Chicago Marathon 2014

Chicago is one of best, or even the best, race I’ve run. Everyone who gushes about its amazingness is telling the truth. I’ve never been around so much constant energy. It’s definitely infectious. If you have a race bucket list, Chicago should be on it.


I don’t really talk about expos anymore because they are all the same to me. I just want to get in, get my race packet, and get out.  But for how giant this race was, it was unusually easy to catch the free shuttle to the expo and to pick up my race packet. Over 40k people ran the race and I stood in a line for about two minutes to get my bib. Super easy.

There was also a lot of great picture taking opportunities at the expo as well. They had big Chicago Marathon signs, a fake start line with a count down clock, and a cool, 3-D, light up course map. This picture was one of my favorites with my girls, Michelle and Melissa, the day before the race.


I have a pre-race ritual that didn’t go exactly as planned. That plan: drink all the booze two nights before a race (I’m serious) because the water/salt retention from it two days later really seems to help out my hydration. Yes, I could also eat a bag of chips, but where’s the fun in that? My pre-race lunch is always a cheeseburger (lots of carbs/protein) and then a light dinner the night before as to not upset the bowel gods. I ate the cheeseburger (Mmm, Portillos) but ended up eating pizza  for dinner (meh, Ginos) which had me a little worried because it was heavy and I need more time to digest that kind of stuff. I never drank on Friday night, not because I’m turning over a new healthy leaf, but because I drank on Thursday night and I’m way too old to drink two nights in a row.

The Night Before

If you’ve been reading for a while and you’ve missed the pooptacular posts of days past, you’re in for a real poopy treat. The day before the race, I was getting pretty worried that the magic hadn’t happened for a good 4-5 days. I was traveling, I didn’t run all week (my normal poop inducer), and I was eating all sorts of delicious food that I usually don’t eat. Not exactly the ingredients for my daily poop cocktail.

Michelle, Melissa, and hubs were giving me expert pooping advice, but I was hoping nature would take its course naturally. With everything that I had been eating, I knew the race would be a disaster if something didn’t happen soon. So, I started with hub’s first suggestion: run two miles on the treadmill at the hotel. Not what I wanted to do the night before a marathon, but that usually gets things going for me. I ran the two miles and of course, it didn’t help. Then, hubs made a trip to Walgreens to “see what he could find.” He came back with this:

Have you guys ever taken this before? I think it’s what they use to clean you out before a colonoscopy, let’s just put that out there. The label said it should work within 30 min – 6 hours. I had nine hours before I had to leave for the race, so I threw caution to the wind and drank that bad boy.

The Morning of the Race

After I drank the magnesium citrate, it was like I couldn’t stop watching the clock. Thirty minutes. Nothing. Two hours. Nothing. I woke up during the night at least four times to pee but nothing beyond that. Finally, seven hours later, I pooped. It was a nice poop. I was happy with it. An hour after that, another poop. A bonus poop, if you will. I was feeling pretty good about that one too. But that stuff lulls you into a false sense of poopy security because an hour after that, all hell broke loose. This was 45 minutes before I had to leave for the race. It came in waves. I thought I was fine, but then I wasn’t.

When I was feeling ok, I would jump up and down and do sit-ups to get things moving faster. I was so worried I wouldn’t make it to the race on time. Eventually, I just had to leave and chance it. I left the hotel 40 minutes late and hightailed it a mile to the corral and hoped for the best.

I got to my gate, walked to the wrong corral, and had to double back with at least 10 other people. There were so many people and even though Michelle and I were texting each other our exact locations, it was hard to find each other. So you can imagine how happy I was to finally find her after the ridiculous morning I had.

Cautiously optimistic about my colon.

After 30  minutes or so, I  gingerly sipped my water/Powerade Zero. I was so thirsty but also worried about upsetting my stomach. So I started the race very thirsty and very dehydrated. Not ideal but my stomach was finally feeling ok and that’s what mattered most at the time.

On a side note, you probably already know I was running for the American Heart Association (more on my thoughts about that later). The team shirt they sent was really uncomfortable so I cut it up and pinned it to my Camelbak so I could represent them.

My Camelbak was filled with water and Hammer Perpetuem (not an affiliate link) and I also carried a water bottle with half water/half Powerade Zero. I swapped back and forth sipping them through the race. I’m probably the only person in the history of racing to carry a water bottle while wearing a Camelbak. I’m a genius.

The Race

The race was so fun and exciting and hard and taxing. There was never a point in which I wasn’t surrounded by thousands of runners and spectators. The cheering was often so loud that I couldn’t tell what song was playing on my iPod. My legs felt unusually good. In fact, I only walked once through the mile 22 water stop. At mile 20, I remember thinking, “holy shit I haven’t walked yet!” I never imagined I could run that far without stopping. If it wasn’t for finishing my water bottle and needing water, I probably would have kept going.

Unfortunately, my shoulder started hurting pretty early in the race. This is the same shoulder pain that I had during my first marathon that turned out to be inflammation from overuse. Ever since then, it comes and goes. I’ve had it on a few training runs over the summer but nothing too bad. It was definitely the worst I’ve ever experience during the race. As the miles went on, the pain got worse. And worse. I ran most of the last half the race looking like Quasimodo with my left arm down at my side because having it in a regular running position was excruciating. So, I kept to the middle of the road, ignored the crowds, talked to my dad in my head, and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I was so pissed because despite my morning, everything else felt great.

Once I saw the 400 meter sign, I booked it. I passed around 10 people and felt like a bad ass doing it. Even in pain, it was the best finish to a race. Plus, I was so freakin’ happy to not be running anymore that my six minute PR was secondary. While I started the hobble through the finisher’s shoot, I got a text from hubs that he was waiting for me just outside of it.

Time: 4:37:50
Pace: 10:36

My Garmin disagrees.

My shoulder was in such bad shape after the race that I couldn’t raise my arm more than three inches off my body, which was concerning. The original plan was to meet up with Michelle and Melissa after the race, but I just wasn’t feeling well enough. So hubs and I sat in the grass for 10 minutes while I ate a protein bar and then we walked back to the room where I stood in a hot shower for a long time. The water helped me get a little bit of mobility back in my arm, enough to be able to reach my hair to wash it.

I’m bummed I didn’t get the post-race medal picture with my girls. I did get to meet up with them for dinner and drinks later that night when we were all showered and feeling better. We tried to make up for it then.

Overall, I loved the Chicago Marathon. I want to run it again right this second I loved it so much. I got to run with some of my favorite ladies and raise money for a good cause. Plus, Chicago is one of my favorite cities and they definitely do racing right.

The Year of the PR

I know I owe you all an update on the marathon and I swear I’m working on it (it’s half written). We just got back in town late last night and apparently deadlines at work don’t disappear when you’re on vacation like I thought they did, midterms don’t take themselves, and Pants is unable to drive herself home from the bunnysitter.


Once I get all that sorted out, I will be back in a day or two with a recap that includes a lot of pain, even more poop, but also a close to six-minute PR.

Finish time: 4:37:50

Marathon #3

This morning, and maybe while you’re reading this, I’m running the Chicago Marathon!

I don’t want to forget the most important reason I’m running this race:


I’m running in memory of my dad by raising money for the American Heart Association. His birthday would have been tomorrow, so the race is also timely. If you’re new around these parts and didn’t read the story of why I’m running Chicago, you can check it out HERE. I’ve already made my fundraising goal thanks to a lot of you, but I’m still raising money. If you have the means to give and would like to or meant to and forgot, you can still do that HERE. Every bit counts.

I’ll talk to you all after the race. In the meantime, check out this thoughtful little gift my team at work put together for me. <3


The gonna hold them to that bag of Oreos. And that second ear on the bunny being X’ed out is appreciated.

Last long run. Cue panic.

My last long run before the Chicago Marathon was on Saturday [deep breath]. While I know I *can* run a marathon, I don’t know how well I can run one. I skipped a lot of week day runs because [life] and [beer]. My long runs have been slow and I’ve walked a lot during them, like last week’s 14 miler that turned into 13.5 miles because my car was there and there was no way I was running farther away from it.

I did that run alone and it was miserable, but I did get a picture of this sweet piece of artwork (barkwork?) in someone’s lawn.

Obviously I’d have a giant, metal bunny with a carrot in the middle.

Going into training, I had the big idea that I was going to PR Chicago. A PR for me would be anything below 4:43:44, but I’d kiss Michelle right on the lips for a 4:30. Once my training runs hit the 11:00-12:00 minute mile range, I sort of gave up on that idea. Then, this past weekend was my last long run, an eight miler that was much faster than usual. So who knows what’s going to happen.

The highlight of that run, besides being faster, was this fancy water fountain with a spout for filling your water bottle. I stood there in awe for about a minute. Finally, Orlando gets nice things!

So what I’m saying is, who knows how Chicago is going to go. I want to enjoy it and not worry about my time, so I think that’s what I’m going to do. If that leads to a PR, then great. If not, then I still ran 26.2 miles and can eat a shit ton of pizza. Both would make me happy.

Oh, and a quick update on Jon Hamm: he’s feeling much better. I even took him to work all last week so I could feed him during the day.

Today, I took him to get his teeth cut since they were overgrown so hopefully he’ll have an easier time eating now. He’s not a fan of being force fed and now that he’s getting better, he likes to spit the food back onto my hand and bite me.

That’s the thanks I get.

He’s Still Alive

Thanks for all your kind words about Hammy. I know some of you are thinking, “it’s JUST a HAMSTER” but I can’t let that little dude suffer. I honestly didn’t think he’d make it through the weekend, but he did so I took him to the animal hospital this morning.

Fatty got weighed.

There’s just something about sitting in a vet waiting room at 38 with a hamster on your lap.

Anyway, it turns out that he has a respiratory infection and his bottom teeth are overgrown (which may or may not have led to the infection). The vet wanted to cut his teeth so he could grab food better, but she thought that might be too much of a strain on him and he wouldn’t make it through. So that will need to wait. We are giving him antibiotics and critical care food to see if he shows any improvement. If he’s better in a few days, they’ll trim his teeth.

I left him at the vet for the day for observation and when I picked him up after work, he already seemed more active and his eyes looked brighter.

Mmm. Syringe feeding.

The vet mentioned that after antibiotics, it’s common for hamsters to die anyway. Hubs read that online so it’s nothing I didn’t already know. I’m sure I just spent a bunch of money for him to die anyway but at least now I have a little bit of hope and I feel better that I did what I could for him. Plus, this is nothing compared to what I did for my guinea pig (rest in peace) five years ago. Why do small animals torture me so?

It would be nice if a hamster’s value went up when you put money into it, like a house. I’d have a little hammy gold mine.

That Time I Cried Over a $15 Hamster

Poor little Jon Hamm isn’t feeling so well.


Ok, we call him Hammy or Hamms because we’re lazy (see also: Pants).

Thursday he didn’t eat breakfast (I give him a little piece of broccoli, carrot, and lettuce every morning). About 75% of the time, he waits for me by his food bowl but when he doesn’t, I don’t think anything of it. Thursday night, he didn’t eat his treat so I knew something was wrong. Friday morning, he was sleeping in a strange spot in his cage. He always hides in the back but he was sleeping up front by the door. When I picked him up, he let me hold him which he hates. I don’t know what it is with me owning animals that hate to be held but the dude will try to squirm away until you put him down. Then I noticed he wasn’t opening his eyes so of course I freaked out and woke hubs up.

While I was at work crying all day and worrying about a damn $15 hamster, hubs did some online research to see what was wrong with him. According to the internet, it could be anything (helpful). We think it could be old age (he was a rescue so we only know he’s at least 14 months old) or a cold or maybe cancer. Hubs went out and bought some baby food, yogurt, and saline solution. We used the saline solution on a cotton ball to wipe his eyes to see if we could get them to open again. It took a day, but they did! Since then, we’ve been feeding him baby food and yogurt 3x a day and giving him water with a dropper. He eats a little bit of his hamster food on his own but not much. If this little dude is going to die, it is not going to be of starvation or thirst on my dime.

In healthier times.

He’s overall better. His eyes are open and look better and he’s back to squirming away from us when we hold him but he’s still not normal Hammy. I’m thinking the outlook is grim. :-(  My heart cannot handle the death of adorable pets. I need an ugly pet. Or a parrot. Those will outlive me.

Anyway, that has been my weekend: worrying about that little jerk. Damn you for stealing my heart, Jon Hamm!

Four for Friday

I had big plans not to number this post. Big plans! But then I couldn’t think of a title and noticed I had four things to talk about coupled with the fact that I’m completely unoriginal. So here’s another numbered post.

1.  Have I mentioned how much I love Hannibal?

No? Well let me talk about it then! Not only have hubs and I watched both seasons of the show, but we have rewatched the movies Manhunter, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising. And now I think I need to read the books. Or at least the first one to see how I like it. But, yeah. Hannibal guys. The addiction is real.

2.  I forgot to mention that when I was leaving for my 22 miler the other week, I opened the garage door to find this waiting.


Hubs brought that home from a “friends” house and lovingly propped that up for me. You can imagine how much I liked it at 2:30 in the morning. Nothing like getting the ole heart rate jump-started before you even start running. Later in the day, I walked by (it was still sitting there because I’m not touching that thing) and it started shaking, the eyes lit up red, and a little girl’s voice said “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Although, she couldn’t have said that exactly because that’s what the Incredible Hulk says but it was something similar and it made me pee a little.

3.  I bought a tank top from Athleta that I didn’t need whatsoever because it was “on sale” and UNSTINKABLE.

$28.99 is not a sale but when I see unstinkable in all caps, it’s like a personal challenge. I needed to know! So now after all my runs, I’m sniffing my sweaty tops like it’s my job. I sniffed this top. I sniffed other tops. I’m just sniffing everything for comparison’s sake. So the verdict: I have no clue. All my sweaty stinkable tops smell just like this unstinkable top – like I came in from the rain. So who knows if it’s really unstinkable.  I’ll keep on sniffing though because these are the important issues.

4.  The Chicago Marathon is in two weeks and I’m totally cool with that. I’m so calm and ready and just super chill about it. Yep, that’s me. Suuuper chill.

October 12, Get Here Already

I’ve been meaning to talk about running more than I have been but [insert excuse here]. It’s four weeks until Chicago. Or less. I don’t even know anymore. Basically, it’s gotten to that point where I’ve gone from supercrazyexcited to uncomfortably nervous.

Shameless Hannibal plug right there. Someone start watching that show so we can talk. That’s Hugh Dancy if you didn’t know and he is so ahh-maze-ing. He makes everyone else who has played the Will Graham character look like amateurs.

Anyway, running. I’ve been really good at finding excuses to skip my Tuesday runs, which I’m sure is doing wonders for my overall training. While I am so over training, I still feel like I might be running too few miles but I’m not motivated enough to change that. My long runs have been going ok, but they’re slow. I know that’s normal, I know I’m running on the face of the sun down here, and I walk at least .10 of every mile which all factors into my pace, but seeing my pace at the end of a run still hurts my ego a little.

This past weekend, Brad and I hit our peak 22 mile long run which I ran with a cold, thankyouverymuch.

Even sick, it was still better than our first 12 and 14 milers, which was surprising. The “highlights” – Having Fools Gold by Fitz and the Tantrums in my head for 10 straight miles (I was not amused) and Brad describing a whole horror movie plot he made up involving runners who are systematically killed off. That was a fun story at four in the morning in the pitch black next to the woods.

Also making me nervous is the thought of 1.8 million spectators at the race. ONE.POINT.EIGHT.MILLION. I don’t even know how that number is possible. Spectators stress me out with their cheering and their happiness and their motivation. It’s the worst when all you need to do is walk but there’s a group of cheering people making you feel like an ass for it.

I’m trying to decide whether or not to wear my Camelbak during the race. I’ve run one marathon with it and one without. I wear it during all my long runs and fill it with a mixture of half water/half Powerade Zero but it’s empty around mile 18 and becomes this annoyance because it no longer serves a purpose. I thought about carrying a water bottle with my half/half mixture (I can’t drink the regular Gatorade on the course) but this past weekend I found that I kinda like the Hammer Perpetuem powder for running nutrition.


That’s a problem because you mix it with water, which is something else I’d need to carry. It tastes like licking an old chalkboard but I prefer drinking to chewing. Chewing during runs makes me nauseated. If I want both drinks, I would need to carry a water bottle while wearing a Camelbak, which is a lot of weight and super annoying. Plus, I hate having anything in my hands while running.

My other option is no Camelbak, holding a water bottle, stuffing a bunch of PB&Js in my sports bra, and not using the Perpetuem. I don’t love that idea either. You know me, I’m never happy. What I need is for volunteers to be at specific miles of the race to hand me things exactly when I need them so I can be the snobby running princess I’m meant to be.

Spending Time Doing Nothing At All

I have a new obsession.

I don’t want to go placing any blame here, but why didn’t any of you tell me about this show? Especially you Jackie, who I just heard is a big fan. You know I hate doing legwork and finding things out on my own. Anyway, I’m almost done with season 1 and damn, it’s good. I super love Hugh Dancy in it too. He’s so perfect for the Will Graham character. Now when I’m watching, all I can think about is how cute he and Claire Danes are as an IRL couple, which has nothing to do with the show but I’m thinking a Hannibal/Homeland crossover might be in order. Season 2 isn’t on Amazon Prime, so we’ll see how long it takes me to break down and pay for it.

Hubs and I also finished Firefly. We are officially the last people on the planet to watch it. BOOM.

I gotta say, seven episodes in and I could not figure out why the world loves it so much. It was decent but not doing anything for me. Then all of a sudden, episode eight and after was awesome. Now I love Firefly and I’m sad there’s no more Firefly.

We watched Serenity again too and I liked it so much better than the first time I saw it. Probably because I had a basis for the characters instead of staring at the screen blankly not knowing wtf was going on. So that was nice.

We got our dirty little mitts on Season 5 of Archer and now we’re all caught up.

Archer is one of our favorite shows now. I need season 6 to start already! Hubs said it has joined the ranks of those shows he could watch any episode at any time, kinda like The Simpsons or Friends. Except he didn’t say Friends because he hates that show.

And just when you thought all I do is watch TV (which is actually true), I also read a few books. I finished book 11 of the Sookie Stackhouse series. The end of the series is kinda meh, but I have this need to finish it because there are only two books left and because True Blood dropped such a steamy poo on them that they have to be better than what the show turned into. Also, Michelle recommended Before I Go to Sleep.

Do I even need to say Michelle recommended it to me or is that a given? From now on, just assume everything I read that is not a Sookie Stackhouse book is because she told me to. #dowhatImtold.  It was a lot like Memento and a little predictable but it was still really good and got me away from TV for about two days.

I still want to update you guys on my marathon training, an “unstinkable” running top that I bought that I am putting to the test with my stinky body, and my low sugar existance. Until then, have a great weekend!


Taste of the Nation Orlando 2014

I need to back up a few weeks because I’ve been meaning to talk about Taste of the Nation Orlando, which I went to for my second year. So let’s pretend it’s two weeks ago, mmmkay?

After a 3:00am wake-up for an 18-miler, a large iced coffee, a short nap, a few Diet Cokes, and a 18 oz sugar free Red Bull, because why not at that point, I made my way to the Taste of the Nation Orlando with my last minute date, Cheyanne.


Hubs was originally my date for the night but he found out that he had to work all weekend the week before the event, so I didn’t get to dress up with him which makes me sad. We almost never get pictures together and I was looking forward to getting one of us looking all pretty-like. Cheyanne was a good date substitute though and she didn’t even try to take advantage of me at the end of the night.

Anyway, if you don’t know already from my previous posts, Taste of the Nation (TOTN) raises money for the Share our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger. Michelle and I went last year and this year it was held at the same spot – a giant ballroom at the World Center Marriott, the mother of all Marriotts. Not only does TOTN hold silent charity auctions but all the food that is left over from the event gets donated as well. So even though the ticket price is a bit steep ($150 without a discount code), it’s all going to a good cause.

We arrived a little late since I dropped dinner off for hubs beforehand. Once we got there, the place was already pretty hoppin’. That didn’t stop Cheyanne from finding her soulmate within 30 seconds of walking in the door.


Sparkly things and wine is all she needs to be happy.

Michelle (and her husband Dan) came out this year too. She arrived early to eat and drink all the things, so by the time I got there she was nice and juiced up and led Cheyanne and I straight to the Tito’s Handmade Vodka booth like any good friend would.



Those Tito’s drinks were delicious. I know you’re thinking, “Paula just likes booze” which is true, but I went back for seconds. I would have gone for thirds but the lady there did not mess around with the pours and I had to get home in a way that did not involve crawling.

Cheyanne and I made our way around the ballroom to check out the different restaurants. Since Michelle and Dan had already been there for an hour, they told us the best booths to hit up. I gotta say, the food this year blew away the food from last year in my opinion. (Warning: unappetizing dark pictures ahead.)


Steak so tender you could cut it with a plastic fork and mashed potatoes from Capital Grille. It was the first thing I ate and by far the best thing of the night. I will definitely be trying out that restaurant.


Probably the best scallop I’ve ever had, short ribs, and a vanilla cake from Shingle Creek.


Calamari, also from Shingle Creek. It was the cup that a kept on giving because there was pasta on the bottom. Genius.


Fancy mozzarella with something I was sure I was going to hate on top, but loved. I wish I could remember where this was from. This is why you don’t blog two weeks later.


More short ribs from another place I can’t recall. I’m not even a fan of short ribs but this was amazing  It was so good that I thought they should have left off the toast, which is weird because I think bread makes everything better. This is the one time in the world when it didn’t.

I stopped taking pictures at some point because it was proving too difficult to balance a drink, food, and camera (life is hard) so a lot of good stuff went unpictured, including a crazy delicious fried green tomato BLT from BB King’s Blues Club and a bartender machine where you program the drink you want from a touch screen. I didn’t get a picture of the bartender machine but I did get a picture of Dan and I which is just as good.


Worth it, I think.

I’m still doing the low sugar thing but I did try several desserts. The dessert area was a complete cluster compared to last year’s dessert carousel. This is the “line” I was standing in.

I almost gave up I was waiting so long but I persevered because dessert is my homeboy. I gotta say, I wasn’t too impressed this year. I don’t know if that’s the new, picky, low sugar me talking or if it was actually the desserts but I could only find one I really liked. Taste of the Nation must have been looking out for my waistline this year.

If I could make any suggestion, it would be to go back to last year’s dessert set-up or add a second dessert booth. Even jammed-packed, last year was way faster to get through and less frustrating.

Despite the dessert area, I think this year’s event was much better than last year. It’s like all the food was kicked up a notch. It’s nice to know they keep getting better. I had a great time and I’m thankful once again to be one of the media bloggers for the event. Time to start saving my pennies for next year. :-)