Monumental Marathon: Training Week 2 of 12

Week2

 

Look at that! Week 1 wasn’t a fluke after all! Just as with most injuries, I think it’s hard not to hold your breath when you get back to running. You keep waiting for something to hurt because you were in a decent amount of pain just a few short weeks ago. But nope! I think it’s safe to say I’m in the clear and now it’s just time to get down to business. Week 2 was definitely tough, especially because breathing the soupy air that made its way to Chicago made running somewhat miserable. Perfect week to get back to workouts, huh?

Monday: Full REST

I was still in Michigan for a long weekend and I ran 13 miles the day before, so resting was necessary. I spent the day working in a coffee shop (that ironically used beans roasted in Chicago), having lunch with Man, and thrifting for decorations and new furniture to fill the new apartment.

Tuesday: [Fartlek 8.03 miles, 7:37 avg]

I call this one the ‘hairdryer fartlek’. It was so hot and muggy and gross that I felt like someone was blowing a hairdryer into my face the entire time. I ran 2 to lake, 4 lakefront miles with 30 sec @ 5k pace every 3 minutes, and 2 home. The legs had a decent amount of pep today after yesterday’s rest so that’s good! 

Wednesday: [Easy 7, 7:56 avg]

Easy 7 around the neighborhood this morning. I ran such a random route that I don’t think I could have even explained to someone familiar with the area. It was hot and humid out again this morning so I was happy to run on some shady streets. I stopped in a park halfway for a sip of water & it was glorious. 

I’ve been thinking about routine lately – welp, basically my lack of routine. I used to be really good about getting up around 5 or 5:30 AM to run before work each day. It’s likely because I have a flexible schedule these days, but I just haven’t been able to find the motivation to do that again. I normally wake up around 6:30 AM and then it takes me a while to get going before I even think about running (especially if it’s a workout). The weather has been motivating me to get it done early-ish, but I’m hoping to get back to the routine of starting my run by 7 AM on mornings when I don’t have meetings.

Thursday: [3 x 1 mi tempo/ 8.59 mi, 7:24 avg]

Annnnd speaking of a morning running routine, the rain thwarted my plans of getting this done by 7:30 AM. I sat around in my running clothes basically from 6:30 AM until I left just after 9 AM when the rain cleared. Woof. Humidity x 1000000 out there today. (temp 76, with 88% humidity = swimming). I didn’t really know what kind of tempo I would run today until I started. I settled for 3 x 1 mi at tempo pace. Considering I did 6 x 3 min tempo surges last week and I haven’t run a tempo in … I don’t know how long … this was a solid effort. Splits: 6:46, 6:52, 6:37 (with 1-2 min walk break between) It felt more difficult that I expected it to but I likely should have adjusted for the conditions. On to the next!

Friday: [Easy 5, 8:10 avg]

Woof. Humidity is here to stay, huh? Went out around 9 after doing some work early this morning. Knew it would be sticky out, but that doesn’t make it any easier. My glasses fogged up when I stopped at a stoplight. EVERYONE IS DOING THE SWAMPY SHUFFLE these days!

Saturday: [Long 15 mi, 7:45 avg]

I was dreading this one the moment I saw the forecast on Friday night – 71 degrees and 96% humidity expected.

2014-08-22 21.45.48

The lakefront was definitely cooler than inland and the fog/cloud cover kept the sun from peeking out too much. This is the best run I’ve had in a while — I actually felt like myself again! I ran 2 to the lake with The Man and then settled in to 7:30-7:40 really easily. My legs felt like they could have run 7:45s all day. I normally don’t run so well in the heat and humidity, but it didn’t bother me that much. I stopped at plenty of water fountains to douse my head and neck with water and I think that helped a lot. Gu at miles 6 and 11 (gotta love that salted watermelon!) I’m really happy this went well. I was shocked that out of the hundreds of people out on the lakefront that I only saw TWO people I know! 

We had plans to have people over on our rooftop in the afternoon, but the weather ruined those plans! So we went to “brunch” at 1 pm and bar-hopped afterward. I mean, if you’re not brunching at 1 pm and hanging out with the same crowd at 9 pm the same day, you’re doing it wrong.

2014-08-23 20.15.02

We absolutely love our rooftop and wanted to have people over to enjoy it one last time – before MOVING! We found a nice place nearby with more space so this next week is absolute INSANITY between preparing for a big work event (involving travel next week), packing up the apartment, moving, and trying to fit training (and sleeping) in there somewhere. I know it will be worth it, but it’s definitely going to be a crazy couple of weeks.

Sunday: REST

Lazy Sunday morning with puppy cuddles and a day full of worrying about packing…and then actually packing. 

2014-08-24 20.50.26

Look what I found! A training plan that I apparently printed in 2011 – when my ‘projected’ marathon finish time was 4:01. I must have printed it that spring before training ramped up and I’m 75% sure it was based on a recent 5k time. Just when you begin to think that you won’t have enough time to get fit for the next 26.2, the universe shows you just how far you’ve come. 

Anyone have some superwoman powers I can borrow this week…and the next?

-J 

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True Recovery & A Focus on Strength-Training

A few weeks ago, I made a conscious decision to cut back on miles and focus on true recovery + a decent amount of strength training. And guess what? Since then, I’ve felt much, much better.

My legs felt dead, heavy, and sluggish. My form felt ‘wonky’ and it took a lot of self-talk to get through even the easiest of runs. I had little niggles that just didn’t seem to want to give up. I felt a twinge in my left quad (helloooo old injury) and my right calf wasn’t having much fun. (Note: I’ve experienced burnout. This didn’t feel like that. It just felt ‘blah’– and when running feels ‘blah’, you must learn to cool it. It’s possible that I recognized the symptoms of burnout before burnout actually happened. Hey, I’m learning!)

Week of May 19th: 4 runs, 30 miles (Soldier Field 10) including: 1 spin class + 1 ART session

Week of May 26: 4 runs, 15 miles including: 2 hours spin, core + leg + hip strength routines x 2, 1 Bodypump class

Week of June 2: 4 runs, 21 miles including: 2 hours spin, 1 hour vinyasa yoga, core + leg + hip strength routines x 1

I keep a paper training log (I know. Weird, right?). Four short weeks ago, I wrote this at the bottom of my weekly log: “I just want to enjoy running right now. Cutting back!”. It took me a few weeks to let go of a redemption dream after Boston. After busting my a** all winter and enduring some seriously horrible training conditions, I was more than eager to get to a 26.2 finish line in my goal time. But my body (and likely, my mind) was not ready for another 26.2 mile beating and it finally dawned on me that the rest of this year will be a success if I take it easy now. I am setting my sights on a fall marathon – and recovery and having fun right now is all part of that plan.

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My favorite place lately.

So, the week of May 26th, I got seriously about doing some strength training. And lemme tell ya, when you haven’t used your upper body in any other way than to pump during speed intervals, said upper body can go into complete shock after a single Bodypump class. I’m not kidding. I was pretty much sore from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning and I only loosened up after a Vinayasa class. Clearly, focusing on strength is a good idea before I really begin to commit to a training cycle again. I did two full strength workouts and 1 Bodypump class that week, which is approximately 2 more strength workouts than I do during a good (i.e. normal) week. Each run was 3-4 miles and I felt like I finished each one feeling like it was just right. I didn’t feel like running any longer. Motivation to run was lowwwww. (I can only imagine what this week had been like if I decided to get back to some serious mileage. Crash and burn comes to mind.)

2014-06-05 19.13.23No workouts = more exploring.

The next week was full of some more cross-training – 2 hours spin, 1 hour yoga, + another strength routine. Note: upper body fully recovered from Bodypump. I am LOVING spin class lately. I’ve officially found my favorite instructor yet. She’s “no nonsense”, tough, and plays great music. Another bonus is that she teaches a noon class on Friday which is relatively easy for me to get to. It’s my Friday treat. Plus, it’s the closest I’ve been able to come to a runner’s high – sunshine and rainbows after 1 hour on the bike lately! All of the running miles this week felt easier than the previous week (i.e. I didn’t feel like I was running through sand) and I was even able to “run long” on Sunday. I went for a 8.75 mile trot on Sunday. It felt so good to feel good again. And I couldn’t pass up a recovery run with Kristy who was in town for Marron’s wedding. I’m not sure if it was just the distraction of chatting with her, but I felt better than I have in weeks on that run. Plus, no run can go poorly when it’s followed by brunch with the gals.

2014-06-08 12.52.02-2CT, Liz, Leticia, me, Kristy, and Corey (they waited many cold months to wear those white pants!)

So, two weeks after making a conscious decision to cut the miles and add in some fun strength & cross-training, I’m feeling MUCH better. I haven’t taken note of a single mile split in the past two weeks – it’s refreshing to just run. I haven’t felt any painful twinges and my form feels stronger than it’s felt since before Boston. I doubt I’ll ever be the type of runner than can jump into one training cycle immediately after another. Taking the time to rest and recharge between cycles works for me. Besides, I’m beginning to become aware of my biceps and triceps! Who knew those muscles existed?!

Fall marathon plans to come!

– J

 

 

3 Marathons, 1 Spectator, & Countless Friends to Support!

It appears that when you’re not training for a specific race, you’re less motivated to update a darn blog! But I promise, I still have lots to say and I’ve been staying busy (maybe too busy at times?). It’s definitely weird to experience the fall racing season as a spectator but I think I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would 2 months ago when everything started to go sideways. In fact, I think that I forgot about the whole “I’m not racing this fall” and replaced it with “my job is now spectator extraordinaire”, which basically meant that I went to expos for races I wasn’t running, tracked a bajillion friends racing in multiple marathons, and carb-loaded like I was the one actually running the race (which, I mean, isn’t really that big of a surprise, guys. The RUNGRY will always prevail). So, a recap of 3 big race weekends:

The Grand Rapids Marathon was on October 20th.

Despite it being my “A” race this fall, spectating the Grand Rapids was a special experience. The Man ran his first half marathon there after a very consistent training cycle (that was loosely put together by moi.) You only get one first half marathon and the experience of training can be so rewarding–the fact that you can return home from each weekend’s long run and say “that’s the farthest I’ve ever run in my entire life” is amazing. The Man and I took advantage of that pretty much every Saturday by celebrating over more than a few beers and “brunch” at 2 or 3 pm on Saturday afternoon. It was especially nice to be able to live vicariously through his training when I made the decision to not race this fall. I’m glad I was able to be part of his finish line experience because, had I run the marathon that day, I would have missed the finish of his first half marathon.

2013-10-20 09.50.09

Look at that form!

I remember standing at the finish with my family when my mom asked what his goal was. He told me anything under 2 hours would make him happy, BUT (as I learned after he finished) his “real goal” was around 1:50-1:55. He’s sneaky like that! I stood there anxiously waiting to cheer and take pictures, thinking that I’d realistically have 10 minutes to wait before he came through. And two seconds later, we spotted him. I looked at the clock and he realized he would finish MUCH closer to 1:50 than 2 hours—clearly this was a good day for him. I’m so happy I could be at that finish line. Hillary & Jeff ran the marathon that day and managed to see both of them near Mile 4 before they ran off into the park and I parked my butt at Starbucks to warm up a bit. Again, we finished the day with beeeeeers and celebration.

The Marine Corps Marathon was October 27th.

This was completely unplanned on my part. It just so happened that I had a trip to DC for work scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday of that week. After realizing that I didn’t have any meetings back in Chicago on Friday, I decided to extend my trip through the weekend to visit with my twin sister. She had just returned from Peru (she climbed Macchu Picchu! What what!) and I was anxious to see her for the first time since July. It didn’t occur to me until the weekend before I flew out that Marine Corps was that Sunday and, having realized it too late, I had already booked a flight out early Sunday morning. Sad face, I wasn’t able to spectate the race and I was mid-flight when all of the tracking updates would have pinged my phone.

BUT I was able to head out to the expo one train stop away from my sister’s apartment on Friday afternoon and catch up with those racing. Lisa and Meghan were my hotel buddies at Hood to Coast with Nuun and I was so happy to arrange a ReNUUNion with them. Lora was also there (and I proceeded to give her about 10 hugs within a 3 minute period. Sorry-not-sorry!).

ReNUUNion with Meg & Lisa

On Saturday morning, I woke up early to head out for a run with Jeff , Jess , and Maddie. Jeff was nice enough to pick me up at my sister’s place and drive us both out to Reston in his Saucony Flex (!!! Saucony-mobile FTW!). I had been running easy for a few weeks at that point and I finally felt ready to head out for an easy ten-miler with these speedy folks (Jeff ran his debut marathon just a few weeks prior in an incredible time: 2:43!—loved hearing about his experience during the drive). Jess and Maddie are just as sweet in real life as they are on social media. As we do with most runners we “know” via social media, we hugged and said “I feel like I already know you!”. I was feeling pretty groggy and creaky that morning but happy to be out running “long” on a beautiful path WITH HILLS (because they don’t exist in Chicago) with new friends.

Jess ran 10 before meeting up with us and finished up with over 20 for the day. I was all too happy to tuck in behind Jess and Jeff with Maddie and just try to breathe through the hills (heh). I told Maddie that acupuncture has helped my leg recover more than I thought it would and I was surprised to hear that she’d found a lot of relief from it too. Even after just a few sessions, I would definitely recommend it to runners dealing with pain that’s pretty localized or “knotty”. Acupuncture was only recommended to me by 2-3 people but I’ll definitely be using it in the future. After the run, we warmed up & chatted over coffee. The beautiful thing about conversation with runners is that it’s always ‘easy’ despite being in different places with our training. Jeff was (arguably) still  ‘recovering’ from the Maine Marathon, Jess was weeks away from Richmond at that point (and READY TO KILL IT NEXT WEEKEND!), Maddie is returning strong from a hip injury, and I was dealing with that silly quad/hip issue. Running 10 with these crazy kids was a highlight of my weekend.

Reston Runners

Pic stolen from Jess! Quad selfiesssss! 

The power of social media and the extremely kind running community, I tell ya! A run with “strangers” in Virginia wouldn’t have happened if Jeff hadn’t organized the meet-up and if Twitter didn’t exist. It’s pretty incredible when you stop and think about it.

And the Monumental Marathon was November 2nd.

The third weekend away from Chicago and I was happy to be going to my hometown, Indy. The Monumental Marathon was my back-up race when my quad started to give me problems, but I gradually realized that it wasn’t in the cards. I decided to sign up for the half marathon and decide whether to RUN or RACE it in the weeks leading up to that weekend. Welp, racing wasn’t going to happen. I may have been “able” to race it (my half marathon PR pace is way too close to my marathon PR pace) but at what cost? I decided to run it.

I also had another motivation for going to Indy. A really good friend from high school was running his first marathon there. We haven’t talked as much in the past 5-6 years as we would have in a perfect world (we’re both crazy busy afterall) but I knew it would be just like we had seen each other yesterday once we saw each other in real life again. And I was right. Bo’s training was really consistent and I knew that it would be a good day for him. We ran a shakeout on Friday afternoon before heading to the expo where I was finally able to meet Mark Hadley in person. He and Alana were speaking at the expo about Alana’s training and race progression. Still amazed that Alana ran a 2:41 at 16 and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials. (!!!!!)

The next morning, I ran the first 7 miles with Bo. My big job was to prevent him from going BALLS OUT too early in the race. I was determined to hold him to 8:10-8:20 pace and he knew he could run each segment of 5 miles progressively faster on a few conditions—1)  he felt smooth and controlled 2) he could reach Mile 20 and still feel fresh, like he could truly race the last 6.2 miles. We took some ridiculous photos at Mile 5, I gave him some advice near Mile 6.5 when we spotted his family for the first time, and I split from him at Mile 7.

IMM with Bo 1 IMM with Bo 2

We were pretty energetic and crazy about 0.2 seconds before the photographers snapped these shots. They still crack me up.

Ok, so you know when I said I’d just RUN the half marathon? Well, I decided that wasn’t happening. The more I thought about that finish line, the less and less enjoyable it sounded. Not because I’d be in pain, but because it wouldn’t really be rewarding. Call me stubborn but I didn’t want to cross any finish line this fall if I wasn’t truly racing, no matter what distance. It seems like “dropping out” of a half marathon would be a hard decision for me to make but really, I made it within seconds of reaching Mile 7. My plan was to run back to the start line (which was 3-4 miles away), go to gear check, warm-up, and  look forward to seeing Bo at the finish line of his first 26.2. So I ran 10.5 miles total for the day, grabbed coffee with a friend, and celebrated with Bo when he crossed the finish line in 3:37:17 like the badass that he is.

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3:37 first marathon–happy to be a small part of his experience

This fall has been about supporting people in my life—whether they are relative strangers or very close friends, both new and old. I had no idea October was going to be so full of spectating but I’m glad it was. The urge to race really faded when running became more of a chore toward the end of this last training cycle. But spectating through rest, recovery, and cross-training has filled me with the urge to RACE like I’ve never raced before on April 21st.  I think I’m even more determined now than I was at the beginning of the Grand Rapids cycle, which is somewhat telling. I still have my “moments” when it stings to think about the fact that a marathon didn’t happen last month. I think about it less and less each week. I’m feeling a bit more patient and I know that I still have plenty of time to cross-train and base-build for a good Boston training cycle (A few weeks ago, I was obsessing over the fact that I needed to start base-building—-and then I looked at the calendar and realized I was being silly.) It’s still frustrating. Case in point: A few weeks ago, I was walking to lunch with The Man when I stopped and said, “I want to run f***ing fast again”. Without missing a beat, he said “You will”. And so, I will. And I’ll be especially happy I was able to be part of three different marathons & several friends’ experiences.

I experienced Chicago, Grand Rapids, Marine Corps, and Monumental in a whole new way this fall. I’m ready to love the experience of training again.

So, on that note, send me your spring half marathons suggestions! I need a good tune-up before Boston!

-J

Seven Things

Life is a Run invited me to share 7 things about me that others may not know this week. I think it’s refreshing to read others’ blog posts that have absolutely nothing to do with running. While running may be what connects me with people I never would have interacted with otherwise, it’s nice to know more about them than what their 800 splits are, the pace of their last long run, or their half marathon PR.

So, my “7 things” are as follows:

  1. My name is Jenny, but my REAL name is Jennifer Holly. My twin sister’s name is Lindsey Noelle. And YES we were born in December, fairly close to Christmas. Apparently one of us was supposed to be named Julian (Jillian?), but my mom decided on Jennifer and Lindsey instead. I don’t really ever remember being called Jennifer and I’m not sure who decided that Jenny would be my more common name. Hmmm…questions to ask the family!
  2. I’ve lived in 4 different Chicago neighborhoods, despite only living here for 5 years. When I started college, I lived in Lincoln Park near campus. Then I moved around a bit to Wrigleyville and then Pilsen on the south side. Now I’m in Wicker Park and like it more than any of the others. I think I have a disease that requires me to move some place new, throw out possessions I don’t need, clean out my closet, and paint some new walls every 6-12 months. Hopefully this disease takes care of itself and allows me to remain in the same apartment for longer than that this time around!
  3. I always carry a book in my bag or purse, but usually take more than 3-4 weeks to finish it. I have a massive Goodreads list of books I need to read and have barely made a dent in it. The list is never-ending! Sometimes I think I dedicate more time to seeking out good books and adding them to my list than to actually reading them. 🙂 Woopsies!
  4. I reserve my Sunday evenings for catching up on my favorite TV shows. Lately these shows have been Dexter and Boardwalk Empire. I seriously can’t wait until Mad Men and Shameless make their return appearance in January. I already have the date saved on my calendar. 🙂 Without my comfy couch, a glass of wine/beer, a soft blanket, and my TV shows to watch on Sunday, I’m not sure how I’d stay sane. It’s my “me time”.
  5. I’m sure a lot of people have this problem, but I’m notorious for creating TO DO lists that are highly unrealistic. Sure, it’s good to be determined and focused, but my list is just silly. I even have multiple TO DO lists–because one is never enough. I use Wunderlist for groceries and other random items, WorkFlowy for lists that need to be outlined, and I always have a simple weekly planner on me that I cover in post-it notes that include more ‘to do’ lists. I should just choose one and stick to it, shouldn’t I?
  6. I HATE brussel sprouts. Yes, with an intense passion that rivals all other forms of hatred. I always have and I always will. My mom made a mistake this year for Thanksgiving dinner. She made brussel sprouts thinking that this would be THE year I’d try them out again. But she was sorely mistaken. I’m not budging. I’ll stick to other greens like asparagus (which happens to be my favorite vegetable ever).
  7. Confession: half the time I sit down to write my blog posts, I don’t know what I’m going to write about. I think I’m okay with that. I’m not trying to cater to anyone else or provide advice for other runners. Just sorting through some things in my own head and putting them on digital paper so that I can keep track of where I’ve been and where I could be going. I love seeing that people subscribe to the blog, don’t get me wrong! The little comments and notes are nice and it makes me realize how easily connected we all are, especially in the running community. So blog on, all, blog on!

Those are my ‘7 things’. What are yours?

-J

Autumn Loves

Lately I’ve been savoring the little things BIG things. It’s the time of the year to think about what you’re thankful for and what you’ve accomplished in the past 11-12 months. I’ve been thinking about it lately and decided that I’d be silly to think that life is anything but good.

Life is good.

I am super happy about some things happening in my life and the lives of friends & family. It’s easy (especially in the city) to feel compartmentalized and sectioned off from the rest of the world. But everyone is working towards something awesome, it seems. I’m happy to be around people that are driven, know where they want to go, and are figuring out a way to get there. (Again, this goes back to the video I posted last week—I still can’t get over it.)

Short and sweet…I’m thankful for:

  • my sister, Lindsey. My day wouldn’t be the same without our Gchat convos. PLUS she just got hired by a landscape architect in D.C. and she’ll finally have a job doing exactly what she wants to be doing! I’m so excited for her–for real.
  • a workplace with a lax dress code. Because dress pants on a rainy day just don’t work out as well as jeans and boots do.
  • my sweater drawer. I will be thankful for this drawer for approximately the next 5 months.
  • the fact that I survived Bikram yoga last week!!! I’m obsessing over this new workout and love the way I feel after sweating for 90 minutes in a room with a ton of other sweaty people trying to contort their bodies into odd shapes. There really is nothing like it.
  • my puppy. She may be a rascal sometimes (admittedly, she’s not really a puppy anymore), but she always goes crazy when I come home after work.
  • an active family. I’m running the Drumstick Dash in Indy this weekend with my mom and brother. How awesome is that?
  • hot apple cider. ’nuff said (even better when it transforms into a hot toddy)
  • the ability to feed myself good food. I look forward to cooking good dinners every weekday. Good food, good beer, and good company is all I need.

The little things have become the big things.

-J

 

Sunday=Baking Day

I woke up this morning and immediately thought about breakfast. I’m not a “breakfast person”. I usually have to make a conscious decision to put a bagel in the toaster and slather it with cream cheese before heading out the door. More often, I throw some instant oatmeal into my purse and sometimes make it at the office when I’m hungry. Cup o’ coffee & I’m good to go. But today was different. I had a recipe in mind.

Bacon-Wrapped Eggs…

I found this video online about two weeks ago and it’s been on my to do list ever since. Bacon-Wrapped Eggs

So I headed to the store for all the necessary ingredients:

  • carton of eggs
  • package of bacon
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • chives (or any kind of herb)
  • and HUNGER …which was easy

I may or may not have bought ingredients for cookies ‘n cream brownies as well… shhh!

The recipe is very simple. Brown the bacon but avoid making it crispy like you normally would. Create cups o’ bacon on the muffin pan. Crack an egg and plop each one into the cup o’ bacon.

Top with the cheese of your choice.

I used a combination of feta, colby jack, and shredded cheddar cheese. The feta was a risk, but it turned out delicious.

Mmmmmmm. Are you salivating yet?

Ready for the oven.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the eggs for 15 minutes or until set.

And wait patiently (or not so patiently in the pup’s case)…

What a rascal.

Almost done!

Amazing, right? So simple, so rich, so delicious.

Consume with cup of fresh orange juice and cup o’ joe.

Then? …..NAP!

-J

A Lot Can Happen In 365 Days

I’ve lived through one year as a post-college graduate. And in that time, a lot of things have happened. So many things have happened, that I most likely can’t remember all those tiny moments that helped shape the year and how I’ve changed in that time. Graduating with a degree in International Studies and a concentration in  Environmental Policy, I really had no idea what I was going to do. I had dabbled in dreams of graduate studies in Urban Planning, lightly considered some fellowship options that would allow me to travel (even if it was within the U.S.), and spent countless hours searching sites with job postings that I didn’t think fit my personality/interests. And, just like many college graduates in recent years, I was feeling pretty uneasy about not knowing what I was going to be doing day-to-day for the next couple of months.

It all began at the coffee shop down the street. For three to four months following graduation, I worked as a receptionist at the alternative health center I’d worked at through college and devoted my remaining free time to scouring job postings from every possible source available. I edited and re-edited my resume while sipping down delicious bottomless cups of coffee at The Jumping Bean Cafe–all while gradually becoming hopeless in my job search. Several months went by and I finally began to get any type of consistent response from a couple companies, 4-5 phone interviews, and 3 in-person interviews for me to land a job in an industry that didn’t quite ‘fit’ with the aspirations I had for my future. I guess you could say I was persistent…and willing to put some larger dreams on hold in order to begin paying off those dreaded student loans. All in all, it took 5 months of dedication to land a job with a company with employees that are relaxed, courteous, responsible, and fun.

I wouldn’t have been able to keep my cool or ease the tension of my job search if it hadn’t been for creating some secondary goals for myself in the interim. In January of last year I decided I wanted to run my first half marathon. Registration for the Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon had already closed by the time I made my decision (the race is the largest half marathon in the United States and is notorious for closing out registration 5+ months before race day). Transferring bibs from someone no longer wanting to run the race would be invalid as well. But I was determined and wanted to run the race even if someone else’s name was displayed on the bib I was wearing. I didn’t train terribly hard for the mini marathon–but I don’t think that was the point. I needed a distraction. I ran somewhere between 12-15 miles each week and tried to get ‘serious’ about training but had difficult squeezing in the time to run between working 30 hours a week and going to school full-time (and sometimes having a social life). I was running myself ragged with every endeavor except for actually running, but still wanted to add the mini marathon to my list of accomplishments.

I finished the mini with a solid time of 1:56:xx and a solid, even pace of about 9:00 per mile. I had shocked my system and forced myself to be bit by the running bug. Two weeks ago I PR’d  at the Flying Pig in Cincinnati with a time of 1:46:45 to qualify for Corral D at the Chicago marathon. Post-race, I realized that I was 45 seconds away from Corral C (woohoo!) and have decided to run a second half marathon this year on June 4th. The running bug doesn’t give up easily. Now, a year later I have accomplished much more than I thought I would in a year’s time–whether they be personal, educational, professional, or physical–they all allowed me to grow. Running just happens to be the momentum behind all of the memorable events of the past 365 days.

A brief (and most likely, uncomprehensive) list of 365 days worth of accomplishments and happiness:

  • Ran my first (and second) half marathon
  • Celebrated my grandma’s 90th birthday (and counting…)
  • Graduated college
  • Witness my friends become employed, move around the U.S., and fall in love (all while smiling!)
  • Got a precious puppy!
  • Celebrated 3 years with Manny(4th in June!)
  • Got a ‘grown up’ job
  • Learned lots from my twin sister’s travels backpacking around the world
  • Saw my older brother get married!!!
  • Cheered on my brother at the 2010 Chicago Marathon
  • Inspired myself to do the same + add to my stack of running bibs in 2011

Once you look back on the past year, I’m sure there’s more to your own list of accomplishments than you originally thought!

-J

I Shuffled Through Another Milestone

Race #2 of my Chicago Marathon training season was last Sunday in Chicago. I had never run the Shamrock Shuffle before and remember always wishing I had registered in time to be able to run it. It seems to be one of those races that pulls people from all over the Chicagoland area and I can definitely see why. Most of the races in the city take you up and down the lakefront–and while this may be gorgeous and the breeze is nice at times, it does get sort of mundane if you run a lot of races throughout the year. The opportunity to run on open terrain throughout downtown streets was a welcome change.

Race Day Morning did not go as well as I had hoped. I had everything prepared and ready to go the night before. Clothes set out. Check. Bag packed. Check. Breakfast ready. Check. Coffee make queued to brew. Check. Phone Charged…….Check? Alarm set….Damn it!!! So it turns out I set my alarm for Saturday instead of Sunday–a somewhat rookie mistake. I woke up on my own at 7:30 am with a deadline to get to the American Cancer Society tent for a DetermiNATION photo op at 8:15 a.m. THAT was surely not going to happen. Luckily, I was able to make it to the park by about 8:25 a.m, but the time did not allow wiggle room when it came to saying hello to my fellow DNation runners. I was pretty disappointed, but I knew I had to focus on getting myself psyched for the race.

The second issue–the phone! Due to yet another rookie mistake, I thought my phone was plugged in, but it turns out the USB side of the cord had come unplugged from the actual charger. When I woke up in a fuss and looked at the time, the ‘Charge Your Phone’ message popped up. Because I was in such a hurry and cursing my own error in A) not setting my alarm correct and B) not charging my phone, I didn’t think anything of it and started to throw on my race day clothes.

Despite these setbacks, I felt prepared once I got to Corral A and started some light stretching. I knew it was going to be a difficult race when I went outside and was already sweating by the time I go to the part. It was going to be HOT. And hot it was! I think it was over 70 degrees by the time we started. The first half of the course had a decent amount of shade and felt pleasantly cool, but the second half was in direct sunlight–not cool.

I went out way too fast for the first two miles. While I may have had the training to back up a 7:30 pace for the entire Shuffle, I wasn’t “feeling it” that morning and after all that had happened before I go to the start line, I wasn’t as pumped as I had hoped I could make myself be. By mile 2 I was at a total time of 15:00. Not having my phone and the Runkeeper cues at every kilometer really make me struggle to keep a pace I could keep up with for the entire 8k. Note to self: always always always make sure the phone is charged. I had a good back up though! My boyfriend djs in his spare time and he had a shuffle powered up and ready to go with songs that were sure to make me forget all about how exhausted I was or could be.

After walking a bit at the 3rd mile and wishing I had made the time for a port-a-let break, I pushed through to the finish line with absolutely no juice left in my system. I finished with an official time of 38:50, a 7:46 pace overall which is entirely impressive to me as I look back on the race as a whole almost a week later. After blasting through the first two miles, I was sure I wasn’t going to meet my goal of 37-39 minutes. But alas! I did! Here’s to another milestone down and the next goal pointed towards the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati on May 1st! Just 16 days away!!!

-J

When the Silly Comes Along…

When we (M & J) set out to write down our wandering and pondering thoughts in this blog, I never thought it would be simmered down to a silly post that was the result of boredom on the computer with simultaneous stupid t.v. action. But alas! The moment is upon us and I had some fun with gifs tonight…

Gif Created on Make A Gif

This is just a small taste of the facial expression range that my boyfriend possesses. Enjoy.

-J

October = Wedding Guest Bliss

In the past three weeks I have attended two absolutely stunning weddings. The first, my surrogate-older-sister here in Chicago, Stephanie Hewson, married her Italian foodie man, Mr. Scordato. And second, my very own brother, Cory, married his first and only coffee-shop love, Kristen,  in a beautiful outdoor wedding.  If I could go to a wedding every 6 months and if every wedding were as much fun as these two were, I would do it…just because there’s no limits to what you can do with a wedding and with a lovely couple who wants to share it with their own loved ones. What makes me so impressed by the two weddings I attended this October was the couples’ will power to “stick to their guns”. They obviously knew exactly what they wanted and ensured that every last detail was executed beautifully. I am not one to get all lovey-gushy—but it was hard NOT to feel that way when these brides and grooms shared their love for each other, their families, and their friends so willingly and easily.

The Betrothed: Stephanie Hewson and Mario Scordato

Stephanie wore her an heirloom dress for the ceremony and splurged on her dream dress for the reception (can you tell?). She looked so gorgeous. The wedding was complete with “his” and “hers” cocktails- whiskey and apple cider for the guys; Chambord and white wine for the gals. The food was a reflection of the newly-married couple, who finds delight in food each and everyday. If I could afford to be fed by them everyday, I would. It was a testament to their foodie talent that I actually ate and enjoyed their shaved brussels sprouts (Shhhh! don’t tell the mom!). The sentence I kept repeating in my head throughout the night was “this is a movie wedding, this is a movie wedding, this is a movie wedding”. Perfect occasion for a crazy-awesome couple who adore each other. The pearly stringed lights draped across the tent made the wedding feel magical, like we had stepped onto a different sort of atmosphere altogether. After admiring the ambiance and being in a semi-comatose state after such a taste-bud-pleasing meal, we got to roaming and enjoyed time with Steph, her man, and all of her friends. I wish we could have stayed longer–I could have star gazed outside that tent for hours.

“They Did It!”: Cory Poore and Kristen DuHack

CORY GOT MARRIED!!! The bigger bro finally did it. I knew he was happy with Kristen when…I saw them together for the first time. Hanging out with them is like hanging out with old friends that you never get sick of. I wish I could hang around with them more often. –And their wedding was a reflection of their relaxed & calming nature. They let everything happen for them on their wedding day. It may be different from a guests’ point of view but everything seemed to be easy & carefree at the Poore wedding. Seeing my brother cheesin’ during the ceremony made me so happy. All smiles to start the rest of his life with a beautiful person and my new sister. THE FAMILY IS GROWING! If only we could dance the night away every night with such a fun group of people! 🙂 There really are no words for how happy I am for Cory and Kristen.

Maybe it’s the time of the year, maybe it’s my affection for both of these newlywed couples…or maybe it’s just easy to be comfortable in such a fun-loving environment. :sigh:

– J