Tag Archives: 2009

2009- Check. Almost.

Ok, I am sorry I’ve been delinquent, but I’ve been in Waterloo, where high speed internet is just not something you come across.

Also, I was busy eating every single thing I found. That took up basically all of my energy.

In any case, it’s almost time for 2010. Not just a new year, but a brand new decade.

Let’s get it started, I say.

2009 was one of those years that was a little ornery. A little too much Recession, not quite enough vacation.

Or something like that.

But, for me personally, it was not a horrible year. I’m excited about what 2010 will bring, but I’m a little sad to say goodbye to the past 12 months. It was not the kind of diva year that 2008 turned out to be. This was the year that Barack Obama was inaugurated, I ran a half marathon, got a promotion, made some new friends, got tendonitis (which I like to think taught me some tiny sliver-like amount of patience with myself. Microscopic tiny. It’s progress), visited LA for the first time, and finally got myself an IL license and became an official residence. I got to be in J & V’s lovely wedding, JW’s sister tied the knot, and my best friends J & C got engaged.

This was really, on the whole, a pretty good year. But I know I can be overly optimistic. Plus, I’m not dwelling on the bad things.

In any case, I haven’t built out any real “resolutions” so to speak, but I have some focus areas, so I’ll amuse you with those instead. I feel as though vague, broad ideas work for me better anyway.

1. Do more things for other people. (Like I said, broad terms here). I am not exactly positive as to what this will shape up to be. Maybe helping out my friends when they need it, or calling my family more. Maybe channeling my inner 17-year old and doing some more volunteer work. Or finding a charity to donate to. I’m still fleshing it out.

2. I’d like to be healthier in general. This means less French Fries, more gym time, and a whole lot of patience with my injury. I like to think of myself as efficient, which I think actually means I rush things. Like recovering. I have pledged that I will work out enough to keep me from becoming the half-ton woman and a giant anxiety attack waiting to happen without forcing myself into a hip-to-toe cast (that’s for you K). It’s all about balance, and I’m going to work on finding it this year.

3. Vacation. I’m going on one. With JW. Somewhere. Sometime. In 2010.

4. More baking (I realize this is in direct contradiction with 2, but when has that stopped me?) I’d like to learn to bake more items than snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies. Although those are both delicious.

5. I want to learn something new. Not like, a fact. Something bigger than trivia but smaller than a degree (that would take more than a year I think). I have no idea what this is yet, but I’m going to sit on it and hope it comes to me.

I believe that five focus areas is a good place to start, and so here goes nothing. Tomorrow = ringing in the New Year with some of my good friends, and drinking plenty of vodka as a preclude to a champagne toast and Dick Clark (provided I don’t forget about the hour difference between here and NYC this year-I get a little mixed up sometimes). Happy New Year everyone! Enjoy tomorrow night and be safe!

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Flashback.

So I caught the last 20 minutes of Grey’s Anatomy tonight, a show I haven’t watched in years. When I watched the show extensively, I was a 22 year old college senior who was about two shades from out of her mind. So it’s not surprising that watching the show made me feel kind of emotional and dramatic. It’s even made me throw Anna Nalick on my Pandora. Not cool, ABC.

In any case,  I am trying to rebound from this, as this weekend is chock full of delightful activities that don’t involve me turning into a basket case. For instance, my best friend Jen’s birthday. And the opening of the Farmer’s Market. And a Cubs’ game tomorrow. And the recall that I am not actually a train wrecky 22 year old,  but a fairly stable 25 year old.

Most days.

Plus, I have a lot of things going for me I didn’t have when I was 22. Such as:

1. A job that doesn’t pay $7.50/hr and involve stuffing envelopes for hours on end (though I did get to watch daytime TV during this).

2. A relationship in which I actually have business being in (I admit that this is far less dramatic than what was going on in 2006, but that’s cool).

3. A mice-free apartment (no scooting through the hallway using a broom as an oar to avoid the rodent).

Okay, so I know there’s more than that going for me at this point, but really, this is all making me very nostalgic. In the aforementioned time, this nostalgia might have warranted a mini Vodka fest, but in 2009, it’s bedtime for this girl. The Y awaits my early arrival.

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I did it!

I finished it! All those hours at the gym, miles pounding the pavement, all the handfuls of Advil…totally paid off!

The race itself was not exactly what I expected. I got up to Lake Geneva a couple hours after work on Friday, grabbed dinner with Michaela and Marty, and then headed straight to bed. I knew I had a long day ahead of me on Saturday.

The next morning I was up early. I felt pretty good, but a little bit nervous. We got to the starting area quickly, and it wasn’t the kind of race I was used to. For instance, people were milling about everywhere, whether or not they were actually going to race. In addition, the race wasn’t very big. Once I crossed the starting line, it was basically a single file line, there was no one to really weave around. Oh wait, and there was another thing.

Giant Hills.

For those of you unfamiliar with the great city of Chicago, it’s flat. Extremely flat. I had been training on flat pavement and treadmills for months. I was well equipped to deal with that. I was confident that I could run 13.1 miles of flat terrain. So we took off past the start, and I was feeling great. Aretha Franklin was blasting, people were cheering it was great. I rounded a turn, and there I was, at the base of a nearly .5 mile hill. I almost gave up right then and there.

However, I thought after all the hours I’d put in, I should at least give it to the top of the hill. So I did, and then I felt pretty good. Except then there was another hill. And another…winding, steep, rolling, you name it, it was there. It was absolutely outrageous, as if it wasn’t enough that we were running 13 miles. Like it really needed to be harder.

Eventually, I got used to it, and adjusted. I tried to push through the uphills and coast down the hills. Things got a little more interesting when I realized that no, this was not Chicago, so no, there wouldn’t be clocks at every mile. In fact, the mile markers themselves were tiny pieces of white paper with a mile written in Sharpie hammered into the ground. So tiny that I missed miles 7,8, and 9, and thought that I had just started running a 30 minute mile. Right before mile 10 I saw Marty and Jon cheering and carrying signs, so that gave me a short burst of adrenaline. I cranked up my music and powered through the rest of the race, finally crossing the finish line at 2:10:50, fifty seconds slower than what I originally set my goal at.

I’m okay with this.

More than okay, actually. I’m proud of myself for setting a goal that I thought was impossible, and doing it anyway. I’m proud that I stepped out of my comfort zone, learned how to get comfortable in my own two legs, and went for it. And even though I might act like it’s not that big of a deal and that I would have liked to pick up the pace a little, I’m feeling good about myself. At every mile marker I saw, I thought about the week that I had done that length race first, and how hard it had seemed, and how now, I was exceeding it. Pushing through it. That’s how I want to approach everything.

I’m a little worried I won’t have as much to write about anymore, but I think I am going to take this opportunity to do some other activities. Re-devote myself to spinning, for instance. I’d also like to work on my Pilates, which I had given up. I’ve got some shorter races coming up, so I’ll keep running. And the Farmer’s Market starts next weekend, so there will be lots to report on that. I want to build off this feeling of accomplishment and spread it to other areas of my life that need dusting off. Summer’s a great time to work on that.

In parting, I will leave you with something my mom once told me (in the form of giving me a magnet with this saying on it): Do something every day that scares you. I don’t do this enough, but for the last several months, I’ve been waking up scared of this race every freaking morning. Of whether or not I’d get hit by a car on my run, if I could do it without injuring myself, if I could do it at all. And now, it seems silly. Of course I could do it.

Stretching out before the race

Stretching out before the race

I'm in the blue, this is at around the 10th mile

I'm in the blue, this is at around the 10th mile

Here I come!

Here I come!

13.1 miles...check!

13.1 miles...check!

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Here goes Nothing…

So my friends, tomorrow is the big day. I’ve got my bag packed, my hotel confirmation printed, and my Powerbar products (jellies, gel, and bars) purchased. My iPod’s been charged and my beats are hot. I’ve been eating everything that I look at. I’ve polished off several refills of my water bottle.

I’ve run dozens of miles in snow and rain, in hot and cold. I’ve woken up far before my preferred time to lift weights. I’ve neglected spin class for months. I have alternately decided that I hate running and love running, depending on the time of day.

I’d say I’m about as ready as I’m gonna be.

So here goes nothing, everyone. Wish me luck. I’ll debrief when I get back, but for now, it’s off to Lake Geneva to get this thing finished.

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

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Smooth Move

So I’ve been trying not to drink very much leading up to this run because I feel like it’s detrimental to my running prowess. In addition, I was thinking if I could lose a couple of pounds at this stage in the game, I’d be faster (and I certainly can’t stop eating, as evidenced by my month long carb fest), so I’ve been working on that.

It was going pretty well.

Then, Saturday night, after a full week of not letting alcohol touch my lips, I totally tanked. I was out with work friends, and then other friends, and it’s all a blur from there. All I can say is that peach schnapps, Miller Lite, and margaritas are not potions to be mixed.

I was still home by midnight, so I thought drunkenly, perhaps it will still be fine that I have to run 10 miles tomorrow. I will just get some sleep.

Wrong, bambina.

JW hurt his knee and spent the evening writhing in pain and switching between our bed and the couch, thus keeping me up half the night.

So I woke up the next morning at nine feeling exhausted, dehydrated, and hungover. It felt a lot like 2006. However, I knew I had to run, so I threw some cereal in a bowl, drank a couple of glasses of water, and jogged out the door.

Anyone want to guess how this ends?

Well, I finished it, which is really shocking to me. However, I was sweating salt crystals, breathing like a laboring cow, and my legs felt like they were really done with me. Also, I decided that I didn’t need any water during this run, so I was also panting like a basset hound in the last couple of miles. When I jogged by my house (= the finish line) I thought death was upon me. It seriously took me two hours to recover. Classy, Nikki, classy.

I’m obviously hoping Saturday goes better than this. My hope is that if I can finish this while sweating alcohol and in a half coma stupor, doing it properly fed, watered, and rested should be no big deal. Right? (Someone affirm me, I’m feeling nervous).

In any case, this week’s agenda isn’t too bad, and I’m looking at only six miles, minus the actual run (oh yeah, and those 10 miles on Sunday). Tonight’s four, and Thursday morning, I have to do two (Which is going to feel so great, I mapped it out yesterday and it’s like…a pittance. Sweet.) Now I’m just trying to plan my outfit, accessories (power gel, headbands, etc.), and my attack. Lake Geneva, here I come.

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That was intense…

Okay, I know I’ve been delinquent, but my mom used to tell me the following:

“I never had a diary–I was too busy with my life.”

While I am not trying to justify my transgressions here, that pretty much sums it up.

In the past couple of days I have been doing the following things:

1. Hosting a pizza party for my favorite people (see JW, the actual chef, below):

Delicious

Delicious

2. Running 7 miles. This was intense (especially when I was short on sleep and long on, well, wine consumption), but it was a great accomplishment for this wannabe runner. Plus, I got to do it with this view, so I really can’t complain (see that tiny Ferris Wheel in the background? I ran past that.):

Isn't it a beautiful sight?

Isn't it a beautiful sight?

3. Finally saw Watchmen. We read/viewed this graphic novel for book club a couple of weeks ago, and it was not really my standard genre (I love Alice Hoffman–so shoot me), I loved this book because it was interesting and colorful and different. The movie, on the IMAX, was equally delightful.

4. Went out to Fernando’s with K, C, and M. I love nothing more than visitors who fall in love with my city. It reinforces my giant ego around the greatness of Chicago. Plus I get to take long walks, talk about touristy things, and eat burritos and drink margaritas. If you live in the area and you haven’t been here, remedy that. Right away.

5. Watched tons of basketball and watched my bracket like a hawk. I am obsessed with sports tournaments and don’t care who knows it. I love nothing more than a good upset or a Cinderella story, especially when it comes to college ball, I feel like it means more there. That being said, I’m cheering for a number one seed this year. Go Huskies!
Disclosure: I cheer for these guys in good times and bad, and even when they break my heart and don’t make the tournament, or when they break my heart and get knocked out in the first round. These wounds are still fresh.

6. Made this delicious dish for JW–he’s been pining for meat sauce with onions in it, and per usual, I haven’t been receptive to change. However, when the Pioneer Woman tells me to do something, I just shut up and go with the flow. She was right, of course.

7. Played in a soccer game Sunday night that caused me significant injuries (none too serious, of course). Basically, my right leg now looks like it’s in a soccer ball costume. There’s nothing like a nice, geometric welt to end the weekend. I attempted to take a picture, but in reality, red lines against my pasty leg just isn’t what I think you guys want to take a look at. So, you’ll just have to use your imaginations. I know, not pretty.

All in all, a successful weekend. Up this week is wrangling my overstocked pantry and making all my staples into actual dinners. That and getting ready for the Shamrock Shuffle this weekend. It’s like the opening games of Chicago running season. And the forecast’s set for a blistery forty degrees. Typical. This is me after my first Shuffle, in 2007. I have red hair, and I’ve just taken a long time to finish the race. But I’m excited, because I finished it, goddammit. And because, unbeknownst to you, I’ve got a free beer ticket on that bib.

Finished (now give me my beer!)

Finished (now give me my beer!)

I think that’s it for now bambini. Sweet dreams!

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A Quarter Century? Already??

So today is my birthday. I have never been the type to like or dislike my birthday to any intense degree–I mean, everyone’s got one, you know? And it’s in February, which in the winter of 1991 meant that no one came to my birthday party due to a giant Nor’Easter that blew in. I also had pink eye and totally missed out on all the microscope exhibits at the Boston Science Museum, but that’s another story. However, my birthdays have generally treated me okay.

Except last year I somehow, in the perfectly civilized country of Germany, came down with E. coli. My Romanian doctor insisted that I was “very healthy” and sent me on my way with an antiobiotic, and I proceeded to spend the week choking down broth and wishing for death.

So despite the fact that I’m a little frightened of turning 25, I’m celebrating all weekend. Take that, E. coli. Go back to terrorizing the old and the weak.

I’m a little frightened not really because I mind getting older; once again, I’m operating under the premise that this is simply something everyone has to do. However–25 sounds really legitimate to me. It’s safely out of the college age, and it’s edging into the appropriate age to do things like:

1. Get married (i.e. I can no longer look at my peer’s facebook status of “OMG I’m engaged to my best friend I’m SO EXCITED GAHHHHHH” and judge them because they are 25. I’ll have to judge them for being mentally unstable instead.)

2. Buy property (Although since I am 25, I wouldn’t know where one of my peers would come with this kind of cash. If anyone knows, feel free to share.)

There must be more legitimate things that I now have a free pass to do, but I’m having a hard time drumming up anymore. Give me a break, I’ve been 25 for barely eight hours.

Then, in the back of my mind, there’s always that realization lurking that at this age, my mother had two children, one of whom was five. That one, me, viewed my mother as a source of ultimate authority. K.D. and Austin think I’m their trusty sidekick. My mom had pets, a husband, a house, and kids.

I have an array of dying houseplants and a couch. Oh yeah, and JW. But I can’t really take credit for him.

However, upon waking up this morning, being fed breakfast in my bed, and then going online to check out my facebook account, I have realized that I have some other things.

1. Great friends from all over the place–it would probably be hard to keep up with these guys with a five year old in tow.

2. An awesome family (i.e. a father who has called me EVERY day this week in order to make sure he doesn’t forget. I don’t think he ever has forgotten my birthday, but he seems really concerned about it this year)

3. A job (enough said–but as an addition, a job that I like, with co-workers who are my friends–love it).

4. A sweet little apartment in the best city in the world, complete with Maury, the world’s most peculiar landlord (he speaks directly only to JW and is obsessed with shower curtains and sink drains).

Once again, I am sure there are more but I should probably get myself off to that job I mentioned. I have some volunteers to deal with this morning. It would probably be the responsible, 25 year old thing to do to not be late. Ha. I’m out of here.

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