Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No show here

I went on a "date" last night with my L to go photograph the huge waves on lake Michigan thanks to Hurricane Sandy. I was expecting 20+ feet high waves and mayhem much like the photos in Pete's "Lakefront Trail" Blog post.

We headed out towards the Shedd Aquarium thinking there would be some great photo opportunities.

As you can see in the top right, there is a barrier in the water creating a "harbor" between navy pier (white area at top) and the Shedd (red dot). Needless to say the waves weren't quite what we were expecting.

The sunset was amazing!

There were some waves crashing onto the lower level by the Shedd- nothing more than what you'd see during a normal storm.

Adler Planetarium with waves.

The water was choppy, but nothing to write home about. I know north of Navy Pier the big waves were still crashing- the section of the lakefront from Ohio St to North Ave was closed. (for very good reason)

I'm thinking of dressing up CB for HOWLoween tomorrow since the dog food truck, Fido To Go will be in our hood. If we dress him up, he will get a free treat. He likes treats, so hopefully he can tolerate my costume idea for a few minutes.

Happy Halloween!

What are you (or your pet) dressing up as?

-I'm not saying what CB will be because I don't want to get you all excited for nothing if I don't dress him up :) I dont celebrate Halloween, but instead love the idea of the Day of the Dead.

- xaar

Monday, October 29, 2012

I want to go see the giant waves

First and foremost I dropped the "blogspot" from my blog address. I am now the proud owner of my own domain-
I feel so legit now :) but I also feel the need for a complete redesign... Not sure where to even start with that.

Big Bad Waves

The forecast for the next few days will include 50-60 mph winds as well as 15-20+ feet high waves which will be crashing onto the lakefront thanks to the FrankenStorm. The national geographic explorer photographer (aka crazy person) in me wants to go take photos. Im mildly concerned about getting washed away. Who's with me??


This weekend I ran 2 times with my boys. The weather was chilly, but beautiful. I actually ran 12 miles for the week!

My ITB is still a bit funky & the ankle is almost 100%. I'm running for fun and that's all that really matters to me currently. I will start strength training today too. I'm a lazy arse when it comes to stretching (I don't do it at all- for good reason), core strength, and weights. There is so much benefit from doing these activities (minus the stretching- story for another day..) that I need to get with the program.

The sky was stunning Sunday morning...

This run brought to you by da Bears tailgating fans

Running in the morning when the bears are playing at home is risky... Since I ran down by soldier field, I encountered 1000's of people tailgating and cooking delicious things on the grill at 8am. Needless to say my mind kept thinking about joining them for a burger- I'm sure Cb dog felt the same.


I made my favorite soup this weekend. It's the Hearty ham and white bean soup I found from Runners World a while ago. It's easy, delicious, and pretty quick to make.

I also made the Men's health, one pot turkey chili also found on the runners world recipe page.

Both recipes came out great!! Yum!

I fire roasted a jalapeƱo on my gas burner as a garnish for the chili last night. Basically I let the pepper sit in the flame until its skin was black. Then I peeled it and chopped it to top the chili. Lesson learned is- no matter how many times you wash your hands after handling a spicy chili, the oils will still be on your hands which will cause your nose, lips, eyes to burn each time you touch them. Even if it's 12+ hours later. be careful!

In other news, Yay Giants!

During the weekend runs, I also discovered my dog is a Chupacabra.

The shadow is infinitely more menacing than the CB dog.

Who wants to go see the crazy waves?

What's your go to easy winter recipe? next up will be French Onion Soup..

- xaar

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chicago lakefront, Beer and Turkey Trotting


I ran a few times with the Churro Dog last weekend. The weather was spectacular as well as the view...

My ITB started feeling funky both times about midway into both runs of about 4.2 miles. I thought after the first occurrence of this at Fox Valley, followed by 3 weeks of Sloth that it would be ok for the Chicago marathon. After the CM, I had an additional 2 weeks of no working out and craft beer drinking and bam! The ITB starts being funky again. Why would this start out of nowhere??

I'm trying to avoid buying a knee strap because I think I can do some exercises on my own to fix it. After every run I do the "Myrtl Routine" which I think is helping. My hips were sore Monday after my 2 weekend runs, so it has to be helping right? I ran 3 miles in 25 minutes on Tuesday to "push the pace" and see how my ankle and knee would react and the ITB started feeling tight around mile 2. BUT, it actually felt much better than last weekends runs. The ankle doesn't really hurt much anymore but still looks a little swollen (to me).

I think fall suits the Lakefront trail nicely...

I can't wait to go back out this weekend and enjoy the cooler temps on the trail again.

Beer Academy

This Wednesday I went to Beer Academy at Goose Island brewery. They hold one academy each month and focus on a different style of beer- IPA, Stouts, etx. This month was "Barrel Aged Beers." Barrel aged could mean Bourbon barrels, tequila barrels or even wine barrels, or just a wooden barrel.

For $20, you get about 10 good sized samples of beer the Brewmaster has chosen for the event- I believe 3 were from Goose and the rest from other breweries. While sampling the beer, the brewmaster asks questions to us like "What does it smell like?", "You are hosting a dinner party and serving this beer- what are you making for the main course, sides, dessert to pair with the beer?" and people yell out answers to contribute.

Its a great event to get you thinking outside of the box concerning beer- its not just something to drink during football games. Beer can be paired with food and enjoyed like a fine wine. Plus, the brewmaster talks about how the beer is made- not like I'm going to start a home brewery but I can appreciate the beer more once I know the care and thought that's been put into it. Next months Academy is "Sour Beer"- which is the first academy I went to last year. I'm really hoping our schedule works out so we can go back and try out some beers we wouldn't necessarily try otherwise.

I'm Xaarlin on Untappd if you want to follow what I'm drinking.

Turkey Trotting

I've done turkey trots for the past 5 years and want to continue the tradition of running on Thursday morning.

For my Thursday morning fix I plan on registering for the Lifetime Turkey Day 5k I think this race took over the 8k that used to happen on turkey day.

I think I'll also register for the Grant Park Turkey Trot on Saturday too. My BFF runner Tribu is coming to visit and we haven't run together since the awful Hip flexor explosion/ Miami Marathon from January of this year. 2 5ks in a few days isn't too much right?

Have you had ITB trouble? Do you wear a strap? Or we're you able to over come it?

Are you planning to run a Turkey Trot this year? Will I see you at either of the 2 I plan on doing? :)

- xaar

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I survived the Maine Earthquake of 2012

For the past 5 days I escaped the cold of Chicago and swapped it for the cold of New England, a different kind of cold. If you've ever visited New Hampshire or Maine in the fall, you'll know what I mean.

I didnt bring one piece of running garb with me, minus some compression socks to wear under my boots during this trip. I didn't run one step. Nor did I feel envious of the runners I saw along Portland or Portsmouth's darling streets. Fresh off of the Fox Valley marathon (9/16) and Chicago marathon (10/7) I'm giving myself every opportunity to relax and recover (especially that ankle issue). So all in all it's been 4.5+ weeks of total non running/non working out lately and I don't feel guilty at all.

From page 90 of the latest runners world. Felt like it was speaking directly to me.

I realized during this vacation that I enjoy running immensely. No surprise there. It's something I've done off and on for over 20 years now- from my first race of a mile at age 9 which I won my age group to my last marathon which was my "PF"marathon. Over the last few years- especially since starting the blog I've become obsessed with running. PR's, races, shoes, clothes etx have taken over my life in a not so positive way. (i tend to go OCD on things) While its ok to go meet runners and talk running shop with them, it's not okay to spew running talk to family and friends 90% of the time. This lesson I've learned the hard way. During this vacation I had a revelation that I enjoy running and don't need to think about the next race, or latest gear. I just need to go outside and enjoy what I love doing again for the simple enjoyment of running and nothing more. Every run need not be a training run for something or a PR.

We flew into Boston to start our journey and promptly drove to New Hampshire to start our vacation.

Gilleys was our first stop in Portsmouth, NH. Best steamed hotdog ever. The bread was fabulous too.

Since L and I are craft beer nerds, we went to the Portsmouth brewery for some more food and good craft beer. In all my trips to the North East, I've never been to Portsmouth. Somehow I always looked over Portsmouth and its New England Charm until now.

Redhook is another "local" brewery (main headquarter in Washington state) which makes its own beer. Excellent food and beer here as well. (I had the sampler of beer- 6 different brews!)

I also got to see some of my family while on vacation. We don't get to see each other enough and it was a huge treat to hang with my Aunt, uncle and cousins for an afternoon.

Portland, Maine has the Allagash brewery. We of course took advantage of their free tour and samples. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

We also went to Shipyard/ Seadog brewing also in Portland. I was extremely underwhelmed with the quality of their beer. Their "Pumpkin head" was the best beer on tap- but their "fruit" beers were terrible. When you smell a beer, the (fruit) smell should not punch you in the face like a candle or potpourri, but instead be a bit more subtle. They were definitely using extracts instead of real fruit in their brewing process and subsequently I will avoid their beer from now on. I also had a horrible allergic reaction while watching their brewery "tour" video in a musty room and could not stop coughing the entire time. I have no idea what caused it.

No trip to the North East is complete without sampling some of the local food- like steamers. (steamed clams) or an

Honest to God lobster roll (these shouldn't be cheap if they contain real Maine Lobster- the one here was $16 at Bob's clam hut and worth every penny). Fried fish n Chips is another new England staple. Don't forget the malt vinegar!

I love finding local places to go. This giant coffee mug brought to you by Crema in Portland, ME where I had a maple latte.

We also went to the famous Nubble lighthouse in Cape Neddick, Maine. If you've ever had a lighthouse calendar, this lighthouse would have been in it.

We also attempted some outlet shopping. *Warning* here comes my rant.

What the hell is wrong with outlets? Last time I checked, an outlet was a place to find good deals. We went to the Old Navy "Outlet" which was basically the same as the Old Navy down a few blocks from my work. No deals there. Nike "outlet" was the same as well as the Adidas, Coach, Lucky brand, and others we went in. They were called "outlet" but were in fact normal stores with regular prices. This is not what I remember an outlet being!

I did manage to buy a sweet pair of Saucony A5's for $30 (a true outlet experience!) I've had my eye on them for a while to replace my Nikes for 5k's and track workouts. I also got a sweet pair of Under Armour purple and black running tights in case I ever go running again. I have searched for crazy print running tights for a while and finally found some! I also got some socks from the Kittery Trading Post (like a Cabelas, or Dicks sporting goods on steroids).

And to cap off our vacation there was an Earthquake that hit Maine last night while we were out in Portsmouth 37 miles away. Apparently everyone from Maine to New Jersey felt it but us- we were in the safe confines of a bar on the water in downtown Portsmouth.

(photo of said "earthquake proof" bar)

No one in the bar felt it and the glasses hanging from the ceiling didnt even sway. My aunt in Massachusetts said it shook their house for 15-20 seconds. Others who came to the bar later described it as if a large plane was overhead and caused the rumble and shaking.
Damn, we missed the most exciting thing to happen in Maine/New Hampshire in a long time :)

(North Church, Portsmouth)

I'm sad to leave one of my favorite areas, but will return again soon. I love the beauty of New England as well as the friendliness of its residents. While we were out on a walk in Portsmouth everyone we passed greeted us. Chicagoans, you have a lot to learn.

Now I must go back to work for the last 2 days of this week which is a sober wake up from the relaxed vacation we've had the last 5 days, but it was a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of Chicagoland.

I also must start working out again in some capacity as well as eating a little healthier since I've gained 4+ pounds since the Fox Valley marathon. I'm also no longer running 40-50 miles a week so there needs to be some adjustment with food intake. I'll get it all figured out soon. I just hope my ankle is healthy enough to start logging some easy miles on the lakefront again soon. Plus, I need to take my snazzy new shoes and pants out for a run soon!

- xaar

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chicago Marathon, the Main Event! (part 2)

Welcome back to Part 2 of my 2012 Chicago Marathon Journey.  You can read part 1 HERE.

I ran the 2011 Chicago Marathon and it was a blast, so much that when my L told me he signed up for the 2012 edition, I went straight to my PC and signed myself up.  Ever since registering earlier this year, I had been looking forward to running this year's Chicago Marathon with my man. There was no doubt in my mind that after running my goal race- the Fox Valley Marathon that I would support my best friend 3 weeks later in the Chicago Marathon for his first marathon ever.

The Race

This race was entirely about him. 

I think everything went as smoothly as it possibly could. It's always a challenge to run with someone else- different fitness levels, pace, injuries, etc play a big role in compatibility of running partners.  We would run together at least once a week during our training which I enjoyed immensely.  Going into this race, our goal was to finish healthy.  And we did.

The first half went great, we were cruising along and enjoying the race atmosphere and crowd support. Next thing I know after 13.1 I hear L tell me he needed to walk because of various pains.  I was heartbroken for my L, who had dilligently followed Hal Higdons marathon plan to get him to the finish "with a smile on his face." L made the decision to take the 2nd half much easier than the first because he didn't want any lasting damage to whatever was hurting. And for that (among many other reasons) I am proud.

We mainly walked the 2nd half. It was a long day, it was cold, it was taxing on our bodies, but we finished this marathon with smiles on our faces.

I took 200+ photos during this race. Here is a slideshow of some of the photos from our 26.2 journey.

Sights/ Sounds

The neighboorhoods are all unique and amazing. From the drag queens in Boystown, to the Dragons in China town, to the Mexican dancers in Pilsen, Chicago is shown off in this gem of a race.  Crowd support is like none other. The signs made "run like your butt is on fire" to "Your training lasted longer tham Kim K's marriage" to "My arms hurt, how's your legs" were all hilarious.

Beer at Mile 23
The Hash House Harriers were handing out beer at mile 23, and I gladly accepted a cup. It went down like sweet nectar of the Gods. Delicious.

Post Race

I cant stop smiling and saying how proud of L I am. His job isnt compatibile with the time suck of marathon training due to travelling, but he made time for it. He isn't into running like I am (which is absolutely fine)-  he made an excellent effort to do the work necessary to be a successful marathoner. We made the most out of the less than ideal situation and made it work for us. We held hands, danced "Gangnam Style" and enjoyed the moment as much as we could.


Ive always respected runners/ walkers of any and all abilities because just getting out there is one hell of an achievement. Running a 6+ hour marathon is in some ways much harder than the 3:40 I ran 3 weeks prior. Mentally and physically it's tough to be going that long especially when things aren't going according to plan. The encouragement we received from (and gave to)  other runners and volunteers was amazing even 5+ hours into the race. People were cheering like they had just started. Their energy was infectious.

More Thoughts

This marked my slowest marathon time to date. But #7 will never be known as a PW, instead it will always be known as my PF- Personal Favorite. I;ve seriously never been so excited to run a race as I was to run Chicago with my partner. Time was never important, only being together through to the finish was.

Injuries/ House Keeping

This race was the first time I had run in 3 weeks (Fox Valley was the last) Wanted to give my ankle issues time to heal.

The ankle was a little cranky for most of the race, although at somepoint I stopped noticing the mild pain. 2 days later, it isnt in any more pain than pre race, although it has discomfort in a different place now.

My left ITB was hurting again during the race. The first time it started being cranky was Fox Valley. Ive never had an issue with this before ever, but now after 2 runs having ITB crap, im going to have to buy a strap or find exercises to do to stregthen my knee.

Took Gatorade prime/ Salt tab pre race

Gu @ mile 10

Salt at mile 12?

2 Goose Island 312 beers immediately post race.

1 day out, left ITB is tight and has discomfort when bending, ankle hurts higher on the leg than before (but seems MUCH better- i could absolutely go run 4-7 miles, but am not sure if it would be beneficial to it healing)   My fall running is currently on hold until these issues get sorted out.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Chicago Marathon Part 1 of ?

There will be a minimum of 2 posts about the Chicago Marathon from me. (part 1 will be expo and pre race, part 2 will be about the race) Perhaps, if I'm lucky, my L will also do a guest post about his first marathon experience this week.


The wheels on the bus go......

Took the free shuttle over to the expo on Friday after work.

The expo wasn't too packed and had a lot of vendors and excitement going on.

We took a photo at the Gatorade booth #winfromwithin and got a free gatorade water bottle.

Surprisingly I didn't buy anything or sign up for any races there. (I'm always a sucker for RnR races at a discount)

I met Da Coach, Mr Ditka (lookalike) at the expo.

I was pretty pumped up for Sundays race after leaving the expo. I think L was also getting excited :)


L and I went to the Chicago Bloggers lunch on Saturday. It was nice to see some familiar faces as well as some new ones. It was fun to talk running with these gals. And I was super happy to finally meet Emily. :)

After lunch we went back home to start gathering our race day essentials. I was really struggling with what to wear for Sunday since the low would be around 38, and it wouldn't really go too much above 50 for the duration of the race.

Decided on: multiple layers. Compression socks, Aspaeris compression shorts, Old Navy Running tights, nike purple long sleeve, brooks light jacket, mizuno wave elixirs, nike headband... Pretty much every part of me was double layered.

This might seem like overkill, but I was also factoring in being cold from walking during the race. I should have worn gloves.

Race Day!!

One benefit of paying a lot of $$$ to live down town is that we live half a mile away from many of the races that take place in Grant Park- such as the Chicago marathon. We can wake up later and walk to the start and not worry about public transportation.

We found our corral with ease and waited for our 8am start. It was cold, but so darn exciting. We began walking towards the start line, anticipation grew for what was to transpire through the next 26.2, It was finally time to run the Chicago Marathon with my man!

Next post will be about the actual race since this has become quite long. I took over 200 photos during the race which will be made into a slide show to show the Spirit of the Chicago Marathon.

Stay tuned :)

- xaar

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September recap

The main event of September was running my heart out for the Fox Valley Marathon where I smashed my previous 26.2 PR by 25 minutes for my first sub 4 finish with a 3:40.

The other not so notable event was what happened on August 31 while out on my last long run when i injured my peroneal tendon. This caused me to get one of the lowest mileage months in a while since the hip flexor injury of January-March.

Nearly half of the 58 miles was from the marathon.

Since September 16 (FVM), I haven't run a step. I want to give my ankle the best opportunity to heal going into this Sunday's Chicago Marathon.

I've cycled 4 times since the marathon and possibly for the first time this year, I did not work out at all for an entire week.

I walk to work and back each day- 2 miles total but I won't count that as "working out."

Because of the weakened state of my ankle, I've rolled it twice in the past week and a half. The first time it caused mild swelling which hasn't gone down and pain. The second time it didn't seem to get worse but certainly didnt help it get any better.

Ive matured more this year in regards to my health than any other year. Taking a week or a few off from any activity is beneficial to let the body heal, especially when there is an injury. Could I run right now? Sure! Would it prolong the healing process? Absolutely!!

I cringe when I see others blogging about their injuries, but keep running, swimming etx and complain that the problem is not going away. The answer is obvious as to why they aren't getting any better. It's a tough pill to swallow by having to scale back on goals and activities you enjoy, but in the long run your body will thank you. Obvious but often ignored.

We also saw a new antenna being installed at the Willis tower. That white piece hanging from the helicopter was about 40 feet long!!!

So in short, September was filled with the extreme joy of the marathon coupled by the reality that I'm not super woman. Bummer!

Looking forward

After all I've said above about being smart concerning my injury, I will still run the Chicago marathon this Sunday with my man.

The weather is shaping up to be perfect for Sunday which makes me jump with joy!

I'm really looking forward to running the streets of Chicagoland with my best friend for his very first marathon. I'll be his support and cheerleader as we tackle the 26.2 If it's not too cold, I plan to take loads of photos along the course to capture the Chicago marathon spirit.

If you're running the Chicago marathon be sure to come to the Chicago running blogger lunch on Saturday. I'll see you there!

Good luck to all racing this weekend!

- xaar