What We Did for All Our Other Races. While I don’t run exclusively for shirts and medals, I will admit that nothing about races gets my goat quicker than a lousy shirt or medal design for a long distance race (for a 5K, not so much. I’d rather not get a medal at all for a 5K, and I almost certainly won’t keep the shirt anyway.). First world problems.


On to actual marathon training!


Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

Sunday, June 3: 13.26 miles in 2:23:06 for a 10:48 pace.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego by my watch.

Monday, June 4: Rest

Tuesday, June 5: 3 miles in 31:19 for a 10:26 pace.
I was still in San Diego on Tuesday for work, so I ran along the water. I’m sure it would’ve been extremely pleasant had I been feeling good, but I had had a stomachache all afternoon. Sometimes running helps clear that up for me, but it certainly didn’t this time around. Shout out to the city of San Diego for having public restrooms along the water.

Wednesday, June 6: Rest

Thursday, June 7: Rest

Friday, June 8: Rest

Saturday, June 9: Rest

Please, try to not feel too intimidated by my remarkable training schedule on week one. Fortunately, nearly all of this was planned. I knew I wouldn’t have time to work out while I was gone, so I scheduled rest days for all of these days but Wednesday, anyway (I had Strength? on my calendar for Wednesday, so I’m not too upset about that turning into a rest day, either.) On top of that, I was under the weather nearly all of last week. The stomachache I had Tuesday afternoon turned out to be just a small preview of what was to come, and I haven’t been myself from a GI perspective since Wednesday afternoon (including now). I’m hoping to pop in to the doctor tomorrow to see if they have any thoughts on what’s going on. I feel fine, for the most part, so I think (hope) I’ll be able to work out normally this week, but we’ll see.

Synchrony Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Race Recap

Hello from California! I’ve known for awhile that I would need to be in San Diego for work during the first week in June, and while I initially wasn’t thrilled about the idea (flying, having to lug my 30 gazillion pound laptop all over creation, etc.), a quick peak at Rock ‘n’ Roll’s website revealed that the iconic Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego weekend–the one that started the entire franchise in the first place–would conveniently take place the Sunday before I had to be in town for work. And since work was paying for the flight anyway… 🙂

I got into town Friday night well after the expo closed, so I made my way there Saturday morning. I stayed in Little Italy for race weekend, and it was a beautiful 1.5 mile walk from my hotel to the convention center with packet pickup. I suppose normally I wouldn’t go out of my way to walk three miles to and from an expo the day before a race, but I went into Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego with zero goals and zero expectations. I only cared about taking advantage of the opportunity to see as much of San Diego as possible, so I was happy to make the walk.


I got to the expo a little after 12:30, which wasn’t an accident. Desi Linden was scheduled to make an appearance in the Brooks merchandise area at 1, and I most definitely wanted to get a picture with her. I got my packet and shirt, then lined up with a bunch of other running nerds to meet Des!


A lot of people had her sign their bibs, but I know how trashed my bibs usually get during a race, so I opted to just have her sign the picture she had available instead. She asked if I was doing the half or the full, and I told her the half, at which point she declared me “the competition.” Ha! I wish. (She was pacing the 2:00 half marathon group.) The one and only time an elite will ever refer to me as the competition 😛

Sunday morning, I boarded a shuttle a couple blocks from my hotel for the quick ride up to the start at Balboa Park. The park was so beautiful! I wish I had had more time to explore. The timing worked out perfectly to give me a chance to visit the portapotties, get sunscreen from the med tent (since I had forgotten mine at the hotel), and get into a corral with plenty of time to spare. (The corrals, in case anyone is curious, were just as unenforced as ever for a Rock ‘n’ Roll race. I wondered to see if that would still be the case now that Ironman owns them, and at least in San Diego, it certainly was.)

It was relatively cool and overcast when the race began, but the clouds cleared quickly and we had nothing but sunny skies for the remaining 12 miles. We wandered through several neighborhoods in northern San Diego–Hillcrest, Normal Heights, North Park, and others I’m sure. There was particularly great crowd support in mile four, where a bunch of people who live in the neighborhood had all sorts of rouge aid stations set up, complete with mimosas, Bloody Marys, donuts, etc. I did not partake in any of the offerings, though I will admit I seriously considered a donut pit stop. I was STARVING for most of the race–I started fueling at mile three instead of mile five like normal because I was so hungry–and a donut did sound delicious. I also saw a house flying a W flag around mile five! That was so exciting that I stopped to take a picture (though the picture didn’t turn out great, so you’ll just have to believe me on that one).

The course was a lot hillier than I’m used to–not that that should come as a surprise to anyone, including me, considering that anything beyond flat is “hillier than I’m used to,” and by mile nine, all of the walking from the day before caught up with me. I hit the wall hard, and decided to walk through an aid station and up a couple of hills. I found a second wind around mile 11, though, and powered through to the end, finishing in 2:23:06. Not my best half marathon by a long shot (like a 21 minute long shot), but my only goal for Sunday was to enjoy myself, so no skin off my nose (well, metaphorically. I got a nasty sunburn on my nose in particular on Saturday, so I’m sure some literal skin will be coming off my nose shortly 😛 ). Despite having a rough mile nine and 10, I’m extremely pleased with how I ran this race. I think this was one of my most evenly paced efforts, and I’m pretty stoked about that. Yay for-fun races!


Marathon Season 2018

Another first week of June, another first week of marathon training.

For the sixth consecutive year, I’m embarking on the 18-week roller coaster that is marathon training. For the first time in those six years, however, this wasn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion. As you may recall, I’ve been on a marathon training journey that has left me increasingly jaded with the entire process: a feeling that reached a head during the last six weeks of training last year and culminated with me crossing the start line of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 90 percent sure it’d be the last time I’d do that for quite some time, possibly ever.

Because nothing can ever go according to plan, the following five hours and four minutes went so well that they completely negated the previous six weeks of suffering, and I crossed the finish line knowing I would most certainly be back in 2018. Naturally.

When I wrote my novella on my many Feelings regarding training and the Chicago Marathon in general last fall, I mentioned that I was hesitant to register for the 2018 Chicago Marathon because I didn’t want to run the 2018 Chicago Marathon in that moment, but I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t want to run the 2018 Chicago Marathon once 2018 actually rolled around. If I had written this post two weeks ago, I would still be fairly lukewarm to the idea of running the 2018 Chicago Marathon. It took me ages to convince myself to sign up for CARA training, even though I had already signed up for the race, and when I know I grimaced when I submitted my payment (and not just because training isn’t free). I wasn’t excited about any of this.

But, as I mentioned a mere two paragraphs ago, nothing can ever go according to plan, and I have found myself in a position that almost certainly means my marathoning days are numbered. You’ll have to forgive my vagueblogging, but rest assured that my marathoning days aren’t numbered for a bad or scary or dangerous reason–just for an “other goals” reason. Anyway, it occurred to me while running last Thursday that I could only have one or two marathons left in this current large-scale cycle (that cycle being training prep February-May, marathon training June-October, marathon/free time recovery November-January, repeat). Right now, I think there’s a chance I’ll run more marathons in the distant future, but since I know 10 years ago I didn’t dream of every running a 5K, let alone multiple marathons, I don’t want to count on marathoning again in 10 years.

As a result of that, I suddenly feel a lot more pressure to accomplish my long term marathon goals, and fast. I have wanted to run a 4:45 marathon since my first training cycle. I’ve come close–4:52–but actually running a 4:45 is the biggest piece of unfinished business I have not only with the Chicago Marathon, but with marathoning in general. (I suppose you could say qualifying for Boston is another piece of unfinished business I have with marathoning, but let’s be real: I would need to take just under an hour and a half off my PR to squeak into Boston. I’ve never even run a 10K at that pace, never mind an additional 20 miles beyond that. There’s nothing wrong with setting big, scary, insane goals, and who knows? Maybe if I worked obscenely hard, I could take that much time off my marathon PR in a 18 weeks. I’m willing to work hard, but not as hard as a goal like that would require.) I feel like it’s now or never, so…I guess that means it’s now.

Fortunately, I already hoped to train harder this cycle than I have in the past. I’m following(ish) Hal Higdon’s M3 program again, since I really liked the higher mileage/lower frequency balance of the program last year. I think getting used to spending so much time on my feet made a huge difference in helping me have a good race last year, so I’m all about doing that again. Bring on the weekday 10 milers!

Because I continue to think I know what I’m doing in the marathon training department, I’ve added some additional speedwork/”real” training (by “real” I mean “something harder than an easy run”) into the M3 program beyond the tempo and pace runs it calls for (especially since my marathon “pace” usually turns out to be slower than any of my training runs, anyway). I plan to incorporate 800s and hills into my training this year, which will be the first time I’ve ever done either of those. I also plan to make my cross training days substantially more cardio-focused than they have been in the past. I still plan to cross train with yoga occasionally, but I’m reducing my frequency from once a week to once every other week. On non-yoga weeks, I plan to bike. I also plan to bike and either do a circuit workout or strength train every Sunday.

Speaking of strength training–and this is where I expect to have the most trouble sticking to my grandiose plans for this summer’s training–I want to strength train three times per week for the entire season beyond the Sunday strength training I have scheduled. I didn’t put this on my actual training plan, so technically it’s optional, but I don’t want to treat it as being too optional. I think additional strength training–nothing insane, just 20 minutes or so–could hopefully help me build fitness and make it more likely that I’ll have the race I hope to have in October. My real hope is to do this before work, which I know is where things are most likely to fall apart. My work day already starts stupid early. Am I really going to be able to convince myself to go to the gym for thrice-weekly two-a-days for three weeks? I doubt it, but I’m at least going to try.

So that’s the plan for this year. More hard training. More (any) strength training. More cardio. And, hopefully, a better chance at 4:45. Here’s hoping!

Thursday Things

1. I went to another Cubs game last Wednesday!


It was a much more beautiful day for baseball compared to two weeks ago.

I went to the game because the Cubs were playing the Indians, and the group of people I went with wanted to see that game in particular. Fine by me: it was the perfect excuse to wear my World Series Champions shirt (not that any Cubs game is a bad time to wear that shirt, of course, but it felt especially appropriate for a game against Cleveland).

It was also apparently Star Wars Night at Wrigley, so we got to see Clark the Cub dressed up in his Jedi best.


I enjoy baseball games, but I’ll admit that I’m not always all that great about following every single play and tend to lose track of what’s going on, especially when “what’s going on” is mostly nothing, as was the case with the game on Wednesday. At the top of the seventh inning, the Indians fan in the group (insanely, defying all reason) noted the scoreboard and remarked on how he had never been to a game before where one of the teams hadn’t gotten a single hit. And wouldn’t you know it, on the pitch thrown out immediately after he said that, the Cubs got their first hit of the game. One of the cardinal rules of baseball is that you do not talk about a no-hitter during a no-hitter, period, and it boggled my mind 1) that the Indians fan in the group mentioned the no-hitter, since it was the Indians pitcher who stood to pitch a no-hitter, not Jon Lester and 2) that it took all of 10 seconds for the game to no longer be a no-hitter after he said that. I have varying levels of faith in superstitions surrounding sports (usually guided entirely by how important the game is–I’m much more likely to be superstitious about things during a playoff game than I am during a regular season game), and even though I knew it was inappropriate to talk about a no-hitter during a no-hitter, I certainly didn’t expect anything to actually happen. And even though I’m a Cubs fan, I have to admit I was a little disappointed that the Cubs got a hit at that point. It would’ve been cool to say I saw a no-hitter, even if it was at the expense of the team I wanted to win.


2. WHAT is going on with the weather around here these days?! Holy smokes. I got home from Michigan two Sundays ago and was woefully underdressed in my light jacket, since it was only 46 degrees outside (on May 21!). Then this past Sunday, I barely wanted to move because it was 97 degrees outside (on May 27!) and too hot to function. And on top of that radical swing in the temperature, this was what AccuWeather had for Wednesday’s forecast earlier this week:


Ah yes, a tropical rainstorm. Just what I expect…in Chicago…in May o.O

I’ve lived in the Midwest my entire life, and I can’t remember a single time where the weather has been so nuts – and not just this past week, but this entire spring in general (remember how there was snow on the ground on April 19?). “Spring” really feels like a misnomer for this entire season. We’ve had late winter and the depths of summer, but nothing in between (i.e.: spring), it feels like.

On the bright side, for the first time in…ever?…I made some logical choices about my first few runs in the heat this year, including getting up way earlier than I wanted on Saturday to get in a turtle-slow 12 miler, getting up early again on Monday to do another turtle-pace four miler, and going into all of these runs with a single goal: to finish without incident. I ran my 12 miler at an 11:30 overall pace with a couple 12:00+ miles tossed in, which is usually enough to send me into a spiral of despair and self-pity. I didn’t beat myself up about it at all on Saturday, though. Here’s hoping I can keep that kind of self-compassion up during marathon season.

3. Speaking of marathon season: I can’t believe that training starts next week. I guess that means I need to come up with some sort of goal for the season. Or go into the year just hoping for the best and seeing what happens? I don’t really expect to top my picture-perfect marathon next year (unless I somehow feel amazing for the whole race AND manage to take like 15+ minutes off my time), and I’m not sure I even want to. I had such an amazing race in 2017–which I know is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to this sort of thing–that I’m hesitant to hope for much of anything in 2018. Though, low expectations are what led to such a good day for me in 2017, so maybe I’m doing this right, haha.


Thursday Things

1. I spent last weekend in Michigan for my brother’s college graduation. My brother is the youngest person on that side of the family, which means after 12 years of high school and college graduations among my siblings, me, and my cousins (2006, 2008, 2009 (x2), 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 (x2), 2017, 2018), I’ve heard Pomp and Circumstance for the last time for awhile.

My family spent plenty of time over the weekend reminiscing about all the other graduations, of which I proudly claim the title of Most Memorable (my college graduation was supposed to be outside, but as soon as we started processing into the stadium, it started to storm, causing all sorts of chaos. We ended up graduating in the basketball arena instead.). It was a bit jarring to realize that whole debacle went down six years ago. It both does and doesn’t feel like I’ve been out of college for six years. The past six years have gone by much faster than the four years of college did, which I’m sure contributes to that feeling. I suppose that’s adulthood for you–the whole days-are-long-years-are-short thing. Although the days never feel that long when I need or want them to feel long… (I’m looking at you, Saturdays and Sundays).

2. My grandma has had incredible success in the bird department this spring, so I went to her house while I was home to see who I could find. Boy, did I have a bunch of luck! She’s had a Baltimore Oriole couple for two weeks now, which likely means they’re nesting in the area. She has a special feeder designed especially for orioles (it’s orange and comes with little trays for grape jelly, which they love), and both the male and female came by for lunch while I was there.


^^ That’s the male, enjoying the grape jelly.


^^ And that’s the female, surveying the yard from the roof in the rain.

Since I knew she had orioles, that’s all I really hoped/expected to see. Imagine my delight, then, when a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak stopped by for some seeds!


*heart-eyed emoji*

I also saw so many birds when I went for my run Saturday morning. I did 11 miles through forests, wetlands, fields, and neighborhoods (well, along the side of the roads that run through forests, wetlands, fields, and neighborhoods), and it was incredible to see the variety among the three different types of environments. The wetlands, for example, were teeming with Red-winged Blackbirds, but in the neighborhoods, there wasn’t a Red-winged Blackbird to be seen. Instead, there were Mourning Doves and American Robins all over the place. It really caught my attention because I didn’t have to cover much ground to go from one environment to the other–turning a corner could take me away from the wetlands to a neighborhood, for example–but the contrast was still there. My big find on the run, though, was a Red-headed Woodpecker. I’ve only seen those a handful of times ever, so that was a definite highlight for me.

3. I have a loved one who developed some health issues earlier this year, and man, if I thought I got anxious about my own health, it is nothing compared to how I feel when the health of someone I care about is involved. I thought I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel this week, but it turns out that the light I saw was coming from a skylight dug into the roof of the tunnel, if you will, and the tunnel itself is much longer, and, in fact, not even the tunnel I thought I was in in the first place (incidental findings that reveal a completely different issue than the original one will do that). And, of course, the new tunnel is either absolutely terrible or absolutely nothing at all: no middle ground. I’ve been a mess all week and don’t see any light at the end of that tunnel until who knows when. It hasn’t been the most fun week of my life, to say the least, and I’d appreciate whatever spare good vibes/thoughts/prayers you have, not just for me but for everyone involved in this whole situation.