Tunesday: Everything Has Changed

Allow me to present a song that, lately, has given me the drive to keep going and going and going. Sure, it’s not particularly boppy and the lyrics aren’t inspirational in that traditional/running sense that you’re used to seeing here… but it might as well be to me.

You see, Everything Has Changed by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran was my first dance with my husband at our wedding two weekends ago.

All I know is we said, “Hello”
And your eyes look like coming home
All I know is a simple name
And everything has changed

We hemmed and hawed so much over our first dance song, changing our minds weekly (sometimes even more often than that!). Out of all the songs in all the world, you’d think there’d be one that just fit instantly, seamlessly, right? Almost two months before the big day we still didn’t love anything, and figured we’d just have to settle.

When I first heard this song early in my wedding planning, I wanted to love it because I love Taylor Swift (and Ed Sheeran, to a lesser degree). But at first glance, it was a song about meeting, not enduring. And the lyrics “everything has changed”? And “I just want to know you better now?” I mean, sure my last name was changing (and all my credit cards and identification and user names and omg..), but wouldn’t our love be the same? And isn’t this guy my best friend? Don’t I know him better than I anyone else? How could I possibly know him any better than that??

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On our honeymoon in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Then, in those last two months before the wedding, I listened to this song again in desperation and boy, everything had changed!

Of course the guy I was about to marry was my best friend, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t getting to know him better, wouldn’t be getting to know him better, every single day of the rest of our lives. And certainly, our love would be the similar on the other side of “I do,” but so much of how we would function moving forward, how we would refer to one another (from boyfriend to fiancé to husband), and even how the rest of the world saw us, would change. And our love would hopefully change, too… by growing stronger.

Suddenly, with a new perspective, the song that didn’t work before was the perfect fit.

THE BESTAll I know is a new found grace
All my days, I’ll know your face
All I know since yesterday
is everything has changed

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2015 Chicago Quarter Marathon

Just over a week ago, I ran the Chicago Quarter Marathon.

This is the second year of the Quarter, and the race boasts to be “one of a kind.” And, at 6.5 miles, it may very well be. However, new and unique as the Chicago Quarter is, this race took me back to some familiar grounds: sweet home Chicago.

And it wasn’t just the Chicago area code that got me pumped. This race started at one of my absolute favorite spots in the city, if not the entire world: Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.

4.4.15 ChiQ SoldierField

The race started right outside the field on Waldron Drive and was a quick out and back on the south Lake Front Trail. This was great, too, because I was so familiar with this piece of the trail back from the MagMile Women’s Half and my brutal 18+ mile Marathon training runs. All this, the brilliant weather (just over 50 degrees with mild breezes), along with the cool swag and medal and boy was I ready!

Except that I had only run twice in the past month: March 1st for 3.1 miles in 30:49 (treadmill) and April 1st for 3.12 in 28:36 (outside). While that outside run in April gave me a boost of confidence (so fast! and I felt great!!), I knew that 6.5 miles is quite a ways from 3.1. Whew, how did I let this happen?!

As much as my lack of training disappointed me, I wasn’t going to let it get in the way of running the best race I was capable of. That said, I made sure everything else I could control went smoothly: hydration! A good breakfast (buttered toast and a clementine). Proper warm-up and stretching. More hydration!

I walked into the starting corrals nervous, telling myself to mind my pace because I had a long race in front of me. My overall goal was to go the whole distance without walking (aside from water stations), my mild time goal was 70 minutes, and my shoot-for-the-moon goal was under an hour. I set myself up at the 9 minute mile corral and waited.

I can’t tell you much about the actual race; it was a complete blur because I didn’t look at the time the whole way. I just wanted to run my race at my pace. I do remember having mild cramps the first two miles, stopping for water (i.e. walking quickly while sipping so I didn’t choke myself) three times, and really losing my steam around the 5th mile marker. I thought about pulling over for a quick stretch before the final mile and a half because my shoulders were super cramped and my feet felt so heavy. However, I have this really great playlist that I made during Marathon training and guys, it kicked in hardcore right then: Brave by Sarah Bareilles piped through my earbuds and I realized my lost steam was all mental. I could, and would, finish strong no matter what the clock read. With this new outlook, I plowed on ahead.

As I turned to face the final stretch before the finish line, I saw the official time displayed in big digital numbers just switched to 59:00.

Do you guys remember my reach-for-the-moon time goal?

That was all I needed. In a move that was sure to make Meb proud, I gave it my absolute all, completely smoked passed a guy (chicked!!), and crossed the finish line in 59:24.

WHAT?!

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The look on my face? I am still in complete shock over my time. I averaged a 9:04 minute pace and my splits, while they got slower every mile, were relatively… consistent; my slowest mile was only 30 seconds slower than my fastest.

WHAT??!

Yes, this race completely blew me away. How I, with as little training as I had done, with it being my first race of the season, did as phenomenally as I did is just… well, I literally have no words.

Okay. I guess I have one word.

WHAAAT??!(!!!1!

And there you have it. My first race of 2015, my first race of non-traditional mileage, but not my first and hopefully not the last time I completely shock myself.

Now, to get a solid training plan for my 10 Miler in 6 weeks… gotta add to that medal collection of mine!

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Have you ever completely shocked yourself during a race or run?

Does anyone have any races on the horizon? How’s your medal collection doing??

2014 Chicago Marathon

Well, well, well… looks like you’re reading the words of a marathon finisher.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You probably want to hear the whole story, don’t you? I’ll try to keep this recap brief, but really, it was 26.2 of the best miles of my life, so I really can’t make any promises.

The day started at 5:15am after a horrible night of sleep. But really, I was expecting about as much and was prepared by getting as much sleep as possible the entire week before. A+ planning on that aspect of race day.

I also expected to completely balk on my race day outfit. Although I spent the week fretting about forecasted rain, I woke to a brisk, high-40s with a promise to warm considerably (possibly high 50s?!) without a hint of precipitation predicted until evening. Even with this amazing weather, I wanted to put on capris instead of shorts. Or switch to a tee instead of my tank. But no, I’ve been training for months, running in all (non-rainy) conditions; the outfit I picked months ago is what I would wear. Of course, with a pair of old sweats and a forgotten long-sleeve T to cover and toss in the corrals.

After slathering on some sun screen (again, A+ planning) and choking down as much toast and blueberries as I could (almost an entire piece of toast and 6 blueberries- I am an AWFUL race day eater), John and I headed out. The cab we scheduled the night before (MORE A+ planning!) was a block away from our building when… it cancelled our ride out of the blue. I had a small panic attack while John simply asked our door man to turn the cab light on and, low and behold, within minutes we had a replacement cab (who was particularly cheery so early in the morning!). Crisis averted!

We arrived in Grant Park in no time at all, and I was literally clinging to John because I did NOT want to leave his side. This was the biggest race of my life both in distance and size and I was so nervous about everything, I literally felt like I might fall apart without him standing beside me. I don’t know what was with me (probably the looming 26.2…), but John talked me off my ledge (again!), gave me a good luck kiss, and directed me to the runner’s entrance…

The next hour was a blur of multiple bathroom visits punctuated by random jogging and stretching before retiring to my corral: G. Once inside, a fellow first timer turned to me and asked “Will you help me make a decision? When should I ditch my outer layer??” With that, I made a start line friend, Sarah, we traded training stories, decided to take off our sweats when our wave started (we were the second corral in our wave, so we would have plenty of time to shed our layers at the wave’s start!), and wished each other well when the clock finally struck 8 and our wave was underway.

About 10 minutes after the wave began, corral G was let loose on the streets of Chicago.

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So, I knew I was going to get emotional at the Finish line, but I was also completely choking up /slash/ smiling like an idiot as I crossed the Start. Months and months of training were finally being put to the test, and I was so excited to see what the next hours would bring!

Here’s the course map, in case you want to follow along!
Also note that, to me, between the start and 1st mile marter is “Mile 1,” and the mile between, say, the 20th and 21st mile markers is “Mile 21”. I’m not sure if this is the standard, but it’s what makes sense to me and I don’t want anyone getting lost on my journey.

Mile 1: brought us down the path you see in the picture, and then briefly into the undercarriage of the city (around the place where Batman was filmed). It was low on fan support and heavy on dudes peeing against the side of the tunnels; that’s raceday for ya!

Mile 2-4: took us through our first round inside of Chicago’s Loop and out into Old Town. This piece of the course was filled with spectators and it was a pleasant way to start the race: in a part of the city I am familiar with, but always in awe over (I am a sucker for tall buildings and random cityscapes). Apparently John was at the 2nd mile marker, but I didn’t see him (and wasn’t looking too hard) and he didn’t see me, either. Oh well! I had a race to run!!

Mile 5: necessitated a bathroom break just before I hit the 5th mile marker (and Lincoln Park Zoo!). Yes, even though I went 3 times before the start of the race, hydration and nerves just got the best of me. Thankfully, the aid station I chose was not crowded (although one person felt the need to squat outside, in FULL VIEW of the race!) and I got in and out and on my way in minutes.

Mile 6-10: got me going. Not only is this part of the race a TON of fun (hello, Boystown!), but it’s my Chicago stomping grounds. This is where I go out at night, where I brunch, where I grocery shop and simply roam. This is where, one year ago, I fell out of bed, ran to the streets, and cheered the Chicago Marathon runners, inspired to one day become one. This piece of Chicago will always, always, have my heart, and to see the amount of support my neighbors were giving us runners was icing on an already decadant cake.
I tossed my gloves just past the 7th mile marker, which I thought was fitting, because so many of my training runs started from nearly that exact spot. I also gel’d at this point, a few miles before I planned to, because the lack of a proper breakfast was starting to make my stomach whine.
Not to mention, this was my first spectator meet up! My parents were waiting for me in matching red t-shirts and a rainbow umbrella aloft (not blocking anyone’s view!) just past the 9th mile mark on Fullerton. That gave me a boost like I never imagined possible!

Miles 11-13: sent us through Old Town, where crowd support was still there but waning. I absolutely loved being serenaded by Elvis (Suspicious Minds!) on North Avenue and passing all of the hot spots I frequent with friends who prefer a more southern locale than I. Around the 11th mile marker, I got a pretty ridiculous cramp in my stomach/side and that part of the race was a little lost to me because, well, I was kind of freaked out and doing everything I could think of to get rid of it. Luckily, all of my water sipping, deep breathing, and poking and prodding worked as I came up to the half.

Mile 14-I saw John just past the half mark (on Halsted, another beloved street of mine!). Well, I almost ran right past him, but I heard my name shouted from the crowd so I did what any sane marathoner would do: stopped in my tracks, backtracked to the voice, gave him a huge kiss, and ran away without a word. Endorphins!
I also saw John’s parents a little ways down the road! I absolutely did not plan to meet with them beforehand, so the fact that I was as into crowd-watching as I was and able to spot them was so lucky! I gave them both huge, sweaty hugs and ran away like a grinning crazy person.

Mile 15-17: drew a much more sparse crowd. Although this was charity row, I felt like a lot of the charities were only cheering for their own runners. I threw on my headphones for a bit and let my music cheer me on, which was especially helpful because I was starting to feel pretty gross. My back was aching (it’s never done that before?!) and my legs were getting really crampy. I stretched a tiny bit after the water station on mile 16, where I gel’d again (a course-supplied gel that tasted like a creamcicle.. I may need more of those)…

Mile 18: and saw my parents at the turn just after the 17the mile marker (again on Halsted!). John couldn’t hustle his way through the crowd to meet up with them, but even seeing one piece of my cheer squad helped me smile through my pain. Not to mention that I saw John’s parents a second time right after the 18th mile mark, and I seemed to be pretty chipper as I ran up to dump my headband on them (I bought it as a throwaway, but I actually grew pretty attached to it during the run and wanted to keep it- nothing like a good long run to make you nostalgic).

FullSizeRender (1) 2Just a happy little 18 miler…

Mile 19-20: Pilsen. I no longer needed my headphones because Spanish music, huge noisemakers, and people screaming “SI SE PUEDE, YOU GOT THIS, YOU ARE MY INSPIRATION” literally carried me through this piece of the course. I heard that Pilsen was the best part of the race, and I was NOT disappointed. Two entire miles packed with crowd support, free candy, and party music? I don’t think it could have come at a better part of the race. I also saw my parents and John again one last time just before the curve at the 20th milemarker

Mile 21: I had walked a few times until this point, but those times were preservation. Right after the the Pilsen crowd died down, so did I. I literally couldn’t make myself keep up any kind of running pace and stopped to a walk, only to stop completely for a good, 5-minute stretch. My back was still searing and now I was starting to have a hard time feeling my feet. I guess this is what we call the wall, huh?

Mile 22: was decent. There was a huge bang at the Chinatown entrance (complete with dancing dragons!), but that pittered out so quickly after the amazing Pilsen crowd that it was hard, once again, to keep my energy up.

Mile 23: brought a lot of walking and stretching. At this point, though only a 5k from the finish, I wasn’t sure I would make it. My back continued to ache, my feet were on fire, and I kept swearing I felt trickling down my legs (pee paranoia?!). I had to stop and stretch again because my calves were seizing up and, while I was bent over stretching, I had a coughing fit that brought several runners to my side making sure I was okay. I was super touched that people stopped their races to check on me, and was on my way again.

Mile 24-26: You would think this would be the easiest part of the race. But, despite the short distance between me and my final goal, despite all of the freebies (Smarties! Jolly Ranchers! bacon!) people were doling out, despite the cheers from the crowd and runners alike, this was the toughest. I probably alternated walking and jogging every 400 meters or so, telling myself to just KEEP MOVING. And keep moving, I did.

Coming up to the 25th mile marker, I noticed it was different. It didn’t read “25 Mile” like the others before it. It said “1 Mile Left”, and that’s when I started running.

Mile 26.2: At 800 meters, just before the second to last turn, the crowd was the thickest (and most shockingly quiet…) I had seen it the entire race. It was strange, so many people looking at you complete one of the biggest tasks of your life.

As I rounded the corner and made my way UP THE HILL, I saw the 400 meter mark and was, somehow, able to pick up my pace to the final turn. With the finish line in sight, and a much more sparse, but far more supportive crowd in the finishing bleachers, I broke into a full-on sprint. I don’t know where my pain went or where my energy came from, but I charged at that finish line with tears in my eyes and a smile plastered to my face and crossed, arms outstretched, in 4:56:27.

Completing my goal of finishing, and just reaching my goal of a sub 5, that… is the story of my first marathon.

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This City

Chicago, I love you.

Now, what if I told you my city was the best?
That my city was a threat to the rest?

You can take my picture
You can take my name
But you’re never gonna take my city away
Cause you can burn it to the ground
Or let it flood, but it’s in my blood

This city is my city
And I love it, yeah I love it
I was born and raised here
I got it made here
And if I have my way
I’m gonna stay here
For life

We are the city of broad shoulders. The windy city. The second (to none) city.

Known for our streetside art, our miles of public lakefront, and unique renditions of hot dogs and pizza.
Known for voting early and often, and seemingly endless violence.

Over the past few months, I have highlighted the best parts of Chicago because there are truly parts of this place that are second to none.

But I chose “This City” by Patrick Stump feat. Lupe Fiasco (both Chicagoans) to end my Chicago Marathon stint, my love story with my city, because it is the song that rings truest to my favorite place on earth. There have been problems here, there are problems here. I know this. We all know this.

We don’t ignore those problems in order to be enamored with this place.
We love this city despite them.
We would do anything to rid our city of them.

I guess I just want everyone to know that, although I love Chicago and that the Chicago Marathon (training for it, blogging about it, running it) easily confirmed my infatuation, I don’t have an idealized vision of what this place is. I joined my profession (a children’s librarian) with the thought that one day I might get a job in the Chicago Public Library system (one of Chicago’s attributes that is literally second to none) and start combating many of these problems where I believe they start: the education of and providing a safe haven for our children.

But, politics (and humblebrags) aside, let’s end on a note of mutual understanding.

I have been a lot of places in this great country, in this wide world, and despite knowing Chicago better than I know myself, for better or for worse, I am still head over heels for it like I am for nowhere else.

It’s part of who I am.

It’s my kind of town.

So, how about you: love Chicago? Hate it? Dying to come see what all the fuss is about??

((Marathon Recap coming soon!))

Super Bears Shuffle 5k

If you couldn’t yet tell, I am a huge Chicago Bears fan. Bigger than huge. Diehard.

DABEARSWhen my dad got tickets in the stadium club on the 50 yard line
(i.e. the chance of a lifetime)

I am also lucky enough to be dating a guy who, besides being fantastic in almost every way, has access to at least one Bears’ game a year with the option of bringing a guest or two.

I was so bummed when I was nowhere near ready to run the Solider Field 10 Mile earlier in the year, so when I heard of the inagural Super Bears Shuffle 5k, thrown by Fleet Feet and run right outside Soldier Field, I knew this had to be a run I added to my repetoire (at least until I could get to that 50 yard line again!). Better yet? John decided to run it with me!

Each corral started 15 minutes apart and had a Bears player assigned to it. We were in the earliest corral (Lance Briggs; 6:30pm – although I opted out of the Briggs race shirt and went for Tillman – so cool that they let me do that) and so as soon as John got home from work that day, we raced to the streets to rent some Divvy bikes and pedaled our hearts out for 7.5 miles to Soldier Field. I was still sore from my Monday Funday at the gym (damn you, adductors!), and the heat and humidity was NOT kind, nor was the windy WINDY Lake Front Trail, but we made it there in one (whiny) piece.

We gear checked a change of clothes (a cinch! so organized!) and made our way to the starting line. It was so chill, this race, and so uncrowded at the start. I’m not sure if it was the nature of the event (more a celebration of the Bears and NFL season kickoff) or the fact that it was the first time this race was being held, but I dug it immensely.

9.4.14 - SBS start I also dug the fact that the starting line brought us through the inflatable bear the Chicago Bears run onto the field through during their home games. With fireworks going off beside us, no less! Add that to a video sendoff by Lance Briggs himself and a constant birage of the Super Bowl Shuffle and Bear Down, Chicago Bears! blasting out of the loudspeakers, and I was in heaven.

Warning: this is NOT a race to do if you’re looking to PR or anything like that. Corrals are picked by participants based on what time they start, so the very start of the race was a little chaotic (for John and I, at least) as we were behind a lot of people who weren’t exactly in it to win it.

The course was about what you’d expect. After running toward the lake on Waldron Drive, and then through the McCormick Place tunnel, you get dumped onto the Lake Shore Trail for the remainder of the race. I was lucky because I was familiar with the course from the Mag Mile Women’s Half earlier in the week, and could pace myself effectively in the brutal heat and humidity. John and I stayed together pretty much the entire race (although I ran ahead at one point, thinking I’d just see him at the finish, only to find that he was actually just a few steps behind me the whole time!).

Passing the Bears’ drumline and high fiving a very sweaty Staley bear mascot gave me the boost I needed to finish in a not-so-sluggish time of 29:01. Like I said, this was not a race to attempt a PR because of the laid back atmosphere, and the weather made it that much harder. Either way, 3 miles in the books!

After the race, (and getting a TON of awesome goodies like a cool, wet towel, Gatorade, bananas, and OREO COOKIES) John and I changed out of our sweaty race gear and walked around the NFL kickoff party- there was a huge jumbotron to watch that night’s game (the Packers vs. the Seahawks), free beer to consumer, raffles to enter, ’85 Bears autographs to get, coffee to sample, and photo ops abound… it really was a cool way to commemorate the beginning of the NFL season.

9.4.14 - SBS BEAR

All in all, I’m really glad I ran this race. What with the crazyness of the Labor Day weekend and my birthday, I’m not sure I would have run even this measly 3 miles (or cross trained 7 miles on bike!) without it. Even outside of marathon training, I’d definitely do this race again and hope for cooler weather!

Have you ever run a race that commemorated your favorite sports team or went around their field? Was it everything you wanted it to be?

How do you deal with running in extreme heat/humidity?

Mag Mile Women’s Half Marathon

I woke up dark and early at 5am after tossing and turning all night. Woof. If anything can make you more nervous for a race, it’s not getting adequate rest the night before. And maybe the new, apple-sized bruise on your left thigh throbbing at every step. And thus began my journey of my first ever half marathon race.

Knowing how incoherent I can be in the pre-dawn hours, I had the good sense to lovingly lay out my race kit, a breakfast bar, and water bottle for myself to get the ball rolling. After several attempts to put my head through my top’s armhole (#truestory), John gave me a once over, deemed me acceptably attired, and sent me on my way, only to head out the door soon after me as his plan was to do his long run down to Grant Park and watch my race after he was done. Newsflash: I am dating Superman.


As a Chicago-dwelling twenty-something, I’m used to waiting for public transportation in the dark, albeit I’m usually wearing shoes with a little more lift in the heel and a time that’s a little closer to midnight. My, how things change once you start this running game.

Early as the hour was, the bus happened to be filled with runners and non-runners alike, and I made small talk with some bib-wearing ladies as we chugged water, ate our “breakfast,” and coordinated meet ups on our cells with friends and family. It’s funny how a small thing like running the same race together bonds you at 5:40am, encourages you to trade training tips and embarrassing race moments before you even think to exchange phone numbers, or even names, and have alighted the bus heading toward your own meet up destinations. Lesson learned: don’t let those awesome ladies get away so easily next time.

Speaking of race buddies, enter my college friend and sorority sister, Tracey, who is the entire reason I decided to run this race in the first place. After beelining from the bus to the porta-john (of which there were many, and so clean! A+ to the organizers on this count!), I met up with my girlfriend at the corner of Columbus and Balbo -site of so many festival and day-in-Chicago-a-la-Ferris-Bueller rendezvous- and we headed to our corral: B. How fitting!

Per usual, we were made to stand in our corrals, jammed tight without room to stretch or leave to use the bathroom (again!!) for approximately 30 minutes. I always wondered if there wasn’t a better way to organize the start of a race. Maybe that will be my million dollar idea? Only time will tell.

Pre-race selfie

Corral’d at the starting line

And we were off! The 5k and 13.1k started at the same time and, true to the event name, took us directly out of Grant Park and onto the Mag Mile. I wish I had gotten some pictures of it, because allegedly this race was the first time ever in the history of ever that the Magnificent Mile has been raced upon – SO COOL! But I guess I spent my time living in the moment and taking in the novelty and splendor of racing past the Wrigley building and Tribune Tower, turning at the historic water tower that survived the Great Chicago Fire, and catching glimpses of  the tip of the John Hancock, Tiffany’s, Neiman Marcus, and the Burberry building; destinations not on the Chicago Marathon route!

But once we made our way out of the Mag Mile and east on Randolph toward the lake (where the 5k headed southward to their finish line), the excitement was a little less constant and the heat (and city smells…) was a little more intense. See, the original course had us going out west, much like the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon and the Chicago Marathon itself. However, I supposed due to city permits and what have you, the course changed and our run took us to the Lake Front Trail which, well, is what I run all of my long runs on. Granted, this run took me way, way further south than I intend to go for a while, but I was kind of hoping for more of the on-the-road feel I’d get at the marathon on this test run. Oh well.

Tracey and I both have the “let’s stay together as long as we can, but we gotta listen to our bodies and do what we gotta do” attitude, which was great. Despite our different ailments (her: a sore hip flexor that needed stretching and a few walk breaks; me: a bursting bladder at mile 5) we managed to pretty much stick together or find each other on and off for the first seven miles which was pretty cool and encouraging.

Also what was pretty cool and encouraging was seeing my parents with their hilariously neon and personalized sign at miles 6.5 and 12.5 cheering me on. John, true to his Superman status, was with my parents at mile 6.5, and then at the final sprint. I felt so much personalized support, and a surprising amount of miscellaneous support from other runners’ cheer squads, and even other runners (both running and not running the race). With the amount of cheering I got on this race compared to what I expect to get during the marathon (i.e. a TON more), I think I can get by on crowd cheers alone and leave the headphones at home.

See, for this race, I planned to go sans music. That’s how I run most of my long runs (when John runs with me; when he’s not there, I go for audiobooks because #nerd) and how I plan to run the Chicago Marathon: no music, just me, the crowd, and the open road. I want to truly experience every moment of it. However, with the course change in the Mag Mile Women’s Half, I felt that I would get a little restless on the Lake Shore Trail and boy, was I right, and I’m glad I snagged my earbuds on my way out the door that morning.

But can I just say that my playlist must have known where I was running at every turn? On the way back south down the Mag Mile, I rocked out to Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj, which has basically been my “strut your stuff/solo dance party” song since the VMAs; so fitting for that locale. I kid you not, the second that Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, came into sight for the first time, The Superbowl Shuffle popped on. As I ran north on the Lake Shore Trail and saw that spectacular southern view of the skyline, Sweet Home Chicago by the Blues Brothers played. And to pull me up the last hill and across the finish line? Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis. I couldn’t make this up if I tried, guys.

And somehow, I’m already to the end of my race with hardy any recap! This is probably because I felt really good, barring having to pee for the first 5 miles of the race before there were any bathrooms available, and despite the intense humidity and heat index (I believe we were at high 80s and 90% humidity, making the “feels like” temp around 95- yowza). The water stations were superb, highly stocked with both water and what I call “race day Gatorade” (extra salty!), there were even a few fans and misters along the route to cool us down. And somehow, against the training and weather odds, I was a speed demon.

My official race time was 2:19:13.
I placed 1017 out of 2571.

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Whenever I think about how I wished I had gotten some pictures running the Mag Mile, a selfie by Soldier Field or in front of the southside Chicago skyline… I look at that time, how I PRd in these conditions, and I think that the pictures I took before and after the race were worth experiencing the entire race to its fullest. Because not only did this race serve what I intended it to -to be a “test run” for my ultimate goal, the marathon- but it also sparked a whole new piece of my running career.

I think the marathon will be a once-in-a-lifetime race for me; when people ask if this is my first marathon, I usually reply with a not-so-joking “…and my last!” And  the closer I get to the marathon I get, the truer that sentiment rings. But with this race, I think I may have found something in the Half. It’s no cakewalk, but I think I could run another one. I think I could endure the training and, dare I say, improve my time. I think I might have found a “long” distance that I’m comfortable -and even like- racing.

Only half crazy, that’s me.

Have you ever run a half marathon? How did it go?

If not, would you like to? Do you think you ever will? (WHY THE HECK NOT?!) What’s the longest distance you’ve run so far?

Tunesday: Super Bowl Shuffle

I may not have lived in Chicago my whole life (true story: born and raised in the SW suburbs- now what?), but I have always, always, ALWAYS, loved the Chicago Bears.

The Bears and their last Superbowl victory have been a part of my life in a way most people might not understand. My mom loves Walter Payton. She seriously admired his down-to-earth attitude and the fact that, despite being a hardworking, ball-carrying, NFL Superstar, he was so kind.

I was named after his daughter, Brittney Payton.

I have a baby picture signed by Walter Himself.

Payton was a strong contender for my childhood dog’s name. There was tick in the “Pro” column for the University of Illinois while deciding colleges, because the Bears’ founder, George Halas, completed his degree there- the school that the Bears colors are based on. I wear my Walter Payton jersey for every single Superbowl game and I actively cheer for them even when they are not playing.

I am positive that I would cry tears of joy if the Bears win the Superbowl in my lifetime.

I literally tear up even thinking about it.

So, now that you know my complete love and devotion for the Windy City’s premiere football team, you have to know that the Superbowl Shuffle is not something I take lightly. To me, and maybe to most Chicagoans, it’s not just a charity song the ’84 Bears put out to raise money. No way.

It’s hope. It’s legacy. It’s everything.

And so every year at the start of the season (which, for the Bears, is THIS SUNDAY), I like to refresh my Shuffle knowledge (I usually get rusty around Steve Fuller’s verse) and, man, let me tell you, running with this song not only helps me sing it through on game day, but it really gets my energy up on any part of any distance run.

Now I’m usually able to embed a video here for your viewing pleasure, but because this song is super old/and or under super strict copyright, it’s not widely available on the internet and therefore I couldn’t bring it to you. BUT, you can view it with decent quality HERE.

“Give me a chance and I’ll rock you good.
Nobody messin’ in my neighborhood.
I didn’t come here lookin’ for trouble,
I just came to do the Superbowl Shuffle”

To me, this song is completely what sports are about. You’ve gone out there and you’ve done it once. Then things changed and you haven’t done it since. But don’t worry. Keep working, and you’ll get there again. You’ll get that PR. You’ll finish that 26th mile. You’ll win that Superbowl title…

Hey, Chicago, what do you say?

If you said I couldn’t have been listening to this song since I started this playlist in April, you’d be so very wrong.

Do you watch football? Who’s your team? Would you cry if they won the Super Bowl?

Have you ever seen or done something this cheesy for charity?