the eve of the marathon

It has arrived. The Chicago marathon is upon us. Twenty-four hours from now it’ll all be a memory… and let’s hope it is a good one.

The city is abuzz with people from all over the world who come for one measly race. And by measly, I mean gargantuan. Last year, the Chicago marathon had the most finishers of any race in the US with 37,315 people crossing that finish line on Columbus Drive. There were 109 countries represented. It’s known to be an extremely fast course (think Midwest: flat, flat, flat) and home to many PRs both amateur and professional. Yes, I plan to be one of those people and throw down a PR tomorrow.

The course takes us through 29 neighborhoods in the city with adoring fans lining every inch of it. The crowd is one of the best things about the Chicago marathon; so many people come out to support the runners and that’s what makes it simply amazing to run this race. But it’s not all fun and games. The city raked in over $243 million in economic impact last year’s race weekend. Holy moly. Can I get a cut of that?

Last night Lu and I ventured down to the Expo at McCormick Place to pick up my bib and race-day info packet. We stayed for an hour or so snacking on samples and browsing various vendors amongst fellow runners. I got to take the annual #ownChicago picture at the Nike booth. Below is this year’s photo on the left and last year’s on the right. Yep, I’m in the same hoodie. Recycling outfits. No shame. There was also an #ownChicago board we signed… go little bean!

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I hogged the photo booth until I got a picture with “Laura owns 26.2”.  Let’s hope it doesn’t own me. It sounds like tomorrow will bring perfect conditions. At race start it’s suppose to be in the upper 50s, the low 60s by noon and no chance for rain. I like it.

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Here’s a picture of the big frijol at the Expo. Yep, he took the Divvy bike inside. What a goon. I love that goon.

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After the Expo, we stayed up entirely too late watching blooper reels on Youtube. Yes, you read that correctly. Blooper reels. It was lights out at 1:30am but this little bean couldn’t fall asleep until 2:30. Cue: Sleeping in until almost noon… Oops. You know sleeping in that late means I’m going to need a fat cup of joe in my favorite coffee mug from my sweet Mexican Momma.

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A lazy Saturday is just what the doctor ordered. I did do a two mile shake-out, slow paced run to get a little blood flowing. The rest of the day will be spent hydrating followed by carb loading tonight and hopefully a much earlier bedtime.

I have the outfit all ready to go: my favorite Lululemon running capris, Brooks base layer on top, and Brooks Pureflow 2s on my footsies. I’ll probably sport the black sneakers tomorrow. I love how that shirt says run happy. Run happy!

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My fuel is ready, too. Strawberry Shot Bloks and jelly beans. My plan is to refuel at mile 8, 13, 20 and 24. I didn’t refuel enough mid-race last year, a key error that I won’t be making this year. No matter how many marathons I end up doing (and this one will quite possibly be my last), I will always think it’s strange to eat while running.

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I want to thank each one of you for your loving support. Thank you so much to those who donated to the charity group I am running with, Imerman Angels. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement. I’d like to give a special thanks to one of my besties, Meghan, for sending me beeaaautiful flowers this morning (in a lovely tea cup, I might add) and making me smile big today. She’s seriously the best. Hurry up and get back to Chicagoland, Megs!!

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If you’re interested in seeing my pre-marathon post from last year click here. And here is the recap of last year’s race.

Alright, I’m out. Going to get ready for the big pasta dinner tonight.  Lu and I are kicking it old school and going to the original gangster, OG, the Olive Garden. Haven’t been there in who knows how long. Hello, breadsticks and delicious salad. Can’t wait to see you again.

Please, send me good vibes! I’ll be back with a race update in a couple of days.

xo, lw

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my garmin stats + other tidbits from today’s run

I’ve been using my Garmin for outdoor running religiously since the big frijol gave it to me for my birthday earlier this year. It revolutionized the way I track my runs and my progress. No more sitting at the computer, mapping out a route on MapMyRun.com. And heaven forbid if I veered from the planned route, I’d have to map it all over again when I got home. Tedious. Now I just strap on my watch, locate satellites (which I’ll admit can sometimes take an annoyingly long time) and hit the pavement.

Today I went onto the Garmin website to create an account and download software. I then plugged my Garmin into my computer for the first time ever (cue: angels singing). I didn’t even realize how much that thing tracks. It give me each mile split, the fastest pace I hit, elevation, calories… Information overload.

Here’s a clip of today’s 6 mile run.

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Please note today’s temperature. 66 degrees with a 10mph wind. Plus, it was drizzling the whole run. Summer weather that is not. I’m going to go ahead and say that this is one of the worst summers. We’ve only had a handful of really hot days. There have been too many days of rain and fall-like temps. Bummer! I wish I was out on the west coast feeling some of that record-setting heat. Or maybe I don’t… No, I do.

During my run, I saw a man searching for treasure with a metal detector on North Avenue beach. Good luck to him.

I was also given an opportunity for my big break into television. As I was approaching North Ave beach, I was flagged down by a couple bold men who dared to stop a girl during her workout. I kind of acted like I didn’t see them at first but once they were within an arm’s reach I couldn’t really ignore them (politely, that is) since I was running sans music. One man said, “Hey. We’re from the Today Show and we’re doing a story on holiday travel. What are your holiday travel plans?” Then I realized they had a camera and a whole setup around the corner. So, I told them my 4th of July plans… nothing. Then he said, “Ok, well can you tell us about a different holiday travel experience?” I got nothing. Stage fright. I think I muttered something like, “Uhh, nothing really sticks out. I don’t travel that much…” They looked at me like I was idiot. Then I asked if they were from the Today Show in NYC and proceeded to tell them I’m a fan before going on my way. It was a strange exchange. That could have been my national television debut. I blew it.

I’ve now run with my new sneakers, the PureFlow 2s, several times. I hate to admit this but I don’t love them as much as I love the original PureFlows. They’re still a great shoe but I wish they hadn’t made so many changes. I can’t even pinpoint what it is that I don’t love but something is different. Anybody using the PureFlows or a different Brooks shoe? What do you think?

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I picked up an overtime shift at work tomorrow so I’ll make a little extra dough before the holiday. Anyone have fun 4th of July plans? I’m hoping to BBQ and hang with family. Hope you guys have made this Tuesday a good one. Talk to ya soon!

Sending my prayers to the families of the 19 fallen firefighters in Arizona. They are heroes.

xo, lw

sometimes i make strange decisions

Well today is Sunday, which means another long run.  This week, I had 11 miles on the agenda. I would actually consider an 11 mile run to be a medium-length run so I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed. I was looking forward to getting out and enjoying the nice, sunny Chicago weather.

Then I made a strange decision.

I decided to wear my lululemon running tights and head out shortly before noon on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year… So by strange decision I actually mean really bad decision… It was 85 and sunny and I was the idiot in black pants.

At about mile six, just after turning around, fatigue hit. My heart was fine. My lungs were fine. My muscles were fine. But I was overheated and as dried up as Amanda Byne’s career. It was brutal. I had to stop for water at least half a dozen times. Of course I got nervous that I was drinking too much water and losing too many electrolytes. I don’t bring fuel unless I’m going over 13 miles so I really had nothing to help me at this point except my will… and my momma.

My sweet momma came along for the ride and rode her bike while I ran. It was so nice having her there. I eventually stole a sip of her gatorade. Here is a picture she snapped during our return to the city. That little black speck is me. What a gorgeous day.

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I finished the run, albeit slower than what I would have liked. 11 miles in 01:44:00 = 9:27 min/mile average. That pace is about thirty seconds slower than my goal marathon pace but I’m not beating myself up about it. That time does include many stops at various water fountains. I learned today that there is a long stretch on the lake front, just south of 35th street, that doesn’t have a water fountain for about a mile and a half. I found myself cursing the city of Chicago for overlooking that little area. But I survived. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
Who else did a long run today? Anybody do it in pants?

It’s time for me to get a new pair of running shoes. I love Brooks Pure Flow. What color do you guys like? Black or purple?

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I’ve been hydrating like crazy since I’ve been home to avoid a dehydration headache later. I hope you guys are enjoying this weekend and these lovely summer days. Make them good.

xo, lw

marathon training commences

Marathon training season has begun! I’m entering week two of my training plan, Hal Higdon’s intermediate 2. I used his novice training plan for my first marathon, and I feel like I can amp up the mileage this go-round. Last year my goal was to finish (and not cardiac arrest). This year I have a more specific goal in mind…  to finish in under 4 hours. Last year’s time was 04:20:17 so I’m looking to shed twenty minutes off, which sounds like a lot to me. But hey, we can do anything we set our minds to, right? We’ll see. Here is the plan:

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 10.34.46 PMI cheated last week, and I ran on the cross-training day. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not good at cross-training. Running is my jam. I just can’t get into the elliptical or other machines. But it’s important for me to find an activity that I enjoy, or at least tolerate, besides running. I’m planning on trying swimming soon. Our apartment building has a lap pool so I really have no excuse. Anybody have other suggestions?

I’ll be tweaking the plan just a little bit. I’m changing up the pace runs and making them tempo runs. Is that a bad idea? I feel like I have to do speedwork to improve my time. I’ll probably do fartleks during some of the mid-week runs. Hal Higdon incorporates speedwork into the advanced training plans but I’m definitely no advanced runner. I’ll just do a little bit of speed on my own terms and call it good.

The things I like about this specific training program are: Three 20-mile runs and only one rest day per week. Also known as, I’m going to work my butt off.

I saw the coolest infographic on HungryRunnerGirl’s blog the other day. It shows the changes that occur in the body with endurance training from this website. Very neat and motivating. I think my favorite adaptation is angiogenesis. It’s so cool that the body just builds more capillaries that link onto each other without spilling blood… The body is fascinating.

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In addition to the running plan, I’m going to follow a more healthy eating plan during the training weeks. Last year, I didn’t really pay attention to what I ate. We eat pretty healthily on a daily basis but I can do better. Specifically, I have to focus on getting more protein. I am always on a quest to get more protein. I have used the My Fitness Pal ap in the past to track macronutrients and I may use it again to ensure I’m getting enough of the good stuff. If I don’t put a conscious effort into eating protein, I could soak up carbs all day long. That does not a healthy diet make.

I’m excited that training season has started! It’s always fun to be working toward a specific goal. Who else is in training mode? Anyone out there doing the Chicago marathon? What training plan do you use? Happy Tuesday. Make today a good one!

xo, lw

oh honey.

Honey. I found the most amazingly delicious honey today. It’s raw, organic and produced locally in Illionis.

Raw honey: Honey as it exists in the beehive. It’s unprocessed, not strained (and therefore may have wax bits) and never heated above natural hive temperature, which is around 115 degrees Fahrenheit (see: this article). It is heaven in a jar. It tastes worlds better than processed honey a la the clover honey bear (remember that as a kid?). Not only does it taste better, but raw honey is much better for you. Heating and conventional processing breaks down the powerful enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in raw honey.  Plus, it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. The honey bee is a pretty amazing lil creature. They’re kinda cute, too.

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I have officially fallen for Y.S. Eco Bee Farms honey. For those of you in Chicago, Whole Foods on Huron sells this product and it’s local which is an added bonus. This may become my new favorite food.

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It. is. so. good. I think that all of you should go out and get some or order it online here. Do you guys like honey? What are your favorite healthy foods right now? Anybody ever been to a bee farm? As much as I’m lovin this honey, I don’t think I’d ever want to go to a bee farm… swarms of bees. Yikes.

In random news, my new favorite song is Treasure by Bruno Mars. I listened to it on repeat during today’s lake front run. 5 miles, average pace 8:19 min/mile. Not sure why it says my pace is 5:04 on the Garmin pic – it’s obviously an error. I’ve never run at that pace before but if Garmin wants to tell me I did, I’ll claim it. ;)

photo-43I hope everybody is enjoying this day and making it a good one. Half way to the weekend…

xo, lw

a very polish wedding

One of my work friends got hitched! Lu and I had the pleasure to help them celebrate last night… Polish style. But before we get to the wedding, let’s talk about my long run yesterday. It was a nice 60-something degrees on the lake front and sunny as all get out. I think the whole city emerged from their winter hibernation and found their way to the lake front. It was crowded and I loved it.

Yesterday’s Long Run: 17 miles in 02:33:20 aka exactly a 9 min/mile pace.

It. Was. Brutal. I was cruising alright until the 14/15th mile where I felt a tremendous desire to quit. I had hit the wall and was so over the run. I refueled with a few dried apricot slices I carried with me and hit up the water fountain. That pit stop got my head back in the game & I was determined to finish the last 3 miles but take it slower. I like to tell myself that those final miles when I’m so exhausted are the ones that really count. The ones that make the next long run a tad bit easier. However, I’m aware that if I push it too hard when I’m too tired I can get hurt. (Remember when I was exhausted but kept running & fell & had to go to the ER and get stitches? Yeah, I’m trying to avoid that situation again.) I finished. Hello tight calves and hamstrings. Stretching never felt so good. Fortunately, I’m not overly sore this morning. I’m going to do a leisurely 5 mile run with the bean today. I find that doing short, slower runs on the day after a long run helps my recovery for whatever reason. It’s like it stretches out my legs. Monday will be a rest day (…and a work day. And my sweet grandpa, Poppy’s birthday!)

Surprise, surprise I saw my big bro around mile 10 yesterday (in case you missed: this post). And I saw one of our neighbors rocket past me at about 6 miles. Anyone else do a long run this weekend?

Now to the WEDDING!! Anna, my old work pal, looked stunning and very happy. Congrats to her and the man! It was a lovely evening in a room filled with lots of love. Lu and I were more focused on eating way too much Polish food and drinking champagne to take great pictures so unfortunately this is all I got:

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Neon lights and a bottle of Kettle One Vodka on every table. The Poles know how to get down. Has anybody ever heard someone speak Polish? Holy foreign language. It sounds crazy and also looks crazy. Exhibit A: Oto przykład język. Szalony ciężko. Thanks Google translate… in English that says “Here is an example the language. Crazy hard.” Lots of Polish being spoken last night. Not by us. Also, I got to see my old bosses. That is always fun.

On our Sunday schedule:

-5mile recovery run & weight lifting
-Visit our kitten niece Sof-a-loaf
-Just a little bit of shopping (Sir Lu needs a new suit & I need nothing but want things)
-Sushi at my most favorite place in the city

What’s on your Sunday schedule? Whatever it is, hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.

xo, lw

the plant with 9 lives + new running crops

Let’s not pretend that I have a green thumb. I’m known for struggling to keep even a simple house plant alive. What’s that? I need to water the plants? So that’s the secret.

Don’t get me wrong, I love plants. Fresh flowers in the home are heavenly. I just have a hard time keeping plants around these days because life is busy. I lose track of when I water things. Is that a good excuse?

Say hello to the little plant that could. The plant that I’ve been trying to kill since 2009. Ok, I’m not purposefully trying to kill it. I have just gone periods of time without watering it or rotating it in the sun…. The lil guy sits in the corner of our apartment and it’s easy to forget about him. Over the past couple of weeks I stepped up my game when I noticed the leaves were turning brown and breaking off. I’ve been telling Lu that I’ve lost the battle. I was ready to compost the thing and move on. When….

Little buds!! The little green sprouts put a smile on my face!!

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There are three little sprouts poking their pretty leaves through. Spring is in the air. This plant is a serious fighter!

Now on to something very important. I need new running capris. I’ve been running in the same Lululemon yoga pants (yes, the ones designed for yoga and not running) for the past five years. Yesterday I got the urge to buy new pants and now I can’t shake it. I’m getting some today. But first… I need to do some online research to figure out what my next purchase will be.

Naturally, I turn to Lululemon. I’ve been lusting over the Run: Proceed with Speed crop… Until I read the customer reviews, that is. Within the past week several people have complained that the Lululemon pants are still see through. With all of the negative press Lulu got, I assumed that ship had sailed and they corrected the problem. But no, many customers are warning people not to buy these pants and that makes me sad. I’ll heed the warning. But I’ll also go into the store and try them on for myself.

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After I go into Lulu and realize that the pants are in fact still see through, I will turn to the reliable Nike. Lu and I were talking about brands last night. We were wondering why Lululemon doesn’t sponsor any pro athletes. Maybe that’s the proof that their stuff is more cute & trendy than functional. I still love you Lululemon. Anyway, the Nike Relay pant caught my eye. Guess what a couple reviewers say? They’re see through. What gives people. Again, I’ll try them on and hope that they aren’t.

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My question for you guys — what are your very favorite running tights? I need good ones! The NYC Marathon lottery registration opens today at noon. That race is on my bucket list. Anybody registering for the lottary this year?

I’ll leave you all with a picture of Uncle Lu and his niece Soph-a-loaf. They’re a feisty duo.

photo-28Have a great day everybody. Can you believe we’re approaching the end of April?! Time is flying. It’s a good day to make today a good day.

xo, lw

Running into the wind… Both ways

Who strongly dislikes wind? Say it with me now. Running into the wind is the worst. Ok, it’s not as bad as rain. But it’s bad. I was jogging on the lake front yesterday. Side note- It was freezing but I ran anyway. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’ve just got the itch for outdoor running.

I started my run jogging into the wind. I was frustrated because it’s so dang hard but I was ok with it. I’d prefer to run into the wind on the way out and then cruise on the way back. So I’m five miles out and I turn around. What do I encounter? I stronger wind. Excuse me? Don’t. Don’t do that, wind. For the last mile outbound I was dreaming about turning around and getting some relief. What a cruel joke. How does that even work? How can the wind be blowing in opposite directions simultaneously? Oh Chicago.

For the remaining five miles I fought the urge to stop or slow down. Instead, I used my favorite visualization to keep me going. I like to visualize a rope tied around my waist that is attached to a team of horses who are pulling me. For whatever weird reason that image energizes me and makes the task at hand seem a tad bit easier. Horses are gorgeous and powerful. Do you visualize anything when you run? What helps you get through the tough moments?

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Yesterday’s run was 10 miles in 01:24:31 (8:27 min/mile). Today is a work day aka a rest day. I really need to do some cross training/weight lifting/yoga. Something other than running. Maybe tomorrow. ; )

Last night we had one of my favorite side dishes, sweet potato fries. If you haven’t yet jumped on the sweet po fry bandwagon, you need to. Cut them up, drizzle olive oil, cracked black pepper, paprika & cajun seasoning. Stick them in a 425 degree oven for thirty-ish minutes. You won’t be able to stop eating them. I apologize in advance.

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And here is a picture of my niece Sophie just because she is cute. Her momma sent me these yesterday. She was entertaining herself with an old toilet paper roll. What a cutie.

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Happy hump day. Enjoy your day and make it a good one.

xo, lw

Look for the helpers + Congratulate the winners

521693_645199098842880_1528049914_nMr Rogers, you are always right. Let’s look for the helpers. Let’s all be helpers. Some running bloggers are suggesting wearing a race shirt to come together as a running community and support Boston (HRG, Tri Balance Girl). Donate blood. Volunteer at a local race. Pray for those affected.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

I also want to take a moment to congratulate the winners and the finishers of the Boston Marathon. Even qualifying for that marathon is a big deal. I am personally proud of everybody who ran it. It would be a dream to one day run Boston.

#1 Male: Lelisa Desisa (Ethiopia) finished in 02:10:22

#1 Female: Rita Jeptoo (Kenya) finished in 02:26:25

I have a girl crush on Kara Goucher, who ran for my alma mater University of Colorado. Kara finished sixth in 02:28:11. Another favorite American, Shalane Flanagan, finished fourth in 02:27:08.

Today I’ll run, and I’ll be thinking about Boston. What are you doing? I’m also getting my hairs cut for the first time since early December. Hello ratty ends. I’m ready for a fresh look.

Hug your loved ones today. Life is too short and unpredictable. Let’s all make today a good day.

xo, lw

This is a sad world.

This is a sad world. There is too much hate here. Too much violence. Too much war.
My heart breaks for everyone affected by today’s Boston Marathon bombing.
Who do you think you are? How dare you feel that you have the right to attack us… To hurt the innocent. How dare you.
We are all people. We have families. We have dreams. We have lives to live.

Don’t bring your hatred here.

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