enjoying every second of life and running


Cross Country

Rob and I will be leaving this week to run the Rock and Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon on Sunday. We will be driving to Vegas and bringing Coco with us. 🙂 It will be quite an adventure! I will be tweeting, posting on FB, and writing on the blog the whole way. We have never been to Colorado so I’m excited to see it, even if for just a brief moment. 🙂 Hopefully we will come across some sites along the way like the largest ball of twine.

I had my last official Graston’s Therapy session yesterday. I have some tentative visits schedules post-race, but they are only if I need them. I’m cleared to run as I was, now I need to focus on getting back into shape so I can prepare for Boston. This race will likely not be my fastest, but I’m excited to race pain-free!

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She’s On Fire

So much to catch up on in the blog. I’m traveling for work which means missing Rob a ridiculous amount, running in gym hotel as often as possible, attending a conference, attending events, working online in between things, getting in some new restaurants and a bit of shopping.

So here are some of the highlights from this week.

I had some great classes at the conference.

It’s the whole point of the trip and I do have to say I learned some new things and feel energized to get back to my work efforts.

I got in workouts at the MGM Grand gym.

MGM Grand has a Cardio Room that is not a part of the SPA gym. It’s included in the hotel package that came with the conference reservation, so I didn’t have to spend any money each day to work out. I could have went out on the strip for some miles in the AM, but I didn’t have anyone to go with and I think it would have been only worth it to have someone to run with early AM before classes, so I stuck to the treadmill. Some days I was able to get in a run in the morning and evening. One challenge is Vegas gyms typically don’t open until 6am. And most close around 6pm-8pm. That makes it very challenging to get in workouts around other events like classes. It’s like people in Vegas hotels don’t want to workout early or late, I can’t see why not. 😉 Actually it caught me off guard because I was at least expecting the gyms to be available via hotel swipe 24/7, like most places in other cities. It seems like security cameras to keep an eye on things and a card swipe would make it handy for people to choose their hours to workout that fit their schedule.

Me and Jo after I got registered for the conference. The weather wasn’t good Sunday, but I had to work on a report anyways so I was stuck inside most of the afternoon anyways.

I rode the NY NY roller coaster.

After dinner with our friends Jo and Larry and their friend Dave, Jo and I took a ride on the NY NY roller coaster. It was a blast and you get a unique look at the strip and the Statue of Liberty from the coaster. I love that Jo is up for adventure anytime. Even when we were all dressed up she suggested we go.

Us at Broadway Burger Bar in NY NY.

I had the steak salad.

I got to see the Palms and Ghostbar.

We had a work event at Little Buddha which included some delish passed appetizers.

Afterward we went up to check out the amazing view from Ghostbar. It was perfect because it was a Monday night so there was really no one there but event people so it was super chill.

If you haven’t been to Ghostbar, definitely check it out. It’s a great view of the city.

I got caught up with people I haven’t seen at work in ages.

Our company is huge and that means that when you move on to other work assignments you can go a long time without seeing previous teammates. It was nice to get to have breakfast, lunch and dinners with co-workers and catch up on what they have been up to. Our friends Bob and Larry are into SCUBA diving. Rob and I have Advanced and Technical Certifications that we would need to get renewed, but we’ve dove in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. Getting to hear about their trips all over the world make me itchy to get back out (into warm water dives of course).

One of our lunch meet ups was at Red, White and Blue at Mandalay Bay. I had the lobster cobb salad, with no bacon and no dressing.

We also ate at Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan. I’m not a fan of buffets, but this one was so exceptional that it’s worth trying. The food is little bites of some amazing chef crafted dishes that I can’t do justice writing about.  I got a couple pictures in the Cosmopolitan on the way to the restaurant.

Crystals drip down three floors, surrounding a bar and lounge area.

The famous large shoes. I got pictures in a couple on the floor of Wicked Spoon.

Some other note worthy eats was Fleur in Mandalay Bay.

Tuna taco appetizer with serrano, cilantro, and avocado cream.

The halibut with braised leek, grilled scallion, and sweet corn.

I was able to get in a bit of shopping.

Oh yeah baby! I can’t go to Vegas and not hit up my favorite store, Louis Vuitton! I got this sweet purse. Perfect for the times when I need just my phone, wallet and lipgloss and that’s it.

I also picked up a new wallet for Rob, his first LV. 🙂

The event party included a concert with OK Go!, train and Pete Wentz DJing!!

The event party was held at the M Resort off the Las Vegas strip.

Ok Go!


Rob and I have always wanted to see train in concert so this was a real treat!

Pat extended “She’s on Fire” with a country rendition for part of the song.

Then he asked for ladies to join him on stage to finish out the song. About 30-40 women got on stage. I was one of the first and Pat hands me a shirt and says “quick put this on”. Turns out it’s a t-shirt that says “trainette”. He says normally he is only allowed 7 women or so on stage, but he goes with it and has us all shout where we are from at the same time.

Then he has us all dance for a bit to the song, I stayed near the back, no need to shake my money maker up there. Then he had us sing the rest of the song. Pat moved around the stage so much and my phone camera wouldn’t cooperate as I tried to get pictures. Pat holding out the microphone for us to sing.

My trainette t-shirt. The had was an event hat they gave out to attendees.

The band was very nice and Pat even announced to the crowd that they would be around hanging out after the show. During the show he even took people’s cameras and took pictures of himself with them.

After the show we made our way to Pete Wentz DJ Booth that was propped up on scaffolding high above the crowd. After his portion he only did a couple pictures before security escorted him away. I was able to get a picture and thank him for coming out.

I was happy to get to do some new things on this trip to Vegas. I hope next time to see the Bellagio fountain show. Three trips to Vegas and I’ve yet to see the show. Also, there are other restaurants I am excited to try. Rob and I hope to be back later this year so we will check off some more items on the Vegas list. 🙂


Often Running

2010 was an amazing year! Rob and I had many fun flights in our airplane, we saw Dave Matthews Band two times this year (my favorite band), Jason Mraz (also a fave) and the Dan Band, went to our first Cubs game, kicked it in Vegas, went sailing for the first time, and ran some memorable races along the way.

2010 running highlights include qualifying for Boston Marathon three times at Mercedes Marathon, IL Marathon and Chicago Marathon. Meeting Kara Goucher and Constantina Dita, plus getting to be a part of the Often Running Racing Team.

I’m so proud to represent the Often Running store, adidas, and this group of individuals. They have been so supportive and have helped Rob and I become better runners along the way. We have a lot of fun running and hanging out with them.

Thank you to Twin Cities Smile Photography for the team photo that will be displayed in the store.

I couldn’t be happier with 2010 and the running season!


2010 Rock and Roll Las Vegas – Half Marathon – 1:40:34

Ah my most dreaded race report….this race went down the crapper, literally.

Consider yourself warned, this post is TMI because I am a runner and s*** happens.

In my previous post I tell you that I had an amazing weekend, it was the best! After our long Vegas weekend we got back into town and I tell people I had my worst race experience ever they immediately say “Well it’s Vegas, you probably cut loose.” Not even close, I wasn’t even close to hung over or anything like that. I had two drinks the whole weekend and those were on Friday.

All of my issues stemmed from traveling and not respecting my stomach. I have a sensitive stomach when it comes to running, it’s plagued me in full marathons and caused me to use the restroom mid-race, but I didn’t plan for this to get me in a half marathon.

Here is where I went wrong: (TMI) I didn’t #2 (aka “make magic happen”) for 3 days! This is a huge issue and I was too distracted by Vegas to really catch the severity of the situation that I was going to experience.

Race morning I had my usual race type foods, granola bar, coffee and some sports beans 30 mins before race start. My stomach wasn’t hurting so I hoped for the best and actually was just excited to race.

We took some Team Throwdown pictures of our throw out sweatshirts we wore from a previous 10K we ran.

The weather was perfect, 40ish degrees, no winds, absolutely beautiful outside. They close the whole strip for the race and later we found out it’s the only time all year they do that. For New Year’s Eve they only close three blocks, so it was really special to see Vegas this way.

We ran into someone in the corrals that recognized the sweatshirts and said he was from IL and knew that race. I then shed my sweatshirt and he recognized my Often Running Racing Team shirt and said he knew the store owner and one of the other team members, what a small world!

I felt absolutely confident that I could be my previous PR. Unlike my last race, this one was completely flat and my legs were ready. I kept the first couple miles slower 7:20s and then gradually kept in the 7:03-7:10 space. The half course is out and back so my plan was to hammer out the coming back.

And then it hit me…like a karate kick to the stomach around Mile 8. I was absolutely miserable. My pace started to slow and I fought to keep moving faster. I figured if I could keep my pace up I could trick my body into holding off the impending potty break of my life mid-race. At the Chicago Marathon I didn’t have to potty until Mile 14 so maybe I could run this race and run straight to a porta-potty. No such luck. I was physically getting a beating from the inside, repeated karate kick type stomach cramps making me feel sick all over. This was the worst it has ever been. I was in utter hell and felt sweaty from my pains. I went past denial to acceptance that I would have to stop and potty, but maybe there is still a chance for PR because I’m near the 1:30 pace group. I had to go so badly that I was fearful with each step that I was about to explode and become the next youtube sensation, haunting me forever. I had to go NOW!!! And of course…no pottys around by the time I decide this has to happen. I was running in fear of what would happen in the next 10 minutes. I began to have desperate thoughts:

Do I cross the course (since it’s out and back) and potty at the stop I see across the way? (a far distance)

Do I run into Vegas to the places I’ve seen before and go to the public restroom? (a super far distance)

This is where my mind began to have thought I have never had in a race before. Out of desperation for a bathroom I consider stopping running altogether and taking the DNF, just so I could walk and plead for someone’s help. I hate that I even considered for one second a DNF, I’ve never felt that way before.

Then I see it, Mile 10.7 a potty and I hurry as fast as my knotted up stomach will let me to get this demon out of my body. Let’s just say 3 Days of demons don’t make for a quick potty. It was the most awful and time-consuming experience taking at least 3 minutes off of my time (and not counting the time lost slowing my pace from the pain). I stopped looking at my watch cause I couldn’t witness the damage this did to my time.

As soon as I got out of the porta-potty I sprinted like I was in a 5K. I had less than that to go, my legs felt totally fresh so why not? Plus I felt like I had just lost 10 pounds. I wanted to make up at least some of the damage, knowing that a PR was gone. That sprint didn’t last long as I received another karate kick to the gut, my stomach was emptier, but apparently not settled. I backed off my pace and thought about how defeated I felt. How I would have to face the clock, face my blog, face my racing team. I didn’t feel like a runner, I felt like a failure. I even considered making a right and bandit-ing the full marathon cause by my calculations I could still make up the deficit in a full and potentially PR if I got my s*** together (pun intended). But alas, it was a desperate and selfish thought, Rob wouldn’t know what happened to me, it’s not right because I didn’t pay for the full, and my stomach would likely rebel again had I kept going anyways.

So instead I faced the clock and put on a big smile to at least salvage some pictures.

I saw Rob waiting for me and immediately burst into tears. He knew what had happened without me saying a word. He was concerned that the 3 days of no magic would come to get me in the race. I was so mad at myself for not respecting my body and not doing more to prevent this from happening. Rob tried to console me, but I told him I need a good 10 minutes of crying and then I would put the emotions away and celebrate Drew’s first Half Marathon. I stood there angry and crying, just so upset with myself. I think it’s okay to have those feelings as long as they are used in a positive way. I wanted to feel the disappointment I had so it would be motivation to do better and not let this happen again. I said to Rob “I must respect my stomach more and get a game plan. I obviously can’t just assume my stomach will be okay. I need to do something different if I want a different result.” I then sucked it up and decided I would do research and make a game plan. For now it was time to celebrate Rob having a good run and Drew’s first Half Marathon!

Rob came close to his PR with a 1:30:45!

We waited for Drew and he came walking up fresh and happy and I immediately tackled him with a hug. Not only did he complete his first half marathon in 2:11:50, he wasn’t beat up. He was moving along great and felt great! We are so happy for him and so proud!

We walked back to our rooms and changed into our Team Throwdown gear and then headed back to watch Bret Michaels concert!

Bret Michaels was awesome! He did “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”, which Rob was excited about most. We had to keep him from throwing his panties on stage. 🙂 One bra was thrown during the concert and I thought how gross and funny it would be if any sweaty sports bras were winged up there, but alas none were thrown.

The concert was filmed and Bret said it was going to be the in the season finale of a new reality show he is doing coming out in the spring. How cool! My stomach had calmed down and I was able to enjoy the show. All the jumping up and down and arm waving did add an extra post race workout. 🙂

Afterward we got cleaned up and went to one of Drew’s favorite places to celebrate his win, Margaritaville.

I had the portabella mushroom fajitas with no cheese or sour cream and they were super yummy!

A few pictures with Mararitaville – Santa.

After some more sightseeing Drew went to see a show and Rob and I had some pizza at Lupo in Mandalay Bay and called it a night.

Thanks to google for the free wi-fi on our plane I did some research on to have a better race stomach experience and found out all the things I did wrong and will do better from now on.

Apparently those like me with sensitive stomachs have a hard time with traveling (let alone then trying to race on top of it). A change in schedule of eating and activity causes magic to not happen. Apparently all the fast paced running around on our feet caused my system to just shut down.

Secondly, not enough water. I drank a lot of water at every meal, but I can say Vegas made me feel dry, like I was never caught up in hydration. Water helps to keep magic happening, so next time LOTS more water is needed.

Third, no exercise was a BAD idea. Exercise encourages regular magic happenings. I hadn’t considered how key this was before. I had some easy miles to run, but quickly gave up running them because there was so much to see and do in Vegas that I knew leg-wise not doing some easy miles wouldn’t make or break the race for me. What I hadn’t considered was how regular exercise keeps my stomach regular.

Finally, eating at the right times and the right things. This is a vacation so eating a half of my Serendipty sundae for lunch is totally acceptable to me, but I should have had that post race. I ate some bananas on the trip, but what I do need to improve upon is the times we eat and also getting more fruits and veggies all together. Our last meal of the day Saturday was at 10pm! I have never eaten that late the night before a race. I always make my last meal 4pm and get to bed at a decent time. So from now on when we travel for races I will adhere to a timely and thought out food schedule and save the sweets for post race.

I loved the weekend and the race itself. I’m disappointed in my choices that messed up my race experience and I have learned from them. I’m glad to have this post completed so now I can move on from this race and do better next time.



7:41 Pace

Overall: 716/19186

F: 143/11925

F 30-34: 41/2155


Vegas Baby Vegas!!!

This is a late post to capture the events of last weekend. As soon as we got back from Las Vegas I’ve been knee-deep in work with not enough time to sit down and catch up on my blog posting or reading.

Last Friday we arrived in Las Vegas and hooked up with Drew. It was amazing weather, 60 degrees! We were walking around with no coats while IL was getting snow.

 We spent all of Friday checking out Vegas and enjoying the sites like the Worlds Largest Chocolate Fountain!

After a sugar loaded breakfast we took some pictures and then made our way to the Las Vegas Marathon Expo.

Drew has his bib number! He’s about to join the ranks of Half Marathoners!

We had the most fun at the expo. Brooks is the company affiliated to Rock and Roll series and at the expos they have this amusement park theme type area where people can try little games and win prizes. Drew and I play the racing game that is similar to an amusement park game with the toy horses where you push buttons to race them, except the Brooks game is runners on a track. Drew ends up winning and got a medal. I tell him “Now you can say you beat me in a race”. We decide to take his picture with his medal to show of his win. We tell him to stand in front of this Human Jesus Lizard display because it makes a funny background for a picture. Up on stage is a platform that looks like fake plastic water. We assume that it’s for something funny that they will be brining out later.

Rob encourages Drew to get up on the stage and stand on the fake water for this photo op and Drew plays along. I’m about to take the picture and as I do Rob notices something….and says to Drew “Are you sinking??”

Yep he’s sinking!!!

So the surface wasn’t hard after all, but at this point we think it’s just like a gel, kind of like a water bed or something until Drew lifts up his foot and is covered in the light blue goo. The people around the area gasp and we totally shocked and don’t know what to do. By the way, Drew had on a new pair of running shoes. The goo is so thick that it was hard for Drew to step out of so Rob helped steady Drew while the Brooks people got towels. They weren’t too pleased with us. We weren’t going to be surprised if we were asked to leave. 🙂

Turns out the mixture was corn starch and wouldn’t hurt Drew’s shoes, but they were tainted a nice light blue. 🙂

After our little shoe adventure we made our way through the expo booths and then got to taking pictures of our team shirts, Team Throwdown!! Drew had us official shirts made so we had to get pictures. But if we are a team then we need cheerleaders!


Our shirt sayings:

Rob – “My sport is your sport’s punishment”

Drew – “Walking is not an option”

CJ – “You’ve just been chick’d”

Love it!! 😀 Thanks Drew!!

Then it was on to more sightseeing and some gambling.

That night we had dinner at Koi and then we saw Holly Madison in Peep Show. We had VIP seats right by the stage and I got Drew up on stage with Holly, it was awesome and an amazing show!

Post show Rob and I split a coleslaw and bbq hot dog from Pinks. We’ve never had that on a hot dog before so I figured it was worth a shot. The hot dog was very good, but the toppings were just okay, can’t say I would order that one again.

Saturday was a lot more sightseeing with a few Hangover moments.

It’s where I keep all my things. Get a lot of compliments on this. Plus it’s not a purse, it’s called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one.

Do you know if the hotel is pager friendly? I’m not getting a sig’ on my beeper.

Can I ask you another question? You probably get this a lot. This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace is it?

We sinned in Sin City at Serendipity 3.

And while the whole weekend was a lot of fun, I had some serious lessons learned at this race, but that I will save for my next post that will include a race report.