An Errand, a Run and a Rainbow– In Chicago

Today I had an errand in Chicago, off Belmont Ave.

I stopped to gas up and got some Gatorade and a banana.

Took 2.5 hours of traffic to make it– I got there with 15 minutes to spare!

I had dressed in running clothes hoping I could squeeze in a run– the day was gorgeous. Traveling north up Lake Shore Drive, I enjoyed seeing all the runners. The traffic was horrid, but the sight of all those people calmed me. I felt connected to them. And most, I noticed, were running solo. Some people biking, some riding Segways.

One day, I want to run on Lake Shore Drive. But that’ll be another adventure! That would take some planning.

I parked next to a meter and paid for two hours. The errand just took a few minutes. And then I turned on my Nike running app, set it for 2.5 miles, and off I went!

This was my first complete run on concrete sidewalk. But soon I loved it– getting around all the people on the sidewalk was like an instant obstacle course. And there were so many others running– and the wind was fantastic!

I started with my phone in my pouch but soon took it out to monitor my progress. It was easy to hold it and seeing the numbers change kept me going. I still had to slow down and walk a few times. I haven’t yet run for an entire 30 minutes uninterrupted, but I’m working on it slowly!

There was something invigorating about being in midst of so many other fitness-minded people. I can only imagine what a buzz it would be to do a 5k, a mud obstacle course, or a marathon!!

As I ran, I loved the knowledge that I looked like just another Chicago runner– no one would know I’m a suburban gal. I had called up a city friend to see if she wanted to meet up, and was surprised that I could answer a phone call whilst running. Of course I slowed down to talk and my run paused. She was overworked after a long day and we decided another time would be best.

I passed by places I’ve been in the city and smiled at the memory. Again, sweating was glorious.

I started near Belmont and Clark and ran to Ashland and then back as far as Roscoe.

I almost stopped in a few restaurants to refuel, but wanted to finish my 2.5 miles first. And I did!

It said that was my fastest mile yet. God bless technology!!

Then I celebrated at a place called Yoshi’s Cafe, on Halsted Street. Right where my 2.5 miles ended.

I was initially outside, but then it began misting a bit of rain. They moved me inside.

Watching the sidewalk, a boy walking with his father and younger brother stopped and pointed:
“THERE’S A RAINBOW!!”

My server along with one of the owners came outside to admire it. Everyone there was kind and smiling.

I had asked the server to bring the check with my meal, because I had to eat fast to make it back to my parking spot on time. Also, dark was falling. She did, I tipped her well, and I made it back 15 minutes early.

A perfect spring eve in Chicago.

I still can’t believe I don’t have any leg cramps and my feet don’t hurt!

My life is pretty fantastic right now. I’m in a choir at church, I’ve got a friend to run with, and I’m learning to even discipline myself enough to not just run on my off-days, but enjoy it.

I feel young and healthy and excited to see what’s next!

Goodbye, Excuses!!

Just got back from my first synced-up run with Eleise, week 2!!

We are getting better.

Tonight I really felt like I was on my game, because I downloaded a Nike app to sync up with Eleise, who also has it. We mostly figured it out, and I loved that it tracked our progress and even motivates us!

Tonight it was hot but I just spritzed ample OFF! And we ran as scheduled. And for the first time, I really broke a sweat! And we changed up our route– thus far, we make small changes each time.

Tonight we ran on concrete, asphalt, grass, a trail– and it just got easier.

She’s the music supply on her phone, always ’80s. We were both cracking up when “Thriller,” came on just as we were about hit a trail through some woods.

I’ve come so far since I first tried running, two years ago this spring. The main problems I had were that I had no place to store my keys and phone whilst running, and thus used a purse I could sling over my shoulder. It was light so it worked fine but it was still kind of annoying and bulky.

Now I have this neato stretchy zippered belt contraption, which houses my keys, phone, and cash or ID if I need. It’s adjustable and once I close it up, I forget about it. It doesn’t get in my way, I can’t even feel it! Amazing.

Also, last time I had no way to track my progress. Without some type of app or device measuring my results, I quickly lost motivation.

Now I have both an accountability partner in Eleise AND and new app to coordinate!!

We’re also catching up and just plain having FUN! We’re motivated, but not competitive.

YET. I’m sure that day will arrive!

She’s talking about doing a 5k. I threw up an automatic wall at first because it just seemed like too much– but I like that she’s always thinking ahead and looking to set goals. I’m considering it!

Tonight we ran 3.14 miles, though did walk a bit of it. But baby steps, right?!

We had a blast tagging each other on Facebook in our runs and even took a post-run selfie— mind you, in the the pitch dark! I turned the flashlight on my phone, and she took it with hers.

THIS IS SO FUN. I know I’m going to sleep great tonight!

Also, I noticed I wasn’t getting winded tonight. Already, my breathing is getting better.

I walked 4.1 miles yesterday and my legs weren’t even sore!

I’m going to learn all about this sport and how to get in the best shape and health of my life.

Cinderella’s New Shoes

Today I felt like Cinderella.

But it was better than going to a ball in some fragile glass slippers.

And way better than trying to impress some prince.

Today, I bought my own magic shoes. No time limit!

I decided to invest in a new pair of running shoes, buying from an excellent store specializing in just that.

The store staff asked me to walk, and he watched my feet. Then he analyzed the way I walk and said he’d return with shoes meeting my needs and we’d proceed by process of elimination.

My feet were also measured–it’d been so long since I did that!

He must have returned with 10 different boxes.

I tried them all, and then asked to see Adidas. I assumed I’d leave with my go-to brand.

But in the end, I chose Nike.

I love the way they fit–plenty of room in the toe box, still snug in the heel. Great arch inside.

And they LOOK wicked! Plus, I was happily surprised how affordable they were. Less than I expected to pay.

I got a couple of other things to make my runs easier– a little stretchy belt pouch for my keys/phone. A book about getting started for beginners.

As I was ringing up, the cashier smiled and said, “You’ll be successful.” Why don’t ALL cashiers just close sales that way?? Positive reinforcement like that would work on me every time.

Hell, maybe I’LL start using that at work. I’m in sales.

But the best part was when I got home and laced ’em up for the first time.

I just meant to go on a quick run, but it ended up being a long walk.

I started in my neighborhood and kept going.

I ended up walking 4.1 miles– double what I’d run at one stretch this week.

I tried to download the Nike Running app my running partner is using, but apparently my IOS is outdated. So I estimated by plugging in the address with Google maps instead. Not a bad improvisation!

So I didn’t run, but I did break those shoes in.

And while I was walking, I didn’t feel worried about anything.

I just felt free. Hopeful.

Grateful.

This is the beginning of something new and good in my life, I can feel it.

It’s not about finding a prince, or a fairy godmother.

It’s about learning to run in my own– safe, durable– shoes.

It’s about writing my own ending and pushing myself to grow.

Not Yet (Keep Running)

“Don’t give up on yourself yet, Amee,” Eleise said.

I am so lucky to have a running partner who is a natural motivator.

“You’re doing great!” she told me.

I respond best to positive reinforcement. She is awesome at reassuring me when I start to wimp out!

I still need to learn how to breathe. I’ve been taking little shallow breaths. She told me to try and take deeper, longer breaths. I’m learning.

And it appears that ’80s music is the perfect soundtrack. It’s just random– the synthesizers!

Tonight Phil Collins helped us get started. We took a different route, too.

“In the Air Tonight,” jived well because there was a chill in the air. I wore a pull-over.

When we were almost done in the final stretch, she showed me her phone– tracking our progress. She told me how far we had to go until the numbers changed. Watching helped me keep going.

We ran two miles again!

And did some more stretching afterword, though this time I brought my yoga mat so my spine wasn’t directly on the concrete driveway.

I felt some sort of burn that seemed to be at the top of my ribs, near my heart? Between.

Did some sit-ups and squats!

Yesterday I walked by myself for a little while, today I made sure to hydrate and drank water and tea through the day. It’s helping.

I like this little new routine.

Order My Steps

Mass today was, again, wonderful!

I woke up late but still made it on time. Thankfully I had my ensemble laid out before I went to bed.

I’ve only been in this choir less than a month, but already I’m feeling such a part of it!!

And I discovered a bonus— when it’s a little windy, choir robes keep you warm.

I feel so much more engaged with Mass. I never realized before how many songs we actually sing. It’s a hustle to keep up with them all, and I love it! I still need my book and sheet lyrics for most, but the other members assured me it took all of them awhile to get it, too.

Everyone is so welcoming and laid-back. So many smiles and laughter. But what’s most amazing is that they’re not cliquey. They greet me with the same warmth as they do other parishioners they’ve known for years.

I’m beginning to open up a little more each week. People are beginning to call me by name and I’m slowly learning theirs, too. That’s one reason I love that we have a small parish. It’s mostly the same people each week. That stability really does make a difference.

Our big song today was “Order My Steps,” by Glenn Burleigh.

And today I noticed people so into the music that they stood up, hands up in the air.

After the song ended, most of the parish gave applause!!

I’m including a video of a different choir– I don’t have any footage of us. But I love this song.

Singing to our Lord is my new favorite way to praise Him!

Runnin’ On a Prayer

Just got home from an impromptu run with my friend Eleise.

I feel fantastic.

Luckily she’s a teacher– and has a great combo of motivation and encouragement. She tracked our run on her phone and helped me learn how to breathe and keep pushing. I am SUCH a beginner!!

She also had some music going– that had us laughing when we weren’t gasping for air.

There’s something so tranquil about running at night. When “Livin’ On a Prayer,” came up, I quipped, “Bon Jovi will get us through it!”

It also is perfect because we both have a deep faith, though of different denominations.

At our half-way mark, she yelled out, “We’re half way there!”

Running, Bon Jovi, and a few prayers were just what we needed tonight. It was fun to just spend some time with her too, doing something simple.

After we made it back to her house, we did some stretches and exercises. Squats, sit-ups, lunges. Laying on her long concrete drive-way, we had the perfect view of the stars.

This is the best Saturday night I’ve had in months! Going for a run was so much better than a party or even seeing a band. I’m at the time in my life where I enjoy the small things the most. Not to say I’ll never see another band– but building my own routine is my first interest right now. Getting healthier.

We both verbalized that we’re not motivated enough to do this alone, so we’re committing to a schedule.

Three times a week! Let’s do this.

10 Reasons I Loved This Mother’s Day

1. My parents volunteered to come visit my parish for the first time!

2. I got to sing in the choir again!!

3. Instead of our robes today, we choir women dressed up and wore hats!

4. My friend Dulcinea also went, and I saw her taking pictures as we sang. She also wore a hat!

5. We actually sang “Gloria Festiva,” this time– and I rocked it!

6. I danced a bit during our songs. Why not?!

7. Listening to the organ, piano, bass guitar and drums, I could NOT stop smiling. Mass is just better with some real music. It’s traditional and yet contemporary.

8. My parish greets each new member by asking them to stand up and say hello and where they’re from. Diane said they were my parents and they came to see me– the person in the choir with the biggest hat! (I did!) That got a laugh from everyone and I felt so spoiled.

9. I followed along with all the songs better today– I’m getting the hang of it!

10. After Mass, I took my first picture with some of the other choir ladies. They were all wearing bright, wonderful suits and hats that defy gravity and reek of style.

— Addendum: As we left, each woman was given a special gift. Along with the Mass bulletins, there were bookmarks in a stack for the taking. They are purple and rectangular. On the front it says, “10 Reasons I’m a Woman of God,” and on the back, it lists them. I love that our parish is small enough that we get these little extra gifts. Each woman was also handed a carnation upon leaving.