Saturday, August 19, 2017

Some Music for August

Listening to lots of great music these days, here's a few songs I've been loving this month.

A little fair warning - though if you know me this shouldn't come as any surprise - some of these songs have language not suitable for the office or small children.

Also, my favorite songs are almost all - as a friend of mine describes it - booty music. Just FYI.

Ali K. turned me on to K. Flay earlier this year and I've been grateful ever since. This is just one since so far I've loved every song I've heard.


Then Dua Lipa is another new favorite of mine, amazing dance music. I love the whole album of hers, though, including the ballads.

Blow Your Mind (Mwah)

Total guilty summer pleasure - Ricky Martin!

Vente Pa' Ca (music starts about 30 seconds in)

An old favorite, Macklemore & Ryan's Thrift Shop:

And then one that has been in my head a lot this past week - Nina Simone's I Wish I Knew How It Feels To Be Free. I've always loved this song, but right now it makes me cry even as my heart soars listening to it.

Because music keeps me going when nothing else can,

Friday, August 18, 2017

16 Miles

Back when I posted about training for the marathon again, I knew that despite my commitment to running it, I wouldn't be able to really get into training until now, less than two months beforehand. Which is ridiculous and all that but sometimes you just have to do ridiculous things for love.

I've now had my first truly long run - 16 miles - and yes, it was ugly. At six miles I emerged from neighborhood shade onto the heat of the lakefront and felt my energy drain away accordingly. Six miles! With ten left to go! Jiminy crickets, what have I gotten myself into?

After a quick mental scan of my calendar I realized I didn't have any other dates I could do this. So ten more miles it was. I took an extended walk break - realized that walking felt fine - and so just continued. At first trading quarter-miles walking and running, then once I got a bit more energized again I ran half miles with quarter-mile walk breaks. And got through them well enough that the last mile I just ran home.

And then spent the rest of the day (after my ice bath) with my feet up, reading. Three days later and my legs still feel a bit heavy, but I also know I haven't been stretching properly (or foam rolling or putting my legs up or doing any other kind of recovery work, shame on me). I need to get back on that part of training too.

But now I know I can do it.

Still a badass (at least to me, sometimes) even though a soccer mom,

Thursday, July 20, 2017

So, About That Marathon

You haven't seen me write much about this year's Chicago Marathon because up until a couple of weeks ago I thought I wasn't going to do it. I had some health issues that made it impossible to train the way I wanted to (or to run at all, for a while), and I wasn't thrilled with the idea of just starting off that day and seeing what I could do, though I was keeping that open as an option. I even told the team leader that I wouldn't be doing it.

And then...

I started to be able to run again. And I started to enjoy it again, consistently, for the first time in months. And I started to think that maybe I would start that day and just see how far I could go.

And then I started thinking seriously about what I thought would happen if I trained to be able to run, oh, say 14 miles, and got out there that day and got to the 14 miles point. Did I really think I would stop?

Honey, please.

So, knowing me, I thought it would probably be safer if I trained to do the whole thing, ugly or not, lots of walking or not, rather than train to run a shorter distance (and then try to do more on the spot).

Last week I ran 10 miles - with lots of walk breaks - and felt good afterwards. This was up from my previous long run of 6 miles, so a considerable jump. I made sure to ice bath afterwards! Plus we went to the pool twice over the next two days, which I know helps my legs. This week I will run 14 - with more walk breaks, more icing and more pool time. I've also been careful to stay on top of stretching and foam rolling for my tight bits.

Then I have a few weeks when I don't have weekends free for long runs, so I will instead do some back-to-back midweek mid-length runs and possibly a couple of two-a-days. By mid-August I should be back on track with the beginner's plan that the team coach gave us.

And I am excited and happy and so glad I can make this happen again. I've missed marathoning! I hadn't realized just how sad it made me feel, thinking I was done with it.

If you're like to help in my fundraising efforts you can do so here. Any donation of $50 or more gets you something homebaked by me. I'll be writing more about Chicago Lights and why I support it in a later post (you can also read here and here).

Here's to chafing and black toenails and crashing hard as soon as the boys are in bed - and the utter absurd joy of running for hours -


Friday, June 30, 2017


I had not heard this song prior to reading about the Justin Bieber controversy around it (where he admitted to not knowing the lyrics that he sang on the remix), but then listened to it and... fell in love, like much of the country has done. The version without Justin, though.

I'm not wild about the woman in the video, either, so until I bought the song I listened to the video without watching it. Over and over again.

A few days later I was at a party when this came up, and while there was nothing I could quite put my finger on, I wasn't real happy with how people there were talking about it either. As if yes, it would be too much work to learn the words to a song in Spanish. Or as if there's something a little declassé about enjoying it too much.

Never mind that the rest of the world loves American pop despite it being in English.

So I've made learning - and understanding - the words to this my Spanish project for the summer.

Not only is it a fun project, but it also gives me an excuse to delve a bit more into reggaeton, which I enjoy although mostly in fusion with other musical styles (as Despacito is). Since then I've also found an interesting article about the song, an interview with Petra Rivera-Rideau, a scholar who has written about the racial dynamics of reggaeton in Puerto Rico.

Ah, some of my favorite topics - music, race relations, language, popular culture. All with an irresistible beat. Perfect for summer study.

Yo no tengo prisa, yo me quiero dar el viaje
Empecemos lento, después salvaje.

I'm not in a hurry, I want to take the journey,
let's start slowly, then wildly.

Slowly yours,

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ravenswood Run 2017

This year was the first year we ran the Ravenswood Run 5K as a family, following on the heels of our tremendously successful Turkey Trot last year. It benefits Ravenswood Community Services, the organization housed in our church that provides food, meals, and health screenings to people in Ravenswood and Uptown.

As before, I ran with D while The Dude stayed with G. Before starting the race, D decided he would run half of it with me before taking off on his own. We went over the instructions on the way to the race - where we would meet up afterwards, how to know where to go, that sort of thing. As I was describing how the course was laid out he became uncomfortable with the idea of leaving me - he's really not that aware of his surroundings and while he's been on all the streets I was naming, he clearly wasn't remembering them. So then we decided to go with our strategy for the Turkey Trot, where he stayed with me until the finish line was in sight.

We started and I could immediately tell we'd started off a bit fast for me, and that I was going to have to either slow down - almost impossible to do with D there - or take more walk breaks than I was anticipating. So halfway through we ended up splitting up after all (though I did catch him looking back a couple of times).

He ended up beating me by about a minute and a half, and 35th in a field of 135 (boys 14 and under - he's eight). Very nice!

I ended up taking walk breaks every half mile, and then for the last mile decided to up them to every quarter-mile, so I could pick up my pace in between. Those breaks also coincided with the major turns in the route. At the last one an older man saw me walking and decided to be "encouraging". I would have been more sympathetic if I hadn't heard him haranguing his granddaughter about her pace earlier in the race. So I just said I knew what I was doing - and then passed him half a block later.

My final time was 30:16, for a 9:45 pace.

I always hope to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes, so yes, I was a little disappointed that I'd gotten so close and not done it. On the other hand, nothing from my running in the last half year would have suggested that I could have done as well as I did, so I'll take it as a win.

I found D right where we'd arranged to meet, though he was sitting on the ground so I had a moment of panic when I didn't see him. I think he's up for more 5Ks - he certainly liked the range of snacks afterwards. G did not have as good a time on this go-around and says he wants to do the Kids' Dash next year - but he's still very proud of his t-shirt. So maybe in a couple of years.

A very nice family excursion, and a good organization to be helping!

Slower than an 8-year-old,

Friday, April 21, 2017

Just Something I've Been Thinking About

There's a line in Macklemore's "White Privilege II" that goes
"We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?"
That line echoes all the time in my head now.

So last fall I'm walking from work to the train station and I pass by Ditka's, a restaurant owned by legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka. And as always, they're piping out the most awesome selection of 60's soul music. I have been enjoying their playlist for years. It has never failed to give a little lift to my day.

Except last fall, Ditka went on national TV to give his opinion on Colin Kaepernick's protest of the national anthem.
"If they don't like this country, they don't like our flag, get the hell out, that's what I think." 
"And I don't see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on."
Leaves a sour taste in my mouth, that's for sure. Meanwhile Marvin keeps asking "what's going on" while Sam tells us "I know a change is going to come", and I walk down the street wondering when.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Back In The Saddle

Well, it's been a bit of a rough start to the spring.

I'm usually pretty healthy, but there are a couple of recurring illnesses I am prone to, and I got hit with both this year. I'm still dealing with the last, a cold that settled into a lasting cough. From past experience this can take weeks to get rid of.

Oh, and our basement got flooded when the drains backed up. Tree roots in the sewer lines. Thankfully the lines themselves are still in good shape.

(I think that was actually the tipping point on my cough, all those hours of cleaning up with bleach and Lysol.)

We still haven't pulled the trigger on the last preventative flood measure (exterior sewer pipe access). There's a lot of work to be done on the house and we can't afford to do all of it this year. So we're still deciding what exactly is the most important thing to do first. Outside wiring or extra flood control? Hmm.

Have I mentioned I'm running the Chicago Marathon again this year? For the Chicago Lights team again.

I've decided this will be my last one. It will be marathon #5, that's a good number to go out on. And my third time raising money for Chicago Lights.

Thinking about it as my last one is helping me get excited about the training again.

I'm about a month behind where I wish I was with my running, but it's still early in the season. And I'm finally feeling well enough, despite the cough, to start working on mileage. It helps that it's Spring Break this week and I'm home a few days - that's given me some extra time in the morning for longer runs. And it helps - a lot! - that it's not so dark.

So, a lot on our minds. But! There's a lot to be thankful for, and I have been.

Doing well in Chicago (if a little wet, cold, and coughing) -