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On February 1st, the Chicago Marathon opened up registration for their race in October.  I was excited to register for the race until I started estimating how much it was going to cost.  I had my hotel room reserved for race weekend at the same hotel I stayed at last week but the rate had increased by over $100.  Who knew October was prime tourist season in Chicago?

I started pricing three races: Portland, Victoria & Chicago.  Victoria won.  As February 1st, came and went, reading the excited twitter chatter about the Chicago marathon, I was both bummed and happy with my decision.  Several friends are running Victoria where it would be me in Chicago, alone.  Five days after registration for Chicago opened, the race sold out.

And then I had the greatest time in the Windy City.  Greatest time.  And it seemed like 2012 was made for Chicago.  Had I registered for the race, by years end, I would have visited three times.  As I was waiting in the much hated O’Hare for my flight home, I received an email from Team in Training.  They had 35 spots available for the Chicago Marathon!!  Was this a sign?

Do I team up with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society again?  I have to raise almost $3000.  Friends have done back to back TNT events – could I rely on donations from the kindness of your hearts?  I didn’t feel like that was going to work for me a second time especially as some of my old teammates are having a more difficult time fundraising for their summer events.  I was blessed to do little fundraising for Nike and received donations from people because I asked.  I know, this time around, I would have to work my tail off fundraising with various events to even get close to the minimum donation amount.

Mid-flight, an idea struck.  An event – aBIG event – and if I can pull if off, I believe, it would be the end of fundraising for this event.  One and done.  The idea is appealing and I am in major research mode this week to see if it will even be possible.  Brainstorming with my sister last weekend made it seem even more possible & that the idea is a good one – one that people will be excited to attend.

So stay tuned!  I am afraid to air the idea right now – I want to make sure I can pull it off & also I don’t want others to steal it.  (I know – paranoid or something.)  I am in search of some help though – specifically, someone who can create a one or two page website as part of my marketing strategy, connected to paypal for advance ticket sales (including email w/ tickets for the event).  I am also looking for this person to donate their time (or I could get you free entry into the event & maybe a few other perks – see if my persuasive magic works).  Or if anyone knows a simple website design program I can do on my own…??

More to come.

Press play, listen & read along…

I fell in love with Chicago – a lil bit.  Surprised because O’Hare has never been kind to me.  The city, unlike the airport (maybe it has more to do with weather), is fabulous.  I finally found the red line – you cannot always trust google map directions (or the CTA’s directions or my phones).  Navigating the L was easy after that.  I love a city with trains (or subways).  The  purpose of this trip was to watch my beloved Celtics take on the Bulls.  My travel plans had me in the city for less than 48 hours but it was packed, although I also felt like I watched a lot of tv.  (Hotel stays for a person without cable – AWESOME.)

I flip flopped between taking a cab to the United Center or taking the train.  I felt it was probably safe on the way to the game but maybe late at night in that area was not so safe.  But, felt completely safe the entire trip.  And the homeless men on the streets – were gracious & kind.  Instead of begging for money, their opening line was usually “God bless you” or “have a great day.”  Unlike any other big city I have visited.

The hotel I found in Travel & Leisure magazine had gorgeous interior design.  I must confess I didn’t make it to the library or the Pump Room – mostly because I felt totally under dressed.  (I was there to run & watch basketball & wanted to travel light.)  I stayed at the Public Hotel which boasts one of the Studio 54 owners as its owner.  Silly, I know, but I am easily impressed.  If I had a complaint, it may have been how far removed it seemed to be from downtown (maybe a mile to the Magnificent Mile) but it was incredibly close to the Lakefront and the residential neighborhood was movie-worthy.  Less than a quarter mile from Chipotle and maybe a bit further to catch the Red Line – it’s not really a complaint.  And the hotel was beautiful.  Plus there was a 24 hour mini bar in the lobby, if your own mini bar was empty.

The run along the Lakefront was awesome!  I was nervous to run in an unfamiliar city but running along Lake Michigan with its icy debris on a sunny day made it worth it.  Although, running was interspersed with a lot of photo stops.  I wanted to run on the Lakefront on Friday but sleeping in and getting sucked in by the Millionaire Matchmaker derailed that plan.  Instead, I headed to Xoco, a Rick Bayless restaurant.  Usually Rick Bayless would mean nothing to me but when I first moved to Washington, my mom & I watched Master Chef religiously and fell in love with Rick Bayless – the utlimate winner of the Master Chef title.  (We also crushed on Michael Chiarello – Napa Valley – you’re next!)

The game – the raison d’être – made the whole trip worthwhile.  Sitting 10 rows up, my heart glowed with happiness.  I miss basketball and hope Seattle gets a team as it is requesting.  And I have a new basketball favorite – Luol Deng.  Why didn’t my team defend his deadly three point shot from the corner?  I think he had three of them in the last few minutes of the game.  I was worried I wouldn’t see the Big Three play as it played out last year in Boston.  But KG played (he didn’t the night before) as did Ray Allen & the Truth.  I crossed off another stadium from my bucket list too.  I am ready to plan next years basketball trip!

I head back to Chicago in April and already my dance card is filling up fast: there is Buddy Guy’s Legends (because you have to listen to the blues in Chicago & I’m hoping for an appearance from Buddy Guy himself), Frontera (another Rick Bayless restaurant), walking the bridges and maybe another decadent stop at Vosges for chocolate.

Last weekend, a Team In Training coach posed this question: “What is your running strategy?”

Ummmm…strategy?  Run as far and as long as I can.

She quickly gave me a rundown of why that is a bad idea.  She shared the story about her & her husband’s first marathon together: he ran the whole thing & she ran five minutes, walked one minute intervals.  She beat his time by 16 minutes.  And then went dancing later that night while he was immobile in bed.  Then the physical benefits of having less tired muscles and being able to finish strong.  Followed by:

“its the dirty little secret of all runners – they walk during a race to conserve energy & maintain pace over long distances.”

This secret is hard to stomach because walking to me is on the level of not being good enough.  Walking is not running.  To think I am encouraged to walk when all I want to do is run the whole race, is unfathomable.

I told her I would try.

A few miles later, I ran into my training group and buttahcup.  buttahcup is running intervals (5:1) and while running with her, I was automatically forced to walk.  It was also needed because buttahcup is faster than I am and to keep her pace for five minutes requires a walk break.

Did I feel more energetic with walk breaks?  Jury is still out.  But I’m willing to give it another try.  I’m already worried about not finishing in time.  Add walking seems to make that a reality.

Thanks to my team of freshmen girls, I am addicted to this game – Temple Run.  You can download it for free for your iphone (not sure if you can get it for other phones).

If I can count the miles I put in playing this game, I’d be an ultra runner.

Week in Review

  • Did not attend crossfit again this week.  I am a wee bit nervous to go back tomorrow morning.  And yes, I have to go in the morning.  No more sleeping in.
  • Volleyball – check.  I am a bit amazed at how my energy has increased from the last season to the present one.  After about three games, I was ready to call it a night.  Now, six games in of competitive play (running a 5-1, playing setter), I am ready for more.  I feels great to be “hands” again.
  • Running: ran about 15 miles this week.  Lectured about running intervals.  Told I had great running form (yay!).
  • Breathing test – I have awesome-better-than-predicted lung capacity & oxygen diffusion.  I was told, “lungs like yours are usually found in singers, runners & swimmers.”  Score.  The nurse did not understand why I was there (“I don’t hear any wheezing”).  I go back on Tuesday for my consultation with the doctor.

The Week Ahead

I am excited about the week ahead.  Mostly, because I am heading to Chicago to watch the Celtics take on the Bulls.  Keep your fingers crossed & say prayers I will get to see a healthy Big Three + Rondo and Pietrus (my new favorite player).

I am sure there will be an entire post on Chicago because, frankly, I’m excited about the whole trip.  I plan on running in Chicago (stoked) and it may be the only time I have the guts to wear a Celtics tee.  (Not quite sure I can wear one to the game… I’m a-skeered.)  I also get to see a Charlotte friend who happens to be in town for work at the same time.  Plus, she seems to know the best breakfast places in every city.

Other than a short vacation, I am trying a new product recommended by a friend.  I will share more later because I want to give it a fair chance to work (no jumping to conclusions here).  I am excited for the possibilities it offers.

Other than that, I still have to squeeze in a crossfit class and 16 miles, four of those in Chicago.

Hope the rest of you have an A-MAH-ZING week!

It has been a crazy, hectic week and I have totally slacked in the writing department.  I’ve been thinking about this list for the past few days & thought I’d share a few things you may not know about moi.

  1. I am the worst kind of hypochondriac.  I am quick to self diagnose – say, an oral tumor when I only need my wisdom teeth extracted – but I am not a fan of going to the doctor.
  2. I search online for a new dog every day.  Every. Day.  I’m also a tad bit afraid of getting another dog that wasn’t as cool (good, chill, …etc) as blu.  I am also weighing the amount of time I have available & if getting a dog is really a good fit.  Until then, I go through a cycle of happy searching & misery.
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  3. I love a great burger.  And by great, I mean it only has bacon and american cheese on it.  No landscape.  No condiments.  Unless you have good ranch or killer fry sauce.
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  4. I am totally in love with the show “New Girl.”  The day after it airs, my office mates and I quote the show all day.
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  5. Speaking of which, my office mates & I are writing our own sitcom (in our heads).  We spend countless lunch hours discussing how the show plays out.  We are funny.  No, really, we are.
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  6. I have a hard time purchasing big items because I am a tad bit French (ha) and want it to be around forever.  In which case, it needs to be perfect.  And I can’t change my mind later.  Sometimes, it takes years.
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  7. I have been to 45 states.  To cross off my list in the next five years: Louisiana, Mississippi, Maine, Rhode Island & Kansas.  I should have crossed off Kansas in 2009 but my GPS took me on the fastest route in distance & not by major highways from Oklahoma City to Denver.  It was an adventure.  That is all I can say.
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  8. I used to swim the length of our pool holding my breath because I was positive by doing so, I was building my lung capacity (true).  But, I thought if I built my lung capacity, I would be able to hold a note like Whitney Houston.  Little did I know, that’s not really how it works.  (Hey, I was under 10…or maybe 15.)
  9. I love Mensa brain teasers and I believe I qualify but I also have a short attention span & if I cannot “get it” within a few minutes (maybe 30 seconds), I get bored & want to move on.  In which case, I wouldn’t pass the test.
  10. Dream jobs: create movie soundtracks, dog massage therapist, photojournalist, zoo owner, and maybe (big jackpot) lottery winner.

I assume it is too early in the training process to need a recovery week especially since I was unable to run during our snow week.  My legs seemed to need the rest after the 10 mile run the previous week.  I did not attend one crossfit class.  And I was exhausted playing volleyball.

To continue on this path, running was also hard.  Tuesday nights’ four miles stopped at three and there was a lot of walking.  Skipped Thursday.  (Truthfully, I chose sleeping in over running.)  Saturday, instead of running eight miles on pavement, half of my team ran trails at McCormick Forest.  New favorite running venue.

I hate to confess this but since my training began in April, I have yet to hit a 20 mile week.  I’ve been close but have never quite crossed that threshold.  This week will be my first.  My long run Saturday is 12 miles (scary!).

If all goes well, here is my goal for the week:

  • Crossfit – 2 classes
  • Volleyball – 2 hours
  • Running – 24 miles

It is unnerving to think my training is already a quarter finished.  I have 83 days until race day and I’m starting to doubt the sanity of this event.  Last week, after the 10 mile run, I felt great but after the seven mile trail run, not so hot.  I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

The good news: running feels good again.  Fun, even.  And that is a big improvement over the past few months.  Running with people has a definite advantage over running solo.

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on the road