5 Years Down

The last few weeks have been so busy that I totally forgot to post about my 5 year work anniversary. I looked back at last year’s post around this time and realized that I feel pretty much exactly the same.

I could have never in a million years imagined how crazy weird and awesome my life would be. In the last four five years, I’ve had the most amazing co-workers, participants and volunteers, I’ve run 4 5 marathons raising thousands of dollars and every morning (okay pretty much every morning. . .I’m human) I wake up super excited to go to work. This totally is not the life I had planned for myself but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turned out so far.

With fall (yay fall) event season gearing up and Chicago Marathon just 32 days away, it’s about to get pretty busy around here. THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to my Team LUNGevity fundraising page and to all of the amazing humans who are running with me on October 8th and raising money. And super huge shout out to this little gopher who started her first day of COLLEGE today, they grow up so fast.




Four Years of Awesome

Event season is coming up and things are about to get real. In anticipation of my 4th year (holy cow right), below are some highlights.

I could have never in a million years imagined how crazy weird and awesome my life would be. In the last four years I’ve had the most amazing co-workers, participants and volunteers, I’ve run 4 marathons raising thousands of dollars and every morning (okay pretty much every morning. . .I’m human) I wake up super excited to go to work.

This totally is not the life I had planned for myself but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turned out so far.

Shout out to this guy for always supporting me and having my back.


Cheers to the next 4 years (and so much coffee).


Spring Marathon Training In Chicago. . .

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Basketball, Movies and Early Morning Run

Cross training this week was basketball so it meant that there was actually some cardio going on.

Team MannysGo Team Manny’s!

My dad had some serious basketball skills back in the day (and street cred) and I played on our Catholic girls middle school team (not to brag or anything) but as an adult, I suck. I pretty much have the worst combination of qualities that you would want for this sport. I’m impatient, I’m slow, I am aggressive and competitive but also really, really clumsy. Growing up my dad was my coach (naturally) and I remember him telling me two things: never shoot (for good reason) and when in doubt kick it out. I was however, an amazing rebounder (not that I could shoot the ball after I grabbed it). I definitely could have used some of this:

Because I ended up with these:

Monday knees
In the end it was all okay because I brought homemade chocolate chip cookies. Food solves everything right? Speaking of food. . . last night I went to Movie’s in the Park to see Ghostbusters and ended up with this spread:

Tuesday movie in the park
Word to the wise: do not go grocery shopping when you’re hungry or you’ll end up with things like blueberry goat cheese, salami and Gummy Tummy penguins. . . Pretty much right after we sat down and started eating the rain came down. We held out for a little while (well really until we finished the wine) and then high tailed it out of there. So in other words, I still have not seen Ghostbusters. Of course it stopped raining right after we got back and it looked like this outside:

Tuesday post rain

This morning I woke up at the crack of dawn and ran 5 miles. In case you have never experienced running that early, it looks like this:

Wednesday 5 mile run
And if you’re still confused, you can refer to the beginning of pretty much any Law and Order SVU episode. Also, if you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing me, running, early, you can take a look at this mug (it’s not pretty):

Wednesday run 5 miles

Side note: This shirt is Steve’s and I’m only wearing it to show him that it is not an everyday shirt like he thinks and that it is meant for all of the things I used it for this morning. . . like aerobics when few people are around to see, sweating profusely and blowing my nose in (I hope you’re reading this 😉

Today is, I think, the 2nd or 3rd day of summer and apparently what that means in Chicago is a foggy, wet (but not raining) medium temperature that I do not think has been classified yet. You’re a little cold and you’re also drenched but nothing is coming down from the sky? It’s weird. . . I’d like to file a formal complaint with whoever handles the weather here but I’m guessing there’s a long line. I am happy though that I can wear a t-shirt and shorts instead of 12 pairs of socks like in the winter so I’ll stop complaining now. Here is a picture of the weather and it looks exactly how I described it right?

Wednesday Fog

So my 5 miles for today are done and for anyone who would like to experience what it’s like to be behind the person wearing that shirt, here you go, you’re welcome:

Wednesday Tshirt

Also, a shameless Team LUNGevity plug: If you are free on Thursday night (tomorrow) at 6:30pm, join us for a donation workout class!

Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Time: 6:30pm
Location: Northeast corner of Michigan and Roosevelt
Cost: Suggested $10 donation Get ready to sweat in a full body workout that will hit every muscle while incorporating bursts of cardio to keep your heart rate up! Using your own body weight you’ll sculpt your way through an hour long boot camp style class and leave feeling wonderfully exhausted!
Learn more about LUNGevity and where your donation goes HERE

I Ran A Marathon!

I did it! I ran a marathon and yes, I’m alive!

I raised $1,413.20 for Team LUNGevity and finished in 5:01 (click here if you want to see my sweaty pics)! I can officially say now that the marathon was a better experience and in my mind easier than registering (and getting my results which took 2 days). Here’s my breakdown of Marathon Weekend (see photos at the bottom):

Fleet Feet Shake Out Run: Saturday morning I went to Fleet Feet in the South Loop for my final pre-marathon run. It was a great experience to be able to get out with others doing the marathon and Bart Yasso! We met at Fleet Feet and checked in and then headed out to the Shedd for a quick there and back 2-3 miles. I had the chance to talk with a few out of towners who were in Chicago for the first time and several people who have run marathons before. I was able to get some last minute questions answered and calm my nerves a little. When we got back, we had coffee and breakfast waiting for us and as we a finished up, we listened to Bart Yasso talk about some races he’s done and answer questions.

Expo: Steve and I headed over to the expo around 10:30am and met my family (my uncle was running as well). We got our bibs right away and then waked around to the different booths picking up our t-shirt, taste testing, and visiting all of the Chicago Marathon exhibits. They had a few pretty cool things! There was a video playing where they showed the entire course and every mile marker and then they had a mural of Chicago buildings with magnets covering them and participants could take a magnet and sign their name in the spot. They also had the alert level flags which Samantha mentioned was a great photo op!

Saturday Evening: After the expo Steve and I hung out for a little and then drove his car to my apartment so that my family could park in his spot in the morning. Saturday was my youngest sister’s first homecoming and since I wasn’t there, my other sister took pics and sent them to me all evening. I planned on going to either Home Slice or Vapiano for dinner in Lincoln Park but then as we were on our way I changed my mind and said I wanted to go to Lou Malnati’s. Since there is one by Steve’s we just headed over there on the red line toward that location. I should have stuck with my original plan because we got there and it was packed! So instead of putting our name in or listening to one of Steve’s several other ideas, I cried that I was hungry. We ended up eating at Flo and Stanto’s a few blocks away and ordered soup, bruschetta and pizza –everything was great! When we got back to his condo I laid everything out including my breakfast and pinned my bib to my shirt and then we hung out and I went to bed.

Marathon: I slept pretty well the night before and got up around 5:30 rested. I had coffee, ate some of my bagel, oatmeal and banana and waited for my family to get there. Right before we were about to leave I got nervous and started crying. . . yep, that’s right. . I was crying! I got it together and then we headed out and walked to Grant Park. Uncle Tom and I took a few pictures and then parted from our cheer section — we took a pit stop at the porta potties and then got into our corral. We waited for about 10-15 minutes, listened to a few announcements and then took off. The first 2 miles or so were easy (thank God or I would have been in trouble) but they were a little congested. When we turned onto State between mile 1 and 2 there were a few points were we almost started walking again because there were so many people. As we got to the 2nd mile though it cleared up and I found my pace. I spotted Lindsey first right before mile 2 and then my Aunt Karen, Steve and Mr. Daar right after! Thankfully we planned out where they would be standing and I knew where LUNGevity and my other friends were so I was able to breakdown the miles in my head until I saw someone again which helped a lot. Miles 2-5 were pretty boring. We went up LaSalle and I people watched and listened to music for the most part. Aside from seeing my family and friends, mile 6ish was my favorite part of the race. There was a retirement home that had 2 floors with windows facing the street that we ran in and so many of the residents had signs (one said ‘run while you still can’) for us that they held up to the windows and they danced and cheered!

After that I only had about 2 miles until I saw my aunt, Steve and Mr. Daar again! I spotted them on Broadway about a block or so after I turned on from Addison and heard them cheering! Then about a mile after that I saw Katie, Kelly and Katie!! I continued to run down Sedgwick and then Wells where I saw Lululemon and a few girls I run and do yoga with — they had music and some pretty funny signs that kept me entertained for blocks! Then right around mile 12 I saw a fellow Team LUNGevity runner ahead of me so I sped up to talk to him. We chatted for a few minutes and then parted ways after the water station.

Mile 13 and 14 were my favorite miles of the race. I still felt really good and then as I passed 13 I heard my dad and uncle cheering for me really loudly! A few blocks later I saw my sister’s sign that she had put up and then at mile 14 I saw Samantha, Rejane, Brett and Anne cheering! Since I knew I would have family and LUNGevity at 13 and 14, I spent a lot of that time skimming the crowd so by the time I hit Samantha and she grabbed and hugged me, I was in a daze! I heard her ask me if I was okay and I said hi to everyone and grabbed pretzels, but everything happened so quickly!

Then it got tough. . .

Mile 15 or so my right hip and knee started hurting (and continued to for the rest of the race). My hip had hurt for my 20 miler as well so I was prepared for this to happen. What I wasn’t prepared for was my foot to go numb! I figured as I ran that the pain in my hip was causing this but then I realized around mile 17 that my shoe was just tied too tight (phew)! So once I loosened up my shoe laces I felt a lot better. The next 3 miles felt long but pretty steady until I hit the bridge at mile 20. I’ve heard people talk about hitting the wall but it felt more like the wall hit me! Miles 20-23 were definitely the hardest of all. My hip hurt, the view was terrible, there was barely anyone cheering in that area and it was boring! By then I was pretty much over my music so it took everything in me to get to the end. Once we hit Michigan though with 2 miles to go I could finally see that I was close to finishing a marathon and my mood turned around completely! Mile 24 was tough but the cheering started to ramp up again and there was music and people dancing and enough going on to distract me from being uncomfortable. Once I hit mile 25 though it was pretty much smooth sailing to the end! I knew I would see my family and the Daar’s so I looked forward to them being near Michigan and 14th. I saw them and then I was so distracted by everyone cheering that the bridge at the end felt like nothing at all! I turned the corner and sped up toward the finish and then went through the most efficient end chute I’ve ever seen! They wrap the blanket around you then you get your medal and as you walk people just come out and hand you things and you continue to feel better and better along the way! I got to the end and grabbed beer and waited for my uncle to finish!

Post Marathon: After I met up with my uncle we headed over to find Steve, my dad, my Uncle Joe and Aunt Karen. We all met up on Michigan, took a few pictures and walked back to Steve’s. Once everyone left, we headed straight upstairs to the hot tub where I immediately got in with my clothes on (I’m pretty sure that’s not recommended after but it felt great). Then I showered and we went to Eleven City Diner for a post race meal. I couldn’t decide between waffles or a burger (I know, such a bad problem to have) so I let the waiter pick. He came back with a bacon cheeseburger and a plate full of fries (phew) which I proceeded to inhale along with my pickle and some of Steve’s soup! After we ate we walked back and the rest of the afternoon and evening I napped! The worst part of the experience was when my time was posted online and it was my clock time instead of my chip time. I thought they would update it within a couple hours or so but it was an emotional roller coaster (sorry to all of those that were harmed by me along the way). I checked it for 2 days and it was still at 5:44 and I called to see if I could get it updated so I could have my medal engraved Monday at Fleet Feet and the person on the phone told me I could ‘put whatever time I want on it’ which made me even more upset! Then at work the next day they updated the time to 4:59 which I was super happy about and then just after I finished telling everyone and their mother, I went back to look at photos and I saw that it was updated again to 5:01. Yes, I know that it’s only a 2 minute difference but above and below 5 hours seems like way more! So I gave up checking it until I started writing this and it’s still at 5:01 so that’s the time I’m sticking with. I ended up getting my medal engraved (not with a fake time. . . like the Chicago Marathon staff suggested so kindly) but with my name and ‘1st marathon’ on the back which I’m okay with now.

Recovering: I feel great now! I walked around Monday and Tuesday and then Wednesday I ran for the first time for about 20 minutes. This week though I’m back to running . . .for fun. . . which is nice! I’m able to run a few days a week and go back to things I missed while I was training like hot yoga! The one downside is that I can’t eat nearly enough as I was before if I want to fit into any of the bridesmaid dresses in my near future (3 so far). . .

A few things I know now:

1. Oranges are a great running food! I ran the whole thing without any stomach problems and not once did I feel sick! I decided to go with the Clif shot bloks and had 3-4 bloks every 5-6 miles and then I had a few oranges toward the end of the race!

2. Don’t tie your shoes too tight!

3. Water stations are tricky! I was afraid of not getting enough water but also of drinking too much so I stopped at every station and took small, slow sips. If I could do that again I would probably have stopped at 2-3 less water stations and gone through them a little more quickly than I did. The water stations were really where I slowed down and I was not prepared for the amount of weaving or the amount of banana peels there would be at the last 3 (seriously, why didn’t anyone warn me about the bananas).

4. Miles 18-24 are boring! The views suck and there are a lot less people cheering! Just my opinion: they should reverse the route. . .

5. Something weird happens after you finish a marathon for the first time. You’re so happy and proud of yourself and your day (well week) is consumed with people telling you how great you did and you spend time recovering and then once you finish the week of ‘recovering’ you think. . now what? It’s weird not to be training and have to schedule your life around runs and you miss it!

Best signs:

1. You run better than the CTA and government
2. If it were easy it would be called your mom

A few non-running things that I learned from this experience:

1. I have the world’s greatest boyfriend. Not only did he schlep around the city to see me 4 times at the race, he Expo With Stevelistened to me complain about being sore and starving (and full) for months and devoted the entire weekend to marathon events. And thank you to Mr. Daar who came out to cheer for me!

2. Samantha Guelda. . . I mean Kellgren (woo she got married!) is a phenomenal runner, Samcoach, Team LUNGevity Manager, eater and motivational speaker (she’s funny too, check out her blog)! There is no way I could have run it without her — her advice is amazing and her food stories are even better. If anyone is looking for a coach, I’m sure she’d happily assist you in exchange for Luna Bars.

3. LUNGevity is a pretty great place! Aside from supporting the largest national lung cancer grassroots events program and having the largest online cancer support network, LUNGevity Foundation is a wonderful and supportive place to work. I am lucky to have amazing co-workers who supported me through the training and several who came out on marathon morning andRejane and Sam cheered! And all of my volunteer event coordinators kept up with my progress and cheered me on! We also had a very solid, inspirational group of runners on Team LUNGevity this year who raised $48,074.48 so far (blog about Team LUNGevity to follow)!

4. I have some pretty great friends and roommates! My friends have been Balloon and flower from Katie and Kellyincredible through my training and my roommates and friends came out to support me in the cold at mile 8 of the race! Sign and flowers in our apartment!
5. My family is the best! My entire family has been cheering me on for months leading up to the event and my dad, uncle, aunt and sister came to cheer us on. Having family and friends every photo 3few miles was extremely helpful and gave me something to look forward to while I was running. I’ve always looked up to my Uncle Tom (it was his first one too) but I am even more proud of him for training and running the marathon!

So, people keep asking me: will I do it again? YES! I plan to do Chicago again next year and beat my time and fundraising! It took me only about 6 minutes after crossing the finish line (and 2 beers) to come to that decision! In the meantime, I am doing a Thanksgiving Pie Race in the suburbs and tonight I will be feasting on this gelato doughnut sandwich (obviously a review will follow).

Photos from Marathon Weekend!
1377008_3150312753849_924731185_n Saturday Fun Run Fleet Feet Fleet Feet Bart YassoWriting on Chicago Name on wall Shirt and Bib Expo Expo with Uncle Tom Expo With Steve Chicago Wall Alert Level LowLaid out clothes Bruchetta Pizza SoupRejane and Sam Sam with steve after uncle tom and aunt karen after Start line Before with Uncle tom After with Uncle tomphoto 1 photo 2 Soup medal and bib after Balloon and flower from Katie and Kelly

Happy Birthday To Me: 20 Miles and Breathe Deep Lake Arlington

This past weekend was jam packed! Saturday I signed up with a few other Team LUNGevity runners for a 20 miler in Elk Grove Village. While it wasn’t a timed race, it was set up like the marathon will be and was a great way to ‘practice’ for race day. When I arrived, I met up with Joy, Laura and Ken who are running with LUNGevity and raising money for lung cancer research and awareness as well! The weather was 1233616_205345379635145_2095027865_nbeautiful and I couldn’t have had a better group of people to run with! We ran the first 9 miles together and chatted about how we got involved with LUNGevity, the marathon and I even got a happy birthday tune out of my pace group! Around 9 miles I realized that pace groups might not be for me. I love the company and it was so nice to be running with Ken, Laura and Joy, but I need to take the water stations a little more slowly. So they went ahead and I took about a mile to settle back in. I kept up a good pace, but as I hit the water stations, I need to sip the water slowly and take about 10 walking steps before I start back running and that’s not something you can do while running with a pace group. I continued on and around mile 15 (a turn around point on the course) I waved hi to Ken, Joy and Laura! The next mile or so was tough but once I got to mile 17, I pumped up my music and ran an even pace through the end. The best part of the run was the finish (duh) — because Laura, Ken and Joy were all waiting at the end cheering me on!
Note: all three of them are (cough — a little) older than I am and they all beat me!!

gWe stretched, got some snacks and then walked the almost mile back to our cars! While I was sore on Sunday, I am very happy with how Saturday went! I cannot stress enough how exciting it was to be running with other Team LUNGevity members! It was great to have the support throughout the race! (and check out this link in the Sun Times. .  Laura and Joy are the runners in blue and orange in the second photo!)

After the race, I ran (okay hobbled) a few errands for Breathe Deep Lake Arlington and then headed over to my family party to celebrate (with cake AND pie made by my grandma)!


Sunday was a great day for Breathe Deep Lake Arlington! It’s nice to see all of your hard work come together and to have such a great turnout! Naomi, our coordinator did a wonderful job: we had the walk (amazing weather), refreshments, raffle, and face painters for the kids (and me)! Everyone had such a great time!

As for the running: it’s TAPER TIME!!! Until the marathon, my long runs get shorter and shorter (12, 8 and 2 miles)!

I also want to take a second to thank all of the amazing volunteers are the race on Saturday and at our event on Sunday! Especially to my sister (pictured below) for waking up early and helping all day! These people wake up early (now in the dark and cold weather) to hand out water to runners or set up tables for registration. I am so grateful for all of the volunteers that helped this weekend!

LAKEARLINGTON0913  Charley volunteering LAKEARLINGTON0913 Beautiful event day LAKEARLINGTON0913 Deni and her sonphoto  LAKEARLINGTON0913 Heather and Naomi1375114_205748609594822_1714585182_n

19 Miles and Chipolte Fest!

I have officially conquered 19 miles!

I woke up around 6:45 on Saturday morning and had some oatmeal and water before heading out. Instead of going straight to the lake Map 19 milesfront, I ran through Lincoln Park for about 4 miles before taking Addison over. I went north up the lake front path until I hit 6.5 miles and then turned around and went south. On my way back south, I actually ran through The 5 and 10K Lung Run! It was cool to be running a couple of miles with hundreds of others who are raising money for lung cancer research.

Once I hit 13, I came back around and headed home. Even though the run lasted about 3.5 hours, I felt pretty great the entire time. I ran the 19 miles aside from when I stopped for water — walking 10 steps each time to swallow before running again. Once I got back, I had a bagel, coffee and orange juice, my legs were sore and I was tired, but I wasn’t nauseous at all!

This time I tried Cliff Shot Bloks but I put them in the fridge over night and took them out before I left. I had 2-3 every 5-6 miles and I was Shot Bloks 19 mile runable to eat them with no problem while I drank water. I have decided to go with the strawberry Shot Bloks for marathon day! The first few times I had tried them, I didn’t eat them with water and they were mushy from being left out. Having them refrigerated before made a huge difference.

After the run I met friends at Chipolte Fest (is there a better way to end 19 miles?) in Lincoln Park. We had tacos, pulled pork and pie and walked around the park for awhile.


Pulled Pork and Pie Chipolte Fest


What’s Next?

This Saturday: 12 miles

September 21st: Happy Birthday to me! 20 Miles!

September 28th: 12 miles

October 5th: 8 miles

October 12th: 2 miles