I’m Going to Chicago (but not on the Megabus)

The weekend I’ve been planning for is finally here! Several months ago, I saw a post on Facebook about a race called Women Rock Chicago. There’s a 5k, 10k, and a half marathon, and it’s a girly race. Because my niece Erin lives in Chicago, and Chicago happens to be one of my favorite places, I registered my niece and myself for the 10k. The route winds along Lake Michigan, which is an amazing place to run. My favorite run took place when I was in Chicago for a conference a couple years ago, and I was able to run along the lake. Having the water on my left and Chicago’s incredible skyline on my right as I ran along made for a memorable run.

Gary and I are leaving in the morning. Gary will be driving. If you remember, my girls and I took the *&%^ Megabus to Chicago over spring break. I don’t think I could survive that twice.

Thankfully between my sister, brother, and daughter, our house and dogs will be cared for. We will go through the area in Northern Indiana where I lived when I was young, and plan to stop for lunch at Miner Dunn, which is the best burger dive ever. We hope to get into the city before rush hour, and will even attempt to take the bus from Erin’s apartment to the race expo. Though Erin sent very specific directions, I have a fear of getting off in the wrong neighborhood, which could be trouble in Chicago. Lord, help us!

The race is Saturday morning. I’d like to say I am ready and expect to run well, but that just hasn’t been the case recently. If you read this blog regularly, you know that this summer I ran 101 days in a row. Once that challenge was over, I scaled my running back to about four days a week, kept up with three to four days of HIIT, and took a day or two off a week. One would think my running would improve because I am rested (at least that’s what I thought), but, in fact, the opposite has happened. I ran much better and felt better when I was running every day. I have been trying to do long runs on the weekends, and got up to eight miles two weeks ago. Gary and I were planning to run the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon on November 1, so I was training for that while training for Chicago. I thought I had planned well. My body is not cooperating with my plan. And my knee hurts.

I don’t know if my knee just won’t be able to handle longer distances any longer, or if it will adjust to the distance and eventually stop hurting. I do know it makes me angry. I just want to be able to do what I love. So, what is my goal for this race? I won’t know until I start running and see how I feel. My eighth graders don’t really understand these types of races. Here’s the conversation I had with one class:

Kids: Mrs. Stath, we hope you win your race!

Me: Oh, I don’t run these races to actually win.

Kids: What? Why wouldn’t you want to win?

Me: I won’t win. That isn’t even a possibility.

Kids: Well, with that attitude you won’t!

Oh…If only it were that easy. One group of boys had me write down what place each one thought I would come in. I have to take a treat to the one who has the closest guess. It is a great feeling to know that I can show them that one is never too old to reach for goals, and that doing my personal best is what really matters.

I would like to finish in under an hour. If my knee holds up, my stomach cooperates, and my legs don’t feel like logs, I think I can do it. That would probably put me in the top 20% overall and in my age group. However, if I have to slow down or take walk breaks, so be it. It’s about the experience, right? I thought about not worrying about time at all, and taking time out to take pictures along the way, but once I get into my race zone, I know I won’t want to stop for photo ops.

While I am excited to see my niece, to eat Giordanno’s pizza, and have a weekend away, there is a downside to all of this. When I am running Saturday morning, my youngest daughter Addison will be teeing off at the golf regional, which she qualified for this past Saturday. Yes, sign me up for the Bad Mom Award. It’s her senior year, possibly her last golf match of the year, and I won’t be there. As much as I’ve complained about the boredom of a golf match, I hate to miss this one. We made these plans months ago, and as soon as the golf schedule came out, I saw that I would miss, and let Addison know. I am grateful her dad, who doesn’t mind a bit to watch five hours of golf, will be there to cheer her on, and to transport her from the golf match to the evening band contest…yup…missing that, too. So, Good Luck, Sweet Addison! I will be thinking of you as I run!

You can bet there will be an ‘after Chicago’ blog post. Until then..Run On!

halfstart-WR

Only One (really stupid, major) Glitch…

As I posted last weekend, my husband, daughter, and I spent the long weekend visiting family and friends throughout Northern Indiana and Illinois.  It was a non-stop-cram-it-all-in kind of weekend, but I regret nothing.  Almost nothing.  The one regret I will get to in a later paragraph.

Our first stop was at Dewart Lake (well, actually it was at the outlet mall, but I know no one wants to read about our shopping excursion, no matter how great the bargains were).  Our wonderful friends, the Rectors, live at the lake.  We had a fantastic visit, and were able to see the whole family.  We talked about old times; I learned more about my father; and we caught up on what is presently going on in our lives.  Peggy, Addison, and I enjoyed sitting out on the deck watching fireworks that were being set off all around the lake.  It was a beautiful evening free from the heat and humidity of Southern Indiana.

The next morning, after a walk with my friend Missy and a little more visiting, it was time to head west.  We stopped in Hammond, my birthplace, to eat at my favorite restaurant, Miner Dunn.  The restaurant, known for their burgers, literally hasn’t changed since I moved away in 1978.  The food was excellent; the lack of cleanliness was a bit disappointing.  Regardless, I had my cheeseburger, fries, and orange sherbet. I always dip my fries in my sherbet, which my family finds odd, but I love.  Our next stop was a huge Cabella’s in Hammond.  Although I am never thrilled to go to a hunting store, I have to admit that this store was pretty cool.  There were displays of animals everywhere, and Addison and I explored the tents and took goofy pictures.  We also found a shooting game, that surprisingly, I was rather good at.

Hammond is about 30 minutes from Chicago – if there were no traffic.  That is never the case.  It took us about three hours to arrive at Erin’s apartment.  The traffic was maddening.  I get really nervous when we are not exactly sure where we are going, and when you add people yelling and flipping us off if we hesitate one second, the tension level increases at unheard of speeds.  When we did get to Erin’s place, we had to drive around almost an hour to find parking.  UGH!!!  We finally found a lot about three blocks away; by that point we were ready to pay just to be able to stop.  We got settled, and then headed to the train to meet my cousins for dinner.

Erin has only been in Chicago for about two months, but she has the transit system down.  She was able to guide us small-town tourists around with no problem.  We didn’t get to go to the pizza joint Erin had chosen, but we did get into a quaint neighborhood place.  It was wonderful to have time with my cousins.  Our time was short, only  a couple hours, but I am glad we took the time to meet up.

Saturday, Gary, Erin, and I wanted to go for a run along the lake.  I couldn’t run much because of my knee, but Erin and I managed about 1 1/2 miles running, and walked the rest.  It was a picture-perfect morning along the lake.  There were literally hundreds of people out running and biking.  I would think that would be excellent incentive to stay fit!  Next on our list was Navy Pier.  We had planned to go to the Field Museum of History, but my cousin told us we would be much too rushed since we were also going to the Cubs game.  Navy Pier was a great alternative.  We browsed a little, and then Gary, Addison, and I took a boat tour of the skyline.  It was gorgeous!  The morning was perfect, and the skyline shone in the sun.  Lake Michigan was clear and oh, so blue.  If you’ve never been to the lake, you need to visit.  It is a sight to behold.

After Navy Pier, we hit the trolley, and then the train, and headed to Wrigleyville.  We wanted to have time to eat before the game.  Erin chose an awesome diner.  Wrigleyville was wall-to-wall Cub fans – some started celebrating the victory before the game even began.  After lunch, it was time to head to Wrigley Field.

And then tragedy struck.  Okay, my stupidity struck.  Seriously.  We had our tickets that I had purchased online in early June.  I noticed that when they scanned Addison’s ticket, there seemed to be a problem.  Uh Oh.  Then there was a problem with mine.  It scanned as the wrong date.  But how was that possible?  It was possible because I BOUGHT TICKETS FOR THE JUNE PIRATES GAME AND IT WAS JULY!!!  My heart fell.  I began to sweat.  What the hell were we going to do?  I had promised the three of them this game.  Heck, it was Gary’s 10th anniversary gift.  I went to the ticket booth to see what we could do, and the only option was to purchase new tickets….another $200.  What to do?  Well, we were all dressed in our Cub gear, excited about the game, and we were going to that stupid game!  We bought new tickets, and proceeded to the gates…again.  My daughter and niece found this to be quite funny.  I had screwed up, and they enjoyed every minute of it.  We did get free Cub t-shirts as we went in (I had to point that out to everyone).  Once we found our seats, I just sat there so pissed at myself.  The only thing I could think of is that the first time I got online to look at tickets, I saw they were playing the Pirates the first weekend in July.  Little did I know that the Pirates were also in Chicago the first weekend in June.  When I got back online to order the tickets, I must have just looked up the Pirates game, and paid no attention to the date.  How I didn’t eventually notice is beyond me.  I looked at those tickets so many times.  I do tend to get in a hurry (as is evident in some of my posts), but you can bet that I will be paying extra attention from now on – if Gary ever lets me order tickets again!

So, despite my massive mistake, we had a great time at the game.  The weather was excellent; the crowd excited; and the Cubs won.  Yes, you read that correctly!  We saw two Cubs homeruns, and witnessed a Cub victory.  I can’t wait to go back (Gary will take care of ordering tickets).  The downfall (besides blowing $184 on tickets for a June game) is that I will never hear the end of this.  I probably deserve it for making fun of my family for silly things they have done.  Erin said that we just added another family story to share, and Lord knows they’ll share it!  I hate feeling stupid.

Fast forward….we left Chicago after the game and ventured on to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Sunday we attended a retirement party for a friend of Gary’s.  It was a great afternoon, and it was really nice to meet Gary’s friends.  Addison was a trooper; she was at a party where she knew no one, and never once complained or even looked like she was bored out of her mind.  What an awesome kid!

After our whirlwind weekend, we arrived back in Tell City last night.  Now we are back to reality.  My reality will now include knee surgery on August 2.  My MRI showed arthritis behind my knee cap (the nurse said they call it ‘a more young person’s arthritis’ – I swear, she said that!), and IT band tendonitis.  Because I have done over a month of physical therapy, rested, and have had two injections, the next step is an arthroscope.  Dr. Love will clean out the arthritis and repair the IT band.  There is no convenient time to have surgery, particularly when one teaches fitness classes, but I scheduled it between a fitness conference and the start of school.  I will not be able to teach Zumba for four weeks, but that’s a small sacrifice to be able to run again.  I have babied this knee for six months, and it is time to get it fixed.  There will be no races in the near future, and certainly no half marathons this fall, but hopefully next spring I will be back in 13.1 shape.  I know it will take some serious time to build up my endurance and speed, but I am willing to put in the work.  I have such wonderful running friends, and I know they will be a great support system as I recover.

Laundry and cleaning await.  Please remember:  When ordering tickets online, don’t be an idiot.  Check the dates, time, location, and price very, very carefully.  Don’t give your family and friend any material to use against you at all future gatherings.  Be smart, folks!

The Trip North…

Both Gary and I are from Northwest Indiana….the Region.  The area is called the Region because of its proximity to Chicago.  I lived about 30 minutes from the Windy City until I was eleven.  Gary lived further south, about an hour and a half from Chicago.  We both enjoy visiting that part of the state, the part where the land is flat, the dirt is black, and no one waves at you as you drive down the road (unless a middle finger is up).  I, being a city girl at heart, love spending time in Chicago and taking that journey back to my childhood.  This weekend we were presented with the opportunity for a long weekend visiting family and friends.  Since my brother was available to house and dog sit, it was a perfect plan.

It began when Gary and I received an invitation to a retirement party that will take place Sunday in Fort Wayne.  Gary’s friend and former coworker, whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years, is retiring, so the friend’s wife is having a surprise party.  As we looked at the calendar and saw that it fell on a long weekend, we decided to extend the trip.

We are currently on our way to our friends’ at Dewart Lake (after a little detour to the outlet mall).  The Rector family has been in my life since I was born.  They lived next door to us until I was seven, and since that time we have kept in touch.  Peggy and Clyde are like an aunt and uncle to my sister, brother, and me.  They have three daughters who are around our ages.  We will spend tonight at Peggy’s and Clyde’s home on the lake, and attend a party hosted by their daughter Suzie.  The last time I spent a night in this house, my father was with me.  Our family had joined theirs for a weekend on the lake.  I was really young, so I remember very little about that trip.  Still, it means a lot to me to be in the same place my father spent time.  Peggy always tells me stories about my dad, and I value those stories since I have so few memories of him.  One of the things I love about this family is that we can go years without seeing them, yet the conversations always pick up right where we left off.

Tomorrow we will go to the Hammond area.  Gary wants to go to Cabella’s, and since much of this trip is about me, I will concede to a visit to a hunting store.  Perhaps I will purchase some camo.  I bet Gary would find me especially hot!  I wonder what people in town would say if I suddenly took a liking to camo.  Anyway, I  digress.  After lunch at a yet-to-be-determined location (that’s kind of a lie because I want to go to Miner Dunn, which has the best burgers ever – and I went there as a kid –  so I can pretty much bet that’s where we will go.)

After our brief stop in Hammond, and possibly a drive-by of my old houses (I also lived in Munster), we will venture into the mad traffic of Chicago.  Thank the Lord Gary is driving, though Addison gets her license this month, and that would be some intense experience for her.  Since my car is new, I believe Gary  would be the best choice.   We will be spending Friday night at my niece’s new apartment in downtown Chicago.  She just moved in May, so I am excited to see her urban abode.  That evening we will be meeting my cousin Marcia and her husband David for some Chicago-style pizza.  Oh, yah!  Deep dish pizza oozing with cheese and cholesterol.  Marcia and I are only a year apart in age.  Until we moved south, we spent a great deal of time with her and her brother.  I have wonderful memories of riding bikes, building obstacle courses in their basement, and spending the night at their house.  Despite our complete opposite lifestyles, Marcia and I have remained close over the years.  She is a big city girl; I am verging on being a hick (a very classy hick).  She rides horses (not like horseman-club-riding horses, but dressage riding, which is very proper); I run.  She has an exotic beauty – short, black hair, dark skin, tall, and thin; I, well let’s just say  you’d never guess that we’re related.  She and her husband are worldly; I have never been out of the country, unless you count flying over Canada on our way to Alaska.  I embrace our differences, and always look forward to the times we get to be together.

Saturday will be filled with the excitement of the big city.  We plan to rise bright and early, and go for a run along the lake.  That’s my heaven.  Because of this knee issue, I will have to walk a lot, but that won’t take away from the experience:  Lake Michigan on my left, the skyline on my right, and the wind in my face (I will probably be cussing the wind).  After showers, we will head to the Field Museum of Natural History.  I will admit, when I went to this museum in my younger days, it bored me, but Addison loves history, so I think she’ll enjoy it.  And…since our next stop is the CUBS game, I can endure a bit of boredom.  In the afternoon, we will be cheering on the Cubs when they play the Pirates.  That’s what true Cubs fans do.  We all have our new Cubs shirts, so we will look very touristy.  Don’t worry – I will be posting pics along the way!

After the game, it’s back in the car so we can head east.  We will be spending Saturday night in Fort Wayne, and will go to the retirement party Sunday – but not before we hit up the Dick’s in Fort Wayne.  Gary says we are trying to hit up every Dick’s in the country.  I haven’t yet met these friends of Gary’s, but am sure I will like them.  Since there will likely be a bunch of teachers there, surely I can find something to talk about.  If nothing else, I just share some funny Gary stories.  When he isn’t around.  Because he’d trump me with embarrassing Joyce stories.  And that would suck.

While my guess is that no one really cares what I am doing this weekend, you just read this whole blog entry.  I really write for my own enjoyment, and I did just pass a substantial amount of time in the car, but I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts.  Actually, if you knew what really goes on in this mind, you might petition a judge to lock me up.  Want an example?  This morning as we were driving down a country road near our house, I saw a turtle crossing the road.  He (who really knows what sex a turtle is?) also saw us, and naturally shrunk into his shell.  I thought to myself (I probably shouldn’t admit this) that it would be really cool to be a turtle.  Then when I am afraid, or someone annoys me, or I just want to be alone, I could just pull myself into my shell and hideout.  And because I am a turtle, no one would even wonder what my problem is.  I think I will be a turtle in my next life.  Then I’d really be a hard-ass!

That’s it for now.  I have to rest up for shopping.  Have a fabulous 4th of July….Isn’t it great to be an American?!