Thursday, September 5, 2013

Team Run for HD - year 3.

Something I don’t frequently mention on here is Team Run for HD.  Mostly because nobody cares – and that’s not a slight on you –why would anyone care?

Five years ago this Christmas my dad died from a (somewhat) rare genetic disease called Huntington’s Disease that robbed him of his ability to do anything over the last 5 years of his life.  I would love to tell some fluffy heart-warming story about how it brought us together in the end and shaped me as an amazing individual, but it would be total bullshit.  Watching a parent mentally and physically decay like that was a horrible, life-scarring experience that has forever impacted me in a negative way, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone ever.  Of course the kicker is that because it is a genetic disease, my brother and I now face the same awful fate.  My brother has chosen to ignore it, and that’s totally cool and I respect it.  In fact, the only time I have ever seen him run is at the mention of HD (in the opposite direction of course!).  I on the other hand chose to be awesome.  Actually first I tried to drink a lot and pretend it didn’t happen, but honestly I’m a lightweight, and only like the fanciest of drinks so it’s totally financially unsustainable. A few years ago I had gotten into running thanks to some mentors in grad school, and my awesome marathoning roomie when I came back to Chicago.

I was drunk (naturally) and decided I should totally run some kind of distance race and fundraise for HD, but there was NOTHING out there.  This led to like 5 marathons, and also the brain child of my best friend Rachel and I – Team Run for HD!  I raised almost $2,000 by my lonely self the first year, and amassed an entire team last year that collectively raised over $15,000!  This year, we have a team with 25 people, as well as “satellite runners” who will be running the Chicago Marathon, the Grand Rapids Marathon, and the Door County 50-miler! All of them are fundraising as a part of Team Run for HD!  I have had a lot of “brilliant” ideas in the past (read: terrible ideas) but have never had the organization to bring anything to fruition.  I can’t believe my baby is in it’s third year, and actually growing and becoming something. 

I get it, it’s not like I invented facebook or anything, but I am still pretty amazed.  Every year I get so stressed out I vow to quit and not do this again next year, but I keep coming back after I see how happy my runners are, personally knowing the battle they are fighting with HD, and how ugly it is.  There are late nights with Rachel, embarrassing failures of fundraisers, frantic emails by the dozens, calls, race day texts, MEETING STRANGERS(!!!),  and the questionable time Rachel and I got drunk and broke into Arlo Gutherie’s tour bus to meet him.  Every year, a few days before race day (read: today) I have a total freakout, and realize it’s too much to handle, even though the finish line is in sight.  I am terrified of everything that could go wrong for my 25 runners. I can’t sleep, nor can I stop eating the rolos (yum!) I have sitting in a bowl on my desk.  I don’t even know how I am going to finish the race on Sunday, let alone be a role model for others.  Basically, I’m a hot mess, and I don’t think it could happen anyway.
This is really a long-winded way to say:
  • 1.       People with anxiety disorders probably shouldn’t start and manage charity running teams
  • 2.       Come see my baby this Sunday!  (and me, acting a mess as usual)  If you are running the Chicago Half Marathon this Sunday, or will just be in the area spectating, stop on by!  I’ll be in a heap crying near mile 10, so bring me a beer!

Find us here!!
I’ll be there before and after the race.
  It is technically against race policy to smuggle bloody mary fixings into the race, but if you know me - *wink!* And our team mascot Waffles will be guarding the tent with Rachel and Matt.  Stop on by and celebrate the third year of drunken crazy that is Team Run for HD!
Look for this unamused dog!
And enjoy these highlights from our journey!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How do you interwebs?

Sorry about the blog quietness!  I have been having an issue with spam.  No, not the delightfully curious canned meat, but the kind of spam that is millions (ok, dozens) of weird comments attacking my blog with links for Viagra and discount Marc Jacobs bags.  Having a base level understanding of the interwebs to begin with, I really don’t know (also, don’t care) where to begin to stop that nonsense.  So, I shall embrace the spam, and celebrate their rogue comments.  At the very least, they are at least trying to understand and replicate my vernacular by drawing my attention with comments like “what’s up awesome friend” and excessive exclamation point usage.  You get me, spammers.  You really get me!
So here’s a quick recap of what the past week has been like.

  •        I ran a few times with Matt.  It’s been weirdly hot though, and it tends to make us grouchy.  Matt also somehow became ensnared in a burr bush.  It wasn’t a great running week for us.
  •        It’s been too hot to run with the dog, or even let her rock out at the dog park in the evenings, so we have been hiking in some of the forest preserves with her.  They have some off leash hiking areas that have a secret perimeter fence, so waffles feels like she’s free, and I don’t have to worry about her ending up 30 miles away.  It really has been too hot though!  She kept flopping down for breaks, and finally Matt just had to carry her, Congo style.
Freedom is exhausting.
  •        OMG – we went in a CANOE!  THIS GIRL!  AND THAT DOG!  Matt did all of the paddling, while waffles and I cowered in the bottom of the canoe.  Then we realized the canoe was actually pretty hard to tip, and were brave enough to peek out.  And of course drink as much lake water as possible (her, not me)
we float in giant water bowl?
  •        I got holographic nail polish!  I am so good at this whole being 30 thing.
The picture does NOT do this 99 cent nail polish justice.  It is much sparklier in person!
  •        We saw Cheap Trick at Ravinia!!  AHHHHH!

  •       And invented a second use for running shoes - wine holders!
  •          I have bangs now.  I do this every couple of years for no reason.
  •          I survived this mega storm!  It ruined my run, but at least I made it home in time.  I even managed to get my car into the garage for safe keeping (a first for me!)
  •          Diana Nyad.  I love you.  I cheered her on all weekend.  For real, you make me want to run an ultramarathon. <3

So that was my week in a nutshell.  I actually have much to talk about in upcoming days.  None of it’s interesting, but it will definitely be words that you can read.  Or not read.  And pictures of my dog.  Hurray!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The bear and the maiden's fair

Yeah, i am totally providing you with a soundtrack to this post.  You're Welcome.

So, i mentioned a while back that i had to pull out of the North Country Marathon.  My training has been ok, but definitely not marathon worthy, and probably not so great for what would have been the hardest marathon i ever attempted.  So i cried a lot and laid around depressed at my failures.  But then Nina tweeted me.  She had a bib for the half that she would not be able to use.

Now, as an unwaivering rule-follower, this was the first time i ever ran under someone elses bib.  I felt dirty and reckless and i loved it.  I apologize, North Country, that i broke your rules to do this, but it is just that amazing of a race, that it can make a girl a little crazy.  So i ducked out of work early, and went to Michigan.

Because Maggie was also doing the half, we were able to drive up together, effectively making it a #gingerroadtrip.  Our main concerns going into this were mostly lack of trail running experience and fear of bears.  Thats right.  There was a bear attack near the race last week (If you read the news, it was that girl who was running at night near Cadillac)  But the race assured us of their bear policy, and we didn't encounter a bear the entire weekend.
We both had a very laid back approach to the race, so the lack of stress led to a great time, and a lot of laughs.  We illegally parked, and had plenty of time before the race started.  The start of the race was a little chaotic, as a couple hundred people tried to share space and time on a single track trail.  After a couple miles, people were somewhat organized according to pace, and by the first aid station, it was smooth sailing.
The first glorious aid station.  
Those aid stations by the way?  More like party stations.  They had EVERYTHING.  Blueberries, watermelon, trail mix, PB&J's.  And the nicest people.  Seriously Michigan, you blow my mind.
Photographing rando's as they ran down the hill
Being the most beautiful race either of us had ever run, we both decided to aim for a personal worst and took many photography breaks.  Sadly, the pictures do the course NO justice.  There just aren't words.
By far my favorite photo from the day.  Not just because we were a mere half a mile from the finish, or because its the most god damn beautiful view i have ever seen, but because as we were trying to figure out how to take selfies DURING the race, another runner stopped, and offered to take our picture for us.  Seriously!  That is SO Michigan!
We ran into super speedy Erica at the finish!!  Ginger sandwich!
As we approached the finish, i felt fantastic.  Something about the whole set up of the race made me wish i would have just attempted the full (guaranteed i would have been kicking trees and threatening squirrels by mile 20.)  There were also a bunch of signs leading up to a proposal at the finish line.  So sweet.

So honestly, what can i say about this race.

It's hilly and hard.  But it's the kind of hard that makes you feel alive.  For the past few months i have been this scared, angry shell of a person, and for the first time in a while, as i ran this race, i felt calm.  I felt so peaceful, and satisfied, and alive.  And aside from about five minutes we thought we were lost and i panicked, i didn't feel scared or anxious.  It was amazing.  I am fairly certain that Michigan is the cure for everything.  This was my first trail race, and i really want to run more.  It has everything i love about races.  It's quiet, there aren't many people or spectators, and lots of shade.  How did i not figure this out sooner??

Honestly, North County Run is an amazing experience, and you should try to squeeze it in at least once in your life.  You won't regret it.  And if you do, you can console yourself with your giant, plate sized medal that is large enough to eat a meal off of.  
#GingersinTheWoods  #WeWon

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rave (suburban) Runs - Mallard Lake

Today’s rave run is Mallard Lake.  (well, technically not today, because I only ran in my neighborhood this morning on account of the rain and my inability to get out of bed.)  But Mallard Lake is one of my favorite new suburban running spots.  Waffles is pretty fond of it too!
My thumb is frequently spotted at Mallard Lake
It’s right near Army Trail and Gary Ave in Bloomingdale.  My shitty i-phone pictures don’t actually do it justice.  There is a main loop that goes around the lake, that is maybe a little over a mile.  But, rather than a standard edition lake loop, it actually cuts through the lake with a series of islands and bridges.  I suppose it has something to do with creating awesome fishing spots, but I like to think it was just to make me happy.  Something about the little islands makes me feel like I am transported somewhere way more awesome than Dupage county (no offense, Dupage..) The loop isn’t very large, and running laps is awful for some people, so you can always make a loop and then hit one of the offshoots.  If you’re really ambitious (or just need to squeeze in a 10 miler) you can cut through a neighborhood and end up on another trail that is super remote (some kind of hawk preservation area, as if the hawks need  help.)  I also found a hidden single track trail off to the side of the lake.  I totally chickened out though, even with waffles as back up.  The last thing I need is to get lost in a preserve at sunset (and, for all I know, that phantom Meacham wildcat is still out there.)

I know people say to take the road less traveled, but sometimes those people end up dead.  Or at very least, they get ticks.
There is also a giant hill to the side of the lake.  Sadly it is fenced off, and it turns out it used to be a garbage dump.  The runner in me wants to find a way to run up that hill (it’s really like a garbage mountain though – seriously guys.) but the anxiety-filled OCD germaphobe is concerned about what diseases might lie on top of mount garbage.  Although I went home, and was snooping on map my run, and someone has totally found a way over the fence into mount garbage.  How are you doing it, bonerko???

So, Mallard Lake:

Water fountain
Permanent bathroom structure (still just an outhouse though…)
Super awesome scenery
Plentiful garbage cans (when running with canine companion)
Lots of variety
Not a lot of shade when it’s sunny (the one time I dragged Matt there it was hot and sunny, and he vowed never to go back)
Some sidetrails lead to nowhere and is slightly annoying
Cannot run up garbage mountain!!! (yet….)
Lots of ducks and cranes (only a problem if you run with an easily distracted poorly trained hunting dog.  Waffles….)

How brave are you when it comes to hidden single track trails – should I have just gone for it??  Do you snoop on Map my run and steal borrow people’s routes (or am I a creepster?)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

********Giveaway Winner!!!*******

The winner of the Gingerfoxxx designed water bottles giveaway is:

I also shared you on Facebook.

Congratulations, Jill!!

Please send me an email at with your address, and i will ship them to you as soon as possible!

I promise not to autograph them!  :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Weekend Warrioring

First off, have you entered my giveaway?  Because you should – it ends tonight!

Secondly,  I just wanted to recap my adventurous weekend!  I forced myself to leave the safety of my troll bridge not once, but twice this weekend.  I met up with Bobbi to explore a new trail in Deer Grove.  I was impressed by how big it was, and pleased with the variety of terrain.  There were single track forest trails, as well as a giant paved bike path.  The transition was slightly awkward though, because you leave the cave-like safety of the trees very suddenly, and are spit onto a very open prairie like bike path.  It’s about as close to being on the Serengeti as I’m ever going to get (I think??)  We didn’t start out with a specific mileage in mind, but we ended up lost repeatedly, and made our way back to our cars almost 11 miles later.  I really think Bobbi and I should go on a road trip sometime, just to see what happens. 
So, Deer Grove is awesome, but bring a compass, or a trail of bread crumbs or something, because all the trail markers are labeled black.  That or I have gone color blind.
This map is useless.  They all say black.  Seriously.

Secondly, I bribed some of my friends to come all the way out to the suburbs for the All Night Flea Market!  I didn’t mention it on here, because I had never been, and I would hate to tell people to go do something and then it turns out to be horrible.  People would be like – don’t listen to Gingerfoxxx, she has the WORST ideas.  (wait a minute – people already say that!)

Luckily, it turned out to be awesome.  I mean, being drunk and haggling over fiestaware at two am while Hacksaw Jim Duggan signs autographs in the background, awesome.  I didn’t end up buying anything this time, but there is another one in October.  Plus, it’s a great excuse to get some use out of those headlamps that are stored away with our winter running gear!  (seriously, everyone was super prepared and wearing head lamps!
Matt met Chewbacca - look at the wonder in his eyes!

That was a lot of interaction for me for one day, so I spent most of Sunday binge-watching “Orange is the New Black” and it was divine.  Laura Prepon is a revelation.  And Kate Mulgrew ain’t bad either!
No seriously, it is.
I'm just really glad to have interacted with other human beings this weekend.  And to run with someone that isn't Matt or Waffles!  (no offense guys)  

Have you seen Orange is the New Black?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Career girl - and a giveaway!!

If you have actually followed my blog for a while (first off, i am so sorry!) but secondly - you might have picked up on the fact that i am a "career gal"  I spent way too many years in school, and have spent most of my twenties advancing my career, rather than getting married, having kids, and creating a home like most normal people.  For the most part, this has left me feeling all mopey now that i am 30, because i sit here some nights and wonder what the hell i have accomplished.

Well:  Boom.
This is what i have accomplished, bitches!

For those of you who don't know what the f*** i am talking about:

I am an industrial designer.  It's a hybrid of being an engineer, and an artist/innovator.  After teaching for a while, and receiving my master's degree in industrial design, i spent about three years at a consultancy.  This allowed me to work with a ton of different clients - i put in crazy hours, and got paid crap, but i made a ton of contacts and got some awesome products made, including the Turtle Wax Ice line (i designed all the bottles!) Some beverages in Asia, a variety of domestic food packaging, and: an entire line of sports hydration bottles!!

I have since moved forward with my career to a job that is much more stable/less stressful.  Now i am strictly in food packaging which focuses on high volume production/manufacturing.  It's a super boring way of saying that i spend all my time making sure that the food you buy everyday is safe (seriously, i fight many battles to make sure companies aren't using dangerous plastics on your food.) and that any packaging made is as environmentally friendly as possible (i could write a novel on this - if you ever want to have a seriously intense convo on sustainability - i'm your girl!)

What i am trying to say is that i have worked really, really hard for the past decade.  I am in a male dominated engineering field, and today, i am bragging about my awesome accomplishments.  I might suck at everything - but i kick ass at design.
And - to celebrate this, i am having a giveaway!  Not just any giveaway - a Gingerfoxxx designed giveaway!
During my adventures in industrial design, i got to work with a company that creates bottles/hydration packs for runners. Now, i can't take full credit - I had nothing to do with the fabric straps on the belts/handhelds - we focused on the closures and bottles.  And, i would have been lost without my partner in crime, Jim S.  But, i am super excited none the less - it's a pretty amazing feeling when you walk down an aisle of store, and can say, "Hey - I designed that!"

So, to celebrate, i am giving away the 32oz Bigshot Bottle and the 10oz quickshot plus handheld to one lucky commenter!  (I didn't name the products....)  All you have to do is comment on something you have done lately that is totally brag-worthy!  For an extra entry - share this giveaway either through your blog, twitter, facebook, i really don't f***ing care - just leave a comment telling me about it.  

I like hosting my own giveaways.  It's fun!  You have until Tuesday at midnight - go crazy!