Kindness Counts

Yesterday was National Random Acts of Kindness day and, while it’s nice to have a day devoted to kindness, it’s truly something we should celebrate every day!

I love the thought of a random act of kindness and have been on the giving and receiving end of many of them. My favorite thing about doing them is seeing how happy it makes the other person. Whether it’s a small gift, buying a cup of coffee, or just a simple compliment. I like to do them anonymously, because recognition makes me uncomfortable (helloooo social anxiety), but there are sometimes when you just have to tell the other person!

While it’s nice to perform those random acts for people, either strangers or friends, it’s also so important to be kind to yourself. Last week our Girls on the Run lesson was about overcoming negative self-talk and knowing how to turn those conversations with yourself around. The girls did a great job with listing their own negative phrases, but also with knowing what to say instead of the negativity. It’s really cool to see them work through the process and help each other out to say nice things.

Yesterday I was on a long training run with my running buddy (and GOTR co-coach this season) and we were talking about this very thing. We were at the end of eight miles and it had been a really great run. Our run interval pace was fast and we were doing minimal walking. Both of us have different half marathons coming up, but are training together. Honestly, I would not be getting this runs in if I didn’t have the support.

We were discussing the lesson and how well the girls did and I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of it all because I had just been complaining about something about my body. I’m sure it was how my thighs make it hard to wear pants and jeans or how my legs were feeling very heavy as wear neared our finish. Either way, I was there, a 35-year-old girl, telling myself that negative self-talk.

It’s hard to be kind to ourselves, isn’t it?

There are a lot of different ways to be kind to us, I think. I try my best to eat healthy and workout because when I look good I feel good. I’m sure many people think that’s a superficial thing to say, but it’s just a mentality that I have that’s hard to get away from. It’s not about being the skinniest or most tone. I want to look good for me (this package of Peanut Butter M&Ms sitting next to me are not helping, BTW), and that’s important to me. I struggle with that a lot, and sometimes I have to take a step back and think “Okay. Today wasn’t great. You’ll do better tomorrow”.

That’s where my kindness to myself comes in. I do a lot of different things, too. If work is overwhelming I take a break. If running isn’t working out, I do something different to keep my body moving or I research. Last summer when I was training (and struggling) for Chicago I read some articles and reached out to friends to help me.

A lot of the times I find that when I can’t be kind to myself, others are there to do it for me. I’m grateful for those kind words and those kind people. I try to be one of them, even if it doesn’t always work out.

Hopefully when you do those random acts of kindness you include yourself. I know I’m going to try.

Has anyone ever impacted you with a kind act? 

Press Pause

It’s Friday! I know for some people who don’t only work during the weekday or who have kids who are busy, that doesn’t really mean anything. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to relax over the weekend and take some time for yourself. A few weeks ago (I think?) I posted some “self-care” ideas, so I’m going to try not to write the same thing here. Of course, it’s Thursday night and I’m kind of tired, so…

Okay, but really. How often is it that we get to press pause on our everyday, busy lives? Never, right? The school year is always busy and with Girls on the Run and my other school duties, it gets hard. Granted, I don’t have kids, so it’s a little easier for me to take some time during the weekend for myself. There are so many things that can happen during the week to bring us down or set us off, so it’s important to decompress every now and then.

A lot of people have their own ways to celebrate me time. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m an avid reader and any time I’m alone I’m usually reading. Or binge watching TV shows. That’s it. That’s my me time.

Kidding. A little. One thing that I wanted to focus on this year was journaling as a way to jot down ideas and feelings. It is (every year) a goal of mine to read my Bible and journal with it. It’s a goal every year because it’s one I struggle with. This is definitely a way to get in time by myself, but it’s not something I love to do. I know that sounds terrible, but I’m a work in progress.

Sometimes taking that time to yourself might make you feel selfish, and I think that’s okay. Maybe it shows that you care about things more, I don’t know? I know I feel guilty about binge watching television all day if I have papers to grade. BUT – it’s important to separate yourself from your work or whatever stresses you out.

Sometimes fitness helps, when I’m not doing it to train. Before I decided to sign up for marathons I would just come home from work and run. I used to love seeing how fast and far I could go within those first couple of years of running. Often times, though, it’s the fitness or training I need a break from. That’s where the lazing comes into play.

During the summer I like to spend my days at the beach. Oh, who am I kidding, I live in Florida and go to the beach year round. The beach is peaceful for me and I know a lot of people find their peace in nature. Something about the great vastness that helps us escape.

There are so many ways to unwind or decompress and these are a few of mine.

What are some of yours?

PS – Oh, and sleep. I friggin’ love me some sleep.

Back at it Again

Disclaimer: I received free entry to 305 Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Look, I’ve been watching fellow athletes killing it on social media this week with their runs in the frozen tundra or wherever they are from and I commend them. Me? I don’t like to run if it’s under 60 degrees because that’s just not Florida weather, y’all. I ran yesterday and my fingers just about froze. Good thing I don’t really need them for running!

I’m slowly trying to get back into the training process (mostly because I’m running a half marathon with Mer and I don’t want it to be bad!) but also because it goes with some of my new year’s goals. It’s been a process, but I’m getting into some workouts and making sure I’m running a few times a week. This weekend my run buddy and I were supposed to do six miles, but there was a 100% percent chance of rain on Sunday so I stayed on the couch and reread some of the The Raven Cycle series. (My buddy did a treadmill run. She’s more awesome than I.)

I don’t have a gym membership, mostly because I waste the money, not because the gym is a waste of money. When I did have a membership I never went, so we have a little setup in our garage that works out well. Also, I don’t feel self-conscious when no one is watching me struggle to do push-ups.

This will be my first time running the 305 Half Marathon and I’m really excited about it! The course looks amazing and, being the Floridian I am, I love the beach. The race starts on Ocean Drive and ends on South Beach and is full of Miami flair, so I can imagine it’s going to be like one big, sweaty party.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve done a half marathon and I’m over my Chicago burnout, so I’m ready to do this! Mer said we’re hoping for PRs so, hey, let’s get a PR. (Or maybe just have a lot of fun!)

You can use the code BIBRAVE305 and take $10 off the half or $5 off the 5K!

Where do you like to workout? 

Race Recap – Run to Home Base 5K

Last Saturday I ran my first race of the year, as I posted in my races for the new year. It was a 5K benefiting the Run to Home Base organization that helps veterans and their families. From what I’ve read about this program, it’s based out of Boston, which is why there is a Florida race – at the Red Sox Spring Training center! JetBlue Park is a fairly new facility (I don’t know, I’m not big on sportsballs) and is kind of surrounded by a school and some office buildings. Not the best scenery to run in, but it was still nice.

My alarm went off on Saturday morning and I was immediately exhausted. I never sleep the night before any race, so this one was no different. I had coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, but took some water for my drive since I was pretty sure hydrating at happy hour the night before wasn’t going to be good enough. I was very right about that.

I got the field early for packet pick-up since I wasn’t able to do so the night before and I live about thirty minutes from the park. It was a cold morning, meaning it was less than 60 degrees. I’d chosen my Skirt Sports Pocketopia Capris and a Captain America tank (because heroes), but I also left the house with two jackets on over my tank because, hello, I’m a born and raised Floridian and I’m cold.

After I picked up my packet I warmed up in the car and listened to one of the books of The Raven Cycle that I had been listening to (hey, read these books). Opening ceremonies were held before the race with different speakers inside the stadium.

 

 

It was truly a beautiful morning, perfect for a little race! The start was late. Well, later than scheduled but I got off to a pretty strong start. I’d ran a couple of races since Chicago but nothing too intense. I felt like starting the year with a race and having a few more planned for the year would help with me wanting to train and run more. I had a solid 11:00 mile for the first mile, which is pretty much my best mileage, haha. I’ve got little legs and they just don’t go very fast sometimes, but I was really happy with that time! Once I hit the mile mark I started to feel a little dehydrated and stopped for water. I took some walk breaks after the first mile, so my time definitely suffered.

Sometimes it is so apparent how your diet plays into your performance. I ate terribly the night before, even though I knew I had a race, and I definitely suffered after my first glorious mile. On my walk breaks I texted with Michelle because she was out on a little training run, too. It had started to warm up and I was absolutely regretting eating ice cream the night before!

This summer when I was training for Chicago and struggling I started listening to books instead of music, so that helped me stay focused on the task at hand. The race was small, but there was never really a lag in the crowd where I wasn’t alone.  The course was nice and shady and by the time we’d looped around to come back to the stadium I didn’t even realize we were almost finished!

Coming into the stadium was fun. As much as I’m not a huge sports fan, I still like to see cool stuff. We came in behind second base and ran up the length to third to the finish line. There were cameras there so I put on my best “I’m not dying, I’m having a great time!” smile and prepared to cross the finish.

 

I love free race photos!

My overall time wasn’t my best 5K, but I was still pretty proud of myself for getting out there on a Saturday after a long week of wrangling children. After we crossed the finish line we had a chance to take a picture running over home plate. It happened quickly and mine turned out pretty cheesy! I’m not even close to home plate in it and I just look silly.

Since I ran alone I asked a random girl to take my picture after and a stranger made a comment about it being a “Facebook/Instagram post” which it, of course, was. That comment kind of put a damper on my whole experience because it felt so negative about sharing your accomplishments. Sure, people don’t have to know every little thing you do, but I had a lot of people text and ask me how my race went. There are so many people that have been part of my “learning to be an athlete” journey and I love to share my wins. I posted it, of course, but then took to Twitter to complain, as one does. We should be proud of every little accomplishment, from marathons to 5Ks to getting out of bed in the morning. Heck, I know I’m always trying to do better with that last one.

Yeah, I posted on Instagram, so what?

Have you done any races to far this year? I’d love to hear about them! 

Racing Into the New Year

Last week Mer posted some of her favorite races that she’ll be running this year, so I thought I’d shared mine this week! One of my goals for the new year is to enjoy running again so I thought that signing up for a few races would make that happen. Sounds legit, right?

 

My first race of the year is a 5K next weekend through Home Base Southwest Florida.

The mission of this company is simple: “The Southwest Florida arm of Home Base was created to empower local Veterans and Warriors to take control of their physical well-being, provide tools to help manage stress and provide a portal for more complex care for those in need of treatment for the Invisible Wounds.” 

The finish line to this race is at home base at the JetBlue Park at Fenway South, so that’s pretty cool if you’re a Red Sox fan.

 

In February I’m returning to Gasparilla in Tampa after taking a year off to run the runDisney Princess Half this year. Michelle and I ran the 15K in 2017 and liked it so much we’re going back for another one. It’s a fun course and I like the 15K distance. If I remember right, there were also donuts on the course. that’s always a plus!

 

Something NEW that I’m super excited about is the 305 Half Marathon that I’ll be running in March with BibRave. I’ve never run this one before, but I’m really looking forward to it! I haven’t done a half marathon in the Princess Half last February (and I don’t count those long training runs, either). I’ve already started looking up training plans, since the race is kind of close and I’m ready to get back out there! This race looks like a ton of fun as it goes through Miami and has some scenic beach views. I’m also stoked for this because it will the the third race Mer and I will be at together, and the first one we will be running together! It was pretty easy to talk to her into the race, so if you’re looking for a fun, full-Florida experience you should definitely check it out, too! You can use the code BIBRAVE305 and take $10 off the half or $5 off the 5K!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to 305 Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

 

In April I’ll be finishing up my second season of Girls on the Run and we’ll end that with a 5K (you’ll hear all about it!). I’m excited about the upcoming season and getting new girls in to learn about themselves and all they can do. This 5K is definitely going to be one of my favorites of the year.

Also in April, and this is a long shot, but I’d love to do the runDisney Star Wars Half. It’s the only race weekend I haven’t participated in yet and I’m kind of dying to. I’m thinking of starting a GoFundMe, just for it. Kidding, but seriously. I love Disney races, but my bank account doesn’t. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

I’m feeling pretty good for the beginning of the year and definitely looking forward to what everything else brings. I usually do some traveling during the summer, so it’s hard to nail down a race I like to do. I hope you’re getting ready for some great races!

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year! Are you tired of people saying that yet? I didn’t leave the house yesterday, so I only said it through various text messages. I’m going to be annoying right now, though. I’m going to talk about goals for 2019. Which is now, by the way.

I started 2018 getting ready to start training for the Chicago Marathon, something you all know about, obviously. I also started with a wellness program because I wasn’t happy with my body and how it looked. Marathon training and WW made me feel so much better about myself, let me tell ya.

Now? Ugh. I’ve hardly done anything physical since Chicago (okay, I’ve done three races, but they’ve been little ones) and with the holidays here, my healthy eating has gone out the window.

I know it’s typical to start the new year with health and fitness goals and a lot of people don’t stick to them. This is really about trying to make a lifestyle change to make myself feel better. I have purely selfish motives here! Here are some things I want to do:

Love running. When I first started running almost six years ago I loved it. It was something that helped me get rid of stress, it was fun to see what I could do, and I never worried about my pace or anything. This year running felt like a chore. I say chore and not job, because I love my job. Those 4AM wake up calls for training runs were the worst. I started to dread it. I started to dislike having to run with Girls on the Run. Running just wasn’t fun anymore. I want to love running again. I want to sign up for silly races that don’t mean anything or just get out there and go when I come home from work on on a weekend.

Less comparing. For me to love running again I need to stop comparing myself to others. It’s the same, I feel, about my teaching career. I just have to do what’s best for me. Stop comparing times, body types, how often someone runs. This is going to be a tough one for me.

Eat. Obviously this one. What I mean is: eat well. Eat the expensive groceries we buy every week. Try new recipes and keep leftovers. Meal plan. Don’t eat out, don’t waste money. Eat the good stuff. (But maybe sometimes order pizza.)

Be active. As much as I love to sit around and read, I also really love the outdoors. Florida has so many parks and nature preserves that I’ve yet to explore. I want to take the time to do this in 2019, kind of like Jenn’s Hike Challenge.

Grow spiritually. My faith has been a huge part of my life for the past fifteen years. One thing I want to focus on this year is doing more devotional and journal time. My mind is always going a mile a minute, so sometimes when I sit down to read or think I’m thinking about a hundred different things. The new year feels like the right time for some spiritual growth.

Rest. I thought I was pretty good at getting enough sleep since I usually have an early bedtime when school’s in session. Wow, was I wrong. I was texting a friend yesterday after I woke up from nine hours of interrupted sleep. (And I didn’t even drink on NYE!) and she commented how we teachers just kind of bank our sleep deficits. I am loving this extra rest time during winter break, but I need to figure out how to do it when I get back to real life.

Okay. That feels like enough goals for right now. I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee yet because I’ve been working on that rest thing. I’m looking forward to getting started with all of these other things, too! If anyone is looking for an accountability partner, hit me up!

What are some of your goals for the new year?

 

Race Recap: Girls on the Run 5K

At the end of last school year a friend approached me about bringing the Girls on the Run program to our school and, before school let out, the plan was put into motion. I discovered early on that a new teacher that was coming to my school was also a coach and, soon enough, our plan became a reality!

When we started in September, we weren’t sure how many girls would sign up, but we actually ended up having TOO MANY and had to turn a few away until next season. Needless to say, it’s been a great experience for me as a first time coach. Some of our girls have grown tremendously in their confidence and athletic ability. They also (hopefully) learned a lot about themselves and different ways to deal with the things around them.

This past Saturday was the culmination of all of their hard work and it was amazing!

We’ve been prepping for weeks for the girls to run their final 5K. Girls on the Run isn’t a “running club” as much as it’s a way for young girls to feel empowered. There were some days where we didn’t run or days where we only ran a little. We did a practice 5K and, though it was around our track at school, the girls did really well. For the actual 5K each of the girls was assigned a running buddy. This buddy was a friend, teacher, or parent who was willing to support them in their run. Myself and Coach Randee, my awesome co-coach, paired ourselves with girls and we’re also lucky enough to work with some amazing women who partnered with girls as well.

I’m so thankful for amazing coworkers that support our girls!

The energy at the venue on race morning was unlike any race I’d seen before. I’ve done plenty of family races and large races, but this was so different! Our GOTR team is the only one in our county (which is kind of cool), so our meetup was with the neighboring county. Hundreds of girls, coaches, and buddies out in the early morning to run and have fun!

There were craft stations, hair stations, hot chocolate, and just lots and lots of giggles. It was so much fun to watch, not only our team, but all the girls run around before the race and just be with each other!

We got together for some silly pics at the start line and soon we were off! I ran the practice 5K with my run buddy, a 3rd grader who is a little kindred spirit to me, so I knew we were going to take it easy.

 

She did great for the first half mile, then we started to slow down a little. The course was fun and full of girls going at a lot of different paces. We passed a couple of our own girls (and had them pass us back a few times) but kept a pretty decent pace. I was probably an over-encourager, but I wanted my buddy to know that she was awesome. Everyone once in a while, she’d take off at a sprint and I’d have to catch up, but we managed to make it the whole way. Once we rounded the track and she saw all the people cheering for her, she was off! (And I had to do the catch up thing.)

At the finish line were plenty of our other girls, families, and our school principal taking pictures and cheering everyone on to finish strong. I got to watch a few more girls cross the finish line before our whole team was through. Seeing them all after, congratulating and hugging each other, made me feel so proud.

I remember when I started running and ran my first 5K. I was 30. THIRTY! These girls are in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade and they crushed their runs. (We also had a few buddies running their first 5K, which was amazing!) This season has been such a learning experience for me and I’m so glad I got to do it. Encouraging girls to not only incorporate fitness into their lives, but also kindness and self-respect, has been so uplifting for me. It wasn’t always easy, as working with kids (especially pre-pubescent girls) never is, but man was it fun.

I’m looking forward to what the next season has in store for us and our girls.

Until next time: Girls on the Run is so much fun!

Self Care Stuff

Self care Monday! I don’t know if that’s a thing, but for the sake of this post, let’s just roll with it, okay? Since I started marathon training in the spring (you knew that, right?) I feel like life has been pretty busy. The summer flew by and once school started it was work and training and that’s about it. It’s been over a month since Chicago and it finally feels like things are starting to slow down a little.

This weekend was the first weekend in a long time, I’m talking months, that I actually got to do absolutely nothing.

And it was amazing.

Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t have household chores or papers to grade, because I definitely did those things. But here are some other things that helped me relax this weekend that may help you out over the holiday break. Or just a weekend if you don’t get a few days off.

Read a book. Yeah. A whole book. You can do it. Turn off everything, get a cup of coffee, and read. Don’t get up until you’re done.

Go to a movie. My sister and I saw Crimes of Grindelwald this weekend and, while it definitely left a lot of questions unanswered and had some obvious plot holes…Jude Law as Dumbledore. That’s all.

Make that Yumbledore.

Sleep in. Full disclosure: I never sleep in. I’m a single, childless woman, but I have an internal alarm clock that makes sure I’m up before 7AM on the weekends. I have to drag myself out of bed on the weekdays, of course.

Workout. I actually didn’t workout this weekend, but I hear it’s nice to do.

Binge watch TV. I’ve finished with season four of Gotham, so now I’ve got to wait until January for the new season to start. This week of break will give me time to catch up on my regular weekly shows. Anyone else feel like Netflix judges them when they watch for too long?

Quality time. I live with my sister and two cats and we do spend a lot of time together. The weekends are a good time to catch up, though. To talk about stuff other than work or school. It gets tiresome and sometimes it’s nice to just hang out.

WriteI have a couple of personal blogs I write for so I tried to work on those this weekend. I like to write book reviews and I also write about my teaching experience. Both are great outlets to let me get my feelings out concerning my other passions.

Cook. Okay, fine. I ordered pizza this weekend. But I also made banana bread. From scratch! I even used a recipe book.

Nap. I accidentally fell asleep while binging TV today. It happens.

As we begin to move into the holiday season, where many of us will be in high demand and our lives are going to get even more busy…remember to take some time for yourself. Take care of you and be the best version you can. We don’t always do it. Sometimes we’re too busy taking care of others to even notice that we need a break.

So. Read the book. Take the nap. Go for the run. Take care of yourself.

Race Recap: Disney’s Wine & Dine 10K

If there’s one thing most people know about me it’s that I’m a Disney fanatic and, yes, that includes runDisney races as well. I know I’ve posted about a few Disney races here already, so now I’m going to tell you about another one of my favorites!

Last year was the first time I ran the Wine & Dine 10K, but my running buddy and I liked it so much that we decided to go back for seconds (get it?) this year. Now, a lot of you might be wondering why we just went for the 10K and not the half. Last year the half was full and the 10K opened a few more spots. This year we decided the 10K was all we wanted to do. It was pretty simple. We also signed up for this after we signed up for Chicago and thought that this would be a nice recovery run!

In typical pre-race style Michelle and I took a Friday off from work and headed to Orlando for the weekend. The 10K is on a Saturday so we had to take Friday to visit the expo. And also we had FastPasses for Hollywood Studios. The expo wasn’t a huge to-do. I feel like more people would have been there the next day in preparation for the half marathon that was happening on Sunday. This race series, like most Disney races has a 5K, 10K, and half marathon. It also offers a “two course challenge” of 10K and half marathon. I’ve yet to do a runDisney challenge, but if I were to do one I’d go for the Princess Weekend one. I’m not made of money, however.

Friday was nice and easy at Hollywood Studios with some best friend time that included a freak thunderstorm and tornado warning while in the park. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle with a bathroom hideout and a spirited coffee from Joffrey’s.

After we freshened up and tried to dry off, we had dinner and Disney Springs (check out The Polite Pig next time you’re there) and tried to get a decent night of sleep. If you’ve ever run a Disney race you know that the wake-up call is ridiculously early and you’ve got to get yourself to the start line at a certain time also. We had to be on a bus leaving the hotel by 4AM, so we got up a little after 3AM the next morning. Thankfully we were staying on Disney property and they were serving coffee. We woke up race day to temps in the low 60s and they kept dropping before the race even started. The corrals were packed and I swear I heard the announcer say there were 30,000 people racing. That’s a lot of Disney runners. Official race start time was 5:30, but we started closer to 6. The cold didn’t let up and, even though we’d just raced in the cold in Chicago, this was just different. Of course, I’m a born and bred Floridian, so anything under 75 is cold for me!

Once we were off it definitely warmed up. Michelle and I noticed at the expo the day before that the course had changed and we were a little disappointed. Last year we ran through Hollywood Studios and on the Boardwalk. This year the course was, well, boring. We took off from Magic Kingdom parking lot and basically ran through Disney property. Only the last two miles or so was through Epcot and that was only halfway through the World Showcase, then out a side passage in England and back around through France and the rest of the Showcase. I’ll admit that the Showcase as the sun came up was impressive, but not really enough to make up for the lack of excitement on the course. There were a few character spots, but no PhotoPass until we got into Epcot and it was mostly just other runners and traffic on the course.

I feel like a lot of runDisney fans run for those things (me) and I know I was a little sad at the change this year. I know it’s tough because it’s only a 10K and there’s not a lot to work with, but I hope something changes for the better next year. I love a good 10K and I think Disney puts on amazing races.

Other than that it was a great race. It was Michelle’s first time running since Chicago. I’d done a 10K the previous weekend and had some light workouts with my Girls on the Run group. We had great time considering we hadn’t really prepared. It was kind of funny because neither one of us were too worried about it. After conquering Chicago we might have been feeling a little cocky about it all. We didn’t bring KT Tape or fuel or anything really to help us prepare! There were a few times on the ramps where the crowd got to be a little much and our time was slow, but other than that we finished the race strong and happy.

After all, we were at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Race Recap: Chicago Marathon

So. Last Sunday I ran a marathon. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise as I feel it’s all I’ve been able to talk about for the past few months. When I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon with a charity team, I knew I had to do something different than I did when I ran the Space Coast Marathon in 2016. Basically I knew I had to train. If you’ve followed my journey you know I started training earnestly this summer. I live in South Florida, so it basically sucked. I learned so much about myself, what I could do, what I needed to do to take care of myself, how hard marathon training is.

BUT – it definitely paid off.

 

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Post race pic, but I thought I’d start with something happy.

 

Last Thursday I took a half day off work and my mom, sister, and I got ready to fly to Chicago. It was typical hot weather here on the Gulf Coast, with a few showers. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:00 and we ended up being delayed until 6:50. It was about 8:30 Chicago time when we landed and we ended up taking a shady cab to the city. I’m not going to go a lot into the city and trip because I feel like there’s so much of the race to talk about, but we had a great time. It’s been sweltering down here recently and the change of weather was nice. Even if it was rainy and cloudy, it was better than suffocating in the heat. A true testament to my taper diet was the fact that I had to try on all my jeans before I packed to make sure they fit. Don’t worry, I also packed leggings…just in case.

We did the sightseeing thing Friday and Saturday, making sure to see the good stuff. We walked the streets, rode an architectural tour boat, and ate some good food. On Friday I met Michelle at the expo so we could pick up our packets. We also picked up some t-shirts, headbands, nuun – the essentials, ha! A lot of you also know that I signed up with the American Heart Association and I finally got to meet the team leaders at the expo. It was nice to talk to them about my story and to finally put a face to their names. I reached my fundraiser goal a week before the race, so that was a huge weight off my shoulders!

Saturday night Michelle and I planned to meet at the hotel restaurant for some last minute carbs, only to find it was closed for a private event. We took the opportunity to go to a pizza place around the corner to grab a slice (okay a whole pizza) and drinks. Beer and pizza seems to be our pre-race ritual, so this was spot on. (We did not get deep dish as it would have taken an hour to cook and I was starving.)

After dinner I went back to my room to prep and make sure everything was ready to go. And to set up my Flat Ash pic, of course. I went to be early, knowing I wouldn’t sleep well. Every time I woke up it felt like I’d been asleep for hours, until my alarm finally went off at 5AM. We’d planned to meet at 6 for breakfast and a walk to Grant Park. Our hotel was full of runners doing the same thing so we hung out a little bit in the warm breakfast area before getting ready to brave the cold.

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I know I said the cold was a relief, but not really when you’re running in a skirt and tank top. Michelle’s brother walked with us to the start line and we parted ways as we got ready to enter our corral. The crowd was already huge and it was only 7AM. Our start time was 8:35! We filed into gear check with everyone, sloshed through the mud, stood in line for the porta-potty, and finally shuffled into our corral. The energy just waiting to start was intense. Everyone was in sweaters and ponchos, taking pictures, and having a good time – in the rain, by the way. I met two Skirt Sport Sisters and chatted for a few minutes before we got shuffled up to the start line.

Our wave finally let out at almost 9AM. It had stopped raining by this time so I’d shed my poncho but kept my sweater for a while. We started out slow and steady, keeping a good pace with everyone around us. I chucked my sweater around Mile 1 because I was starting to warm up. About that time I – literally – ran into my Internet Friend Maura. We’ve known each other on Twitter for years and had been keeping up with each other’s training these past few months. I joked that we would “run” into each other and we did! (She also crushed Chicago, by the way.)

I’m not sure when it started raining again, but I seriously regretted throwing my sweater and poncho when it did. It got cold quick and didn’t let up for a while. Besides the rain, the course at the beginning was great! When you read that there are 1.2 million spectators you can’t really visualize that. But when you finally see all the people on the sidelines it gets a little overwhelming! The first few miles seemed to go pretty fast, even if my running wasn’t that fast. We made sure to stop for water and Gatorade and kept up with our fuel. Seeing so many different parts of the city was so much fun and the people at each turn were different in so many ways.

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At Mile 8 I met another Internet Friend with her amazing sign. We hugged for like two seconds then I ran away.

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By this time it had stopped raining, but I was definitely starting to slow down a little. We’d been running full (kind of ) speed and my body just wasn’t used to it. At Mile 13 my mom and sister were on the sidelines with hugs and a super fun sign for me. (Captain America is my favorite superhero so my mom had a nice Chicago resident make a sign for me.)

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Technically this is an after pic, but whatever.

A little after 15 I started to slow down a lot. I told Michelle to go on without me. I was sad we were getting separated but I just couldn’t keep up with her pace. My hips were killing me and there wasn’t enough BioFreeze in the land to make it stop.

Going on by myself was tough, but I managed. I set my phone to do intervals so I could take some walk breaks. I knew I had to keep a 15:00 pace so every checkpoint I peeked at my app to make sure I was scheduled to finish on time. We had chosen not to track through any running app (I usually use Nike Running) because we were told the GPS would mess up and we didn’t want to kill our phones, knowing we’d need to find everyone at the end. I let my sister and Mer know that I was on my own (and Twitter). Everyone’s encouragement was amazing and I knew that I had to get through it, if not for me it was to not disappoint others. I hate doing that. As we continued to move through the neighborhoods some of the crowds got smaller, but they were still enthusiastic. By this point pedestrians were trying to cross the street in the middle of runners, which I didn’t really care for. I know that life must go on, but some of them were a little reckless. My legs weren’t working that well and I didn’t want an injury when I was so close!

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I remember texting Mer when I was close to the end and visiting one last BioFreeze station. It was basically something like “I just BioFreezed my butt” to lather up my hip. I’m usually pretty modest, but I was dying. At some point it started to sprinkle again and I’d kind of lot track of where I was, mileage wise. There were bananas on the course and I ate a couple in the last few stretches. My friend Lily was tracking me and tweeting my progress, and Mer was texting me encouragement. Without them I probably would’ve ended up walking and not caring about my time. People around me were struggling, but there were still so many people behind us. I always makes me feel better knowing that I’m not the only one suffering!

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When I hit the Mile 26 mark I almost cried. Mostly because there was a big hill at the end and I wanted to die. But also because it was over. As I rounded the hill to come into the finish a girl next to me was crying. I told her “You got this!” and she said “I know, I’m just so happy!”

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That’s a marathon, y’all. It hurts and it sucks. It takes six months of your life and then suddenly none of it matters because you’re there and you’re trying not to cry or throwup or quit. It’s hard. I admire people who do more than one every couple of years. Whether you’re Sir Mo running your sub 5 or you’re me and my crew struggling to keep your 15 minute mile. You’re awesome.

So, back to the race. Coming across the finish line I felt a lot of emotions. I felt strong, tired, hungry, and delirious. Michelle was waiting for me right after medals, so we took pics and got our free beer. We sloshed our way through the mud to get our gear and WALKED DOWN THE STAIRS to get out of Grant Park. My mom and sister were waiting with the crowd outside and we grabbed and Uber with Michelle and her brother. It was fun piling into someone else’s car all gross and smelly for once.

Everything after that is kind of a blur. I took a nice Epsom salt bath while my mom went across the street to grab me food. It was still early in the day, but I stayed in my pajamas and ate a cheeseburger and fries in bed. I answered all my texts and tweets, assuring people that I was still alive in some way. After it all I managed to pack my suitcase to prepare for leaving the next day. I even walked to the Nike store the next day on my own, albeit slowly. My flight was excruciating to say the least. I got stuck with a middle seat and we were pretty much confined to our seats due to turbulence the whole flight. There were some inhuman noises from me once I was able to stand up.

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Once we got home Monday afternoon I didn’t move from the couch. I elevated and binged Brooklyn 99 while my sister brought me things so I would stop moaning and groaning every time I got up.

Everyone at work this week has been amazing. They are all so congratulatory and don’t care how long it took you or if you walked any of the race. Sometimes the kids ask “Did you win?” and you just have to laugh. This past Wednesday my class talked about setting goals and it was really perfect timing! They’d known all year that this was my goal and it was something I got to share with them. As far as my race goals are concerned, I was really hoping for a sub 6. I ended up with a final time of 6:26 and some change. While I didn’t reach my goal, it was still a 33 minute PR! I’m pretty proud of that.

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BioFreeze cheers from my people.

If anyone is thinking about running a marathon, I’d definitely look into Chicago. The course was amazing, the people were great, and the city is beautiful. Even if the runners totally destroyed it.

Thanks to all of you for following this journey and all of your kind words!

Don’t ask me if I’m ready for another one.

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