Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2008

Windy city overload

finalstartlg.jpg 

I registered for the Chicago Marathon.

This makes me slightly giddy.

I missed it last year because of a friend’s out of state wedding, so this will be my 5th (un)consecutive time running. I love love love the Chicago Marathon so much. Yes it is crowded and sometimes hard to snake through the thirty five plus some odd thousand runners, but the sheer volume of people is what makes this race truly special and amazing. And not only the volume of runners, but especially the more than one million spectators who come out and line the streets, cheering you on the entire way. The picture in my blog header is me running Chicago in 2003. My dad and brother were standing on the Michigan Avenue bridge with a huge sign, and amazingly, I saw them and yelled up there in time for my brother to snap the photo.

At any point in the race, you can look around at the thousands of runners who surround you, and think about how each and every one of them has their own story of how they got here, their own journey. While you are running solo, you are far from alone. I have had moments when the race was getting especially tough, was toying with me mentally, where all I had to do was look around and feel the energy surrounding me. It is like a wave of support to carry me through.

And if that’s not enough, you can just look to the sidewalks in either direction and you will find that they are lined with people screaming and cheering you on. The energy is incredible, it’s like the city is pulsing. There is something different at every turn. Whether it be a rock band, a cheerleading squad, or a group of little kids handing out cups of water or lemonade; it is amazing.

There is one point in the race that I look forward to more than any other. It is the turn into Chinatown somewhere around mile 21. It comes after a slight lull in the crowds, and as you turn the corner, you see a man dancing around in a giant traditional Chinese dragon costume, and you hear a deafening roar. There are so many people packed into the next two blocks cheering and screaming and shaking noisemakers it is unreal. I don’t know what it is, but every time I turn the corner and hear this, my eyes well up and I am totally overcome by emotion. I feel such joy to be a part of something this huge, and such pride to be a runner. It gets me every time.

Part of what also makes this race so special to me is the traditional post-race steak dinner with friends, where we all share our stories of the day over wine and red meat. This is usually followed by a late night out at the bars, celebrating our victory over 26.2 miles. I am especially excited this year that one of my good friends will be joining me and running her first marathon ever. Just writing this post has me all worked up and bursting with energy.

Is it October yet?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Weekly totals

February 17-23

Swim – 4300 Yards, 1h 55m

Bike – 35 miles, 2h 15m

Run – 12.78 miles, 1h 56m

Strength Training – 1h 15m

Other – 2 indoor soccer games

Read Full Post »

Deflated

I had been looking forward to today’s run for the past several days, after looking at the forecast and seeing 28 degrees and sunny. It is pretty pathetic that this forecast excited me so, but I am so damn sick of the treadmill and couldn’t wait to get outside. I even switched my bike and run days so I could take advantage of this rare opportunity to run in the sun.

I got dressed and stepped outside. I walked to the corner to wait for my Garmin to link up with the satellites. I waited for approximately way too long before I had to stop myself from ripping the thing off my wrist and throwing it in the river. I mean, it’s sunny for crying out loud. There is not a cloud in the sky, what can possibly be taking so long? This should have been my first indication that this was not going to go well, but finally I just started running, and the Garmin found its little satellite buddies.

Now let me get to the thing that I hate most about winter (besides the freezing cold weather, the snow, the ice, people who can’t drive, and the endless cloudy days). PEOPLE WHO DON’T SHOVEL THEIR SIDEWALKS!! Come on people, it is the law!! Yet I have found that less than 40% (maybe less than 30%) of the people who own homes/businesses in the city of Milwaukee actually keep their sidewalks clear. People then end up walking over the snow because there is nowhere else to walk, resulting in a 3-4 inch thick layer of packed down snow/ice mixture. Now throw the sun into the mix and you have slick uneven ice interspersed with deep puddles of freezing water. Before I hit mile one, my left foot was soaked through.

I pressed on thinking that once I got close to the lake, I would hop on the running path. Surely the city must have cleared the running path. Wrong. The running path was even worse than the sidewalks. I found that the safest place to run was in the middle of the street against oncoming traffic. And thus, 2.2 miles into my highly anticipated run in the sun, I turned around and headed for home. I used a mix of the middle of the street and the nearly impassable sidewalks, and I finally made it back.

On the way back, I thought of my original excitement to be able to get outside and exercise in the fresh air for the first time in weeks. I felt completely deflated, as I realized that until the temps get high enough for a major thaw, it is back to the mind-numbing indoor safety of the treadmill. And again, I question why I live here.

On the bright side though, at least I got some vitamin D.

Read Full Post »

In my never-ending quest for a perfect night’s sleep, I decided that I would start testing out various ear plugs. So I went to Target, and was quickly disappointed to find only two different varieties. I bought them both, and the testing commenced. My requirements for passing the test are quite simple. The plugs need to be comfortable, easy to use, and block sufficient noise to allow me to sleep soundly through the night. The first ones I tried were these:

macks_ultrasafesound-foam.gif

I noticed right away in the store by feeling the package that these foam plugs are much softer that the traditional standard yellow foam plugs. That night before I went to bed, I rolled the little puppies up and stuck them into my ear canals. They were so smooshy that it actually made it a bit difficult to get them in. After 2 attempts, I was set. They seemed pretty comfortable at first, but the true test would be wearing them for a full 8 hours. I was able to fall asleep, and I didn’t even wake up when the fiance came into bed a while later. However, approximately 3 hours into my sleep, I woke up and found that the plugs were very uncomfortable and irritating. I had to remove them. After several restless hours, I broke down and put them back in. The bottom line: they feel ok at first, but become uncomfortable after prolonged wear. In fact, after trying them a few more times, I actually started waking up with itchy ears, which is not fun.

(A side note: my cat loves these earplugs for some reason. If I leave them out on my nightstand, she will sniff them out, get on the table, and steal them with her mouth. I have already foung them laying on various floors around the house.)

So these unfortunately did not pass my test. However, I did find out on the Mack’s website that these also come in junior sizes for kids. I may try these if I can find them, because I think most of the problem here lies in my unusually tiny ear canals. In my next post, I will review the next pair of plugs that I tested. Stay tuned…

Read Full Post »

I voted…

and I didn’t even get a sticker.

 What’s up with that?

Read Full Post »

Weekly totals

February 10-16

Swim – 4900 Yards, 2h 10m

Bike – 33 miles, 2h 00m

Run – 14.85 miles, 2h 15m

Strength Training – 1h 15m 

Other – 2 indoor soccer games

Read Full Post »

Friday night we went out for our “actual” Valentine’s dinner. I say that because we tried to get reservations at this place for the actual day, but when I called 4 days in advance, they only had openings before 5:30 or after 9:15. No thanks. We decided to postpone by a day, and I am so glad we did.

We had been waiting to eat at Carnevor for a while now, because we had a gift certificate that S got for his birthday. After hearing many rave reviews of the place, we were pretty excited to try it. I will have to say, it definitely lived up to the hype. The service was fantastic, and the food was amazing. S even commented during dinner, “When was the last time we ate at a restaurant where the service was as good as at dinner on a cruise ship?” It was true. Our waiter was so friendly and attentive. Every time you turned around, there was a staff member to take away your plates, fill your water, wipe up your mess, sweep your crumbs, or just to make sure everything was ok. At the same time, it never felt annoying, which is rare.

Now on to the food. As an appetizer, we ordered mac and cheese. Yes, mac and cheese. It was so good. The cheese sauce was made of goat, maytag, and peccorino, and the whole thing was seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon. It was heavenly.

We each ordered a steak, me the dry aged new york strip, and S the filet. I am not a huge steak person. I only order it if we are at a fancy steak place, which is usually about once or twice a year. That said, the steak was fantastic. It was perfectly seasoned and cooked, and so flavorful. S could not get over his filet. He kept saying it was the best steak he has ever had. I tried a bite of his as well, and it was truly melt-in-your-mouth. Along with our slabs of meat, we also had us some exotic mushrooms, charred asparagus, and haystack onions.

My favorite part of the meal was definitely the dessert. It was a chocolate lava cake served with a side of cherry ice cream. Ohmygoditwassogood! I am drooling a little right now just thinking about it. We finished off our bottle of wine and…

Then came the bill. Thank god we had a $100 gift certificate is all I can say. The total before tip was $206! I think I had a small heart attack. This officially takes the title of “Most expensive dinner I have ever eaten.” Was it worth it? I would say so. It is very seldom that we treat ourselves to a night like this. Will we be back? Probably, it was that good. But it will have to be for a very very special occasion. Maybe we should start asking for gift certificates now…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »