Tag Archives: chicago marathon

Power of 30: September Challenges

I’m an idea person. The one you may or may not want to have at a brainstorming session because I’m going to use the crap out of my right-brain in order to come up with creative and innovative ways to solve the problem. And I know what you’re thinking. This girl must suck at math. But I’ll have you know I can handle the number game just fine thanks to forcible encouragement from my parents to complete advanced math classes just for the fun of it. (mom and dad- this is me backing into a thank you for making me take AP Calculus when I wanted to take another P.E. class) Plus, I read something this week that said us right-brained folks are going to rule the world or something along those lines so we have that going for us.

Anywho, bottom line is I am an idea person. And in being one, I tend to come up with new things before I let the other things I came up with have time to grow legs. I’m also an extreme creature of habit. And while these two traits may seem counterintuitive, it’s the combination of fresh ideas and the ever-prevalent Catholic guilt I associate with things I’ve already committed to that usually keeps me going.

Bet you’re wondering how this plays into my Power of 30 goals, right? Well I told myself as long as I was doing these challenges, I would continue to update you regarding the month prior in the first week of the next month. Confused yet? Let’s revisit September’s goals:

  • 30 miles in 30 days
  • 3:00 minute plank

power of thirty challenge, turning 30, 30 challenges, yoga, crow pose,

I have to laugh at myself a little considering last September I was gearing up for the Chicago Marathon and averaging 30 miles a week and this September I was lucky if I could get 3 consecutive miles in on the treadmill because it was too hot to run outside. That’s just the way life goes. When we first moved, the locals kept telling me to wait for October to get some great running weather so I’ve rescheduled this challenge for this month and I am already off to a better start. I guess that’s the perk of making up your own challenge. You get to try it again next month without any recourse.

power of thirty, challenge, fitness, plank, exercise, workouts, core, ab exercises

I did manage to reach a 3 minute plank last month. I’m not sure how much plank work if any you’ve done in your life but building yourself up to a 3 minute one without rest is harder than it sounds. It may seem silly to compare the concept of holding up your body with your forearms and toes to a metaphor for life but it is just that. You can’t just up and do it. If you can you either have 1) a very high pain tolerance or 2) an awesomely strong core. For the rest of us, it takes small incremental increases to build up to a larger goal. It takes more than just ab muscles. It takes mental and physical strength. It takes practice. And when built upon, second by second, you can reach that goal that may have seemed too lofty just a few weeks before.

And then you can collapse onto the floor in a giant heap of sweat and wonder how long it will take you to plank for 5 minutes.

Until next time.

 

 

 

Recaps and Resolutions

It seems only fitting to take a few moments and reflect on 2013 before we head full-swing into the new year. I’m not a huge fan of resolutions, primarily because I’m just as guilty of letting them go as the next person, but I do feel that they serve a purpose. After all, it was nearly one year ago that I resolved to bring my blog back from hiatus and I’m proud to say it is one resolution I have kept up with for the entire year.

Resolutions may not work for everyone, but I’ve found that in order to succeed, I not only need to set goals, but to hold myself accountable for them. You can read more about that here. Let’s see how I did in 2013:

1) Blog Weekly

I’ll take your weekly and throw in another post. Believe it or not, I managed to post bi-weekly for the majority of 2013. At times it wasn’t easy, but it is nice to be able to look back and to reflect on the new beginnings, celebrations, laughs and trials of the past year. You seem to be liking the posts too.  According to my stats you guys enjoy cookie decorating, marathons gone wrong and super bowl recipes. You can thank Pinterest for that last one. This spicy chex mix went what the kids call ‘viral’ and single-handedly referred more visitors to the blog than anything else. I can’t say i’m mad, but I do hope 2014 brings folks to a few of my more sophisticated recipes. You know, the ones that involve a little more than adding spices and mixing in a large bowl?

2) Volunteer once a month

Unless you count volunteering your body for imminent danger by overtraining for the Chicago Marathon, I didn’t follow through with this resolution as I had intended. I did however, manage to raise over $1,200 in the process for PAWS Chicago, helping save the lives of over 5,850 cats and dogs this year. I look forward to continuing this effort throughout 2014. It’s truly a cause worth supporting.

3) Read more (must quantify goals, Sarah) Correction: Read 13 books in 2013

I’m starting to realize that running a marathon is my excuse for nearly every other failed resolution in the past year. I don’t even think I read one book in 2013, let alone 13. Do editing blog posts count? Do I get a personal pan pizza if I give it another go this year? 

4) Capture more life in photos (not just with iPhone)

My Instagram total is nearing 700 photos. And guess what? They were nearly all taken with my iPhone. Sue me. Well don’t actually. I think I do have some portion of copyright on the photos. Probably not. I did manage to follow through on this resolution and capture a lot more of my life (and food) with my DSLR. Here are just a few of my favorites:

IMG_3221 greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social bloggreater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppyphotography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog IMG_2534[1]photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social bloggreater swiss mountain dog red white and blue trifle simply social blog baby girl homemade oreos sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes owen turns 7 IMG_3096 IMG_1204

5) Complete a Triathlon

See #1 and #2. No I did not complete a triathlon this year. I’ll admit, I was too scared to put ‘run a marathon’ when I wrote this last year so I felt a triathlon was a safe bet because I’ve always wanted to do one. It was shortly after I published this post that I decided to sign up for Chicago. And while I didn’t exactly have the best experience and still have a hard time calling myself a marathoner (pretty sure you need to do more than just one), I am very proud of myself for pushing through the pain and finishing. I’m also proud to report that I can once again run without pain for the first time since October 13th. So bring it on 2014! Let’s do a whole bunch of races that don’t include a distance of over 26 miles. 

As we enter into the New Year, I want to thank you for reading this blog and following me on this journey. Writing is a passion of mine and I look forward to continuing to share and overshare my experiences with you in 2014.

Now it’s your turn! Believe it or not I do get a little tired of talking to myself all the time. I’d love to hear from you. Don’t leave me hanging so early in the year!

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? 

Do you set monthly goals?

Did you follow through with any resolutions from last year? 

What is your biggest complaint about resolutions? 

What are you most looking forward to in 2014? 

This is not a joyful marathon recap

I had visions of what this post might say when I shared my goal of running my first full marathon with you back in January. Would I be joyful and happy, still reeling from the runner’s high I got as I crossed the finish line? Or would I be able to write it at all, fearful that I might get injured or not be strong enough to finish?

For those of you who read my posts like this one and this one, you probably know that my fear came true just weeks before the gun went off for the 36th annual Chicago Marathon. I got injured.

So I rested, I rehabbed, I prayed, I got sick with the same damn cold everyone else has and then I ran. If you hadn’t gathered by now, I tend to err on the side of competition. Throw in a good cause and familial support and there was little left to do than to push through and finish the goal I had set so many months before.

chicago marathon finisher medal and bib simply social blog

And so I did. And it was miserable. I want to tell you it was awesome and believe me there were several points it was oh-so-very awesome, but I also want to be honest with you. And the pain I put my body through was anything but awesome. I do take complete credit for it however, because it was none other than me, myself and I that continued to inflict 26.43 (thanks Garmin) miles worth of pain on Sunday.

I was going to post this yesterday but between the napping and the anti-inflammatory doses, I was of neither sound mind nor body to share my experience with you. I’d like to believe that had I not run injured I might be feeling a little better today, but at least I have a small sense of appreciation for those crazies who run marathons without training at all. 

The day after my first marathon went a little something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-hCuYjvw2I

And for once I’m not exaggerating. Getting out of bed yesterday took literally minutes. I could hardly bend my left leg and my calves felt like little monsters with tiny knives issued an assault from underneath my bed at each of them. A delivery driver stopped short of an intersection for me last night. Big mistake. My apologies to whomever got a cold pizza. My bad.

But let’s backtrack a few hours, shall we?

Saturday evening

My family arrived. I was overjoyed. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to make it up for the race so to have them in town made all the difference in the world. We discussed plans for the race day, had some dinner and ice cream and then Jake showcased the t-shirts they had planned to surprise me with the next day. 3-year-olds and surprises do not mix.

chicago marathon team shirts simply social blog

Race day: 5:05 a.m.

I woke up before my alarm and ate my normal pre-run breakfast before hailing a cab downtown. I had planned on walking as a sort of warm up but my mother had something to say about her daughter walking in the city alone in the dark. Not like I’ve ever done that in my 5 years here before. Anywho, I took a cab, mom.

7:05 a.m.

I stopped by the CARA event at the Hilton and then met up with a few friends from high school who were also running and in my corral. It was nice to catch up as we waited for the start. Considering there was 40-some thousand runners in this thing, the volunteers did an excellent job of getting us all through security and packed nicely in our corral in plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds of race day, including a runner-led national anthem, jet flyover and a nauseating odor of biofreeze and bengay. Race day, yay!

chicago marathon starting line simply social blog

7:40 a.m.

My wave crosses the start line. I’m a little stiff from standing in the cold for 20 or so minutes but I just try to let the crazies fly past me and settle into my run.

No way! they carpeted the Columbus bridge for us. This is going to be awesome! 

And then it hit me. That oh-so-familiar sharp stab into the outside of my left knee. Between mile 1 and 2 no less.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

Seriously IT band? You’re already pissed off? You couldn’t even give me 8 miles? Not 5 even? We’ve got 25 more miles together you better lock it up!

Ask and you will receive. The son-of-a locked up and screamed at me for the next 5 miles. Things like ‘haha you thought I would just go away, silly runner’ and ‘nope, still here and getting angrier by the minute.’ At mile 6 the other one joined in. I was actually relieved. At least then the pain was even on both sides. I considered how long I had pushed through the IT band pain before without relief and wondered if perhaps mile 9 or 10 was the magic number in which the IT band eventually let’s go and let’s you run.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

But it wasn’t all bad. I had a few smiling moments the first half of the race as well. The frontrunners in boystown were fun to see and the lululemon cheering section was explosively loud as usual. I started taking mental notes of my favorite signs (‘smile if you peed a little’ and ‘chuck norris would never run a marathon’) Some of my best friends came to watch me at miles 4 and 11. It was upon seeing them that 1) I realized I wasn’t going to win this thing (har har har) and 2) that I might as well make the most of the time and energy others were putting into watching this race. After all, it’s tough to run a marathon, but volunteering or watching one is no easy feat.

chicago marathon team paws babies

shout out to the Benkos and Bialarucki’s for letting your pretty girls distract me from my demon legs

So I decided to start walking through every water station. To thank the volunteers whenever I had a chance to. To smile and wave to those who shouted my name along the route (tip: put your name on your shirt if you run a marathon. Strangers will become your best friends). And to be grateful for each mile I was able to push through as I got closer and closer to my family.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

I wouldn’t say I cruised through the halfway point but by mile 14 I still had a slightly decent pace. Believe it or not my legs hurt less when I ran faster for the first half. Normally, I would start to get emotional at this point and I did nearly cry at the 13.1 mark when I passed the bagpipers but that was mostly because I knew I still had 13 more to go.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

my sister was behind the camera but she should get credit for the coordination, attire and enthusiasm for team Murphy

Miles 14-16 were nothing but happy because I had these bright smiling (and model-ready) faces to feed me ibuprofen and hug me. Running through charity village and my friends Trista, Paul and their cute baby girl also made for happy moments as we entered into the second half of the race.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

So here’s where it gets fun. I often run through Little Italy. I really enjoy it actually. The smells of Italian food, the friendly faces. I had just passed an aid station and was coming up on mile 18 when my nose started running like crazy.

Oh great my cold is back. Wait a second. What’s with all this blood? Oh isn’t this just lovely. I can add first bloody nose to the laundry list of firsts today. Just great.  Oh well at least my face will match my limp now. 

That’s right. I had the privilege of running another mile and a half with a bloody nose. A bystander gave me a wad of Starbucks napkins, bless his heart. The race guide told me the next aid station was just a few yards away. The nurses at distant aid station swore I didn’t have blood all over my face. I’m convinced they lied to me. Just like the race guide and the people who told me I had “great form” and “looked strong” at miles 22 and 24.

Liars! Very kind liars but liars, all of you!

But there were happy points along the way. Like the time I nearly bear-hugged the man who was handing out orange slices in China Town as he was my only hope for getting this blood taste out of my mouth and stomach. Or when I literally broke down in laughter after realizing we had to run all the way to US Cellular field before making our way back North to the finish.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

From mile 23 on I secretly reveled in the fact that everyone else was starting to feel the level of pain I had been feeling since the first 5K. I know it’s mean but that’s what happens in survival mode. It was every man or woman for herself time as runners were pulling up with cramps left and right. For once I felt like my fueling strategy was paying off. My IT bands had stopped working miles ago, but my calves were barely hanging on, scooting along like an old lady on her way to a high-stakes bridge game.

By mile 24 I couldn’t make to the next water station without alternating running and walking. Only problem was walking felt just about as bad as running at that point. I had just about given up near mile 25 when I determined that 800 meters meant TWO LAPS around a track and I surely only had enough gas for a 200. It was at that moment that I heard my name from an area pretty sparse with spectators. A friend and frequent marathoner was there like a little marathon angel and gave me some very encouraging words when I needed them most.

Unlike my other races, there was no final kick. No overwhelming feeling of elation when I saw the big screen or the stupid Mount Roosevelt that stood between me and the finish line. Just sheer determination and knowing that as soon as I got there the pain would start to fade from my body.

chicago marathon finish simply social blog

But I finished. With a watch time of 4:36 and a chip time of 4:53. Knowing that those 17 minutes I stopped to hug my family and friends and thank volunteers (plus go to the bathroom and clot a bloody nose) were completely worth the extra time.

I shared this on Facebook shortly after the race and I think it’s worth another view. Because even though I didn’t have the most joyous and happy marathon experience, the experience itself left a lasting impact.

Today I ran a marathon. Strangers told me I looked strong when I clearly looked anything but. Volunteers kept me hydrated when I longed for something to drink. Family and friends told me to keep going when all I wanted to do was stop. If you want to see the good in humanity go out and run a marathon. Today I may have run a marathon, but this overwhelming sense of pride is a result of what I saw along the way.

Perks of a taper week

Happy marathon week to all you runners out there! For those of you not running a marathon it’s likely you are either getting married or watching others get married this weekend. After all, the second weekend of October is typically celebrated one of these two ways. A small percentage of you have nothing more than visiting a pumpkin patch on your agenda. That’s OK too. Making decisions at pumpkin patches can be challenging.

For my fellow runners, the week leading up to the marathon is a taper week. Most of you are probably going crazy trying to figure out what to do with all your free time that doesn’t involve running. By now your friends and family just want this stupid race over with so you can go back to being your old self again. No? Oh that just must be mine. As someone who has been not running at all “tapering” for two weeks now, let me offer some advice. Cook something. Bake, why don’t ya? Because nothing says taper like 3 loaves of pumpkin bread, homemade pesto and a gigantic batch of chili does it now?

pumpkin bread, pesto, chili

This weekend the air was crisp, the leaves were changing and the sun was shining. Perfect running weather, right? I know. But also perfect baking weather. See how I justified that? It’s all about changing your outlook.

Shall we begin?

My Thursday night went a little something like this

canned pumpkin baking ingredients instagram

So it was inevitable that I was going to make something with pumpkin the very next day. As if that wasn’t incentive enough, a friend saw the photo on Instagram and requested a dessert. Supply and demand matched up and out popped a massive batch of pumpkin bread. I really have a way of making appetizing things sound completely unappetizing, don’t I?

pumpkin bread streusel topping

I make banana bread all year long but come October I like to change it up. It’s a little trick I call adding pumpkin in everything and anything. Try it sometime. It’s fun.

I can’t remember if I made this recipe in years past or not but I chose it based on quantity and a chocolate chip kicker. I’ve tried pumpkin chocolate chip cookies a few times and while they taste good, I find the consistency to be a little chewy for my taste. Like a cuffin. Not the urban dictionary definition, the half cookie, half muffin one.

Anywho I know my friends liked them so I wanted to share the chocolate chip batch with them. This makes enough for 3 loaves. I did one chocolate chip, 1 regular and two minis.

Side note: mini loaves are awesome because let’s just say a last minute party comes up Saturday night and you want to bring something. Boom. Small loaf is just enough for a host/hostess gift but not too much in case they are anti-pumpkin, paleo or presumptuous.

pumpkin bread streusel topping

Pumpkin Bread (adapted from Two peas and their pod)

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I did 1/2 C whole wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (added 1/2 C to one loaf)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare loaf pans. I used two 9×5 and 2 mini loaf pans.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl.

In your stand mixer, mix sugar, pumpkin, oil, water and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs.

Add dry ingredients to wet being careful not to overmix. You can easily do this by hand I just like the size of the bowl with my stand mixer. Fold chocolate chips into one portion of batter and fill loaf pan.

In a small bowl, mix 3 TBL brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and a little flour. Top each loaf pan with streusel topping before baking.

Bake for 45-60 minutes depending on the heat of your oven. A knife should come out clean when bread is done. Note: small loaf pans will cook much faster.

pumpkin bread streusel topping

Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes then flip bread out of loaf pans. Let cool again. Right foot two stomps. Left foot two stomps. Cha Cha real smooth. 

Take bread over by window to get better lighting for photograph. Try to get a good shot without your dog photobombing the bread.

swissy puppy photobombs pumpkin bread

warning: puppy in photo is not as close as he appears

Slice and serve for breakfast, brunch or dessert. Or if you’re tapering this week, all three. Just call it an early carb-load.

pumpkin bread streusel topping
Best of luck to all my fellow marathoners and marrieds this weekend!

Running on my nerves

I’ll keep this post short and sweet. I know I say that at the beginning of most of my posts and then ramble on and on and on but I’m going to really try to give it my all.

Speaking of giving my all, my first full marathon is rapidly approaching. If you need me to be more specific it’s knocking on my door in just over one week.

bank of america chicago marathon countdown clock

The time continues to tick down as I write this. Even more as you read it. Can you tell I’m a little nervous?

Well I am. For a number of reasons.

1) My body hates me. My IT Band continues to resist any and all treatment, getting angrier by the day. I picture it to look like one of those mucous men when the medicine is administered on the mucinex commercial. Real Happy. 

what’s the big idea?

2) I haven’t run any sort of distance in weeks. I feel like I am losing months of training as each day passes. I visualized this point several months ago. If I’m being honest part of me even wondered if I wouldn’t be able to race so I could attend the wedding of my friends when I found both were on the same weekend. But as the miles passed, I realized how much I wanted to complete this goal. And now I am scared I might not be able to.

3) I’m bringing in the big guns and throwing a complete wrench in my routine. Ice treatments. Rest. Stretching. More rest. Stim machines and something I try to generally avoid, medicine. All of these changes so close to race day are really contributing to my nerves. I’m not exactly a good “rester.” I feel like I should be picturing the course and all I can think about is whether my leg will hold up for mile 1.

But as much as I’m filled with doubt and nerves as to whether my body will hold up for the longest run I’ll likely ever do, I am determined.

1) Determined to do anything and everything needed to make sure I am ready when that gun goes off. For the last several weeks, I’ve been receiving emails nearly everyday with information about the race, packet pickup, pasta feeds, security updates and well-wishes. I must admit I’ve been avoiding them for the most part, but starting today I’m focusing on making the best of a bad situation and trying to enjoy each moment. Kind of like this guy.

2) Determined to do this for those who can’t. My knee hurts when I run. That sucks, but it’s nothing compared to the struggles and pain that others are going through on a daily basis. And it’s likely nothing compared to what thousands of other runners are going to push through next Sunday. I am blessed and I am trying to focus on that over the next week.

3) Determined to do this for TEAM PAWS. A very worthy cause that is even closer to my heart after going through a recent health scare with my pup, Finn. Pets become family. They tug at your heartstrings like watching Homeward Bound on a rainy Sunday. They deserve a chance at life. A chance for a family who loves them.

So as the countdown clock ticks away, I ask that you consider donating to PAWS Chicago and supporting me next weekend. Donations for the marathon close this Sunday, October 6th. And regardless of my finish in the race, your contribution will support the lives of pets who need it most.

DONATE HERE

Thank you for your consideration!