Return to the Land of the Living

I spoke too soon earlier this week when I thought I was finally beating my cold.

After leaving work early on Monday (I was exhausted by lunchtime), I started coughing, coughing, coughing. I woke up Tuesday with a brick on my chest. Luckily, my doctor squeezed me in last-minute that morning and, guess what…. I have bronchitis. Joy!

Thankfully, my doc said it was literally just starting, so with the antibiotics she prescribed + the all-powerful Mucinex, I should be feeling relatively back to normal in just a few days. Phew! I actually felt a bit better last night already (maybe it was all in my head)—but I was so glad to feel like I was back in the Land of the Living. I actually had an appetite and was super excited for some pancakes as a late lunch…

banana pancakes

banana pancakes

I was even excited that I had the energy to do the dishes and some laundry. Sad, I know. Ha!

I’m feeling better just in time to welcome my fiance’s brother, coming from the UP of Michigan, to our house for the next several days. He’s in need of a little vaca because he’s been working a TON lately, so we’re excited he’s coming to spend some time with us! We have lots of plans in mind. He just started running, so I’m hoping I feel well enough to take him to my running club Saturday morning. I think we’re also going to Milwaukee for a day; doing some shopping; possibly taking the train to downtown Chicago (I don’t think he’s ever been there); and just spending some much-needed time relaxing and catching up. It will be fun!

Any recommendations on things to do in Milwaukee or Chicago this time of year? I usually only visit during the summer months or right around Christmastime, so I have no clue what to do in the fall when it’s a bit chillier.

Speaking of chilly, to warm myself up today, I got my first spiced apple cider of the season. Mmmm. Delicious. I’m usually a hot cocoa girl, but I’m supposed to be drinking “lots of clear liquids” while I battle this cold stuff, so apple cider sounded divine. Uhh, hopefully that counts.

mmm...spiced apple cider! first of the fall

mmm…spiced apple cider!

Good thing that Kleenex in the background of the pic is censoring my notebook cover. Twice. 😉

Stay warm & healthy, friends!

Hot cocoa or apple cider? Things to do in Chicago & Milwaukee?? Go! 

A Little Loveliness, Edition 2

How ‘bout a dose of loveliness to start out the week?

When I posted my first edition of A Little Loveliness, I thought I’d be putting these lists out there more often. I guess that whole running a marathonthing got in the way, but don’t worry! I have a whole bunch of wonderful things that we can crush on together, right now.

Maybe it will take my mind off the un-lovely cold that I’m still battling. Sniff sniff.

A Little Loveliness, Edition 2

1. Burberry Brit Perfume
Ohhh, my favorite perfume ever! It took me forever to go through my first bottle of Burberry Brit, and I finally restocked my scent a few weeks ago. I never would have thought I’d be a perfume girl, but I love how fresh, sweet and light it is. Matt gawked over the dough I spent on it, but after a little whiff the next time I walked by him, he got over it. 😉

2. Lovey-Dovey Typography Print
From GrammaticalArt
As a designer, I’m a sucker for fun typography. I also love the saying: “You piqued my interest the moment I laid eyes on you.” I can remember the first time I saw my fiancé, Matt, and remember thinking, “Hmm, who’s that?” I think this is definitely a must-buy for me!

3. Chunky, Cozy Infinity Scarves
I’ve been seeing these all over and just want to rub my face on it. Okay, I sound like a weirdo, but doesn’t it look so soft and cozy? With the temps starting to drop, I think I need to buy (or knit my own??) stat! White, or grey like this? Maybe both?

4. Wooden Chevron iPhone Case
From HelloNutcase
I love the rustic wood + the pretty pastel coral & mint chevron. My current iPhone case is falling apart (it may or may not have chevron also). I think I’ve found my replacement!

5. Letterpress Calendar in Wood Stump
From 1canoe2
Ah, I was so happy to stumble across this calendar on Etsy! I actually bought the 2013 letterpress calendar & mini wood stump holder at the Renegade Craft Fair last year in Chicago. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it at work, and it’s so handy sitting right by my computer. (Plus, super cute.) I had no idea the artists were on Etsy, let alone sell refill calendars, so you better believe I’ll be purchasing a refill for 2014.

P.S. If you have an artsy friend, I think this would make a fun holiday gift!

6. Bigelow Green Tea with Peach
Over the last week, this tea has been my savior as I’ve battled with this stupid head cold. With a sore throat and constantly feeling chilled, this hot peach green tea with some honey is the perfect cure. I think I’ve gone through almost a whole box in the last couple of days—in fact, I’m drinking a mug right now! So good.

There you go! That’s my list of lovely things for now.

What are you loving lately? 

A Sick Weekend

Remember in my last post, when I said I was not looking forward to avoiding getting sick?

Well, I failed. Between Matt being sick at home & all the people coming in to work sick (gah, stay HOME people!), I caught some kind of cold/sinus something.

Bitching aside [I cut out some ranting for you, you’re welcome], I could be worse. In the last several years, if I got a cold or flu, I’d then come down with horrible sinus infections AND bronchitis, etc. After being miserable for days, I’d finally go to the doc’s and have to get some sort of antibiotics, usually.

But, over the last year, I’ve really changed my health for the better: Regularly running and exercising, eating better, taking vitamins, getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water. These habits have helped me not get as sick when I come down with something. I never feel 100% down for the count (more like 75%, I guess), and instead of taking a week or more to recover, I only take a couple days.

I guess my point is: Be healthy, and you stay healthier! It makes all the sense in the world, and everyone knows you’re supposed to have the healthy habits I listed above. But, to actually use those habits and feel the difference it makes (like, not being 100% miserable all weekend) makes me “see the light” and will help me stay healthier going forward.

So, what does one do on a sick weekend? It’s been pretty wild and exciting, really.

On Friday, I could tell I was coming down with something, and after dinner I went downhill quickly. Matt was still recovering form his illness, so we relaxed and watched The Hobbit, then went to bed early.

After 12 hours in bed (crikey!), I finally rolled out Saturday morning, definitely not feeling my normal self. I had started reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty last week, so I spent most of the morning lying on the couch finishing that.

What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot is such a thoughtful and intriguing book. I won’t go into the plot, but it really makes you think about the choices you’re making now and where you see yourself in the future—and then wonder if your future self will look back and question those choices you made or the things you thought were important. Especially for me, about to get married and start a whole new life with someone, and then in a few years have kids, etc.—it was really interesting to read and reflect about all the work, time and effort that keeping relationships good and whole involves over the years. It’s important to not forget the little things, to communicate, and to remember that those you love should always come first—not your obligations.

A lot of introspective thinking for someone who was lazing about sick, no?

Anyway, the rest of my weekend has been far less thoughtful and eye-opening. It involved catching up on a lot of my guilty-pleasure TV shows (Survivor, Pretty Little Liars, and Vampire Diaries), and last night I rallied up all my strength to go see Captain Phillips at the movie theater. Matt and I were both going a little stir-crazy at home, so a movie was a good reprieve. And what a fabulous movie! Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast amazed me with their acting skills—it’s one of those movies where you forget you’re watching a movie with actors, and become totally immersed in the characters and story themselves. It was full of action and suspense and, for being based on a true story, a thrilling plot. Go see it!

Today, I’m feeling a bit better, but I’ll be lying around again so I hopefully feel back to normal tomorrow. I’ve run out of books & TV shows to watch though, so any suggestions out there?

It’s funny—I used to look forward to weekends of doing nothing and lounging around, but now that I’m more active and have a house to take care of/still organize & decorate, I guess it kind of drives me crazy!

What do you do to get better when you’re sick? Any guilty pleasure TV shows? Any book recommendations?

Things I’m Looking Forward To + Rachel Zoe

Whew! We made it to Thursday, people. It’s been a long week on the work front—lots of hours and last-minute projects. I guess that’s the norm in the marketing & web world, but sometimes it gets a bit draining. Looks like taking some extra time off running this week was good timing, because at least I’m not 110% drained at the end of every day.

On a positive note, lots of good things have been made, and we’re in the process of making so many improvements at work. I will just keep those positive thoughts in mind, keep my nose down to the grindstone, and truck along. That’s how I do.

Speaking [writing?] of making great things, I want to share with you the big project I was working on a few weeks ago: I work at Jockey International, and we’re partnering with stylist & fashion icon Rachel Zoe. Have you heard of her? She’s kind of a big deal. 😉 Anyway, a couple weeks ago we soft-launched our new microsite for new “cheeky” underwear that she promotes—that’s right, NOT granny panties! I put a lot of time, effort, and, umm, possibly some wine into this site. Check it out and let me know what you think of it!

Jockey + Rachel Zoe Microsite

Jockey + Rachel Zoe Microsite

Things I’m looking forward to in the next few days:

• Getting engagement photos back soon.
EEEEEE [<– imagine a high pitched girly noise here] I will fill you in on our amazing wedding photographer & all that jazz once we get the pics! Here’s a sneak peek:

shot by The Salty Peanut Photography

Engagement Photo Sneak Peek

• Chef salads & soup for dinner.
Simple and relatively light. Yum.

• Having a beer with said “light” dinner.
Balanced diet. Er, yeah.

• Staying home this weekend and “winter-izing” our house.
What does one do to “winter-ize”? We just know we need to get our shit together before the snow starts falling, which could literally be any day now. Damn you, Wisconsin. We plan to get our deck cleared off & our garage organized, and then get some major cleaning around the house done. I know, sounds exciting. But I will feel good when it’s done!

Things I’m not looking forward to:

• Avoiding Matt’s sickness the next few days.
The flu/cold has been going around work and now Matt’s been home sick, too. I’m trying to get lots of sleep and have been taking my drug cocktail in hopes of staying healthy. And by drug cocktail, I mean: Vitamin C, Zinc, Echinacea & Garlic pills. Usually works like a charm!

• Cleaning the garage out this weekend.
I know, I just said I’m looking forward to it above, but there are always so many spiders and bugs and it’s like a dead bug graveyard and ugh. Just not my favorite thing ever.

• Cutting back on sweets again.
I’ve been pretty lax on my diet the last two weeks, with the whole marathon euphoria convincing me I can eat whatever I want. It’s been tasty, but I can feel my jeans snugging back up, so I guess it’s time to get all that sugar back under control!

spoooooky cupcake

buh-bye mr. bat cupcake

• Bundling up.
Brrrr. It was 34 degrees when I left home this morning. I fear fall is on the downswing and winter is coming…

What are you looking forward to this weekend? What do you do to “winterize”? What do you think of our Rachel Zoe website? 🙂

The Stages of Marathon Recovery (a.k.a. What the Heck to Expect When It’s Over)

Ever since I ran my first marathon about 10 days ago, I’ve been on a post-marathon high. I’m probably one of those cliché, annoying runners, who talks about it every chance she gets. But, hey—I ran a freakin’ marathon! I worked hard for months, I’m super proud of myself for getting there… People get to talk about their kids or pets all the time, so I am going to talk about my running. 🙂

102313_ran_marathon

Luckily, you’re all here voluntarily.

I have to say, recovering from the marathon didn’t take as long as I thought it would. People keep trying to tell me that’s because I’m only 26. Ha

But for me, I went through what I shall call the 4 Stages of Marathon Recovery…

Stage 1: The Day of the Marathon (a.k.a. PAIN)
I shuffled around; groaned a lot; and had trouble lifting my legs, er, at all. I popped Advil like it was my job. Stairs were a joke. Sitting = heavenly. My right knee felt like a 90-year-old’s. I probably looked like a 90-year-old. Passersby and strangers stared a bit—I just made sure my medal was blingin’.

Why yes, I feel like I'm about to fall over and I'm caked in salt. Please take my picture.

Why yes, I feel like I’m about to fall over and I’m caked in salt. Please take my picture.

Stage 2: The Day after the Marathon (a.k.a. Why is that sore now? )
Walking was halfway back to normal. My knee felt akin to a 70-year-old’s knee—quite painful going up and down the stairs. Working from home, sitting on the couch with my legs propped up, was the best ever. But, every time I stood up, the soreness came flooding back like a tidal wave. Ooph. With slightly less leg achiness came newly sore body parts—my back, my shoulders, my lower abs, my arms. What a lovely surprise! I wanted to go to bed by 7pm.

Stage 3: Two Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. Advil = Life)
Popping all that Advil over the last few days must have helped. Walking around felt pretty normal. But, after sitting at my desk for an hour or more, getting up and stretching my legs felt like straightening out tightly-wound Slinkies. My knee was progressing to a 60-year-old’s doesn’t-yet-need-to-be-replaced knee. My appetite was voracious. My fatigue was returning to normal, and I stayed awake until almost 9pm. Woo.

Stage 4: Three Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. Did I really do that?)
The return to normalcy! Walking, sitting, standing, even squatting to pee = normal. Joy. Only the outside of my hips still felt a bit sore, and that was only if I jiggled them around weird to see if they still hurt. Ha. The pain had worn down, the euphoria was still in full-swing, but with passing time the marathon began to seem like a dream.* My appetite wasn’t slowing down. A giant bakery cupcake may or may not have made a minor appearance at dinner before disappearing into my bottomless pit of a stomach.

And now I suppose I’ve entered stage 5…

Stage 5: Ten Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. What’s Next?)
I’ve enjoyed taking the last 10 days off from running. I’ve been relaxing, getting a lot of ignored housework done, and just spending time with friends and family. It’s nice not rushing to leave work to go run before it gets dark; or just simply come home after work to make dinner and relax the rest of the night with my fiancé. But, the itch is creeping back up…The urge to run and see how these legs feel again…To get out in the crisp air, eating it up by the lungful as my feet kiss the road and leave it behind me. Soon, I will get back out there.

But not today. Today, I’m enjoying the triumph for just a while longer.

*Yes, the marathon seems like a dream, not a nightmare. Like I said, we runners are a rare, special breed…  

How do you feel mentally and physically after you reach a big goal or race? How long do you take “off” afterwards, to recharge yourself?

My running buddy Liz finished the Chicago Marathon, but it didn’t quite go as planned; then she went on to run a half marathon last weekend with a PR for the year. Wow! I guess we all recover differently, huh?

Mommy-Do Lists & a Wedding Weekend

Last week, my mom stayed at my house to spend some time with Matt & me, and help us with some house projects. Now that she’s retired, we like to keep her busy. 😉 We’ve been making her a “Mommy-Do List” and she put a good dent in it for us.

Here’s my fave handiwork from the week. When we bought our new house six months ago, we inherited this sweet camouflage painted room.

102113_camo

The Camo Room

Thanks to mom, we no longer had to shield our eyes when we walk by it!

102113_beige2

Camo, be gone!

Buh bye, camo. Hello, normal neutral beige.

My mom is the best!

On Friday night, we took my mom out for dinner and a movie as a thank-you for all the help.

Dinner was at Twisted Cuisine, which is one of my favorite restaurants. Their chef takes so many ordinary dishes and “twists” them into something interesting and delicious, with unordinary pairings or unusual ingredients. For example, there was a salmon dish on the menu that includes ginger snap and a pear gorgonzola vinaigrette. I’d like to see how those flavors come together!

I didn’t go with anything crazy on Friday, though. They had seafood cannelloni with a cream sauce that sounded too good to pass up, so I went with one of their more “normal” dishes. I guess all the marathon carb-loading has me on a pasta kick now. This dish was SO tasty, but also so rich that I barely ate 1/3 of it before I was stuffed.

I also had a pumpkin pie martini that tasted JUST like pumpkin pie…

Pumpkin Pie Martini

Pumpkin Pie Martini

It wasn’t too sweet, and had a yummy graham cracker rim. Pumpkin perfection.

After dinner, we went to see Gravity in 3D. Wow, that movie was visually amazing! It’s definitely worth seeing in 3D. It felt so real, like you’re actually there sometimes…which was kind of stressful, considering the story is about two people who basically get stranded in space. You kind of feel like you’re stuck out there with them. The movie kept me on the edge of my seat, and it was so suspenseful and intense that I was honestly a little relieved when it was over. Ha!

On Saturday, we said goodbye to my mom around lunchtime, as she was heading to my sister’s to spend a few days with her. Then Matt and I headed to Illinois for the weekend. A good friend was getting married on Sunday, and Matt was standing in the wedding, so we readied ourselves for some serious celebrating.

The weather was spotty Sunday, but luckily the sprinkling rain diverted itself long enough for the ceremony to be held outside. It was short and sweet, and Ross and Victoria were so happy and in love. I may have teared up a couple times… I am a sucker at weddings!

102113_wedding

102113_wedding2

Congratulations you two!

We had a fun time celebrating with friends and the bride & groom’s families. It was definitely a night for the books.

Matt and I took vacation today since the wedding was just last night, so we got to start out the week by chilling at home, catching up on some TV shows and just relaxing with each other. Wish we could do this every day!

How was your weekend? Have you seen the movie Gravity? Are you a sucker for weddings like I am? 

Running the Chicago Marathon, Part 2

It was pitch black when I woke up at 4am on marathon morning. The silence of the city drifted through the windows, by which I mean—a sort of humming, punctuated silence that never quiets completely. There was something already present in the air, something thrumming around me: excitement, anticipation. The city knew what was happening that day.

Realizing I had no chance of falling back asleep, I got up to pee for the umpteenth time. (Good hydration!)

Before I knew it, my two sisters & I were awake and ready to go. My mom snapped a picture of us before we left, remarking on our uncanny ability to look happy and excited at 5am with the prospect of running 26.2 miles weighing on us.

Ready to go run the marathon!

Ready to go run the Chicago Marathon!

What can we say? Runners: We’re a special breed.

It took about an hour of walking + train travel to get downtown near Grant Park, where the race started. We stopped in at the nearby Hilton to drop off our bags with my older sister’s running club, the Alpine Runners.

We followed the signs to find the right room…

101913_chimarathon_1

Note: Follow the yellow sign.

Funnily enough, they wouldn’t let us into the elite breakfast.

It calmed me to meet and talk to a few of the Alpine Runners as we prepped ourselves to head to the start corrals. I shook out any nerves I had. For the time being, anyway.

Brandi and Lara headed up to the wave one corrals (they are speedy) while I went to my entrance for the [slower] corrals.

Heading to Corral G.

101913_chimarathon_3

I kept an eye out for my friend Jessica, who was in the same corral as me, while I waited and stretched in the crowd. I figured there was no way I’d be able to spot her…

The corrals were packed!

The corrals were packed!

And then suddenly the crowds parted—and there she was! Yay. By this time, I was definitely getting super nervous—it was finally hitting me that I was actually going to RUN A MARATHON—so it helped to have a friend and someone to chat with while we waited over an hour to start.

Waiting with thousands of other runners to start.

Waiting with thousands of other runners to start.

The first wave of runners took off running at 7:30, but our corral wasn’t set to start ‘til 8am. Finally, at 8:08 I crossed the starting line and the marathon had BEGUN!

Oh my gosh. Is this really happening after all this time?

I quickly got split up from my friend Jessica and her running partner, but I knew that would happen as soon as I started my 10 min. run/2 min. walk plan anyway. I had my headphones and running playlist all set to go, but as the hordes of cheering people and music started filling my eardrums, I knew nothing on my playlist would match that.

The pure energy from the crowds, the music blaring over loudspeakers, the runners all around marching to the beat of some unknown drum, the sun rising brightly, the crisp and cool air—it just couldn’t get any more perfect.

I decided to just take it all in for the first 13 miles, and soak up as much of the experience as I could while I still felt great. I knew the second half of the race would be tougher, and I’d need to focus more on how I felt, making sure I was staying fueled, keeping a strong form, etc.

But for now, I would simply enjoy the ride.

Action shot taken while running.

Action shot – taken while running!

I got 10 minutes in and it was time for my first 2-minute walk break (all in effort to keep my rehabbed ITBS from bothering me). Let me tell you, it was mentally painful to stop and walk already. I was so amped to run, the last thing I wanted to do was stop! Every time I hit a walk break, I got to the outermost edge and made sure nobody was directly behind me, so I wouldn’t cut anyone off. It was so packed though, that I nearly always felt annoying and in the way of the other runners. I also felt people in the crowd eyeing me up, and actually a lot of spectators wouldn’t even look at me—they were probably thinking, “Dang, it’s this early and she has to walk already? That girl’s never gonna make it!”

But, I knew it was the right plan for me, and I had to do it to make it to the end. So, every 10 minutes or so, I diligently stopped for my 2 minutes of walking. (I admit, sometimes I’d get to 90 seconds and decide that was long enough!)

Suddenly, I was crossing the halfway point of the race. Mile 13. It sounds crazy, but I remember thinking to myself, It only feels like I’ve been running for half an hour. That is how inspiring, entertaining and motivating the crowd support was in this race (and, I suppose a nod to my training paying off). It was absolutely amazing to feel like 13 miles had literally passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye!

Around this time, I also spotted my fiancé on the side of the course, and got a little good-luck hug and smooch. Even with thousands of other people yelling support to you mile after mile, seeing a loved one makes all the difference in the world. I took off trotting from there with doubled ambition.

By mile 15, I started to get a bit tight and achy. Considering my comeback in the prior 6 weeks or so before the marathon didn’t include a ton of running, 15 miles was a lot of pounding that my body wasn’t used to.

I also realized, at this junction, that math is not my strong suit…as I had miscalculated how many Shot Blocks to bring for all 26 miles. I was going to run out of fuel at around 18 miles. Marathon rookie mistake. It all worked out, as the race volunteers were handing out bananas later in the race. I was able to eat some banana, and thankfully my stomach was fine. As a fun bonus, I felt like I was in a real-life Mario Kart race as I ran around trying not to slip on banana peels. Those suckers really ARE slippery!

At mile 18, I had the realization that, Hey, this is the furthest I’ve ever run! Awesome!

I probably looked better than I felt. Silly runner.

I probably looked better than I felt. Silly runner.

That marveling thought was quickly followed by another realization:

Hey, I still need to run 8 more miles though. Awesome…

I hadn’t hit The Wall yet, and felt fairly decent, so I wasn’t worrying. But by mile 20, which you hear so often as really being that threshold to The Wall, I started to feel it. I was really starting to ache all over: in my feet, legs, back, shoulders… And every time I stopped for my walk break, it was becoming harder and harder to start again—not mentally, but physically. I was literally groaning out loud in pain as I’d start to transition from the walk to running. I told myself to stop being a diva, but I couldn’t control it.

At mile 22, after my 2-minute walk break, I started running again and decided that if I stopped to walk anymore, there was a good chance that my body would not be able to start running again. There were people all over the place walking at this point, and ironically enough, this is when I decided I needed to STOP walking.

Those last 3 miles felt literally as long as the entire rest of the race. My body ached, I was tired, my ration of Shot Blocks was gone, and I was nearing 5 hours of running. FIVE! It was 100% heart, soul and mind that got me through those last couple miles.

And then, with a mile to go, I started hearing a familiar tune over some speakers someone had set up on the sidewalk…  One of my all-time favorite songs, Kings of Leon’s “Fans” was blaring. I felt a huge grin transform my face, feeling like a goon, and probably looking like a freak as I shuffled along. But I didn’t care, that song was just what I needed to push me along for a couple more minutes.

I was still smiling as the notes drifted away behind me, when all of the sudden I heard, “AMANDA!” out of the roaring crowd, with a half mile to go to the finish.

Happy to see some familiar faces at the end of the race.

Happy to see some familiar faces at the end of the race.

My family & friends were there on the side of the course, screaming and yelling for me. They later said they were surprised to see me at that point looking SO happy and smiling! Their cheers pushed me on for that last half of a mile, and my legs were flying beneath me, pushing me faster and faster. I was relishing the moment, oddly lamenting that I was about to be done, my goal was about to be achieved—but at the same time, I just wanted to be done. I was so close.

101913_chimarathon_8

Turning the corner, there was a bit of a hill at the end, and I wove in and out of people as I continued to pick up my pace. I don’t know where all that extra energy and speed came from in the end, but it rallied me forward faster and faster and then… Then it was there in big, bright letters:

FINISH

With whatever strength I had left, I lifted my arms up and smiled as I crossed the finish line.

I am a runner.

I am a MARATHONER!

Chicago Marathon 2013 Finisher Medal

Chicago Marathon 2013 Finisher Medal

Three sisters = Three marathon runners.

Three sisters = Three marathon runners.

Final clock time: 5:06:43