Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mid-Week Inspiration

A common response when I tell people I'm running a marathon is, "A marathon? Like 26 miles?!?! I could NEVER do that!"

For those of you who think you can't, you're wrong.

Look no further than an entry in today's NYT' Well Blog "An Injured Soldier's Two-Week Marathon," for proof. The post tells a beautiful story of a British army officer that was paralyzed in Iraq during a February 2008 rocket attack. Once told he would never walk again, the relentless soldier underwent aggressive rehabilitation, took his first steps in February 2009 and completed the London marathon in April. His time? Two weeks.

Running a marathon may not be fun. Beyond that, it may be painful, agonizing, sweaty and uncomfortable; however, whether you believe it or not, you CAN do it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

On the Bright Side...

I'm a glass half-full kinda gal... as cheesy as it sounds, I do believe every cloud has a silver lining. So, as I've found myself complaining about the weather A LOT lately, I thought it'd be a good exercise to think through the positives of a cooler-than-average summer.

  • Cooler weather is undoubtedly better running weather. Sunny, muggy days are brutal for runners, even at 6 o'clock in the morning. I definitely picked a good summer to train for a marathon.

  • Like many residing in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, my apartment is OLD (read: radiator heat, no central AC). As such, my roommate and I purchased window AC units last year and have run them significantly less than last year, equating to electric bills I don't feel nervous opening.

  • I'm pretty saddened my lack of a solid tan and being able to count on at least one solid day in the sun each week. However, decreased sun exposure should lead to reduced risk of skin cancer, right? (Not sure about this one; I'm still pretty sad about my pathetic tan.)

  • While my walk from home to the el and the el to work is less than four blocks total, I've definitely worked up some pretty solid sweats during the hottest days of the summer. This summer, I've enjoyed sweat-free commutes, avoiding the need to practically towel off when I arrive in my cube and curse myself for spending the time to blow out my hair. File this into the "the little things in life" category.

  • Being at work isn't as depressing as usual. Don't get me wrong -- I have a fantastic job with great colleagues and enjoy what I do. But in the summer, one can't help daydreaming about the days when summer meant daylong (or more) play dates with friends, afternoons at the pool, watching The Price is Right EVERY morning... This weather actually makes me grateful that I'm not a kid -- I'd be pretty frustrated!
Phew. I feel much better now.
Sort of...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sometimes, You Just Need a Marg

Suffice to say, it's been a stressful two weeks. So much so that I've been running sans-iPod, deep in thought and entirely focused on finding the answers to life's questions. (Too deep? You're right, that was a little over the top.)

Running is a great stress reliever, but after trading a few messages with a dear friend and sorority sister today, it became clear that what we both needed was a pitcher of margaritas, a plate of Mexican food and at least one uninterupted hour to catch up on eachother's lives, say "why are boys like that?" countless times and gossip about mutual friends. With a belly full of frozen lime margaritas, a shared plate of cuisine -- including a GUACAMOLE BURRITO -- and a number of our troubles fully hashed and analyzed, I felt better than the therapy session of a five-mile run.

Though I'm separated from family and many of my close confidants -- who thankfully, are only a phone call, text message, IM, Facebook message, e-mail, etc. away -- I'm lucky enough to live not only in the same city as some of my best friends, but in the same neighboorhood and, in some cases, on the same road. I've also been fortunate to meet new friends that I trust, and colleagues that really do care about my life outside of work. While running is great, I'd be lost completely without all of my Chicago friends -- both old and new -- that I can rely on to grab a margarita when I need it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Great 11 Miles

With some pretty major plans for the weekend -- a Cub's game, BBQs gallore, fireworks and more -- I REALLY wanted to get my long run out of the way on Friday morning.

Thanks to an e-mail sent out by my pace leader, I was able to find a buddy to run with and am pleased to report a hefty 11ish-miles has been run. What's more, I felt great during the entire run. The weather was party cloudy and high-60s with a slight breeze. Towards the end, the clouds began to break, signaling the start of a good day. To top it off, I met a new friend and running partner.

Eleven miles is pretty far... in my opinion. It's almost half the marathon, and continuing to feel strong throughout the long runs is building my confidence. I think my strength -- at least in part -- is due to genetics and my strong cardio base, but I'm convinced that running with others is adding to my success.

And apparantly, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I read an article in the NYT a few weeks ago about the benefits of running with others. Check out this exerpt:

"When Ms. Kislevitz decided to run her first marathon, a friend elected to help her get through the unknown of the long run. She was hesitant, not wanting to sacrifice her private time where she wrote many of her articles in her head. But then she and her friend started the run.

'We fell into the same pace, and before I knew it, the ten miles were over,' she said. 'We were talking about our kids and our marriages and I thought, ‘This is amazing, how could I ever run a long run alone again?’'

She added: 'You don’t really notice the pain. If you start whining, someone is going to tell you to shut up.'"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Finally... Time to Blog!

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic, to say the least. But with a major project at work our of my hair, I'm finally in the mood to spend some time in front of my computer outside of work hours.

Though I may not have updated this blog, it hasn't been out of my mind. In fact, there have been many things I wanted to write about but didn't have time or energy to do so. Here's a glimpse of what I WOULD'VE written about, if I've wouldn't have been so busy working, running, working enjoying the 90-degree heat, Chicago festivals and working:

  • #1: First and foremost, I have to shout out to my virtual training buddy -- my big bro. This past weekend, he played in a golf outing sponsored by our dad's fraternity. In recent years, my dad's brothers -- many of whom were also were his fraternity brothers -- have set up a longest drive competition at a hole in his honor. My bro took it upon himself to raise funds at the event. Woohoo! Here's a link to his post on the event: Sig Epps Golf Outing.
  • #2: I've eaten some pretty good food lately. For example, the Sinfully Healthy Sandwich from neighborhood cheese and wine shop Pastoral -- roasted turkey with mango chutney, whole grain dijon mustard, field greens, avocado and D'Affinois -- is darn near a religious experience. B. and I celebrated five years of dating bliss a few weeks back, and the fried calamari and bruschetta from Mia Francesca was melt-in-your mouth good. I almost died when eating skirt steak and fried plantains at local BYOB Las Tablas when out with some friends last weekend. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • #3: I am utterly and completely obsessed with running, especially my running group. So much so, that I'm thinking about dropping some serious cash on a Garmin watch:
Yes, I realize they aren't sexy and actually are quite dorky. HOWEVER, they have some pretty sweet and serious features -- i.e., "continuously record your time, distance, pace, calories burned and heart rate." Being the frugal franny that I am, I doubt I'll pony up for one of these... unless I get some pretty serious feedback.

  • #4: I had an amazing run last Saturday morning at CARA. It was only a six-miler, and I strongly considered sleeping in an running later on. But I committed to some fellow running friends that I'd be there, so there I was at 6 a.m. Because of the shorter distance, my group pushed the pace a bit and, for the last mile, a few of us really pushed it and ran the last mile HARD. The kicker? The 36-year-old geezer in the rabbit group beat us all to the finish. In any case, it somehow made waking up ridiculously early and by choice on a Saturday worth it.
So there you go. A shortened verion of what the last week or so would've looked like in this blog.

Thanks to everyone for your feedback, comments and encouragement. It means the world.