Friday, December 21, 2012

A very merry winter solstice!

Some of you may know that i was not raised in a Christian household.  My mom has always been a follower of Pagan religions (specifically Wicca).  You may have assumed this based on how strange i am, and if so - congrats!

(I did go to a Catholic school from K-12, but it was because i was very smart.  I was exempt from all religious practices.  I did learn alot about christianity though!)

I don't know that i would consider myself to be a part of any of the pagan religions, but it is definitely something that has influenced me.  You wont find me dancing naked in the moonlight tonight, so take that with a grain of salt.  

Here are some fun facts that can allow us to ALL celebrate the solstice together - regardless of whatever organized religion you belong too!

First and foremost, the world isn't ending, so don't get too crazy tonight at your solstice parties!

Tonight is the longest night of the year.  A seemingly never-ending darkness in the world.  It's a test of our faith - the sun will return tomorrow, even stronger and brighter!  (literally!  We are entering a period of increased solar flare activity!)

It is an important day to be grateful for our greatest gift this season - our planet!  Every animal, every tree, every stone is a gift, and we rarely make time to be thankful.  Especially as runners, i think it's extra important today that we acknowledge all that we have, and promise to protect and take care of it.  As the guardians, it's kind of our only job.  

We designate our animal spirit guide.  (this isn't really affiliated with any one pagan religion.  It's just kind of fun to do - a lot of people do it!)  I sense that you are probably laughing right now, but stick with me!  Do you really think we are left to wonder this planet with no supervision and spiritual guidance??  Every year i choose the red fox as my animal guide, for very obvious reasons.  It's kind of like a patronus on Harry Potter.

Some characteristics of my animal spirit guide:

  • Shapeshifting
  • Cleverness
  • Observational Skills
  • Cunning
  • Speed
  • Stealth
  • Invisibility
  • Feminine Courage
  • Ability to observe without being seen
  • Persistence
  • Camouflage
  • Gentleness
All in all, the fox is quick on it's feet, but quicker with it's wits.  I benefit greatly from its ability to survive despite all odds, and it's clever approach towards every problem.  I choose the red fox once again for 2013!  What is your spirt animal??

Don't forget to feast tonight on all the delicious things the earth provides us with!  (spoiler: the world did not provide us with oreos.  We did that one against the planets wishes...)

Lastly, as we make our way through the dark tonight, we awake to a fresh start tomorrow.  What we plant tonight, we sow all year.  This is the night to birth schemes and great ideas, because for some crazy reason, that magical powers that surround tonight force our crazy goals into fruition!  

So grab your loved ones, and light some candles - there is nothing to fear from the longest night - it's a time to celebrate!  

Happy Solstice!! <3

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Things we take for granted.

There will be no first world problems this week, because even though they are presented each week solely for the purpose of trying to make just one person somewhere laugh (usually me...), it's really hard to complain about spilling my lunch, finding an apple from two months ago under my car seat, and waffles' pooping shenanigans when there are much more serious problems in the world.

I am not going talk about the horrors of past week, instead, i want us all to focus on the little every day things we take for granted.

Like thumbs.

I don't know why, but i had the worst craving for a bagel with lox last night. Probably resulting from my attempt to disrupt an ugly sweater contest last week by pawning off an ugly blue sweater as a Hanukkah sweater.  (the link leads to Maggie's blog which has photos of me AND my competition!)

Either way, I have been so frantic at work lately that i accidentally bought unsliced bagels.  Big mistake.  While trying to slice that baby, i somehow missed the bagel and went right into my thumb.  It was deep too!  Luckily, the bone/nail stopped the knife before i actually severed the thumb - otherwise i would have to change the blog to "nine-fingered runner!"

Obviously, a serious cut produces a lot of blood, but luckily, both Matt and I have degrees that forced us to spend a LOT of time in the wood shop.  (i.e., i have seen way too many kids slice off fingers with a bandsaw.  It really happens more often than you think!)  It's really hard to stitch fingers, so usually even if you go to the ER, they will just super glue the wound together and let nature do it's thing.  Sadly, we were fresh out of super glue, so we taped it shut until i got to work this morning, field medic style.

Did you know you use your thumbs for EVERYTHING?  I couldn't even get my pants zipped up!  (and not just because of my rapidly expanding waistline!)  It has taken me like three hours to write this! Seriously thumb, i am VERY sorry for taking you for granted.  You do a lot.  

When my coworker came in today, he was nice enough to glue my thumb shut for me.  Now that is a good friend.  It almost looks normal....
Anyway, the moral of the story is, thumbs are really important, be careful when slicing food, super glue is way cheaper than stitches and just as effective, and pre-sliced bagels are TOTALLY WORTH THE MONEY!

Take the time to appreciate your body today - it puts up with a lot!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The busiest weekend EVER!

I might have over extended myself this weekend.  Just a little.

Friday night was my work holiday party.  I thank the heavens that there are no pictures from that night. My over competitive self was tricked into drinking too much via a "who can finish this beer faster" challenge.  I seriously need to learn to accept defeat.  Any way, it just went on a downward spiral that resulted in a few of us somehow finding our way to boystown in the wee hours of the morning.  Needless to say, i totally embarrassed myself.

Even worse, i had the Chicago running blogger meet-up the next morning!
This involved very little sleep, and drunk guacamole preparation.  I showed up super late because i had forgotten my gift, and only made it in the nick of time for the fun run, which was a 3 mile rainy run through the west loop area!  As always, i am a model of healthy living.  
Stolen from Erin, the hostess with the mostest.
Erin, of LoopLooks, was nice enough to host, and wow, there are a lot of us!!
We had a Yankee Swap gift exchange.....
And i made quite a few enemies  by stealing the coveted Saucony gloves - with bonus socks!!  (Sorry Cary - don't hate me!)

After that, i met up with a coworker, to try and sort through the details of our drunken night, and then i had to get things ready for Sunday.

My BFF Rachel and I got to attend an amazing salon to see a child prodigy violinist perform.  We are hoping to work with the family over the next year to help with Team Run for HD fundraising.  After the salon, we hit up the Christkindl market for some spiced wine, and amazing smells.  Neither of us eat sausage, but damn it smells good!
Boot scandal.
Upon returning home with my little boot, i realized that the boot is about a 1/4 inch smaller than last years boot...I am on to you, Christkindl market!!
I had just enough time to tidy up before my cousin Sherry came to visit with her daughters!  Her youngest daughter Trinity is at work with me today to learn about design.  She heads off to college next year, and is thinking about graphic design as a major.  So obviously, we are all talking her out of it.   J/k.  Maybe.  It was super nice to have my family in town - no one ever comes to the big city.  In the 10 years i have lived here on and off, there is only one cousin brave enough to visit - Ammanda, who ran the 5k in September for HD!  We spent the night chatting, and waffles became very attached to Sherry, and insisted on laying across her shoulders most of the evening!
Dog scarf.
Now Trin and i are working hard - we even went to Starbucks for her first time :)

Needless to say, very little running got done - there is too much going on right now.  Luckily marathon training starts next week, just as Christmas ends.  I heard on the radio this morning that in the month of December, we spend more time away from home that in our home - do you think thats true??

Friday, December 14, 2012

Farewell, old friends.

Tis the season to get your ducks in a row for all the gear you might need for your next race.  Usually that means replacing your shoes if they need replacing.  Depending on the shoes and the runner, a good pair of shoes should usually last you the 18 weeks of marathon training, followed by the marathon.  After that, you have usually reached 500 miles, and they are ready to retire.  (Of course some of the thinner minimal shoes wear out much faster.)

As i am no speedster, i wear pretty average shoes, and usually say goodbye to them once i finish whatever marathon i bought them for.  That usually puts them around 550.  Luckily, since i seem to run fairly evenly, there usually isn't severe wear and tear, and the only indicator that they are dying is some minor knee pain when i run in them.  For my last marathon i ran in my Mizuno Elixirs.  I hadn't trained with them the whole time, so they probably could have handled at least another 100 miles.  Then IT happened.

My lunch popped open and spilled giardiniera all over my running shoes.  I'm talking a fine shellac of super spicy oil and chopped peppers.  A tragedy, as you can imagine.  

I cleaned them up, and have even run with them a few times since, but i just can't get over the fact that i smell like an italian beef sandwich every time i run (especially indoors where there is less ventilation!).  The oil also never completely washed out and keeps staining my socks.  Life is so hard.

So, with that, i bid you farewell dear friends.  Like a candle in the wind, you have been extinguished too soon, all because of my love of spicy, oil-based condiments.   You will be missed...

Have you ever had to say goodbye to running gear before it's time?  
Are you accident prone like me?  
Should i get better tupperware?  
Isn't giardiniera AWESOME??

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A year of records

No, not me.  In fact, i am mediocre at best at almost everything i attempt.

I'm talking about the weather!  What's going on with you weather?  I won't even go into world wide weather phenomena over the past year, but just Chicago alone has been all over the place.  Between the mild dry winter, the 80 degree days in March, the 100 degree days in June, and the 71 degree day just last week, I am a little concerned.  Don't get me wrong.  The fact that it is sunny and 50 degrees right now is awesome.  You know what isn't awesome?  I am drowning under a sea of year end deadlines, and looking outside is only making it harder for me to focus on this mountain of work (especially since it is dark when i go in, and dark when i leave.  It's a vampires life for me!) I would feel much better about all of this if it was snowing right now.

Why hasn't it snowed yet???  We already smashed the record for longest amount of days without measurable snowfall.  In a couple more days, we will smash the record for latest day in December without seeing snow fall.  What's going on up there??  Is somebody asleep on the job?

Well, as someone who loves running through fresh snow (when it is less than 3" deep) and leaving her tracks all over the city, I am begging you, Chicago...


Little baby snows....

Big fancy snows.....

Even blurry snows that get in your eyes and sometimes cause temporary blindness....
I am lost and depressed without you.  I'll take anything at this point.  How are we supposed to show what badass winter runners we are when there's no snow??

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

FWP- F*** you, christmas!

Tragically, this is really what my off-season body looks like...
Thats right.  I am going to bitch about Christmas.  Don't even pretend you didn't see this one coming. 

1.  The tree's already dead.  I am fairly certain i killed it with my love, just like every other plant in the house.  It also doesn't help that Waffles will not stay away from it, and has managed to strip all the bottom branches bare in attempt to eat all the pine needles.
So yeah.  It's December 12th, and we have a dead tree, and a carpet of pine needles.


2. If you think sticking reindeer antlers on your car enables you to cut me off without repercussions, in the name of Christmas spirit - YOU ARE WRONG.  I am actually infinitely more likely to run you off the road, now that i know you can fly, you jerk.

3.  Because my love of pinterest and home decor outweighs my hatred of christmas, i set up this candle display on the window sill, adorned ( YES ADORNED) with cranberries and key limes.
Only every morning, i look and there are less cranberries.  So either elves are pilfering my decorations, we have mice, or Matt is eating my hard work for a second christmas in a row.  I DIDN'T EVEN WASH THEM, MATT.  I hope you get some kind of weird cranberry disease.  And seriously, if it's mice, I am going freak out.  Real bad.


4.  You know what really sucks?  Not having a fireplace.  Matt and i have been sitting in front of the netflix fire video every night.  Screw you central heating and cooling!  Your efficient temperature moderation is cruel and unauthentic, and ruining my christmas!

5.  I was going to pick up an ugly christmas sweater for a party this weekend, when i soon realized after visiting FOUR salvation armys, that ugly christmas sweaters are exclusively for the first world elite.  Case in point:
This little scrooge spends his free time buying all the cheapo ugly christmas sweaters, and then selling them online for $50+

Are. You. Freaking. KIDDING ME???? I might be a grinch, but you my friend, are the scroogiest scrooge that ever scrooged!  Seriously, who does this shit. All i wanted was an ugly Christmas sweater, and instead i got WAR.  IT'S ON, BUDDY.


6.  While i don't expect my poorly drawn photoshop stockings to filled on Christmas morning, i am fairly certain that if they were, they would be filled with Coal.  I wish!  I'm sorry, but the value of coal has been skyrocketing.  I think it's at $150.00 per short ton.  I have no idea what a short ton breaks down to, but whatever the value of a stockings worth, it has to be more than valuable than the usual Bonne Bell lipsmacker gift pack.

7.  In what world is it socially acceptable to plug in a strand of lights and then pile them onto a random bush in your yard.  You aren't even trying.  (Unless you're Helen Keller.  In which case it looks great, sweetheart.)
Either put some effort into it, or just don't do it at all.  Don't make me look at your laziness.


8.  Can we just talk about how wrong that "Do they know it's christmas?" song is?  Seriously - how is it even ok to play this on the radio??  Of course there's not snow in sub-Saharan Africa.  Seriously, why are we on their case about it?  Do you have any idea how close to the equator they are?  Do we have the same sympathies for Costa Rica?  Barbados? Ireland?? (Hey - they rarely have snow - true story.)  AND, you know what?  They DO know it's Christmas.  You know why?  Post-colonialism.

For shame, Bob Geldof.  FOR SHAME!!

*(sorry.  every time i bring up post-colonialism, an angel gets it wings.)
**(I'm lying.  I'm just a jerk like that.)


9.  And lastly, everything about eggnog pisses me off.  Just the sight of it makes me want punch babies.  There is a fine line between eating raw eggs ( cookie dough <3) and drinking it.  And i am on the right side of that line.  ARE YOU WITH ME????


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

3 day weekend?

My obvious absence from the interwebs yesterday was the direct result of taking a personal day.  Every once in a while, i just need to nap all day with the dog, and power through season one of Lost.  It is known.
So i did absolutely nothing yesterday, but here are some other notables from the weekend.

Waffles got to have her "Birthday Party" at Krisers.  Seriously, i recommend you register your dog's birthday.  She got a homemade PB cupcake and a huge packet of treat samples.  Sadly, she was so excited by everyone pampering her, that she got explosive diarrhea, and we had to return home in shame.  I also learned i am not ready to deal with children.  I hear they poop and vomit on things all the time.

Luckily, she rebounded quickly, and was soon able to eat her pupcake.

Matt and I also decided to go for a run.  It reminded me how fun Matt is to run with.  When neither of us is training for anything.  I hope he will run with me again soon (HINT HINT, I KNOW YOU READ MY BLOG!)
 I also tried out My Brooks PureCadence's.  It's too soon to know if they are the shoe for me, but I had no problems on the run.  And, Matt also runs in PureCadence, so we got to be "that couple"

 And Sunday, we indulged our OCD, and cleaned the apartment like there had been an Ebola outbreak.   The inside of the couch was vacuumed, the fridge was scrubbed, and every piece of furniture was moved and cleaned behind.  The only problem was, when Matt moved my 8 year old Ikea dresser so that we could sweep behind it, the whole freaking thing collapsed.   It was completely unsalvageable.  Oh well.  I suppose 8 years for Ikea furniture is really like 50 years.  You served me well, old friend.....

This dresser collapse forced Matt and I to go through all our clothes and consolidate. Needless to say, about half our wardrobe is en route to salvation army.  We managed to fit all our clothes into Matt's dresser, with the exception of one last Ikea drawer of running clothes, which Waffles managed to up-cycle into a new puppy bed for herself.  
I realized that this clean sweep was just another way for me to avoid dealing with the unavoidable approach of Christmas.  It's coming, and there is no amount of cleaning I can do to avoid it.  I should probably start my Christmas shopping.....

On a side note, i apologize that I have been completely alienating myself from all forms of social media lately.  I am seriously the grinchiest grinch that ever grinched.  I assure you, i will return to my booze-fueled, marathon running self in a couple weeks.  Until then, Bah Humbug.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Waffles!!

Can you believe it?  My little baby is a year old!  I think that means she is like 13 in dog years, which explains her terrible behavior lately. In honor of my pup turning one year old today, here is a billion pictures of her, being all cute while thinking about new ways to terrorize me.  I kid.  Sometimes.  

Seriously though, she can be very trying, especially as an energetic puppy, but i love her to death and couldn't imagine having any other dog! Happy Birthday, you monster!  :)

And - for any other Chicago pet owners, i encourage you check out Krisers, and put your pet in the system.  They have an awesome selection of food and toys, but most importantly, this weekend i get a discount on anything i buy her because its her birthday.  They also have saturday "birthday parties" so she can play with other dogs that have birthdays around this time for the afternoon.  I approve.  

And if you want to hear something about running go check out my Q&A on Carolyn's blog here!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

A transformation

Historically, December has not been a good month for me.  While most people are going to parties, shopping, running jingle bell races, and enjoying the cold weather, i am usually working late, sitting in traffic, getting fat, not running, and isolating myself from the world.  It's still going to happen this year, but i at least made an effort to not sit in traffic, run, socialize with another human being, and be festive.

Last night i ran the Zion reindeer run 5k with Bobbi!  She lives up north, and i work up north, so she told be about this small weeknight race that would get me out of traffic, and be a small community race (no anxiety!  YAY!)  I don't know what it is about Bobbi, but she knew exactly what i needed.

I drove up and parked AT THE START LINE 15 minutes before the race.  I picked up my packet, which had a long sleeve tech, antlers, gloves, a hat, and few other things.  I went to the indoor bathroom that had no line, and then walked out to the start line.  I don't why this brings me so much joy, but it does.  I have actually only run one timed 5k in my life.  It was the 2011 Carrera de los Muertos, which i half walked/half ran with a friend.  My time was 36:11.  I was fairly certain that with Bobbi's guidance, i could beat that time.  

Bobbi and I before the race
Running the race, i was instantly reminded why i don't run 5k's.  Between the asthma and unwavering laziness, it really isn't a good fit for me.  Not that i am a great marathoner either, but it just comes much easier to me.  It was a chilly night, about 30 degrees, and of course i left my inhaler at home, so i wheezed along behind Bobbi the entire time.  Luckily, she is much wiser than I, and had a head lamp to  keep us safe (it was pretty dark, and there was some, albeit minimal, traffic) and a working garmin, so i just followed her.  And it worked.  I had no idea what my finishing time was, but based on the fact that i felt terrible, i just knew i beat that 36:11!

Fun fact: when looking through the photos from the night, Bobbi noticed that this guy in jeans beat me, and peed himself in the process of doing so.  I'm not judging, i'm impressed!  And, let he who has not peed themselves a little during a race cast the first stone.  (Spoiler: it won't be me.  Although i am normally running a marathon, and have never peed enough for it to be visible. for the record.)
Congratulations, you earned it.  I mean it.
Right after i finished, Santa gave me a candy cane, and we cheered for a few others finishing the race, and then went in to warm up.
They had snacks like pretzels, animal crackers, and bananas, and pizza was on the way!  We snagged some pizza, and they had a raffle while all the finishing times were being sorted out.  I won some fancy vitamins!
A whole evening of winning!
It turned out i ran the 5k in 26:18, which is a ten minute PR, and because my age group only contained 5 other girls, it landed me in 1st place for my age group!  THIS GIRL.  WON A MEDAL.  NOT FOR PARTICIPATION.  And Bobbi, who is the only reason i didn't just start walking half way through, won 2nd for her age group!
After the awards were given out
winners circle!
So, before the judgement starts to flow, i fully understand that 26:18 in not a competitive 5k time.  It was a really small race. Under 200 people.  I know most people can run significantly faster than that, so i want to personally thank all of you for not being there.  I really appreciate it.

Regardless of how small the field is, this marks a transition in my running.  I am no longer a "participant".  I am now a "competitor"  I totally understand why people work so hard to improve, because now i want another medal, and i want it bad.  Winning is awesome.  And, i have realized that 5k's aren't so terrible.  I mean, yeah, you consider vomiting the entire time, but it's over almost as soon as it begins.  So that's kind of fun.  

So, with that, the 2012 race season is over for me.  
I wore the medal all night.  And drank wine.
Maybe i should end my running career on this high note?

I'm just kidding.  I already am signed up for two marathons next year.  The crazy never stops, kids.