how do you like them apples?

Go BIG or go home in the BIG APPLE!

If all goes well for the next 242 days, I will be one of 50,000 running all 5 boroughs of the Big Apple on November 6, 2016 at the New York City Marathon.Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.24.43 AM

I’m relieved to say, it was actually Mike who convinced me to register… After the excitement of Chicago, I thought I’d chill-out this year but the NYC marathon has been on my running bucket list so Mike said what’s the harm in trying? (Like Chicago and other big races, it’s a lottery which I tried and failed at three times before so I think he assumed it was not going to happen). Hah! I’m in.

Convo with Mike:
Me: I got in! This will make 2 out of 6 for the World Marathon Majors
M: Awesome, what are the 6?
Me: Chicago, New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo and Boston … (Boston you qualify based on time, it’s not a lottery)
M: Well, you can at least try for the first 5…

* * *

No plans have been set in place but I am pretty excited! Marathon five + five boroughs = dreamy.

What about you – have you singed up for anything lately?

psst. Sadly, the NYC marathon lottery closed so I can not invite you to run with me however it is not too late for Chicago. Best.Race.Ever. I found this video yesterday of last year’s race and it gave me goosebumps… I was there!

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winter is coming

I dislike winter, but I think I dislike Game of Thrones More….

Still friends? Moving on.

Fall is over. Done! Did you accomplish everything on your list? I didn’t but that’s okay. After all, It is the time of year when you should be thankful for all of the amazing stuff you DID accomplish this year and start planning all of the things you will and won’t attempt to do in 2016. That list is coming… but today, I’m looking back at what happened from October 1 to December 21 – Feeling it. Falling for it

  1. Write 2-3 posts a weekYes! Mostly two but was anyone counting?
  2. Wallpaper something – No. I will keep adding this to my lists until I actually do it.
  3. Paint somethingYes! We still have not tackle our bathroom update but I painted my sister’s bathroom vanity. Chalk paint for the win.
  4. Run a marathonYes! Chicago. (warning, Chicago comes up often on this list)
  5. Rake leaves – Yes! And in all honesty, I’d rather shovel. Say it ain’t so. 
  6. Carve a pumpkin – Yes! We asked random trick-or-treaters who’s pumpkin was the best and David won. So much for the classics. 
  7. Avoid all things pumpkin flavoured. Unless in a pie – Yes! I ate a slice of pie and avoided everything else despite the marketing overload. 
  8. Visit the beach – Yes! We went for a walk on the Gulf Shore in Pugwash on a beautiful fall day.
  9. Sharpen the skates and skis – No. But we need to. The Oval is opening soon and Mike is checking the webcam at the ski hill daily.
  10. Visit the valley – Yes! Amanda and I took David to the valley in search of some pumpkins and fall foliage.
  11. Conquer a corn maze – Yes! At the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago. They have nothing on the size of both the maze and the stalks in comparison to the valley. 
  12. Pick apples – Meh. We did go to the valley to pick apples but didn’t actually pick apples. We picked out apples from the local market in the valley and I did pick some crab apples off the ground of my backyard.
  13. Make apple pie – Yes! Yum. 
  14. Watch season 1 of Game of Thrones – Yes! We are on season 4.
  15. Make my 2016 calendars – Yes! I’ll show you later.
  16. Make my 2015 holiday cards – Yes! And a newsletter too.
  17. Make David’s halloween costume Yes!
  18. Dress up for halloween – Yes! I was a cowgirl.  
  19. Dye my hair pink – Meh. I bought pink hair chalk.
  20. Drink cider – Yes!
  21. Travel via train, plane, automobile (and boat) but no need to watch the movie – Yes! In Chicago
  22. Visit a new city – Yes! Chicago.
  23. Buy a souvenir – Yes! A Christmas ornament. It’s my souvenir of choice when travelling. 
  24. Visit a museum –Yes! Chicago.
  25. Throw a party – Yes! a taco party.
  26. Swim laps – No. Like wallpapering, I will keep adding this to my lists until I actually do it.
  27. Declutter & update my sock and underwear drawersMeh. I have purged. Now I need to restock. 
  28. Hike a new trailYes! It wasn’t Everest but when we visited the valley, Amanda, David and I went on a lovely little hike through a park – there were turkeys and bunnies and ducks; oh my!
  29. Try a new restaurant in Halifax – Yes! Lot Six and Temple Bar Cocktails and Kitchen
  30. Make soup – Yes! Ina Garten’s Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons

24 Yeses, 3 Mehs and 3 Nos… I’ll take it as a win. I am actually excited for a new season and especially excited for a new year. Have a safe and happy holiday and may you check everything off your list!

IMG_3908Fall on the Golf Shore, Pugwash Nova Scotia. Taken with my iPhone.

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the many magnificent miles of Chicago

When you start checking real estate online it’s a true sign you love a city… if only Chicago didn’t have winter.

As promised, here is a recap of our week in the windy city (and I will barely mention the marathon)! I did not take a ton of pictures with our Nikon but my iPhone came out a lot.

Wednesday: We arrived mid-afternoon and rode the blue line 29 stops to Austin station. We decided to stay in Oak Park, which is a 30 minute subway ride outside of the city, in an airbnb. It was a much more affordable option for 5 people X 7 nights and the place was great. My mom (who drove down and hiked Mount Washington!) greeted us with supper.

IMG_3615We’re off… never pack your running shoes when you fly to a race

Thursday: I had an 8 km run in the morning so I made a route on mapmyrun.com and marked off all of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes. I am a big fan and he has 8 homes on one street. (I also ran by Ernest Hemingway’s birth home because it was only a few blocks over.) We spent the day riding a hop-on hop-off bus around the city and had lunch at Navy Pier and at the end of the day we went way up to Skydeck on the top 103rd floor of the (Willis) Sears Tower. Mom and I left the boys at made our way to West Elm for a book signing by Young House Love. Fan girl. My mom was very confused to learn that some bloggers have actual fans. Ha!

IMG_3630Running tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Oak Park

IMG_3643 IMG_3634DSC_0457 IMG_3637 IMG_3661Riding around on the hop-on hop-off bus with a lunch stop at Navy Pier

IMG_3659 DSC_0461On top of the city – views from the Skydeck

IMG_3665As luck would have it … when I was at the front of the line, Nicole from Making It Lovely popped in to say hi to John at Sherry of Young House Love. Double score!

Friday: Mom and I went the race expo and the boys spent the whole day at the Shedd Aquarium, which they loved. That evening we went back to Oak Park for Friday night pizza (including the famous deep dish) at Giordano’s.

DSC_0469 Shedd AquariumIMG_3667 IMG_3674Agora: a group of 106 headless and armless iron sculptures at the south end of Grant Park + mom
IMG_3678Deep dish. Obviously

Saturday: We drove (I was trying to stay off my feet) to the Lincoln Park Zoo where we saw lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Plus giraffe, rhinos, monkeys, gorillas, zebras and kangaroos… etc. It was free and fun. Afterwards we made a pitstop in Wrigleyville to see the Wrigley Stadium and buy some souvenirs. Saturday night, we relaxed at home – mom made a lovely pasta dinner.

IMG_3703 IMG_3707Lincoln Park Zoo
IMG_3714Wrigley Field – Home of the Cubs

Sunday: Marathon (see here). As soon as the race was over we walked to Cloud Gate. Apparently everyone else who ran the marathon had the same great idea. Because the Art Institute of Chicago was next door, we decided to spend the afternoon there… what’s a few more steps? I changed and cleaned up in the bathroom and shuffled around the museum. Totally worth it.

IMG_3734Cloud Gate
IMG_5479DSC_0450The Art Institute of Chicago

Monday: We headed into town early for a 10:30 am Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. This was my favourite part of the trip (besides the run) – the buildings and urban planning in Chicago are out of this world and I loved every bit of information she threw at us. I also loved sipping my mimosa on the deck of the First Lady. Afterwards we went to the Field Museum of Natural History.

DSC_0510 IMG_3759DSC_0509 DSC_0511 DSC_0512 DSC_0513 DSC_0514 DSC_0515 IMG_3742 IMG_3743 IMG_3750 IMG_3760The Chicago Architecture Fundation River Cruise on the First Lady

IMG_3762Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS!!!) at the Field Museum
IMG_3763Field Museum of Natural History

Tuesday: We went to the Museum of Science and Industry. This is a must do if you are in Chicago! They have the legit German U-505 Submarine that you can tour plus many other fun things to do and see. Afterwards went finished the vacation off at a sports bar eating burgers and beer and watching the Cubs win.

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Wednesday: My parent left in the car and headed towards my sister’s house in New York state and we made our way to the Airport.

As I’ve said many times, there hasn’t been a city in the states I haven’t loved and Chicago kept true to my word. We spent most of our time in museums but the neighbourhoods were lovely (I ran through 29 of them) and was overwhelmed throughout the whole week by how friendly the people were and how much they respect their city!

I may be an east coaster who thinks she’s a California girl but Chicago got to me.

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run, there are bears in Chicago!

So many people, so many great signage but my favourite was RUN, there are bears in Chicago!

Marathon 4 is done. Sorry this is long but so is a marathon…

357082_208083846_XLarge(Photo by race photographer about one minute after the finish)

I am going to write all about the fabulous city of Chicago in another post but today it’s all about the run. The training seemed a little off all summer; I never had a fist-pump-that-was-awesome long run and felt like everything was a struggle compared to last year. As the tapering approached I had these knee and ankle pains that I hoped were just phantom problems but part of me was worried. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t go into this race with big expectations and just wanted to have fun and enjoy the craziness of the event. After all, 45,000 runners and +2 million spectators is something to get excited about.

My goal was to finish with a negative split. Ha, that didn’t happen but to be fair, it was a hot day and with the promise of sun and temperatures reaching +24 by noon, I decided it was better to run faster before the heat kicked in.

We arrived in the city on Wednesday, giving me many opportunities to see parts of the course. There was definitely hype building and a lot of fit tourists roaming around. The energy was awesome (probably because the Cubs are HOT right now and the city is going nuts) #gocubsgo. After a great 8 km run around Oak Park on Thursday morning and a ton of sightseeing, I decided to skip my last 5 km run on Friday. I was nervous I was putting in too many steps and not resting enough. On Friday, mom and I went to the expo. It blows my mind how well-organized such a big event can be. We caught a free shuttle and the ease of picking up my kit was great. Although it wasn’t that busy when we were there, we didn’t stay too long. I bought a visor because I was worried about the sun when they sent out a weather warning.

IMG_3617 IMG_3669 IMG_3672(iPhone photos: Subway ticket, weather alert, race expo)

Fast forward to Saturday night – one of the perks to staying at an airbnb is homemade food. My mom made spaghetti and I tried to go to bed early. My alarm was set for 5:00 am and we were out the door by 5:40 am. I have never mastered eating a lot before or during a run – gels and power bars are not my friends and I can only drink a little bit of water and Gatorade so had a piece of toast and peanut butter plus a swig of coffee before I left and sipped on water. I went into the city with my Mom and it was great to see more and more runners boarding the subway at each stop. It was a beautiful morning and not too cold but I layered up and decided to check a race bag for the fist time ever. My mom got off before me and made her was to our first planned spot on the course where she was meeting Mike, David and Dad and I went to the start.

Once I got off the subway I quickly saw what 45,000 people looks and feels like. There was a mob of people flowing through security and I had a quick moment of panic when I realized it was 6:30 and I only had 50 minutes to get through security, check my bag, line up for a porta potty and get to my corral before 7:20. However, what amazed me was how smooth everything went and I was standing in Corral D with 10 minutes to spare. I wasn’t too cold and only wore my arm-warmers but what concerned me was my stomach was growling… I was hungry and knew it’d be a long time before I’d be eating again! After the American anthem and wheelchair start, the race started at 7:30 and we herded our way to the start. I passed though at 7:41 and quickly thought, this is it, go time!

357082_207371364_XLarge 357082_207447805_XLarge(Photos by race photographer)

IMG_5452(Photo by my mom of the leaders)

We started inside the park, where there were no spectators allowed, and flew through a tunnel. It was filled with echoes of cheering and men pulling over to pee then we funnelled out on to the street and the crowd erupted. I couldn’t hear my music and thought this is insane! What surprised me more was it stayed like this the whole way through the race. It honestly felt like you were at a finish line every 5 km and the signs, high-fives, music, dancing, and noise can really move you along. I saw my mom at 4 miles and was feeling great.

IMG_5458(Photo by my mom near mile 4 – I pulled one of my arm warmers (aka cut up nylons) down and kept it to wipe my face)

DSC_0476(Photo by Mike about 4.5 miles into the race, I didn’t see them but they saw me)

At 10 km, I began to question a slight pain in my left knee and right ankle and decided to only think about one at a time to distract each part from bothering me. At 16 km I started looking for my family and sure enough, there they were. A high-five from David pushed me on and before I knew it, I was back downtown and approaching the half-way mark (still feeling pretty good). We passed over timing mats a lot and knowing I was being tracked by my family and friends near and far kept me motivated.

DSC_0486(Photo by Mike near 16 km – I was very excited to spot them)

The second half – this is when I always slow down and struggle. I stopped for my first sip of gatorade and water at 23 km and was feeling weak (remember how hungry I was at the start). The 3:50 pacers passed me and I was mildly discouraged but I focused on PILSEN knowing my family would be near the 30 km cheer zone. Sure enough, there they were. I stopped and popped one energy bean in my mouth and said I was okay… which was mostly true. I felt weak and was hurting but at this point, I thought 12 km… no biggie and kept going.

357082_207703877_XLarge

I stopped at almost every gatorade stop and started drinking gulps and pouring water over my head. The 3:55 pacers passed me and I was very discouraged but decided to keep them on my radar. The last of major turn onto Michigan ave. was tough – I could see the city in the distance and knew the end was close but those 4 kilometres dragged on… my watch was reading more distance than the course markers were and I tried to pick up my pace a bit. I couldn’t see my family at the last turn but knew they were there so gathered the last bit of strength and pulled myself up the (only) hill and through to the finish. Official time: 3:56:20 and my watch read 42.9 km! My first thought was damn I could of had 3:55 had I made the 30+ turns more efficiently but then I smiled because it was so much fun.

357082_208490732_XLarge 357082_207813927_XLarge(Photos by race photographer not sure when but at least after 25 km because my sunglasses are on)357082_208513374_XLarge(Photos by race photographer near 35 km – I think the jazz hands are my attempt at looking happy and positive…) 357082_208006978_XLarge(Photo by race photographer at the finish – my first ever fist pump finish)

What amazes me is how fast this race flew by. Sure, there were hard and painful parts but overall, it never felt like I hit a wall! I had a lot of fun and smiled more than I ever have during a race. The crowds and volunteers were amazing and I can’t say enough about how beautiful Chicago is.

357082_208206862_XLargeScreen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.56.04 AM

My only criticism would be the finish. We finsihed back in the park and unless you pay big bucks, spectators were not allowed. It is a bit of a let down for family and friends to not see the finish. I walked for what felt like 100 metres before finding water and I really wished there was chocolate milk. As I kept walking and gathered more and more loot (a bag of food, my race blanket, a banana, a cup of Gatorade… it was getting to be a handful but then there was beer. Free cold beer. Sure, chocolate milk is awesome but a cold beer… I think I said I love you to the beer lady. With all of my stuff I kept walking to bag check and then on to the family reunite area. Although it was incredibly organized, it felt like I walked another few miles. I finally got to the “R” sign where I found my family right away. We stayed for a bit longer and then made our way to Cloud Gate (da bean).

IMG_3719 IMG_3726 IMG_3730 IMG_3732

Looking back, I am thrilled – I got a personal best by 2 minutes despite some pain, hunger and weakness. The flat course is fast but not as easy as I expected. I can’t believe I am saying this but I think I missed the hills – there was never a point in the race when you could climb then fly down an I think 42 km of the same gradation is hard on your body because every step you pound down feels the same. Even though there were 45,000 runners, it was never too crowded – very little congestion and unlike PEI, I never felt lonely. Chicago, thank you – it was such a great experience!357082_207447654_XLarge

I’ll be back to write about everything not-running we did in the city.

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four for four

The problem with marathon training (now tapering) is it consumes you. You invest a lot of time and energy in the +16 weeks before a race so it is not surprising you want to talk about  it all.the.time.

Like being pregnant or having a new baby – It is all you think about, talk about, and think everyone else wants to talk about but really, they don’t. Not that they don’t love you and your baby, it’s just not always on their mind. So please bare with me because I have two weeks to go and Chicago will be my fourth baby marathon (knock on wood). In anticipation, I have four things to talk about today:

1. The plan: I am ready to get going. Mike, David and my parents will be in the crowd and I am truly excited to take it all in. That being said, I am not setting a goal. I’ve run big races before (Philadelphia and San Francisco) so I am okay with large crowds and corrals at the start but I think Chicago is a league of their own. I would love to finish under four hours, and it’s possible, but I also want to have fun and experience the atmosphere. I think my only expectation is to try and pace myself at the beginning so I can enjoy the end. In PEI I went out way too fast in the first half and found the last 8 km to be dreadful. I know Chicago is flat and fast so I have to pay attention to my pace and attempt to run (for the first time ever) a negative split. Okay, forget what I said before. That’s my goal. (Read my PEI marathon recap here)

2. Long runs: Not gonna lie… I found this summer’s long runs hard. Maybe it was the humidity, but I am feeling a lot slower then last year. I also wish I did another half marathon this summer for practice and speed but despite the heat, I got out and did all the miles. It is was it is. I started listening to audiobooks (The Girl on the Train and All the Light We Cannot See) as an alternative to music (see below) but I am wondering if the slow narration is an anti-motivator. I’ll listen to music and the crowd it Chicago. Sorry Audible.com… you are not as energetic as Taylor.

miles

3. Rum Runners: So this happened. It’s one of the local events that has been on my radar. A few years ago I was invited on a team but I couldn’t make it but this year, my former Cabot Trail Relay Captain Extraordinaire, Robyn, formed a team and invited me. Yah! The timing worked well because I wanted to do five races this summer and this would be the finale – plus, with two weeks until Chicago, it was a great practice race.

IMG_3534

The best part about a relay is running with a team. When you run, you have a crew of cheerleaders lining the road and when it’s not your turn, you get to be a cheerleader… which is a workout too. I ran leg 1 (13.4 km) at 6:30 am. It wasn’t the most scenic leg but that didn’t matter because it was dark. I was relieved to run in the early morning despite the chilly temperatures and finished in 1:04. Our rookie team did great and we cheered our hearts out. It’s a beautiful course from Halifax to Lunenburg and there were bean burritos and homemade salad at the end. Yes.IMG_3554 IMG_3557 IMG_3560 IMG_3564 IMG_3567 IMG_3576 IMG_3577 IMG_3596

4. Music: I need some new music. I have been running with the same mix for almost two years. Although it keeps growing I need to edit out a lot of the songs that are starting to annoy me (Blurred Lines, Happy, etc.). I am open to great suggestions and as you can see, I will listen to just about anything. My most recent download is Ryan Adam’s 1989 but I am not sure he’s much of a pick-me-up. The plan is to listen to music all the way to kilometre 41. I already have Kayne West’s Gold Digger on my list. Help.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.49.47 PM

That’s it. I will take a bunch of pics in Chicago and recap but then that will be it about running for a long time. I need to get back to bathroom re-dos, calendars and holiday cards.

If you too are running a fall race, good luck!

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg