run

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.

unnamed (10)

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.

unnamed (11) unnamed (13) unnamed (14)

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!

unnamed (16) unnamed (19)

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.

unnamed (25)unnamed (26)

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.

unnamed (33)

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?

unnamed (28) unnamed (29) unnamed (30) unnamed (31) unnamed (32)

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?

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.

unnamed (16)

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:

unnamed (23)

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

unnamed (19)

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

unnamed (21)

Roasted tomatoes from my mom’s garden:

unnamed (22)

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

unnamed (24)

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.

unnamed (4) unnamed (5)

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.

unnamed (6) unnamed (7) unnamed (9)

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.

unnamed (12)

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.

unnamed (10)

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

unnamed (8) unnamed (11)

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).

IMG_5826

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.

IMG_5829 IMG_5841

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!

IMG_5846

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.

IMG_5851 IMG_5859 IMG_5860IMG_5868 IMG_5861 IMG_5864IMG_5856 IMG_5867 IMG_5869

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?

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.

unnamed (10)

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.

unnamed (14)

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

unnamed (12)

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

unnamed (19)

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.

unnamed (23)unnamed (25)

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.

unnamed (22)

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!

unnamed (24)

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?

lincoln-park-3_C (1)

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!

So, that happened #100milemarch

As you can probably tell (spoiler alert) I ran 100 miles in March.

unnamed (41)

I want to preface this by acknowledging that so many of you readers run much further than this on a monthly basis, and after hitting triple digits I bow down to you. Because while I somehow, magically, made it to 100 miles in a month without my knees or shins offing themselves (or losing a single toenail!), it was a close call. As I hobbled into bed last night, I marveled at what I have just put my body through – and I marveled even more at what is POSSIBLE.

How did I accomplish this safely?

Like I said, it was a close call. This past week was especially tough and I don’t think I could have done another day. My last run of the month was 7.6 of the longest, hardest miles I’ve ever done. But I do think that I handled this challenge in a safe way. As someone who literally went from 0 to 100, I knew it was a pretty crazy goal. But I have some tips that I think helped keep my knees and shins safe.

  • Take It Slow – Build Up Mileage
    • Week 1 – 15.28 miles
    • Week 2 – 25.46 miles
    • Week 3 – 20.62 miles
    • Week 4 – 38.72 miles
    • When I first started running again, a long run for me was five miles without stopping. So for my first week, I ran five miles, three times. Simple as that. I slowly started adding in longer and longer runs, until my last week when I repeatedly ran anywhere from 7-9.5 miles like it was chump change. But it happened slowly over the course of the month. I knew I wasn’t Superwoman and the last thing I wanted to do was not achieve my goal because I got greedy.
  • YOGA
    • Obvious, maybe, but yoga became my best friend, especially during the last week. I averaged going once per week (apparently I was a slacker during week two because I skipped yoga AND had my smallest number of miles). The last week, when my mileage was higher than it’s ever been, I attended two hour-long classes and even did some of the moves at home. I view yoga as forced stretching (I’m terrible at doing it on my own) and the last week I’m positive that going to two yoga classes on back-to-back days was one of the reasons I was able to finish strong.unnamed (48)
  • FUEL
    • I stopped apologizing to myself about how much I needed to fuel. There were a few days in the middle of the month when I had a lot of guilt for how much I was eating. For the majority of the second half of the month I needed a solid four meals to keep up. And for awhile I wasn’t allowing that to happen, which just ended up with me snacking a lot, taking in more calories than I would have if I had just allowed myself another meal. All my food restriction thoughts came flooding back – “I can have 20 Triscuits, three slices of Swiss cheese and a spoonful of peanut butter because that’s a “snack”, but I can’t have a turkey sandwich, because that’s a “meal”, and I’ve already had my three meals for the day.” Stuff like that. Luckily the last week I pretty much forced myself to snap out of it because I was so hungry. Like, all the time. So I started to eat whenever I was hungry. I didn’t always make the healthiest choices, but letting go of “the rules” really helped me maintain that mileage.unnamed (45)
  • Post-run care
    • Stretching
      • Lots of calf stretches on the stairs
    • Ice
      • Always post-run for at least 10 minutes – frozen veggies still hold my heart!
    • Compression socks
      • I slept most nights wearing mineunnamed (46)
    • Foam Rolling
      • 5 minutes per leg up and down the IT band, plus an additional 5 minutes rolling my quads
    • Tiger Tail
      • Intermittent use on my calves while watching TV

And, the outcome?

I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt more accomplished. The minute I crossed the 100-mile marker I immediately sent mass texts to my parents, my friends, my development leaders at work…I felt like a kid on Christmas morning who just opened the best gift. Except this time I gave the gift to myself. I didn’t depend on anyone else for my happiness. I told myself I was going to do something, and I did it.

In other news, I feel stronger and healthier, as you can imagine. I am always in the best shape when running is a major part of my life, and I can feel my body shifting back into the crazy-athletic physique that it is capable of. The only difference this time around is that I don’t have an obsession with being “thin” via running. I love the monster calves that I get when I run. And, on the side, I’ve continued working on my upper body, so I feel stronger than ever.

10614226_1130311466994971_3673999539584029183_n

Another thing that sometimes gets brushed past is the positive effect exercise can have on anxiety. Since I started running on a regular basis I have had zero panic attacks. That’s not to say that exercise will be enough forever, but from personal experience it has helped. Lacing up my shoes and pounding the pavement at the end of the day is my happy place. It isn’t silent meditation and introspection, but I get more thinking done running than I do when I try to force it. But it isn’t the “dwelling” kind of thinking. When I’m physically moving, my mind moves forward as well. So even when a worry or anxiety-provoking thought pops into my mind, it is usually gone as quickly as it came, because you keep moving forward – physically, mentally, emotionally.

What did I learn?

I learned about the power of possibility.

160177

Do you have those voices in your head? The hesitations? The “shoulds” and “should nots”? The limits you set for yourself? Yeah, I have those too. They trap you in your past possibilities. Can you imagine how many doors would open for you if you just eliminated certain words from your vocabulary? Should, try, maybe, I Wish?

No way did I think I’d be able to run 100 miles in one month. For heaven’s sake I ran maybe 30 miles total between the months of December and March. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the possibility. But instead of dwelling on that, I set a goal and just went for it. I stepped outside of my mind and let my feet do the talking (so to speak). I did it for myself. No one pushed me to do it, no one else held me accountable (although I did have a great support system at work checking in on my progress). It was all for me. And now I can sit here and revel in the idea that those “past possibilities” don’t exist, in any form of my life. In my personal life, in my work life, in my fitness journey. I can do anything I set my mind to. We all can.

It’s time to explore the world of possibility. It’s time to leave the slow zone. Why? Because it’s now, and that’s a perfectly acceptable time to start. In fact, it’s the best time to start. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for all of you.

unnamed (42)

Now, for the fun part – how should I reward myself?? The top contenders are as follows (and I’m open to suggestions!):

  • Donuts: one long john and two donuts so it spells out “100”
  • Massage
  • A new Garmin charger (since mine broke….oh…fifteen months ago…and apparently I’m a runner now)

#100milemarch update

Well, it’s halfway through the month! I’m slowly but surely working on my personal goal to run 100 miles this month, and have even recruited some unexpected suckers to join me (how’s it coming for you, Salt?)

#100milemarch

So with 50% down and 50% to go, where am I?

40 miles.

“Oy vey, Lauren, you’re 10 miles behind!”

Fear not, doubters! I started out only being able to run 4-5 miles at a time comfortably, and now I’m at 7-8 each run. So the miles will keep chipping away even faster now. Plus, I was only able to run 10 my first week thanks to a new medication kicking the crap out of me, so I’m building momentum each day. For someone who probably ran 40 miles from the months of December-February, this is big stuff. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to hit it!

So, what have I learned so far?

  1. Sometimes you don’t want to run. Run anyway. You’ll be happier for it.
  2. A bag of mixed vegetables is better than any store-bought ice pack.
  3. Hot power yoga is my best friend.
  4. My ears sweat.
  5. When I run, I crave ice cream. Gotta work on that..
  6. I am blessed to live in such a vibrant running city.

Chicago

Goal-crushing.

How are you doing on your March goals?