Monday, November 24, 2014

Ah Brasil. I miss you already.

How do I sum up 10 days in Brasil? Honestly I don't know. 20 blog posts!?! There's so many small moments that I want to remember forever that will fade over time if I don't write them down.

Like: the first time my Portuguese abilities "clicked" and I was able to buy a bunch of cool new running clothes at Track n Field- (kind of like the Brasilian equivalent of Lululemon) without the translation services from L. The sales associate would bring me more clothes to look at and I was able to articulate in Portuguese if I liked them or not. I ended up buying 2 skirts, a sports bra, the coolest leggings you've ever seen and a blue tank top. Yeah. It's spring time there, so I won't be sporting much of these pieces until winter passes in Chicago.
Running in Parque Ibirapuera with my new skirt.

Or that time we went to a Brasilian Bbq hosted by our friends, and I was able to leave L's side and speak to friends in Portuguese. Maybe it was all the beer, cachaca, Yakult+ vodka, but it was just an amazing experience to have everything come together and be able to understand my Brasilian friends who don't speak  much English and finally connect in a way we weren't able to before.

Another random memory from this trip happened Sunday. We got a cab to head to L's mother and father's house and 15 minutes into the ride the cab driver asked us if we would switch cabs. He had received a call saying his daughter had just given birth. He mentioned how he dropped her off a few hours earlier at the hospital and that no one expected the baby to be born that quickly. Of course we got a new cab and wished him Parabens- congratulations!

And yet another quick memory was from the plane rides to and from SP. I sat next to Brasilians on both flights and we had great conversations about Brasil and life. On my flight back to Chicago yesterday, I was sitting next to a man who also happened to also "volunteer" at the Brasilain consulate for the Brasilian elections where L also had to "volunteer." Small freaking world.Or the Brasilian community is just that tight here. *This is something I plan to explore more.
So cozy for 11 hours. 

And after landing at 5:25am this morning (and being on the plane for 10+ hours), and flying through customs/immigration thanks to Global Entry (BEST $100 EVER SPENT!), I am now almost ready to go to work- after washing off the airplane stank. It's weird to come home and not see CB dog, but I'll go get him later on.

Walking home from the EL, in the cold rain, just drove home to me how much I miss Brasil and the gorgeous warm weather we had been experiencing, and especially my friends and family.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Another weekly recap of things that happened

Life is good, really really good. Work has been busy (read: our busy season+ regular month end close) and this weekend was chill, exactly what I needed because soon I will be all GO GO GO "do all the things, see all the people, eat all the foods, and DRINK ALL THE CAIPIRINHAS" while in Rio and Sao Paulo.

CB has been wild again. Maybe it was the full moon, but more likely it is because I hadn't taken him on a decent walk or run in ages due to the cold and it being dark outside when i get home.
I saw some micro flowers near my office this week which made me smile. With even cooler temps arriving this week, i'm sure the sightings of colorful living things will diminish rapidly in Chicago.
We voted on Tuesday. I mean, it was a choice of the lesser of 2 evils, or choose which one might not F*ck up Chicago/Illinois the most. I voted because I can. It's my civic duty. With the amount of distrust in the government and anger towards the people in charge, I would have thought there would have been more than 36.4% voter turnout in Chicago. It is just ridiculous. People want change, but don't want to do anything other than bitch about shit on social media- which does not produce change. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
On Friday night I noticed a bight light shining on my balcony. I went outside to investigate and saw the perfect opportunity for a cool silhouette photo.
The light was coming from many blocks away. It was for the filming of the new "Batman vs Superman" movie. I couldn't believe how bright the light was. I was tempted to go check out the sets, because it was being filmed in the Loop, but decided i'd rather stay in my nice warm apartment, than brave the cold.
Saturday the CB dog and I went for our first run together in ages. It was a crisp 40 deg, with some winds. I really struggled with what to wear for this run, since i've been staying inside at the gym. But some tights, a long sleeve Nike hyperwarm shirt, a wind breaker, hat and gloves was plenty. While going south on the path, I actually felt hot. BUT when I turned around back into the headwinds, I was super happy to be layered up.
I hope we have more "warmish" days like this so we can run together again. The ankle/cankle/crankle is feeling good these days. I've done some progressive runs which have not aggravated it at all. I also take 2-3 days rest between runs and cycle during that time. I have no motivation to increase mileage too fast, or even train for anything specific at this point. I like the mix of cycling, running, core/hip/strength workouts I am completing each week.
Watching the NYC marathon got me jazzed about running for a hot second, but that quickly faded. When I am in Brasil, I am not doing any races- mainly because I won't do a race under trained for the "fun of it" but also because it's our honeymoon/vacation, and I feel it would be super selfish to drag L to another event. Plus, with no race in Brasil = I can eat all the things, drink all the caipirinhas and not worry about a damn thing.
CB dog was happy for this run. We even "pop corned" the Chicago Perfect 10 race, which was happening on the lakefront. CB spent the rest of the weekend sleeping, and being less wild.
Sunday I took the time to clean up the apartment, and finish packing my suitcase for Brasil. My goal for only taking a carry on suitcase was accomplished. The secret: Dresses. Yep, I'm taking 8 dresses for this trip. It will be Springtime after all and warm and sunny and rainy and the polar opposite of Chicago weather (see what I did there? lol) .I'll have one pair of shorts and jeans + some shirts, and some running stuff too.But dresses are where it's at for packing light.
AH time is flying so fast and before I know it, I'll be in SP and Rio seeing loads of friends and family and eating/drinking delicious things. I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Time is flying and soon I will be too

Ah man, where has the time gone? It's now November and we've experienced our first snow. (Oh the horror!)

Last weekend L and I did something I've wanted to do for a while- run the lakefront 4 miles to the Green City Market and have breakfast. The weather really couldn't have been any better.

I've missed cruising the lakefront due to the Tendinosis and was happy to be able to experience a good weather day for one of my last runs outside for this year. (I won't run outside if it's less than 32- I can't handle the cold due to Reynauds) I've been running 4+ miles at a time, every few days for the past few weeks without any ill effects. I'm just in no rush to start logging higher mileage weeks any time soon because I want to ensure the cankle doesn't return.

We got to the Green City Market and it was busier than the last time we went because it was the last outdoor market of the year. We enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches from Gayle's, and tamales from River Valley Ranch.

Later on we went to 5 Rabbits brewery to get their new release "El Bizzaron" a collaboration with Cigar City brewing.A porter brewed with caramelized plantains... YUM. Because of the special release, there were cuban sandwiches for sale (Cigar City is in Tampa, FL which has a huge cuban population)

The cuban sandwiches were hand made and reminded me of home (Tampa). I also bought a cool sugar skull coffee mug from a local artist. The taproom is in their warehouse/brewing facility and had a ton of character. We will definitely go back again.

5 Xaarlins

Cbo dressed up for Halloween. He was imitating this video. We went to the Fido to Go Halloween party and had a good time bobbing for hot dogs (CB, not me) and socializing with the owner of FTG and other pups.

The past month + has been super busy for me and will continue for the next 2 weeks. I'm so happy the culmination of this busy season will be our vacation to Brasil. All I can think about lately is sitting on the beach with L, sipping Caipirinhas on Ipanema  and Copacabana beaches while the Christo Redentor looks on.

The sunrise was super stunning this week.

I also went to the last outdoor  farmers market of the year at Daley Plaza. It seems like the spring and summer just flew by so quick this year.

You know it's the end of summer in Chicago when all the farmers markets close and all the outdoor seating is taken down.

I'm so ridiculously excited for Brasil. Can't wait to see my Brasilian parents (in laws) and all of our friends again. Oh and the food. Yep- I can't stop thinking about all the fantastic food Rio and São Paulo have to offer. My dreams are filled with Coxinha and pastel and feijoada, parque Ibirapuera, Mocoto, and caipirinhas lately.

I remember when we got the plane tickets 3 months ago for our trip to Brasil and it seemed so far away, now the countdown is in the teens. Did I already say how excited I am for my second visit to Brasil and first visit to Rio??

My goal for this week is to finish up buying presents for some family and friends and begin the packing process. My ultimate goal is to only bring a carry on for this trip. Luckily dresses and Brasilian bikinis take up very little space ;)

Tchau-- Xa'ar

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spectating the 2014 Chicago Marathon

On Sunday I went out to spectate the Chicago Marathon. I was especially excited to see the elites because I never get to see them in action- I'm usually eating their dust- following in their footsteps in the same race. Some of my friends were running and I was happy to cheer for them and lift their spirits at mile 24.

I watched the first half of the marathon on TV- which was an awful broadcast. They pretty much only showed the men, and kept cutting to human interest stories instead of showing THE RACE. And I have no problem with the human interest stories, but I want to watch the race. Save that stuff for later.

I rode my bike down to mile 23ish- 35th and state where Goose Island was hosting a fun viewing area. They were giving out free shirts and bottle openers. It also happened to be the best place to photograph the runners due to the position of the sun along the course.

The excitement was building as the lead men were getting closer to where we were.

It was exciting seeing some of the wheelchair participants zooming by.

Then the lead pack of men flew by!

With Bekele trailing.

The insanely inspiring Wesley Korir on his way to an 8th place finish.

More elites, including the first American male to finish, Bobby Curtis.

More elites at mile 23ish.

I was taken off guard when the lead women approached. This was the only shot I got- the eventual winner, Rita Jeptoo.

Amy Hastings who placed 5th and tied her PB.

Lisa Uhl in her debut marathon.

I got to see Pete B, Corey, Manny, Kimberlie, and Joe at mile 24. I should have stayed at mile 23ish because the sun was behind us at 24 and was not optimal to take photos.

It was fun spectating and seeing my friends killin it out on the course. The weather couldn't have been any better for a marathon and it showed.. I believe all of my friends got PR's or Course Records!

When I got home I felt exhausted. Spectating is hard work, yo.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I graduated from PT!!!

Today I graduated from Physical Therapy at Athletico. I had been going 2x a week for 4.5 months! During that time I realized many things.

First and foremost: if your hips are weak, (and you're not doing anything to strengthen them) it is only a matter of time before something breaks down- whether it be your ankle, Achilles, or knee. Trust me. You will break down sooner than later.

You will probably not display any hip issues- but you can rest assured your ITB, your calf pain, etx is almost certainly related to your weak hips and core.

If you take time off running, like a significant amount of time, (at least 4 weeks so you can "forget" some of your bad bio mechanics), and during that time- strengthen your core and hips, the next time you run you will feel balanced and powerful with less effort. But remember that it will take a while to unlearn all the bad bio mechanics from decades of use.

The photo above was from when I ran the Knoxville marathon- about a month before my peroneal tendinosis returned. Look how janky my stride is. Look at all that excess movement. Look how my hips are not straight. Look how unbalanced I am. And this was early on in the race before I became truly fatigued.

So when the tendinosis came back a 2nd time I had to make a very important decision. Would I pursue PT to attempt to work out what was causing chronic issues on my right leg, or would I just give up on running?

I like goals and crushing them. But, I hate being injured. I've been stagnant time wise in my last few marathons because I was always starting from scratch after coming off an injury layoff. At what point do I move onto other activities that don't cause me physical harm? Maybe running isn't for me?

I decided for the benefit of my long term health to start going to PT. I know chronic bouts of tendinosis can lead to greater problems down the road including surgery. And that is a road I didn't want to travel down ever.

So as a last ditch effort to save my running hobby and most importantly- for my long term health, I started going to PT. I made it very clear in the beginning I wasn't there for a temporary fix so I could run a marathon in a few months, but instead was there looking for a long term solution to fix the issues that only happen my right side FOR GOOD.

My PT, Kim and I clicked right away. She is clearly knowledgable and also fit my ideals for treatment. No orthotics, no shoe inserts, no changing shoes. I was the one that needed the fixing.

2 months into PT and my form was already improving- IronGirl Triathlon.

I started with very basic, easy exercises which made my hips burn and as the weeks and months progressed, the exercises got tweaked to make them more and more difficult. It is amazing to see the progress I've made. I now have quite the arsenal of hip/core strengthening exercises to do at home. Which I do 4-6 times a week.

Most recently I took 4 weeks off running to give my Cankle a final reset to let it calm the eff down. (We were splitting hairs at this point- I had no pain- only very minor discomfort when I poked at a very specific spot) when I ran for the first time on Sunday, I felt powerful and balanced. I never noticed feeling janky before, but after taking a month off and "forgetting" some of the bad muscle memory, it was like night and day.

From yesterday's run- solid as a freaking rock, hips level, no more (or at least waaaay less) left leg kick out.

I'm excited to gradually build back some mileage. I'm excited that I can start thinking of long term running goals again. But at the same time I have a good balance between life and my running hobby which I won't forget.

Me and my chicken wings hamming it up in the gym.

Seeing the progress I've made with PT also made me start strength training- especially my scrawny little chicken wings. I've been upping the weights over the months and marveling at the progress I've made with strength too.

I saw some tangible results with my PT:

8% increase in ankle movement when winging my foot out.

15% increase in flexed foot movement.

Ridiculous amount of hip strength- where at my first visit, Kim pushed my leg to the table, Monday my leg held firm and did not budge when being pushed towards the table.

I'm encouraged by all of these improvements and will continue to do 30 minutes of these exercises 4-6 times a week so that I do not lose the benefit of all the money and time I put into Physical Therapy and my long term health.

My last day of PT! {sad face}

My current plan is to continue walk/running for the next 2 weeks- taking at a minimum 2 days off between runs and then gradually getting to short runs. I'll also continue cycling and using the elliptical. I'm in no rush to run fast or far again. My only goal is to remain healthy.

I am confident I made the right decision to go to physical therapy for my right leg issues.

Yay, physical therapy. Yay.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hot dog battle, Farmer's Market, Crowler and CB dog fetched a stick!

Last Monday:

We went to the beer pairing dinner at Farmhouse Chicago- "Wolves in the farm."

It consisted of a 6 courses each paired with a delicious beer from Surly, Solemn Oath, or 3 Floyd's.

The menu:
1st Course: Aged Goat Cheese Caramelized Cashews, Buttermilk Cracker, Nectarine Butter, Nasturtium Happy Fun Beer, Solemn Oath

2nd Course: Melon Heirloom Beets, Tomato, Pink Peppercorn, Hibiscus Fest Beer, Surly

3rd Course: Indiana Shrimp Fry Charred Long Beans, Grilled Corn, Black Onion Vinaigrette, Shrimp Shell Aioli, Tarragon Patron Saint of Quality Footwear, Solemn Oath

4th Course: Tenderloin of Pork Rose Finn Potatoes, Spent Grains, Lobster Mushrooms, Peppers, Beer Reduction, Citrus Marigold Permanent Funeral, 3 Floyds

5th Course: Lamb T-Bone Cauliflower, Crispy Quinoa & Puffed Wild Rice, Grapes, Lamb Jus, Mountain Mint Rye Barrel Aged Pentagram, Surly

6th Course: Pudding Coffee Cake, Carmel Corn, Espresso, Anise Hyssop Zombie Dust,

I was a huge fan of the 1st and 2nd courses as well as the pork tenderloin and dessert. My favorite beer was by far the Surly- rye barrel aged Pentagram (sour) and the 3 Floyd's Permanent Funeral an exceptionally hoppy double IPA.

CB was sad not to join us...

I cleaned my office this week. I had to take before and after photos, because it was gonna be a drastic change.

Damn you Boston poster throwing me shade every time I'm at my computer. 2016.. 2016....

I worked out on Saturday morning in the gym and there was a dude in our studio room blasting Mozart, having a photo sesh all by his lonesome.

After he was done I went Into the studio to lift weighs and do my PT exercises and had an audience.,,

Saturday L and I FINALLY went to the Green City farmers market. We've gone to the Chef's BBQ a few times but never made it to the regular market.

It was crowded and full of people just stopping to rubber neck at gourds and mums, but the food made up for it.

We had tacos from Cookies and Carnitas and the best grilled cheese ever.

We also had a crepe filled with butter and cinnamon sugar. Delicious. I can't understand why we waited 3.5 years to go there.

Ooh ooh I know! Because I was always training for a marathon and that {unfortunately} took precedence over everyday life.

Later on we went on another adventure.

I wore my new stripey Toms and took silly photos.

We went to the Northdown for the Battle of the Hotdogs!

It was Superdawgs (Chicago) vs John's Hot Dog Deli (Copenhagen, Denmark).

The superdawgs were amazing. One was like a Chicago dog- "The Original." The other, "Whoopskidawg" had an onion bun which I fell in love with.

John cooked "The Stuffed Young Walter" complete with Mikkeller marinated red onions, Mikkeller beer mustard, and GOLD LEAF! All 3 dogs were freaking delicious.

It was a tough call between calling #2 or #3 a winner for me... But I decided on #3. I have no idea who ended up winning the battles overall.

I can't wait to visit John's Hotdog Deli in Copenhagen next spring for our 2nd "lua de Mel."

We went to Dryhop and had a delicious brunch + beers. And we got a CROWLER!  A large 32oz can instead of a glass growler. Theres many benefits to the can vs glass including: extended shelf life, light cant get to the beer, and it's just freaking cool to have a huge can of great beer!

Sunday was chill. CB decided to act like a "normal" dog and fetch a stick. *Usually he is not interested in balls, sticks, toys outside, unless it is a FRISBEE!. He even returned it to us!

He seemed quite pleased with himself.

It was a much needed easy weekend to balance out the craziness that is my job. Unfortunately it won't get better until next month. SOS. Send help, I'm drowning.