CARA

The Big 2-0 + Taco Fest 2.0

What the heck is up you guys?

Don’t mind me, I’m just riding the high from running a casual 20 MILER yesterday!

I know this kind of mileage is chump change to many marathoners but man…never in a million years did I think I would run three and a half hours straight and not want to die.

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Since the CARA 20 Miler is designed to simulate the actual race, the event didn’t start at 6:30 like it usually does. We were placed in waves and mine didn’t end up starting until 7:00 on the dot. Unfortunately my pre-race stretching occurred on Lake Shore Drive after being involved in a fender bender — but luckily everyone was okay, my friend driving was not at fault, and we still made it to the race on time. It definitely made for an entertaining beginning to the morning.

The run was a point-to-point route, so we started very far north and ran along the lake for 20 miles with little diversion from the path. I haven’t even driven that far along the lake.

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As you can see, we started in a huge pack — the 10:30 pace group — but by mile 17 (above) it was every man for himself. The weather was absolutely perfect for a run which is probably why I was flying until mile 16. Besides two 2-minute walking breaks + one trip to the bathroom, I crushed that 20 miler! I did find out that at mile 16 I become mean and cranky though. My friend was trying to make jokes to push me to the finish line and I was not having it haha. Sorry Jaeson!

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The thing I’m most proud of is how far I’ve come since my post a few weeks ago. Remember, the one where I was a blubbering idiot because I couldn’t overcome that wall at 13 miles? Well I made that wall my….well, you know.

Don’t think it was EASY though. I definitely wanted to collapse at the end. Which is exactly what I did.unnamed (23)unnamed (34)

Thank goodness the kind folks at NovaCare were there to stretch us out. I definitely took advantage of that treat — and Bethany found me! Sorry if I wasn’t forming full sentences at that point, lady 🙂unnamed (24)

It was almost 1pm by the time I got home and all I had eaten that day was half a banana pre-race and two Gus during, so I was cranky, grumpy, and in need of some serious food. Enter: the Chipotle burrito. I haven’t had an actual burrito from there since high school but I was not messing around with any burrito bowl nonsense. I needed that tortilla like a bee needs pollen.

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That thing was gone in five minutes.

I spent the next three hours jumping between icing my knees, showering, and sleeping. I honestly felt drunk for a few hours until Megan called me and reminded me that it was the last day of Taco Fest on the main street right by my apartment so even though I felt like a zombie, I threw on a decent outfit and was out the door.

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I remember going to Taco Fest last year like it was yesterday. Such a crazy thing to think about how far I’ve come. I was volunteering at last year’s CARA 20-miler before I met up Megan for the festival and now here I am, 365 days later, having run it. Can you say goal-crushing?

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I had a Grapefruit shandy (because I couldn’t find my beloved cider), a crispy chicken taco (definite favorite), and of course tried the lobster taco. They had so many cool creations there — fries topped with pulled pork and cheese was tempting me like whoa — but I wasn’t sure how my stomach would handle any craziness. So I stuck to the delicious basics.

And just because I wanted to end the night on a really nutritious note, we walked to Dairy Queen and got blizzards before watching the Keeping Up With The Kardashians season premiere. What a full day.

Question:

  • What’s the farthest you’ve ever run?
  • Do you have any street festivals near where you live?
  • Tacos: fish, chicken, beef?
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What to do about failure: a heavy dose of self-compassion + a sprinkle of commiseration

This weekend I had a setback.

Between a fitness project I’m working on (that I’ll share more about soon) in addition to marathon training, I haven’t been running as much as I could be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely running a lot, but I could have another short run day added in the mix if I really tried. It hasn’t been affecting me terribly, and even though it’s been tough as hell I figured that since I already ran 16 miles I was clearly on the right track. Fast forward to this past Saturday morning for our 18-miler and I was a wreck. An absolutely wreck.

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I felt like the Tin Man, in need of oil at my “hinges.” My hip flexors felt so tight that I was barely bending my legs with every step, and with each additional mile it felt worse and worse. I wasn’t sure whether I was just tired, going through typical running pains, hitting a wall, or if I was actually hurt, so I kept pushing. I could tell after the first four miles that it was going to be horrible. When we hit mile six I wanted to vomit thinking that we were only 1/3 of the way through. I even thought about stopping at mile 10 and running with a slower pace group, but I kept pushing. We finally hit a point where I was close to lululemon and I just knew I had to stop. I awkwardly slipped out of line with my running group at Oak Street Beach, ran under the bridge, and came up to my store. I had completed 13 miles instead of 18 and I felt like a complete and total failure. I knocked on the door of lululemon (the store wasn’t open yet) and the second my manager opened the door I just started crying. I was more frustrated than I’d been in years. I’m in the home stretch of training and I can’t even hit the marks? 18 miles shouldn’t be impossible. I know that 13 miles is where I hit my wall. WHY didn’t I push through it? Where was my discipline?

My coworker was quick to reframe my thinking: where was my compassion? Compassion for myself? Marathon training is hard. My body probably has no idea what I’m doing to it and what the end goal is. And while I could definitely take the short runs more seriously instead of pounding through the long ones and using those as my markers for success, I have to just move forward and not wallow in the fact that I ended my run a few miles early. So I didn’t spend another minute mad at myself this weekend. I got over it and celebrated the fact that 13 miles, a HALF MARATHON, is pretty common in my life these days. And that’s incredible.

So I spent the rest of the weekend doing what I do best: EATING.

Tuna melts with Mom at our favorite spot:

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A family BBQ in the suburbs complete with Billy Joel radio, pineapple margaritas, and every grilled vegetable on the planet:

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Late morning Sunday wake-up call with peach french toast on our deck:

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Roasted tomatoes from my mom’s garden:

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And a bit of quiet reflection on my porch swing as I enjoyed the 80+ temps we got this weekend:

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The verdict? There is nothing wrong with my life, even though I didn’t run 18 miles this weekend.

20 miler, I’m coming for ya. Just have to work on these Tin Man hinges first.

Question:

  • Did you struggle during training with your first marathon?
  • How do you stay disciplined with running with everything else you have going on?
  • How are you spending your Labor Day weekend?

Weekend Happenings: 16 miler, Pizza Pizza, and Ready For Fall

Well this weekend was a doozy.

For starters, I ran my longest distance ever. I popped out of bed surprisingly early on Saturday morning and met up with my CARA group to attempt what I thought was an impossible 16 miler along the lake. The first 12 miles weren’t too hard, especially since I ended up running next to an awesome girl named Brigitte and we ended up talking the entire time. But the minute I hit the half marathon mark (my longest distance to date) my body hit a wall and it felt like the next three miles would be insurmountable. I’ll tell you — having Brigitte there saved me. I wouldn’t have even come close to finishing without her. She talked to me the entire time and I even stopped talking back the last two miles but she kept on gabbing, trying to distract me from the pain. And in the end, I was so happy I kept going — I thought the runner’s high after 8 miles was strong…but aside from feeling like I was having a stroke, the high I had the rest of the weekend after the 16 miler was crazy! Such an incredible feeling.

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I ran home and did the typical runner things (including my first ice bath, which I definitely did wrong and didn’t put any water in the tub), hoping that I would be able to function for the rest of the gorgeous weekend instead of hobbling around my apartment like a 90 year old woman.

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Legs up the wall is a true life saver, even when your hip flexors are so tight that you can’t even straighten them. The foam roller is going to be my best friend this week.

The rest of Saturday was spent at the beach, eating pizza, and playing Heads Up with some of my friends who drove in from the suburbs to enjoy the gorgeous weather — it really was the most perfect day of the summer.unnamed (14)

I met Spencer downtown later in the night for some rooftop cocktails which in hindsight wasn’t the greatest idea after a double digit run, but I’ll rarely turn down an invitation from friends.

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Sunday was the definition of exhaustion. I had to work at the store but since I hadn’t really rested since my long run and day/night on the town I was pretty loopy. Luckily the shift flew and I was able to meet Megan out for dinner for her birthday today! Megan and I just realized that we’ve been friends for 10 YEARS now — the fact that I’m old enough to have a decade-long friend is only slightly terrifying but it’s crazy to think how much we’ve been through together. Never in a million years in freshman-year French class did we think we’d be living just across the street from one another in the city.

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Oh, and we ate more pizza and beer. I think that was the theme of my weekend (never an unwelcome one).

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Now that I truly got to enjoy a full summer weekend I’m completely ready for fall to be here. I keep my apartment on the chilly side so I can hang out in a sweatshirt and sip coffee in the morning like it’s going to be a fall day anyway, so I just need nature to get on the same page as me. Let’s just keep winter far, far away, shall we?

Questions:

  • What did you feel like the first time you ran a crazy-long distance?
  • Are you ready for fall or still savoring summer?

Inaugural CARA Run, Father’s Day, and Old Lady Fun

Justttt when I say I’m leaving for good, I pop back onto IHABL.

First things first: it was my first marathon training run of the season! I’m in an interesting spot right now because even though this week’s run should only be 7 miles (for the Chicago Marathon in October), I’m also attempting to not die during the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in July — so I knew I needed to do more than that to make sure mama’s still got it.

I rolled out of bed bright and early at 5:30am Saturday morning and ran to Foster Beach to meet up with CARA for the second run of marathon training season (my first).

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I had no idea what to expect from a CARA run, as it’s my first time with the organization. Luckily it was much less intimidating than I thought. The group was easy to find, there were speakers with music blasting, and pace groups that were easily marked. Who knew so much activity happened in the city before 7am! I found my pace group and even recognized a few girls who had been in the store before, so I was cool as a cucumber. The whole “fake it til you make it” advice really is true.

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It was awesome! There were hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of runners out on the path throughout our run. Everyone yelled hi to each other, we ran 2×2 (Noah’s Ark style), and there was even a gatorade station set up along the way?? The running community is pretty incredible — this is going to be a fun summer.

All in all, (3 miles to the site + 7 miles with the group), and before I knew it I had covered 10 miles!

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I hobbled home, had an appointment at Delos where a very European no-nonsense therapist dug his elbows deep into my hip flexors and foot arches (best investment I’ve made in a long time), and soon headed to the Farmer’s Market with Colleen. We had waaaay too much old lady fun exploring.

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Sunday was spent with my #1 fan, although these days I really think those roles are reversed. I love this guy! We ate great food, played (terrible) golf, sat on the deck in the sun, drank sangria, and just spent some quality time together.

IMG_5910 IMG_5911Questions:

  • How did you spend Father’s Day?
  • What’s your favorite part about farmer’s markets?
  • Running groups: love ’em or hate ’em?

CARA 20 miler, Taco Fest, and Accountability

What started on Friday night as a “Holy crap I’m burned out someone get me a glass of wine” kind of weekend turned out to be jam-packed with fun. I honestly didn’t want to leave my house after getting home Friday night. I had grand plans of seeing a cover band and causing all-around shenanigans but I ended up parked on my couch sending out depressing snapchats about the whole ordeal.

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Yes I took a screenshot of my own snapchat. I now know how to save it, so no need to educate me. I am technologically challenged.

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Saturday was the usual run, eat, work, but I did have a chance to go out with some friends that night which was fun. I was NOT happy about my 5:30am wake-up call on Sunday morning but hey, sometimes you have to sacrifice sleep in order to pretend you still have a social life.

Sunday was where the real action happened.

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I was a lululemon representative at the 20 miler that the Chicago Area Runners Association puts on every year a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon. We all arrived at 7:00am to set up our signs, our tent and our freebies for all the runners. First of all, it was COLD. I ran to my car for five minutes at least three times that morning just to warm up. In related news it was 85 degrees in Chicago on Saturday. So, let me just tell you, if the apocalypse starts somewhere, I promise you it’s going to be in the Windy City.

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Despite the weather, it was a beautiful day. A few of us cheered on the runners (my favorite job!) while others handed out wet towels with eucalyptus oil on them for relaxation after the run. Others were stationed at the lululemon tent, handing out flip flops, CRAZY good granola, and foam rollers to borrow. Bethany, did you come try to find me? I heard someone was asking for me so if it wasn’t you I’m worried I might have a stalker 😉

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I’m not a member of CARA because I haven’t lived in the city permanently for a long enough time that it seemed like a good idea, but let me tell you: I love that group. The energy, the love of running, the people…it’s overwhelming! I had so much fun watching people of all different shapes, sizes and ages cross the finish line, having just accomplished a 20 mile run – and whether it was their first or their 40th, you could tell that every runner was so proud of themselves. I was so happy to be a volunteer!

That afternoon I made my way north of the city for Lakeview Taco Fest, where I probably brushed paths with Amy without even noticing. I still can’t believe we keep missing each other!

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The highlight was the free wine tasting sponsored by Cupcake Wines at the beginning of the festival. I tried their prosecco (can’t go wrong) and a red velvet red, which wasn’t my favorite but my friends all agreed it’s now their new go-to red. Plus it was basically a wine truck – how much better does it get than that?

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Korean smoked pork taco from Toons Bar & Grill

Korean smoked pork taco with Asian slaw from Toons Bar & Grill – tie for first place! Deeelish

Smoked Chicken Taco from D.S. Tequila Company - my favorite of the day. The elote corn hash, on the other hand, was underwhelming.

Smoked Chicken Taco from D.S. Tequila Company – another favorite of the day. The elote corn hash, on the other hand, was underwhelming. But it looked too beautiful to pass up!

Tacos from Crosby's Kitchen - pretty great! The toppings were creative and tasty, but the meat was dry. I've heard it's an expensive place so I'd rather spend less $ at an authentic Mexican restaurant for better meat. Rotisserie chicken taco + the Smoke Daddy pulled pork taco

Rotisserie chicken taco + Smoke Daddy pulled pork taco from Crosby’s Kitchen – pretty tasty! The toppings were creative and delicious, but the meat itself was dry. I’ve heard it’s an expensive place so I’d rather spend less money at an authentic Mexican restaurant for better meat. 

I left pretty stuffed, but in true Lauren fashion I was hungry three hours later. It just doesn’t end! I act like that’s a big burden in my life lawlz – like being a bottomless pit is some kind of cross I have to bear. I guess someone’s got to do it 😉 Oh, I also noticed after taking this picture that I’m making a fist. I’d like to think I’m just pumped about all the great tacos about to enter my belly.

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To end my weekend wrap-up I’m going to start posting my workouts on Monday from the past week in order to give myself some accountability. Granted, I know that life throws a wrench in your plans every once in awhile, but working out at least five out of seven days is a value I hold and it needs to once again be the rule, not the exception. I’m happy to report I kicked butt this past week!

  • Monday:4 mile run
  • Tuesday: 60 minute Flywheel Class
  • Wednesday: 4 mile run
  • Thursday: C2 Yoga at Corepower
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4 mile run (last mile was a combination of sprint/walk)
  • Sunday: Rest

Thumbs up all around!

4861214_origQuestions:

  • What would it take for you to run 20 miles? A lifetime supply of chia seeds? A $1000 Trader Joe’s gift card? A date with Leonardo DiCaprio? Spill it.
  • Best taco you’ve ever had, and where you got it.
  • Has the weather been doing a total 180 from day-to-day where you’re from?