We’re only strangers once

By , October 30, 2014 6:44 am

Would you feel more comfortable teaching something to a group of people you know or don’t know?

I saw this post pop up on my Facebook feed and was excited – they’re talking about a new class I’ll be teaching!


Then I was like, “holy crap that class starts this Monday,” and “ahhhhh, I’ll be teaching a bunch of strangers!!!

But hey – they’re only strangers the first time I meet them, right?

The unique thing about the studio where I teach strength class is that people sign up for classes for the month, and may take the same “night” of class for a long time. It ends up being a close-knit family cause you see your group every week for months on end! Drop-ins happen, but not often.

Sooooo… I end up knowing most of the people I teach really well, which gives me lots of advantages – I know their strengths and weaknesses (and can plan workouts focusing on them), I know their injuries (and can modify for them), I know their weight range (so I can tell them safely which weights to use), and I know their likes and dislikes and personalities. AND… they know me and what to expect. And I know I can get away with cheesy jokes and bad dance moves and a bit (oops) of swearing.

I don’t have that with a class full of brand new people, but! I’ll figure it out quickly enough and make class fun for them. Ha, and if not fun, at least challenging/worth their time!


By , October 29, 2014 5:36 am

Have you ever liked the sound of an artist or band so much that you pre-ordered their album without hearing it all?

In the beginning of September I was perusing the top downloaded alternative songs list on iTunes and ran in to the band Milky Chance. One of their songs (“Down By the River”) sounded so familiar, like I’d hear it in a commercial or a movie, but I couldn’t pinpoint where.  I listened to the few other songs they had available off of their album Sadnecessary, and found myself downloading all of them! So I went ahead and pre-ordered the entire album – the first time I’d ever done that!


In fact, it’s hard to recall any entire album I’ve downloaded over the past few years. I think the only other, since I went digital, was Lady Gaga’s most recent.

So I have been pleasantly looking forward to the Milky Chance songs as they become released. I was really excited to hear one being played on an alternative radio station in the beginning of October and, gasp!!! – last Thursday, one of the Chicago pop stations (which tend to play the same 10 songs over and over) actually played one of their songs! I was shocked!

When we heard the song play I told Steven that I like their music so much I’d love to see them perform if I ever had the chance (hint hint, ha ha). I haven’t been to a (non-symphony) concert since I saw Van Halen with my parents! (Hmm, was that fall ’05, Dad?)

I follow the band on Facebook and saw they are touring the states next year! So I bought two tickets for me and Steven. It’s a long way off but I’m really looking forward to it and hoping we can make it in to a fun little date night or getaway for us!

Galena Halloween Parade

By , October 28, 2014 6:38 am

I never really cared about Halloween until we happened to be in my hometown for it one year (2010) and ended up going out with my family and having a blast! For the three following years it became a tradition that I really look forward to. 

Is Halloween a big deal for you?

I was pumped about it this year. I actually had a few costume ideas in advance, for once! And! We were going to get to go out with my older brother and his girlfriend, who I still haven’t had a chance to share a drink with… but… wompitty womp. I have a super lame-town work schedule this week, and with Halloween being on a Friday, there was no way for me to get to my hometown (a five-hour drive) in a decent amount of time to enjoy the holiday. So we can’t go. 

Sigh. I was pretty bummed. 

So when I saw something about a Halloween Parade in Galena, Illinois, pop up in my Facebook feed, I though that might be a fun way to celebrate, and since it’s not too far from my hometown, I thought maybe my mom and dad would come, too. 

Not only did they come, but my older brother and his kids and his girlfriend came, too!


And the parade was. a. BLAST!

This was my first time going, so I am not sure if it’s this way every year, but they went ALL out with the floats. You can’t tell very well from this picture, but this was a Frozen float, complete with “snow,” and the characters and music from the movie. 


Then there was this skull “car” that spit out fire in the back!


And other, just generally, creepy stuff!




Every now and then, a float carrying a hot air balloon torch (from the same place we took our hot air balloon ride) would come by and light up the street! It was pretty exciting, cause you never knew when they were going to light it. 


There were also several marching bands (two playing “Thriller,” ha ha), and lots of other floats I didn’t capture on film. The whole parade was about an hour long and the kids got a ton of candy handed to them! It was really festive and I loved it (minus the challenging parking situation, ha ha – just a TON of people in a small town – typical stuff)!



Unfortunately, though, it just made me feel more sad that I won’t be seeing my family on Halloween. So much for that curing my blues! Good thing Halloween is on a Saturday, next year!

Camping at Apple River Canyon State Park

By , October 27, 2014 4:39 am

For awhile, Steven and I have been discussing taking a camping trip to do some star photography, but we weren’t able to make it work with our schedule this summer. When I mentioned going to the Galena Halloween Parade this past weekend (more on that later this week!), Steven suggested making that our camping trip! The weather was going to be fantastic for October – sunny with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s – so we were in!


We drove to Apple River Canyon State Park (in Millville, Illinois) on Saturday afternoon. Steven called ahead to make sure we didn’t need to reserve a campsite, and sure enough – plenty were open (although quite a few filled by the night!). It was fun driving around and picking out the perfect site for us. The campgrounds were on top of the canyon, so some butted up to really pretty trails and looked over the canyon!



Ultimately, though, we chose one that was next to a giant field, which we thought would be better for taking the star photos that night (fewer trees in the way). 


We used a brand new tent that I picked up on super clearance at ALDI. Another dream camping trip, apart from the star photography one, would be to hike to our campsite, so we wanted a lighter tent than the behemoth we have. The new tent was super easy to set up and worked fantastically! Now all we need to work on is packing lighter, ha ha (<— will probably be easier without a zillion blankets to stay warm!). 

After setting up we went to the parade and got back to our campsite just past 11:00 pm. We were still determined to set up a fire (to warm up and eat s’mores!!!) and take the photos. 



Steven put his camera on the tripod and used his CamRanger (wireless camera control) to take the shots. We thought we’d take most of them in the open field behind our campsite, but actually really liked the way the photos looked with the trees in them! He played around with exposure time and some other settings, and we also did some light painting with our flashlights for fun. 




By the time we moved the camera to field to take the more open pictures we were used to the warmth of the fire and it felt quite a bit colder away from it! We didn’t spend as much time out there, ha ha. 


We went to bed a bit after 1:00 am, and it was 47°, with a lower real feel. The temperature definitely dropped over night. We were bundled up in several layers of clothes and blankets and didn’t feel too cold, but struggled to sleep on the hard ground! That is the nice thing about our other tent – it has a blow-up mattress built in to it! I remember both of us being awake in the very early morning and me telling Steven I was going to need to take a nap later in the day, hee hee. 


We starting cleaning up the campsite around 9:00 am the next morning. The new tent was super easy to disassemble and put away. Yay! And I am happy to report that we used everything we brought. 

After paying the $8 site fee*, we explored the park a bit more before we took off. The rock formations and river looked beautiful in the morning sunlight! We really liked camping there and if we go back, we’d like to take more time to actually hang out on the site. It’s not a huge one, but there are four small trails that I’d like to check out, and it would be fun to spend more time around the camp fire. 




This is actually the first time that the two of us have camped together without other people and it was really nice. I’ve been in need of a quiet night away and this was perfect!

*We were interested to find out that payment was on the honor system. The park ranger seemed grateful that we paid. And laughed at camping in the “cold” weather. 

Training Week 262

By , October 26, 2014 7:18 pm

Highlight of the Week: Naturally speeding up for the last 8 miles of my long run this week. That came out of nowhere! And it would be awesome if that happened at a long distance race!


Monday | October 20, 2014: 2.5 m walk (w/Steven, Christina + Will) + teaching strength class
Strength: Cone and one dumbbell, Difficulty: easy/medium, Felt: good
Tuesday | October 21, 2014: 8 m run + 6.15 m run
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 44°/44°, Time: 1:24:53, Pace: 10:36 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Loc: Grant Woods FP, Temp: 48°/49°, Time: 1:00:59, Pace: 9:55 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: amazing… somehow!
Wednesday | October 22, 2014: 7.3 m run
Loc: hood, Temp: 37°/39°, Time: 1:14:20, Pace: 10:11 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Thursday | October 23, 2014: 3 m run (w/Julie)
Loc: Mill Creek Park, Temp: 37°/37°, Time: 31:37, Pace: 10:31 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Friday | October 24, 2014: teaching strength class + 14.2 m run
Strength: Cone and one dumbbell, Difficulty: easy, Felt: okay, struggling with a headache from Thursday
Loc: Round Lake to Grayslake, Temp: 51°/59°, Time: 2:25:36, Pace: 10:15, Difficulty: easy, Felt: fantastico
Saturday | October 25, 2014: 5 m run
Loc: Ray Lake FP, Temp: 53°/53°, Time: 52:09, Pace: 10:25 avg, Difficulty: easy Felt: so so, too hot
Sunday | October 26, 2014: 6.5 m run
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 60°/54°, Time: 1:07:01, Pace: 10:19 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: really good


  • For the past couple of weeks it’s taken me around 3 miles to warm up for my runs. Those first few miles feel a little bit slower, then something clicks after that and I feel fantastic. This is great for longer runs – I’ve ended up unintentionally running some negative splits! But not so great for those shorter runs where I find myself waiting for that feeling to kick in, ha ha. 
  • Geesh! Lots of solo runs this week! Next week will be the same, until the weekend, unfortunately! But! I have company lined up for that run – my first of three 20+ milers in November! And I have company for my second one, too! And I am thinking about doing the final one on Thanksgiving morning – you can probably guess why!
  • You guys! Gina ran a new half PR yesterday – 1:56:17!!! Isn’t that awesome?! Keep in mind that she just started running halves this year! I am so proud of her. I can’t wait to run the Dallas Marathon together! 

Link to Training Week 261

Preferred route type

By , October 24, 2014 2:02 pm

Today I got to run my favorite type of route – a point-to-point! I was able to do it because after Steven finished working he waited for me in the next town over from ours to give me a ride home. Thanks, Babe!


What is your favorite type of route for every day exercise and races (point-to-point, loop, out and back, continuous loops, figure 8, something else)? Is it the same or different? 

I discovered during the Chicago and Madison marathons (which are both kind of wonky loop courses) that I really don’t like doing races where I can see a major landmark marking the finish during parts of the race. It’s kind of a mind, um… let’s say trip, for me. In Madison, I could see the capitol for most of the end and it killed me that I had to go out of my way to get there. In Chicago, it made me bonkers that we ran very close to the finish at the half way point. 

I like to think I am a stronger runner now than when I ran those races in 2010 and 2011, and that doing something similar wouldn’t bother me… but, eh. It probably would.

So I’ve come to prefer point-to-point. My second preference is a loop, which I especially enjoy if the course doesn’t double back on itself. I like to feel like I am running someplace I haven’t already run that day. Ha ha. 

And then there is the out and back. My favorite half marathon, the Wisconsin Half Marathon (see sidebar for coupon code, ha ha), actually has two out-and-back portions in it. I actually really enjoy it at that race, because I usually know a ton of people doing the race and it’s a fun distraction to look for them! I’ve never done the full though, which does the same thing as Chicago – go very close to the finish, at the half way point. 

Of course, having a race be a certain type that I don’t prefer won’t stop me from doing it! I’ve just come to learn what I prefer! How about you?

The power of a (sincere) apology

By , October 23, 2014 6:23 am

Have you ever been surprised by the power an apology has had in making you feel better about something? Or maybe disappointed that it did nothing at all?

Sigh, I am equal parts amazed at how much a simple, sincere apology can make me feel better about a situation, and equal parts ashamed at how much I harbor frustrated feelings until I get one.

I try not to hold grudges, and give people the benefit of the doubt when they do something to me personally that makes me feel bad, but there is an innate part of me that wants acknowledgement… wants an apology. Immature? Maybe! And believe me – I definitely know the street goes both ways. I hope no one is waiting for an apology from me about something, and that if they are, that they approach me about the topic!

But, anyway… ha, that intro makes it seem like I am having personal drama* right now. I’m not! I was actually just thinking about an issue I’ve had a work for the past two months with someone underperforming and not listening to the requirements I gave them. Week after week I felt frustrated that they wouldn’t provide the deliverable I requested, despite explaining it to them several times and bringing other teammates in to help. Finally, we had a call to go over it again with their boss, and when the boss saw the deliverable did not meet the requirements the next week, well… the boss was not happy. And apologized to me several times.

Every single time I discussed that deliverable I found myself feeling tense and upset about it. And frustrated that I couldn’t get anywhere with it (despite bringing in other people to help). Several times, I ended the work day angry about it and went on a run to try to pound out my frustration.

But when the boss apologized to me? I instantly felt better. 

It just amazes me, how much having someone else say “I am sorry” can really mean. Having someone say “I get that this has been frustrating for you,” or whatever the situation is. 

Sometimes I just need that acknowledgement. (And sometimes I need to give it, too)

Ha! I didn’t even make this connection until I was about to publish this, but I got another apology last week that made me feel better about something. I was eating an Apple Pear Strudel Clif Bar and bit in to something hard with my teeth. I keep chewing, thinking… geesh, I don’t know what – that I was imagining it?! And kept biting in to something hard. Eventually I spit a tiny rock out my mouth. From a Clif Bar. I was a bit disturbed. I could have really hurt my teeth!


I love Clif Bars but felt like I had to say something about it, so I sent them an email, letting them know what happened, and their apology made me feel better about the whole thing. And the half-eaten** Clif Bar and rock are still sitting on my desk, waiting for an envelope to send it to them for analysis.

*But oh, I have. <— talk about emo /vague / annoying post
**I kind of laugh that it is half eaten because when I grabbed it as a snack I told myself to try to only eat half, knowing that would be pretty hard for me… ha ha. The rock made it easy to stop!

Matchy Matchy

By , October 22, 2014 5:42 am

If you’ve been reading my blog for almost any amount of time you may have noticed that I love to be Matchy McMatchersons with my friends at races. See, um, here, here, here or… most of this page

It’s dweeby and I love it!

With whom do you like to “match” / be twinsies?

Sigh, I am always trying to get Steven to be matchy, but he just isn’t game. What’s up wit dat?! Ha ha. 

My snister, however, is game. 

Muah ha ha. When she was packing for her recent trip to see us, she made sure to pack shirts that I also had (or bring me NEW CLOTHES!!!). So we could be twinsies. Every. Single. Day. 


And it was amazing. To us. Only. 

Hey! If you can’t be a complete goob around your family, then who can you be one around, really? (okay, okay, mostly everyone, if you’re me, apparently)

We had a really nice visit with Christina and Will! I unfortunately had events each day that kind of anchored us to the area around our house, but we were all happy to chill, eat at a few restaurants, have homemade pizza, play a game, go bowling, go on a walk, go shopping (2x!!!), get massages, visit the warehouse, go to a party at the studio I teach at… and did I mention, chill?


Ha ha. Data is already missing Christina SO MUCH. She gave him all the proper cat aunt loving, and he really enjoyed it! He hung out with her for most of their visit!


And while I mentioned it was a bit unfortunate I had a few events going on… I guess I meant mostly for them. For me, it meant my sister could do my hair and coordinate my outfits! Hee hee! I wish she could do that for me more often. Hmm, we have a empty spare bedroom…


We can’t wait to see them again! Even if it’s not until Christmastime, sniff sniff! 

Who do you tell before social media?

By , October 21, 2014 9:20 am

Of course, I can’t ask the question in the title without asking you what kind of social media “sharer” you are!

Are you a:

  • NO sharer? Are you part of the rare and elusive breed that shares nada online? You don’t even have a Facebook account? You still, gasp, share most info in person or on the phone?!??! Hee hee. 
  • Do it then share it… sharer? You share things you do, and “important” news on social media, but don’t talk too much about it before, and share it after the event.
  • Talk it up and share it sharer? You talk about doing something quite a bit before doing it, then share it while you’re doing it, and after. 
  • Some sort of hybrid of above?

Ha ha, of course, those are just some goofy categories I came up with! But, I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I watch how people share information online. I am more of the do it then share it type. It’s odd for me to talk about something a lot (online, mind you) before doing it. In fact, it’s odd I mentioned the Milwaukee Marathon as much as I did before running it, and that I have mentioned the Dallas online so much, this far. There are certain things I try hard not to share online before it happens (or make too obvious), like travel, or work stuff.

So, anyway. 

Last week, I was talking with a friend about whether we prefer hearing something from a friend before we see it on social media. We both agreed that we’d prefer to hear “important” (of course, that is subjective) news first, rather than by discovering it on a feed or in a blog post. And of course, that made me think to ask you… have you ever been upset or hurt to find out news online, before hearing it “personally”?


Personally is in quotes, because I don’t actually mean in person, I just mean, hearing it, well, on a person-to-person basis, whether that is in person, on the phone, in a text, in an email… whatever. 

I’ve never been upset (that I recall) to read something first online (I must say though, I have been honored to know “important” information before it is announced). I just take it as one of a few things: a sign of how close I am with the person and what they want to share with me first, a sign of them not thinking the news is worth telling people before they read it online, a sign that the news is too difficult to share with everyone personally (online is easier and faster method), that they may be sensational and prefer to share things this way, that the “news” isn’t something super important that you would share with people first… you get the idea. We’re all different, we’re all going to share differently.

So, back to the original question - who do you tell before social media?

I typically share things with my family and close girlfriends before doing them, and… anyone who happens to be around and listen to me talk. I am an over-sharer at heart. And while I can can keep other people’s secrets, I get pretty excited about my own stuff and will blab away!

Like I said, I’ve been noticing different people’s sharing patterns online, and I find it super interesting. We all have the capability to craft our own online social image, but, we can’t control how people interpret it! Or, how they feel by what you share and don’t share and what they already knew. Gawd, social media is so tricky. You could really use it to mess with people. Or purposefully piss them off. I am sure NO ONE ever does that…

Training Week 261

By , October 19, 2014 5:03 pm

Highlight of the Week: Getting back in to the marathon training grove / actually doing speedwork <— I know, whuuuuut?!


Monday | October 13, 2014: 10 m run (first 5 w/Kelly) + teaching strength class + 3 m run (w/Bobbi)
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 55°/55°, Time: 1:41:27, Pace: 10:08 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good / challenged by the humidity!
Strength: Cone and one dumbell, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good – workout flowed much better than last week
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 62°/63°, Time: 30:47, Pace: 10:15 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Tuesday | October 14, 2014: 4 m run (w/Kelly)
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 60°/60°, Time: 41:17, Pace: 10:19 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: blah (poor sleep / horrible humidity)
Wednesday | October 15, 2014: rest
Thursday | October 16, 2014: 9 m run
Loc: Millenium Trail to Nippersink FP and back, Temp: 57°/56°, Time: 1:32:34, Pace: 10:17 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: great after 3ish miles
Friday | October 17, 2014: teaching strength class + 16.5 m run (first half w/Bobbi)
Strength: Cone and one dumbbell + boxing, Difficulty: medium, Felt: great
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 58°/58°, Time: 2:55:46, Pace: 10:39, Difficulty: medium, Felt: decent / normal delirium at end 
Saturday | October 18, 2014: 3 m run
Loc: hood, Temp: 42°/47°, Time: 29:28, Pace: 9:49 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: great
Sunday | October 19, 2014: 5 m run (incl. 6×400)
Loc: hood, Temp: 32°/36°, Time: 48:53, Pace: 9:47 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: good


  • Afternoon running is just not my forte. It takes me so much longer to warm up than when I just roll out of bed and go. So odd. When does running (or exercising) feel naturally best to you?
  • I am starting to ramp up my mileage for Dallas Marathon training. Toward the end of  Milwaukee training, I was running 5-6 days a week, around 40 miles a week. I am going to continue to run 5-6 days, but try to get the mileage closer to 50 a week, so my long run doesn’t end up being the majority of my weekly miles. I’ve done this type of training in the past and it seems to work the best for me (and make me feel awesome)!
  • I feel this way all the time, but have been thinking about it more this week – it’s such a blessing to have friends to run with. My training partner, Kelly, meets me at 5:00 am (or earlier!). Bobbi came over and ran the first half of my long run with me this week. I enjoy the miles solo or with friends… but they do feel easier and faster with a friend there!

Link to Training Week 260

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