run club

Weekend Happenings: there’s a carrot in my taco

Happy Memorial Day, folks! I hope you’re starting your day with some exercise, followed by a big ol’ cookout and time spent with friends and family.

I’m grateful to live in a country where people have fought for my freedom. I was just watching Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” and on this particular episode they went to Myanmar. It’s unbelievable the restrictions and censorship that still exist well into the 21st century. I definitely take liberty for granted sometimes, so it’s good to stop, pause, and remember those who cared so much about defending freedom that they died.

The weekend started early with our Girls On The Run Community Impact Project. The girls decided to raise money for PAWS by hosting a bake sale during their lunch periods. I went to the school early Friday morning to drop off cookies and help set up

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Impressively enough, the girls raised $430! I’m thinking there were some overly-generous parents, otherwise there may be some new cases of diabetes at that school. However it happened, it was exciting to see how into it the girls got. We’re hoping to go to PAWS this week to drop off the check and really show the girls how to impact their community from start to finish.

Friday night was low-key because I had to be up early Saturday morning and lead run club for the store. My alarm went off at 6am Saturday morning and I immediately started thinking of all the excuses I could come up with to skip the run. Alas, I was feeling to mature and responsible so I was out the door in ten minutes and on the path.

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Even though it was early in the day, it was hot as hades. Within the first mile I was sweating like a chicken on a rotisserie. My running partner had some sage advice for me that I’ll definitely remember next time: “If you’re not cold when you leave the house for an morning run, you’re going to be too hot.” Preach, Tommy, preach. I felt like an Amish woman covered from head to toe, and was not pleased.

The only solution was to 90s-it-up and tie my jacket around my waist. High-fashion rolling, that’s for sure.

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I’m so happy that I womaned up and completed the run. The best part about running groups is they keep you going, that’s for sure. I know I would have walked a portion of the 7 miles due to the heat but, being the competitive spirit I am, I didn’t want to in front of the other runners. Success.

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The views always keep me going too. Chicago comes alive in the summer.

I took the whole weekend off of work and made the most of it. After some stretching and icing, I made breakfast and then Megan and I sat outside on our porch in the sunshine.

unnamed (5)Scrambled eggs, strawberries, and a Kodiak cake.

Later we walked to the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival to enjoy that classic festival vibe: free music, expensive beer, cheap clothes and jewelry, and fried food.

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We enjoyed some cinnamon-sugar mini donuts, 312s, and live music. Even though it was a No Doubt cover band (I do NOT like Gwen Stefani) it felt like the official start of summer. And that felt great.

Dinner was out in the Wicker Park neighborhood where I met up with some of my coworkers. Big Star is known for its margaritas and summer patio scene, so when you venture out there, you can expect at least a two hour wait.

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We waited about an hour and a half for our table and then immediately ordered a pitcher of margaritas and some snacks.
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The guacamole and margaritas are my favorite things at Big Star, but since it was a long day and I was hungry, I tried a few of their tacos. I’d had the fish and pork shoulder taco before, but this time I tried some newbies:

  • Taco de panza: crispy, braised pork belly, tomato guajillo sauce, queso fresco, onion, cilantro
  • Taco de pollo pibil: chicken thighs steamed in banana leaves, achiote and citrus marinade, pickled red onion, cilantro
  • Taco de zanahorias: mole spiced carrots, chipotle date yogurt, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almond, cilantro

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I loved the chicken and pork, but the carrot one (on the far right) as extremely underwhelming. The waitress said it was her favorite…further proving that I will I never be a vegetarian. Nothing can compete with meat.

After a busy weekend, I made a last-minute decision to go home and spend some time with my family. I tried to stay away for awhile but I just like those people way too much. So I had a lazy Sunday, capped off with a movie I’ve been wanting to see.

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I feel like everyone can relate to this movie somehow. It definitely struck a chord in my heart.

Questions:

  • What’s the longest you’ll wait for a table at a restaurant?
  • How are you celebrating Memorial Day weekend?
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Summer Lovin’ (tell me more, tell me more)

I’ve been spending every free minute outside. Between the warm air, the cool breeze, and the sunshine inching later and later into the evening, I feel like I’m smack dab in the middle of July. No complaints here!

I said yes to a last minute invitation to the White Sox game Wednesday night. I hadn’t been since it was Comiskey Park (sup 1996) so venturing to the South Side felt like an adventure in and of itself.

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I had zero expectations of a White Sox game since I am a Cubs fan (only because of the Americana aspect, not because I actually have any interest in or intelligence of baseball), but it was fun! It was fairly crowded for a Wednesday night and I joined my roommate Colleen and two of her friends for what turned out to be an exciting game. Granted, I didn’t watch much, but the conversation and food were killer.

U.S. Cellular Field definitely has its food priorities in order. So. Many. Options. From Wao Bao to Hooters, tamales to pirogi, the options were overwhelming. In an attempt to stay on track with my healthy eating, I ordered a turkey sandwich. When you see the following picture, remember the ingredients are healthy. Please ignore the fact that my sandwich could feed a family of four.

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Hell yeah! This turkey club was the Buckingham Palace of turkey clubs. There was APRICOT JAM on it. AND guacamole. And other stuff. Too much other stuff. No wait…no such thing.

#noregrets

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You know how as soon as you eat something salty you just have to have something sweet? Insert soft serve cone here.

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And because apparently we weren’t spoiled enough on Wednesday with nice weather, Mother Nature decided to grace us with the best day in the past 365 days (I’ll go head-to-head with anyone who challenges that) yesterday. Thank goodness because I had a track workout scheduled and I was not about to deal with Tuesday’s fog again.

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This is what I love about Chicago. In the shadows of buildings as tall as the sky, you can always find hidden parks, and it suddenly feels like your own little haven. Not to mention I always run into someone I know — Erin came to the workout! I was so happy to see her, especially after getting smoked on Tuesday during the tempo run. It felt good to see a familiar face! Or should I say, familiar feet.

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We started out with a half-mile shakeout followed by dynamic stretching and an explanation of the workout. The track workout consisted of 5x400s (400m=one lap) and a timed mile run. The 400m were broken up into 200m at 5K pace (uncomfortable, challenging) plus a 200m recovery jog to get our heart rates back down. Practicing that pace took so much out of me–I was exhausted! However, I had no choice but to recover for five minutes and then pushed it for a timed mile, something I haven’t done in years. To put that in perspective, the last time I was timed for a mile, George W. Bush was President. Let that sink in. I ran in 8:16, which, while isn’t Olympic by a longshot, is an exciting place to start. Dave, the running coach and marathoner extraordinaire (remember when he ran 100 miles in 24 hours??) is going to take my time and develop a pace chart for me to use during training. That way, I’ll be on top of improvements and will be able to continue to push myself.

Group shot!

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As I lay my head on my pillow last night, I realized I have barely been in my apartment in the past 72 hours. I never used to be an outdoor person, but now that I live on my own and am 100% in charge of how I spend my time, you can bet I’ll be using my apartment as a homebase to cook and sleep, but that’s about it for the next few months. HELLO SUMMER!

It’s almost time: time for street festivals, free concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion, movies in the park overlooking Lake Michigan, the Lakeshore Path so jam-packed with people that you almost want to get mad (but you can’t because you’re too excited to share the joy with them), strolling the Green City Farmer’s Market at 9am scoping out the best breakfast taco to eat, maneuvering Divvy bikes down busy city streets because the thought of getting on the stuffy CTA is unbearable, parking yourself on a patio and drinking a fizzy cocktail for hours until the sun goes down, walking to the beach at 10am and staking your claim on a patch of sand until someone asks you to join their volleyball game, grilling out on makeshift patios…….

Can you tell I love the possibility this summer holds?

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I’m headed to Madison with my family for Mother’s Day Weekend tomorrow! Get ready to see pictures from the most beautiful farmers market in the world.

Questions:

  • If you had to pick ONE activity to do every day this summer, what would it be? Just one! Run, drink sangria, pet a koala…go!

Leave Your Ego Behind

It’s officially that time of year.

The air is fresh, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the paths are cleared.

It’s running season. For real this time.

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No more “I wonder if it might start snowing” or “The temperature went up 20 degrees in the past five minutes. Sure wish I didn’t wear two layers!” garbage running that’s been thrown our way thanks to some split personality weather. Things have calmed down and now “The Weather” is only 60% of daily conversation here instead of its usual 85%.

Since I have committed to two races so far (half marathon in July and marathon in October) I figured it was time to lace up the ol’ Asics and hit the trails. I’m working as a run coach for our store so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for the next few months I’m committed to running my butt off (having others hold you accountable helps out a lot). Yesterday was our first run as a group (tempo), and I learned a very valuable lesson:

In order to accomplish your goals, you have to start at day one. On day one, you are a novice. You will get smoked. And you’ll hate it. But you have to leave your ego behind.

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I’m not used to being bad at things. That’s not to say I’m not bad at anything, but anything I haven’t excelled at I’ve quit, so as not to humiliate myself. And I can’t say for sure that I’m “bad” at running. But it certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I dreaded the mile run all throughout school. One mile. I picked it up as something to do to stay in shape during college. It wasn’t a competition, because it was just me and the sidewalk.

When I run, I run lazy. That is, I run for fun. I usually set out to do anywhere from 4-6 miles at a ~9:15 pace. I have never done speedwork, tempo runs, fartlek, or anything like that. I honestly don’t even know what those words really mean. And even though I consider myself a runner, I had a pretty huge shock waiting for me today at our first group run.

The ten of us met at the store and started a quick warmup. I was feeling confident and strong, until the tempo run began. We were instructed to run 20 minutes out, 20 minutes back, for a total of 40 minutes. The first ten were a warmup pace (aka our normal pace, which for me hovers around 9:15), and the second ten were supposed to be a pace 30 seconds faster than normal. The third chunk of ten minutes was a pace 45 seconds faster than our base pace, followed by a cooldown ten at our warmup speed.

Sounds simple enough, right? I thought so too. Until we took off and I realized five of the ten runners were pacing 6min miles.

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See that group in front of me? That’s how far behind I was. At that was the closest gap I had the whole run.

The feeling of watching people run faster and further away from you SUCKS. It’s completely out of your control. You’re only as fast as you are in that present moment. No matter how quickly I moved my legs or swung my arms, there was no way I was going to catch up. I was so, so angry at myself. I gave it everything I had and didn’t even care that I was basically wheezing and dry heaving as I passed other runners. In the end, I ran those 5 or so miles at an incredibly fast speed….for me. My splits ranged between 8:28 and 8:45. I was damn proud!

The moral of the story? Everyone starts somewhere. This is my first marathon. This is the first time I’ve ever viewed running as a competition. I didn’t casually meander onto my Varsity basketball team in high school. I spent years in the gym learning the game, practicing  moves, and mastering fundamentals. Running is no different. It is my new sport, my new team. The team just happens to be me, myself and I. And right now I just have to leave my ego behind, accept that for now I am slower than many other runners, and be excited to get better.

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That’s where I am right now. I feel like a sponge, ready to soak up all the running information. I’m excited to get better. I’m tired of only doing things I’m good at. Because when you do that, you don’t grow. I’m proud that I set a goal that will actually be difficult to accomplish, and you know what? I might fail. I’ve never set a goal before that I might fail.

Have you?

But so what? So what if I fail? Who is that hurting? My ego? A figment of my imagination? WHO CARES! I read a quote the other day that resonated with me then and even more now that my ego is feeling pretty bruised:

The ego desires perfection. The inner-self lives in authenticity

Even though we are all at different paces and have different goals, we are all on the same path. At the end of our run we were all back on equal footing in our dedication, passion, and love for the sport.

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That being said, if anyone in Chicago is looking for a running group, we meet at the lululemon Rush store in the Gold Coast on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm and Saturday mornings at 7am. Tuesdays are tempo runs, Thursday is speed work, and Saturday is a long run. I’d love to share the joy of running with you 🙂