Freedom

Independence

Liberty

Privilege

I’ll be honest…I’m not looking very patriotic or fourth of july-esque today.  I sit here wearing a purple shirt with khaki shorts – only a couple flags in the world actually contain the color purple…so at least I’m pretty neutral.  I don’t even have a flag like a couple of my neighbors.  Little mister and the hubby are wearing an absence of red, white and blue as well – ooops.

However, despite our lack of appropriate celebratory attire, I am thankful for this day.  And not just for the day off work or the firework celebrations.  It is an incredible privilege I have to live where I do.  I did not choose to be born in the USA, but I was.  I didn’t choose to be raised in place where I have never needed to fear for my life over what I wear, say, think, believe, profession I choose or who I want to marry…but I was.

As a woman I can vote, drive, work (in whichever field I choose), advance professionally, go about as I please, play sports, and receive an education – as far as I want to take it, among other things.

As a follower of Jesus, a Christian, I can worship when I want, where I want, with whoever I want, how I want…AND I can tell other people about Jesus freely.  I can also work in Christian ministry and not worry about being thrown in jail, persecuted (harassed and taunted maybe but really persecuted, no), or executed.

I don’t take these privileges lightly.  I am deeply grateful for those who have sacrificed to assure me these privileges over the past few hundred years to the present.  Wives who have parented children alone while their husbands served (and still do) overseas, some never coming back…men voluntarily choosing to put their lives at risk to defend mine…men who would have preferred to live a normal life, instead drafted and then served with honor and bravery.

I know our nation’s history is not without its stains, scars, imperfections and bad decisions.  And often I am concerned about the state of the nation and it’s direction on a number of levels.  I’m aware of current injustices, wrongdoings, failures and divisions.  But today I step back from the negatives that are too easy to focus on at times and I am thankful.

Thankful for the privilege of living here, of being raised here, of the freedoms that I am afforded by virtue of location and citizenship.  Thankful for great friends, neighbors and communities.  Thankful for a sleeping babe that had not stirred since the celebrations began. Thankful for the sunshine and summer nights.  Thankful…

Happy fourth of July!

Race Roundup: Hot Chocolate 15K

 

Race bib, CTA fun pass & chocolate. Photo courtesy of Shila 🙂

I’m thankful for crazy friends who do ridiculous things with me – like drive to Chicago only to stay there for twenty-four hours so we can run a race…and not just any race, but a 15K.  Oh, they have a 5K option, but we figure that if we are going to drive all the way to Chicago for a race, we might as well make it worth it and be out on the long course.

This was my second time running the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago.  Last year we had a blast and decided we were gluttons for punishment and we had to do it again.  Except this time we both failed miserably in training for it – me, for mostly legit reasons (see last post), my friend…well, she at least did more than me.

I registered for the race in August in the middle of a health roller-coaster, during a moment of feeling well.  When I started to feel not as well again, I didn’t train.  Leading up to yesterday’s race I had done three (maybe four) 2 to 2.5 mile runs and one 5k – within the last six months.  Really, that is it.  I’ll have the race roundup post for the 5k I ran two weeks ago in a coming post…I ran it because I thought that I should probably run more than 2 miles in the lastsix months before going to run a 9.3 mile race.

Note to self and others: Do NOT, and I repeat do NOT, just go run a 9.3 mile race when you have run less than half a dozen times in the last six months.   I have run about 10 TOTAL miles in the last six month.  This is not me making excuses, because I am just fine with my time, this is me painting you a picture of reality.  I just figured I would ride off from my past running successes.  It was only 9.3 miles…no biggie.

Off to Chicago we went.

We got an email Friday night or Saturday morning that said the lines to pick up race packets on Friday were unacceptably long and that people were waiting 90+ minutes in line to get their packets…so they tripled the number of stations to pick up race packets. We arrived in Chicago at the home of my awesome friend who agreed to host us and jumped on the train to downtown.  We had to pick up our race packets at the south lot of Soldier Field.  We didn’t realize how far away that was from the closest train stop.  We walked, and walked…and couldn’t find the packet pickup.  We had to ask a couple of people because there wasn’t any signage to direct you to the packet pickup  only a sign or two near the lot to direct cars to park…nothing to direct people walking in from city center.  Not being Chicago residents, it was confusing.

We arrived at the big tent for packet pickup and that’s when we saw it.  The line.  It was HUGE!!  We waited 75 minutes in line OUTSIDE…when the sun was going down (last year…10 minutes, inside).  I was grateful I wore my ski jacket.

It took just a couple minutes to pick up our packet and be out of there once we got inside.  We made the trek back to the train stop, headed to my friend’s house where we ate, hung out (they were lovely hosts!) and went to sleep.

We got up crazy early, thankful for the end of daylight savings and for the extra hour of sleep, hopped on the train and headed to the starting line which was much closer to public transport.  We checked our gear easily and went to our starting corrals.  I was in “D” and my friend in “F.”  We now just had to wait…they spaced the corrals out by waiting 3 minutes and 30 seconds between each to reduce some congestion…probably a good idea because the start was still slow.

Finally it was go time for corral D.  The course was significantly changed from last year…and I wasn’t a fan of it.  The first 5k was alright but then the rest was not at all awesome.  It seemed we went through industrial Chicago and then we went up the lakeshore path – which was okay, but not very scenic at this time of year.  Last year the course went through the city.  I understand that it requires more road closures…but its no fun running a 15K when there is almost no one out there to cheer you on for over half the course when you are out in the middle of nowhere.  Last year running through the city and by homes and apartments people came out and were cheering for the runners…which is so. much. better.

Personally – I felt pretty decent for the first 10K.  The first mile was slow with the start, but then I started clicking off pretty consistent 8:45 miles…until I was in the middle of the wilderness it seemed, and I couldn’t find a new song to replace the one chorus that has been running through my head for four miles.  And then, I had to go.  You know…I had to go.  So just before mile 7 there were port-a-johns…I didn’t really care about my time all that much and I certainly wasn’t going to play chicken with my body – so I stopped for 2 minutes and 43 seconds.

I should also mention that over the past 8 or so months I have had problems with my left bum and upper hamstring….sciatic problems when I run and particularly when I run up an incline.  I could feel it nagging at me the whole race…but after my little pit stop the course started to pick up a few more rolling hills from pedestrian walk ways and such…and my problem area began to scream at me.  My last two and a quarter or so miles were really awful…I hurt a lot.  I had to take the uphills slowly to minimize the pain…if only I could have stopped at the 10K mark.  That would have been the perfect distance.  I finished anyway.  My overall time of an hour twenty-seven plus change was actually an hour and twenty four minutes and thirty seconds when I take out my bathroom break.  Overall pace was 9:22 but when you take out the bathroom break time I have an overall pace of 9:04.  I can’t complain…I hadn’t run more than 10 miles in six months.  I’ll take it.

Then came the post race food…the whole reason we even make the trek to Chicago.  It was delicious as expected BUT two things hampered a great review from this gal.  One: while they gave us a good amount of fondue I don’t think they gave us enough stuff to dip in our chocolate.  Last year they gave more, and even let us take a few extra pieces if we wanted.  The second was that we didn’t get whipped cream in our hot chocolate like last year.  I felt jipped.  Oh, and at the end of the race last year they were giving out chocolate squares left and right.  They gave me one this time.  And it was smaller.

Did I still have fun?  Yes.  And the sweatshirt we got in our goodie bag fits great and is nice – definitely a score.  I like that we get decent stuff for the price we pay.  Will we do the race again next year? It’s still up in the air.  It is still a fun race, but it wasn’t quite as awesome as I expected based on last year’s experience.  It seemed last year was more chill…I missed that vibe this year from the race.  Maybe we’ll try to find another Chicago race with an awesome goodie bag…any suggestions?

You Should Try This!

You may have seen it around with its increasing popularity, but if you haven’t you need to check out stand up paddle boarding (commonly written as SUP…like ‘sup, how you doin’?).  I started seeing it around last summer, but with limited places to rent a paddle board, and lacking the solid chunk of change required to buy one (you are looking at close to a G and up) I didn’t have the chance to try it.  Until this summer that is.

Many of the places I had seen rent paddle boards were doing so for about $40 for an hour and a half including a short into into paddle boarding.  A bit to rich for my blood.  So when we were at our local metropark earlier this summer (Memorial Day to be exact…a crazy hot day where we waited over a half hour in our car in line just to get in the park!) I saw that they were renting them at one of the beaches…for $10 per hour!  Jackpot!  All summer I’ve been jonesing for a chance to try SUP so when I got a text from my awesome hubby on Friday that said “want to go stand up paddle boarding tomorrow?”  I about jumped up and down with excitement.

So we headed out to the park Saturday afternoon and got our boards for an hour…that was an adventure in itself as the hubby somehow lost twenty buckaroos between the car and the paddle board rental counter.  A twenty dollar deposit is required on each board you rent so it seemed we weren’t getting two boards with me only having my twenty…cash only.  A big, humongous thank you to some friends we just happened to run into while they came up to buy some food at the food counter and loaned us a twenty (such a cool God thing and amazing friends).

SUP is awesome.  If I had crazy disposable income maybe I’d buy one, but I don’t, so I’ll have to settle for my $10/hour rental.  It is a GREAT activity to work on your balance and core strength.  I think it is actually a fantastic cross training exercise for skiers – they can work on upper/lower body separation and balancing in the bumps.  It’s amazing at how well I thought some of those skills translated between the two sports.  If you are afraid that you’ll fall…rest assured that it isn’t too difficult to learn…especially if you have fairly calm waters.  The water was a bit bumpy and rough while we were out, but we did it without much difficulty.  You may fall – I did once as I was shifting my weight to try to balance on one foot, but hey…you’re supposed to be in a bathing suit anyway – they are meant to get wet 🙂  You can always start on your knees if standing up seems intimidating right away.

So what are you waiting for – go rent yourself a paddle board and have some fun!!

Eternal Procrastination

I am the eternal procrastinator.  I don’t know that I will ever break the habit.  It’s currently 10:39pm and I have one hot mess of an apartment to clean so when 9:30am rolls around and our area staff team members start pressing my buzzer they won’t walk into a war zone.  But what am I doing?  Procrastinating.

It is no secret that I dislike cleaning – I like having a clean place – but I don’t like having to put the work into keeping it that way.  I swear it is just about a full-time job.  I seriously understand  how stay at home moms and wives and such keep so busy.  It is outrageous how fast things pile up to become an evil home-eating monster.  Crazy.

I’ve known all weekend (and for over a month) that I have had this meeting coming up at my house…but Friday night we had a girls night (which just added to the mess…it was fabulous by the way and deserving of it’s own post!), Saturday I slept in and then went skiing all afternoon (3-10pm…so I went to bed when I got home) and then today I went to church, to the store to get food for tomorrow and then my hubby and I went on a letterboxing adventure!!!  So letterboxing…since its a huge hobby for us you’ll hear it referred to often as spring approaches so here’s the explanation:

Letterboxing – in short – it is a treasure hunt.  First you select a trail name and find/make a rubber stamp that reflects your trail name in order to identify yourself in the letterboxing world.  Next get a notebook/logbook (Preferably one with unlined pages). Then you go online to one of two websites either letterboxing.org or to Atlas Quest (I prefer AQ…it is generally kept more up-to-date and has an active online community) to print of clues to a letterbox…they are all over the States so chances are there is one near you.  You might have to crack a code or solve a puzzle to get the clue, but others are pretty straightforward or tell a story – then you go out and find the box!  You might need a compass, but otherwise just follow the clues.  When you find the box inside it will be a book and a rubber stamp.  Take the stamp inside the box and stamp it into your logbook.  Then take your stamp that reflects your trail name and stamp it into the book inside the box – you can write your trail name or where you are from, and the date you found it.  Then you put everything back where you found it (be sure to re-hide well) for the next person to find.  You can log your finds on the websites so the planter of the box knows that people are finding it or so that you can keep track of the boxes you’ve found – if you would like.  Online logging isn’t required.  It is as simple as that!

My hubby and I have been letterboxing for a little over a year and are in love with it…we’ve logged about 100 finds.  It gets us out and to different parks/places.  It takes us on adventures.  Some boxes you have to hike for, some are close to a parking spot – but its always fun 🙂  Today we trekked and romped through snow pile and drifts – some places it was over a foot deep but with such a warm day (in the upper 40’s) we couldn’t stay inside and we were itching to find a box since we hadn’t found one since December…snow usually hinders your ability to find boxes!  I had to dig through some snow today to find one and, being the brilliant one that I am, I forgot gloves so my hands just about fell off because of how cold it was!  But it was worth it and in the end we came out with two boxes to our credit, some calories burned and an enormously fun time!!

So now I sit here…11:11pm…and the apartment isn’t cleaning itself!  So in the spirit of movement I should start moving toward getting the job done so I can get enough sleep to move tomorrow.  🙂

Think Winter…

I realize there are a lot of winter haters out there…I’m just not one of them.  I legitimately love winter.  Not just for skiing.  Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved winter…and I’ve loved snow.

Really...I do!

When I was younger I bought a button from an antique store…it was yellow, beat up and old but it said “think winter, help stamp out summer.”  I looked forward to winter and snow.

So in the spirit of steady movement forward in fitness and health I thought I’d give you a few ideas to beat those winter workout blahs so you can get moving and have fun.  Think like a kid…try: tobogganing (like we did down the hill in the back of our house growing up…yes…it was that big), ice skating, sledding, making snow forts (the were the best made out of the big piles dad plowed), try to make an igloo, have a snowball fight, build a family of snowmen, make snow angels or snow sculptures, play king of the mountain on a snow pile, go snowshoeing, or play fox & rabbit in the snow (this one is really great…find a fresh snow field that hasn’t been walked over run in a big circle and retrace your steps a few times around to make a big circular path…then cut the pie in half and run from one side to the other and then again to make quarters.  One person is it and you play tag…the catch is that you have to stay in the paths that you just created…no stepping out or cheating…its a great workout!).  Winter is simply the most wonderful time of the year 🙂 and a great time to get out and MOVE!

Learning to ski four years ago just made winter even sweeter!  It was the first date for the hubby and me.  The story goes that if I couldn’t learn to ski it was never going to work.

First date...first time skiing. So this is love...:-)

Thankfully I took to skiing pretty much like a fish to water…I simply loved it.  This season it has been a blessing that the hubby is working as a ski instructor – the ability to ski whenever we want and not worry about it breaking the bank has been fantastic!

Last year I added snowshoeing to my repertoire of winter skills.  I went snowshoeing for the first time at Tahquamenon Falls with my mom and sister.  It was gorgeous out and we had an absolute blast!

So…think like a kid…put the hate behind you and have FUN!!!  If you do you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier you 🙂