Tunesday: Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)

I started this blog in April of 2014 on the cusp of running my first marathon, the race I decided would get me out of my ten year running slump, and the experience I decided would jumpstart my very own blog. This blog.

And it worked. For the time it took to train and run the 2014 Chicago Marathon, I had a really solid posting schedule and regular things to talk about that I felt comfortable sharing on the internet.

And then it didn’t, because I stopped running regularly after the marathon (burnout?) and I couldn’t really catch a rhythm in my posting or topics or… anything. My personal and professional life were pulling me in a million different directions and I wanted to follow all of them but just couldn’t keep up with any of it (more burnout?).

I stopped posting here regularly, too.

But I learned something on that road to 26.2: you can stop doing something, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come back harder, better, faster, stronger.

So here I am.

As of right now, my life is in a great, stable place compared to 2014: I am married to the wonderful man who was then my boyfriend; my dog is no longer a puppy and all the thrilling things that come with that growth; I have a wonderful, full-time job in my most desired career path (public youth services librarianship, working with community schools); and my husband and I have recently bought a house that is a 15 minute commute tops for each of us.

For the first time in a long time, all the pieces of my life fit together nicely and while it’s not all perfect or smooth or effortless (work is great but is still work, our house is going on 90 years old and the previous owners did some *interesting* things to it, our dog is 3 and out of puppyhood but still has his charming little foibles…), there is nothing foreseeable on the horizon to plan or worry about or consider.

From house breaking to wedding planning to job commuting and hunting, things were just never as calm as they were in that stretch between April and October of 2014. I mean, while we were house hunting at the start of the year and then closing and moving in May, we were also planning a two week, four city European vacation of a lifetime on top of me going through my first year of my job and, for the entirety of 2018, I barely had time to find the box with the towels so I could take a shower let alone drag myself out for a run or write a blog post for fun.

Or, I guess I had time, but I also had burnout. No question mark.

We just got home from that marvelous trip Saturday night, but during our last few days away I would keep musing to my husband about the life we were returning to; now that we weren’t packing or unpacking or exchanging currency or comparing hotels or hardcore meal planning to save money… we might have the headspace to do and thoroughly enjoy the things that we want to in a way we haven’t been able to in a long while.

And for me, that is running and writing.

So when I woke up the day after our vacation ended (Sunday at 6:20am to be precise) and my weather app declared that running conditions were GOOD… I laced up and headed out.

And just like that, she’s back.


Well, no. It wasn’t just like that. I had just been on a trip to Europe where I drank at least a glass of wine literally every day and sampled each of the four cities we visited’s multiple culinary must-haves (and then some). And I had just spent, no joke, twenty hours traveling and was seriously jet lagged. On top of that, I hadn’t run in months. It was slow and a little awkward, but it was something.

And I learned something else during my marathon training: something is always better than nothing.

I don’t currently have a curated running playlist and I’m really picky about my running music, and I decided to shuffle the entirety of Lady Gaga’s repertoire for my run. I knew my girl would deliver. And she did.

Run, run with her top down, baby she flies
Run, run with the fury of a saint in her eyes

We can be strong. We can be strong
Out on this lonely road. On the road to love

This song isn’t strictly about running, but pair those lyrics “baby, she flies” with “we can be strong” and you’ve got some hardcore techno rock motivation to keep the pace up and keep. on. moving.

And keep moving I did, for 3.2 whole miles. And it was hot. And it was sweaty. And it was a little slower than I prefer. And I am still sore two days later.

But I did it. I got it done.

And guess what? I did it again today, too.

I’m back, baby. Stronger than ever before.


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??

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

Tunesday: Worth It

I know during my marathon training in 2014, my trouble with asthma came up a bit. It’s the thing that put an end to my running way back in high school because it was so unmanageable.

See, I don’t have regular asthma, which is crazy and hard to deal with in itself. My asthma is exercise induced, something I grew into from working out so hard/much after being perfectly healthy for years. How my asthma presents itself is in a hacking cough immune to the most powerful of syrups, upper respiratory infections that last for weeks despite antibiotic treatments, and sometimes pneumonia. It’s scary stuff that effects me long after I unlace my running shoes.

except for when it makes me cough for the next month…

Surprisingly, my asthma didn’t rear its ugly head much during my marathon training. It did, however, hit me hard just before I was due to begin training for the North Shore Classic Half Marathon. And as a gal who is about to be married, the last thing I wanted was to aggravate this cough and be hacking up a lung at my ceremony and reception.

So training has taken a back seat, as has Tunesday, and as someone who really bases her self worth on setting and achieving goals I won’t lie: it’s been tough to sit tight and get better for my wedding. And while I fully intend to start training again the second my wedding is over (my cough as almost fully subsided and… honeymoon runs? yes please!), I know it won’t be enough to get the race result I wanted when I signed up. And that’s a hard pill to swallow.

So today I bring you a song to pick you up if you’re feeling down, whether you have a looming race you know you’re not prepared for, a work or school thing you know you could have done better on, an instance you know could have gone better or you could have put more effort toward… any time you didn’t feel like you were living up to your potential or worth a reward.

We can’t bring A+ efforts and have winning results every time, and especially in those times of not being your best, remember that you’re still worth it.

What was the last race (or presentation/test/party/trip/whatever) you knew you weren’t fully prepared for? How did it go?

What song makes you feel worth it?

Tunesday: Formation

This week begins my first official week of training for the North Shore Classic. Already? I know, I was a little shocked, too.

Before signing up, I didn’t really do the backwards math about when training would have to begin. It was one of those thumb slam decisions, where it was now or (probably) never because I’d talk myself out of it. And had I known training would clock in 8 miles during my wedding week (!!), and a 5k during my honeymoon (!!@!$?!) I DEFINITELY wouldn’t have gone for it.

But I did! And it’s time to get down to business.

8.19 grass.jpg

Okay readers, now let’s get in formation.

Regardless of our personal thoughts on the full video (I know a lot of people are upset over “anti-police” messages, and more are excited for the blatant celebration of black culture), this song is the epitome of a woman celebrating herself, her background, and being an all-around badass.

I see it, I want it
I stunt, yeah, little hornet
I dream it, I work hard
I grind ’til I own it

I wasn’t a big fan of this song/video on day one. I saw the cultural context (not to mention I had just been in NOLA for my bachelorette party) and that was cool- but the song didn’t excited me.

And then the Super Bowl happened.

Because let’s put this in context: Beyoncé released a surprise song and video and then performed it at the Super Bowl Halftime show… THE NEXT DAY.

If anything screams “woman in charge,” it is that sequence of events.

And if anything gets me motivated to be a woman in charge, it’s seeing a woman in charge.

As for the performance itself? Well, just see for yourself. She (and Bruno Mars!) slayed all day.

I saw that and was converted.

Now, for what I assume is a weird Beyoncé is queen and copyright things and what have you, Formation by Beyoncé not available on iTunes. However, this version by Irum Jam is a good stand in until the true version comes.

Tunesday: Confident

Tunesday: it’s baaa-aaack.

The reasons? A little because I missed it. And a little more because I’m running a race.

That’s right, sports fans. Last week, I signed up for the North Shore Classic Half Marathon. It’s June 5, so it will be my first race in over a year!

My last one? Was the 2015 Chicago Quarter Marathon.
And before that? The 2014 Chicago Marathon.

During marathon training, I would post a song from my running playlist every Tuesday. This was a great way to not only build a repertoire of awesome running songs, but also to really own and reflect on my training, my attitude, and decide what worked, what didn’t, and how to move forward.

That playlist bit the dust somewhere between an iTunes update and a new iPhone, but I have a brand new playlist thanks to my recent and upcoming Bachelorette parties and let me tell you… they are all girl-power and just as motivating as the last one you already know and love.

It’s probably not a surprise when I say that this past year, the lost year of this blog, was a struggle. I left in the whirlwind of a new full-time job, moving from the city to the suburbs, and getting engaged all in a month. I was certain that things would settle down for the better and I’d be back to running (and blogging) in no time.

But no. I didn’t run. I didn’t blog. I didn’t do much of anything but work, and I wasn’t exactly happy or confident about posting much of anything. Thankfully, I have a let’s fix this mentality, a git-er-done attitude, and an extremely supportive soon-to-be-husband and was able to relieve myself from my less-than-ideal predicament.

having a little fun posing confidently in front of Buckingham Fountain during a 14 miler

Long story short, I’m at a new (part-time) job. And I’m working out and running again, basically starting from scratch. All logic tells me I should be disappointed in not being able to handle the full-time position I had, and scared of the prospect of going from couch to 13.1 again, and tentative about opening up the internet wormhole to expose my not-so-distant unhappiness…

But I’m surprisingly confident.

And what, I wonder, is wrong with that?

Nothing, if you ask me (or Demi Lovato).

So you say I’m complicated
That I must be outta my mind
But you’ve had me underrated
What’s wrong with being confident?

I hope this song inspires you to be confident going forward in running, in love, in life… especially today, of all days: International Women’s Day.

So get up, get going, and do what you gotta do with grace, style, and full of confidence.

There ain’t no better way. I’m confident of that.

Set Backs: Not Always Negative

Life progress: exorbitant
Novel process: non-existant

You might remember that just about a year ago, my life got flip turned upside down: I got off my lazy butt and ran a marathon. Celebrated two years with the dude of my dreams and got engaged weeks later. Accepted a full-time position in the career I went to graduate school for. Moved from the city of Chicago to the unfamiliar Western suburbs.

All in a three-week period.

I was reeling then, as one might expect. But still, I expected this year, 2015, to be somewhat low-key despite the inevitable wedding planning and life-work-balance adjustments. I thought that I’d be able to get back on a reasonable running schedule, and that I’d be able to easily pound out the novel that’s been growing hot brewing in my brain.

How wrong I was.

I’ve missed 2 out of 3 races I signed up for this year. And that was after decided not to sign up for another 3 races I really wanted to run. #runnerproblems

Oh, and my soon-to-be family of two became a most definite family of three.

Yep, we rescued a puppy.
His name is Mac, he was born on May 20, 2015, he is a black lab/Weimaraner mix, and we (all three of us!) couldn’t be happier.

And while every day of the past three weeks since we brought our boy home have been completely filled, none of the filling has been running or writing. Well, that’s not true. I’ve been running after a not-quite-housebroken puppy and writing down questions to ask the vet. That kind of thing.

My idea, my novel, it’s still brewing inside me, as strong as ever. I’ve never had an idea I’ve been so passionate about, so sure of, for so long. I think that’s where my frustration comes from with this project: I’ve had so many false starts with writing this story, and I keep getting stuck and having to pull back and reevaluate the plot, the characters, my intentions and goals…

And my running, well… I’ve been putting it off to spend more time with my puppy, with my family. Granted, we go on lots of long walks (all the better for a solid, 8 hours of sleep… we hope… one day…), but none of the quick 3 mile jaunts that kept me feeling fit and energized around this time last year. #marathontraining

So even though my goal was to reach “the end” by 2016, and to keep my running less-than-sporadic, I don’t think I would have been happy with the end product in either case. Taking the route I did, letting my creativity and workouts take a backseat to living my life, I know when things finally settle down at home and I get serious about my running and writing goals again, it will be a fast and furious sprint to the finish.

But for now, I am enjoying building my family, planning my future, and letting my ideas simmer, take shape, and become the best versions of themselves; letting my family bonding walks be what get me through until, one day, I can take the pup with me on a quick 3 mile jaunt.

I can’t wait for those days to come, and I won’t stop thinking about it.

And now, in a nod to the old days of this blog, a song for you: one about hope, about dreams, about looking forward and staying positive.

Also, the inspiration for my dog’s name.

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.



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.


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.


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!


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??