Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ouchtown. Population: 1

Edit: the images below are kind of sick. I normally don't have these types of "issues"

So I'm suffering through my first marathon-related injury. My shin has been bothering me for a couple of weeks now and after our three mile "Taste of the Marathon" run on Monday night, it's been really really nagging me. Like every step I take until I get in a "rhythm" nagging me. I can't even describe the thoughts that are running through my head and the mega frustration that I'm feeling. I refuse to go to a doctor because I am going to run this race! I don't care if I have to drag my right leg behind me like an idiot across the finish line because it's happening. I'm running a marathon and I cannot be stopped. My mind is stronger than any pain that I'm feeling and I still believe that it's related to my IT band because it really doesn't hurt as bad when I'm in a good running rhythm.

Enough about that... so Adam decides that I probably just need to ice it. He's the king of icing anything down from his days playing soccer obsessively. And when I say he's the king, I'm not playin'... the guy is maybe the only person on earth that actually LIKES ICE BATHS! What?!?!

So Monday after the run, we iced it, no problems. I should use this opportunity to mention that he uses this giant blue frozen ice pack thingy and we already had one leak in the freezer this year. Last night, we decide to ice it again only with two packs, one on each side. The exact same pack that I used on Monday night, we just switch sides and put it on my calf muscle where I'm having a little tightness. As soon as he put it on, I start complaining. It was hurting so bad!! Burning is probably a more correct word. Literally burning. I keep whining about this and Adam basically tells me to quit being so wimpy and to get over my deep angry hatred over being iced down. Fast forward to 20 minutes later and we pull off the ace bandage and ice packs to reveal this:

mmmmm.... yummy. BURN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As you can see below, the burn (not sure if it's a frostbite burn or a chemical burn.... nice) runs the entire length of my calf. It's pretty anti-comfortable. I'm probably not going to be able to shave for awhile. GGGGRRRRRRROOOOOOOSSSS! Is it Sunday, the 11th yet? I am ready to run this race and quit with the training and injuries, mkay?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Countdown has begun...

I'm only 12 days from the marathon. Wow...

I got the weekend plans finalized for the family and friends we are hosting that include a clutch free happy hour on Sunday night to celebrate (thank goodness the Bears are having a bye week or they wouldn't have done it)! I'm working on some out of town goodie bags... seriously this is excellent practice for the wedding. Mainly, I am just looking forward to drinking ice cold beer again.

Last night we went to a fun run sponsored by our local running store and they had an awesome sampling of all the foods from the various neighborhoods, called Taste of the Marathon. We had a really nice time and ate some really good food, especially some cheese tamales with some very hot salsa. The run was nice because I didn't feel any pressure to run a certain amout of mileage. It will be so nice to just run for fun again! Tonight I have a marathon clinic at REI and I'm hoping to learn some good stuff to help me during the race. We have a 5K on Sunday morning so it's shaping up to be a really busy week and I know that next week is just going to fly by. Before I know it, I'll be lacing up my shoes early morning on the 11th and getting ready to fight the mental battle that will be 26.2 miles!

it's so unfair :(

Why is it so easy for guys to drop like 10 pounds without even thinking about it or trying?

Seriously. That is CRAP!

Monday, September 28, 2009

I found my dress!

I went home to TX last week to start what I thought was going to be a long and drawn out process of trying on wedding dresses. Luckily, I surprised myself and the process was actually not only easy but extremely fun. I was telling anyone and everyone how dress shopping was the part of wedding planning that I was least looking forward to. I went into it as open minded as I could and ended up having a blast!

Our day started at a smaller boutique. I wasn't overly impressed with their selection, but ironically, my favorite dress there was by the designer of the dress that I ultimately chose, Maggie Sottero. We laughed a lot because all of the dresses at this particular shop were just plain too big for me. They weren't big enough to grab and pin yards of fabric or anything but they just kind of sat weird on me and made me feel (and look) like a beached whale. I was a little frustrated and freaked out because it is so hard to imagine yourself in an altered version of what you are trying on. I had my mom and my friend Brooke with me all day but Meredith and Sara (two of my bridesmaids) were there for this appointment. We laughed a lot becuase it's pretty hysterical to come out of the dressing room in an already HUGE garment that you are just swimming in. Like I said before, their selection was smaller so we ended up picking a couple of "possibilities" and moving on.

I had scheduled my next appointment for a couple of hours later so we ended up going to a large bridal chain across the highway unannounced. I had originally seen this dress in their catalog that I loved and one of the girls on the San Antonio board of had recently worn it in her wedding. We share the same photographer so I saw lots of her pictures and she looked gorgeous in it. I reaffirmed my belief by going to the large bridal chain just how much I really valued the service and fun that a smaller salon can offer. I kept saying under my breath to Mom and Brooke that I didn't want to buy a dress there. We did get to see a new bridal phenomenon, "Sisterzilla", in action when these people started getting all bitchy with the staff when they didn't even have an appointment!! I tried on four dresses there, including the one that I thought I wanted. When I came out in that one, my mother was making faces like it was literally causing her pain to see me in the dress. OK... that one's out! I checked out a couple of other ones and we ultimately decided that we'd move on and have some lunch.

At this point, I was semi-frustrated because I hadn't had that "moment". You know, the one that everyone talks about when you put on "the one" and really feel like a bride. So far, I had just gotten sick of seeing myself in the mirror and assessing what I believe to be my problem areas to work on in the gym over this year.

After lunch, we went to a shop that I'm already familiar with because it's where my good friend Sally got her dress and all of the bridesmaids dresses. Which is a hilarious story because without going into dramatic detail, I had a minor (major) surgical procedure after being measured for and ordering my dress that caused them to have to basically cut it in half. Haha. When having our dresses altered there, they refer to the tatas as "bubbies". All of Sally's bridesmaids had a blast joking about all of our bubbies and how they fit into our dresses. Point being, I was familiar with this place and felt comfortable walking in. It's a tiny place and they told us to start by picking eight dresses. Brooke and I literally jumped into piles of dresses and started grabbing the ones we thought were pretty. It took us about one rack and five seconds to come up with eight. Into the fitting room I went! I think I felt instantly more comfortable at this shop because the dresses were all much closer to my size or even a little bit too small. It's so much easier to feel normal if you are wearing something that more closely fits your body.

Each dress I tried on was better than the last, but when I put on the third dress, I just felt like a princess. At first, I don't know if I had that moment but I knew that it was going into the "in consideration" pile. I tried on TONS of dresses but kept going back to that one. The second time I put it on, the consultant put a veil on me and I almost started to cry. There was just something about it.

Without giving it all away, it's completely different than what I started out thinking I wanted. It's very unique and looks nothing like what you'd expect me in. I love it and I wish I didn't have to wait an entire year to wear it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

20+ miles of beat down

I did my 20 mile run on Wednesday morning in Chicago before I left to come home to TX (where it is actually cooler than Chicago... weird?!). For those of you who may not be as intimately acquainted with marathon training programs, many of them include long runs that peak with 20 miles. It takes the average, or beginner in my case, body some time to recover from running that many miles so you do the 20 mile run about three weeks before the race and then "taper" your mileage down leading up to the race to allow for fresh legs and recovery.

I wanted to make sure that I was running a full 20 miles so I overshot what I was running by just a little bit and got lost blazing a new part of the trail and missed a mile marker. Either way, I think I was somewhere between 20 and 21 miles... a.k.a. a super long way to run! We live on the Northside of Chicago, a little more than a mile to the lakefront so I ran all the way there, through Lincoln Park, past the Nature Museum and Zoo, down past Streeterville and the Navy Pier, Millenium Park, through the Museum Campus, past Soldier field and the McCormick Place, all the way down the Southside. I figure I was probably at 40th-50th streets when I finally reached my turnaround point.

It was a LONG WAY!!!

During the run, it was truly agonizing. It took me a little bit more than 4 hours and it was so humid that I was just dripping from the start. I now am the proud owner of a temporary tramp stamp where my fuel belt rubbed my skin raw (note: I will not be wearing the same shorts in the race now because I think it was the tag coming in contact with the belt... hello tagless shorts!). I was so lucky that it stayed mostly cloudy for the vast majority of my run. It made the humidity almost bearable.

Now looking back, I'm feeling a little sore and creaky but not feeling too bad considering what I put my body through. During the run, I felt really in control for most of it. When I wanted to stop, I simply told myself that it hurt less to run than it did to walk (totally true... that is the good thing about my IT band issues, it really doesn't hurt once I get into my gait and feel the rhythm of running). I also told myself that I'm mentally strong enough to push through and run the marathon. I'm hoping with the adrenaline and my family and friends being there to cheer me on that I'll have enough left in the tank to feel really good on race day. It feels so nice to know that the longest I have to run until race day is only 12 miles. 12 miles? Not too tough!

It's crazy to think that my journey in this is coming to an end. I set this goal for myself almost a year ago when I saw everyone at the airport in their marathon medals. I guess I had a little hardware envy? I have never attempted anything even remotely this physically draining but the journey has been so fulfilling. Each race that I've done has been such a cool experience and I have learned that I can really do anything physically that I set my mind to. I know that during the race it's going to be a struggle, running 20 miles surely was! But I did that and I did it by myself, with no coaching, at my own pace and it feels really satisfying.

Breaking my movie theater hiatus?

So I'm sitting here, getting ready for my 20 miler (and I'll fully report on that from TX tomorrow) and watching my morning standby, the Today Show. They just had a preview for a movie that I potentially would be interested in seeing in the theater. In case you missed my previous post about the theater, I've gone about 14 months without a movie at the "movies". The preview caught my eye, or really caught my ear in this case, because the background music was one of my favorite songs, by M.I.A. It's the one that goes, "All I wanna do is... (POW POW POW POW... you know the song with all the gunshots?) called Paper Airplanes (download it, you won't regret it). I could probably do an entire blogpost on that song alone because it's so mainstream and yet so weird but that's really neither here nor there. So I hear that song pumping out of our gawdy speakers and I look up and it's Michael Moore yelling with a megaphone at the A.I.G. building in NYC. It's called Capitalism: A Love Story, or something like that, maybe don't quote me on this one.

I know this won't win me any fans of my more conservative audience (or frankly anyone from TX) but I actually enjoy watching his movies. He's seriously one of the craziest fat men in America and by no means to I agree with all of what he's saying. I do, however, believe in listening to things from all viewpoints and I don't believe that the mainstream media (especially my hated Fox News) give people an accurate picture of what's really going on in our country. It seems like I'll be waiting forever to watch it on Netflix so maybe, just maybe, I'll venture out one of these days and shell out my $12-15 to see it. Maybe I'll get a job first to afford it. I think the preview reached out and grabbed me, not only because of M.I.A's music but because I've seen so many of my friends, and even myself to a certain degree, become casualties of this economic crisis, I'm interested in what Mr. Moore has to say about it. And I hope the movie is laced with anti-W. Bush stuff, because I really can't get enough of that.

Sorry blogland, I promise I'll get back to running posting tomorrow and much lighter things :)

*Edited to add: Just caught Ann Curry's (FAV!) news report. I missed about half of the story but apparently that dumb broad Sarah Palin was running her mouth about China. Can she see that from Alaska too? Didn't she retire? Can she just shut up and go away? *

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Busy Beaver...

Since we got back from Tennessee (which happened to be on Monday morning... love standby travel), I've been super busy. I've had 2 phone interviews and 4 actual real interviews in 2 days. EEKS! I've never been so sick of answering stupid questions about myself.

I get to go back to Texas tomorrow night (after my postponed for 2 days 20 miler.... AHHH!) for some wedding dress shopping and to see lots of my friends. It's also Brooke's big 29th birthday weekend and we're planning on sending her into her last year of the 2o's with a bang. I'll be toasting with my iced tea glass since I've given up drinking alcohol until the marathon. Come October 11th, that post race bloody mary is going to be so delicious.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kickin' it in the Montanas...

By the time this posts, we will have enjoyed an evening in Nashvegas (or Cashville if you are Adam and dorky) and will be on our way to the Great Smoky Mountains!! I hope that we don't have any major issues getting down there although our pass travel record on Southwest has been pretty darn good.

I need to do a shorty five mile run over the weekend and want to get some nice hiking in while we're there. Hopefully the weather is gorgeous! I'll be back to my full unemployed and blogging glory on Monday... enjoy your weekend!

Monday is my 20 miler- eeks... I'm praying for cool weather and easy breathing.

and Happy Birthday to my grandmother (this past Tuesday) and Adam's mom, Tracy (tomorrow)!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A confession to make...

I didn't go to my Photography Class on Sunday!!! :(

I woke up STARVING on Sunday morning, like crazy not eaten in months starving because we basically ate lunch on Sat, started drinking beer, and had a PBJ and a few Cheetos for dinner at our U2 tailgate. And drank a lot of beer. I don't think we drank any at the actual concert... oh wait, I think we did have one. But after, we started tailgating again until they kicked us out. And then we took a cab to a little dive bar near our house and drank some more. I think we stayed out until almost 3 a.m. which is the latest Adam and I have ever stayed out together, by probably an hour. We are usually super lame and go home between midnight and 1 a.m. so we overextended ourselves a little bit. And it warrants saying that my dumbass would have stayed out even later but Adam had a splitting headache.

Either way, I woke up literally starving so I ate some awesome taquitos from Trader Joe's (which is seriously the best grocery store ever and when will they ever expand to TX?). It was only about 10 a.m. and I figured I had an hour and a half before I needed to leave. So I laid down on the couch and fell back asleep and woke up at pretty close to noon. The class started at noon and I hadn't looked up how to get there yet. Ooops.

So yeah, I suck and I'll have to go another Sunday. If they let me in. Blast!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the Metra and other city musings

So we're pretty sure that we don't want to have kids for at least five more years. I have always wanted to enjoy just being married and Adam and I have way too much fun just being "the two of us" to want to give that up right now (yikes, I just used the words "give that up" in reference to having children... see, I'm totally not ready yet).

While it has been an absolute dream come true for me to truly live an urban life in the city (completely carless for more than a year!), when I imagine having a family, I keep thinking back to what I grew up with. Which is a big house, a big yard, lots of swimming pools (that aren't above ground), having a car to tote the childrens in, etc... or in other words, the dreaded suburbia. AHHHHHHH!!! I realize that so much in our lives is going to change in the next five years, friends will get married, have babies and start their own migration to the suburbs. I'm hoping that the idea won't be so completely upsetting by then.

All this has especially been on my mind because last night we rode a Metra train to Naperville to have a farewell dinner with a close friend of ours that's leaving Chicago. We left right around five, also known as the scariest time ever at Union Station. It really hit home for me just how many people ride the train in from the "far away" suburbs to work in the city everyday. It was insane and kind of traumatizing to me. When I think of commuting, I think of sitting in your car in traffic, not fighting your way to a board a train that will leave you if you aren't right on time. To put it another way: I feel that if you're going to work in the city and fight the other 86 billion people also doing so, that you should be living in the city and enjoying all that it has to offer, not worrying about catching the last train home for the night at exactly 8:13 p.m. I can't imagine living here and not being in the city. What would be the point then to putting up with the mega-crappy winters? I like to tell Adam that the suburbs here are Anywhereville, America. If we're going to live in Anywhereville, we might as well be closer to our families or in a place with a semi-decent climate (although if TX has another summer like this one next year, I may be changing my tune a little bit about wanting to go back).

There are days that I feel like I could handle having "city kids" but then I remember the tragedy that is Chicago Public Schools (sidenote: I will never send my kids to private school, I went when I was little and I absolutely do not believe in them). Then I remember the 20 muggings in and around our neighborhood in the past month. Then I look outside and realize there'd be no yard for the golden retreiver that Adam wants someday. Then I think about the pool I have always wanted to have in my backyard and I think about wanting my kids to have easily accessible grandparents someday. We're kind of alone in our own little world here in Chicago and while it's good for us for now, it's going to be very interesting to see where we end up in another five years.

P.S. If Chicago wins the Olympic bid, I might be having a city baby for a couple of years because there's no way I'm leaving before the Olympics!

How Jen Got Her Groove Back

except... I don't know how I got my groove back, but I sure feel better. My 8 mile run on Monday night was the best I had felt running since my 16 miler and that was in San Antonio about three weeks ago. I have done a lot of running (and resting) in between there and none of it felt very good.

Either way, it's a cooler day and even though my shin has been bothering me for a couple of weeks, I'm going to get back out there and hopefully have a nice mid-day run.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Best. Concert. Ever.

I have no voice today because I spent so many hours yelling and screaming (especially the wooo-oooo-oooo parts in Elevation) at U2. Run, don't walk, if they come to your town. They played every song you would have wanted to hear, including that Joshua Tree stuff that I loved in elementary school.

The view of the skyline (funny, I don't remember it being cloudy...) during Snow Patrol. Who were also awesome, by the way. I had no idea they were Irish too!

The Field Museum during the concert... yeah, we were kinda far so no close ups of Bono, sorry ladies.

I wish the pictures came out better because the stage was phenomenal. It looked like a gigantic alien.

See, scary alien tentacles!

The highlight of our tailgating experience was when we got to meet the Guiness beer bottle and draft man. I chased after them and brought them back to our area with promises of beer and Cheetos. Yes, Mr. Bottleman reached his hand down his bottle/skirt and I fed him Cheetos. Because I know what it's like to be hot in a giant mascot suit.

"So happy I just ate some Cheetos!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This just in...

So the word on the street (and by street I mean NBC Channel 5 and Brian Williams on the national news) is that my homegirl, Michelle Obama, will be repping my adopted town's bid for the 2016 Olympic Games in Copenhagen next month for the big vote. In Brian's words, it's a "last ditch effort" to "go all out" before the Olympic Committee makes it's decision next month.

As a world traveler, I'd like to share with you my theory on why Chicago should (and BETTER!) win the 2016 Olympic Bid.

The competition:

Rio de Janiero: seriously, of all places I ever visited, this one was the biggest disappointment, by far. I felt HUMONGOR sadness during my trip. Brazil is straight up unsafe, y'all. The country features, among huge disparity between the rich and poor, these lovely things called favelas, that are worse than a Detroit ghetto. And there was one that I could look out upon from my hotel room balcony. And could hear gun shots from. Favelas are everywhere. The travesty that is the sewage dumping into Ipanema beach is a whole 'nother story, but if they win the games, maybe they'll work on cleaning that up? Either way, generally, the Olympics need to be held in a place where people feel that it's safe to walk on the streets. That kind of safety does not so much exist in Rio. I was strictly instructed by the senior mamas and papas (flight attendants that regularly fly the trip) not to go anywhere alone, not wear any jewelry, not to go in the water, and most definitely not to go anywhere alone at night. This was the only city in the world where anyone told me anything remotely like that. *and I did also go to Buenos Aires, so it's not just a Latin America thing. It's a Brazil thing. Wikipedia favelas and read up if you don't believe me.* But back to my point. If there's one thing the Olympics trips out about, it's safety and after the Beijing volleyball coach family incident, I can only assume that the committee is even more conscientious about it.

Tokyo: didn't we just have an Olympics in Nagano, like 10 minutes ago? And the last Olympics were in China (Asia representation)... NEXT!

Madrid: ok, this is probably Chicago's only competition. But Spain is a small country with smallish representation at the Olympics and they had a recent Olympics in Barcelona. I realize that we had the summer games in Atlanta since then, but we're talking powerhouse-medal-front-running USA vs. Spain (did they win any medals in Beijing?) here. Plus, the Olympics between now and then is in London so that is the Euro representation.

See, it's a no-brainer. Go Chicago 2016!

*wow, I am a little more ethnocentric than I thought, eh? Of course Spain won some medals in Beijing. The Olympics brings out a little patriotic snarkyness in me, I guess.*

Friday, September 11, 2009

Extra Meaningful Day...

Today is a huge day... Only one month until October 11th!!!!!!!

Scheduled runs I have left to do:
8 mile
9 mile
10 mile
5 mile
20 miler!!!!!!
8 mile
12 mile
6 mile
8 mile
5 mile
2 mile...

and then the biggie! 26.2!

I'll probably have a few extra 3-4 milers thrown in there as well if I can ever get caught up with training again. I've been keeping up with the long stuff but throwing in that half marathon that I added to the program has me behind on some of the pesky shorter runs.

At any rate, there isn't much running (or time) left until the big day!!

(attempting to not be scared of what I've committed to)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Movie Review: The Soloist

In case you were unaware, I'm not exactly a movie buff. Adam and I have a membership to Netflix but we don't move through our queue very quickly because I usually procrastinate about watching the movies. Yes, I procrastinate over doing something that most people find fun... odd. I think I just struggle with the idea of sitting down for 2 hours and not doing anything else, which is the only way I like to watch movies that I haven't seen. I'm also about as picky about movies as I am about food. I dislike watching anything scary, gory or overall extremely upsetting (unless it's based on reality and in that case, I try to stomach it, i.e. Flight 93).

*On an only semi-related note, the last movie I saw in the movie theaters was right after I moved to Chicago and was Mamma Mia, with my old roomie, Darin. The last movie that Adam saw in the theaters was the Dark Knight. Both of these were before we met each other. Somehow, we have unofficially started a "thing" where we're going to see how long we go before we see a movie in the theaters again. It's not to say that we didn't give it the old college try, we had several movie nights planned last year but when you don't have a car during the Chicago winter, it's hard to get motivated to get out and pay $15 a piece to see a movie and freeze your buns off. Hence, the Netflix account. I also like to think this has saved us hundreds of dollars.

But back to the real purpose of this post. Every now and then I see a movie that touches me. We've seen some good ones this year (A Mighty Heart, Slumdog Millionaire). On Monday night, we watched The Soloist. Adam put it on the queue after hearing about it from his brother. I had briefly read something about it, I feel like it was Oscar buzz? I hope so!

The Soloist features Robert Downey, Jr. (who has always been a fav of mine) as Steve Lopez, reporter for the LA Times. He writes a column called Points West and stumbles upon a homeless man playing (and playing well) a two-stringed violin and starts talking to him. During the conversation, he finds out that the man is named Nathaniel Ayers (played by Jaime Foxx) and that he attended Julliard. This piques Lopez' intrest and he begins writing stories about him. A woman donates a cello by sending it to Lopez' office (Ayers' original instrument but too valuable for him to live with on the streets) and so begins their unlikely friendship, despite Ayers' mental illness and Lopez' reluctance to commit to friends, family, anything.

Just to warn you, I had a couple of spotty tears during the flick but the best way I could describe my feelings and flood of tears at the end to Adam was, "my heart just hurts". It's a great movie and it deeply moved me but it, like most movies based on true stories, was realistic and sad. I would say, don't let the potential Kleenex raid deter you from seeing this movie. It's really good and has a great cast.

I believe that it is based on a book so if you aren't good at sitting through movies at home, like me, you can always go the reading route. Cheers and happy viewing!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The good news and the maybe not so good news...

I have a new PR!! (that's personal record if you don't read every issue of Runner's World like I do and don't feel bad, it took me about 3 issues to figure out what it meant)

Anyway, I cut a little more than 11 seconds off of my previous best half marathon time. Adam and I ran together and finished together with a time of 2:22:54. A relief for both of us!

For the not so happy news: it was wicked hot on the run. I think I was probably pretty close to overheating and we ultimately found out on Monday that a man actually died during the race.
I had so much trouble breathing throughout the last 2 miles. We were just zig zagging through the touristy area and the boardwalk of Virginia Beach, a part of the race that I normally would have been soaking in and enjoying the heck out of. There were so many awesome spectators cheering us on. However, I felt like I could only get about 25% of the air I needed. It sucked and every breath was painful and frustrating. At several points, I didn't want to keep going but I knew we were close and I had my supportive run buddy, Adam, helping me to stay hydrated and push through. I was so hot that I thought I was going to freak out without water. I'm sure most of that feeling most likely comes from the fact that I've been running pretty much exclusively with my water bottle on my fuel belt lately and I have intimate knowledge of the water fountains all up and down the Lakefront Path. Not knowing when the next water station was going to be had me a little off my game. Lesson learned: I will be wearing a fuel belt at the marathon and my kind Coach Amy (if you remember from our fab STL half experience) has volunteered to meet me at strategic points during the race with energy bars, fresh water and whatever else I can't carry (six dry towels for my sweaty face, perhaps?).
But back to the breathing... I have made a decision that makes me sad but I think it's necessary to get checked up and get an inhaler again. UG! I was so happy not having/needing one! It's a cruel reminder when someone passes away during a race that I need to first and foremost be concerned about my continued health. I also decided that if it's above 80 degrees on October 11th, I'll walk as much as I need to in order to stay cool. Amazingly enough, I have only my 20 mile long run left and then most of my runs are 12 miles and under as I start the taper process until the big day. It's kind of scary to be at the top of the training mountain and staring down at the final goal! I have lots of fears and doubts that I'll have to work on before race day but I still have as much determination as I did when I set out to meet this goal.
My goal to finish the marathon pales in comparison to what amazing things runners are accomplishing. I had to seriously fight back tears because there was a huge group of elite runners that were pushing special needs kids and adults in what was basically gigantic jogging strollers so that they could compete in the race. They were passing by us across the course at their mile nine when we were starting mile four. There are also so many people that run in honor of cancer patients or to raise awareness about various diseases. Sometimes it's amazing to be just one small person in a sea of 20,000 people with their own causes, goals, hopes and dreams. If you read this blog and take one thing away from it, I hope it is that you are able to experience a race like I have some day. Whether it's 5K or an Ironman Triathalon, you have been blessed by God with a body that is (hopefully) able. There is a really special feeling to be surrounded by so many others that are all working so hard to the best of their abilities. Racing can be a truly powerful experience, if you let it.
Overall, we had a fantastic weekend. Amy's parents hosted us at their house in VB and we had fun cooking and being cooked for (people: I ate EGGS on Saturday morning). The beach was as beautiful as I remember it and we had a great day soaking up the rays on Saturday. We missed the Black Crowes concert and ended up going to bed earlier than planned but 13.1 miles can kind of take it out of you. :)

Running log: 7 miles

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekends Off!

The best thing about this furlough is having consistent and normal (fri/sat/sun) weekends like the rest of the world. Oh, and holidays. The day that Adam and I realized that we'd actually get to spend Christmas together was a fun time.

My September is shaping up to be fabulous! What's on tap?

Today we leave for...

to hang out with these fine folks...

and to run in the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon! I am hoping to shatter my previous record of 2:34 for a half.

Next weekend, we'll be enjoying beautiful Chicago with a Saturday of tailgating at Soldier Field. Not for a Bears game, but for one of my favorite bands ever...

Ah... U2. I have always wanted to see them in concert and when tickets first went on sale, Adam and I kind of laughed it off because my former schedule was such a pain in the neck to wrangle time off for a Saturday night concert. He got tickets on StubHub yesterday and I am so excited about it!!!

The next day, I'll have to pull myself together because at noon I have my first photography class!
To hopefully be followed by a quick trip over to the...

on Division Street. I just found this amazing Chicago poster yesterday and it turns out the artist that makes them will be at the Craft Fair. Why pay shipping when you can go to a fun street festival and buy it in person?

The following weekend is my future mother-in-law's birthday and we're going to Tennessee to spend the weekend in the mountains with Adam's parents. I haven't been there since I was in third grade (and I had strep throat for part of the trip) so I am really looking forward to going back and enjoying some time in the country.

Mmm... Smoky Mountains!
I don't think I have any concrete plans for the last weekend in September. Maybe we'll try to have some company in town? Or maybe we'll just lounge around and watch the Hokies, the Aggies, the Cubs and the Bears from home! Seems like we might need the rest after the beginning of this month!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Photography Obsessions

So four days in and I'm workin' on those furlough goals, baby!

I signed up for my first-ever photography class, which is kind of understandable since I spent the entire morning yesterday salivating over photography blogs for the wedding. We're using a Chicago-based photographer named Steve Koo for our engagement session downtown and in Millenium Park. If you are interested in photography blogs and with "wedding porn" in general, here's Steve's blog- -I absolutely adore his work, if our stuff turns out half as amazing as this I'll be satisfied:

These pictures were all taken in a less than mile radius from Adam's office, which will be our home base for outfit changes during our session. I need help though!! I'm desperately searching for a maroon dress for some of the pictures. If you've been shopping and seen a cute one (preferably a little more on the casual side) please let me know.

Anyway, back to the photo class. I'm actually a little bit intimidated about going. If I were to take more classes and get serious about this photography school, I'd have to get a Digital SLR camera (aka... hundreds and hundreds of dollars). The guy who runs the school says he knows the best places, best ways and best prices for SLR cameras but I'm still kind of freaked out. In a perfect world, I'd learn how to take awesome pictures with a pocket-sized regular digital camera so we'll see if this place is a fit for me or not. I'm afraid the instructor will laugh at my many-years-old-Kodak-EasyShare-hand-me-down-from-Dad-5.0 megapixel embarassment of a camera in the midst of tons of professional equipment. But I signed up and in about 10 days, I'll be there in all my glory hoping to learn just as much about cameras as photography. The school I'm going to is nice in that they offer this Basic Camera class that I'm taking for free. Then, if I ultimately deside to sign up for the eight week Photo I program, the first class is also free. I appreciate the time they allow for you to decide if you are a good fit. I'll report back and let you know how it all shakes down.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

America's Got Talent: Who knew?

Anyone out there watching America's Got Talent? I have been DVRing it and sort of halfway watching it during the day (previously when I was sitting by my phone waiting for a Crew Desk call, now just because I have nothing more pressing going on). Anyway, this kid Arcadian did a "High School Musical" thing last night. The sad part was that I had no idea it came from HSM but Adam did... um... what? My fiance knows more about High School Musical than me? On the one hand, that makes me proud of myself since I absolutely abhor anything from the Disney Channel (Charlotte and Meredith, that is probably your faults because you tortured me with that evil show, Even Stevens). On the other hand, I am so disturbed that Adam knew that! What the hell, honey? I really hope that an ex-girlfriend made you watch it or something.

Back to this kid, Arcadian. First of all, crazy name. But he's a good dancer. Even though Piers and the rest of the judges ripped him a new one when he was playing the piano, I liked it. Last night though, I felt like his HSM routine was so boring! Bring out the piano and lay off the endless fuete turns, bro!!

There is this other act, Paradizo Dance, and they are ridiculous. I can't put a You Tube video of them in this blog because it seems NBC has it blocked and/or I'm not that You Tube savvy... whatever. Stop reading this now and go to You Tube and search for Paradizo Dance, my personal favorite is their second semifinal performance. What they do is absolutely MIND BOGGLING. It might hurt you to watch because they move like no one else you have every seen.

For me, it's between them, a tap group of sisters called the Fab Five, or Recycled Percussion.

The acts I can't stand, in no particular order:
any act that is magician related
the scary tattoo man and his lady that play with fire
the singers, except the opera lady

On a happier note, my fall DVR schedule is so much less embarrassing. Seriously, I am embarrassed that I watch a show that counts such "talents" as Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff as judges.

Horray for Project Runway, Top Chef, the Office and the new season of So You Think You Can Dance!