October 22, 2015


Feeling... sick. I have an ear infection and have been under the weather since yesterday.

Reading... "The Zoo Keeper's Wife" by Diane Ackerman. I just started it and am less than 20 pages in, but I'm excited about this one.

This week, I finished "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield, which was easily the best book I've read all year.

I also came across this article about the "selfie girls" at the Arizona Diamondbacks game. I'm not sure if you've seen that video and I won't share it, but I was really angry when I saw that video. I'm so tired of public shaming occurring all over the internet. This article shows just how wrong the announcers were in their behavior...but even if the girls were just there, not paying attention to the game, they still shouldn't have been made into a national laughingstock.

Watching... Post-Season Baseball because my team, my wonderful, wonderful team, the New York Mets won the NLCS!!!!!

Thinking about... Christmas shopping. I've now gone into two stores that are already completely decked out for Christmas. While it made me really angry and I muttered angry curses to myself to never shop at those stores again, it made me realize that I should probably get a head start on my shopping for this year.

Needing... a new computer. My battery is completely shot and my laptop won't last 30 seconds without being plugged in. When I got the blue screen of death last week, I knew I needed to start looking for something fast.

Waiting... to run again. I had every intention of running yesterday, but then I got hit with this ear infection. I haven't run since Chicago and I'm starting to itch to get back out there. I took way more time off than I normally do, but I wanted that. I'm just bummed that I got sick when I was ready to start running again.

Excited about... The Mets! It's our first World Series appearance since 2000 and I'm so excited!

By "we" I mean the Mets because we don't have the kind of money to actually go to the World Series.
The Pilot thought it was adorable that I thought we could get Playoff game tickets for $75/each. Try $400.

Loving... Peyton. She was sick last week and has been super sweet this week.

How's your week shaping up?
What's on your 'Currently...' list?

October 19, 2015

4 Lessons I Learned During the Chicago Marathon

It's been a week since I ran the Chicago Marathon and the race already feels like a distant memory. I haven't run since and I'm not too sure when I will run again. I'm not taking a break, but it's gotten cold in DC and I was pretty content to just take a week off. I'll run again when I start to miss it.

Chicago was my sixth marathon and, with every race, you learn something new. That's the beauty of the marathon...that in the distance, in the miles and moments that hurt the most, you always learn something.

It had been three years since my last marathon and I was so nervous going into this race because it all seemed so unfamiliar, yet as soon as I started running, lessons of marathons past all came back to me and I crossed the finish line of Chicago with the realization that I had made a few mistakes, and out of those mistakes, a whole new set of lessons were learned. Here they are:

1. My longest run was 20 miles. I know a lot of people who cap their marathon training at 20 miles. I did this for my first marathon, but for every run since, I've run above 20. I ran 21 for Marine Corps, 26.2 for Madrid (I ran a marathon as a training run), and 22 for New York Richmond. Running above 20 miles will not make you run a better race, but for me, it makes those last six miles mentally easier. I had planned to run 22 for Chicago but with the knee issues I'd been having, I didn't want to take the risk of overdoing it and not making it to the start. When I hit the wall at Mile 23, I knew this was a mistake.In the past, when I've hit the wall, I've pulled out of it by saying, "You've already run longer than this." In this race, it was a lot harder to pull out of the wall.

*Note: I hope I've made it clear that this is what works for me. I know plenty of people who do just fine on a last long run of 20 miles, but I need the miles above 20 to give me that last mental push in the race.

2. I never raced before the marathon. I've always run at least a Half or two during marathon training to gauge my fitness, test out my Race Day gear, and just get familiar with the mindset of racing. I've run three races in the last 2 years so Race Day seemed totally unfamiliar. I think that's why I was so nervous going into the race and why I wasn't able to have fun. I was too focused on the variables. If I had run a Half before, only the second half of the race would have seemed unfamiliar, but maybe not even since, by that point, I would have already been in it.

3. All I wanted was to finish. Are you ready for an unpopular opinion? I don't think anyone should ever set out to "just finish" a marathon. If you've put in the training and spent your weekends logging miles and have made it to at least 18 miles, you should never want to just finish. When I ran my first marathon, my goal was to run it in as close to 4 hours as possible. I knew that based on my training, I was capable of that. Whether your goal is to run a negative split or to not take a walking break until Mile 20, or to sprint the last 0.2, you should have a goal that isn't simply to finish. I made it through an entire training cycle without an injury flare up, so my goal should not have just been to finish. It should have been to just have fun. I said that that was my goal, but I just wanted to finish, and with that goal in mind, I didn't enjoy myself. Runner friends, if you have trained for a marathon, a half-marathon, or a 5k, please, set a goal for yourself that doesn't belittle your training because when your goal just to finish, you give yourself the possibility that you won't finish.

4. I forgot to wear my name on my bib. This was a rookie mistake but not wearing my name on my bib made those last miles when there were few spectators so much more difficult. I felt like I was on my own out there. Without anyone shouting, "Go Christy!" or "You can do it, Christy!" I felt like I had no support. You know the quote, "The sweetest sound to anyone's ears is the sound of his own name." That is so much truer when you're at Mile 25 of a marathon. Wear your name on your bib. It makes a huge difference.

With these lessons learned, I'll file them away for the next one.

As for now, I'll be taking some time to enjoy the offseason, finding my yoga practice again, spinning, weight training, and building my arsenal so that I can be ready for an awesome race season in 2016. 

What are some lessons you've learned during a race? 
I hope some of these will help those of you running 26.2s in the next few weeks!

October 15, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 Chicago Marathon

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this race over the last three days and every time I've tried to put pen to paper, I've just come up blank. I can tell you that the 'lessons learned from the Chicago marathon' post I've started drafting has been much easier to write...that should give you a little bit of an idea of how the marathon went.

I should say that going into this race, I knew that I was realistically looking to run around a 4:45. That's what my training runs indicated and I was OK with that. Remember, the goal was to make it to the start.

I'm going to write this recap backward because that's the way I keep thinking about it. I tried writing this post in my head as I was running and I just couldn't do it, so let's start with the finish.

I crossed in 4:52:34...not very far off from where I predicted. I didn't sprint to the finish line. I wasn't happy, proud, or ecstatic,  I didn't feel accomplished, I was just so glad it was over. I sobbed when they handed me my medal so I think deep down I felt all of those things but shit, this race was hard.

I crossed the Finish Line and it took me almost 30 minutes to get to the family reunion area because I had to keep stopping to lie down. When I found my family, I just threw myself on the ground and laid there for almost 30 minutes, not saying anything to talking to anyone before finally heading to the medical tent for some Gatorade and pretzels.

In past marathons, I've hit the wall at Mile 20 or 21...or not at all ...so when I got to Mile 22 and hadn't hit it, I thought I was in the clear...and then Mile 23 happened and I felt like the world caved in on me. My mom and The Pilot were just past 23, outside the White Sox stadium, and when I saw them, I just came to a dead stop and started sobbing. Through tears, I said, "Everything hurts and I don't want to run anymore." A kind spectator offered me some water, which I declined (I had my own), and I begged The Pilot to come with me. I didn't say much to him except "My Garmin is broken. I started it late and it says I'm at Mile 24 and I know I'm not." He told me I was at 23.2 and I told him to go back and find my mom.

My watch was a mess the entire race. By the time I finished, it showed me at 27.1 miles. Thank God for mile markers, or Mile 26 would have been a huge surprise! My pace ranged from 2:00 to 16:00 minutes the entire time. Part of this had to do with the satellites being confused by the tall buildings, the other part has to do with the fact that my Garmin is 5 years old.
I actually pulled out of "the wall" as soon as I hit Mile 24. My favorite quote came to me and I knew how I needed to approach the rest of the race. This was it. I had used up all of my weak. There was no way I wasn't finishing at this point. It wasn't going to be pretty, but I was going to do it. I needed to just put one foot in front of the other and get it done. 

That's how this whole race felt...like something that needed to get done. Start to Finish, it felt like a task and I think know that that's why I'm so disappointed. It has nothing to do with time. My goal was to get to the starting line healthy and go out there and have fun and I just didn't have fun and that kills me.

Miles 16 through 21 were kind of a blur. My legs had started cramping early...like Mile 12 early and it was hot. I wanted to take a walking break at Mile 17  but convinced myself to make it to 21 before doing so because I was worried that not having trained above 20 would make stopping before 20 disastrous.

I didn't feel like I was overheating because I was used to running in the heat, but I was drinking so much more water than I've ever drunk during a race and I think that the early onset of leg cramps was due to the heat. Spectator support in those miles was...sparse. I was excited to run Chicago because of how incredible the spectator support is supposed to be but I don't think a lot of people stuck around for the back of the pack runners and that made those later miles really tough. Miles 24 and 25 were practically empty of spectators and that was hard.

The whole first part of the race, I was focused on getting to Mile 17. I never count down the miles in a marathon, but I knew that if I made it to 17, with less than 10 miles to go,  I would finish. I actually felt better in these middle miles than I did at the start of the race. I started picking up the pace at the Half and was feeling really good...I slowed down a little bit around 18 but still felt strong until 23.
My knee had been hurting for the first 10k and I spent the whole first part of the race readjusting my running form, implementing all of the tricks my PT taught me to prevent a flare up, and they worked! By Mile 10, I felt fine, by the Half, I was ready to pick up the pace and I did, not really slowing down until Mile 18.

I ran a good race. I know that now. It's taken a few days to wrap my head around it. Monday, I felt like crying all day. I was so inexplicably upset. This race beat me up. The extended taper as a result of going back to PT, while allowing me to finish, made this race a lot harder on my body than usual. I don't think I made mistakes with this race, but I learned a lot. I'm finally smiling about the race. I think what it ultimately comes down to down to, is that I just had a bad day. I'll expand on that in another post, but I took a lot of lessons away from this race.

That's the beauty of the marathon. You learn something new with every single race. In this case, I learned a lot. What's important though is that I finished. I made it to the start line without reinjuring myself. I made my comeback. I already know what the next few weeks of recovery are going to look like (read, easy), and what training for #7 will look like because you better believe there will be a #7.

Who's racing next? 

October 9, 2015

4 Things I'll Be Thinking about during the Chicago Marathon

I stopped running with music shortly after "Call me Maybe" came out. It's actually pretty rare for me to listen to music at all these days. I miss the days of buying a CD and just popping it in and listening to music. Streaming music and paying per song is just too much effort...but that's a post for a different day.

The first thing anyone asks when they find out I don't run with music is "What do you think about?" and it's a tough answer to give. Sometimes I don't think about anything, other times my head is spinning. Today, I've come up with a list of everything that will be going through my head as I run 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago.

My Support System
My Mom...she booked a last minute flight to come cheer me on at Chicago and I can't wait to see her jumping up and down cheering for me in the course. She's been at almost all of my marathons, and she knew without me even needing to tell her that I would need her at this one. 

The Pilot...he's been in the front lines through this entire injury and has listened to me cry over the fear that I would never run another marathon. He started running when I started to hate running and helped me find my love for the sport all over again. 

My Dad...who has been my coach since I could walk and still coaches me.

My Friends...
Ange, who's driving down from Milwaukee just to cheer me on;
Alicia, who has faith in me even when I don't;
Jenna, who never hesitates to tell me how proud she is of me;
Jenn, who is always there to listen to my hopes, dreams and fears about running...and life;
Justin, who has been my virtual training partner as he trains for his first marathon; and
Holly, who is, and always has been one of my biggest cheerleaders.
Ally, my Madrid sister, who knows just how much this race means to me.
Emily, my New York running buddy and long distance Chicago coach.

Past Races
The Richmond Marathon, where I learned how much I truly love the marathon distance

The Rock 'n' Roll Philly Half-Marathon, where I ran watch-less and didn't PR but still consider it the best race I've ever run.

The Madrid Marathon, where everything fell apart at Mile 20 and I had to fight harder than I've ever fought to finish.

"Be great today."
"Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional."

My IT Band Injury
This injury has plagued me for almost as long as I've been living in DC. There were times where I honestly never thought I would run another marathon. No matter what happens on Sunday, no matter how I'm feeling, no matter how hard it gets, I'll be there, running a marathon. I made it to the start line. I finally get to run a marathon. I won't take that for granted. 

It's Race Weekend. I made it. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about how far I've come to make it to this start line. At this point, finishing is half the battle and I'm so ready for the fight.

See you on the other side of 26.2. If you're not already following me on Instagram, make sure you do so that you can follow along this weekend!

October 7, 2015

Book Reviews: Quarterly Updates III

It's time for another quarterly book update! If you haven't been following along, I decided to stop posting weekly book reviews and instead, write quarterly updates about everything I've been reading! Here's a look at the books I read through the end of summer! You can check out past quarterly updates here and here.

"Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" by Fannie Flagg - I adored this book...absolutely adored it. I remember seeing the movie when I was a kid and being horrified by it because the only thing I remember was someone getting hit by a train. The book was beautifully written, was sad, yet funny, and was a really great story. I highly recommend this.

"The Angel of Losses" by Stephanie Feldman - I hated this book. The main character was insufferable and the book was weird. It was heavily based on Jewish folklore, which I know nothing about so I feel like context would have been helpful. The book read in parts like whiny teen angst (coming from an almost 30-year-old), heavy academic writing and folklore. I picked this up because it had a beautiful cover and one of the categories on my 2015 book challenge is to read a book based on its cover. This book proved the old adage.

"Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi - Carolann recommended this to me and I loved it. It was my first graphic novel and it was definitely the right graphic novel for me to start with. Persepolis tell the story of Marjane Satrapi growing up in Iran during the Iranian Revolution. It seemed strange to be reading about death and the Iranian Revolution in a comic book...it was almost a bit too lighthearted if such a topic can even be that, but from a YA perspective, I think it's a good read. I'll definitely read the other 3 volumes and will probably watch the movie, which my cousin Jen recommended.

"The Book of Speculation" by Erika Swyler - I liked this book. I would probably give it 3 stars. I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't alternated between reading the book and listening to the audio book, but that's what I did to get through some of my long runs and it threw me off a little bit. I did love how all of the characters stories were interwoven in delightfully surprising ways.

"Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen - Nope. Hated it. This book read like a diary that someone tried to turn into a novel. The imagery was fabulous, but this book had no plot and I dreaded reading it every day. (When will I learn to put books like that down?!) A lot of the criticisms of this book center around the white colonist living in Africa aspect and, while I found her attitude toward the "natives" (her word, not mine) dismissive, I can't judge her too harshly as that attitude was definitely a sign of the times.

"What I Talk about when I Talk about Running" by Haruki Murakami - This book was ok. I really liked it at first...I got it. Murakami is a marathon runner and I could identify with just about everything he talked about. The book was supposed to chronicle his training for the 2005 New York City Marathon...and it did...until all of a sudden on "a clear autumn day in November," he ran the marathon...and then the book suddenly shifted to him tackling the Murakami Triathlon in July. No NYC race recap, no reflections on how his training had prepared him for the race...just like that it was over.

"Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" by Mindy Kaling - Tina Fey's book made me realize I didn't actually like Tina Fey. Amy Poehler's book made me dislike Amy Poehler a little bit. Mindy Kaling's book...made me feel like I was binge watching "The Mindy Project." Funny in small doses, but after awhile, it's all the same. This book didn't blow my mind, but I didn't hate it. I'm convinced Chelsea Handler is the only comedian who can actually write funny books (and I don't even like her).

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs - This is a reread for me. I adored this book. 

"Hollow City" by RansoM Riggs - The sequel to Miss Peregrine's...you can read my original review here.

"Library of Souls" by Ransom Riggs - I was actually a little bit disappointed with this book. I loved the first two books in the series (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City) but I think Library of Souls fell a little flat. In the end, I think the series wrapped up the way I would have wanted it to, but I don't love the route Ransom Riggs took to get there. A lot of new characters were introduced in LoS while he main characters from the first two novels faded to the background in the final book.

Photo Credit: Author Ransom Riggs via Instagram
Have you read any of these?
What have you been reading lately?
Are we friends on Goodreads yet? If not, add me!

October 6, 2015

Coffee Date: Marathon Edition

Holy smokes kids, it's Race Week! Months of training and here it is! Let's have a cup of coffee and talk about how I'm feeling about it, shall we? Sit down, grab a cup of pumpkin spice (or whatever it i you fancy) and join me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my mom is amazing and booked a last minute flight to Chicago yesterday so that she can be at my race.

I would tell you that despite a great 10 mile run this weekend, I was still completely terrified of running Chicago until my social media feeds blew up with Wineglass and Twin Cities Marathon updates. Now, I'm pumped. The only run I did last week was that 10 mile run. I really just didn't feel like running throughout the week, so I didn't, but I'm feeling really good right now...and slightly terrified still.

I think the reason I'm so terrified is that this will be  the first marathon I've gone into without having done a training race before. I haven't raced since Cherry Blossom, so the whole race day feel just feels slightly unfamiliar.

I would tell you that my Garmin is dying and I'm not sure what to do about it. I bought The Pilot one for his birthday so I can use his for the race, but I'm debating whether to run with it at all. I'm worried about going out too fast without it but I like the idea of just enjoying the run. I've run some of my best races watch-less.

I would tell you that I didn't get into the London Marathon and I'm fine with it. It was the sixth consecutive year that I didn't get into this race and it's number 1 on my race bucket list but I was so miserable training for the DC Rock 'n' Roll Half this winter that the idea of training for 26.2 in the middle of the winter terrifies me, but I did get into the Seawheeze Half-Marathon! I'll be taking my first trip to Vancouver in August and running with my New York running buddy, Emily. It's almost a year away, but I have big goals for this race.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that The Pilot and I went to a spin class at Biker Barre on Sunday night. He had a great workout. I was on a bike with a broken resistance knob and was bored the whole time.

I would also tell you that we didn't do much of anything else this weekend. The weather in DC was miserable and I was perfectly content to lounge around the house.

I would tell you that I need a vacation...or maybe just a staycation. Hawaii was fabulous but we were up at the crack of dawn every morning and on the go. I need either a stay-in-your-pajamas-and-binge-watch-tv-all-week week or a roast-on-a-beach-in-a-lounge-chair vacation. It's crazy cold in DC so obviously the latter is preferable but I don't think either are going to happen any time soon.

What's on your mind this morning?
What kind of coffee are you drinking and what would you tell me?

October 5, 2015

3 Perfect Days on Oahu, Day 2: The North Shore

Thursday morning we had our sites set on an early morning hike to watch the sunset from the Pillbox Trail. When we woke up though, we could hear that it was raining heavily.

Carolann pointed out that the weather is really fickle on Oahu, so we attempted to make our way to the trail anyway, but when we got there, it was completely covered in mud and just climbing the 10 feet up to start was difficult, so we turned around and headed to a coffee shop instead for breakfast.

When we decided to go to Hawaii (4 hours before we actually did), I asked The Pilot what the one thing he wanted to do was. His answer? Surfing. So after much Yelping, I booked us a lesson with the North Shore Surf Girls and we headed out to the beach. I really didn't want to surf, but it was our anniversary and I felt like I should oblige The Pilot, so into the water sand we went!

Our lesson started on the beach for about 15 minutes before we headed into the water. If you have ever done yoga, surfing is really hard. Surfing is basically reverse vinyasa except that you place your feet in all the places that you don't place your feet in yoga. The Pilot had mastered his pop-up within 30 seconds while I required a significant amount more time, but you know what? Once we got out there, it all came together (kind of) and I stood up my first time!

I'm on the Left...The Pilot is on the Right (to the left).
Surfing was fun but it was exhausting. I went about 5 rounds and stood up twice. Once, I just missed the wave and another time, I crashed into 3 people. That was terrifying. The hardest part was coming to shore and then having to swim back out. Those boards were enormous and my arms were way too short to effectively be able to swim so after my fifth time, I was ready to just lay on the beach with Carolann...especially since the sun was coming out!

After our surf lesson, we made our way down the road a bit to another beach where we saw these beautiful creatures just hanging out, taking a breather, eating some algae. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are a critically endangered species and it was really amazing to see them in the wild.

After visiting the sea turtles, we made our way to Waimea Falls, a botanical garden that offers an easy hike ending in a waterfall that you can jump in! We had the most ridiculous fun in the waterfall. I'd never actually seen one and it was so fun swimming underneath it and letting the rush of the water push you out. This was easily one of my favorite things about our trip!

By now, we were starving so we left Waimea and continued our tour through the North Shore, taking a trip to Kahuku Farms for lunch at their Farm Cafe. It was pouring when we got there but that didn't stop us from ordering food that was literally fresh off the farm.

TL: Kahuku Farms, TR and BL: Scenes on the North Shore, BR: Grilled Banana Bread with Vanilla & Coconut Caramel Sauce and Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Ice Cream...aka heaven in food form.
It was still pouring when we left the Farm Cafe so we decided to take a detour and have a drink at Turtle Bay...the resort where they filmed "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." We drank Mai Tais on the beach and then walked around the hotel lobby where we met Hina and Kahuna...surf dogs! They were so sweet and every time their owner said the word "surf," they perked up.

We left Turtle Bay and made the long drive back to Kailua where we met up with Carolann's husband and headed to Honolulu for dinner and drinks at Pint & Jigger.

So that was it! Our second day in Hawaii! Despite the fact that it rained almost all day, we still managed to have an amazing time...further proof that Hawaii is awesome!

Later this week, I'll be posting about our third and final day in Hawaii!
Stay tuned, and Happy Monday!
Have you ever had a rainy day on a tropical vacation? How did you make the most of it?

October 1, 2015


Feeling... like it's Friday. I'm in serious need of a weekend. I'm feeling run down and I desperately need a reset. We're supposed to get hit with a hurricane this weekend so I may not leave my house.

Reading... The Best American Travel Writing 2013, edited by Elizabeth Gilbert. You might be surprised to know that I don't read travel writing but one of the categories on my 2015 Book Challenge is a book of short stories and I picked this up at a Little Free Library in my neighborhood. It's a nice change of pace from the novels I've been reading all year. I read a phenomenal story about Cuba, an interesting perspective on the running of bulls in Pamplona, a terrible story about a woman in Egypt who wore a burqa in Egypt but called it a Niqab, and some others.

Watching... "The Goldbergs." The Pilot started watching this show awhile ago and I never really got into it, but we started watching it from the beginning and it is hilarious. It's about a family living in the 80s. Adam Goldberg, the producer, created the show based on his real life and at the end, he always shows actual video clips from his family. Last night, we watched an episode that was In Loving Memory of the Video Store.

Thinking about... a lunch time trip to the grocery store to pick up some comfort food necessities for the weekend.

Needing... to run. I haven't run all week. I've just been too tired.

Waiting... to find out whether or not I was accepted into the London Marathon.

Hating... the metro. There was a fire last week (nothing major) that has basically thrown the entire system into collapse. It hasn't taken me less than an hour to get to or from work in two weeks and they're saying it's going to be another 6 months of this...which in Metro-speak means more like 18.

Planning... a weekend of cleaning my house and laying in bed watching movies and reading books. A Harry Potter Marathon might be in order.

Loving... pay days!

What's your favorite way to spend a lazy weekend?
Have you ever read any travel literature? Any recommendations?
What's on your 'Currently...' list?
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