Saturday, March 27, 2010

Race Report: Shamrock Shuffle

Last Sunday, Adam and I woke up bright and early, met our friend Heather at the train and made our way downtown for the Shamrock Shuffle. I would describe it as a kick-off of sorts of the outdoor racing season here in Chicago and it's sponsored and run by the same people as the marathon and the course is basically the downtown portions of the marathon, except you never leave downtown and it's only 8K (thank goodness!!).

I'm telling you it's basically the Chicago Marathon when it comes to crowds as well! And 35,000ish people is fine when you are running 26.2 miles and there is time for the crowd to finally thin out but much more challenging when you are running only 4.97 miles. Plus, this is probably the first time in several months that many of the people were running outside (other than my 5K in San Antonio in Feb, it was my first time too) but FOR REAL, if you are not conditioned and cannot run from the start line, please start yourself in the back!

Anyhoo, it was crowded, which made me semi-cranky and my bladder was making me mega-cranky because I kept having to pee! Adam and I ran together until sometime after the 2 mile marker in which case I decided that I wasn't going to finish and I'd just meet him at the beer tent. Easier said than done, apparently, because I got yelled at by a course official to get back on the course and at that moment, I turned a corner and spotted the 3 mile and 5K markers. At that point, I figured I'd quit being a chump and get my full bladder back out there. I actually ended up running a much faster second half. The last bit of the race is exactly like the marathon, up "Mount Roosevelt" and around a corner to the finish. Mount Roosevelt is the closest thing we have to a hill in Chicago and while it's pathetic, it's still a hill and at the very end of the race. The whole time I was moving up the hill, I was cursing the people that were walking in the middle of the street (grrr!) and wondering just how on earth I'd conquered it after more than 25 miles in October!

Heather and Adam finished a few minutes before me due to my unfortunate almost wimp out and we all met up at the beer tent for the trademark Shamrock Shuffle debauchery.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention, it was SO FREEZING COLD and kinda rainy/misty. Blech! It was especially sad when you consider that it was in the 60's and sunny on Thursday and Friday but at least it wasn't dumpy snowing like Saturday so we can be thankful for that.


I decided to try and add about 10 miles of extra walking a week, in addition to the gratuitous amounts of walking I do just getting around the city and to my regular gym schedule (that I am actually trying to follow again). Adding 10 miles sounds so easy but I forgot that walking just takes a long time! Last night I had 48 minutes on the treadmill before my yoga class and only managed about 3.5 miles. UG! So this week I'm at about 5.5 but my schedule was a little crazy at times so I'm going to work really hard to get all 10 miles in next week.

If you are a reader in San Antonio, please come and join Brooke and me at Taco Cabana on Blanco and 1604 for dinner on April 11th (6-8 p.m.)! They are donating 20% of all receipts from people that come in for us to our walk funds. I need less than $200 at this point so every little bit will help me reach my goal!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Change In Plans

This past weekend I had this great idea that I'd go home (standby pass travel, of course) to San Antonio for a couple of wedding details and to see my grandmother, who started chemotherapy yesterday. I just forgot one important detail. It's spring break! I'm pretty sure the kids are out of school here in Chicago but I know it's break down in Texas. All the flights were mega-full and there were tons of other people trying to stand by as well. Getting on a flight is based on several things, the first being if there are any empty seats that have not been paid for and your seniority with the airline. Being that most people at United have been with the company since well before I was born, I always assume that I will be the absolute last person on the stand by list to get on the flight (very rarely am I wrong). So, seeing all that, I'm not going to spend my day in misery at O'Hare when there are 64 people booked for 60 seats with 6 other people trying to stand by. That is a recipe for a CRANKY Jen.

There was just one teeny little problem with me not going. Adam had scheduled the cleaning lady to come on Saturday morning since he had a review class for his big exam and wouldn't be home either. *now before you go all banana sandwich and think we are little princesses around here for having a cleaning lady, there are several reasons for this and the main one is that we literally have NO closet space for any sort of significant cleaning supplies. seriously. and she only comes about 4 times a year since I moved in, I can handle the light stuff. oh and she is worth every darn penny and more. she stays about 5-6 hours and gets totally jiggy with cleaning this dump up*

Anyhoo. I needed somewhere to be starting at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. LUCKILY, it was Chi-rish Day and they were dying the river green. Adam goes to class with his buddy, Joe, and it so happened that Joe's wife was making a full Irish breakfast and going down to see the river and parade so I got to tag along with her and two buddies. It was rainy, which was so perfect considering that I have these phenomenal lime green wellie rain boots! I could kick myself for not getting a full-length picture with them!

We ate great and I started my day with some coffee and Bailey's (heavenly) but we missed the river dying by a few minutes, which was not a big tragedy to me after the coffee drinks. We went to a really crowded bar and drank some overpriced green beer and got some SWEET Chi-rish beads before moving on to Morton's (which, sidenote, is called Morton's: The Steakhouse, when you are actually in Chicago instead of Morton's of Chicago). Ironically, it was the cheapest place downtown to drink. They were also doing an all-you-can-eat corn beef buffet which looked like boiled dinner, one of my worst food nightmares. But they had some killer bagpipers and we watched a few NCAA games.

After Adam finished his class and a little time at the office (yes, he worked on what was essentially a holiday, not to mention Saturday), he came and met me at Morton's for awhile before we met some friends at a bar further north. That bar was ridiculously crowded and we didn't stay for long. Our friend Heather's birthday was the next day so we went to her bf's house for pizza and cake. Saturday night was a really big night for me because I finally saw the Hangover for the first (and maybe last?) time. I have only two things to say: I kinda wish now that Adam was not going to Vegas for his bachelor party and if my brother roofies everyone, he's dead meat. Ok, three things to say: the Andy Bernard character was my favorite. That guy is so funny!

Sometimes the best-laid plans don't always work out but I'm glad I got to be here for Saturday at least!

Monday, March 15, 2010

39.3 update!!

I haven't talked about the Avon Walk in forever (well, to be fair, I haven't talked about much of anything lately)! But we're less than 3 months away, WOO HOO!

The snow is completely melted, I didn't even see any of the big residual piles in parking lots over the weekend so I will begin walking in earnest now as the weather allows. I'm not sure how time consuming it will be but I'm going to try to average about 10 miles of dedicated walking a week. When I say dedicated, I mean not counting trips to the train, grocery store, gym, etc. Given how marathon training worked for me, I know that some weeks I'll be able to get more in and some weeks it just won't happen. I hope to not have to do too much of it on the treadmill so let's all cross our fingers now for sunny days (and about 65 degrees if I might be so picky).

My fundraising has been going rather swimmingly, I must say. I'm at $1605 of the mandatory $1800 right now. The only sucky part is that I kind of feel like I have exhausted every person I know at least once and I hate badgering people over and over (although I know that is a cardinal rule of fundraising, that you must ask people eleventy billion times). I do it myself, I have to read something probably three times before I donate. Which at least this experience has taught me to be better about that!

I'm walking with my VERY BRAVE friend Brooke (who is going to rock this walk, btw) and she bought each of us some super fab bright pink Texas A&M hats. I'm so excited to sport the pink and rock our school support. Speaking of, I CAN'T WAIT TIL FRIDAY FOR OUR TOURNEY GAME! GIG 'EM! Brooke has been battling plantar fascitis, which foot injuries are awesome if you are attempting mega-walks, but she's been slowly rehabbing it and logged a killer 7 miles over the weekend. I logged a killer 7 green beers so I am clearly behind in training.

My immediate plans for the extra odd $195 are to do two things. I'll be in San Antonio for my dear friend Charlotte's wedding in April and Brooke and I are trying to get a dinner organized. I know for sure that our local (and very pink) restaurant, Taco Cabana, does charity nights where everyone you bring in can drop their receipt in a bucket and they will donate 10% of the grand total. But, I'm trying to think bigger (and better food) and trying to work something out with Willie's. I figure people will probably be more likely to come and the overall receipt totals would be a little higher at Willie's (plus, they have Linie's Sunset Wheat beer and I could sit there and drink it all evening). In short, SA people, mark your calendars for April 11th because I plan on having something together by then to raise a little moolah! You can see our cute hats and Avon Walk t-shirts. I even plan on getting some pink balloons for our tables. It'll be a rowdy time if they still have Sunset Wheat (because clearly cutting out beer is NOT a part of my training program this time around).

I also want to do a happy hour fundraiser in Chicago for our local peeps. I know of a couple bars that will do all you can drink packages with a portion donated so I need to get my research on and make some phone calls. I figure with having two events I can probably get that last teeny tiny little bit I need to get my thermometer overflowing on my personal webpage. My personal goal all along has always been $2,000 but I'd love to be able to destroy that amount.

Either way, as always, you can donate at:

Thank you Thank you Thank you!

A big THANK YOU to all my awesome donors (so far):

Brett Albright
Catherine Austin
Brian Bazan
The Boyds
Grandpa and Grandmother
Mikey (and there's a blog shout out for you, brother)
The Carmeans
The Daughertys
Brian Demeyer
Christiana Earle
The Earles
Kristin Geiger (and James)
Booker T
Nancy Hester
The Kruses
Katie Kummer
Sara McD
James Palmer
The Pawasarats
Sherry Pederson
Bev Poe
Lynn Renner (and Jerry)
Angel Suhor (and RJ)
Sherril Theis

With the help of all these amazing people, I have raised over $1600!! Thank you for donating to a great cause!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dividing Line

My brother has this theory that all women are bi-polar. Naturally, in most cases I completely disagree with him. Obviously there are the few women that are literally diagnosed with bi-polar disorder but I think that his blanket statement is pretty much ludicrous.

Although, in my own strange way, I'm feeling so completely divided lately that it's almost bi-polar to a certain degree. It's almost as if you could draw a line down the center of my mind and body and have two completely opposite feelings and opinions. Half of me is relaxed and feeling so prepared for the wedding and the other half is scared out of my mind and completely overwhelmed by the details. I go from day to day on this as sometimes I am able to see the big picture and other times I just end up feeling totally bogged down.

I have so many goals and reasons for wanting to work out and eat healthy but then my devil half craves only pizza and fried buffalo flavored things. I like to believe that part of my lack of motivation is coming from the fact that the top of my left foot has been in bit of nagging pain for awhile and my shin/ankle discomfort from my fall down the stairs has only exacerbated that. I know I need to take it easy (especially in those barefoot dance classes where I believe the pain originates from).

I want to leave the city and some moments I cannot imagine one more day of it but I also want to stay in this place forever. Some days I love being in our little place and other days I feel so suffocated by it's size (or lack there of). I have moments where I cannot imagine someday having to drive everywhere and times when I would give my left arm to no longer have to ride the buses and trains. Why can't I just pick a side and figure some of this stuff out?

One the one hand, I am completely ok with the way that everything just is right now. On the other, I am freaking out about the future and what changes might be coming my way, whether they are under my control or not. There are so many things coming my way, big life-changing things, the least of which involves changing my last name, that I am not looking forward to having to face.

I guess I have never really been an indecisive person so the fact that I am swaying or wavering between feeling one way or the other about several different big life things is sort of stressful. And it's all stress I am essentially bringing on myself for no apparent reason!

In the book I'm currently reading (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver), the author argues that springtime makes people crazy. When I was reading it on the plane last weekend, I identified with what she was saying immediately. I am filled with so much promise and hope when I think of the upcoming warmer weather but yet deep down I know that I will tire of being too hot when the time comes.

Part of life is dealing with changes no matter how big or small they are and maybe the changing of the seasons is Mother Earth's way of constantly keeping us on our toes and prepared for the other things that life will bring us. The seasons always remind me that like all things, this too shall pass, and for me, the this that needs to pass is the way I am feeling divided.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Leave it to Africa

Not the continent, the song, "Africa", by the band, Tutu, circa my childhood. I've loved it pretty much forever and just finally last week got around to downloading it (thanks for those iTunes gift cards at Christmas). I have a bunch of new stuff (you should get the new Dave, it's good) on shuffle play on my iPod and during my train ride home this evening it happened to come on. It broke me from my Blackberry-Facebook-app-induced stupor to look up and catch what must have unequivocally been the best sunset so far of 2010. Yeah, isn't that just a revelation? The sun has decided to bless us here in Chicago with something other than below 10 degree temperatures (you know that whole clouds are a blanket theory, it's true, so the sun is my mortal enemy during Chicity winters and the sun sets at oh, around 3:30 p.m. so sunsets just plain suck).

But back to tonight, it was beautiful and I am so glad that Africa awoke my senses and I was able to enjoy it. I wish I had a picture for you but do a mental one of the brightest pink color reflecting on the high rises. On the elevated train, I had a pretty sweet bird's eye view. It was enough to fill my heart and soul and at that moment I needed it. Today has been a roller coaster. After a long weekend, I had a couple of pieces of mail that upset me a bit and also got some other not-bad-just-kind-of-annoying-and-out-of-my-control news that had me in a bit of a tizzy. I got a couple of pieces of great news too, so don't think it was all doom and gloom but the day was crazy in that it culminated in me falling down half a flight of stairs. Not to worry, I fell on my butt and mostly slid. My left side wrist and shin aren't feeling 100% but I think my pride was hurt more than any body part. Ug. It was just one of those days, you know? So to stop it all and take a moment to enjoy the city, enjoy the hope of spring, and just be filled with that bright pink sunset was just what I needed.