Thursday, October 16, 2014

On Running a Marathon

I went back to work today after running the Chicago Marathon this past weekend and I wanted to check in with a little recap. But first...let's back up.

I started running races when I was a kid, maybe six or seven years old. At the time the distance was half a mile. My dad would run the full race, probably 2-4 miles, and my brother and I would tackle the half mile with all the grace and enthusiasm two little kids could muster. We would collect our ribbons and medals and head home. I developed quite the stash of awards (many of them just for finishing. Let's clear that up...I was no prodigy.) over the course of those childhood summers.

When I was a kid I didn't really like running very much. Ironic, I know. It felt like a chore, and it always seemed like something I had to do rather than wanted to do. But as I got older and tried out all the different sports that every kid seems to try—gymnastics, softball, soccer, basketball, swimming, the list goes on—nothing stuck. Nothing except running. Maybe it was my lack of balance and coordination in other sports, but there was just something about it that worked for me. I was on the track and cross country teams for most of junior high and high school and somewhere in there I decided I would love to run a marathon someday, but it was always more of a dream than something I thought I could actually do.

The summer before I left for college that dream shifted to a goal. I'm not sure exactly why that happened, but I do know that for the first time in my life, I wasn't running for anyone else. Not for my dad, not for my cross country coach, just for me. And I think it was then that I really fell in love with the sport. I was also about to move into a tiny dorm room with a complete stranger and start a brand new phase of my life. Everything was changing around me, and it seemed like the perfect time to go after one of my biggest goals to date; to run a marathon.

At the time I had never run more than seven miles at once, but somewhere deep down I knew I could do it. I signed up for my first marathon that summer. I remember laying in bed texting a friend who was also planning to sign up, as we waited excitedly for registration to open at midnight. After signing up, my first year of college was spent waking up at 5:30am, quietly getting dressed, and tiptoeing out of my shared dorm room to go for a run. The overnight staff at the dorm must have thought I was crazy. Or dedicated. Or something in between.

I ran my first marathon in June 2009 on a steaming hot summer day. I think it was 95 degrees. I finished in 4:45. My second marathon was a year later, and despite a very sporadic training schedule, I finished in 4:11. A little over a year after that, I ran my third marathon in 4:05.

Until last Sunday I hadn't run a marathon since 2011, and in that time I had completely forgotten just how hard they are. But as I rolled out of bed in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, ate some almond butter and bread, put on sunscreen, and got dressed, I felt ready. It had been 3 years and I was itching to run that distance again.

I left my hotel and walked through the quiet, dark streets of downtown Chicago and boarded the L. It was packed to the brim with runners. We all got off at Jackson and made our way to the start. It was chilly, but there was so much excitement in the air. While I was waiting to go through the security check to get into the runners' start area, I turned around and looked at the city behind me—a city that feels so much like home. It was beautiful in the early morning light.


Chicago Marathon Start // Photo by Lee Hogan/for Sun-Times Media

After entering the start area and waiting as long as possible, I took off a few outer layers of clothing, checked my gear bag, and headed to the start corrals with 45,000 other runners. We waited and waited, collectively knowing that the months of training we put in all came down to these last 26.2 miles, and after the gun sounded we slowly made our way to the start line. The energy was palpable. As we got closer and closer to the start, the adrenaline was building. And then...it began.

As we ran through the streets of Chicago we were flooded with encouragement and cheering, especially in the first half. If you've ever cheered at a marathon before, thank you. Not only is the cheering entertaining, but it also distracts you from your thoughts, which can be a very good thing over the course of 26.2 miles. The first 14 miles I was running Boston pace, averaging between 8 - 8:10 minute miles. Boston has always been my goal. It's every marathon runner's goal. And as I kept going, from mile 15 to 16 to 17 to 18, I started to lose momentum, and I could feel it as it happened. My right foot had been hurting, and then my left knee started to ache. My body was exhausted, and my positive mentality was weakening. But I kept going. I broke up the distance by mileage, by water stops, by when I would take my next energy gel—anything to distract me from how far I had run and how far I had left to go. At multiple points, thanks to unexpected pain in my foot and knee, I wasn't sure I would finish.

Around mile 24 a man passed me and said, "Hey, I wanted to say thank you. I've been following you the entire way." It shocked me that, unbeknownst to me, I had helped someone through the race. And I knew exactly what he meant. There had been times when I would focus on another runner's legs, or their shoes, just to serve as a point of distraction.

The last mile of the race was rough. It should seem easy, right? After 25 miles, there's only a mile and some change left to go. But as the crowds cheered around me and the announcer yelled that we had a mile left, all I could do was look down at the ground and focus on putting one step in front of the other; focus on each hundredth of a mile as they added up on my watch.

Finally, we turned a corner, ran up a slight hill, then turned another corner and approached the finish. I started tearing up, but that caused me to lose my breath so I stopped. I finished and slowed to a very unsteady walk, making my way through the finish corral. My time was 3:42:57. Not Boston, but pretty damn good as far as I'm concerned.




I've heard people say a million times that marathons are like life. And they are. You work hard for them, and most of the time the work you put in ahead of time directly correlates to the results you get. And as in life, you can never quite predict what will happen in the course of a marathon. You can train for it all you want, but sometimes it's going to go worse than planned and sometimes it's going to go better. The best thing to do when the going gets tough in a marathon is to focus on the present; focus on putting one step in front of the other. And eventually, you'll make it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Studio Space

Hi all! I'm back. And guess what? I moved. That's right—I moved into an apartment that's all my own. If you follow me on instagram or twitter, this isn't such big news. It's been over a month since I made the move. But it's new to this blog so we're going to go with it.



If you had told my childhood self that one day I would move into an apartment all on my own I would have been terrified. It sounds like an overstatement but it's not—I was such a homebody growing up. And honestly, if you would have told me a year ago that I would live by myself I wouldn't have believed you. The thought of living alone used to scare me. A lot. I really didn't think I would like it. But then life happened and through a series of events and circumstances getting my own place became the best option. I searched high and low, in every neighborhood of the city (and spent an embarrassing number of hours on craigslist) until I finally found a place that felt right. And on September 1st I made the move into a small but fitting 414 square foot studio.

And guess what? I've been loving it. And that's not even an exaggeration. I've loved waking up and walking the ten foot distance to make my morning coffee. And playing music as loudly as I want without worrying about bothering anyone. And reading Mindy Kaling's book in bed at night, knowing that when I laugh out loud there's nobody one room over getting annoyed. I've loved having my own fridge, my own space. Knowing that if there's a mess, I made it...and if everything's spotless it's because I cleaned it. There are so many things to be said for having a place of your own, and I can tell I'm learning a lot about myself along the way. 






And then there's the decorating. I'm ever so slowly making this place come to life. Remember how I said I spent an embarrassing number of hours on craigslist looking for a place to live? That doesn't really compare to how many hours I've spent browsing my favorite home decor sites for pieces to help this little apartment come together. These past few years I've soaked up so many decor posts online, and now that it's time to filter down all the inspiration I've taken in, it's a little overwhelming. But as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day (yes I'm comparing my studio apartment to Rome...it's fine). And I for one am going to take my time. If I'm going to invest in something for my home it's going to be the right thing. And if I decide to just pick something up from Target or Ikea and call it a day, that's just fine too.



So here's to a new start, in a new place that I really love. Be sure to follow along for updates as everything comes together. And if you have any tips for decorating a small space on a budget, please feel free to share!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Everygirl Team Conference

Hi all! Finally, a post. This is exciting stuff. I must admit, it felt a little odd to log in to blogger and press the "new post" link at the top of the page. I haven't published a thing since my birthday five months ago. And that's just crazy.

Today I wanted to share a recap of The Everygirl Team Conference a few weeks ago. Although co-founders Alaina and Danielle are in Chicago, most of the team is based all across the country. Together we represent Minneapolis, Chicago, Madison, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. I had never met the majority of the team before, so when I heard we would all be able to get together in person I was thrilled.

The conference took place the third week of July. I flew in on Wednesday night and and headed straight to the hotel. I got there around 10 and was able to meet up with some of the team as they were finishing up dinner in the adjacent Current Restaurant. From there I went up to my room and settled in. I stayed up way too late painting my nails in bed and watching the Kardashians (judge me if you must but that is some good entertainment in my opinion). And the next morning I woke up to this sunny view outside my room.









We stayed at the W Lakeshore and I loved this hotel, you guys. I've had a few less-than-perfect hotel experiences in the windy city so it's always a relief to find a hotel that has beautiful, clean rooms and comfy beds. And the location is as good as it gets in my opinion. If I hadn't been so excited for the conference, it would have been really hard to get out of this bed.



At 8:30 I went downstairs to the conference room and met everyone for breakfast. And I got my very own TEG mug, out of which I've been drinking these green smoothies (everyone drinks their smoothies from mugs, right?).



From there the meeting commenced and we spent the day discussing our work process, story ideas, and what we see for the future of The Everygirl. At 1 we broke for a true Chicago lunch -- deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's and 312 Beer. And a beet salad! (!!) Little known fact about me: I love beets. I was genuinely thrilled to see three different kinds for lunch.










After lunch we took headshots and team photos with the talented Katie Kett. Here's one of the whole team.








After another few hours of meeting we had an hour or so pre-dinner to do whatever we pleased. I walked around Michigan Avenue for a bit and changed into a favorite dress from Parc Boutique. The evening light in my hotel room was beautiful.






And here's a photo of the view from the lake side of the hotel. Navy Pier in all it's glory.



I walked to dinner with Megan, Juley, and Lauren. We all met at Beatrix and had a wonderful time. If you ever find yourself there, order the caramel pie for dessert. You will not regret it. Three hours passed in an instant and I was sad to have to say goodbye to everyone. Alaina, Danielle, Allyson and I went out for another glass of wine (because when in Chicago...) before we called it a night.



On Friday I woke up and went for a run along the lake. As much as I had been looking forward to every other aspect of the trip, this was one thing I couldn't wait to do. I'm (hopefully! pending a few nagging injuries..) running the Chicago Marathon this fall and I was so happy to get a taste of running in the city before then. And the views from these lakeside paths weren't too shabby, either.



From there I went to do a little work with Alaina, Danielle, and Allyson before flying out that evening. And I got to see Buddy! And Tuck! And Fiona! Alaina and Danielle have thee cutest pups.

To say I had a wonderful trip would be an understatement. The only disappointing thing was that I couldn't stay longer. It still blows my mind a little to see how much TEG has grown over the past few years, how much my role has changed, and how much I continue to love what I get to do for the site. From graphic design intern to associate editor, I've learned a ton over the past two years and have met so many amazing people along the way. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for The Everygirl.

I hope you all are having an amazing summer, and thanks so much for stopping by today! I promise I'll post again when inspiration strikes. In the meantime, feel free to follow along with my daily musings on twitter and instagram.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

24



Today I turn 24. My first thought?
Finally. 
It's not that 23 was so awful, but everything certainly did not go
as planned, and I'm ready for a fresh start. 
Most people get their fresh start on January 1st, but I'm not much of a 
New Year's Day girl. I didn't even make any resolutions this year. 
As far as I'm concerned, my new year starts today.
I have big dreams and big goals for my life, and each
birthday seems like a fresh start. 

I wonder what me as a little kid would think of me today.
Is that too deep of a thought for a Tuesday?
Oh well.
I'm sure she would think I was really old.
Because as a kid 24 is ancient.
 I hope she would be proud of me.
Although if I'm being honest, the fact that I'm neither a singer 
nor a dolphin trainer would irritate little Jackie Jo to no end. 
But she would get over it.

So here's to 24. 
Here's to many reasons to smile, fits of laughter, late nights, 
embarrassing moments, and probably a few tears along the way.
Here's to less time looking at a computer or phone screen 
and more time living in the moment.
Here's to setting goals and going after them.
Like really getting my act together and going after them.
Here's to The Everygirl, the reason for many of those late 
nights but also so many proud moments.
Here's to this little piece of the internet, and here's to 
you for reading along.

I'm off to a birthday brunch, because if you know 
me, you know brunch is all I really need to be happy in life. 
Okay fine - brunch, health, friends and family...
plus new episodes of Parks & Rec and
New Girl, because I like sarcasm and I really like to laugh.

Here's to 24.

image via