Tag Archives: exercise

half marathon part two: lessons learned

12 Sep

You’d think I would have learned a few takeaways from the Rock and Roll half marathon last month to use in yesterday’s Chicago half marathon. And I did! And yet I didn’t.


Lesson #1: Just because you get to the race site at 5:30 a.m. before the sun is even up doesn’t mean you won’t need your sunglasses later. So it’s best to not leave them in the trunk of your car.

Lesson #2: Turkey chili is really not the best thing to carbo-load on the night before a race. Trust me on this one. Delicious, but not the best.

Lesson #3: Why didn’t someone (namely myself) remind me to wear pants? Let me rephrase that: For the love of God, DON’T WEAR SHORTS BECAUSE CHAFING HURTS WHEN YOU FORGET TO LUBE UP PRE-RACE.

Lesson #4: Mentally and physically, this race was easier than the last one. My foot did not rebel, and adding some ZZ Top (LaGrange) to the half-marathon mix did wonders at mile 11.

Lesson #5: Also? Thank you, Peter Segal and the Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me crew. Three podcasts in a row will also do wonders for distraction while running up and down Lake Shore Drive. Also, that Henry Winkler was a hoot on Not My Job.

Lesson #6: Yes, I really am that big of an NPR nerd. The secret is out!  (Like it ever even a secret?)

Lesson #7: The two best signs I saw during the race: 1) A woman’s shirt that said, IT’S NOT SWEAT, IT’S JUST MY FAT CRYING, and 2) a guy holding a sign about a quarter mile from the finish line that said THE END IS NEAR. The lesson? If you’re going to cheer people on with a sign at a race, make it a good one.

Lesson #8: Don’t leave your ID in the car because then your brother-in-law will take your free beer ticket and drink said free beer, knowing you will not bother walking back to your car to get your ID then walk BACK over to the race site for a free Mich Ultra. But then again, it’s Mich Ultra, so it’s not like you’re missing much.

Lesson #9: Gatorade is disgusting, especially if you drink it at every aid station along the way. Must you be so sugary, Gatorade? Blech.

Lesson #10: Who has two thumbs and is excited to take a break from running for awhile? This Girl. Well, at least until it’s time to start training for the next half-marathon in Wisconsin this November. And that training starts, let’s see here on my schedule….. Gah. Shit.

half-marathon recap: truths

15 Aug

Truth: I was the very front of my corral at the starting line. When you’re standing that close, 13.1 miles looks like a really, really long time.

Truth: I had to take a bathroom break 1.5 miles in. No judging.

Truth: There was a lot of chafing. A lot.

Truth: Chafing hurts. Even more so the next day.

Truth: I could use another slathering of Eucerin.

Truth: That may have been TMI. Sorry.

Truth: My official time was 2:42:07. My goal was A) to Not Die, and 2) to Finish. So I think the fact that I did both of those things in under three hours? Pretty impressive.

Truth: It couldn’t have been better weather. Very cool, and even raining at points.

Truth: I will totally take rain over wet-blanket like humidity and sunshine if I’m going to be running for close to three hours through the streets of Chicago, TYVM.

Truth: I love Greektown, and all its sights and smells.

Truth: I do not love Greektown when I am 5 miles in to a 13-mile run, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning and for whatever reasons the gyros store owners think it’s a fine time to fire up the lamb-on-a-spit.

Truth: It actually kind of made me want to vomit.

Truth: That would have been bad.

Truth: My left foot was cramping throughout the race, even when I’d slow down to walk. By the time the race was finished, and I sat down to soak my feet, my left foot decided it had had enough of this being used bullshit and decided if I wouldn’t stop using it, it would simply stop being nice and normal and instead be all painful and sucky.

Truth: When they asked me at the medical tent what I needed, I almost burst into tears when I wailed, “I don’t KNOW!”

Truth: They gave me ice and ibuprofen. It somewhat helped.

Truth: I DID burst into tears on the phone later when I was talking to The Swede, which I think alarmed him. Not that he’s never seen me burst into tears, but I think because I’m pretty sure I was not making ANY goddamned sense while crying, talking, laughing and in major pain throughout the conversation.

Truth: My left foot is still in pain today. I have an appointment with a doc tomorrow.

Truth: But who cares about that! The race! I ran the first seven miles, and then after that—due to my woeful undertraining—alternated run a mile/walk a mile for the last five. I worked it so that the last mile and a tenth I was running, because walking across the finish line just would not have been as sweet.

Truth: Whoever invented the iPod is a godsend.

Truth: I loaded close to four hours into a half-marathon playlist. Thank you Kanye, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, White Stripes, Sly and the Family Stone, et al for running with me. Much appreciated.

Truth: Holy shit 13.1 miles is a long way.

Truth: But I did it. I wasn’t sure I’d make it, but I did. Put that in your half-marathon pipe and smoke it.


training report v: well shit.

10 Aug


The Chicago Rock’n’Roll half-marathon is a mere four days away.

And truth be told, I am woefully undertrained.

I also, for the record, take full responsibility for my undertrainedeness.

*It was nobody’s fault but my own that there was a good two weeks there where the closest I came to running was watching Captain America sprint across the big screen.

(Dude. That guy can run. Like, fast. And he doesn’t even seem to be winded! I need Stanley Tucci and his magic serum in MY life! And crazy extremist Nazis! Which I think may actually be a redundant description! But whatever!)

*It was nobody’s fault but my own that I chose to sleep in Sunday rather than get up at a time when it would not be so ass-hot for my long run.

*It was nobody’s fault but my own that I’ve been distracted by online fall clothes shopping.

*And it’s nobody’s fault but my own that the above statement has absolutely nothing to do with my lack of training whatsoever.

No judging.

Well, okay, you can judge me. I kind of deserve it.

But also: pray for me.  My goal at this point is to Not Die.

Here’s hoping.

muddy buddy: top 10 (+1) recap

3 Aug

Should your friend Cassie ever convince you that participating in a Muddy Buddy is a good idea, here are a few things to keep in mind (in no particular order):

  1.  A 4:30 a.m. wakeup-call is unnecessary and causes much consternation, particularly because neither you nor your friend Cassie set up the call.
  2.  Running through a field is fucking hard. Way harder than running on pavement.
  3.  Biking through a field is fucking hard. Way harder than biking on pavement. Particularly if your bike seat keeps falling down when you hit the smallest of cow-patty bumps, and you have to pedal the bike hunched over with your knees up to your ears, in a horrific caricature of the Wicked Witch of the West.
  4.  If you’re going to participate in a Muddy Buddy, your friend Cassie should probably have some mad phat McGuyver skills in order to attach a water bottle to your bike using zip cords. The water bottle that you purchased at Target the night before because THE RULES SAID YOU MUST HAVE A WATER BOTTLE ON YOUR BIKE OR YOU WILL DIE.  But then the rules were a bunch of assholes BECAUSE NO ONE EVEN CHECKED TO SEE IF YOU HAD A WATER BOTTLE OR IF YOU WERE DEAD.
  5.  Mud smells. And not prettily.
  6.  You will get mud up your nose. You won’t be sure how, exactly, but there it is. It may have something to do with the army crawl through a mud pit, but really, can you be sure? You just ran and biked six miles through the country. 
  7.  Also: in your nails, your ears, your hair, but not your eyes, because you remembered to wear stylish sunglasses.
  8.  PS—don’t forget to wear stylish sunglasses.
  9.  On the third leg, after you managed to haul your ass over an inflatable military assault with help from the kindness of strangers cheerleader-stunting you up and over, and as you are desperately trying to get your speed up from more-than-a-quick-walk, you will curse everyone and everything, including that clump of mud, that blade of grass over there, and that tree to your left? CAN SUCK IT.
  10. It’s all worth it. Every. Last. Bit. And you’ll want to do it again next year.
  11. But not until after you eat an enormous omelet to celebrate. 
ALSO: I’m guest-posting over at Dragondreamer’s Lair today. Come check it out!

smells like team spirit

18 Jul

A while ago, after professing my intention to complete a half-marathon, my friend Cassie sent me an email. She needed something to train for, but had already done a half-marathon and had no desire to do another one.

Would I, then, be interested in being her partner for a Muddy Buddy race?

Before I could stop myself I said yes.

And then immediately crawled under my desk in a panic and thought, “SHE’LL NEVER FIND ME HERE ON RACE DAY!”

(Great. Now I’ve blown my own hideout.)

Because really, I have no business doing a race like this. The running portions—fine. And the biking portions—okay, once I actually get a bike, fine. But the obstacle portions? Errmmm…to say that I have a flagrant lack of upper body strength would be an understatement. I get fatigued curling my hair. So please, if I don’t show up for work on Monday, can someone please come and check the field? I’ll be the one sitting at the base of the wall climb, hurling myself at it on occasion in a lame attempt to scale over it. Birds and other wildlife will be perched atop it, mocking my noodle arms.


Needless to say, between the half-marathon in August and the two other half-marathons I sight up for later in the year, and this Muddy Buddy, I’m clearly out of my ever-loving mind.

But it’s official, we’re registered, so there’s no backing out now. We even have a team name, which came out of much thoughtfulness and deliberation, because Cassie and I are nothing if not thoughtful and deliberate people.  (If not fucking crazy.):

Cassie: Ok. I’m registering. But it is asking for a team name. I don’t think we can change it.

Do you have any ideas? I’m drawing a blank. We are both Irish, Polish & Awesome. That seems like a kind of long name.

me:   hmmm

Cassie: We could just be OMG!! WTF are we doing!?!?!?!

me:  I LOVE IT! Or just simply OMG WTF

Cassie: I think I actually like that.

It captures our spirit.

Or, at least, mine.

Maybe with some punctuation: OMG! WTF!

Like, we’re surprised we’re here.

me: It totally captures my spirit as well

I like it either way, with or without punctuation

Cassie: Maybe no punctuation. That way, it could be interpreted in a variety of ways:




Depending on the situation.

Or even



me: Yes!

Cassie: G

me: Agreed

Cassie: Ok. I’m going with it. OMG WTF

me: I think simply OMG WTF


love it

Cassie: We are insane.

me: That is true. I am going to handle the Tshirts. What color? Hot pink?


Death! We are risking death!

I like hot pink

I look good in pink

me: I look good in pink as well! Possibly navy letters



And there you have it.

And there we will be.

July 31st, 7 a.m.

Team OMG WTF, reporting for duty.

Dear Christ, save me now.

training report part III: hello? anybody out there?

11 Jul


Is this thing on?

Hello? Hel—


What is that?

<recoils slightly at sight of  a mechanical running machine>

And THAT?!

<stares in horror at a sidewalk>

And those?

<points to a dirty looking pair of gym shoes languishing in a corner>

I’m supposed to…what? Do what with those things?


So let me get this straight. I’m supposed to put down the gimlet and back away slowly? Have you seen the thermometer lately? Do you know how much I dislike humi—…


What do you mean you don’t care? What do you mean I need to get my ass in gear.

<excessive grumbling>



Cruel to be kind MY ASS.

training report part II: in letters

13 Jun

Dear Treadmill,

I own you. Well, technically the gym owns you, but I dominated you. Because you? You are a machine. And I have opposable thumbs.




Dear Makers of Blue Moon,

Why must you thwart my plans for a long run through my beautiful, tree-lined campus the other weekend by making your product so delicious that I must purchase a second pitcher? Why do you hate me, makers of Blue Moon? Why don’t you want me to succeed? WHY CAN’T YOU MAKE SHITTY TASTING BEER LIKE MILWAUKEE’S BEAST?

The Beast wants me to succeed in my training.

I always new Milwaukee loved me best.

Drink up, Johnny,



Dear Menstrual Cramps,

Knock that shit off.



Dear Guy at Gym,

I’m pretty sure you devise your workouts around an audience you think is watching you, eyes glued to your every move. That is why you toss your weight lifting gloves at the hooks on the machine like you’re playing ring toss, and then act all “Awww, MAN!” when you miss.

Which is every time.

And why you pull yourself up on the pull-up bar, flip yourself over and do inverted stomach crunches while upside down. Which, BTW, makes me very nervous, because I’m afraid you’re going to lose your grip and land on your neck.

But what you clearly don’t realize is that no one is watching you. No one is viewing your ring tossing and Cirque de Soleil ways.

Well, except me.

So…fine. Someone is watching you. But don’t expect me to give you a round of applause. That would require me attempting the stair climber sans hands to clap for you, and I can barely keep myself from tumbling off on a good day.




Dear Lakefront Path,

I love you. You make Lake Michigan look so sparkly and lovely in the morning, even though I know in reality it is ass-cold and not fit for swimming.

Don’t you go changing,


training report, part 1

30 May

Captain’s Log: Since I spilled my beans about tossing my cookies and ponying up to train for a half-marathon, I figured it was probably time that I, you know, actually started training. Last weekend my sweet and wonderful friend Nina agreed to go running with me on a long run, and we met in the wee hours of Saturday morning to join the other crazies along the lakefront path.

For the record, Nina is sweet and wonderful on a regular basis. But she is even sweeter and wonderfuler because she agreed to be my long run buddy, and if you’ve ever run…anywhere…you know it’s always better with a buddy.

Also, for the record, by “wee hours” I mean 9:30 a.m.

Also, also, for the record: I almost knocked a cyclist off his bike when I saw my best gal’s little sister on the running on the path and shot my hand out to wave at her. Moral of the story, kids: Always look before you flail your arms. And for the love of Christ, cyclists, watch where you’re going if you’re in the Chicagoland area. You never know where I might be, or when I might need to greet someone heading in the opposite direction from me. You’ve Been Warned.

We managed to get in our four miles with only a small amount of walking, though I did come away with some major blisters, which, Hi, OW, and hello, NOT attractive for the sandal-wearing that I hope to happen soon if Chicago ever decides to sack up and have a spring and/or summer.

Anyhoo, I’ve been trying to follow Hal Higdon’s training schedule for a half marathon, and the rest of the week was…meh. It wasn’t superbly awesome, but it wasn’t too shabby, either. I did manage to get up before work one morning last week and go out for a run—not the 3 miles I was supposed to do, because I read the chart wrong, but I did get in a good 2 miles, so that’s at least something, right? Right.

And it was a beautiful, sunny morning, warm and quite lovely, and as I huffed and puffed through the Swede’s childhood PF neighborhood (as we were staying at his parents’ house), it was almost enjoyable.

Except when I turned a corner and the route took me through a particularly wooded spot. That early in the morning, as lethargic tweens waited for the bus and gave me the Weirdo Eye as I slogged past them, the gnats were all a-buzz with the bright morning and fresh dew, and opportunity to fly up my nose, forcing me to jerk my head and spit and rub at my nostrils all at the same time, making me look, I’m sure, super mature and totally hip to those tweens.

Me  = Role Model.

Whatever. Be nice, kids, or I will not purchase booze for your underage selves at the Party Liquors.

Week 2 of training, here I come.

since the rapture never showed, now i can get back to my to-do list

23 May

So on Mother’s Day, as I was sprawled on the cold, tile of the bathroom floor, having just barfed up the contents of an earlier Mother’s Day brunch, it occurred to me that maybe I take on too much at once.

Not that I’m saying the stress of everyday life made me toss my cookies (or rather, my cheesy hashbrowns), I’m just saying that it gave me time to think.

And it’s true. I take on too much sometimes. Often. Whatever. I like to think that I am Super Girl who can do Everything At Once. And yes, I am Super, and I am a Girl (and I do like to wear tights) but no, I really do not have to do everything at once PUT DOWN THE COOKBOOK WHILE YOU’RE TAKING A WRITING WORKSHOP AND JUST STARTED A NEW JOB FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND DECENT.



Anyshoes, so the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about what I have going on and prioritizing. Some things have gotten pushed to the side to be saved for a few months from now when other projects have settled down.

But some things have stuck around.

Which is where you all come in.

Yes, you.

And you.

And over there in the corner—you.

One of my goals for the past couple of years has been to run a half-marathon. I’ve even attempted to train for one once or twice. Or at least I’ve certainly thought about training for it quite often.

But to be honest, I don’t particularly like running. I like the idea of running, and even more I like the results.

(It makes my legs and ass look terrific.)

(Oh, hello, I’m McPolish. Nice to meet you. On occasion I can be very, very vain. And you?)

And besides the physical results, I can honestly say that after every race I’ve run I’ve felt phenomenal. Like I am a fucking rock star. I think a lot of that elation stems from simply A) finishing something, and 2) making something I really don’t care to be doing my bitch.

So the half-marathon goal remains on my current, immediate Want To Do list.

(As does making a Target run for Qtips, but that’s neither here nor there for the moment.)

And that’s where you all come in, as I need you, dear Interwebers, to hold me accountable, and hold my hand as I go through training, and bearing with me if/when I post droning musings about training. I’m very good at giving myself a goal then never following through on it because no one besides me knows that said goal exists.

But now you know. And now you can bug me about it, and I will stay on top of it because I know you’ll be watching. I’ll keep you posted on my training if you promise to pinch me through the Interwebs’ ether when I don’t seem to be holding up my end of the bargain.

Game on.

The race is Sunday, August 14.

T-minus three months and counting.

made for walking

8 Sep

So, at my full-time job a bunch of us are doing this walking challenge. We’re on teams of five and we all have these janky little pedometers that sometimes work and sometimes do not, and we’re competing against each other teams in our office as well as teams in offices across the city. And there are prizes. Prizes! Like gift cards! And iPods! Hurrah! By nature, however, I never actually win any of these sorts of contests or drawings (hence why I rarely play the lottery—it just ends up being me paying a gas station clerk a dollar for the chance to daydream the rest of the day away), so instead of focusing on the Prizes! I’m focusing on the fact that I have to stand up in a floor-length strapless satin gown in a month and I would prefer to not look like a shiny blob as much as possible. I mean, there is only so much eyeliner I can put on to distract people from looking below my face. Maybe some baby’s breath in my hair as well. I’m thinking tendrils, too…yes….tendrils…

ANYWAY, the challenge began yesterday, even though most people didn’t work yesterday, but guess who dii-iiiid?! This Girl! Because she’s a sucker! And the restaurant was short staffed! And it’s a good thing she did because otherwise she would have only clocked about 400 steps, since the only time she got off the couch was to refill her glass of chocolate soy milk while watching The Secret Life of the American Teenager! Which is a really bizarre show! Starring Molly Ringwald! And the best friend from Lizzy McGuire!  Good tii-iiimes!

My point being that even though I was only working for a bit (three hours to be exact), I managed to log over 6,000 steps.

Today, however, I decided that it would be a really good idea for me to walk to and from work, which is three miles each way. So I arrived a little sweaty but no worse for the wear to my office, and thankfully avoided the rain. And then I walked home from work, a little sweaty again, but who cares, really, because I’m home now and hot damn, I made Mexican lasagna last night for dinner and get the shit out of my way I’m hungry.

And now, holy crap, I’m tired. My legs are tired. Thankfully tomorrow I telecommute, as I’m not sure if I’d be able to handle another day of this. As it is, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make the commute tomorrow from my bed to my desk. If I am careful, and my arms are long enough, I may be able to move from bed to desk in one swift motion without my feet ever touching the ground and holy pants! I think I just discovered another benefit to living in a studio apartment.

Steps walked today: 17,008