Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cause in Chicago, We Run All Year Round

Two months. It's been two months since the marathon and I can definitely say it's taken a substantial hit. After all was said and done I would think to myself, wait no training run scheduled for today? And why do I feel like my pants are getting tighter? I wanted to give myself some time off from any intense running, but still had some races that I signed up for in November. But it was so upsetting for me to tell people, "Race season is over in November." I did the Hot Chocolate 15k, and a Halloween trot the weekend before but I could not bring myself to sign up for anything in December because I have not yet been a "winter runner".

All of that changed when I was talking with one of my favorite running buddies, the lovely Alison Kool, who encouraged me to sign up for the Polar Dash on January 14th. The excitement of getting to race again soon was enticing and yet the thought of it being in January was intimidating. The way this story ends is with me being in arms-length of my credit card and telling myself "it's only 13 miles and you get an awesome fleece!" So I am registered and can I say, excited to run (and excited to see Alison :)) The funny part though is that in order to run long distances you have to train so these past few days I have been lacing up and bundling up to hit the lake path. Some runs have been better than others, and I'm sure I won't have any problem finishing.....the run.

So my running season officially starts on January 14th. This year I want to try and beat all of the times for the races that I did in 2011 which include:
Shamrock Shuffle: 46:03
Soldier Field 10 Miler: 1:31:46
Chicago Half Marathon: 2:14:24
Chicago Marathon: 5:45

Additionally, I also plan on training for a half Iron man in July. I'll have to do a bit of research over my short break off from school/internship but it'll be well worth it to have a new goal to work towards. So if any of my lovely friends have any advice/know anything about gear let me know!!! Looking forward to the new year and new challenges :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thank Yous!!!!


I want to take a few moments to thank EVERYONE who has been a part of this amazing experience. First and foremost, the race would have been nothing without all the volunteers that were there that day, cheering on, handing out water, medical assistance, etc. Not to mention all of the spectators that had extra stuff like pretzels, jolly ranchers and oranges!!! Super awesome!!!

Then there is everyone at the gym that has been along for my marathon trip the whole time. Every morning I had someone asking me how my training was going, and giving me tips on things like stretching and eating. I didn't participate in the CARA training program this year, bc I didn't know there was one in hyde park, but having this great community of runners to talk to and get feedback from really helped keep me going. In particular thank you to Shauna Anderson, Carrissa Sain, Sidra James, & April Harkness.

I also want to thank Vinnie Bahl for helping with weight lifting. I had never seriously lifted weights in my life and he took the time out to show me how to use the machines and what they would do. I appreciate all of the time effort and energy you gave to me Vin!

Thank you to everyone who donated to my American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Fund. It was great to run for a cause and next year I think I will partner with the PAWS running team because I have two of best cats from there and I think every animal deserves a good home. But donators include: Linda Lavery, Becky Schmitt, Megan Ulery, Jim & Michelle Steele, Karen & Roy Matiya, Marek Sobiech & Ilona Sobiech, Peter Sobiech, Katie Trela and Allison, Steve & Peter Horton. Thank you all so much in helping me along in my goal.

Thank you to Alison Kool, who helped me get through the 20 miler and started me off strong for the marathon. What an amazing girl to have worked so hard and finished her first marathon as well. CONGRATS ALISON!!!! YOU'RE AMAZING!!!! Also I have to thank her brother, Bill Kool, who was there for the 20 miler with a cow bell at almost every mile marker and was also there to start both of us off at the marathon. I ran into him around mile 15 and it was pretty great to have someone making sure you're still goin' strong. Thanks Bill! (And Good Luck in your next marathon!!!!)

A special Thank You to Megan Ulery, for staying over with me the night before, helping me get ready in the morning (doing my hair and making sure I didn't forget anything) BUT especially for being a STELLAR athletic trainer and friend to me after the race....she's probably most of the reason I could walk afterwards.

Thank you to all of my friends who came out to the race, Lauren Tarpey, Katie Trela, Isabelle Collazo, Shauna Anderson, Sarah Spunt, and anyone else who I didn't get to see but came out, THANK YOU! Also! if you were following me by text, thank you!!! (Especially Michele Koehler who had gone through one heck of a crazy week but was still super supportive!!) It was great to have so many people connected to me and every time I stepped over the time clocker I would think, "Well now they know where I'm at!"

An extra big THANK YOU! to Mrs. Ulery, Asia Sobiech, Grandma Steele, Aunt Michelle, Uncle Jim, Courtney, Matthew, Abbey, and Isabelle Collazo for actually jumping into the race with me! You guys helped A LOT and it was great to run with you!!!!! :)

Thank you to Lauren Tarpey, for helping me get pumped up the day before the race! She was great to go to breakfast with me and then the Marathon Expo. She's also been one of the best friends someone could ask for and a pretty bomb-ass runner herself :)

Thank you to my Grandma Matiya, Aunt Allison and cousin Peter for flying in all the way from Texas to see me! It's such a great feeling to know that your family cares about you enough to book a flight and hotel to see you run your first marathon. I feel so loved :)

Ok I'm almost done, just wanna make sure I get everyone.....

Thank you to my Dad who took time to come down and see me, it meant a lot to me popsicle <3

Thank you to Joe Kenahan, who I called on several times for advice with running, shoes, etc.

To Vicky Ha, who would continuously tell me I was crazy, in a good way, and that I was her hero :)

And to Dani Samons, who did several races with me and encouraged me throughout.

AND FINALLY! Thank you to everyone else!!!! Everyone who commented on Facebook, texted me, called me and was just there for me overall! I love you all soooo sooo much and you truly made this experience so much more real for me!!!!



After the Race

I have got to be one of the luckiest runners because right after I finished my friend Meg, who was working the medical tent at the finish line scoped me out and grabbed me. She put her arm around me for support and told me how amazing I was. We walked the 1/2 mile stretch and she picked me up water, a warming foil, and food. I was like "Meg I just wanna lay down" and she told me I had to make it out of the shoot before I could. I found the first patch of grass when we got out and just plopped down. As the amazing athletic trainer that she is, she went and got me some ice for my legs and made me keep drinking water.

About 5 minutes later I decided to go get my bag from the bag check to meet up with my family. I had 22 text messages from friends and family who must have been getting my updates, congratulating me on finishing. How great is that!? Meg and I made our way next over to Buckingham fountain to meet up with Izzy. At this point my family was scattered all over trying to find me so I plopped down on a curb on Congress and Columbus and basically told them to come find me :) When I met up with everyone is was this amazing experience! Hugs and cheers, encouragement and pride came from each and everyone! (I have the best family!) We took some pictures as I started to relay my story of the race, some of the funny signs I had seen and assuring everyone that I was actually feeling much better than I thought I was going to.

I got a call from my dad who told me come meet up with him on michigan and congress. So we all walked over there. There at the bus stop was my dad, other grandma, aunt and cousin with more hugs, encouragement, and a balloon and a bear :) So there we all stood, talking about where they had seen me, didn't see me, and the experiences of the day. We broke off after that, some of us to go eat and the rest to go home. I went with some family out to eat at Bennigans (which was delicious!) which was exciting too on a personal level because I didn't even think I'd be able to stand, let alone walk and go out to eat. After we ate I said goodbye to my one grandma who had flown in from Texas to see me, thanked her and was off to the car with the rest of my family to go home. Wrapped in my foil from the race because I was still pretty cold, we walked to the garage and it felt good to be going home.

After I was dropped off, and said my goodbyes, I decided to devote the last of my energy to a shower before I dropped into me bed and knocked out. I fell asleep around 5:30pm and slept until 8pm. Woke up for some water and then slept through the night until about 7am this morning. I woke up, a little pain in my legs and some in my back, but overall pretty good. I'll probably go for a walk or something later so my muscles don't cramp but I have to say, overall, it was a HUGE accomplishment and I plan on doing it again next year. Time to beat: 5:45:42. Training starts in June!!!! :)

The Race

Alison and I were ready to go, dancing our way up to the start line with thousands of people around us. But in all of that both of us noticed how much clothing was just cast aside, and both of us thinking, "will they come back for that? That's a really NICE sweatshirt!" haha. Anyways it only took us about 10 minutes to get to the start line, which in my opinion is really good. We took off and there were soooooo many people around us on both sides.

For the first few miles Alison and I were riling up the crowds, yelling at them that we couldn't hear them and they would cheer louder :) It was such an adrenaline rush to be going past all of these people, thinking how everything I had done so far had led up to this point! Which would explain how the first 6 miles or so felt so good! Alison was a great running partner for this though, my biggest problem running is pacing myself, I battled with it throughout my training, so when I got too far ahead and noticed she was behind me I'd pull back. I took in my first Gaterade "GU" around mile 6 (about an hour into the run) and man it packed a punch! Miles 7-13 were GREAT! I actually wish I would have slowed a bit bc it would come back to bite me later! But running those miles through Lincoln Park, Boys Town, it was PHENOMENAL!!!!

Around mile 14 I saw the first person I knew, the lovely Shauna!!! She hugged me and I took off again. I remember that is when it got hard. My stomach was starting to hurt and I was thinking it was because of the "GU" or not drinking enough water, so I drank more but as I was swallowing it down I was worried about the ratio of water to salt in my body, especially since it was so hot. I stopped somewhere around mile 15 to stretch it out bc my legs and knees were killing me! After I got up I felt a little better, lower body wise, but my stomach still killed, honestly all I wanted to do was puke, get it out and keep going! Alison and I touched base again around mile 16 but she was doing a little better than I was at that point so we ran together for a little while and then I told her to keep going bc her pace was faster than mine.

Finally around mile 17 I gave in and stopped at the med tent. I asked them for salt bc I felt like I was gonna puke. The lady had asked me if I had had any gaterade and I said no. (True story: I HATE drinking gaterade during a race, the one time I did for my first half marathon, after I finished I just projectile vomited gaterade afterward. So basically it left a bad taste in my mouth, literally!) But the lady at the med tent was like you NEED to drink some gaterade. So I sat there for a minute or two and drank the cup, slowly. The guy next to me was an older gentleman and he asked if I was ok, what a sweet guy! I told him I was just felt sick. He had his shoe off and was taping up his foot. Told me he had had a problem with his achilles for a while now so he was expecting this, but that he was going to try and finish. He asked me if I was going to finish and I told him it was a definite (I had to make it to China town to see my family!!!) After that moment we had I got up, wished him luck, and kept on my way.

I have to admit, miles 18-20 were ROUGH! I was on off walk/run and was totally in my head about finishing. But i kept going, and a good thing I did because around mile 20 I got some relief! Mrs. Ulery jumped in with me and it helped! A few blocks in i spotted Asia, who also jumped in with me (despite being in jeans and boots haha) They got me through probably 3 miles almost. We got through parts of Chinatown before Mrs. U pulled back. Asia ran a little farther with me until I ran into my family! What a warm welcome! Hugs and encouragement all around. Everyone jogged with me a little bit and it was enough of a boost to keep me going. I ran through miles 22 and 23. Mile 24 I ran into my family again, and it was GREAT! My grandma spotted me right away and actually ran over to me! She ran with me for a while and I couldn't have been happier, I mean my grandma ran in the marathon with me!!!! I finished off mile 24 and was determined to push through 25.

One more mile. ONE MORE MILE!!!! I put on my Jock Jams mix and picked up my pace. I was gonna finish strong, no walking! Just before I got to Roosevelt though I ran into Izzy and she jogged with me for about a minute before they kicked her out. "See you at the finish," she says. "I'll be there". The last leg of the race was the hardest, up the hill on Roosevelt, but god damn i PUSHED! There were so many people around me and I was in the moment. I got up the beast of a hill and the finish line was in sight! A new song comes on, "Ladies and Gentlemen, let's get ready to rumble!!!!" I start to pick up my pace and there are tons of people around me. I ran to the left side and started interacting with the crowd. "I can't hear you!!!! It's right there, the finish is right there!!!!!" Everyone started yelling and I took off. Closer, closer, sooo close!!!! "Look at her go, look at her go, she's gonna go ALLLLLL THE WAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!"


The Morning of the Race

4am my alarm goes off. 4:03 the snooze alarm goes off. I jump out of bed, grab my jacket and keys to grab a cup of coffee. I didn't have any milk and I am a daily coffee drinker so I didn't want to change that up on race day. So I headed over to Dunkin Donuts (bc as Isabelle Collazo put it yesterday, Sam RUNS on Dunkin :) hahaha). When I got back my place Meg was already up and getting ready. I turned on the radio, bc who doesn't love a dance party at 4:30 in the morning!? Two french braids, a bowl of outmeal and a review of the check list later and we head out the door to the bus. When we transferred from the 55 to the red line there was a group of people also headed down to the race that greeted us with hoots and hollers of excitement. Meg and I only had a momentary lapse of judgement when we got off the red line, couldn't figure out which way was east but the, being college educated women, we decided to follow the groups of people going to the left. We made it to Grant Park just a few minutes before 6 and Meg & I parted ways as she went to go get her assignment in the med tent. I had a whole hour before I wanted to line up so I sat, stretched, had my picture taken a bazillion times by the Marathon people and then met up with a friend I ran the 20 miler with a few weeks ago. I should preface, I was struggling a little when I did the 20 miler bc I cramped somewhere around mile 14. So I threw myself to the ground and tried to stretch it out. Then I hear, "Are you ok?!" I replied back, "yea, just cramping". I got up after that and decided to follow the girl. Six miles later we realized we had so much in common...not to mention getting through those last few miles together definitely helped :) So the morning of the race we met up at Grant Park and lined up together. The line up was AMAZING! So many people coming together to accomplish one goal: Run 26.2 miles! While in line I was freeeeeezing, despite all of the body heat around me, it was probably a lot of nerves too though. Before you knew it the guy who sings for the blackhawks games was performing the national anthem and the elite runners had made way! We were next.....

Friday, September 9, 2011

One Month

Today is September 9th, which means I am exactly one month away from my race day!!! I realize that I haven't update my blog for the majority of my training session so let me start there. As one of my good friends Kim would tell you "Let me give you the Reader's Digest version". So back in may I ran the Soldier Field 10 Miler. It was a great race and I ran pretty strong. I haven't actually done a race since then, however I did sign up for the 15k hot chocolate run in November (thinking it will probably be my last race of the season). This weekend, however, I am competing in the Chicago Half marathon. I am looking forward to it since last year I woke up 6 minutes before the start of it and the first time I ran 13 miles this year, I took 40-something minutes off my race time! Any who, that's this weekend, and next weekend I signed up for the "Ready to Run" 20 miler with CARA. I figured that this would be a good training run to do with other people, seeing as how I have been running alone for pretty much all of my training. But also because I have yet to hit my 20 mile run and that worried me a little. Each time I would go out to run and something would come over me and I would lose my motivation. Honestly this worried me quite a bit...did I hit this training too hard too fast? And then I fell off my training wagon just recently as I got started at my internship. I absolutely LOVE my internship at Eisenhower High School but there are just not enough hours in the day to fit in my runs. I have been faced with having to choose between getting up at 4am to leave by 4:30 so I can go workout from 5-6:30am MWF or try and go after school (which never works because I am burnt out and/or have to stay late). So I decided that once the marathon is over I am going to focus more on strength training, since that's what I've been more into these days anyways, and keep running for the weekends when I have a little more time.

So like I said I've fallen on some hard times running wise. I was really distracted for a while with the transition into fall semester from summer and still not having finished the final papers for my two classes. That on top of the ridiculous amount of part time jobs, on top of the other crap going on, was really wearing me thin. But I have spent a lot of time asking other people how their running is going and it's been a motivating force. I love to talk to people about running and so naturally, working at the gym, i have found quite a few of those. Running has given me a lot these past few months and I suggest it to anyone looking for a hobby or even just a way to be more in tune with themselves. I love going on long runs, not having my phone on me, and just being really into my run and how I am feeling. It's intoxicating. But I digress.....

So Sunday should be fun and I am hoping that it will give me something of a boost that I need to get back into the swing of things, what with only a month left. That being said I need to start advertising to get people out there on the 9th to cheer for me or even run a few miles, every little bit helps!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stop. Drop. & Stretch.

One thing I have noticed while living in the city is that Chicagoan folk looooove to talk about the weather! And who can blame them since the weather here is always crazy unpredictable. The funny part is that I always end up running on the days that are the crummiest. So while Tuesday is my running day it will probably be 40 and raining but then Monday was probably 65 and sunny. But then I tell myself when you're running a race you don't get to pick what the weather is gonna be like. Glass half full right? Well that and honestly I like running in that chilly, slight drizzly, "Boston-esk" weather, I know I'm crazy I got that down.

Well so I went for a run yesterday on the lake path and I was really enthusiastic about it because the weather actually was really nice. Not too hot but sunny and inviting. It wasn't until I actually hit the path though that I realized I would be running the first half of the distance against the wind. Let me just tell you, NOT FUN! I was legit getting pissed off, at what? Yup, the wind! And of course because I laugh at my own jokes I thought to myself, "This brings new meaning to the phrase, 'Blow Me'". haha. But this isn't even the worst of it, oh no.

I get about 3 miles out on my 8 mile run and my butt muscle starts to cramp. No biggie, just run through it right? Yea well it got to be so debilitating that moving was actually hurting. I pulled off to the side and literally started rubbing my butt. Take a minute and start back up again. Well my butt wasn't having that so I laid down in the grass and started to stretch, I was not about to give up on this run. I had to sacrifice 2 miles on my run Saturday so I wasn't about to compromise 4 or 5 now. To ensure that I was doing things right I used a life line and called out to two of my friends who have some athletics training background. Both of them essentially told me to do the same stretch, so there I laid in the grass on the lake path as runners and bikers passed me with my leg stretch over my body desperately hoping this would fix my butt long enough to finish the run.

After a few minutes and increments of 10 second stretches I got back up and tried to feel out how I that possible? haha. Well I started to jog on it and I didn't have a sharp pain in my butt so I figured I was good to go and just took off. It hurt a little as I finished my miles but not to a point that I felt like I needed to stop. And I didn't stop when I got off the path, I ended up running to the gym so I could use the cylinder thing to roll out.

I wasn't actually worried about my butt cramp....maybe I should be using the term "glut" I think that's the P.C. version right? Eh, anyways I wasn't worried about it until today when I was doing strength training and was having a hard time doing my side planks and obliques because my butt/glut was starting to hurt. I walked around a little sore today and the thing is it's only my left side. One of my friends was telling me that you're sore because you're gaining muscle. Well if that's the case then my left is gonna be bigger than my right.....haha. No but I am a little worried about this pain, especially since I have the Soldier Field 10 miler on Saturday. I was hoping to run it for time but now that I may be "nursing an injury" I may just have to run it just to finish. This is kind of disheartening. I'm thinking the best thing to do is to do my regularly scheduled run tomorrow and see how it goes. Rest Friday and then kick butt on Saturday :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Ah the sweet feeling of graduation! After four years of hard work, good times, and lots and lots of changes it's finally here!

To think, in 2007 I started somewhere completely different from where I am now. Elmhurst College was were I wanted to start my professional career. I couldn't have asked for a better first roommate, she was by far (and still is) one of my best friends and we clicked instantly! To the girls down the hall, Libby and Mara, you were the reason I loved freshmen year. Throw in a little B. Sapp and I couldn't imagine a more amazing group of friends. I spent a lot time working at the YMCA but hey, I was a damn good lifeguard and swim instructor. Classes were exciting, at the college level, and I got my GPA to a 3.5. Towards the end of the first year though I started to have second thoughts about the school. The truth was that I still had a love for social work and fully intended on pursuing it. The problem? I was a double major in psychology and sociology with only a minor in social work at Elmhurst. This didn't seem right to me, my roommate, an education major, had a program and my friends all pursuing business were in programs as well, what about me? I still had a desire to go to Loyola, which I decided not to pursue for the sake of my mom who didn't want me moving to the city. Well so what. I had a year of school under my belt and while I liked the school, it wasn't what I was looking for. So what did I do? I made all of the arrangements to transfer out because that is what I WANTED. Leaving meant saying goodbye to my friends though, not for good but it's still goodbye. It meant not having a job or a means to support myself and it meant giving up the chance I had just gotten to be on the Cross Country team at Elmhurst. But it was worth it, all in the name of social work.

Loyola accepted me and in August 2008 I moved into Coffey Hall, which was honestly one of the worst dorms I have ever really seen but I didn't care, I was a Loyola student! That first year I became well accustomed the CTA, Water Tower campus and many of the other transfer students who lived down the hall from me. I'd be lying if I said that I felt right at home, in fact there was this one bitch....well we won't go there. But by the end of the year I was so happy with my decision to change schools and my passion for social work grew out of the volunteer opportunities I pursued (Big Brothers Big Sisters, and GirlPOWER!). Aaaaand in August I signed a lease for my first ever apartment with four other girls I lived with in the dorm. Things were great and I was really excited for my junior year.

That summer when I went home I had to face one of the biggest obstacles of my entire life: the loss of my mom. I was completely devastated, gone was the woman who loved and supported me and part of the reason why I was doing social work in the first place. I can honestly say though, not once did it cross my mind to drop out of school. Giving up on pursuing my dream would have felt like giving up on her and so I pressed on, always keeping her in the back of my mind.

Junior year was filled with great times, girls nights out, bad decisions that we laughed at later and lots of dancing up and down the apartment. I have to say, this year was really hard for me as I tried to figure out who I was without my mom and if it weren't for my roommates I probably wouldn't be as strong as I am now. It was great to come home to the girls when I had had a bad day and know that they would hug me, listen to me or even just sit with me. And for that, and many other reasons, I love them to death. I continued on with social work and did a 30 hour internship at a agency called "LIFT" in which I was a case worker for individuals who faced poverty in the Uptown neighborhood. I learned a lot in this position but the most important lesson: I never want to be a caseworker :)

The end of junior year I subletted my room to my friend Dani and moved back home to work as a camp counselor and run my swim lesson program. Life was a bit different as I transition into living back at home. To keep things interesting I signed up for my first Half Marathon. The excitement of training would fizzle out at times though, what with it being summer, and everyone wanting to go out now that we were all 21. I managed to push through most of my....well some of my runs. I think the highest mileage I got up to though was either 7 or 8 but I can honestly say that I wouldn't take it back, I enjoyed all those times I wasn't running, except maybe that one time I was hung over until 6pm but we just won't count that one. haha.

That summer Pete and I decided we were ready to move in together after almost 5 years of being together. I did a lot of research and found this really nice 2 bedroom apartment that was priced as a one bedroom. I honestly was really excited for this, but making this move meant moving my entire life down to Hyde Park. Don't get me wrong, I felt comfortable down there and there was potential for a job at the gym where he worked and heck we lived one block away from the lake path so I could always go out for a run. And to top it off I wouldn't have to travel back up to Roger's Park, all my classes would be at Water Tower because I would be a grad student. I told myself making this move meant I would need to try harder to see my friends, who offered me a bedroom with them in Lincoln Park but I turned it down.

The day before I started my fall semester I came back from my trip to the Cape and believe you me, if I could, I would have given up my life out here and just stayed in Massachusetts. But I couldn't. Maybe when I finish my degree I'll move out there, plenty of social work positions available so I've seen :) Fall semester was a rollar coaster, what with an internship that fell through and adjusting to a life with a significant other. But somehow, somehow I pulled off a 4.0 GPA. The start of the new year was refreshing for me and I had a new sense of motivation. I had been working in a new internship in two different schools and was running a group all on my own. During this time I also decided to become a "resolutioner" and began joining the many who drag themselves into the gym everyday to try and get back into shape after the holiday season. The only difference is that I'm still working out as opposed to those who quit after 2 weeks. Fighting off the crowds for a treadmill or an elliptical had its benefits though because it encouraged me to push harder and work longer until I decided I wanted to take on the marathon this year.

Things started to get busy, my internship was more demanding and I was slowly giving up on classes with the frustration of not learning anything new from what has been taught to me for the past three years. But in all of the chaos I gained a new focus, a new insight, into my goals and the person I want to be. A growing sense of independence and a new feel of pride in who I was....I hadn't felt this way in years. It goes without saying, however, what goes up must come down. The consequences that come with the actions are pretty steep and there are honestly some days that I just sit back and ask myself, "Did I make the right decision?" But then I think to my Aunt, who told me these words, "When you make your decision, don't look back, just keep going". And so I am. And so I will.

I couldn't be more thankful for all of the love and support I've gotten this far from my family and friends because without them, I don't know where I'd be.

Saturday May 14th. 6:30pm. Graduation.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Running Yourself Into the Ground

I have a love-hate relationship with concrete. For one I should say that there is nothing like hitting it hard and letting all of the days frustrations and anxieties crunch under my stride. But after doing this over and over again there's more to me that's being worn down--like my hip and my knees! I went out for a run the Thursday after I completed my 13 mile run anticipating a nice 8 to 10 miles. I had gotten out to my 4 mile halfway-ish point and was in a lot of pain. My hip-slash-glut was throbbing and I figured it was from the impact on the pavement. On the way back I tried to run on as much of the grass as possible but I have to admit I ended up walking for some time too and was somewhat disappointed because it was the first run I've had to stop and walk in since I started running outside. The good news is that I made it back to the gym (which was my starting point) without severely hurting myself. But I was in quite a bit of pain as I asked my manager to bag me up some ice and laid down on one of the bleachers to "ice my front bum" to the entertainment of one some of my friends. (Get Over It reference for anyone who caught that:

Well I guess I broke my butt. But that wasn't going to stop me. Well, it did for that day but Sunday was right around the corner and I was determined to rest it so I could try again for a 10 miler. When Sunday did come around I didn't end up going out until later in the day, but my determination didn't wain. I told myself that I wouldn't push but I would go for as long as I was comfortable and I would do it by running the entire time in the grass. Well that worked well enough because I got my 10 miles in! Woo Hoo! See the thing is that Sunday runs set the scene for the weeks runs to come. Finish them and you feel accomplished. Don't do them or not finish and it plays with me psychologically.

I've had some hip and knee pain this past week but I just won't let it get me down. More than anything I keep hearing, "You're gonna get sick" or "You need to slow down" and my personal favorite, "You're crazy". Well my friends let me just tell you I don't think I'm crazy, but rather I am just a highly motivated and ambitious individual who takes joy engaging in highly rigorous activities that most would view as undesirable. Take that! haha......Well I ate those words a bit yesterday.

So Sunday was my long run day and I had set a mental goal of 15 miles....the longest I had gone. Ideally I would have loved to have run before work but since I started at 7:45am there was no way I would hit the trail at 4am, that's a little too ambitious even for me. Sitting at work though thinking about the run is hard mentally. You have to continually remind yourself that you are running, no exceptions (Rule number 76: No excuses play like a champion (Wedding Crashers! No excuses means just because it's freezing outside and the wind could literally blow me away, you're still running. Even if I wanted to run outside I couldn't because I didn't pack anything more than a t-shirt and shorts (pneumonia is a no-go). What's left? The treadmill! Yup, that's right I did a 15 mile run...on the treadmill!

This is definitely something I am really proud of because it's an art that takes a lot of discipline to master.....haha. Or rather after an hour the treadmill will turn off on you and so if you don't want to go flying over the front of it you need to time it right to turn it off and start it over again. Shouldn't be a problem since there is a clock on the treadmill, right? Yea well let me tell you something buddy, have you ever tried to do a long run on a treadmill? Those numbers, if you stare at them long enough, will eat you alive. You feel like you should be farther than you really are and so you speed up but you're not really going anywhere and the whole self-defeating cycle starts over again until finally you're conscious convinces you to get off. No excuses though, remember. The solution? Throw a towel over it...kind of like in Big Daddy when he...well you can youtube it :)

Ok so here's how it works. I get up to the treadmill, number 14 looked pretty good, and I signed up for a 3 hour time slot...jeeeesh! At this point I needed to talk myself up a bit, convince myself it was only 15 miles, go slow and you'd be done in no time. Turn on the machine, crank up the pace to a nice easy 10:31 and start the timer on my watch (this was key because as I was approaching an hour I would check to see where my mileage was so I could stop on a whole number and start the machine over.) After 5 miles I was starting to feel good. I picked up my pace a bit and before you know it I had another 5 down. That leaves one more hour and 5 more miles but believe it or not, those were the hardest. I started to feel pain by mile 12 and I was literally in my head yelling at myself not to stop. It's probably a good thing that people couldn't hear my thoughts :) So I was at the end of mile 14 when I cramped and boy did it hurt! I paused the treadmill and stretched out my calves. "You're getting back on that treadmill and finishing that last mile" I kept repeating to myself. I had 30 seconds before the machine would erase the miles I had put in so I sipped away at my water and prepared to finish this run.

The last mile was good. I ran faster than before in the first half of it and by the second half I was sprinting. Just finish, just finish! I was up to a 7 minute mile the last .20 of the mile and it was exhilarating!!!!

15 miles. DONE! What an accomplishment. But, oh wait, note to self, when running for almost 3 hours you need to consume carbs and protein otherwise your blood sugar levels will deteriorate which could lead to one passing out.....I didn't pass out but hot damn I was feeling woooozy! I ran downstairs and bought an orange juice and just put it down because I needed the sugar like whoa! I felt better after a while and managed to get a good stretch in before I headed home. I had wanted to get in a few sets of weights but I just couldn't do any more. I went out to dinner with my family that night to the Olive Garden to celebrate my graduation. I found it somewhat ironic though...I felt like eating all of those carbs should have come before the run rather than after but oh well.

Monday morning was not pleasant. It's the one day a week I don't have to get up at 4:30am but I still like to be up by 6 to start my day but today I just couldn't, it hurt so bad! I didn't end up getting up until 8 and even then I was slow moving. After getting through some chores I shuffled myself off to work, fully intending to get some kind of workout in after my shift. I had to force myself to workout though because I wanted to get my muscles moving a bit so I did some bis/tris and a 30 min swim for cross training. I went home exhausted and spent the whole night on the couch, which actually was really nice.

Today I still feel a little a little sore and so I decided to hold off my run until Thursday. I did weights, abs, cardio (bike & stair master) and a quick swim instead. I was writing out my actual training for my marathon in my notebook and it has me running a lot more than I am now so I figured maybe I would slow it just a little bit. Official training starts June 6th...til then :)

Setting a P.R. (5/8/2011)

There's nothing like Sunday long runs. There's just a certain something about them that make me want to hop out of bed and throw on my running shoes and hit the trail. Add an early morning wake up to that and you'll get a bonus of getting to watch the sun rise up over the lake. And while these things are all well and good there's something more to my Sunday runs that has me pushing out the door and that's the hike in mileage. I've been pushing for the past few months to increase my mileage and I've been pretty successful up to this point. A month back and I had just accomplished a 10 mile run and couldn't have been more proud! But it was about time to push past that for myself both physically and psychologically. Running has become a bit of an addiction because of how competitive it gets. Right so obviously I'm not referring to the kind of competition that comes with playing a sport like football or basketball but the kind that is internally evoked and suddenly there's just this drive to want to go farther and faster than the last time.

So this week in particular I had my mind made up: I'd take on the 13 mile challenge. I hadn't run 13 miles since last September when I participated in my first Half Marathon. Despite waking up 6 minutes before the start of the race, not getting to eat, stretch or even wash yesterdays makeup off my face before I was hustled to the start line, I finished in 2 hours and 53 minutes. I knew before I even went out that I could beat this time but by how much? This was a challenge I knew I wanted to take on.

Lucky for me it was a nice day, you know the one where it's warm but not too warm, I think the word is comfortable :) So I threw on my zip-up, and threw a pack of "honey stingers" in my pocket. I bought these when I got my new shoes figuring I would need them for long runs and I wasn't as enthused about the "gooo packs" (even though I bought one anyways haha). I also picked up another trick...well actually it's not anything special and I don't know how I didn't think of this before BUT if you tie your apartment keys in with your shoe laces you don't have to put them in your pocket and risk loosing them. DUH SAM! haha.

I finally make my way to the lake path and my start mark has me at the 2.5 mile mark...which means in order to do a 13 mile run I need to get up to the 9 mile mark before I can turn around (2.5-9=6.5(2)=13...yea I can do math!) Lately I have gotten into the habit of running south and then running back up north only to turn around and go back south. It sounds complicated but really going south first chops off how far I have to go north by like 4 miles, but this run, this Sunday morning was too nice to complicate my route so I just went straight up north. So the last long run (10 miles) took me up behind McCormick Place and just within site of Soldier Field and Museum Campus. Well, the 9 mile marker is actually much farther than that, in fact it's right around Grant Park! So as I saw the 7 mile sign, and as I passed it a new excitement of running into new territory. If I can remember right I started to feel a bit of knee pain and my hip was hurting a little but I pushed it out. The hardest part about long runs is getting to the turn around point because getting past the psychological barriers of wanting to turn around takes discipline. But once you're there you have to go back so you might as well run right? At this point I reached the Shedd Aquarium and was running around the back of it only to come up to the site of the other Museums. Wow what a site for a Sunday morning! And what do you know, I was approaching my half way point.

There it was! My sign! I remember being filled with a sense of accomplishment as I whipped out my phone to snap a quick pic while still in running motion just so I had some kind of visual to commemorate to when I got back. There I was at Grant Park, and to think that was only 6.5 miles away from home. That doesn't seem like much but when you're running it you all of a sudden remember all of the little markers along the way that you have to get past in order to finish. Getting to the Shedd means reaching McCormick, means passing the skate park, and then coming out of the "woods" and along the beach until you get to the park, which signifies the 4.5 mile marker. Then there is this really big hill, some more of the lake and a nice sprint back along the point and your done. Not too bad right? Well I enjoyed that run back, although I do remember my body protesting a bit as I felt pain in my hip slightly. (This would come back to kick me in the butt later!)

If I remember anything clearly it was that last mile. I knew I had just enough left in me to push really hard. I had to so I could be proud of the time I came in at! So I turned on a more upbeat song and I puuuuuuushed! I was in my head and I had this. "Run, run, faster girl! You got this! Don'tchu crap out on me now!!!" I could see the finishing point and I bolted for it............FINISHED! Official time? 2 hours.....8 minutes! Not bad! Well not bad in the sense that it was 45 minutes faster than the time I had back in September...WOW! I felt good, no I felt great! I just set my first P.R. for a long run! The whole rest of the day went by pretty smoothly, I had enough energy to even go in a do some weights afterwards. Maybe that makes me slightly crazy but I guess the runners high will do that to you. :)

Race Pace--Updates from the past Month

This always happens to me--ALWAYS! So may exciting things happen to me that I want to write on and before you know it a month goes by! I wrote down at least three different titles for blogs that I wanted to write on in the stickies section on my desktop and each day under my "To-Do" list I write "update blog". Well now I'm here and I plan on taking the next two hours of my life to do 3-4 postings on some of the things that have been going on in my life so hold tight. I got a cup of coffee (decaf!), a mix of upbeat tunes and a whole hell of a lot of ambition to sit on the couch and type (because my legs hurt entirely too much to do much else). So I'm off, making that race pace through the last month of my life. Enjoy :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

[Running] Out of Time

Bad days tend to hit really hard, at least for me. I have a strict policy about letting people or things get to me, picked it up from a teacher my senior year in high school and goes something like: "You're responsible for your own feelings and reactions; no one can make you feel any which way and if you so choose to get angry or upset that is your choice and in doing so you are giving that person or thing a lot of power over you." This catches me up a lot. I tend to think about my reactions a little more before I pursue them these days but like I'm not perfect. I'm still vulnerable to bad days and bad decision which ultimately turn into, well to put it simply, a crappy mood.

Today was one of those days. A beautiful day outside, I couldn't have asked for a better running day....such a shame I had to be at work. Well let me back track just a moment, my alarm went off at 5:15 this morning on accident (I guess I turned it on along with my 6am one) and I considered getting up anyways and running before work. But my inner thoughts convinced me otherwise, mainly because I didn't want to end up still out on the trail as I needed to be at work. I would have been too anxious during the run and wouldn't have enjoyed it. Because all the runs I do are "My Runs" and I tell myself that when I get fatigued or when I can't decide how far I want to run, I mentally check in within myself and just say, "This is your run, make the most of it".

Well I didn't get to have that run and as I walked to work at 7:25 I thought to myself, "I wish I could turn back time just a little bit so I could have run it" because I knew inside I would slowly lose motivation to hit the trail by the time I got off work because of other creeping this paper due tomorrow that I'm still not done with. I rounded up the motivation to push through more of the paper while at work and at 11am when my relief came I noticed the girl looked awful. She had been out the day before because she was really sick and there she was sitting in the chair looking like all she wanted/needed to do was go home and back to bed. I know that feeling. I know what it's like to feel like you've stretched outside your limits and just can't push I offered to cover her shift for her.

At this point my run was looking less and less possible. I took a moment and tried to reschedule my day. So I would be at work until about 1pm, which is when I was supposed to meet up with my lifting partner, I could always use this time to work more on the paper, lift and then run....that sounds awful! The mental decay was getting to me and I was loosing steam. I'd been bothered most of the morning by other stressors and at this point I desperately needed to run, for my own sanity. As 1:30 rolled around my partner showed up and I was tempted to tell him that I needed a break from lifting because if I didn't go for a run I might spontaneously combust. But he had brought his friend from out of town with him and had already talked me up about how I was such a great partner that really pushed him to work hard, how could I back down now. I fell to peer pressure, which, yes goes against my philosophy I am well aware.

I had only gotten into one of my sets when my partner asks me how I am doing, he noticed I was kind of off. We had a quick gripe session about some of the things going on in my life and I disclose to him that I hadn't gone for my run yet. He understands that running is like a regulator for me, so he shortens my workout and tells me to go run. At this point I want nothing more than to just get out of the gym, for once being there has me feeling anxious and unwelcome.

Let me just say I had every intention of running right out that door and hitting the trail....until I realized I forgot my water bottle and jacket at home. A 13 mile run would not be smart to pursue without some kind of hydration and suddenly it looked like it might rain (but actually that was probably just my negative attitude). So I hopped the bus and told myself I would just start my run from my apartment. It was no surprise that when I got home, dropped my bags and had already convinced myself I wasn't gonna go for a run. I was so upset with myself but since I had been doing weights for a while I was also really stinkin' hungry. I opted for some mac n cheese and an episode of the vampire diaries to try and soothe myself. It's been three days since my last run and I feel like crap, and no the mac n cheese as delicious as it was, did not help.

Still looking for a way to procrastinate and recharge I thought a short nap would help, seeing as when things are really bothering me if I can't run I'll knock out for a while. No such luck. So now it's 6pm and my paper is only just past a quarter way of being done. I need to jump on it. I set up camp in the kitchen, because last night when I spread out in bed I of course fell asleep. That's the other thing, just a small tangent, I love to do everything in my bed but I've read that doing that really messes up your sleeping....I believe that more and more these days as I've needed to get things done and just end up out cold with my computer on top of me, music playing.

Anyways, my academic environment is less than supportive these days so it's safe to say that I may be pulling an all-nighter to get this final done, which was due on Friday I might add. I feel kind of stuck and like I need something. It's times like these that I miss my mom the most. I miss those warm spring/summer nights when we would sit on the swing in the backyard and she would listen to me talk about all of the crazy things going on in my life that were important then but have little meaning to me now. I'd give just about anything to have another one of those nights and for her embrace me with one of the best hugs anyone could ask for. Flash back to now and I tell myself I really need to go for a run tomorrow. These feelings, even two years later are still really intense for me and running helps me process them. Remember that philosophy I was telling you about? Well with anything there are exceptions and this is one of them. As much as it hurts to let in feelings of loss sometimes it helps because it reminds me of the strength that I have obtained over the years from it.

I like to think about it in a sense like a tough run. When I feel like I can't go any more, my muscles are fatigued and everything in me just wants to quit, I remind myself that I've overcome worse. When I first started running I had no muscle and very little drive, but look at where you are now. You can push just a little more because you're strong enough to, because she would want you to, and because nothing is out of reach.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hey, I put some new shoes on, And suddenly everything is right,

I don't even know how I forgot this but I finally got a new pair of shoes! I decided it had been quite a long time and I was in need of them. So I meandered over to Fleet Feet in Lincoln Park after one of my classes on Monday and met a friendly sales associate named Aaron who was a Loyola graduate. We bonded over our educational experiences while he sized my foot.

The next part was probably my favorite part, besides actually getting the shoes :) He had me put on a pair of "testing" shoes and I got on the treadmill to run in them. While I was running a video camera recorded my strides so that when I got off I could see how my ankle rolled inward a little. From that Aaron was able to pick out 5 different pairs of shoes for me to try on.

So I tried them all on. But each one demanded the acts of putting them on, feeling for comfort, feeling for where my toes were and considering how it would feel after a run since your feet swell and then running along the track to actually feel what it would be like to run in them. Professional right?

Well I had narrowed it down to two, one brand in which I wasn't really familiar with and then a pair of Nikes. Now let me just say, I'm not the biggest Nike fan and to be completely honest I was a bit disappointed that Aaron hadn't brought me any Asics because that's all I have run in since I started. But I trusted the system and all of the steps we had gone through to get to this point and decided on the Nike's because they were the most natural. The first run I went on in them was fabulous, I could literally feel myself running faster and I just felt really in tune with myself and my run....not to mention they are pink :)

Check Point: Pressing On

A little over 5 months. That's how long I have until the marathon. A little over 3 months. That's how long I have been training. I can't say I'm really halfway yet but I think I have definitely reached a "check point" where I'll need to refuel and take a moment or two and recognize the miles behind me.

So the last post I made was back in March where I had completed my first 10 mile run since the half-marathon last September. Since then I have completed two more ten mile runs, both of which left me feel absolutely amazing. I have gained a new sense of excitement each and every time I go out for a run. I wake up to these days with a renewed sense of self and soak up the excitement that the trail has to offer me.....because today is my run day.

I've had many days when I'm running along the lake path and the sun is beating down on me and I can't imagine being in a better place. But then there are also days like last Friday, when I did my last 10 miler, it was cold and raining a bit.....I loved it!!! It reminded me a lot of being on the Cape, which I miss terribly, but for that hour and 45ish minutes I had a little piece of it running along the path.

What I have also come to find is that marathon training has really helped me redefine the person that I am. Sounds kind of funny right? Well let me explain. For one, I have physically changed in appearance. I've gotten down to a size 6 pants, yup you heard me right, size 6!!! Just imagine the happy dance I did in the dressing room! Haha. I hope I am not misunderstood when I say this, but I hope to keep going but not because I have an expected size, rather so that my body will be take on a shape and size that is conducive to my end goal: the marathon.

In another sense, I have taken on a whole new outlook on the way I go about doing things. Working out everyday is time consuming and there is a certain amount of discipline that goes along with holding yourself accountable for the workouts. That being said I personally feel more motivated to complete tasks, not just exercise related but in my daily life, and I do it all with a smile (it's all of those endorphins I'm telling you!). I recently went through a really difficult time trying to get an internship for my final year of grad school, which really had me questioning my future and whether or not I wanted to continue on next year. Well with the help of my amazing supervisor, who told me this whole process is like running a marathon and I just have to push through if it's what I want. As fate would have it, I landed an interview at the school I hoped to be placed at and impressed the team of social workers enough that they "unofficially" offered me the position, and now I am just awaiting the official response from the district.

And while I'm on the topic of exciting events, I should mention that I ran in the Shamrock Shuffle with my friend Dani on April 10th downtown. The first run of the season and I couldn't have been happier with the day, the run, or my time. It was, for the first time in a few years, not snowing, in fact I think it got up to 80, but don't quote me. And of course who doesn't love running downtown? I was incredibly empowered by the thought that 6 months from now (now being on that day) I would be back in the same place running a similar course, only rather than it being 5 miles it would be 26.2! I didn't actually get to start the race until 40 minutes after it began but by did I take off when it was our corrals turn. It felt so good running past all of those people and pushing myself to go faster, faster, faster! In all of my excitement though, as I was nearing the last length of the race I totally missed the second aid station...whooops! I guess they had mixed the gatorade and water tables, which they had separated for the first one and I blew right past it. (Oh right let me explain, after projectile vomiting gatorade after the half marathon last September I CANNOT drink gatorade on the runs...bleh!) So normally they have the gatorade first and then water a little further down, wasn't the case for the second aid station.

Well the last bit of the race involved running up a hill (on Roosevelt as you are heading towards Columbus Drive) and I was like "Of course they would have us finishing on a hill! I was hot and kind of tired but I pushed through and as I reached that last stretch I sprinted in. Finishing felt so good because I knew I worked hard and I thought I had done it in a good time. I say "thought" because my silly self got so excited at the start line that I forgot to turn my stopwatch on. haha.

It's been a few weeks since the race and all I can think about is the next one, which is on May 28th, the Soldier Field 10 miler! To help keep myself in shape and avoid injury I have been trying to do more weights. I've had a few knowledgeable friends offer up suggestions and because of my wonderful networking skills, I met someone at work who is willing to work with me on free weights. He feels this will be a win-win situation because while I will benefit from learning how to do free weights he will be forced to push through workouts rather than gabbing in between sets. I can definitely motivate someone to keep going but we'll see how the whole "getting swoll" thing goes :)

I think I may have just run through all of the "big" things that have happened in the past few weeks but one thing I know I don't want to forget to say is that I am so thankful for all of the love and support I have gotten from my friends and family. This year has been incredibly challenging to me and I've been faced with a lot of challenges. One thing is for sure, each and every day brings new obstacles, and the way I see it even if you're not ready to make the decisions life still happens and you just have to let your heart guide you. Before you know it you've already passed another mile marker so why not keep going? I've had a few other hurtles that have tripped me up but haven't stopped me. Rather, I have had the opportunity to go through these hard times and discover more about myself and who I am. And for that reason I'm gonna press on.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mind Over Matter--10 Mile Marker

6am on Sunday morning is a time that not many of my friends, the 20-something-year-olds really ever see. 6am on a Sunday morning is the time that my alarm goes off to start the day. I told myself yesterday that I would run outside today on the lake path because the treadmill is starting to be get to me psychologically. I think after 3 months of running on one, upping my mileage and my pace, I have finally hit a wall at a 10 minute mile pace and 6 plus mile workouts. And although I try to convince myself otherwise, in the end you're still only running on a belt and not really going anywhere. The convenience of being in the gym though, so as to move from machine to weights to pool is infatuating. Anyways, Thursday's workout was less than fulfilling; I managed to accomplish one of my goals--to get Peter out of the fricken apartment and into the gym! But it wasn't as gratifying when he could only do 35 minutes of cardio before insisting that we go do weights. An hour of lifting later and we went to do some abs and stretches. I thought it was sweet when he tried to help with my sit-ups but after past working out experiences, it's not always the best for me when he tried to give me tips--honestly it really just pisses me off and I get an attitude about it. Well, not much has changed, so after 15 minutes I called it quits with him and we ended up going to Subway.

I swallowed the bitter taste in my mouth towards my shorter workout and decided tomorrow would be better....right. Well after a long morning of work, my least favorite class, and a meeting, I finally got to the gym at maybe 4:30? I was burnt out but pushed myself to shoot around for a little while with a friend before getting into a workout. Stupid me. I should have known that everyone and their uncle would want to workout at 5:30 on a Friday, because everyone is a health nut now right? Well that put a damper in my plans and my motivation levels. I was on the bike for 15 minutes, awaiting the use of a treadmill. Once on it I could only do 35 minutes before I decided I was too bored to keep going. Suddenly I noticed the pain in my knees and the fatigue of the day setting in, so I called it quits but not without feeling horribly self-defeated. And well, knowing me I couldn't give up like that so I hopped over to the elliptical and did a 30 minute cross country. After that I was really feeling tired but the "I'm ready to go home" feeling hadn't set in. So I opted for a hard ab workout. 100 full sit ups, 100 crunches, 100 side crunches with a 20lb weight, some leg lifts and planks later and I was done. It seems like after all of that I should have felt accomplished....but I didn't. I went home and sat my sweaty butt on the couch, watched the Ohio game and passed out.

Saturday morning. I can never sleep in. Even if I wanted to, I'm up at 6 but don't start work until 8:45. What the heck is wrong with me? Optimal time to shower, check email and do absolutely nothing. Me time. After an unproductive 4 hours at work and lunch I was less than willing to get back on the treadmill. I'm starting to have a love hate relationship with it. I love running. I hate that I'm not going anywhere and that everything is adjusted through buttons. Well so I ended up doing another run around of 25 minutes on the treadmill, 30 on the elliptical, 15 on the bike and my ab routine before I called it quits and hit the shower.

So maybe I'm being a little ridiculous because the fact of the matter is that I am working out, and I didn't punk out on any of the days, but for me and where I'm at, it wasn't fulfilling. I needed something more. So despite the fact that I have a huge portfolio due tomorrow at 11:30am that I have barely anything ready for, I promised myself I would do a long run tomorrow (today) outside.

6am on Sunday morning. My alarm goes off. The sun isn't up yet. Reset the alarm for 6:30.....

6:30 I am barely even awake and I go back and forth in my head about whether or not to get up. I deserve to stay in bed, but I promised myself.

6:38 I am out of bed and putting in my contacts. I grab a few layers of clothes, some gloves, keys and my phone and I run out the door before even thinking twice about my decision.

6:54 I am running down south Everett and on to the lake path. It was beyond beautiful. At this time the sun is just starting to rise and light up the skyline in front of me. I'm running to the same mix I made two weeks ago but it hasn't gotten boring yet; besides I'm too caught up in how amazing the waves look this morning. Sure it's cold and that sucks but one of my favorite parts of doing morning runs is starting out with your body completely numb from how cold it is and progressively getting feeling back as you run and warm up. It evokes a sense of accomplishment that is, to me, intoxicating.

The past few times I've run the lake path I always try to go just a bit farther than the last time. Well...this time I went a whole hell of a lot farther. Before you know it I was running past a sign that said "Welcome to McCormick Place" and I was like, 'hmm, I wonder how much further the 7.5 mile sign is?' (Oh right, so I started off at the 2.5 mile sign, that's the closest one to the 57th street entrance where I get on). Before you know it, oh hey, there' the Shedd and Soldier I'm far from home! But there was the sign and I couldn't help but take a picture of it, part because I wanted to stick it on my blog but also in part because of the accomplishment.

The run home was a little harder, mainly because I was so fricken thirsty! The water fountains haven't been turned on yet along the path and as much as I loved watching those waves on the way up, they were damn near torturous on the way home! But I made it, mind over matter, I reached the 57th street exit and walked myself home. The sun was finally all the way up and I was ready to start my day. Stretch it out, shower it off, and it's back out the door for the next part of my day....couldn't ask for more.

So part of taking care of myself in all of this is my decision to starting taking protein supplements. Being a vegetarian I am somewhat, or completely, deficient in protein, which my muscles need. And I have also decided that the reason why I wake up sore as hell everyday is because of this. Well so I bought some supplements from Trader Joes, but I was told by a good friend of mine that I don't wanna take that shit. haha Oh, and the reason why it tastes so bad, he says, is because I need a shaker to mix it not a spoon....huh no wonder it tasted like glue? :) Anyways I have gotten used to the taste of it now and my body is taking to it well. That doesn't go without saying that I still feel kind of more "intense" than I'd like drinking it. After buying the supplements online I couldn't help but think of the youtube video, New Haircut, which I pasted to the blog and if you haven't seen it, watch it. (Although I should warn that for some, it has a bit of crude humor to it).

And for now I should probably wrap up because I have a portfolio due in a little over 12 hours that I am no where near ready to turn in....and despite the title of this post being "Mind over matter" I don't think that attitude will get this project done. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Labels, Passion && Calluses

How many times a week do you say to yourself, "I'd rather be anywhere else than here right now..." If you're one of those people that just loves the heck out of everything you do every minute of every day....well congradu-fricken-lations! Haha. There are very few times a week I would say that I have these thoughts, but they do happen....kind of like right now. Currently I'm sitting in one of my grad classes, and since I'm doing a blog post, we can just assume that I am both bored and unengaged. I hate this class. I mean I have kind of checked out of this semester already so every class is miserable, but this class, this class makes me hate the field of social work. Without getting too much on my soapbox I'll say that this class is focused entirely around the DSM-IV and all of the potential disorders that a client can come to you with, and each week we go over one or more of them.

So here I am sitting in class, listening to my prof go on about personality disorder, what it looks like, how it affects the person and what types of interventions we can intill for them. Here's my thing though: I'm a social worker and a person who believes the best of people, so how am I supposed to go about giving someone a diagnosis that is not only socially stigmatized but also a life-altering influence. Being told you have any type of disorder changes the way in which you think about yourself, and unlike the flu or chicken pox, mental disorders don't go away with medicine. So my question is, what gives me, or anyone else the right to tell someone that they have "a problem" based on my assumptions of "symptoms" that I believe are present through a few sessions together in a contained environment? Furthermore, I just can't get passed the idea of why we need to marginalize and suppress rather than helping the individual self explore his or her strengths in their life so as to lead a more successful and happy life?

This is something I feel very strongly about and can get quite passionate about. Maybe that's why I haven't actually soaked up anything this prof has said in the past hour and a half. So instead I think about all of the things I need to accomplish this weekend and what I will do with the rest of my day. My google calendar is updated for next week and all of my email has been checked. All the while I realize this week has been a rough one and the weekend is probably going to be worse. I have a huge portfolio due on Monday and lets just say I am no where near close to starting it....whoooops!

I think part of the reason I have no time these days are because of the amount of time i dedicate to my workouts. If I didn't workout everyday for 2 or 2.5 hours I would have more time. But then I ask myself, what would I really even do with that time? It has become apparent that I have disconnected from my roles as a student and hell, I'm completely burnt out! Yet I need to finish final projects, wrap up hours at my internship, and search for my second year placement before school gets out. But my workouts always find time in all of that. I gapple with it though. Going to the gym after a long day of uncompleted "To-Dos" doesn't really even provoke anxiety in me anymore because I just tell myself "It'll get done"...even if that means pulling an all nighter. I think it bothers me more now at this point that I wouldn't work out and I would fall out of shape, thereby loosing steam and motivation....and when that hits, I feel like all these great feelings and upbeat attitude would disappear. I mean this is all a fear and it's kind of irrational (look at me social working myself haha) but what I do know is that I get more "me time" than more people I know. Even though I have to share the gym with a boat load of other people it's only me on that treadmill or's all me lifting those weights and doing those laps. No phone, no email, no drama...all me! How intoxicating does that sound?

This week Wednesday I got really caught up in this idea when I decided I had had enough of the hour treadmill runs, put on my under-armer and ran outside. I went from the gym to the lake path and back and it was amazing! I think I clocked in around 7 miles, the first mile and a half was rough because my pace was way too fast but after I got a good grip I was able to just go, and probably could have kept going if I didn't have a life to attend to.

For me I get so much out of running and because of that, I enjoy having time to myself. I spend a ridiculous amount of time working with and being around people. Do you ever just stop and think about how many hours a day you spend around others. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it but I can also feel myself getting frustrated by the end of the day, and I lash out by removing myself from situations. And as much as that doesn't always work for others around me, it's what I need. And I think sometimes we forget that. Being someone who strives to make everyone else happy before myself, this new insight is completely foreign to me but I'm adjusting. Much like the forming of calluses on my feet for every mile that I run, my life is forming calluses for me because things are never easy; you live and you learn, you fall down and get back up but you always remember those times that got you down, and that's what keeps me going.

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Extreme Case of the Mondays

It's Monday. Wanna know how I can tell? The day sucks and I come home feeling like absolute crap. Every Monday is just a nice smack in the face of all the things I didn't do over the weekend and how behind I am on everything. A nice warm cup of coffee with a side of apathy towards going to class and I'm in desperate need of some motivation and organization. So I do what I do best: To-Do Lists. Mondays are always synonymous with them, the only problem is that I get over ambitious and before you know it that list is in the double digits of things that "need" to get done. But lets be honest, by the time I actually get home, veg out and open up that list how many things do you think are actually gonna get done? Let me tell you, if you haven't figured it out yet, all of two, maybe three things will get done and the list will continue to grow throughout the week and the tasks will get put off until the next list is constructed.

So maybe you're reading this and asking yourself, "Well then why the hell is she wasting time writing this post?" Because procrastination makes the world go round, and that's the best I got for ya. But in truth, I have become a whole different person this year. I can't say I'm totally ashamed of it because all of my friends and colleagues have been doing it for quite some time now. "It" being procrastination. "It" being the cool thing to do, all the cool kids are doing it....Starting a paper the night before it's due, not going to class or going to class completely unprepared with no more than a "Meh" is something kind of uncharacteristic to me. But I'll take it. Because in exchange I feel like this "new person" is more motivated and a hell of a lot more independent that she used to be. And some people may take issue with that but for once, I'm doin' me.

In class today we talked about burnout and self care, which couldn't be any more appropriate for where I'm at right now. Last Thursday my friend and I skipped class so we could go out for dinner and drinks. Maybe that's not the best example of self care, probably more of burnout but you get my point. I rely a lot on my workouts these days to get me through the minutes and hours that are so draining but today was something different. After going going going all day I was hoping my internship would be quick and painless so I could just get to the gym and get my workout over with. That should be red flag number one. Workouts are therapeutic to me and today I did not even want to go. After two hours of children arguing, crying, yelling inappropriate things and fighting I was pushed to the limit. I must have chased half a dozen of them around the school trying to get them back in the room, consoled a few more from arguments and then definitely needed to exert physical restraint with two of the elementary school boys who were punching one another. Breathe in. Breathe out. PHHHHHHEW! Needless to say when I got to the gym I was a bit out of it and it really didn't help that everyone and their uncle was there. I mean it's freakin' spring break, why is everyone at the gym?! So I got changed, all the while thinking over and over again in my head how much I really never want to have children, when I get up to the rotunda and realize I need to wait at least 15 minutes for a machine. Any other day and I would be fine with it, but not today. Not today when I don't even want to be there in the first place and not today when if anyone even tries to have a conversation with me I'd probably knock them out.

So I waited for the machine. I sat on one of those disgusting blue mats and pseudo stretched while glaring at the individual running on the machine I was signed up for, somewhat hoping he could feel my death stare. At 6:15 I finally got on the machine, started it up and turned on some tunes. I set my pace at 5.6 as I searched longingly for the right first song to start this hour run off to. I settled on one but it just wasn't right so I scrolled on, running on the belt all the while. I got a mile and a little over a quarter in before I had to just call it quits. I played the mind game with myself for 15 minutes, convincing myself to just push, you don't even need to get in the pool tonight just do this run. I even went so far as to turn the t.v. on, which I never do anymore, to try and distract myself. So I turned off the machine, sprayed it down and went to the locker room.

I was soooooo mad at myself. I felt like one of those parents that has to pull their child out of a lesson because he or she is misbehaving so badly the instructor asks them to leave. Anger, frustration and overall fatigue washed over me as I left the building. And now I sit here on the couch still upset with myself but I have rationed slightly that doing a 3.5 hour workout yesterday is at least some grounds for a rest day. And maybe that sounds kind of crazy to some of you but let me put into perspective for you that working out for me is like whatever activity you need to do for yourself everyday--whether that's a cup of coffee, checking your email, or reading a book. I have to do it and I realize there are going to be off days but that's exactly how I So I swallow it down, like a jagged little pill and I tell myself tomorrow is another day. But the best part about's not Monday :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Work it Off; Sweat it Out

What have you done? Have you ever asked yourself this question? For me it's usually negatively associated with having made a mistake or doing something really stupid. When my mom used to say this to me every part of me would freeze and this awful feeling would creep over me like a paralyzing infestation. What did you do?

But these days I find myself asking this of myself in the sense that I am mentally checking in with myself, "What did you do?" One of the best feelings is coming home after a long day and thinking about all of the things you have accomplished. And since my day usually starts at 5am and goes until probably 11:30pm I have a lot to ponder. Not every day is a good one though, and sometimes it's hard not to want to think about everything that went wrong. In fact, about three months ago the martyr in me would prefer that. But things have changed so much in what seems like such a short amount of time.

It's March 20th. Eleven more days in this month and it's gone. Where did it go? Well so I started training in January and signed up for the marathon in February....what do I have to show for it?

First off, as of now, my running has improved immensely. I am now able to run for 90 minutes on the treadmill (and today I did an hour on the elliptical and another hour right afterward on the treadmill). I am extremely proud of my endurance, but even more impressed with the increase in pace. Getting up to a 6.0 pace was such a struggle, I used to only save it for the last 45 seconds of my run. Now? Now I can almost start my run at this pace. I am able to hold it for almost an hour, and that my friends is impressive. My bursts are now reaching speeds of 8.0-9.0! So in all of that, my mileage has increased steadily as well. Running for an hour is equivalent to just under 6 miles; running for an hour and a half is around 9.....groooovy! One worry I have about this is, surprise, not me burning out but rather whether I will be able to match this pace and mileage once I make the full transition outside. I went for a run a week ago today and it was great! I did over 4 miles and could have done more but I desperately needed to get in the gym before heading out for a much needed shopping trip that afternoon.

Speaking of shopping trip, that's the part I am really impressed with. After working my ass off for 7 days a week for at least 2 hours a day, I am finally seeing some results. I went to the Aurora shopping mall and came home with practically a whole new wardrobe. I've lost a significant amount of weight in all of this, and don't ask me how much because I'll tell you I don't know. I can't even begin to tell you how many people have given me awkward looks and asked how I don't know. Well my friends, the simple answer to that is that I haven't been checking. When I started this training I told myself I wasn't going to weigh myself to determine my success; rather I am going more by how I feel and trying to be healthy.

Anyways, like I was saying before I interrupted myself, I've lost quite a bit of weight in all of this. So much so that I just bought a pair of jeans that were...are you ready for this, an 8!!!! I haven't been an 8 since high school and they were even slightly loose! Take a moment and realize that if I were telling you this to your face I'd be jumping up and down with a huge smile on my face probably shouting, just a little. I didn't want anyone to miss out on this visual :)

Furthermore, as the shopping trip continued we went to New York & Co where I bought things in a size small (what?!) and four amazingly cute bras from Victoria Secret. If you don't know, I have not been able to buy "cute" bras for many years now. And when I say this I am referring to anything that isn't black, nude or white. But now, now I have one with hearts and rhinestones, electric blue and this TMI? I really don't care though because I was so excited I was fully prepared to wear them on the outside, but I was advised from a good friend that I would probably get some stares from that.

So these are my achievements and above all I feel great! My favorite part in all of this though is not related to how I look but rather to how I approach obstacles these days. I wrote a post earlier about how things have been rather difficult lately for me and they haven't exactly gotten any better. In fact last week I was up to my eyeballs in stress and was still expected to go into internship to work with kids. I asked myself if I felt like I could even emotionally handle myself around the kids with the mood I was in, and I contemplated not going in but because of how short handed we were, I had no choice. So what did I do? Well I took the bus home, walked into my apartment where I collapsed into my bed and just let the tears spill into my pillow. I cried my eyes out for a good 3 minutes before I picked myself up, sat down at my vanity to fix my makeup and walked back out the door to go to internship. After I was done for the day I felt great; the kids were a good mood booster but at the same time I feel like that one good cry was an amazing release. I took myself to the gym after internship for another release through a long run. I can't get over how great it is to just mentally check out for an hour. My legs are running on that treadmill, and I can feel my feet making contact with the belt but my thoughts are so far from that impact that before you know it 54 minutes have gone by.

Maybe this sounds kind of funny, and the more I think about it I might sound a little crazy. But everyone's gotta have their something. Something they love to do, something that drives them, something to get them to not do their homework...because let's be honest, there's always time for a run, it's just an hour right? All of the problems of your day will linger until you close them off and if that means taking an hour or so away from my life well then I'm going work it off and sweat it out.

Endorphin High; Adrenaline Rush

This post is supposed to do two things: 1) Relay how excited I am that I did a 3.5 hour workout today and 2) be a metaphoric representation of the levels of motivation I have to update my blog! I have been compiling topics I want to write on so the next post is gonna be a long one, since I'm just gonna combine it all together. Ok picking up the pace....ready...set....GO!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sammi's Hammies

When I was younger, one of the nicknames that was given to me was "Sammi's Hammies". Most of my life I was quite the chunk-ster and that was no exception to my thighs. My parents, and some of my close family members, found it to be quite humorous to tickle me and say over and over again, "I've got Sammi's Hammies, Sammi's Hammies..." Maybe I have painted a charming picture for you of this special moment of engagement between child and adult...but let me tell you was absolute torture! While I hate to admit it, I'm a pretty tickalish person so this interaction was probably funny to the one who looked on, but dreadful for the one with the Hammies!

Nearly two decades later and I still think about these memories, and I laugh about it now, as I reminisce about the days when chubby nicknames weren't taken as harshly. But as I've been training I've found that the part of me that gets cramped or soar the most is my hammies. As much as I have tried to stretch I feel like I hold myself a little differently and walk a little funny to avoid as much of the tension build up as possible in Sammi's Hammies.

I worry a little bit about getting hurt during my training and I fear not being able to run in the race I've worked so hard to prepare for. I should probably do some more research on things to do for soar muscles. And who knows, maybe I'm pushing too hard, but even still I'm enjoying the ride because even though my muscles are soar I feel a great sense of accomplishment knowing that the soarness will eventually turn into strength.