Monday, September 30, 2013

Back in Action

After a busy weekend, it's back to the grind! As is probably obvious from the lack of blogging lately, work/life balance has gotten the best of me. I spent 24 hours on a whirlwind trip to LA for work, was trying to prepare for this past weekend's 10K, and on and on and on. But hopefully things will slow down enough around here that I can get back into some sort of routine! Or, at least get better at juggling things.

Saturday was the long-awaited Chicago Crosstown Classic 10K! I've actually never run a 10K, so it was a new race distance for me. Sadly, I was complete idiot on Friday and my hydration and eating were stupidly bad (dinner was brown rice and cool ranch doritos... like a pro). We woke up bright and early Saturday morning to make it downtown by 7:30 for the 8am race start. Had time to snap some pictures and line up with the 10:30 pacers and we were off!

Aside from the terrible hydration and eating on Friday, my biggest regret of the race was lining up with the 10:30ers. As is often the case, there were many people not running a 10:30 pace in our group, so that meant a looooot of leapfrogging around for the first mile and a half. The paths were fairly narrow, which made it a little annoying to have to jostle for space. Otherwise, the race went pretty smoothly. I dealt with a stitch for about 2 miles which slowed me down a little bit, but I had enough energy in the tank to BOOK it the last .15 miles, meaning that I know I could've picked up my pace a bit overall. Either way, I'm pretty happy with my 1:03 time (especially considering I think the course may have been closer to 6.4 than 6.2). Another one in the books, and now setting my sights on the Hot Chocolate 15K in November!

And now, onto the goals:

1) Running Plan: 18-20 miles. I haven't created an official plan for my 15K in November, but I'll basically have to do long runs of 7, 8 and 9 miles in the coming weekends in order to be ready to run on November 2nd. I'm still trying to figure out my non-running fitness game plan (considering the fitness studio was a bust), but in the meantime, I'll focus on running while the weather's still nice!

2) Healthy Eats. If I bite it, write it. I accidentally went on an Ore0-binge on Saturday night. OOPS. But I'm all stocked up with fruits and veggies and other healthy foods for the week, so I have no excuses for unhealthy eating. 

Link up with your goals for the week!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five on Friday

I lied about the NSV post yesterday that obviously never made it from my brain to the blog. ARGH SORRY. I'm a terrible person.

Let me make it up to you with by joining The Good Life's Five on Friday Linkup.


Tomorrow morning I'm running Chicago's Crosstown Classic 10K with a bunch of my friends. Went to pick up my race swag yesterday, and the t-shirts are really cool! Annnnnnd then I dropped $60 on a new sports bra. But anyone over a D cups knows that good sports bras are IMPOSSIBLE to find. For my fellow BTC ladies, I got a Moving Comfort Maia bra, and they're available up to an E-cup! Worth it.

Moving Comfort - Maia


What I WANTED to post about yesterday for NSVs is that I went on an epic Target shopping trip last weekend because many of my fall clothes from last year are too big. I got 3 blouses, a blazer, a pencil skirt, black skinny pants, and a dress for <$200, which I consider a huge win. I also got this sassy number from Nordstrom Rack (the center panel is leather). I love it, but need to get it hemmed before it makes its official debut.


I've stayed up far too late all week trying to catch up on Breaking Bad. My roommate recently binge-watched every episode and convinced me I should do the same. Well, twist my arm I love a good TV series. How the heck did it take me this long to commit?!?! I'm partway through Season 3 so just no one ruin it for me okay?


I don't know what to be for Halloween, which is usually something I wait until October 30th to think about. But I've contemplated being a Roller Derby Girl OR Joan from Mad Men for years now, and I may finally pull the trigger on one of those this year.


It's the freakin' weekend. This is all I got (partly in honor of Shannon who I know feels the same way I do):

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Epic Return of Weigh-in Wednesday

Weigh In Wedneday

Remember that time I had a weight loss blog and then didn't blog about my weight for weeks?

Oh, yeah.

Well, I'm baaaaaaaaaack, and I've got good news:

Last Week's Weight: 173.0 
Current Weight: 171.8
Change: -1.2
Total Loss: 56.2

As I mentioned, half marathon training definitely stalled my weight loss. I've still been weighing in this whole time, I just haven't been posting, because when I was training I knew eating enough was more important to me than losing weight. In fact, I just looked back through my weigh-ins and I've been hovering between 173-178lbs since JUNE 26th. Woof. Glad to finally break into the 171's, which means hitting a new lowest weight and getting close to the 160's!

Regardless of the plateau schmateau, I've been feeling pretty great lately (more on this in the NSVs, tomorrow). I'm getting back into a running regimen, and I have a 10K coming up this weekend. My eating has been on point this week... even allowing for tater tots at lunch yesterday (YUM). 

So, I definitely plan to get back to regularly posting my weekly weigh-ins for accountability now that things are a little more normal around here.

Here's to chasing the next milestone!

How'd your weigh in go this week?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Phoning It In.

Guys. I'm phoning it in today. I've been swamped between work + life + traveling last week + family in town last weekend + life. I promise a more gratuitous update and to get back on a normal schedule soon! Until then, a quick check-in with some goals for the week:

1) Five workouts. Bold? Yes. But last week I only made three of my targeted four. I actually did a double-header today (ran 4 miles this morning and did a barre class after work). I'm doing a freebie week at a nearby studio to test it out before deciding if I want to join or not. Spoiler alert: I already decided I won't be joining (THEY DON'T HAVE SHOWERS?!?!). But that won't stop me from getting to at least one more class before next Monday.

2) Healthy Eats. I basically skipped grocery shopping last week because I knew I'd be traveling. But yesterday I stocked up on some groceries so that I can be good and stick within my calorie/WW range all week. 

3) 10K. I'm running Chicago's Crosstown Classic 10K this weekend, which pits the northsiders against the southsiders in a race to prove who's faster. The race only tabulates the top 1,000 for each side, with the average finishing time from those top 1,000 determining which side is faster. If I can manage a sub 10:00/mile average (finishing in <1:02) I'd be pretty ecstatic. 

That's all I got. I'm aiming to get back to more normal posting by mid-week!

What are your goals this week?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Half Marathon Misconceptions

"It will be fun," they said. 

"You'll be hooked," they said. 

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved my half marathon experience, and I'll definitely do more in the future. That said, there are a few misconceptions about running a half marathon that they (whoever they are) conveniently left out. 

#1- You will lose weight. 

Wrong! Well, kinda. 

In total, I finished the half marathon about 8lbs less than I was when I started training. However, towards the end of training you will reach levels of ravenous you didn't think possible. For me, I was never starving immediately following my Saturday long runs, but that hunger hit two days later. A day I affectionately referred to as "Bottomless Monday." I actually gained weight the last 3 weeks before my race. Small amounts, but still.

Here's the thing about training for a half marathon while trying to lose weight: there comes a point where you need to pick your priority, weight loss or endurance. Your body can't operate at a normal weight loss deficit (roughly -500 calories/day) when you're pushing yourself to run 25+ miles a week. As a machine, your body needs fuel to run. When you're running on overdrive, your body needs more fuel to run. It doesn't mean I was re-fueling with Big Macs, but I was definitely eating more calories in order to stay satisfied and to perform at my peak.

#2- You have to run, like, every day.

Wrong. From my research, most training plans require four days of running a week. Some require three, some five. I purposely chose a five day-a-week plan, knowing that it would be a good physical challenge, but that I could probably take a day off here or there if I needed to. 

In total, my training plan called for 279 miles of running. I completed 233.5 of those miles, after missing a 27-mile week while on vacation. 

Would I have been in better shape if I hadn't skipped that week? Abso-freakin-lutely. More than anything, it rattled my confidence to skip a 9-miler and progress right from 8 to 10 miles for a long run. But do I regret skipping a week while in Ireland? Nope.

#3- You will be elated afterwards. 

Well, this is a partial truth. When I FIRST finished, I just wanted to collapse on the grass for a little while. Then I was elated. Once the soreness subsided, I couldn't wait to sign up for my next half.

But then later in the week, I started feeling weirdly sad. Moody. Withdrawn. Kinda cranky about nothing in particular. I'm not a very moody person, so I had no idea why I was feeling down. 

I did some googling, and it turns out that it's actually pretty normal to feel sad/mildly depressed following the completion of a big race. Which, when you think about it, it makes sense. Even though my actual training only lasted 12 weeks, this was a goal I'd been thinking about and working towards for many months. Before my plan started, I was training for my training. I sacrificed nights out with friends, plenty of unhealthy meals, and lots of sleeping in, in order to train for the race. And now, it's over. 

"They" say the best remedy is to sign up for something new and plan your next big challenge. I've got a 10K at the end of September, a 5K in November, and am planning to do at least 2 half marathons in 2014. Should be enough to keep me busy :)

#4- All half marathoners are Olympic Gods. 

Like many new-ish runners, I struggle with labeling myself a runner. To be completely honest, I expected to stick out among the runners. I thought that everyone would look like my brother. I expected to be one of the biggest people running, and that others would gawk at me like "who's this chick who thinks she can hang with us?"

I couldn't have been more off-base. There were people of all sizes, shapes, and abilities running. There were kids who looked like there were in middle school, and adults solidly in the "senior citizen" bracket. There were runners bigger than me at my heaviest, and runners with arm muscles that would make Jillian Michaels jealous. There were walkers. Veterans slower than me. Rookies much faster than me (the winning female had never run a half before). A woman in a wheelchair. A man wearing Dockers shorts and white Reeboks. And also, yes, Olympic God-esque runners. 

It just goes to show that you can't judge fitness level based on looks alone. Definitely a lesson worth learning.   

#5- You will want to run a marathon next!


Any other half marathon misconceptions you'd like to dispel? 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Goals

Happy Monday, friends!

I have to say, this weekend was absolute perfection in Chicago. And not just because it finally feels like Fall (my favorite season). I went to bed early on Friday, mostly out of habit from having my long runs on Saturday morning, but also because I'm freakin' tired come Friday night and just really enjoy going to bed around 11ish. I'm 24 goin' on 64, I tell ya.

Anyway, Saturday was spent catching up with a college friend at Little Goat for brunch. Little Goat is a diner from Chef Stephanie Izard, who upset Richard Blais to be crowned Top Chef (Season 3). She's pretty famous in Chicago for Girl and the Goat, her first restaurant here that's "new american" style. I love Chicago, but man it is hard to eat healthy here with so many unhealthy options at all times.

Brunch was delicious, and then my friend and I went shopping. I was feeling delusional so I tried on size 10 pants at LOFT and THEY ALL FIT ME. Yet, I bought none of them. I made a deal with myself that I can't shop until I hit 60lbs lost. I'd hate to buy $40 pants and have them not fit me in 10lbs. Speaking of, I cleaned out my closet on Sunday and realized that many of my favorite fall clothing pieces no longer fit me. #weightlossproblems

...I just realized I lied about the shopping thing because I bought myself some spankin' new running shoes on Sunday!

Old, meet new. So fresh and so clean, clean.
My old shoes (on the left) were obviously well-worn, so it was high time I bought a new pair. Luckily, I have an AWESOME running store 2 blocks from my apartment. I really loved my old Saucony Ride 5's that I got last August, so I started with the Saucony Ride 6's. I loved those, but tried on a few other pairs (Mizuno Enigma and Enigma 2's, Brooks Ghost) just to see if anything felt better. Ended up walking out of the store with the new version of my old favorites. I went on a rainy 4-miler after I got home to break them in. Not only was the foot pain nearly gone, I knocked out 4 miles in 36:48! Is that a PR? I don't know. I should be better about actually tracking these things.

Well, I guess I should come clean about last week.

1) Arm training. Yeah, this didn't happen at all.

2) Focus on food. Actually, very good! I was within my WW points/MFP calories every day, and my sneak peeks at the scale show it moving in the right direction. I actually had dinner plans last week with my old roommate Dana (hi Dana!). She's recently back on the ol' bandwagon for a group weight loss/fitness challenge she's doing with a bunch of friends. Instead of going out to dinner as we normally would, I cooked a healthy dinner for us so we could both stay on track. Bonus: We even had dessert for a dinner/dessert total of <500 calories. 

3) Find my "new normal." I wrote a post on Friday about my post- half marathon goals and game plan, but have yet to put it into effect. I did run 3 times last week, though!

And for this week my goals are:

1) Stay healthy while traveling. I'm going to LA for work this week (literally for 26 hours), but I know the red-eye flight and traveling may tempt me into caving on unhealthy food choices. I WILL RESIST.

Sidebar on the subject of unhealthy food choices: Want to know something really depressing that I learned last week? I've been getting a black iced coffee with pumpkin swirl flavoring from Dunkin' Donuts because I figured since I was nixing the cream and sugar and not getting a latte, it couldn't be that bad. Oh how wrong I was. That sucker (without cream and sugar!) is 230 calories for a large iced coffee. I just died a little inside. 

2) Work out four times. Due to the aforementioned LA excursion, I'm doubtful that I'll be able to try out the free gym classes this week. But still, the goal is 4 workouts. I've got a 10K in two weeks! Also, my arms are still flabby and it bothers me. So it would probably be helpful if I actually, oh, worked out my arms. Yet, for some reason I still avoid arm workouts.

What are your goals for the week? 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's Next?

I've spent the last 12 weeks running 5x a week, covering weekly distances of 20-28 miles. I was burning lots of cals, but I think I came fairly close to my running burn-out point. I never thought I'd say this, but I've really come to enjoy running. I like how it gives me a chance to "take it out on the pavement" and clear my head. And I especially love the feeling of accomplishment that follows a tough run. I want to keep it up, but I don't want to burn myself out mentally or physically. 

So now that half marathon training is over, what's next?

For starters, I'm taking a little break from the long (10+ mile) distance running. I still plan to run 3-4 times a week, but I'd like to focus on a max distance of a 10K. I'll mostly be running 3-6 miles, possibly with some longer distances (7-9 miles), periodically. 

I actually went out for my first post-half run this morning because I've been antsy pantsy and my muscles were feeling much better than Monday (God bless icy-hot). I really dogged it, but at one point when I stopped to walk I was feeling some serious and semi-alarming foot pain. I've got a 10K at the end of the month and do NOT want to injure myself, so I'm not going to attempt running again until at least Saturday.

What are my goals?

My goal for the next 4 months is to work on my pacing and speed. I'm an atrocious pacer, and my fastest and slowest miles regularly fluctuate 45+ seconds during runs. I'd like to become more conscious of my internal metronome in order to pace myself more consistently. This will help me become an overall more efficient runner, because I hopefully won't be speeding up and slowing down to keep pace. Running with my dad really taught me the value of good pacing-- he's a machine! 

As for the other goal, I'd like to work on my speed. Saying that terrifies me a little bit, because I feel like I just got comfortable running the way I naturally run. But I'm shifting my goals from distance-based, to speed-based. When I first started running a year ago, I was running a 12-13 minute pace for a 5K. Now I can run a 9:30ish pace for a 5K, and that was natural progression with absolutely no speed-work. So, I know that with some work, I should be able to bring down my average pace for 3-6 miles to 9:00/mile or less. 

Will I run another half?

Absolutely! My training went relatively smoothly, and it was certainly a challenge, but a do-able challenge. I think I'll run at least two half marathons in 2014 (and I'd love one of them to be a Rock 'N Roll half!)

Ultimately—and I put no timestamp on this, because it'll probably take years—I'd love to run a sub-2:00 half marathon. I know it's lofty now, but my dad has done it (in his mid/late 40's!). I think it's a long-term goal that will certainly require a lot of effort and work, but one I think I can get to eventually.

What about outside of running?

My goal is overall fitness, with an emphasis on running. In addition to the above running plan, I need to join a gym or fitness group of some type. I know I'll be at my strongest if I'm cross-training at least 2-3 times a week, but I've historically had issues committing to cross-training plans/programs.

I'm going to try a week of free group classes at a reasonably priced gym nearby. If I hate them, I may either: 
a) bite the damn bullet and join a gym to do my own thing
b) try a Groupon for a package of discount classes until I find something I like

So, some of these goals are vague, and some are pretty specific. In some ways I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing, but I know where I want to be. One thing I know for certain is that I'm going to be doing a lot of reading up on consistent pacing and speed-work from blogs, Runner's World, and other resources. I'll also obviously be consulting my favorite running resource, dear old dad.

Do you have any advice on pacing or speed work?

What are your short term fitness goals? Do you have a long-term plan?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sunshine Award!

Am I a lucky girl or what? I got nominated by TWO awesome ladies for the Sunshine Award in the past week!! This makes me so happy that after years of blog-lurking (YEARS), I finally gave in and put it all out there-- the blogging community is so supportive and full of some truly awesome people!

Thanks to Kate from The Widgeon Nest and Jen from Another Mile Another Memory for the nomination :)

A Sunshine Award is given to bloggers whose posts brighten your day. Here are the rules-
1. Include award logo in a post or on your blog (above).
2. Link to the person who nominated you
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
4. Nominate 10 bloggers to receive the award.
5. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs letting them know they’ve been nominated.

From Kate:

1. What's your personality type? 

I've taken Myers-Briggs multiple times, with the same result each time: ESTJ. It's scarily accurate (check it out). On the plus side, I'm rational and logical,  and I naturally gravitate toward leadership positions. On the negative side, I sometimes have a hard time dealing with emotional situations, and I can be impatient when others are less decisive than I am. 
2.What is the hardest thing you've ever had to do?

Hmm, it was really tough moving to Chicago on my own! I didn't have any friends/family here, and I didn't have a job. I was lucky to have an awesome Craigslist roommate (hi Dana!), but it was still really mentally tolling to apply for jobs non-stop, and it took time to make friends. I'm so glad I eventually found my bearings though-- I love it here and the journey was definitely worthwhile!
3.What's in your car's trunk?

Welp, I don't have a car because I live in the city! In college it was a pretty good catch-all for random crap that I didn't feel like putting away, haha.
4. How many times have you been to Disney World or Disney Land?

I've been to Disney World twice-- Once as a little kid (maybe age 3 or 4?), and a second time with my best friend during Spring Break of our senior year of high school!
So what if we were the only girls over age 8 at the Princess Brunch?
PS - Does Princess Aurora look coked out or what?
5. What's one thing you've been putting off?

Cleaning. Always cleaning. I will TOTALLY get a monthly housekeeper when I can afford it. 
6. What do you have going on this weekend?
An end-of-season party with my Kickball team (we won our league!), a going away party, and a birthday party. Eeek, so much for a relaxing weekend!
7. Wine, beer, or mixed drinks? What kind?

If calories were no object, I'd drink pina coladas and belgian wheat beers eight days a week. Alas, I typically drink whisky & diet coke or vodka & soda. I love sangria too!
8. If you had to legally change your name, what would you choose?

I was obsessed with the name Michelle as a child, which is probably because I also loved the Olsen twins and Full House. When my younger brother made friends with a girl named Michelle, I was SO jealous. I really love my name though, I think it fits me! I'm named after my grandma (Carol) and aunt (Carol, but goes by Carrie).
Me and my Aunt Carrie.
9. What cheesy line do you tell yourself to get motivated for a workout/run/whatever?

10. Bill Murray or Will Ferrell? I mean, if you had to choose.

At the risk of making enemies, I'm not a huuuuuuge Will Ferrell fan. Can I pick Vince Vaughan?!

From Jen:

1.) How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
I'm pretty speedy, actually. If I'm not showing in the morning, I can be ready in ~20 minutes. If I shower/do my hair, it takes about 45. I always allow an hour though just because I hate rushing!
2.) Sweet or salty snacks?
3.) Where is your favorite place to shop? (for your favorite thing)
I'm not sure I've ever walked out of there without spending at least $40. I swear they pump something through their air conditioning.
4.) What’s you earliest memory?
I have a couple from when I was 3-4. I remember dressing up as Minnie Mouse for Halloween one year, and I remember going to Disney World and almost puking on the teacup ride!
5.) First job you ever had?
I'm the second oldest of 18 cousins, so I babysat a LOT as a kid. But my first "real" job was at a bagel shop/deli my freshman year of high school. 
6.) Why did you start blogging?
I literally have read dozens of blogs on a daily basis for years, but I never had a topic that I felt like I could consistently and authentically write about. After I realized how supporting and welcoming the weight-loss blogging community was, I finally decided to take the plunge.
7.) Do you have a lead foot when you drive?

I live in the city, so I don't even have a car! I haven't driven in years, actually.
8.) Do you love or hate rainy weather?
If I can stay in and watch a movie or read a book, I absolutely love it.

And now for my 10 questions:

1) What's your favorite book?
2) Do you have a signature recipe?
3) What's your guilty pleasure?
4) What's one piece of advice you'd give to your 18-year-old self?
5) What's your personality type? 
6) Are you more like your mom or your dad?
7) Where's one place you'd love to visit?
8) What's your favorite season?
9) What's your go-to karaoke song?
10) Chocolate or vanilla?

And the nominees are:

You! Yeah, you! Answer the questions and leave a link, I'd love to see your responses :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Post-Marathon Goals

How was everyone's weekend? I know for many (myself included!) the weekends can throw you off of your game when it comes to health and fitness goals. So whether you're looking to start the week fresh or keep up the healthy momentum, I hope you'll join Amy and me for our Weekly Goals Linkup Party!

PS- Starting today (!!), Amy's hosting a Ripped in 30 challenge with the awesomely terrifying Jillian Michaels. If you're less of a pansy than I am, join her here

First, last week:

1) Hydration Nation - 100oz/day. CHECK.

2) Clean my dang apartment. [mostly] CHECK.

Following yesterday's half marathon (recap here!), my goals this week are going to be a little less aggressive than normal. I know I'm going to have to give my body a few days to recover, but then I'm back at it! Here's what I'm aiming for:

1) Arm training 3+ times. I mean, I don't have an excuse for blowing this off. My arms are my only body parts not currently aching.

2) Focus on food. Now that I'm no longer in the throes of a rigorous running plan, I need scale my calories back a bit. After Bottomless Tuesday**, I plan on being very strictly back on WW. Time to kick these last 23lbs to the curb!

**Bottomless ___day is the name for two days after my long run when I want to EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. It's funny because I don't usually have a raging appetite on the day of my long run, but two days later I am seriously a whiney cranky ravenous beast. Delayed onset hunger, maybe? While training, my long runs were always on Saturday, which meant that Bottomless Monday was a weekly occurrence. I could eat a mid-morning snack and a 400+ calorie lunch and have a growling starving stomach an hour later. Because the half marathon was on Sunday, I expect Bottomless Tuesday to be in full effect. 

3) Find my "new normal." I'd like to mix up my fitness regimen with something other than running (although running will still be a major component-- more on that later this week). There's a gym nearby that offers a free week of classes for non-members, including a barre-based class, which I've been dying to try! I plan on starting my free week on Wed/Thur, when I'm feeling recovered enough to start abusing myself again.

What are your goals this week? Link up with us and share!

Chicago Half Marathon Recap

What more appropriate way to talk about yesterday's half marathon than by linking up with the Motivation Monday gang?
Wendy @ Daily Dose of Del Signore
Veronica @ V Watts' Thoughts
Morgan @ Fat to Fit Confessions
Tiff @ The Fit Train
Katie @ The Carb Monster
Alisha @ Coily Locks

I'm sure by this point you're all sick of hearing about my half marathon training and everything that comes with it. Guess what? The end is near. Yesterday was D-Day: The Chicago Half Marathon.

I think I became strangely at peace with my level of training/preparation mid-week last week, as I finished my final two training runs. (I was supposed to run 20 minutes on Saturday, but I didn't do it because I always take a rest day before my long runs). It was a strange to approach race day, knowing that I was about as prepared as I was gonna be. My parents and brothers arrived in town on Friday, and we hit up the race expo Friday afternoon to grab our packets and bibs. That's when it really started to hit me that race day was fast approaching!

Starting to feel really real, right about now.
My brother and dad were also running the half, and my mom and my youngest brother came along to support us for the free vacay. We had a great day on Saturday starting with possibly my favorite brunch ever in Chicago (and that's saying something! It was at Acre in Andersonville, for the locals), going on an entertaining gangster tour of the city, drinking 238942 ounces of water, and finishing out the night with carbo-loading at a small italian joint near my apartment. We got home around 10:30pm and set alarms for 4:30am (woof). I packed up all my stuff and tried not to get annoyed that I was missing one of my favorite running socks. Set out alternative socks and all my gear, braided up my hair, and went to bed around 11:30.

I actually slept pretty well, despite my building nerves. We hopped a shuttle to the race grounds (roughly 12 miles from my apartment-- quite a hike!) and arrived about an hour before the 7am start. That left ample time for two port-a-potty trips, organizing our gear, taking pictures, and stretching. The race actually allowed runners to self-sort into corrals, which I was worried would be chaotic. My brother started with the 1:45ers while my dad and I started at 2:20. 

The nerves really hit me while we were waiting for the gun to go off. What if something catastrophic happened? What if I wasn't prepared? What if I had to poop? What if my dad just left me behind and then I died on the course and someone had to scrape me off the highway like back-country roadkill? I was clearly thinking rationally.

The gun went off and the energy was electric! The announcer was awesome (I swear it's the same announcer for every Chicago race and he's so enthusiastic and great), the music  was getting us amped, and 12 minutes after the gun, we made it to the start line and were off!

Miles 1-3:
Feeling good and really glad to be running off some nervous energy. It was muggy, but luckily it was overcast, which was nice. My dad, who has run 5-7 half marathons, advised that we start slow. The 2:20 pace group isn't exactly slow for me at this distance (10:39 pace, roughly), but I felt comfortable and we let them run ahead of us as we set into our own pace. We basically ran in a big circle around the park where we started, which was also the course for the 5K runners.

Miles 3-5:
The miles were ticking off surprisingly fast! We broke out of the park and headed for Lakeshore Drive, where the majority of the race took place. It was nice to get out on the drive where we got a great breeze off the lake. My dad commented that the headwind would feel great on our way back (the course was out-and-back), so it'd be pushing us towards the finish line after the turnaround. Dad wanted to use the bathroom, and I figured I'd take a pit stop while he stopped, but the port-a-potty lines were at least 8-deep, so we trudged along. We were hovering right below an 11:00 pace.

There were some pretty hilarious race signed, including my favorite one: "Do something every day that scare you. (CHECK)." It was then that I realized that my first race ever was almost exactly 11 months earlier; a 5K I finished in ~38 minutes last October.

Miles 6-9:
I spotted a random lakeshore path outhouse with no line, so we took the fastest pee-break ever (maybe 2 minutes total). We started running again and were right next to the median, which separated us from the last portion of the course that led to the finish line. Pretty soon we heard some cheers and saw a buggy/car whiz by with flashing lights. We quickly realized that it was the first finisher rounding out the last 1.5 miles of the race. I ran as close to the median as I could and spotted a tall ginger guy booking it like he wasn't even tired! I cheered for him because it was just so incredible how effortless he looked. The 2nd place guy was at least half a mile behind him, and we passed some time watching the top finishers go by. After a ways we saw the 1:45 pacer go by, and we realized that we may even see my brother. Sure enough, we saw him on the farthest side of the road just trucking along like a champ. We cheered as loud as we could, but he had headphones on and didn't hear us. 

Around this point we also heard a really loud guy near us: he was a short muscular guy who kept shouting hilarious inspirational sayings like "WHERE'S YOUR SPIRIT? THE SPIRIT LIVES INSIDE. IT'S INSIDE YOU. I'M 61 YEARS OLD AND I'M DOING THIS. CHEST OUT, SHOULDERS BACK LIKE A BOXER, YOU CAN BREATHE BETTER YOU CAN RUN BETTER." And on and on and on—loudly—for about a mile. Another guy next to my dad was visibly annoyed and muttered under his breath (but loud enough for those around him to hear), "Yeah, you could also run better if you just shut up." It was pretty hilarious.

The miles were still going by pretty quickly, and we took the exit ramp, crossed the bridge, and turned around around 8.5, still feeling pretty good. With the break, we were around a 11:15ish pace. I started to set my sights on a 2:25 finish.

We passed an 80s hair-band  on the side of the road made up of rocking 50-year-olds playing ACDC. My dad played air guitar. Like, for an entire song. It was awesome.

Miles 10-11:
We grabbed water after the turnaround, and I was definitely starting to feel the distance. My dad wanted to pick up the pace a hair, but I told him I needed to hold back for a little longer. We hit mile 11 and I asked if we could walk for a second. I suddenly became hyper-aware of the beating my body was taking: my quads were getting sore, I could feel a blister forming between my toes on one foot, and my sports bra was chaffing my back. And that tailwind we were expecting had shifted back into another headwind. When my dad made a comment about it, all I could muster was, "CRUEL." 

I knew I could do it. I really wanted to hit 2:25. But my mind was just tired of telling my legs to keep going. After the 20-second walk-break, I knew I just needed to keep pushing because we had only about 20 minutes left. My dad grabbed me for a photo-opp that I'm sure I look deathly in. There was an incline just before mile 12, and I told myself that we'd push through the hill and keep running while a lot of others were walking. My dad's used to running hills, so I just tried to stick with him. We killed that hill and I started to feel a little surge of energy as we crossed the 12-mile marker. We were actually going to do it! 


Mile 12-13.1:
With some quick mental math, we realized that a 2:25 finish was in our crosshairs. We picked up the pace a bit and I started to focus on the mileage countdown signs: 3/4 mile left, 1/2 mile left. There was a coach in front of us chanting "Yes we can! Yes we will! Yes we can! Yes we will!" We rounded a corner, and I expected my finishing kick to be nearly non-existent. But just as we were approaching the 13-mile marker, I heard my mom, brothers, and their friend screaming like crazy for us. We were going to do it! Sprint to the end, sprint to the end! We crossed the finish line together. We were done!

The triumphant finishers! 
As we made our way through the finish chute, I definitely felt a lot rougher than I expected to feel. I think I chugged half a water bottle too quickly, because my diaphragm cramped up really bad and it was hurting me to breathe. My dad convinced me to take a quick "official" post-race picture before we made our way out the the chute just in time for me to collapse on the ground and catch my breath. Luckily the rest of the family spotted us, and we hung out for a little while. I realized that I had only fueled half as much as I normally do (1 pack of shot bloks instead of my usual 2), so I mixed a NUUN in my water and started to feel better soon after. 

OH, and my brother is a freak of nature and finished in 1:47. 
A) Did I mention it was his first half marathon?
B) Did I mention he only trained for 2 months?
C) Where did his genes come from?

I digress.

And wouldn't ya know? I killed my "B" goal.

To everyone who texted/messaged/commented/supported me, I am truly thankful for your support and well-wishes! And above all, I couldn't be prouder or more grateful to have done it with my dad by my side for every step of those 13.1 miles!

It may have been my first half marathon, but it won't be my last :)

via my instagram