Sunday, January 12, 2014

Frames From The Last Few Weekends

Sorry for disappearing again there. It's been an insanely crazy busy couple of weeks in the office. I'll spare you the details but just to give you one example, I worked a 15-hour day on New Year's Day. Thankfully over the past week there have been higher-than-usual instances of folks bringing chocolate into the office to share.

So other than working, what have I been up to these past few weeks? I will go ahead and tackle that by linking up to Irina via a MASSIVE Frames From The Weekend post.

(Since these pictures really cover the past two weeks or so, I am going to call this my "Frames From The Last Few Weekends" post.)

In no particular order...

Brunch with great friends!!!
L to R: Luiz, Xaarlin, me, and Adam
By the way - notice Luiz's perfectly placed virtual Santa Hat (it was actually a decal on the window behind us). Hilarious!

Road-tripping to Columbus, Ohio to visit more great friends!
Top from L to R: me, Adam, and Bradley
Bottom: Lynette
The focal point of the trip was to catch a Penguins-Blue Jackets Game at Nationwide Arena. As you can see, I was flexing my dual-hockey citizenship between the Blackhawks and Penguins. Adam and Brad are high school friends from Pittsburgh and therefore they are both Penguins fans through and through. However, Lynette is a Columbus native and was proudly sporting her Blue Jackets jersey. It made for some interesting banter. =D

Here is the view from our seats:

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Brad, Adam, and I went ice skating before the game (we called it our pre-game morning skate):

L: Adam and me
R: Adam and Brad (as you can tell, morning skate was getting more hostile at that point ;-) )

Brad and Lynette were great hosts and it was a lot of fun to check out a new hockey arena. (Side note: One of my hockey-fan goals is to attend a game at all of the 30 NHL arenas. So far I've been to Chicago, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, St. Louis, Tampa, and now Columbus. I've also visited the Bell Centre in Montreal, though I haven't been to a game there.)

Speaking of dual hockey citizenship flexing, it should come as no surprise that there was recently some...

Live Blackhawks action!
The view from our seats of the warm-up skate during the Blackhawks vs Avalanche game

The game surprisingly ended up being a blowout. The Hawks took a massive lead early on and never relinquished it. It's always great to see a Hawks victory, of course. But there was such a disparity in play that even Adam was surprised:

(I tweeted this picture to the United Center using a Blackhawks hashtag, hoping that it would get traction like the Tommy Hawk picture did. Unfortunately, no go this time (much to Adam's relief.))

In addition to the usual plethora of my hockey fandom, there was:

New Year's Eve celebration with more great friends!
Top from L to R: me, Adam, Jenn, and Kassia
Bottom from L to R: Vanitha, Laura, and Kerry

We had decided in advance that for extra festiveness, we would all wear something red. It was fun to see how everyone chose to do so (notice that Kassia is wearing a red wig!)

Shifting gears a bit. What's been going on with me from a running perspective? 

I never mentioned that I completed my Runner's World Run Streak challenge, running at least one mile every day between November 16 and January 1:

My training log

While I was very happy to have completed the challenge and found it easier than originally anticipated, I may or may not attempt something like this again. My daily mile ended up becoming burdensome and even boring at times, especially towards the end. Plus, my cross-training routine took a bit of a hit while I was focusing on the streak. That was not good. Thankfully, I finished with no injury problems. And I was very happy to take a few days off from running starting on January 2. =)

Getting back on track with racing, earlier this week in a span of 30 minutes, I signed up for some new-to-me races:

At Illinois Marathon weekend, I'm doing what's called the Illinois "Half I-Challenge" - which is a 5K on Friday night, and then a half marathon on Saturday morning.
This is a highly-rated 5K which is organized by Erin's running club.

If all goes well, the Illinois Half Marathon and The Race That's Good For Life 5K are both going to be PR-attempts for me (the Illinois 5K will probably be treated as a shakeout run). More about that another time.

I had mentioned here that I had finally received the opportunity to try the Salted Caramel GU. The verdict? LOVE! Some Amazon gift-card proceeds were immediately invested in some inventory. Forget running, the flavor is so good that I might even consider eating them daily as a mid-afternoon snack. 

And finally. I recently went for a run in the ugly gray slush where my feet go so soaking wet that they squished with each step. I hated that disgustingly uncomfortable feeling. For that very reason, I self-justified the addition of a new type of running shoe to my arsenal. 

What new type, you ask? A pair of Gore-Tex (aka water-proof) running shoes! Say hello to the Brooks Ghost GTX!

These bad boys are being shipped to me as we speak. I am super excited to give them a whirl. I am very hopeful that these shoes will be the end of having to run with soaking wet feet!

Allright - back to the grind, but I'll try to stay more consistent with my posts. Even though I haven't been doing much commenting on your blogs, I am still reading them all. I am loving hearing about all of your new goals, training focuses, races (especially from the Disney Marathon!), and comings-and-goings!


  1. Congrats on completing the RW challenge! Working 15 hours on New Year's Day? Ouch. Hope your schedule gets lighter soon! :)

    1. Thanks, Pete! Running just one mile per day was actually not too difficult since it only takes about 10 minutes. But yeah, it just got monotonous after awhile and the "obligation" of doing it took some of the fun out of running for me. Even so, it was a fun experience!

      Thank you for the sympathy and the well wishes on my work schedule. I hope things lighten up soon, too! When work is so crazy, it's both a blessing and a curse that it's winter right now. =)

  2. Ha ha ha. Of course you found a way to justify a new shoe. LOL!

    I am excited you are doing the I-Challenge! I did it a few years ago and thought it was neat :)

    Congrats on the streak! I think your review is interesting... kind of what mine was like last year. Burdensome is the perfect way to describe it. Ha ha.

    Great to see a post and what you've been up to! I hope work is less crazy busy and there are more fun times with friends :)

    1. LOL, yeah, when it comes to justifying a running shoe purchase, I am always your #1 point of contact! There's always a reason to be found!!!

      Yay for the I-Challenge! I read Erin's recap on her blog about her experience doing it with you. I need to go read your recap too! It's a bummer for me that the IL and WI half marathons are on consecutive weekends. I LOVED running WI and would so love to do it again if the timing wasn't so close to IL.

      Thank you for the blogger love and well wishes! Likewise - I am glad to see that you are posting more now, too, as you are recovering from being under the weather!!! =)

    2. Are you good at coming up with excuses for other purchases, too? I must keep this in mind, if so.

      Yeah! It's a bummer they are back to back! I ran them back to back that year and struggled at WI. I think I would be better at it now, though. LOL. Ooo, and you must tell me more about the HM PR effort.

      Aww, thank you for saying that! I missed blogging. I need to run more too, that is when I think of more topics to talk about. Ha ha.

    3. I am good at coming up for excuses for everything ;-) Feel free to consult me if you need an excuse. Then, I'll come up with an excuse for coming up with an excuse. =D

      If you did IL and WI both this year, you would totally rock them both! Any chance you'd be up for running IL this year, too? It would be so fun to catch up!!! And yes - my all-time half marathon PR is 2:16:37, which I set like 10 years ago when I ran the Chicago Half without training (ahh, my younger days!). My winter training, particularly my speedwork, has been going well (knock on wood). So I feel pretty confident that I can finally break that mark this year. Fingers crossed! =)

      It is really hard to come up with blogging topics when we're not able to work out as much, no? Cheers to both of us getting back into the blogging swing of things!!!

    4. Yay! I am excited your training is going well and you are feeling excited about the half! I am thinking I will be traveling the weekend of the race, but I will let you know if that changes :)

  3. Looking forward to doing the I-Challenge!!!

    Also, I admit, I ended up kind of liking the run streak! I didn't mind the 1 miler days because I just tacked it on to another workout and it made me do strength when I probably would have just sat on the couch.

    1. Oh my goodness, I am super excited for the I-Challenge! It is going to be so much fun to run a race along the old stomping grounds at UIUC! I'm already trying to figure out what orange-and-blue themed outfit I can wear to REPRESENT. You, too?!?!?!? I-L-L!!!

      Ahhh, see, you took the proactive approach to the Run Streak challenge by using it to leverage additional working out above and beyond that mile. Me? A lot of days, I would run the single mile exactly, and then sit on the couch! LOL

  4. Congrats on completing your streak! You battled the elements and the motivation monster and you ran every single day for forever. (Well, it looked like forever to me, which is why I didn't do the streak.) Awesome!

    I have also tasted the nectar of the gods known as salted caramel gu and agree, it's deelish. It tastes just like a caramel candy cube. Now if only my tummy was being more cooperative and would let me eat gu lately.

    1. Thank you, Amy!!! The running streak certainly felt like forever, LOL. It was a little crazy to see it laid out on my training graph like that, too. Hard to believe it when depicted that way! But yeah, I don't know if I'll do the streak again in the future (probably not).

      Yay for the salted caramel GU! Bummer that your tummy is giving you issues these days. =( On that note, it does scare me a little bit to think about all the chemicals that are included within GU packets. One of these days I am hoping to experiment with more "natural" sources of endurance fuel!

  5. Hello again stranger! Glad to see everything is going great for you, and seriously congratulations on successfully completing the running streak! I'm envious of your running :( (I'm out of commission the rest of this month). I've actually never tried any Gu flavors because the chemically makeup doesn't do my stomach any good, but the salted caramel flavor sounds soooo good! I may just need to sample it. And if I was still in Chicago I would 100% join into the I-Challenege, it sounds so fun! I haven't been back to Champaign in years so it would be a great trip down memory lane.


    1. Irina! Thank you very much. Such a bummer to hear that you are out of commission this month due to your injury, but I wish you a speedy recovery. And yay for your new gym with lots of cross training possibilities! I am looking forward to hearing how you enjoy your recovery and healing time!

      Oh gosh - I wish you were still in Chicago too and able to join in the I-Challenge! It would be so much fun to go down to the old stomping grounds together! The campus has changed SO MUCH since I was a student there (i.e. it has gotten so much NICER!!!)

  6. Glad you finally had a chance to try the salted caramel Gu. I don't think I will do the streak again. I didn't like the idea of running just one mile (more hassle to make it to the gym) but I guess I could have added some other form of exercise. Oh well.