Archive | June, 2011

Mission Accomplished: 1000 Miles

28 Jun

I’m not really one to make and keep a goal. I’m forgetful and old in my ways. Resolutions were more of an idea rather than feasible reality.

But on January 1st, I made an insignificant proclamation that I would make my body travel 1000 miles by my birthday, which just so happens to be this Thursday. My rules were:

Walking under a 17 minute mile didn’t count
Normal transportation from work, grocery store, beach, restaurant, etc. also didn’t count
My heart rate should be in the fat burning “zone” (or over 110 bpms)
Only miles that were counted on my spark tracker- so no elliptical, step machine, stair climber, row machine, etc.

Each month, I clocked in around 80 miles from the spin bike. I am a terribly dedicated spinner. I  love everything about it. First of all, it can be adjusted. When I’m injured or have tired legs from other workouts, I can lower my resistance. I can also take standing breaks, which are easier on my body than spinning completely in the saddle. Secondly, it can be competitive if you are in the right class. My Saturday morning power group basically competes to see who can get the top mileage for the week. 30 miles in a little over an hour is always my goal. We even have competitions to see who can sit and spin over 80 rpms at the highest resistance (I’ll never win that one)! But most importantly, spin is all around conditioning. Obviously it is a killer workout for your thighs and calves, but it also tones your ass and forces your core to stay balanced and engaged.

And if you are lucky, and your gym has a Spinning machine with the video… you get to watch this guy calmly lead you through fake hills and fast tracks:

No, seriously, this guy is like the zen master of spin classes. My current instructors just yell at you till you want to cry. This guy wants you to be one with the bike.

Ok, so spinning covered roughly 480-500 miles of my 1000 mile goal. The other 500 miles?


Holy smokes, I ran over 400 miles this year SO FAR. That’s roughly the distance from Chicago to Nashville, TN. I am blown away by that number. Just being able to accomplish that makes up for the torn up feet and random leg pains.Oh, and the constant need to consume everything in site (see last post on pita chips).

This morning is when I crossed over to the 1000 threshold. In fact, Spark says that I am 3 miles over that.

This run also happened to be my last run of my 23rd year. It was an easy 3.1 miler, one that I ran out by the marina. I usually dont run there because it can get crowded, but it was such a lovely morning and you could see the city rising from the waterfront at just about every turn. When I hit the half way mark, I didn’t even want to turn around. I contemplated being late for work or calling off all together. That’s what running does to you.

Giving myself a new body and lifestyle is and was the ultimate gift.

Now, for the next 6 months, my goal is to get in 900 miles. Yes, I know, that’s 100 fewer than the last 6, but, as Game of Thrones urges: Winter is coming.

Now, go celebrate your lofty-ish goals, my friends. I will be.


Weekend Warrior

27 Jun

I’m going to just be completely honest and say that my weekend wasn’t much of anything. I ate horribly (McDonald’s, gnocchi, stadium food, alcohol… etc.) and I worked out at a minimum. I’m pretty sure the only time my heart rate got to the cardio level was when I watched Michael Bradley score the first goal for the USMNT v Mexico Gold Cup game… which they promptly lost.

I did get in a run. Finally. 5 miles on Sunday, right before I headed down to Toyota Park for the Chicago Fire game.

And since this post has nothing to do with anything in particular, enjoy this AWESOME proposal in Section 8, the hardcore cheering section for the Chicago Fire. Dear Man of My Dreams: Please do this:

Speaking of which, Fire game was great. I won, sort of, club tickets. We were going to go anyways, since it is my birthday week and birthday weeks require Chicago Fire games. But the club seats were pretty much icing on my proverbial cake. We had our own waitress, got to go in through the swanky club (air conditioned) access, a private store, and super clean bathrooms! Ginger and I spent much of the game gossiping and discussing my life choices.

Conclusion: When someone in your life isn’t supportive or even present, it’s ok to do immature things. (Win)

Highlight of this weekend: Workouts in the park. Is there anything more lovely than doing yoga in Millennium Park, which happens to be my favorite place in the whole US? The sun is shining down as you cat and dog your way through poses, and the atmosphere is pretty inviting and calming. You dont find that often, even in home practices of yoga. Often, when I do my sun salutations in the morning, I do them with a bajillion things running through my head- what I’m going to wear, how work will go, can I eat a bagel today… etc. But doing them in a park, on a Saturday, with the world driving past you… well, a clear mind is the only thing it results in for me. 

So, with a pretty sweet farmer’s tan, a heart pumped up with cholesterol, and a somewhat clear mind… this week begins. It’s my birthday week, so please be kind.

A Reprieve

24 Jun

Part of it is probably the depression, but I’ve been feeling more and more… disconnected lately, especially from working out. It’s been all habit and routine, nothing fun. Combine that with not being able to go to my regular gym because of concerts and power outages, well, I’m obviously not motivated. I’m the opposite. I’m freaking burnt out. Even my running is suffering because of an Achilles Tendon strain.

So, it was decided that on this week of June, I would give myself a reprieve. I would work out when I wanted to workout and not follow my usual set schedule. Instead of forcing runs at 5am every other morning or going to two-three spin classes a week, I’m allowing myself to just rest when it needs to and work out when it wants to. And if it does want to, I get to pick the activity. It’s not sanctioned.

Yesterday, for example, I would normally do a strength training routine and 30 minutes of HIIT (interval training). Instead, I opted to force SOB to take a 3 mile walk with me down the path. To be fair, I did promise him Big Chicks food and drinks after.

During that walk, we talked about the emotional issues I’ve been going through, we swung on a swing set, and we watched the boats come in and sail off from the marina. In the end, we both agreed that this was an excellent way for us to spend some time together that was out of the house and sort of active. It certainly helps that we both burned around 260-80 calories. I am a convert, oh holy walkers.

And of course, we got Big Chicks on the way home. My chicken fingers with fries and a vodka cranberry certainly washed away any calorie burn I may have had today. Total calories for yesterday: 1800 (which is only a little over my highest amount of calories possible).

I wish my constant need to eat everything around me would stop. I’ve been on some week long binge that I’m blaming on my Sunday 12 miler. Seriously, I alone have gone through a party sized bag of pita chips in about 5 days. Those are $4.99 a bag, Michelle. Get with the poverty program!

As for my weight, I’ve maintained. I have been on a plateau for about 3 months now with me gaining and losing the same 3lbs over and over again. I dont expect this reprieve to do much in this department. But I’m hoping that I will come back on Monday with vengeance. Till then, my friends.


23 Jun

So many races coming up. So many concerts too. Even though I’m poor, I’ve managed to fill these Summer months up nicely.

Here’s my list:

7 days till my 24th birthday (June 30th)- I actually have terrible, terrible birthdays that usually involve me crying… so not really looking forward to this. I am, however, taking Thursday and Friday off so I essentially have a 5 day vacation. On my to do list is to run 12 miles the day of, visit a museum, lay on a beach, or go to 6 Flags. Depends on my mood. Ideally, I’d like to go away on a vacation, but my birthday falls on 4th of July weekend, so that ain’t happening.

24 days till my next 10K race (July 17th)- Got a free entry to the Fleet Feet Women’s 5k/10k. It’ll be a good prep for my first Half in August. The last 10K I ran was in 35 degree, rain, wind, lake water weather. I’m hoping this will be better! Any race where the wind doesn’t physically stop you from moving forward is good enough for me!

32 days till the Decemberists concert (July 25th)- This will be my second Decemberists concert! The first show, I had won tickets, but I actually wasn’t a huge fan of the band. I was going through (and still am) a electro-indie-rock thing and the Decemberists were way in the other direction. But after that show, I was hooked!

38 days till Paul McCartney concert (July 31st)- I just sold both sets of my extra tickets, so dont even ask. This is, as mentioned in my last post, the latest stop in the “Oh My God! My Idols Are Getting Old and Out of Shape” tour. Cannot wait!

52 days till Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon (August 14th)- Originally, the reason why I was running was to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon next February, but life plays tricks and I was left wondering if I could afford a trip to Disney. In a panic (and with coupons in hand), I signed up for the Rock n Roll Half so that I would continue to have some goal in mind. I’m one of those people that if I’m not signed up for a race… I wont run. I need something to be constantly training for. After this race, I will switch over to an indoor tri goal for the winter and then start my training for the 2012 Chicago Marathon.

My Heart Goin' Boom Boom Boom

21 Jun

Warning: This has nothing to do with my health.

Ok. I feel bad for not posting about my health on a health based blog so here’s the recipe I use to make my breakfast shakes. I swear that it keeps me full from 8am to 1pm every day and gives you three servings of fruit, 9 grams of protein, and 11 grams of very healthy fat:

In a blender, uh, blend:
3-5 strawberries
1 banana chopped
1/4 cup of dry oatmeal
1/2 cup of sugar free, natural orange juice
1 tbsp of peanut butter
You can add protein powder or supplements to this as well. I just make mine minimal as possible. I hear you can also add kale to this and never taste it, if you want your veggie fix.
Ok, now to the main part of this blog. 
After a long day of work, I headed out to the United Center to meet up with my sister, bro-in-law, and father for our second concert in the tour I’m calling “OH MY GOD. All of our idols are getting very old and out of shape. Must see them now before they die.” In May, we saw Paul Simon (brilliant!) and in July we are seeing Paul McCartney (wanna go with? buy our extra tickets here!). I think Bruce Springsteen should be next on our list if he rolls back around to Chicago for obvious reasons. 
Who was crossed off the bucket list last night? I’ll give you a guess:
Except, he now looks like this:

Eeks! When your idols begin to look like Billy Joel, you know it’s time to lay down the money for tickets.

Give up? … Need a sledgehammer? 
Wow. When did I become that lame?
It’s Peter fucking Gabriel, you fools! Bow down to the Prog Rock King. BOW DOWN. 
Except, he’s less prog rock now. Last night’s show capitalized on one of my favorite albums of last year- Scratch My Back. No drums, no guitars, and covers of other people’s tunes. In fact, he started the whole show off with a melodramatic version of David Bowie’s (ah! add him to the list!) “Heroes.” The best part?
He was backed up by a MO FO’ ORCHESTRA of epic proportions:
Eat that Paul Simon and your four man Cajun band.
Prog King played 3 hours. Yes, at his age, 3 hours. His first set were mainly covers, including “My Body is a Cage” by Arcade Fire and a Regina Spektor song. Here’s him singing “Hereos” so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about:
Amazing. Right? Wish you could have all been there to share in the joy and beauty of it all. At one point, I was sitting with my jaw opened wide- taking in every note, but consciously thinking about how this was a once in a lifetime thing.
I grew up with Peter Gabriel, or with the help of him. As one of my dad’s favorite artists, I can fondly remember him singing every word to “Blood of Eden” or “Kiss the Frog” while we were driven home from softball games or grandma’s house. In a crazy time, Peter Gabriel was always there to say goodnight to us. And there to greet us when we got back in our dad’s truck. Sharing last night’s concert with my dad brought me to tears on several occasions (once being during his first set when Gabriel spoke of his own father and played Father and Son). 
I am thankful that I have the memories of singing Dont Give Up with daddy-o and my sister at my side as the orchestra played on in the background. We rocked back and forth, alternating verses. At one moment, my dad reached over to me when the lyrics crooned, “Dont give up. You still have friends.” It was in that moment that all the saddness I had carried over the last couple of months disappeared for a second. My dad, Gabriel, and the world were reassuring me that things are going to be alright.

12.5 Miles

20 Jun

Wow. This weekend was a bummer. Grief, disappointment, anger, resentment… everything was bowling over. I’m not lying when I say that I spent much of Saturday curled up on a futon with a 12 inch cheese pizza by my side (er, in my stomach).

I’m lonely. It’s easy as that. Even with my working out, taking classes, trying to better myself bullshit… I have a big gaping hole where friendships should be. I cant remember the last meaningful conversation I’ve had with anyone that wasn’t family or SOB. Even worse, I have no rememberance of just getting a drink with a friend in the last four or five months.

I’ve been trying hard to change this. Working out, changing my outward appearance, and forcing happiness has given me some social courage to try new things and break some restrictive limbs. Even with my trying, I still find myself without a solid friend of my own in the city (or burbs). 

Yeah, I know. Enough of that.

Either way, my weekend was a lot of self-pity, woe-is-me style mourning.

On Sunday, the morning after my pizza escapades that put me at a staggering 2200 calories, I laced up my Mizuno Waves and wandered quite mindlessly out the door. Just like the night before, nothing felt good. My legs ached, my hips were tight, shoulders tense.

I had 12.5 miles to run before I could go back inside, in my cocoon of blankets and food.

First three or four miles, all I could do was whine. I’ve decided to practice running without music during my long runs, so all I had to listen to was the sound of me mentally analyzing each and every relationship in between the sounds of traffic and seagulls. Zen running? Yeah right.

At mile 4.75, I see my first glimmer of hope that I’m almost at my turning point:

Even though I use that as a reference that I’m almost there… it also means I have the hardest part of my run left. The next 2 1/2 miles are on horrible concrete, no shade or trees, uneven paths, and crowded with tourists and other runners/bikers. My focus turned from “my life is horrible” to “this run sucks ass. i just want a cheeseburger or those pizza leftovers.”

It’s funny how occupying your mind with how much a run sucks will take you away from thinking about how everything else in your life seemingly blows. Ah depression, you are a silly little bitch.

Anyways, I hit 6.25 miles around the Ohio Street Beach and I begin my turn around, back down the path of concrete and Chinese tourist Hell. At this point, I’m in a zone. It’s an angry zone full of profanities addressed at dog owners, small children on big wheels, and unafraid city birds… but hey, a zone is a zone. Miles 8 and 9 pass unnoticed by anybody but my legs and the poor people running or biking next to an increasingly sweaty me.

And my ship in the fog appears. Ah yes, I forgot to mention that at some point, God, in his infinite wisdom, turned on his cheap ass fog machine to obstruct any beautiful scenery I may have been able to entertain myself with. Even the lake, although a mere 20 feet from me, was only visible by the floating garbage popping out of the white haze.

Anyways, the ship. It’s there and it’s telling me to rest my legs, call a cab, and give it up. This ain’t going well. I take it up on the rest of legs portion but head back once I realize how expensive it would be to take a cab from North Beach to my apartment and how much walking I’d have to do for the nearest cab accessible location. Plus, I wouldn’t wish my lingering BO on any cabbie in America.

I’m moving again. This time, much slower. “Fuck” goes my left shoe. “You” goes my right shoe. It’s a chorus of anger. Even my usually submissive back and shoulders are starting to scream at me. I put on my music. But on shuffle, all I get is Mozart and some Amy Grant. Mental note: remove anything that used to belong to my aunt off of my itunes asap.

At one point, somewhere between mile 10 and the end, I sat down on the damp grass and collapsed. What the hell am I doing at 7 in the morning? Oh, I know. I’m trying to push myself too hard, too fast… just so I can run some race. Just so I can pretend that I am accomplishing something. I’m punishing myself. I’m not loving this. I’m hating every step.

But it’s only a mile and a half back. And I’ve got a bed, a boyfriend, and 6 inches of left over pizza waiting for me.

I get up, finish it. Under 3 hours, even with my breaks. Runner’s high hits me about twenty minutes into my ice bath. Even with doubt, impatience, aches and pains, and an emotional void sucking me… I still did it. I ran 12.5 miles. I did it with tourists and small children blocking my uneven, foggy path home. It’s enough to numb the rest of it. 

Remeber When I LOVED It?

17 Jun

I awoke to the sun shining, birds twirpping (twittering?), and the breeze blowing through my window. Perfect weather… if it wasn’t 5am and time to run.

4-5 times a week, I do this to myself. I sleep in parts of my workout outfit and lay out the rest of my gear the night before. Everything is in the living room so I dont wake up slumbering SOB. My Garmin 305 is charged, my Ipod is synched up to my ever rotating playlist, and I have the bad weather gear nearby in case. It’s all routine.

My alarm goes off right at 5:02am and I typically roll out like a rodeo clown from a barrel. I’m out the door at 5:20 and stretching outside on the benches by 5:30. After a couple minutes of searching for a satellite, my Garmin locates me, and I’m off.

My pace is always much faster on my first run interval… typically at 9:40-9:50 min/mile. In my head, I kid you not, I’m counting down seconds until my walk break. When I get bored, I make a deal with myself that if I make it to the next lamp post in 5 seconds, I’ll check my watch. Oh, and I do some heavy duty people watching. Nothing like hot ass runner watching in the wee morning hours.

This goes on…and on…and on until 2.5 miles or around 30 minutes. I’d go longer, but I just dont have the time. 

I’m just here to get it done. Train. Move my butt. Make it easy… whatever. This certainly isn’t a Nike ad quality workout. It’s just work.

Nike: King of Inspiration Marketing.

And if you read through all of that, I’m surprised. I’m even boring myself. And that’s the point. These training runs are not important or interesting to me anymore. When people ask how my morning runs go or how I could wake up that early to run on some gravel path, I lack the enthusiasm I once had. I dont share details of how my pace was or if I got any hellos from hobos. I just did it. It’s become a no motivation, low energy, get-it-done-and-shower kind of deal.

I once read that people who do sports or work on their fitness should be proud. I mean, how many people are honestly up at 5am and running? How many do it in rain, snow, fog, wind? How many do it, period? In this city, there are 2.6 million people- 239,000 are my age, half are female. I’ve already bested the majority of those people by just stepping foot outside the door and walking at more than a 19 minute mile.

But I certainly dont feel like it’s an accomplishment anymore. It’s become so routine and mundane. Even moments of pure beauty, when the sun is rising off the lake or birds seemingly chase me down the path, I cant find energy in it. It’s all tired and old news.

I’m blaming it on my current relapse of depression. Currently, everything is nothing to me. Just a big blank empty slate that I am not willing to fill up. Maybe running, my once favorite thing in the world, has fallen to it. I’m hoping my 12.5 mile long run on Sunday will help me get it back. I never feel better than when I hit a new accomplishment or when my leg muscles feel like they are peeling off the bone.

In other news… I’m selling two or four PAUL MCCARTNEY tickets for his July 31st, Wrigley Field show. You want them? Bid on Ebay!