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.


--Xaar

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."
Sunday:

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.

--Xa'ar

Monday, September 22, 2014

One of us had a good run, the other drank delicious beer.

I'm now halfway through my "4 weeks off running to get the Cankle to STFU." The spot on my Cankle is feeling less cranky as a result.. Duh.

I mean it's like splitting hairs because asides from when the Cankle initially imploded May 1, I really haven't been experiencing anything more than a very mild discomfort, barely noticeably, if at all. It just escalates when I string a few days of running together which is no bueno. Could I still be running? Probably. But that goes against my goal for a long term solution to this chronic tendinosis issue. (As well as general right leg issues).

Yeah it's tough to be sitting out all my favorite races this summer/fall but I am seriously over starting almost from scratch each year after nursing various injuries for a few months at a time.


CB got to run around Tuesday before heading to the fido to go truck. He had been "wild" this past week. Not sure if it was because L was away for business, or if he wasn't exercising as much as he should but he needed to release some energy.


He was less "wild" for like a day before he started acting out again.

Posing with the Dog and Rooster. Mine and CB's zodiac animals respectively.

Wednesday we took a walk to the planetarium to see the new Chinese Zodiac statues that were installed that morning. (thanks Kim for the tip!)


We also enjoyed the sunset.


And finally he was tired.

Saturday morning I made another set of quiches. This time it was: bacon, onion, collard greens with Comte/Emmental cheese. These were super delicious. I think weekend quiche baking will be my new tradition. I love experimenting with different cheese and ingredients.


Saturday afternoon we went to the Goose Island #312BlockParty.


They were tapping different varietals of their Bourbon County Stout every 30 minutes which was amazing since these beers are so difficult to find.


We tried 6 varietals. My favorites (in order) were

Bramble Rye BCS
Proprietor's BCS
Coffee 2013 BCS
Violet Hour BCS
Coffee 2014 BCS
Buffalo Trace BCS


Despite the rain earlier in the day, it ended up being a gorgeous afternoon and evening.


The live bands were fab and we had a lot of fun. It was a nice way to close out the summer. {sad face}


To finish out the weekend we ordered some food off Grub Hub and watched a movie. Nice and chill. Just how we like it.


2 more weeks without running should go just as fast as the first. And yet I'm not overly excited to get back out there. I'm enjoying this new "balance" of life/workouts quite a bit without the OMG I MUST TRAIN FOR THIS NEXT RACE mentality.


--Xa'ar

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Beer, Buttery Bread and Brasilian Bikini

And yet again the theme of the week was "sleepy." Work has been busy and jet lag is contagious. I swear. Every time L gets back from a business trip his exhaustion rubs off on me.

CB was sleepy too.

I got some summery dresses but the weather in Chicago has been hovering in the 50's lately. Womp. At least the weather in Brasil will be gorgeous in the springtime....

2 of the 4 dresses.. the other 2 are completely different styles than these, because diversity is fun...

Mae sent me this photo of São Paulo from her house this week and It instantly put a smile on my face. I cannot wait to return to SP!
I made more quiches last week. This batch was pancetta, Comte, and Emmental cheese. I added some half and half this time and they raised up like soufflés. I'll stick to milk-less quiches in the future..

We went to the Chicago craft beer fest on Saturday. We usually only go to their spring festival, but this year the fall date worked for us.


It was at the Great Hall of Union Station.


We immediately noticed there were less attendees and less breweries compared to the spring fest. But there were plenty of delicious new to me beers to try.

Selfie within a selfie!

A list of the beers I tried: All "new to me"

  • Not your father's root beer. ABV 10%- Small Town  WHOA SO SWEET & DECEPTIVELY STRONG!
  • Maiden Voyage- Aquanaut (Rye beer)
  • I Troll- Pig Minds, Double IPA
  • Always the Hard Way- Pig Minds, Double IPA
  • White IPA- Slapshot brewery, White IPA
  • Spiced Orange Ginger Beer- Crabbies
  • Coastbuster- Upland Double IPA Probably the best beer at the festival. Reminiscent of Pliny
  • Anthem Cherry Cider
  • Premium Elderberry Cider
  • Chocolate Porter- Small Town
  • Unapologetic IPA- Stone (At Hackney's post beer fest)
That brings my total of unique beers consumed to 968 since I started using Untappd.


We also made some new Brasilian friends.

I feel like my Portuguese speaking abilities are about to "click" and then I'll be able to actively participate in conversations. I was surprised at the amount I could understand this weekend. Ok no I'm not, I study Portuguese a lot and am near fluent in Spanish... I just need more words. I'm planning to be able to hold my own next time I go to Brasil.

Sunday morning I made pao na chapa. (Grilled buttery bread, a breakfast staple in Brasil)


I took CB for a walk and was creepin on his arch nemesis.


And the Brasilian bikini I ordered from France finally arrived. I bought the super discounted "surprise" bandeau. All I knew is that it would be by designer Rio do Sol and would be a bandeau. I'm happy with the colors. It's just all like WHOA the difference between American style bikinis...
'Cuz when in Rio de Janiero...

-Xa'ar