Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

"Being" something is so much easier at 2.
Remember back when you were a kid and you thought you could be whatever you wanted? Sure, you had no aptitude for science, engineering, math...but you were going to be an astronaut. And for a while there the call of ballerina was strong. But seeing the of hours upon hours of nothing but training and not eating required made you rethink that real quick. Of course, by the time you were in high school, you wanted to be something else anyway. Your moods for careers changed the same way little kids want to be four different things for Halloween in the course of about four hours (how does one dress up as a monster/fire engine/astronaut/pumpkin/superman?).

And then you get to college. And you start to hone your choices based on, one hopes, the skills you have displayed and what you like to do. Through the course of your education, you have found you have a way with words, or at the very least, an ability to put them down on paper in a semblance of something close to a sentence. And you don't let the fact that you can't seem to spell your way out of a paper bag stop you. And your spotty grammar education just means that once you do decide to be a writer, well, you'll finally learn how to use a comma and write in active voice.

Fine, so now, through trial and error (acting), you have a settled upon career path. You may not have a five year plan, but you know the general direction you're headed in.

And so you go out into the great big world with the skills you've learned over the past 23 years and you get a job. And you learn more skills. And you get a new job. And then you get laid off. But then you find a different job. And then you earn an advanced degree to advance your career. Then you get new a new job. And then you've stumbled  into a career which isn't really the direction you wanted to go in college, but it's not too bad and it pays the bills and then some. But then you hate your job because your boss micromanages without telling you what he really expects, so you get another job. And you like this job because your team is great, and you have fun, and you like what you do. But then someone moves your cheese and now this job is just another job. And you're beginning to think that maybe you don't have a career, you just have a job. That really you're just another cog in the machine. And the best you can do, and the most you want to do, is to do your little thing, nothing less, and certainly nothing more. And maybe that's OK. Because at the end of the day, the things that make life worth it aren't always what you do from 9 - 5 (8:30 - 4:45), it's the stuff you do on the weekends and after work and with friends.

Of course, you'd love to be one of those people who "love" what they do. But I think it's a little too late to become a ballerina now.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finding balance

I have just read this post by Cary Tennis, Salon's advice columnist, about working at a job you don't really enjoy and what to do with your life. It hits pretty close to home. There are many aspects of my job that I really like. I like the team I work with. I like the flexibility (in some ways) this job affords me. Of course, I've earned those vacation days and flexibility by having worked here for six years (not to mention the fact that I've been working pretty much since I turned 16). To some extent I even like the work. Is it my life's calling, communications at a multinational financial firm? No, not really. But I'm not working the check out counter at the Jewels? No, but there are days that I think the check out counter might be better.

The days when I remember that the firm I work for is part of this whole financial system that is "too big to fail' and doesn't actually "do" anything other than make people (and not real people, other firms and banks and the such) money. The days I arguing with the powers that be that sending a communication should actually communicate something and not just be spin that you want your employees to hear. The days we are told we need to do more with less and work smarter.

Some of these problems, issues, would be issues no matter what firm I might work for because that's just the way companies are. At their best, most companies are dysfunctional families. Everyone takes their turn being the black sheep. Everyone gets scolded for doing what they thought their parent/manager wanted but didn't really want because they don't know how to explain their expectations. This is because companies are run and populated by humans and, annoyingly, humans are human.

People put up with this because...well, I guess because that's the way our world works. We are in no Caillou dreamland where things are easy and wonderful and cute. We are square in the middle of Dilbert where bosses are idiots who think they are showering you with love when they provide free coffee and a wrist rest so you don't develop carpel tunnel syndrome. I put up with it because I have grown accustomed to my level of living and I have a child to provide for, and a car payment, and student loans, and a husband who is looking for work. Have I cut back to the bare minimum so I can live more freely? No. I like nice (but not crazy nice) clothes. I like my iPhone and cable and stuff. And I don't even think we have that much stuff. I know people with a whole lot more stuff than us. But do I live better than a lot of people in this world? Heck yes. Do I live a better than a lot of people in this country? In this city? Yes. I know I do. And I am grateful for that. 

So while I would LOVE to follow Cary's advise and give it all up, cancel the cable, and the phones and buy all my clothes at Salvation Army and only check books out from the library and commute via bicycle - seriously there are times I would actually like to do that stuff because I know we could live on way less than we do right now and one of the things stopping me from really finding my dream job (whatever in the hell that might be) is knowing I'd probably have to take a pay cut - I just can't.

But like everything else, maybe we take it in moderation. Maybe we say this month we're not going to eat out at all and make more meals at home. Next month we're going to only enjoy entertainment that is free. And someday, hopefully soon, I'll figure out a way to create a better balance in my life. Between my job, and my passion and my family. If you have any tips, send 'em my way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Actually missing running

Going to try and hop on the treadmill for a couple of miles today. Thinking how nice it would be to get up and go for a jog by the lakefront on Sunday morning. It's only been two weeks since my last lakefront jog (the only bad part of the marathon is that it's all on the roads) and I miss it. I miss seeing the same people and stopping at the same water stops. What's happened to me? Have I turned into a runner (aka slow jogger)? I predict this feeling may pass by Sunday morning, but you never know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thank You!

Back when I first signed up for the marathon, the initial reason was because I wanted to do something for Children's Oncology Services and more specifically, I wanted to support my former nanny and friend Colleen. The love and care she showed my son and my family made her a great nanny. The passion she shows for Children's Oncology Services and camp make her a great person. When she told me she was heading up the effort to find runner's for this year's Team One Step marathon team, my first thought was "Great; I'll definitely give a donation." Only after a couple of crazy conversations with my sister, husband and mom did I think "OK, maybe I should show some real support and sign up for the marathon". 

By signing up to raise at least $1,000 for COSI, I knew I'd have two very difficult tasks: (1) training for a marathon and (2) raising $1,000. If you've been following along with the blog, you already know what training/running a marathon is like. Raising funds, that's a different story. I've raised funds for causes before. It's hard to go out there and ask people for money - especially when the economy isn't the greatest. Most of the people I know are wonderful people who already have their own charities they give to or raise money for. But that's why I signed up to do this race. To let my friends know that I was willing to do the really hard work if they could just kick in a couple of bucks for a great cause. And you know what, they did - you did.

So I'd like to take this moment to say Thank You. Thank you for all the wonderful donations and words of encouragement. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog each week and cheer me on. And most importantly, thank you for helping give a child with cancer something that many other children take for granted - the chance to be a kid enjoying camp. 

Thank you Angela and Chris, Uncle Tim, Jen, Barry, Mike, Ben, Ken, Katey, Terri, Earl and Sasha, Jessica, Dawn, Sara and Mike, Jennifer, Tracy and Simon, Alana, Grandpa, Nachama, Kirk, Tamara and Gus, Dad, Angie, and Dave ... and Karen and Sharon (the donations just keep coming in).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What it's like to run a marathon

Of course, this may or may not be similar to anyone else's marathon experience. As they say, your mileage may vary - but not much more than 26.2.

The beginning of the day started out early, around 5:30. We had done as much as possible the night before, so all we needed to do was get dressed and head on out the door. As I suspected it would be, the train ride was surreal as everyone else on the train was headed downtown for the exact same reason. After dropping our stuff off at South Branch where the Team One Step pre-race gathering and after party was held, we headed to the start line. I suspect downtown is pretty barren at 6:45 a.m. Sunday mornings. Marathon day is no different except runners and the wonderful volunteers already starting to set up aid stations. After a quick port-a-potty stop, we head to our corral and wait around nervously with all the other runners. During this time you do things like jump up and down to keep warm, contemplate taking off your extra outer layer of clothing but then decide to wait until the last minute and think about the possibility of just hopping in a cab and going home.

Jackie's smiling because she's only run a few miles.
Fun fact: In cooler temperature races, runners will often shed an outer layer of clothing right before or along the race course, which then gets donated. It's fun to see all the shirts, gloves and what not fly overhead. What's probably not fun is getting hit by a fleece because Mr. H. didn't quite make it to the sidelines. Again, anonymous runner who my fleece landed on, we're sorry.

I won't take you through a mile by mile breakdown of the race because that would take too long and probably be boring. But here are some quick thoughts on different things:
  • Even though I peed right before the race, I pretty much had to pee again right away. I waited until the first set of port-a-potties around mile three. However, many men decided that any old wall would do, and there were several of them lined up along the Columbus underpass. So if you're down there and it smells like pee, it's not the homeless people, it's runners.
  • Everyone tells you not to go out too fast. And I told myself not to go out too fast. And I knew I was running too fast the first few miles and tried to slow down, but still was running too fast. It's hard to pace yourself at the beginning because it's just so amazing and exciting and crazy. I guess that's why the pros have rabbits whose job is to pace them for the first several miles.
  • It's great running along the streets with no cars and people cheering. Cannon Drive, Sedgewick, Jackson Blvd, the IIT campus, south Michigan Ave. - all great running streets and such a different view without cars and traffic.
  • You can actually run (even at my slow pace) down Sedgewick faster than you can drive down it in normal traffic.
  • Going north for 7 miles and then turning around and going back downtown is great (this part made even better by seeing my first cheering section Sara, Mike, Sasha, Sophie, Abbey, Jackie, David, Mom, Stephen, Eva Kay, George, Alexander, Issac, and Aiden). Heading west out of downtown and knowing you're only half way to the finish line, not so great.
  • I LOVED running through all the neighborhoods. I was so happy to have so many people cheering through the back half. Pilsen, China Town, even along South Michigan Ave. where there weren't that many people, but those who were there knew how to give you that last bit of encouragement.
  • People love to make clever signs such as: Cheer for this guy (arrow pointing down); Go Anonymous Runner Go; I'm clapping but you're chaffing; Try not to poo your pants (lots of variations on that theme); If you poo your pants, I will judge you; Run like zombies are chasing you; Run faster, the Bears play at 3; Chuck Norris never ran a marathon; Beat Oprah; I thought you said 2.62 miles; Only 26.1 miles until free beer (lots of beer related signs). Of course my favorite sign was the one Sasha and Sara made saying Go Melly Go.
  • An orange has never tasted so good than after you've run 22 miles.
  • Bananas taste even better at miles 23, 24, 25.
  • Knowing you have to go up a hill right before the finish line doesn't make it any easier, but knowing as soon as I turned that last corner onto Columbus I would be able to see the finish line made me determine to keep going.
  • You will never be so happy to stop running as you are when you've just run 26.2 miles (even if your watch says you have done 26.5).
  • You'll probably cry a little bit when you see the finish line, cross the finish line and have a medal placed around your neck.
  • Those Mylar blankets really do keep you warm.
  • Walking a mile back to the after party hurts a lot and takes a long time.
  • Sitting down feels great, getting up, not so much.
In the end, I didn't go as fast as I wanted to go. My official time was 5:23:05. My watch time was closer to 5:11, because it doesn't include the two stops I made. I hit the proverbial wall somewhere between mile 20 and 21. I didn't necessarily want to stop totally, I just knew that I didn't have much more in me to continue to "race" anymore. Luckily I had my sister with me to help me push through.

And now the question, am I going to do this again? Amazingly, I am not that sore. I pretty much went to sleep right after we got home and rested most of the next day. But we did get up and around and by the end of the day yesterday, I was amazed at how good I felt. Part of me thinks that's because I didn't push myself as hard as I could but I also think it's because I trained and was in a good place for the run. I do know I could go faster. Nothing crazy, but I'm pretty sure I could reach my goal time of somewhere between 4:45-5 hours. Does that mean I want to try and do that? Maybe, but not anytime soon. Right now, I'm just happy to be done and to have a really good excuse for NOT going for a run.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I guess this is it

I own (or may own) all of Chicago
Not much more to do now but wait, rest, eat carbs. Yesterday, Mr. H. and I headed to the Marathon Expo at McCormick Place. It was pretty fun. We were able to pose for pictures in the Nike area as well as with Da Coach.  We walked around, got our packets, tried on shirts and picked up a cow bell.

Earlier in the day, Mr. H. made a trip to Salvation Army to get some throw away clothes for the start line. Good news is, they'll just be donated again, along with the thousands of other items that will be shed at the beginning of the race. 

So this is it. You want to know what it feels like the day before you run a marathon? Sort of like the day before you get married. Or the day before you start at a new school. We're pretty anxious, excited, overwhelmed. I just hope I'm able to get some sleep tonight and that this excitement means I get through at least the first half of the course on sheer adrenaline. 

Mr. H. only gets 26.2 miles of it
If you're in Chicago, I'll look for you along the course. I'll be wearing a bright yellow hat, jogging about 11 min miles and wearing a Team One Step t-shirt. I'm sure you'll be able to pick me out. For those of you playing along at home, here's how to follow along.

Tracking Runners
The link below has a section on it called, Runner Tracking. Once you go to that section, you register, and then you can sign up to follow me and any other runners you know via text, Twitter or Facebook.  I've signed up to track myself via my Twitter feed and Facebook page. My Twitter feed is over to the right of this page. So you should be able to see when I cross 10k, 1/2 way, 30k and the finish on both this page as well as my Facebook page.
You can also follow along with the race on NBC 5 - and for any of you out of towners, their website has quite a bit of info:

I think we all know who this is
So this is it. Thanks again to everyone who has donated and supported us. A special thank you goes to my mother for coming over every Sunday for the last 18 weeks to watch Baby H. Mr. H. and I wouldn't have been able to train for this without you.

Running/fundraising stats for week ending October 7 (except for you know October 7)
Miles run this week: 7
Training miles to date: 402.22
Miles left to run (including the marathon): 26.2
Dollars left to raise: ZERO!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 17 - The last long run

Eight miles - that was all I needed to do yesterday. Eight measly miles. Of course, it was hard getting out the door, but once I was out, it was a good run. Well, actually it was one of those runs where I felt like I was going slow but after I was done and looked at my watch, I saw I was going quite a bit faster than I had imagined. 

This upcoming week, the final week's training runs are pretty short, just 4, 3 and then a final 2 mile run. I don't know where I'll find the time. 

I can't describe the anxiety and anticipation I have going on right now. One minute I feel great, I can do this. The next I'm wondering at what mile will my leg fall off. I guess I'll just have to trust that I've trained enough and that there isn't a whole lot more that I can do. 

I've had a couple of additional donations to my fundraising page, thank you so much Uncle Tim, Jen, Angie and Michael. There's still time to give you you want. You can by clicking on the link on the right hand side. Also, Mr. H. is still working to meet his fundraising goal. So if you haven't had a chance to contribute, you can do so to him here:

Running/fundraising stats for week ending September 30
Miles run this week:12
Training miles to date: 395.22
Miles left to run (including the marathon): 35.2
Dollars left to raise: ZERO!!!

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