Never Asking for Perfection

I spent an entire marathon training season saying this year’s Top of Michigan Marathon would be my last full marathon. It’s such a time commitment and it is far too easy to get distracted. But, somewhere along the trail, I realized why I was driven to register in the first place. And when I crossed the finish line I was overcome with emotion.

For me, running is hard. I’ve wondered if I have some sort of exercise-induced asthma because it’s so difficult for me to breath. And both of my lungs collapsed in a traumatic accident, which may also be a factor. But, until a few years ago, I was not a runner. Today, I run 3-5 times weekly—usually training for my next race.

Why run

If I ever take time off from running, I can feel it. A few days, and my mood turns depressed. My body gets stiff and I start to ache. I’m tense and irritable. So I’ve become addicted to the adrenaline boost. A quick run can turn a bad day good. It washes away the stress of a long day at work, gives me a chance to think through issues and inspires me.

But running a marathon is hard. Those 26.2 miles are no joke and if you don’t train properly you risk injury and failure (something I don’t cope well with). So when I had to quit before I even hit the halfway mark at last year’s race, I was disappointed. I wasn’t surprised. I hadn’t taken my training seriously, the weather was hot and humid, my water supply was limited and I was just not prepared. When 2019 race registration opened, I signed up determined.

Marathon training

My training kicked off with a new, aggressive routine. I was logging 10-mile runs in the first month and incorporated speed and strength workouts into my program. But, with a month and a half to go, I got derailed. Travel plans, long hours at work and a lack of prioritization put me behind schedule. My first 16 miler was cut short by bad weather and stomach discomfort. I walked the last 4 miles of a 14-mile run instead. I was defeated and considered transferring to the race’s half marathon instead.

A few weeks later I finally logged that 16 miler and I felt great. Throughout my training, I never took more than two days off, but I hadn’t been hitting my mileage. So, I was determined to finish strong—and I did.

Race day

The morning of the race, I was unsure, but I knew my body was strong. At mile 10 I was keeping my pace. I passed the spot I broke down last year when I called my husband and told him I couldn’t finish. I continued running beyond the halfway point, pacing ahead of my time from the 2017 Chicago Marathon.

I reached mile 16 and realized how much better I felt than during my long training runs. At mile 18 I pushed on knowing this was as far as my training would take me. By mile 21, I realized I was going to finish.

This year, I knew my body and I was prepared. The course increased the number of aid stations and I made sure to utilize the resources. My husband refilled my water belt along the course and I maintained my fuel routine. I came out strong and steady, but even as I dropped off I was pacing to finish by my goal time.

At mile 25, I felt invigorated. I crossed the finish line knowing I’d logged a personal best. I sobbed to my husband, “I finished.”

Running is hard for me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breath. I have to take deep breaths to remind my lungs to fill with air. I focus on my breathing a lot. But I can run, so I do.

I Do it with a Purpose

traverse bay

Last month, I set out to accomplish a lot in 2019. Fourteen days in, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of sticking to my resolutions, and I have high hopes for what’s to come.

New Year’s resolutions

We’re nearly at the halfway point of Whole 30. My body is feeling refreshed. When I completed the challenge last year, I spent the majority of the month with a cold. This made it easy to avoid temptations, as my cravings were completely diluted. This month, however, I’m getting by with a strict workout routine and meal prep.

Marathon training starts next week and I’m feeling a bit uncertain. My first “long run” is only 6 miles, but I’ve not run more than a 5K in a few months. Instead, I’ve been focusing on strength training rather than endurance. So I’m hoping the transition is smooth.

The relaunch of Chicago Beer Club has been successful to date. With just one blog due for the month, it’s been an easy accomplishment. Working with PorchDrinking.com has proven to be a huge asset, and I’m looking forward to future opportunities with that outlet.

Up next

As part of a healthier 2019, I signed up for The New York Times 30-day wellness challenge. Every day, there’s a new challenge in my inbox ranging from 6-minute workouts to planning healthy snacks to 4-minute meditation exercises. It’s proven to be a good motivator that requires minimal effort but sufficient reward.

With 23 days off this year, I’m hoping to dedicate more time and funds to travel. We’ll be taking trips to Pennslyvania for a family event and San Francisco for a wedding, but I’d like to squeeze in an adventure down to Florida or even the Bahamas to spend time with friends as well.

Work continues to be a lot of work with an uncertain future. I’ve been looking for the right company to maintain a career with and grow. And while my job shows signs of opportunity, I always feel like I’m playing catchup. 2008 was a rough year to enter the workforce and Tribune layoffs just added more momentum to the punch.

We always enter January inspired, ready to take on the year ahead. But something about 2019 feels different.

Today I Missed My Workout

Christmas morning seems like as good a time as any to reflect. Especially when it’s 6 a.m., you’ve been up for two hours and you’re at your in-laws trying not to wake anyone.

Whole 30

2018 has been a full year. I kicked it off with the Whole 30 program, a diet meant to help you learn more about the foods you eat and how they affect your body. I was proud, and surprised, when I hit the 30-day mark cheat-free and feeling good. As an avid cook, meal prep was something I looked forward to, even if it meant no booze, sugar, carbs and a whole lot of other stuff.

Running

From there, I jumped into training for my second full marathon. Looking back on my training program, I don’t quite remember where I fell off. I know I hit my 18-mile run and missed the 20 miler. But I did a lot on the treadmill, big mistake.

Race day, Memorial weekend, was hot and humid AF. The Top of Michigan Marathon starts in Charlevoix and ends in Harbor Springs, hitting Petoskey along the way. And, unlike the Chicago Marathon, the course is slim. There were maybe 100 marathoners and even fewer supporters along the course.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the race. At the halfway mark, I called it quits. The night before, my CamelBak broke and I wasn’t able to carry enough water to stay hydrated in the heat (water stations were limited and some even ran out of cold water). The humidity made it difficult to breathe and the lack of crowd support killed my motivation. Don’t worry though, I signed up for the 2019 race and plan to kick its ass.

Home

The summer was consumed with our new house. We moved in in April and I literally never wanted to leave. From unpacking to decorating to yardwork, it kept us busy. While we still haven’t finished hanging our decor, we did just furnish the third bedroom.

I’m in love with our home, and I think the rest of the family is, too.

Friends and family

We spent time celebrating some of our closest friends throughout the year. Weddings, babies, engagements, big moves and new homes. Even our niece’s first birthday.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what I’ve lost on here. It’s part of the purpose for my blog—coping, healing and remembering. But 2018 has shown me how lucky I am for what and who I have in my life.

SuperSprint

Training for my first triathlon also kept me busy this summer. Part of the Chicago Triathlon series, the SuperSprint is awesome for first-timers. Event weekend takes place at the end of August and the course is manageable.

Swim, bike, run. That’s the basics of a tri. The atmosphere was electric and the participants were incredible. So much support and inspiration. While not as physically difficult as a marathon, a triathlon is more mentally taxing.

This is another race I’ve already signed up for in 2019. This year, my goal was to finish. Next year, I’m keeping time. My hope is to one day complete a full triathlon. Until then, I’ll be working on my open-water swimming.

Work, work, work

The end of the year has kind of been swept up with work. Professionally, I’ve been given a number of opportunities to grow and advance, all of which I’ve embraced with open arms. For the first time in a few years, I’m not only satisfied at work but excited for the future.

Personally, I’ve been focusing on my beer blog. The focus the past two months has been on social media, but I’m planning for a 2019 relaunch of the blog. Until then, check us out on Instagram: @chibeerclub.

To help expand my reach, network and knowledge, I joined PorchDrinking as a copy editor and social media coordinator. I’ve only been working with the team for a couple of weeks, but it’s been a positive experience so far.

2019 and beyond

I think 2019 will look a lot like this year, only refined. I’ve learned so much and have so many things I want to accomplish next year. More travel. More learning. More growing.

Body Image

Over the last year, I have struggled with my weight more than ever.

Growing up, I was never thin, but I was also never fat. I know plenty of girls who suffered eating disorders throughout their childhood and teen years, but I guess I always just accepted my chubby cheeks, thick thighs and belly. Fore the most part though, I was fine.

In high school, college and after graduation, my weight fluctuated. A boyfriend led to extra pounds, and the following break up shed what I’d added plus some. Biking and hiking around the city always kept me fit, and I owe something to that. Still, I was never skinny.

But after a three-month recovery, I was finally thin. I joked: Great weight loss trick, get hit by a truck. But at that point, I was unhealthy looking and the doctors urged me to eat, eat, eat – even if it was ice cream and potato chips. So, I did. And I got healthy. Then, I got fat.

I don’t weigh myself, to me it’s more about how I look and less about my actual size. Because of that, I think my body image issues have worsened. On top of the pounds, I have a hideous scar. Fake it as I might, never will I feel confident laying out at the beach in a bikini – no matter my size. I’m hesitant to even let a peak of my mid-drift slip into view.

(For those of you who are unaware, I have about a 12-inch scar running down the center of my abdomen – the result of emergency surgery.)

Some people say it’s beautiful, and I want nothing more than to wear my skin with pride. But it’s not. Either side of the scar is off-balance, as the left will always remain a little bit swollen. And more than anything, that scar serves me as a daily reminder. No, it’s not something everyone can see, but I always know it’s there. It greets me in the morning when I shower, and kisses me good night when change for bed.

If you follow me on social media, you know well that I’ll be participating in Mudderella Chicago this May. Not only have I found this training as an outlet for aggression and stress, but of course I’m also getting stronger. However, over the last six weeks, my visible body has not changed. Tonight, that hit me as a frustrating and disgusting fact. What do I have to do to be happy with my body’s image?

Still, I can feel myself getting stronger, and for that I am infinitely proud.