Running club – a new type of challenge

I have been faced with yet another challenge with my running obsessions. I think this challenge will benefit me in the long run, but at this point, it is… well… a challenge.

I started a kids running club with my colleague through work. She and I have planned it out so that the club meets twice per week for an hour at a time. I lead the club on one of the days, and she leads the club on the other day. Being an avid clinically obsessed runner, the amount of running that I complete with the kids is not nearly to the rigor that I normally train.

I am able to get some of the kids to run up to 2 miles, but that is with a water break after 1 mile, another water break at 1.5 miles, and ANOTHER water break after 1.75 miles. While I am running with the kids, I am so proud of them. The fact that kids are taking their own free time to develop the skills to become runners, is amazing! I never had that type of discipline when I was that age.

The challenge for me does not occur until after the club ends, and I am sitting in traffic thinking about how little I ran. I am also thinking about the possibility of doing a quick miles on the treadmill when I get home. I am thinking about how I should have set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. so I could have gotten a 3 mile run in before work.

What I SHOULD be thinking about is: how cool it is that I am sharing my passion for running with kids. I should be thinking about how taking an easy/rest day is actually a good thing for my running.

So, while having this running club is a mental challenge for me, I know it is a good thing. I am teaching kids to live a healthy lifestyle. I am teaching myself to not worry so much about “missing” a run.

I have running club after work today. The sun is shining, and I’m going to enjoy every. single. minute.

I’m a happier person on vacation!

When I woke up after my first night in Punta Cana, I smiled! I stepped outside onto our villa porch and was greeted by a blue sky, and a bright sun. I felt warm even though I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Then I thought about Chicago. At that exact moment, it was freezing cold, and snowing there. EW! I smiled even more! To be away from my least favorite season was thrilling. I HATE winter. I HATE being cold. In Punta Cana, I was actually a bit hot! It was fantastic!

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Kevin was still asleep, so I decided to go for my first run in the Dominican Republic. I had committed to only running 3 miles each day of our trip. It was a win-win for Kevin and me! Kevin got to sleep in a bit longer, and I got to go for my run. This would in turn set my mind at ease so that I could enjoy the day (eat and drink whatever I want without feeling guilty)! I laced up my shoes, stepped outside, turned on my Garmin, and ran. It was glorious. I didn’t know where I was going to go, or what I was going to see. I ran out of the confines of the resort, and down the surrounding streets. Other early risers were on their porches drinking coffee, saying, “Hola, Hola!” to me as I passed by. I ran to the beach and along the sandy shore. I watched to locals take their boats out onto the water for the day. I could not wipe the grin off of my face. I headed back to the resort, and then on to our villa.

When I got there, Kevin was sitting on the porch, taking pictures of the random chickens, roosters, and peacocks that live on the property. I rinsed off, we went to breakfast, and then spend the first part of the day on the beautiful beach. This is how our mornings started every day. Perfect!

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We pretty much stuck to the resort and relaxed. We went on one amazing excursion into the mountains where we go to zip lining. It was such a blast!

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I’m usually not much of a swimmer. I love hanging out by water, but going in the water is usually out of the question… Kevin was actually able to get into the ocean! The water was so warm, that I didn’t mind it. He took some picture to document the occasion. I did not, however, dunk my head in the water. I’m afraid of getting salt water in my eyes… it burns.

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I would highly suggest going to Punta Cana if you are looking for a beach vacation. It feels like paradise!

I took a day off? What?

On a weekend: My alarm goes off, I eat oatmeal, I go for a run.

On a work day: I work, I sit in terrible traffic (at times for 2 hours), I eat a snack, I go for my run.

I have an issue. I DO NOT take rest days.

I mentioned that Kevin and I were going to Punta Cana. Well, that trip came and went. It was magnificent! I will post more about the trip later, but there is a reason that I brought it up. It has a lot to do with my “no rest” problem.

Sooo our flight to Punta Cana left at 8:00 am, which meant that we needed to be at the airport around 6:00 am… which meant that we needed to leave at 5:30 am…. which meant we needed to wake up at 5:00 am… So of course, I set my alarm for 4:00 am thinking that I should go for a run before heading to the airport.

With the stress of travel looming over us, we didn’t sleep well, so I didn’t have the energy to run that morning… I immediately went into panic mode, and made Kevin promise that I could go for my run the second that we arrived at our resort. He understands how I am, and agreed that he wouldn’t give me a hard time about it.

By the time we got to our resort, it was dinnertime, and I was starving. I started thinking that I could run after I ate dinner… or I could eat a small snack, go for a run, and then eat dinner.

Then I looked at Kevin, and I looked at the beautiful palm trees. Why was I doing this? I was in the Dominican Republic for the first time in my life with the one person I wanted to be there with, yet I wasn’t present. I was stressing about going for a run. I made a decision that I would skip my run for the day. When I told Kevin, his face lit up, and I could tell that it meant SO much to him.

I’m not going to say that it was easy for me to skip my run, but I’m really glad that I did. I had literally gone for a run every single day since July 20th and 21st because I was in the hospital for those two days. It’s a bit of a relief that I skipped this run, because now when I need to take another rest day, it might not impact me (mentally) as much.

I ran a short 3 mile run every morning for the rest of the trip, which didn’t interfere with our day, because Kevin would just sleep for the few extra minutes.

Kevin was proud of me… I was proud of myself.

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Crabby Date!

Seeing a title of crabby date, may seem like negative, but it most definitely was meant as a positive. When I say, “Crabby,” I am not talking about the adjective to describe a bad mood. I am talking about the adjective that describes the amazing crab dinner that Kevin took me for last week!

Kevin and I are creatures of habit, so when we go out for certain meals, we have traditions that must happen. When we go out for crab, we follow a very serious routine.

1. Arrive at the restaurant (Half Shell) and sit at the bar. Take two oyster shooters immediately. If you haven’t had an oyster shooter, you must try it! It’s basically vodka, hot sauce, and a raw oyster. SO good!

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2. Get seated and order 6 raw oysters on the half shell and a pitcher of Blue Moon. 3. Order two king and snow crab leg dinners!

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3. Deep conversations are forbidden. The only talking that can occur is ramblings about how delicious the crab is.

4. Walk (or roll since we are so stuffed) home.

Enough about food… let’s chat about running! I am beyond thrilled that the weather is finally warming up. It’s still not as perfect as I would like it to be, but after running on a treadmill for the better part of the last few months, it feels like a privilege to run outside.

It’s so interesting that spring starts to pop up right when cabin fever is getting to its peak. I was getting to a point where running was a chore. I was SO sick of the treadmill, my playlist, and the tv shows that I would watch during my run… Now, I head outside for my daily run with a smile on my face and a SPRING (pun intended)  in my step.

Kyoto Sushi

I feel like I talk a lot about sushi/sashimi, and I’m okay with that. Kevin’s parents bought us a Groupon to Kyoto Sushi Restaurant. It’s a BYOB sushi restaurant, that we hadn’t tried since it is a cab ride away. Well, we were in the mood for sashimi (common occurrence), and decided to use our Groupon.

When we arrived, we immediately loved the atmosphere. It is dimly lit, and has an underground feel. We commented on the fact that it felt like a really nice date spot.

Our server immediately uncorked our bottle of wine, and brought us glasses. We ordered edamame and miso soup to start. For our main course we ordered the sashimi patter and some rolls called, snowballs. SO good.

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I normally don’t eat rolls of any kind. I stick to the big ol’ chunks of raw fish. Kevin likes to eat a bit of both, and I’ve been a bit braver about eating some of his rolls. I have been enjoying them! I still like sashimi WAY better, but it’s fun to try new things. I just feel like the rice and sauces cover up the taste of the fresh fish… You might as well not put it in there!

I tried a new (new to me, anyway) dessert called, Mochi. I don’t know how else to describe them except little ice cream dumplings. They are delightfully small bites of perfection! We ordered mango and chocolate.

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It may or may not become a problem that I discovered that Trader Joes sells Mochi… and it’s good…

On to a much more exciting topic… RUNNING! I managed to get outside to run twice this weekend! It was glorious! Since one of my routes is along North Avenue Beach, I witnessed pure craziness on Sunday also known as The Polar Plunge! The money goes to a worthy cause, so that is awesome. I have a hard enough time managing my body heat, so this activity is NOT one in which I plan to participate. Ever.

Oxymoron of the day: Happy Monday!

We do date night right!

I’m not one to brag… okay, maybe I am… but, Kevin and I have great date nights! I’m usually a huge planner. I like to have my dinner reservation a month in advance. Kevin, on the other hand, is a bit more spontaneous. On Monday, he randomly decided that we should go to a Bulls game on Wednesday. Yes, it would be a late night. Yes, I would work the next day. Yes, I would probably feel like heck the next day. YOLO, my friends. YOLO.

Kevin got us 10th row seats! It was fantastic! Last year, we sat in the 14th row, and that was awesome, too! It’s amazing to actually see the players faces without looking at the jumbo screens. You can actually HEAR the ball bouncing on the court!

The Bulls ended up losing (it was the first game they played after Derrick Rose was injured… again), but it was still great! To be that close to such talented athletes is an indescribable experience.

20150225_192015Okay… I’m going completely out-of-order here, but speaking of date nights… we had another take-out sashimi nights! LOVE it!!

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I woke up this morning with such a desire to be outside. Even though weather.com said that it was -4 degrees, I put on all of my cold gear, laced up, and went out. I only lasted 3.3 miles, but it was WAY better than my other two alternatives. The tready or a rest day. For those that know me, that means that there really was only the treadmill as my other option. I’m allergic to rest days.

I am sooooo looking forward to warm weather, but the extended forecast is looking pretty grim. At least I have Punta Cana coming up! My renewed passport just arrived yesterday, so I officially feel like I am going on the trip!

Not Easy…

I’ve set myself on a path to better health. Part of that journey has required some drastic body changes, which hasn’t been easy. It is so hard to explain to loved ones why it isn’t easy to gain weight… Most of my family members say things like, “I would love it if I had to gain 20 pounds! You are so lucky!” Sure, it’s not hard to gain weight physically… workout less vigorously and consume more calories. But the emotional toll that gaining weight requires… NOT easy.

I recently put on a pair of jeans before going out for the day, and I noticed that they were feeling a tad snug. I kind of freaked out. I haven’t been weighing myself, because I knew that would hinder my intake of calories, so this felt like it happened overnight. I started looking at myself in the mirror. I looked softer, less rigid… better. Yes, I look better, but I still don’t like that my body is changing. I feel like it is completely out of my control, and that I am going to just gain weight at a rapid rate, and not be able to stop. I feel like all of the weight that I gain will go to awkward places on my body.

I know that these are disordered thoughts. I know that I am doing good things for my body, but it is a constant battle within my own head to keep treating myself right.

I am so lucky to have support from Kevin, family, and friends. I have a feeling I would have given up right by now.

This is a great reminder, that whenever you know someone is struggling through something, it’s not easy for them. It may seem like it’s not a big deal to gain a few pounds, lose a few pounds, give up a bad habit, etc. What is easy for one person may feel impossible for someone else.

When I do get through this (and I will), I will try to remember not to judge someone for the obstacle that they are trying to overcome. No matter how small it may seem to me.

Valentine’s Day – A day early!

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!! Kevin and I celebrated on Friday because of work related conflicts. I got home from work (traffic was only moderately awful for a Friday), and went for a quick run on the treadmill. We got ourselves all dressed up and fancy, hailed a cab, and got to our 8:00 reservation at Quartino right on time!

We’ve been to Quartino a few times, so we kind of knew what we wanted to order… Ok… so we intricately planned it out over a week ago… we were a tad excited. We started with a liter of their house rosso. It’s actually very good, and only $20! We also ordered the cheese fondue that came with apples and bread.

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The cheese is divine! We actually debated not ordering the fondue this time, because it is so filling. We were really glad that we ordered it, because we were munching on it throughout the entire meal. It’s kind of a must… We also had steamed clams that are served in a garlic and white wine sauce.

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I ALWAYS order grilled octopus when it is an option, so that happened. It was very good. It had a bit of a spicy kick to it.

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Kevin ordered something new (to us). The seared veal skirt steak. Wow! SO GOOD! Kevin starting chowing down on this dish before I was able to get a picture. The original presentation was so much prettier.

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They make many of their pasta dishes in-house. We ordered the cavatalli. It is slathered in a delicious red sauce, and topped with ricotta and basil.

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We decided to finish our meal with espresso… or so we thought. Our waiter was super fab, and he offered us a dessert (of our choice) on the house! So nice! Kevin let me pick the dessert. I decided that I was in a banana-y mood so I picked a vanilla gelato that had seared bananas and chocolate. It was beyond heavenly!

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We spent the following day catching up on House of Cards and just relaxing. It was so nice! I’m a lucky lady!

I don’t know about all of you, but I have the worst cabin fever ever. The dreadmill has never lived up to its name (for me)… until now. I just want this cold weather to go away so I can get back outside and increase my mileage. Kevin asked me if I was going to sign up for the Chicago Marathon. I responded with a ridiculously obnoxious laugh/snort, and said no. He then asked me, “Why not?” I then said something generic that involved many excuses.

But… his question is valid. Why CAN’T I run a full marathon? I’ve done a half. I never thought I would be able to do that, but I did. I think my first step will be to do the Rock N’ Roll half marathon, and I’ll see how I feel after that. I don’t know why I’m so afraid to commit to a full marathon.

Snowboarding in Wausau!

Can you say, “perfect snowboarding weather?” I was able to say that umpteen times last weekend when I went up to Wausau, Wisconsin to snowboard with Kevin, my sister, and my brother-in-law… Last year, we went around the same time, and it was ridiculously cold… Polar Vortex cold. This year… completely different story. It was sunny and in the 20s. Amazing! I only usually get to go snowboarding once a year, so having our trip land on a great-weather weekend was fantastic! Last year was Kevin’s first time snowboarding, and he did really well! I remember having bruised knees (and ego) when I learned how to snowboard many years ago… Kevin has already conquered the blue hill, and I am very proud of him!!

Tonight is family dinner night with my sister and brother-in-law, and it is our turn to host. I am making black bean soup topped with sliced avocado and pico de gallo. I’m also making arugula salad with apple chips, roasted almonds, gorgonzola cheese, and a homemade white wine vinegar and dijon dressing. I’m still not sure what I’m going to make for dessert. We are focusing on a lighter meal tonight since Valentine’s Day weekend calls for fancy dinners and rich desserts… I’m thinking that dessert will be fresh fruit with some sort of yogurt dip. We shall seeeee.

I am SUPER excited for tomorrow, because Kevin and I are going to my favorite Italian restaurant called, Quartino for our Valentine’s Day dinner. They serve small plates, which is awesome for us, because we both like to sample many different things as we eat. We are celebrating a day early because we have some scheduling issues with Saturday.

We will be eating LOTS of seafood… Can’t wait!

Ice – 1, Bridget – 0

As an avid runner, I have been told countless times, “If it’s too icy, stick to the treadmill!” That is great advice… if you’re good at listening to advice… or admitting that you are not stronger than nature… I think many runners will agree with me when I say that we often think that safety rules and health rules don’t apply to us. I bring this up, because I decided to challenge the icy lake front trails on Saturday for my run. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a bad running week last week, so I was determined to have a great week with my running this week. About two miles into my run, I saw that the path was covered with slick ice. A smarter version of me should have turned around, but the invincible careless version on me decided to take on the ice. I knew right away that it wasn’t going to end well for me, and there wasn’t really an “out” so to speak… I ended up slipping and falling. I cut up my right leg pretty badly, but luckily it was all external.

I tend to learn lessons the hard way. Maybe I need to stop listening to that part of myself that says that I cannot be broken.

I would be so upset if I had hurt myself to the point of not being able to run.