Walking Down the Stairs Backwards

And other random thoughts post 26.2


half marathon


Confession: I read most of Hal Higdon’s book, but the week before the marathon, I was so darn sleepy that I wasn’t reading at all before bed.  Which means…that I didn’t read his chapter about immediate post race happenings (titled humorously and appropriately The 27th Mile) or the last chapter, whose title I don’t even know but I’m assuming involves what I should be doing this week.


Instead, I am winging it and basically walking down the stairs backwards!  I woke up Monday more with intense stiffness through both of my quads.  For the most part, my other sore areas (back, shoulders, lower legs) felt ok, but my quads hurt rolling over to get out of bed.  I moved slower than my 101 year old grandfather that morning and was beginning to question why I hadn’t taken the day off from work.  In the end, work was exactly what I needed,  minus the squatting and stairs, walking around felt great.  Plus everyone’s encouragement helped me ride out the last of my runner’s high!


By Tuesday, the high was gone and the quad soreness remained.  I took the stairs backwards, two at a time, and even crawled at one point.  It was comical to my coworkers who think I am crazy for running a marathon in the first place.  Although my body was recovering, my tummy was still a bit off.  I was crazy hungry but nothing tasted good. I’d eat a bite of peanut butter and a bite of cracker, followed by a sip of chocolate milk, and a nibble on some veggie burger.  The only two things that I craved…tootsie rolls and tater tots!  Not surprisingly, the BOY was more than happy to whip up an unhealthy dinner of tater tots and curly fries Monday night.  By Tuesday, I was eating a little more but still couldn’t finish a bowl of oatmeal.  We had NO food since the marathon expo and race took over my entire weekend, so I went to Panera to pick up lunch on Tuesday plus a loaf of bread for the next day and of course a cookie…those I was able to eat just fine : )  Each day after that, my appetite returned and I carried tootsie rolls and dried fruit for post lunch munchies!


Image courtesy of Team-Sparkle.com


Since I haven’t been running this week, it’s been lovely sleeping in and really having a laid back week!  There has been plenty of people to share my marathon story with and of course plenty of reflection on this year’s training, plus insight for races ahead.  Will I do another marathon???


I’m not sure!  I may be retired…until I get into New York that is!


Funny TV Ecard: The only marathons I participate in are the Law and Order kind.


So I guess the jury is still out on that one.  I’d love to run New York,  not for time, but for fun because I LOVE NYC!  And if I do find myself training for another 26.2, a few things to remember.  Number 1, I need to do more core and glute strength.  My glutes got really tired around mile 20.  They need to be stronger to support a long run, like a marathon.  Number 2, my parents need a balloon.  It’s much easier to pick out than a face amongst the crowd.  Number 3, my family needs oranges.  Once I find them, I want oranges.  Number 4, have a back up watch besides Garmin, just in case there are a bunch of tunnels, which New York may have!


Until then, I’ve got shorter races to run.  Up next…the Hot Cider Hustle 8 Miler on November 2nd.  I figured after a week off from running, it’d be good to get back to it before winter comes.


Also on my agenda…searching Pinterest for motivating quotes (as seen above) and mouth watering recipes, sleeping in, catching up on DVR, and oh yeah…I got bangs!



Apparently, my mom couldn’t figure out when this picture was taking.  Considering I haven’t had bangs since age 12, I’m not sure why she was so confused.  Post marathon, I thought they might work since I’m not running 4-5 days per week.  We’ll see what happens!  And one last thing on the books…a massage/facial on Sunday morning.  Woo Hoo!



What do you do to recover after a marathon?

Couldn't have said it better myself!


Marathon {A Running Poem}

At mile 25, you hate yourself for signing up.  It sounded like a good idea 8 months ago!

You hate yourself for skipping that long run and you hate yourself for drinking that extra beer.

You hate your running shorts that feel too tight and you hate your shoes that are too over or maybe it’s under supportive.

You hate the fact that marathon isn’t 25 miles from, what is it…Athens?  And you hate yourself for not paying enough attention in high school social studies to know for sure who even completed that run.

You hate the heat, the sun, and the rain.

You hate the guy that you see who has already finished, medal around his neck, and you hate the girl who has never even dreamed of running a marathon drinking a mimosa on the side of the road.

You hate the fact that you have no music and you hate more the annoying song stuck in your head.


Yet 1 mile later, when you lunge head first towards that finish line with one finger ready to press stop on your watch, you fall in love…


You love your strong and capable legs and your powerful heart.

You love your family and friends waiting in the heat, sun, and rain to cheer you to the finish.

You love your training log and bright yellow highlighter used to check off each run.

You love the man who just put a medal around your neck and the woman who hands you a 312 beer.

You love the view from the finish line and the PR flashing on your watch.

You love the way the city skylines looks in the distance and the fact that you ran through most of its neighborhoods.

You love how hard you’ve worked to get here and that adorable new marathon sweat shirt you bought at the expo.


Your heart is so full and the only part of your body that doesn’t hurt.  Before you even sit down to loosen your shoes and catch your breath, you are already planning your next race!

Every Step is an Adventure

This post title came from a close friend and not a marathon poster, but I loved it!  What a great way to describe a marathon.  Because every step you take and corner you round, leads to another exciting moment and marathon memory!




All of which begins 8 months before when you sign up for this great race!  But the real excitement begins at the expo.  And is followed by a day of prep, planning, and organization.  On race day, all of your hard work is behind you and it’s time to just focus and enjoy the ride.




My race day started at 4:40am, when my alarm went off.  Despite the early hour, I didn’t even hit snooze.  All of my stuff was set up the night before (which led to many comments from my family about my crazy need for organization), so I got dressed, picked up my bag, grabbed my breakfast, and got into the car with my parents who drove me from Lakeview (we stayed with some friends) down to Grant Park.  I found my way to the Charity Village entrance.  Since I was there early (5:15am), I sat down on the sidewalk to enjoy my overnight oats with a few other runners, also eating oatmeal from tuperware.




When charity village opened at 5:30am, I was one of the first to arrive at the St. Jude tent.  I was met with a round of cheers (even at this early hour) and gladly entered the heated tent packed with snacks and supplies for any runners’ needs.






I used the bathroom, twice, chatted with some of the other heroes, and at 6:15am, the group of us running in wave 1 walked to the starting line corrals.



Pre race selfie!


There were some extra security measures, but the morning went smoothly.  On the way to the corrals, I chatted with other new heroes and loved all of the sweet people that I met and the stories that they shared.  On the way in, I linked up with two other heroes running in corral D with me.  We were able to fit in two more bathroom breaks and get to know each other while we waited for the 7:20am start.  There was a moment of silence for the runners of Boston which was emotional and then the national anthem.  There were some problems with the microphones which meant that the lyrics were fading in and out.  What gave me chills was when all of the runners began singing along and filling in the gaps, softly but confidently, it was a really cool feeling!


When the gun sounded, the elite runners hit the pavement and my new friends and I all shared Good Luck wishes for sub 4 marathons (all of our goals).  When I crossed the start line, I put on my game face and got down to business.  The game plan…run the first 10 miles at 8:30 min/miles, run the next 10 miles as close to 9 minute miles as possible, and hope for the best for the last 6 miles.  Unfortunately, we went under a HUGE tunnel before mile 2 and I lost my Garmin reception.  When I emerged, I lost time and distance and my watch started switching between 5 and 11 minute miles.  I knew I wasn’t running 5 minute miles and hoped that I wasn’t running 11 minute miles.  I tried to get my watch on track but in the end decided to find a comfortable pace and reset my watch at mile 3.


My family and I had a good plan to see each other, so I hugged the right side of Clark St heading south and was ecstatic to see my Mom and Dad on the side of the road cheering me on and handing me Nuun water.  I was running speedy and maintained my desired pace until mile 10ish.  At that point, I stated having trouble eating my Honey Stinger blocks and my stomach felt like it might cramp up.  It was a total bummer since I’d had no tummy troubles in all of my training.  I hit the half way point with no idea of what my split was and continued to drink water, possibly too much.


I saw my parents, along with the BOY around mile 17 and they told me I was running 8:45 minute/miles based on the text messages they were getting.  Wow!  That was way too fast and my stomach was on the verge of loosing it.  Around this time, I found myself with the 3:45 pace group and my legs were starting to feel heavy.  I begged my parents for more Nuun and time updates while the BOY snapped unflattering pictures of me.



Help! My watch isn’t working!




I need some water!



I swear, usually I am smiling and thanking the spectators…especially my family!  Somewhere, my dad has video of me doing this, but I don’t have it to post and share.  I continued to push for 9 minute miles until mile 20.  And then reevaluated my strategy.  I knew that I didn’t train to run a 3:45 marathon and that I needed to slow down.  I started off too fast and wasn’t taking in enough fuel.  My legs hurt like crazy!


Although I had no idea what time I started, I knew that if I could finish the race at 4 hours on the clock time, then I would have run a sub 4 marathon.  So I kept that in mind as I slogged through the last 4 miles, walking through water stations and then trudging through the miles one foot in front of the other.  I never wanted to quit, but used the children of St. Jude to motivate me through those tough miles.


I had enough left to push up the last ‘hill’ passing a bunch of people along the way and kick it into gear finishing right around 4 hours on the clock. I knew that I had PRed, but had NO idea what my finishing time was.  The coolest thing about the marathon is that even though I wanted to collapse (and there were plenty of people to catch me if I did), I pushed forward to claim my medal and get wrapped up in plastic.  When I thought that I didn’t want to hold my wrap, there was someone there with tape to close it, and I knew I needed some water and a snack, and there was someone to hand it to me.  And when I thought I couldn’t hold another thing, they handed me a plastic bag.  And when I had an empty hand, they filled it with a beer : )  Two people from out of the country separately mentioned to me how much they love the Chicago marathon.


The only difficulty that I had was finding my way back home to Charity village.  I met up with one of my pre race hero friend and as we tried to navigate our way north to get south, I spotted my Mom and the BOY!  The BOY said that he remembered two years ago that walking back to the village on my own was the hardest part of the race and so he said I shouldn’t have do that again.  It was such a great surprise to see them and their excitement as they shouted out to my final time…3:54:17!  Since signing up for this race, I had in my head that I wanted to shoot for 3:55, so I was beyond excited!  I hobbled back to the village, accompanied by my fans.




I was met with a huge energetic welcome from the St. Jude volunteers!  I probably should have done some stretching, but was trying my best to keep it all pulled together.  I drank some water and took bites of food but didn’t finish anything.  I tried to motivate myself to get moving again when sitting made me just so happy!



Sub three my friends!



Woo hoo!  I posed for a few photos and then bundled up before trekking to the train station to head back up to the north side of the city.


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My walking wasn’t pretty and the stairs up and down were brutal!  I have to say that 2 days later, my quads are still burning!  We had a feast of pizza complete with Fall Mosas (apple cider +  champagne = pure genius!).




My running buddy from last weekend (and close friend of my bro’s) came by to celebrate with us.  She finished her first marathon which was super impressive!  Everyone laughed at the tales of our journey from start to finish.




By 5 in the afternoon, I was ready to pass out, so luckily my parents were driving us back to the suburbs.  They joined the BOY and I at Yogurtland for some delish fall flavors and high calorie toppings.  It was the perfect dessert!  And a good way to wrap up a LONG and eventful day!




The BOY and I crashed into bed at 9pm and slept easily through the night!


I’ve had a fear since signing up for this race in February that I would have a Sophomore Slump.  I’m not sure why, but my training started off tough and slow.  After my second 20 miler, I was feeling confident and prepared.  Thankfully, all of the cards aligned for a beautiful race day and a successful PR!  Post race reflections still to come…still more sleep is needed!




10k 51:47

Half Marathon 1:51:47

30k 2:42:29

Final 3:54:17

Average Pace 8:57

Overall Place 9868 (out of ~37,000)




Is anyone else running fall marathons?

How’d they go?

Pain is Temporary-Internet results are Forever!

This title was stolen from one of my favorite signs during today’s marathon!  It was one of the best along with some of the funnier ones comparing the government to a marathon and a huge knock on Jay Cutler.




Despite being in pain from head to toe, I wanted to pop in quickly and say a HUGE thank you to all of my blog readers, friends, and family who cheered me on through 26.2 miles (and then celebrated with me afterwards!).  It was your support and encouragement that pushed me through a challenging last 4 miles to an unofficial time of 3:54:17.  A 6 minute PR!


Expect a full marathon recap later in the week when I’ve caught up on sleep!

T Minus 36 Hours

I’ve only been to a few race expos in my day, but the Chicago Marathon is by far one of the best.  Two years ago, my Mom and I had a BLAST at the expo.  She left with some snazzy new shoes!  It did not take any help to convince her to come with me to volunteer at the St. Jude booth at the expo this morning.




The expo started at 9 and because of some added security, we needed to be there early enough to get checked in.  The BOY and I commuted downtown together on the train.  Definitely a change for him to have someone so chatty early Friday morning!  I met up with my mom outside the train station and bid the BOY goodbye as he walked over to work.




We had a little trouble with our shuttle situation, but found the St. Jude booth easily, just after 9am.  We got all set up and started passing out signs, stickers, and meeting all of the runners and their families.


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After a few hours on our feet talking with everyone we saw, I was exhausted!  I definitely got busted by some of the runners taking a break to sit down with my feet up and eat an almond butter sandwich.




Then it was our turn to go exploring!






We packed up plenty of SWAG in our new SWAG bags.  And of course my Mom found some awesome shoes to try, while I picked up an overpriced (but totally awesome) bright yellow Chicago Marathon 2013 long sleeved Nike top.




After the expo, and probably more time on my feet than prescribed, I taxied back towards the train station where my Mom and I grabbed some food, a cold drink, and then I walked over to meet the BOY on the train, where I crashed into him for the ride home.




The expo today got me psyched for the race…I’m still in shock that it is finally here…especially speaking with all of the other runners.  It also got the butterflies fluttering about in my stomach.  With T minus 36 hours to go…here are my last minute thoughts about race day:

My feet are a bit sore.  Probably not the best idea to spend all day on my feet but it was totally worth it to support St. Jude and all of the other runners before the race.

I keep finding other sore areas which make me really nervous for aches and pains on race day.

I feel like I trained well, but I don’t know how I will feel on race day.  I’ve run 26 miles before, so I know that I can do this.  But I remember saying that it was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done.  Will my mind be strong enough on Sunday to push through?  Or will aches and pains get the best of me?  I fear as sophomore slump.

I keep thinking about my strategy for Sunday and I’m hoping that this mental prep will help me PR.

Thanks to Hal Higdon’s book for the tips on mental prep that I read on the train down to the city today.

It is okay if I don’t PR.  I am still a good and strong person, but man, I really want to break 4 hours and PR.

I’m so excited and honored to be running the Chicago Marathon this weekend!  I am lucky to have so much support from my family, friends, and patients.  I can’t wait to celebrate with them after the race no matter what happens Sunday morning!


Keeping my fingers crossed for the 60 degree partly cloudy weather that the weather.com told me would be here on Sunday!  Until then…it is just a waiting game.  Waiting and hoping that I have trained well enough to be prepped mentally and physically for 26.2.



Do you like race expo’s?

What do you do the day before a big race?

Mostly Wordless Wednesday {The Cat Nap}

Since it is one of my big goals this month to get lots of sleep, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you guys my inspiration and sleeping role model.  The kitten who can fall asleep mid cuddle half on my hand and half on my computer…






The kitten who has to cover his eyes to block out the Bear’s game…






I find him so darn cute that I can’t stop taking pictures of my sleepy little kitten!






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Can you blame me?!

















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Sleep Sweet My Friends!

It’s the Final Count Down

I did my last real run this morning.  4 miles…and it went really well!




The leaves have begun to fall, and it was a beautiful morning!




This morning’s weather got me thinking about this weekend’s weather.  I have heard everything from perfect fall Chicago weather to 70 degrees with thunderstorms on race day.  My plan is to wait until Saturday night and then figure it out from there, but of course I am crossing my fingers for nice, cool weather.




Like this past weekend…which was perfect!




Who knew that crockpot weather and good running weather were one and the same?!




In an attempt to keep things simple this week, I made Monday’s dinner (and today’s lunch) on Sunday in the crockpot.




This curry is a lot of fun because you blend together all of your flavors and seasoning to make a sauce that tops your chicken and carrots.  See note below regarding the red pepper options. I chose to keep it sliced, but you could also blend it into the sauce.




Just a warming, I thought this curry was pretty spicy (I used red pepper flakes), so adjust the spiciness to your taste.




The BOY and I both LOVED this dinner and it reheats well.  My crockpot has made some really amazing dinners recently, making meals (and life) super simple, which is exactly what I needed this week.  I’ve got one last mini run before the big race and the rest of the week will be all about resting, drinking water, and trying not to injure myself!



Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken

From Sweet Treats and More



2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

5 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 (5 oz ) can tomato paste

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk

1  tsp salt

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tbsp water

1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

**NOTE: I didn’t have as much chicken as I thought (not quite 2 lbs), so I added in 1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.



Grease your slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the chicken, carrots, and red pepper on the bottom of slow cooker. Add chickpeas if using.

Place the rest of the ingredients (except water and corn starch) in a food processor and process together until mixture is mostly smooth.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies, mix well, then cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

An hour or so before serving, mix cornstarch and water together in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved. Pour mixture into the slow cooker, stir to combine, and continue cooking for another hour.


Author’s Notes:

-The cornstarch will thicken up the sauce. When the sauce is to your desired thickness, turn slow cooker to warm setting until ready to serve.

-If you want, you can chop the bell pepper into larger pieces and place it with the chicken or you can process it in with the sauce.

Cookie Month Cookie #1 {Pumpkin Spice}

Although I have always liked desserts (you’ll notice the word is HUGE in the list to the right of this post), my favorite dessert tends to change.  Ice cream is ALWAYS top of the list, but beyond that, I go through phases.  Recently, I have been in a cookie phase.  And this weekend, I was craving a thick, soft, homemade cookie.




Peanut Butter Month was so much fun, I knew I wanted to do a new cookie every week this month to celebrate.  With new cookie recipes galore (Thanks Pinterest), it was time to bust out the mixer.




I found this recipe on Averie’s blog and was reminded of it during my recent Pinterest searches.  I love a girl who doesn’t skimp on the spices!  Two tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice.  Sign me up!




One important note, these cookies require at least 3 hours in the fridge, so plan accordingly.  I chose the third quarter of the Bear’s game to get started on my cookies and when I heard things weren’t going very well from the other room, decided to stay in the kitchen and bake up another cookie recipe…coming soon!


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I had a little trouble getting my cookies into the right shape.  My cookie scooper is small so I attempted to use this 2 tbsp measuring scoop sprayed with cookie spray.  It worked out alright…




But looks aside, these cookies turned out soft and fluffy as promised!




I took half of my cookies into work today, where they were met with a huge welcome and eager eyes.  The other half, I froze for company this weekend.




Thus far, the start of my taper week is going well. I slept 9.5 hours last night and ran 3 miles this morning.




And now I am enjoying a delicious cookie with a glass of my new favorite fall tea.  With less than a week until race day, I am starting to get nervous!  Very nervous!!!




One last funny I had to share…while I baked cookies yesterday, Cooper tried to block out the embarrassing Bear’s loss.




It’s gonna be a long season : )



Here is Averie’s Recipe for

Soft and Puffy Pumpkin Spice Honey Cookies


Are you celebrating Cookie Month?

Pinterest Planning

So I am getting the hang of Pinterest (you may have seen me poking around on your sites) and although I still have some questions (which if I bump into you I will ask you…just ask Tracey who went running with me yesterday!), I was able to pull together this week’s meal plan based on some of my new recipe finds.  Despite being highly distracted by all of the mouth watering desserts, I managed to pin some healthy and tasty looking dinner options as well.  All of my hard work last weekend paid off with easy week night meals, so I was motivated to do it again during the Bear’s game today.


Meal Plan 10/06/13

Sunday: Coconut Crusted Tilapia with homemade mashed potatoes


Monday: Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken


Tuesday: Leftovers


Wednesday: The BOY’s Grill Night


Thursday: Greek Turkey Meatballs 


And Because it is National Cookie Month

And I am yet to bake anything pumpkin flavored…

I am also making…

Soft and Puffy Pumpkin Spice Honey Cookies

from Averie Cooks


This afternoon, I lit a pumpkin spice candle, opened up all of our doors and windows, and split my time between the kitchen making food for the week and the couch watching the Bears game.




Our dinner was really simple and turned out fantastic!




I made mashed potatoes for the BOY and a mashed sweet potato and parsnip mix for myself.  Since I did all of the cooking, the BOY is in charge of clean up and I can sit down with my feet up and relax a bit…with a cookie of course!

Hope you had a nice weekend!

What are you planning to eat for the week ahead?



Coconut Crusted Tilapia

Adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff


3 Pieces of Tilapia (about 1 pound)

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup Sea Salt and Pepper Triscuits, crushed

2 egg whites, whisked lightly

olive oil spray



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place foil baking sheet and spray with non stick spray.

Combine coconut flakes and crushed crackers in a bowl. Put egg whites in another bowl.  Whisk gently.

Dip the Tilapia in the egg, then in the coconut crumb mixture. Then place them on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until Tilapia is done.

Whole Wheat Banana French Toast

The BOY woke up this morning and said ‘Why can’t every morning be Sunday morning?’




I couldn’t agree more!

I love waking up to no alarm, taking my time getting out of bed cuddling with the BOY and Cooper.




Then sitting on the couch while drinking my black tea (instead of in my car).

Whipping up a batch of Cinnamon Streusel Muffins for the BOY (from the Krusteaz box he found in our pantry).




Tell me you’re digging the Hanukkah muffin liners?!




And then breakfast for myself.  I made Whole Wheat Banana French Toast on Friday and it was awesome. I knew I wanted to have it again with my last two slices of bread.




And because it is soo easy to make with ingredients you probably already have in your house, I thought I would share the recipe with you.




Confession…even though I REALLY wanted to go to an easy yoga class this  morning, I really didn’t want to set my alarm last night.  I thought there was a 9:30am class, but it actually started at 9am (right when I was sitting down to breakfast).  Even though I am enjoying my taper, it is hard to change your morning mindset from go-go-go to slow down.




My Sunday morning meal planning club has been active via email as we are all making plans from 4 separate cities for the week ahead.  I’ve got some great looking meals planned and just need to swing by the grocery store for the ingredients before the Bears game.


What’s your favorite thing about Sunday?



Whole Wheat Banana French Toast

Serves 1



2 slices whole wheat bread, sliced in half

1 banana, mashed well

1 egg + 1 egg white

1 tsp vanilla

A generous and unmeasured pinch of cinnamon

Cooking spray



Mash banana in a bowl.  Scramble in egg, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Stir well until everything is combined.

Heat skillet pan on medium and spray with with cooking spray (I use coconut spray).

Dunk bread in egg mixture until well covered and place in skillet.  Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until bread just starts to brown.

Serve warm and top with bananas, nut butters, or sweeteners of your choice.