Bank of America, Hot Chocolate and Navy Pier.

What do these three things have in common?  At a glance, you may be thinking you can deposit a check and grab hot chocolate while you are visiting Navy Pier.  I am sure that’s possible.  Or maybe how each of them generates money in some way.  Again, possible.  But you still wouldn’t be right according to this Ann Written Note.  There is one thing they have in common:  CHICAGO RUNNING! 

As we are just days out from the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, I have to say what I say (and think) every year.  Holy crap I cannot believe the unbelievable mental strength, will power and discipline marathon runners have!   And holy crap those calf muscles are awesome.  I saw a pack of trainers recently and the level of teamwork that I witnessed was remarkable.  They all waited for each other, there were tears, emotions and lots of sweating.  And this wasn’t even the real marathon (granted it was probably a 20-mile run…I actually think I shed a tear just watching them).

My mind has a hard time wrapping itself around running 26.2 miles.  Truly, I am fascinated that a human being can actually do this.  And while I wish these last few sentences were a tease and build up to “SURPRISE!  I’m running the Chicago Marathon this weekend!”  they aren’t.  And I am not.  The closest I have come to a marathon was running the last 6 miles of the 2010 Chicago Marathon with my dear friend Karla and admittedly, I did feel a killer high but it wasn’t enough to make me do it 🙂

And so in the meantime, I will be training for and allegedly completing my second and third 10-mile races this year (which for me, a 10 mile race equals a marathon!):  the Hot Chocolate race on November 5 and Chicago’s Perfect 10 Navy Pier race on November 12.  Man, I sound pretty lame with these 10-milers after talking about these overly impressive 26.2 milers.  Which brings me to the big question:  Why Do I Run?  Good question, Ann!  Let me explain.

I began running in 2007 when I moved into a studio apartment which was two blocks from Lake Michigan and two blocks from Lincoln Park, two of Chicago’s ultimate running paths.  I was going through a divorce, living in a space that was as small as my college dorm room, dating a guy who was married, a tad confused at life and broken.  And everything in me was saying RUN!  Run very far and don’t come back.  So instead of actually doing that and pissing my parents off even more, I grabbed my tennis shoes, sports bra, t-shirt and my lululemon pants and I did something I never thought I would care or want to do.  I ran.  On the lake.  For maybe 10-15 minutes.  And there were tears, emotions and a lot of sweating (not to be confused with the marathon trainers referenced above).  It was therapeutic to say the least.  I would run and pray and listen to amazing music and pray and run and some days absolutely hate the run but would finish.   It was (and still is) a personal therapy session for me to get peace and talk to God.

One ran led to the next and there I was, weeks later running in a 5k race.  In 2008 I think I ran in 10 races and in 2009, 15-20.  It became semi-addicting.  And I loved it.  The adrenaline of running with hundreds of other runners through one of the most amazing cities in the world, jamming to my favorite tunes, brings a smile to my face and a pep in my step, literally.  Addie Horton, that one was for you.

Therapeutic, addicting…and an awesome workout.  I have been an athlete my whole life and generally have kept in shape (let’s not count that Freshman 15 – I mean Freshman 20 – from good old U of I).  I would go to the gym and use the elliptical, walk on the treadmill and lift weights.  I would play on softball teams and volleyball teams.  But nothing has given me greater joy and a greater sense of an amazing workout than running.  Nothing.  Even if I only run a mile or two, I feel rejuvenated, recharged and healthy.  There is just something about running.

And the last reason I love to run is the time alone.  I cherish the time alone appreciating God’s earth and letting my mind run free.  Actually, most of the content for these blogs has come to me while I am running.  I think of my best ideas, the worst ideas and the most random thoughts (imagining myself as a back-up dancer for Justin Timberlake…wondering what other runners are thinking that pass by me on the riverwalk…how much I love music…etc…) while I run.  It’s so fun!

If you are reading this and you are a runner, I am sure some of this resonates with you and I am sure you, too, have your own unique reasons for running.  If you are reading this and you hate running or think you can’t run or don’t want to,  maybe, just maybe I have said something that would peak your interest and cause you to dust off your gym shoes, grab your iPod, put on some Black Eyed Peas and let your mind wander.  My sister did…and so can you 🙂

2011 Chicago Marathoners – GOOD LUCK and BE SAFE!  My prayers will be with all of you for an amazing run, good weather and tons of fun.


Weight, the Scale Says WHAT?!

Summer is an amazing time of year.   The sun wakes us up in the morning, kids are outside playing, people are more active, dining al fresco is the norm, Skinny Girl Magarita’s at noon is acceptable and the social life of many is taken to a new level.  Women have prepped for the summer bikini season doing P90X or Crossfit on North Avenue beach at 6am.  Some dudes ride their bikes casually along the lake in their Speedo’s (hey, to each their own).  It’s just an amazing time of year with energy, laughter and hospitality explosion.  My summer started with training for my first 10 mile race which was a success and kicked off Memorial Day Weekend healthy, confident and ready to embrace the [dreaded] bikini head on.  Three months later (after drinking Skinny Girl Magarita’s al fresco), on Friday, August 19 at 10:13am, I had the grandiose idea of stepping on my scale.  It couldn’t be tha…OH MY GOSH!   I jumped off the scale, terrified as if I had just seen a cockroach.  And then I thought, “oh it was an error…I hadn’t stepped on it for a couple of months so it probably just needed to adjust and get warmed up…”  Let me try it again.  I slowly placed my left foot, then my right and weighed in (buck naked, mind you) for the second time.  FRICK.  It’s not lying.  It’s a digital scale.

I guess for me, summer actually meant [a little too much] dining al fresco, cheeses (ahh, I love cheese so much), french fries from the French Market, sauvignon blanc and my daily handful of dark chocolate peanut M&M’s.  Come on, you have to enjoy life, right?  Okay, maybe not as much as I did this summer.  And now, I have a choice.  GAME ON! The self-proclaimed 8 pound weight loss challenge is on, officially as of Monday, August 22.  Get excited for this journey, it’s going to be a fun one and one that I will not hold anything back, admit to my french fry cheating’s (in journalism this is called foreshadowing) and track my weight loss through this blog.  How’s that for accountability?

On a lighter note, pun intended, I wanted to share with you my Monday win, my Monday discovery and one of my tools that will be in my biggest loser toolbox.  Pret A Manger and their ridiculously delicious, ridiculously healthy spicy shrimp and cilantro wrap.  Not only is it amazing, but the in-store experience is efficient and informative…they show you the calorie count on all of their sandwiches, salads and wraps!  And if that isn’t amazing enough, how about the fact they they DO WELL AND DO GOOD FOR SOCIETY?!  Everything they make is made that day and whatever they don’t sell at the end of the day is donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  I love it.  Made Today, Gone Tomorrow.

If you have a Pret near you, go (and go fast) and get ready for my 8 pound weight loss challenge!

[photo credit:

%d bloggers like this: