Monday, February 27, 2012

This Post is Way Overdue!

Gosh, it has been a long time since my last post. I took a two month break from running to "reset" and, along with that, ended up breaking from blogging. But I have a lot of great things on the horizon that I want to share with you....

I have a few races on the calendar this Spring. First up, as I'm getting back into the higher mileage races, I'm starting by running the LA Big 5K with my friend Laird, in Los Angeles, California. After that, I'll be training for the Fargo Half Marathon, in Fargo, North Dakota, where I'll be (sort of) running alongside fellow RUSer Kristine. I say "sort of" because Kristine will be running the full marathon - go Kristine! Laird and my friend Heather will be running in Fargo, too, so it will be a fun "Race-cation" with a great group of friends. I can't wait!

On another note, I'm so excited to announce that the first season of Girls on the Run Twin Cities is this Spring. The season starts mid-March and culminates on May 19 with the GOTR girls running their first 5K during the Be the One Run at Lake Harriet. Unfortunately, it's the same day as the Fargo Marathon and Half Marathon, so I'll miss out on the GOTR season ending fun. But, if you are interested in volunteering with GOTR, we will need Run Buddies to accompany the girls on their 5K adventure. I was a Run Buddy (and a Coach) in NY, and it's an incredibly memorable way to volunteer your time. Plus, it is a good workout!

As some of you know, I've been involved in Girls on the Run since volunteering as a Coach with the Girls on the Run Manhattan chapter. I was bummed when I moved to Minneapolis and discovered there was no local chapter to volunteer for... and then thrilled when I heard that a group of amazing, dedicated women were working to start up a Twin Cities chapter. I signed up for the Fundraising Committee immediately and have been pitching in as much as possible to make sure that GOTR Twin Cities has a successful lauch to carry it into future seasons. If you would like to make a donation to our local chapter, your donation - in any amount - will be so appreciated, and will go a long way to making sure that GOTR Twin Cities grows and thrives here. Donations can be made here by clicking on the "Donate" button.

I'll share a fun, little anecdote about how amazing this program really is in the way it encourages young girls to believe in themselves as they strive to reach their goals. In November, my friend Bethany and I signed up for the Rails to Trails Half Marathon in Norwalk, Wisconsin. But, having made the trip to Norwalk with Bethany's 11 year old daughter, Gillian, we decided to run the 5K instead - so that we could run with Gillian in her very first 5K. As we were running, Gillian admitted feeling tired and unsure that she could finish without walking most of the way. The GOTR Coach in me kicked in, and I repeated to her the best of the curriculum that we teach during the 12-week season. Mainly, Bethany and I assured her that she could do it, with short walk breaks during the distance "between this tree and that one there." At some point, I said, "Hey, I'll bet you get a medal at the Finish Line!" Whoo, did Gillian take off! Bethany and I couldn't keep up on the last stretch of the course! And guess what, she did get a medal - 2nd Place in her age group! What an amazing experience!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Loving the Loop

Remember this from Ferris Bueller's parade scene?
Glimpse of the Gargyoles
The jail everyone "thinks" I work in
The Thompson Center
The Burnham Center
Every time I'm in the Loop, I think of how I miss working there.  Of course, working at 26th and California has it's perks (although I'm still trying to figure them out), but it just doesn't have the same energy as the Chicago Loop.  Although the weekend vibe is much different (and more tourist-y) than it is during the week, I still enjoyed my run down there this weekend. 

I was tempted to stop at the Bergoff for a beer... but I forgot to bring cash and they weren't accepting GU gels as payment.

Here are some pics I took along the way.  As always, the Loop did not disappoint....the wind still blows from every direction. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

No Running in the House!

Field House
Art House
But sometimes it's allowed.... At least running by the house, or several "houses" like I did Saturday morning during a  run though Chicago's historic Humboldt Park.
Past the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance..... Past the Field House that becomes a beach house in the summer....

Boat House
Past the Boat House. Strangely an absence of boats....

To the finish line!
Todd's house

Dog House
Speaking of houses....Don't Bully My Breed has lots of rescued dogs that would love to go from the dog house to your house.  Check out their latest cuties up for adoption on their facebook wall at  If you can't help out by adopting one of these four-legged friends, then please consider helping offset the cost of caring for them by making a donation. You can do this by visiting   Any amount large or small is appreciated! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New discoveries along old routes

I'm so reflective!
Don't laugh....Safety first!

I'm in the middle of training for my next marathon, the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee.  So far, it's been just another winter of splitting my runs between the treadmill (welcome to Snoozeville) and bundling up to brave the cold, despite the mild winter we've had here in Chicago.  Yesterday, I slowly geared up for a 14 mile run outside.  It had snowed a couple of days before and it was a chilly 31 degrees when I started.  Fortunately, the wind was mild.  Well, mild for Chicago.  If you've read any of my prior posts, then you know how I despise the wind. 

Getting ready for a winter run is no simple task.  First, you have to squeeeeze into those running tights.  Then you have to get into that moisture-wicking long sleeve shirt, and make sure it's all tucked into those tighty tights so it doesn't ride up and expose any teeny tiny bit of skin to the elements.  I laced up my Gortex-lined running shoes (which are awesome for slopping through the slushy snow) and filled up my water bottles for my (nerd alert) hydration belt.  I hate wearing those things; they're so uncomfortable.  I put on my warmest running jacket and made sure I had my hand warmers in my pockets in case the gloves weren't enough.  I slid some lip balm over my lips; set my iPod to a good starting tune; pulled on my hat and gloves; put on my sunglasses to keep the wind out of my eyes, and finally set out for a slow run. 

Temple in Chicago;
no incense haze
Temple in Vietnam:
 incense haze
I took a usual route I run during my race training.  As I was running, I was thinking about how, a couple of weeks ago, I had been running on the same street and had for the first time noticed a Buddhist temple I had never noticed before, even though I had run by it dozens of times before.  How had I not seen this, as it's so out of place next to everything else around it??  Of course, by the time I approached it, my mind had wandered somewhere else.  A bit later, I came back to Earth, and thought, "Wait, did I pass that already?"  Indeed I had.  This might explain how I've run by it several times over the past two years and never noticed it.  Yep, I'm a perceptive one.  Of course, if it were more similar to those temples I visited in Vietnam, I would have smelled the incense a mile away and would have noticed a certain fog in the air. 

One of the challenging parts about running in the winter, is running on snow and ice.  It does make for some difficult running since it rarely creates an even surface.  So I've developed blisters in lots of new places as a result of my foot turning and twisting in new fun ways.  Of course, there are fun parts of running in the winter, one of which is coming up behind other people out walking with their hoods up.  Ah....the acoustics of the hood.  It makes it impossible to hear any sounds coming from behind you.  I felt a little bad as I came up to this woman walking her dogs when I completely startled her as I yelled out "on your left" to let her know I was passing.  Of course, the expression on her face was priceless, but I think I might have almost given her heart attack. 

My turn around point was one of the largest cemeteries in the city, Rosehill Cemetery.  I've run that far north only once before, during the summertime, where I stopped to walk the paths while taking a breather.  (Apparently running in the cemetery is frowned upon.)  Maybe it's weird, but I love walking through cemeteries.  They are always quiet and peaceful and I find many of the elaborate gravestones to be incredibly majestic and beautiful.  This time, however, I did not stop to venture inside as it was too cold out, but I did take a minute to snap this shot over the perimeter wall.  Hopefully it captures the peaceful silence that was present, and is rare to find in the city.   

It's hard to find something new and exciting when you run so frequently in the same places.  But every now and then, you open your eyes and notice something you've never seen before.  Or you run a little bit farther than last time, and maybe it's something you've already seen, but now it's winter and you see it in a whole different light.