Ashley's Blog

Ashley's Blog


Christmas in photos

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Late Autumn, in photos

Sipping cappuccinos after Pilates with Jeniece. Along with the views of the 1st snow!!
And the trail mix scone is AH-MAZING!
More Christmas tree admiring than actual reading. 
Crossed Barry's Bootcamp off the bucket list! 
Thanksgiving day was with the siblings followed by black Friday shopping!
Before + after at painting class back home.
The golden hour along the Lakefront. 
Completed 6+ miles on the last warm weekend in Chicago.
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A golden 21st birthday

I know it's December. Better late than never!! Turning 21 took forever, and when the day finally came the celebration lasted THREE weeks!! Definitely a super special GOLDEN birthday and worth a post of its own.

On the day of my birthday, I went to work, and it was a lovely day outside! That morning M and I went to the club for a swim! She took a fantastic nap and the rest of our time flew by.  
After work, I took a 45min spin class at the club. Then Jeniece surprised me by meeting me there, and we had a drink and ate a yummy heirloom tomato salad at the Chromium. 
We left the club and went down the street to Mindy's Hot Chocolate-- a dessert restaurant, that's been on my Chicago list since moving here. Dessert was SO YUMMY! We were stuffed with chocolate but not ready to end the night. Our final stop was at The Royal Grocer for one more drink.
It was such a fun evening with Jeniece. We called it quits early, she had an early flight Friday, and I had a big overnighter weekend starting at 7am.
Friday-Sunday I spent with one-year-old Ty while his parents were in Colorado. We swam on the club, took long morning walks, and he slept like a champ each morning! I was pooped when his parents arrive back on Sunday.  
 The next weekend Jo came to Chicago for a night. Jeniece and I had one more stop to top off turning 21, the rooftop of Hotel Lincoln in Lincoln Park. We started with mimosas on the main level then when Jordyn arrived we went up to the top, for the views.
The final celebration was when my parents came to see me run the Chicago Marathon. You can check out more on that weekend here.

BUT then in a few weeks (after two more back-to-back weekends of overnight sitting) I was off to see Vic in the Twin Cities. Since we share a birthday month, I like to call this trip, our birthday celebration visit. But this year the trip didn't happen until November- not exactly around our birthdays. 
The weekend was so so so good, and it's always a treat when we get a weekend together.
I was a little shaky when the road trip started. It was the first Midwest snow. Luckily the snow didn't start until I reached Minnesota. 
V has a tradition of first snow donuts. I can't remember if this was the first or second year ;) I was happy to be part of the tradition. On Saturday, V, Katy and I sipped coffee + had our donuts at Glam Doll Donuts downtown. Then I convinced the girlies to do some small shop shopping and go find a matcha latte in the cities.
We found the smoothest, not-so-bitter matcha in downtown Minneapolis at Penny's. GLORIOUS! So were the crepes we ordered. 
Next, Viking's corn maze with hot apple cider. 
Then, Stranger Things season 2 watchin' + maple pecan bars bakin'. 
Before the night ended, we went to a show put on by students at her school. Doing this has become a tradition. I love how each time I come up to her school there is some sort of entertainment her fellow classmates are putting on. This year it was the musical Singing in the Rain. LOVED IT!

That concludes the birthday celebrations!

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I'm a Marathoner

Last November I entered a lottery for the 2017 Chicago Marathon. I had barely been a runner. I felt it was my time for challenging myself and if there was any better time to commit to more than 30 weeks of training, it was now. Why not see how far I can push myself?

Two months leading up to the marathon

After the half marathon in July, my thoughts on finishing the marathon were a cluster of doubt and unknown. My knees flared up when I ran 1 mile but never during any other activity during the day or workout at the gym. Running was the one exercise my knees couldn't handle. Finally, I stopped trying. I dedicated the last month before the race to Cycling, HIIT, pilates/yoga, and boxing. No running aloud - I wanted my knees to fully heal, and I was too scared to try running.
One week before the marathon

Mon-Fri: Monday I took a HIIT class. Then Tue + Wed I was SO fatigued and bloated and tired. I slept each night horribly. Thurs I took a cycle class and Fri after the expo + picking up my bib I went to a heated yoga class. The stretch was needed.
1 day to go: Enjoyed the city with family. We walked about 5 miles. Ate lots + had two drinks while watching the Hawkeyes + Cubs play. Before bed I drank electrolyte water.
Race Day
Mile 0-9

The happiest miles by far in my entire running journey!! I couldn't shake the smile off my face! The encouraging text were rolling in from friends. My pace was consistent at 10:30ish. I felt GREAT mentally and physically. I wasn't out of breath. The temps were a little chilly in the shade. I loved the energy from the fans and reading all their signs.
Mile 10-14

Mentally I was a 10/10, and my body was slowly feeling like an 8/10. My shoulders, back + my arches were the first to ache.
What kept me going was the halfway mark! I PRd my half marathon by a few minutes. New best: 02:26:14. Previously 02:31:02 from July 2017 Rock n Roll Chicago Half.
I refueled with Gatorade energy chews. And bites of banana from strangers handing them out. I noticed my tummy feeling uncomfortable. That became a nice distraction from all the tired joints and muscles.
Mile 15

The back of my knee started flaring up. My hips and hamstrings were hurting on both sides. I couldn't make it far without having to take a walking break. The sun was brilliant, and shade was limited. I had to stop for a porta potty. I started to wonder if I was going to get that medal.

Mile 16-18

I discovered Biofreeze gel at the aid stations! I rubbed it along both knees and hamstrings. Bye bye joint pain. Then Alec texts me their location, and I felt a spark of motivation. I had gotten this far, I needed to complete these last 10 miles.

Mile 19-24

I was done. The sun was making me dizzy. Walking hurt just as much as running but I had to walk because of the heat. Occasionally I felt a kick and would run about 4 minutes. Thank goodness for Biofreeze disguising all the ache on the backs of my legs.

Mile 25+26

I just needed to sit, but I knew if I did I'd still have a mile to go. There was no point in sitting, the pain and fatigue weren't going away.

Mile 26.2

The biggest hill of all the course and then finally the finish!!!

So what's next?
Hmmm, I have a running list of 5ks I want to run next year, and I am sorta already craving another half marathon.

What I would do differently

Well, I don't see a marathon happening ever again. BUT I have a few changes I would make for maybe next time.

** More yoga before race day. Perfect for getting a stretch and working the lungs.
** Plan a half marathon more than 2 months before the full + train more than 13 miles for total distance.
** Find the perfect shoes for training + running 26.2 miles in. I have really bad arches, so it's a toughy finding the ideal fit.

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