Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tchau 2013

I'll get the running portion out of the way first...:

1433 Miles ran in 2013. An increase of 15% over 2012's 1245 miles. (An increase of 188 miles.)
2013 was a fantastic year for me! Running Wise it was a great year.This blog usually only highlights the running side of things, which is a tiny sliver of my real life.  I love looking back at my little slice of the internets to see where I've been and where I can improve.
One of the main highlights of 2013 was visiting Brasil for 9 days in January.  I was so happy to meet L's parents finally :)
I also enjoyed eating all the Brasilian foods- like this "Pastel" filled with ham, tomato and cheese from the farmers market post run. I still think about all the wonderful fresh foods I ate while there.
I also ate HALF of the most awesome mortadella sandwich in the world. That sandwich is like a once a year treat. But DAYUM it was delicious with a cold beer in the middle of the market.
Bar do Mane, Sao Paulo.
Along with all the amazingly friendly people I met in Brasil, I found a new "friend" at Parque Ibirapuera on one of my runs.
Galinha d'Angola

I hope to return to Brasil in 2014 to see L's family and our friends again. Just absolutely not during the World Cup or Carnivale.  Until then, I'll just keep cooking Brasilian food and looking at my old photos and posts from the trip.  Part 1,  Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,  Trofeu Cidade de Sao Paulo. (10k Race)

We did cool things.

Like go to 2 Chicago Bulls games.
Air Benny!

I went to a Chicago Cubs game again with co-workers. It's a yearly tradition.
L and I went to the Chicago Beer fest again and sampled waaay too many delicious beers mainly from the Mid West.
Pretzel necklaces worn like true craft beer geeks. We meant business.

We also brewed beer twice. The first batch (an IPA) came out terrible. Currently our 2nd batch- a Chocolate Maple Porter is in the fermentation stage and will hopefully yield a better result than our lysol IPA.  
One byproduct of the brewing process is the spent grain used in the "mash." Since this does not contain hops or anything else poisonous to dogs, it is completely safe to turn it into dog biscuits. This is the first time I've baked dog treats and was actually fun to make. 

CB knew I was making these for him and kept supervising me the entire time. I've never seen him so focused on one thing for so long. He is very pleased with the finished product and hopes we brew beer again soon.
Just add some peanut butter, eggs, and flour to the grains and BOOM 170+ biscuits!

We also went to cool places this year.

Asides from the trip to Brasil, we went to Las Vegas like we do each year for a conference. I realized this trip that I am "too old" and/or "not old enough" to really enjoy this place anymore.
**Too old because im not into getting shitfaced with the douchebags at the clubs, 
Not old enough because I don't enjoy gambling like the octogenarians. 

We also took a trip to the San Francisco Bay area so L could be a groomsman in his friend's wedding. While there, we went to the world famous Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco, and I was able to take some time before the wedding to go stand up paddle boarding in Monterey Bay where I made some new sea lion friends.
I can't believe the sea lion jumped out in front of me. I still can't believe I captured a photo of it. 

Friends and Family are everything.

We were fortunate to see so many people we love this year.
My Daad, L's God daughter, and some of our close friends among many others.

Oh and the *most significant* happening of 2013 was L and I got engaged!

We did it in the "Brasilian style" because well, L is Brasilian. The custom is quite different from America. There's no OMG TOTES SURPRISE viral showy proposal or diamond ring. Instead, the couple agrees to be engaged and exchanges matching wedding bands which they wear on their right hand. Once they are married, they switch the ring to their left hand.
We got engaged in July. Yes, I purposely didn't share on social media for 7 months, oh the horror!

Yeah, so 2013 was a pretty kick ass year for L and I and CB. So many memories happened here that obviously weren't mentioned- these were just the "highlights."

Tchau, 2103. It's been fun.

Feliz Ano Novo, Happy New Year!


Friday, December 27, 2013

2013- a fantastic year of running.

2013 was a hell of a year running wise for me. I PR'd in every distance, made a ton of friends, and most important: stayed injury free. I got to run in exotic places, and run with extraordinary people.

2013 Running

14 races ran:
•5k's -4
•8k- 1
•10k's- 2
•10 miler- 1
•1/2 marathons- 3
•Marathons- 3

5 of the races I ran with friends.

2013 PRs:

21:30 5k- Pumpkins in the Park 22:18 Previous

36:59 8k- Shamrock Shuffle. 39:57 Previous

50:03 10k- Trofeu Cidade. (Beaten unofficially in longer races)

1:16 10 miler- Soldier Field 10 1:22 Previous

1:46:09 Women's Half 1:46.15 Previous

3:35.12 Fox Valley Marathon 3:40 Previous

The remaining 9 races I ran alone- although I either knew others running or spectating so I really wasn't "alone."

Running Outside of Chicago

I was very fortunate to run in 2 places outside of Chicagoland this year.

Parque Ibirapuera in São Paulo Brasil was just amazing. Between coconut water vendors, interesting wildlife (galinha d'angola), and beautiful scenery for the loop- I fell in love with this park and cannot wait to return.

The Los Gatos Creek trail will always be close to my heart. I was fortunate to do a long run there while on vacation during the summer and instantly remembered why I missed the trail so much since moving to Chicago 3 years ago. The friendly runners, the hills and beautiful scenery make this place one of my all time favorites.

Favorite runs:

I cannot really pick a favorite run. Sometimes a run by myself in freshly fallen snow puts the biggest smile on my face.

Running with L is always a treat.

I even got to run with Shawn Johnson for a 10k!

Running with friends is something I don't do often, but always makes the miles fly by.

Only friends can get me to run 14 miles during a crazy snow storm with psycho snow plow drivers and 6"+ of unplowed snow.

Running with CB is something I always look forward to because seeing my little man happy melts my heart.

Overall I'm thankful for all the amazing memories Ive made this year through running. There were some moments of pure bliss, as well as some of stinging disappointment. I've learned a lot about myself this year and how tough I truly am. I'm looking forward to 2014 with open arms.

- xaar

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thoughts {1}

The "agony" of choosing a spring marathon. Who ever thought it would be so "difficult" to choose a goal race? (Haha) 1st world problem for sure. Things I'm considering/concerned about:

-Course Profile

-Whether or not I'm healthy 4-5 months in the future. My knee has a bruise (presumably) from the turnstile incident 2 months ago and gives me minor discomfort on longer runs. The bruise showed up a week ago.

Front runners include the Knoxville marathon (hilly) and the Wisconsin Marathon. (Along with a few others) I just can't pull the trigger on a race just yet.

So I continue to base build and enjoy snowy runs.

Food and running and the holidays and stuff. I don't get the "free pass" mentality of stuffing your face with all the things during the holidays, and marathon training and just because. I say that- yet I struggle with food (eating too much) and am not sure why. Could it be our cultural emphasis on food as a reward, or motivation?

So for December I've made a very conscious effort to eat reasonable portion sizes, not snack (feeling a little hungry is OKAY), and continue to eat more whole foods. And 3 weeks in I'm feeling the best I have in a while.

Last night we made pizza- just heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and some Parmesan. Noms with a bottle of good wine.

This also ties into the potential spring marathon because I want to be in better shape going into training. "You can't out train a bad diet." Cliche I know, but "garbage in, garbage out.Ok I'll stop. But seriously, I plan to improve my running for as long as my body allows- (and I want to continue to look and feel "better.")

CB is no fan of Christmas either. We are just over the materiality of this season and the fakeness that goes along with it. Be a good person all year long, yo!

- xaar

Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Bucket List

After almost 3 years of living in Chicago I feel like I haven't done much during the winter asides from run a bit and go to the bars.  It's just too damn cold most of the time to enjoy being outside for any period of time when the wind chill is negative bazillion. So in lieu of yet another "holiday gift guide" i'm making a list of activities i'd like to experience before old man winter releases his grip on Chicagoland. Because experiences > trinkets for me.

  • Run outside in the snow. The path is so peaceful when it's snowing. Tomorrow I should be able to check this one off my list.

  • Explore the city more. I had to go to another building for work this week and decided to stop by The Bean on my walk home for some night time skyline photos. Best. Decision. Ever. Few people were around, and it was so magical seeing the reflection of the buildings.

  • Walk around the Christkindl Market. I went last year and it was too crowded for me, but it was still a cool experience to see all the different gift vendors from around the world and wide variety of food selections (hello potato pancakes!) I'll have to do this on my lunch break one "slightly warmer" day.


  • Sled down "Sledding Hill." I've been wanting to do this ever since I first saw the hill out on one of my runs. After some snow fell,  I was super envious of the kids flying down the hill  having a blast. (I almost asked a family last year if I could have one trip down with their sled but chickened out) All I need to do is buy one of those cheap plastic sleds. 

Michigan Ave. This morning.

  • Go ice skating by the Bean. Haven't been ice skating in FOREVER and never outside (only in the shopping malls of Florida), I think this would be really fun for an hour as long as I dont bust my ass and hurt myself.

  • The Bean & the Ice Skating Rink

    • Build an honest to god snowman. I've never built one. Ever.  I'm pretty sure I have built a sand castle for Christmas at some point.   I bought a "snowman kit" from a co-worker's kid for a fundraiser 2 years ago. The past 2 winters have been on the "mild" side snow wise, and I never was able to build one because the snow wasn't wet enough, and it wasn't around on the weekends. (I didn't want to build one in the dark after work)

    Snowman fail.

    I broke out the kit today to practice on a small patch of snow that is on my balcony from last week's snow. So I could be ready in case we get enough snow this weekend.
    I had no idea how to place the pieces...

    I googled the kit and tried again on my little patch of snow.
    BOOM! Now it looks a little more legit.

    Now i'm going to have to google how to build a snowman. I've heard from my native Midwestern coworkers that you have to make a snowball first, and then roll it around on the ground to pickup more snow. I'll have to test it out this weekend if the conditions are optimal for snowman construction. I just can't envision how I could create 3 large snowballs to make a 3-4' tall snowman...


    Monday, December 9, 2013

    So this happened

    So this happened Friday...
    In his defense, I locked him in a room he is not used to, and scary people came to fix my bathroom. He did not approve of this and used his crazy focused Border Collie skillz to GET THE INTRUDERS. Luckily the carpet was the only victim.
    And even though I was in complete shock, I wasn't really mad because he is too damn cute so focused and smart. In fact I actually felt sad for him that he was so scared. I should have known better than to disrupt his schedule.
    This reminded me of the "feather pillow incident" of 2009. Just moved to my new place in Alameda, CA and for my first day going to work, I decided CB needed a little extra comfort in the form of an old feather pillow. When I got home he looked pretty pleased with himself. Im convinced he didn't destroy the pillow for the sake of destroying it, but instead it was an accident that got out of hand. All of his toys from the past 9 years are still intact. 
    CB and I got in the Christmas spirit by hanging our annual live pine wreath.

    Sunday I wanted to go run 10 miles outside. CB wouldn't let me leave without him. And after Friday, I was scared to leave him alone for a few hours. We ended up running 6 miles in just over 47 minutes, one of his fastest paces for a longer run.
    Happy CB on top of Sledding Hill with Soldier Field in the background.

    It was 20 degrees, with a feels like of slap yo face pain, and we literally enjoyed every step. Seeing my little guy so happy melted my heart.

    The wind was a bit fierce but overall I felt pretty good running in the cold. I still need a balaclava and to find a way to keep my fingers warm, but double layers (tights+warmup pants, and base layer+ puffy jacket, double gloves) seemed to be adequate for the cold.
    The harbors are starting to freeze, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I see people ice fishing again on them.

    Little man was super pooped when we got home.
    Right after we finished running, and I parked CB outside at the local Caribou (Post weekend run tradition) so I could get fancy holiday drink,  it started to snow. And it continued to snow all day and all night. The actual accumulation was only a few inches, but it was beautiful to look at from inside my place. And absolutely terrible to walk through the dirty slush Monday morning.

    CB is not amused with the snow at all, and I dont blame him.
    And now back to another week filled with my company's holiday party, and the usual month end close stuff.

    I also bought a Groupon for 1 month unlimited classes at a dance cardio place close to me.  It's been ages since I've taken any dance classes and  i'm pretty jazzed about trying something new.


    Friday, December 6, 2013

    How I Continue to Rock It.

    It's no secret that I am a mediocre injury prone runner. And that's why I'll never give any sort of "advice" here on the blog. With a *disappointing* marathon PR of 3:35, half PR of 1:46, and 5k PR of 21:30, I have a lot to learn. I'm not qualified to give advice or "how to" information until I'm a certified coach or until someone is paying me to run races (and I start winning money from them). Not likely to happen, ever.

    As the year comes to a close I start reflecting on the previous year to see what I can learn.

    This was my first year without significant running related injury. Aka, the longest I've ever gone without injury.

    High school: plagued with stress fracture, & other very painful foot problems. Sat out entire 1st season, had a sexy air cast too. Always injured.

    2002-2008: undiagnosed stress fracture.

    2011: Undiagnosed stress fracture. X-ray later confirmed existence of stress fractures from the past.

    Stopping for photos in the later miles of the Miami Marathon 2012 because I was in so much pain from the hip flexor.

    2012: Hip flexor strain in which pain lasted 7 months. Started 1/12.

    2012: Ankle & ITB pain which lasted 4+ months. Started 9/12.

    So what's the differences in 2013 vs 2011-2012? (And prior?)

    I hired an incredibly intuitive Coach to save me from myself (and overtraining) during marathon training. Best. Decision. Ever. For the past 2 years I've seen myself accomplish things I never imagined possible in such a short period of time.

    I no longer static stretch. I strained my hip flexor while stretching. Lesson learned. Only dynamic stretches from now on.

    Religious use of my 4 BFFs (pictured above). I've found a correlation that when my calf gets tight, I start to get shin pain which escalates to other issues.

    Rotation of running shoes. And only wearing running shoes for running. This Study says there's a 39% less risk of injury to people who use multiple shoes. For reference Here is my lineup:

    Saucony A5- only very fast speed work, races of less than 6 miles.

    Mizuno Wave Sayonara- Tempo runs, middle distance runs.

    Brooks Pure Cadence- Speed work, racing half marathons.

    Newton Distance- Long runs with goal pace mileage. Racing half and full marathons.

    Nike Pegasus- Easy runs, of both short and long distance. (Recovery days)

    Strength training. I've been very diligent to get in strength sessions 2-3 times a week.

    Eating a well balanced diet made from mostly whole foods. (Not much processed shit, never soda) Because of this my body can recover quickly post hard effort, and I rarely ever get sick. And don't forget the beer and wine too! I swear hops cures muscle soreness.

    Listening to my body- I know when to stop if I'm feeling something funny going on. There's no shame in taking an unplanned rest day and/or switching to cycling or something else which isn't further aggravating the issue.

    CB knows how to rest, we should all take a lesson.

    Rest days- I take between 1-3 rest days a week. My body thanks me by being healthy and injury free. This is why you'll never see me do a running "streak." Nothing like an overuse injury to sideline you for the spring and all those races you want to run.

    And finally...

    A very positive attitude. I really enjoy running and working out and have found when my motivation dips, I get more aches and pains. I run because it is fun.

    *The 3:35 marathon is disappointing because It was not indicative of my athletic ability on that day. I know I was capable of much better. I am solely talking about the time on the clock here.

    - xaar