Things Your Favorite Runner Might Like to Hear

I cannot tell you the number of times I cringe when I hear someone ask me “How far is your marathon?” (A marathon is 26.2 miles, people!!! Any other distance is not a marathon.) or when a friend knows I ran a race over the weekend and they ask “Did you win?” (Wow. I’ve never heard that before. And I really thought I had a chance at winning.)

Every runner has heard annoying comments and questions like these, and recently this list of “What Not to Say to Runners” has been going around.

After I shared this on Facebook, my sister commented, “Maybe you should start a list of what TO say to runners.” I think she was joking, but she makes a good point. I have many non-runners in my life who want to be supportive, but honestly just don’t know what to do or say to show their support.

So, here is my initial list of things to say to your favorite runner, which should be timely for those of us running the Chicago Marathon next weekend.

  • I hope you had a great run/race. Not “Did you win?” “Did you PR?” “Did you run a million miles?” Just acknowledge that you know they went for a run/ran a race and if they want to tell you about it, you’ve just opened up that window.
  • I know you have a long run in the morning. Want to eat some pasta, not drink, and go to bed early tonight? If you have a friend or loved one training for a marathon, you’ve probably figured out that during training season, they can be pretty lame on Friday nights. Rather than either tempting them to go out or avoiding inviting them to hang out, try inviting them to do something low-key so they can still have an enjoyable Friday evening without feeling lonely, tempted, or that they’re missing out on all the fun.
  • Want to meet for brunch after your run? Yes, we know you’ll still be sleeping while we’re out running double-digit mileage. But, you like brunch when you’re rolling out of bed, and we like brunch when we’re sweaty, tired, and famished. Share in our weekend running routine by meeting us out for brunch after our run, and give us something to look forward to.
  • How are you feeling? Running, especially when training for a distance race, can be a huge physical and emotional roller coaster. Some days we feel great. Other days we are sore, tired, and cranky. Sometimes we feel super confident. Other days we feel emotionally exhausted, full of doubts, and frustrated that a “short” run was harder than it should be. We also know that non-runners are sick of hearing us talk about running, and we try (not always so successfully) to not talk about it too much around you. But sometimes we just need someone to ask how we’re doing. And listen. 
  • I’d love to come cheer you on on race day. Most runners, unless it’s their first or very important race, will not ask you to come out and cheer. But we secretly want you to. There is nothing quite like seeing a familiar face along the race course to keep you going when you’re just about ready to give up. Even seeing strangers cheer for other people can help push you along. The importance of spectators is something I never fully understood until I was in the position of the runner. But take it from me, cheering for your favorite runners means more to them than they will ever fully be able to express.
  • Can I bring you anything for after the race? If you do go out to watch a race, figure out what your runner might want afterwards. Everyone wants/needs something different. For some, it’s an ice cold Gatorade. For others, an ice cold beer. Some people want something sweet. I might want a juicy cheeseburger, or a chocolate milk. Maybe it’s a sweatshirt for after the race, when the sweat starts to dry and they’re freezing cold. Or maybe it’s a pair of flip flops because all they want to do is take off those darned shoes. It’s even better if you can figure out what your runner wants and surprise them. But even if you have to ask what they might need, they’ll appreciate the fact that you’re willing to help.
  • Does the race have runner tracking? A lot of the big races have runner tracking you can set up to receive text or email alerts when your runner crosses the start, finish, and several checkpoints in between. Even if you can’t make it to the race, it’s a nice way to show you care about the race and want to follow along from home. (Bonus tip: If you do follow along via runner tracking, sending a “Congrats” text when they cross the finish is a great idea. When your runner picks up their phone from gear check — or if they have it with them — it’s really exciting to get lots of congratulatory texts right away.)
  • Can I give you a massage? This one is more for the significant others out there. (Or generous friends who want to treat their favorite runner to a spa gift card.) But pretty much every runner will want a massage at one time or another, and most of us are too broke from all the running shoes, apparel, and race entries to also splurge on a massage after the race.
"Here. Want to borrow my cane?" might also help.

“Here. Want to borrow my cane?” might also help.

What other things do runners want to hear from their non-runner friends?

Where I’ve Been

Back in February, after D passed away, I decided to take some time away from blogging, and to focus more on talking with my friends or journaling when things were weighing on my mind. It turned out to be a good decision, and both friends and journals have helped me immensely along the road to healing.

However, in the 5 months since my last post, I’ve done some amazingly awesome things, and I’m a little bummed to not have blogged about some of them.

Before I write my next post, I wanted to take a minute and reflect on where I’ve been the past several months.


  • Celebrated what would have been D’s 30th b-day by going ice skating and eating at his favorite restaurant. (The best part of this was that we had the same waitress we had the first night we ate there together, and she remembered him. When I explained why I was there, she brought out a dessert with a candle in it in his honor).
  • Volunteered at the American Beer Classic at Soldier Field.
  • Made my morning news debut, in which I pitched a summer writing camp for kids.
  • Saw the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild and lose to the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL Playoffsphoto (15)
  • Ran the Soldier Field 10 Miler, the race D and I had planned to run together and he promised me we’d finish together. I held up that promise by running with his bib on my back and crossing the 50 yard line with him right behind me. 581852_735141528652_330834795_n


  • Began training for my first Chicago Marathon, which I decided to run with Team Make-a-Wish
  • Attended my first-ever country concert, and was enamored by Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. Also got to see an opening act named Cole Swindell
  • Went to a Jake Peavy fundraiser concert, where I got to meet aforementioned Cole Swindell, pose for a picture with Ryan Chiaverini, and feel like a groupie for a White Sox player for a night. photo (14)
  • Watched the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup and celebrated in the streets of Chicago


  • Saw Matchbox Twenty and Goo Goo Dolls at Ravinia
  • Made a trip up to Milwaukee for Summerfest
  • Celebrated the Stanley Cup Champions at the Blackhawks parade998334_744652184222_2040036819_n 946801_744652418752_1919882291_n (1)
  • Ran the Home Team Charity Run 10k and finished on U.S. Cellular Field
  • Ran the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon
  • Helped 12 apsiring young authors write and publish their own fantasy novels


  • Ran my first out-of-country race after completing the Rock n Roll Dublin Half Marathon582275_10102937118577643_1378583359_n
  • Crossed off three new countries after visiting Austria, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands
  • Ate and drank my way through Europe
  • Crossed off a life’s list item of having someone dedicate a book to me. 1235033_766995882272_1878920838_n


  • Ran the Bucktown 5k
  • Met Stan Mikita and got to walk on the field at U. S. Cellular during his interview with Gene Honda
  • Attended the Blackhawks Training Camp Festival
  • Blew my 5K PR out of the water at the Mad Dash to Madison
  • Successfully completed my Ready to Run 20 Miler1236220_767640340772_1230895162_n
  • Flew to Minnesota to celebrate my nephew’s 2nd B-day.


  • Attended the Blackhawks home opener and banner raising ceremony 1274396_770162147052_1379601053_o
  • Joined my first ever fantasy hockey league


  • Running the Chicago Marathon
  • Reaching my Team Make-a-Wish Fundraising Goal
  • Continuing to chase my dream of taking a picture with the Stanley Cup
  • More surprises, races, and adventures.

Despite this year containing one of the lowest lows, this past summer and early fall has also balanced out with some of the highest highs. I am grateful for all the experiences I’ve had, and for the fact that life really does seem to even out in the end.

I still have some catching up to do with Life’s List Items, race recaps (which will likely never get written), and new personal goals. But really, I just want to say that I’m still alive, and still trying to live life to its fullest.


Life’s Funny Ways

Tonight while at dinner, I eavesdropped on a conversation at the table next to me. I heard a girl say to her friend, “I guess I just don’t know how to tell any guy I date that my last boyfriend died.”

I sat there, stunned. This girl was telling MY story. I told my friend what I had heard, and I was in disbelief that I could possibly have been seated next to a girl who was going through the same thing as I am. What are the odds? I didn’t know whether to say something or not.

Soon, after noticing we were listening, the two girls got up and left the restaurant, and I let her walk out without saying a word.

A short time later, I noticed they were still talking down the street, and I had one last chance before I regretted it forever.

I got up, ran down the street, and said to the girl, “I’m sorry if this is weird, but did I overhear you say that your boyfriend died? I’m going through the same thing, and I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”

There, in the middle of the Southport Corridor, I hugged a random stranger, and together we cried.

Her boyfriend was 30, mine was 29. They both passed away suddenly in February of this year. We both had been in desperate need of someone to talk to who would maybe understand, but it seemed like there was no one. And yet, there we were, one table apart. 

We exchanged numbers and plan on getting together soon.

I’m not sure of the moral of this story, but I’m sure there is one. Maybe it’s that you’re never truly alone, even when you think no one could possibly understand what you’re going through. Maybe it’s to take chances and speak up when you feel compelled to do so because you may never know what could come of it. Maybe it’s that things happen for a reason and people are brought into our lives in strange and curious ways. 

All I know is that life has a funny way of working sometimes. 

Running Through Tragedy

I am a runner.

I will never qualify for Boston. But I am a runner.

And as a runner, the tragedies at today’s Boston Marathon are affecting me in a way that is different from any other recent tragedy. (And there have been far too many recently).

Running a marathon takes heart and soul and months of preparation. Today should have been one of the proudest moments of those people’s lives. Instead, it’s been marred by tragedy.

But runners are strong. Running gives strength. I know this, because it’s given me strength time and time again over the past several months.

When Darren passed away, I found a new kind of solace in running.

Darren wasn’t a runner, but he had decided to run the Soldier Field 10 Miler with me, and we had just begun training together. Only a few days after he passed, I found myself without even thinking, running to our meeting point. I waited there for a few minutes wishing he’d show up to continue our run together. But for a brief moment, it felt like he wasn’t even gone.

Other days after his passing, I didn’t want to be alone, but I didn’t want to be with people, either. On the lake path, I could run and be alone with my thoughts, but also feel a camaraderie with other runners out there with me. Runners are never truly alone.

Even now, I find comfort in runs on the hardest days. Sometimes it’s by running some of the routes we ran together. Other days I can just enjoy peace of mind that comes with a good run. I can look around, breathe the air, and appreciate the beauty and life all around this gorgeous city.

As the saying goes, you’re often just one run away from a good mood.

Tonight, with a heavy heart, I didn’t know what else to do but go for a run. My longest run in 6 months. In the rain.

I wouldn’t say that I am in a good mood now. But I have found a little comfort and a little clarity from running today.

My wish is that all those impacted by today’s tragedies in Boston also find comfort and solace soon.



Live Life to Its Fullest

One of the reasons I started this blog was to help myself live life to its fullest. We all know that life is short, and we shouldn’t waste time or take things for granted. Yet, despite knowing this, it isn’t until a tragedy happens that we remember to take our own advice.

Last week, I was reminded of this the hard way. My boyfriend passed away in his sleep on Tuesday night. He was only 29 years old. 

I am shocked, confused, saddened, heartbroken, and angry. Meeting him was the best thing that had happened to me in a very long time, and I was happier in our short time together than I ever remember being.

All of the things I had been through in the past year or so were finally looking up for me. I finally was right where I wanted to be. And it was all taken out from under me.

Worse, his life was cut far too short. There were so many things he wanted to do. So many things we talked about doing together. We had just started training for the Soldier Field 10 miler together. There were so many adventures we were hoping to have together.

In the days since his passing, I have heard from so many people who knew him about the impact he made on their lives. There wasn’t a person who met him who didn’t love him. Even some of my friends who only met him once or twice knew how special of a person he was. It’s all so unfair.

I will be taking a break from blogging to focus on getting through this. But, I will not be taking a break from my life’s list. If anything, I will be upping my game, and attempting to accomplish even more, because life really is too short.

Please remember to hug your loved ones, tell them how much they mean to you, and keep living life to its fullest. 


Rest in peace, Darren. I miss you. 

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Harder: Ice Skating Edition

One of the reasons I started this blog was to become more aware of the things I want to accomplish or experience in my life, and to be better about making these things happen for myself.

Well, this weekend I had the perfect example of how I’m getting better at making things happen.

It all started back in October, when I first found out about the Hockey City Classic coming to Chicago. The main event was going to be two really great college hockey matchups, played on an ice rink inside Soldier Field. But along with the games were going to be a bunch of other cool events, including two days of free public skate.

Now, let me back up and explain my strange obsession with ice skating. I am not a great skater. I’m good, but not great. I think I just like to pretend I’m better than I am. I still remember my first time on the ice – it was when I was 6 years old, for the birthday party of one of the girls in my ballet class. I was a little wobbly at first, but by the end of the party, my parents had to literally drag me off the ice. Shortly thereafter, my parents signed me up for beginner’s skating lessons – something I am fairly confident I would have stuck with, had it not taken my mom 45 minutes in traffic each week to drive me to the rink. I completed my “pre-alpha” skating class, got a special patch, and, much to my dismay, that was the end of my skating career.

I’m pretty sure my patch had this Franklin Park Ice Arena penguin on it.

Fast forward about 8 or 9 years later, when I was in high school. A friend of mine and I began having weekly Friday night sleepovers, in which most weeks we would have her dad drive us to the Polar Dome ice rink for open skate. Each week, we’d get there early, catch the end of a hockey practice, then skate around ogling the hockey players until the rink closed and my friend’s dad came to pick us up.

Anyone else remember going here, despite how creepy it was in retrospect?

During those years, I got a lot better at skating, though I still wasn’t ever able to stop without crashing into the boards. I was always watching the hockey boys doing their stops, ice spraying everywhere. Someday I would learn to do a hockey stop. It went onto My Life’s List (back when it was still handwritten in a notebook). But in the meantime, I’d just skate whenever I got the chance.

The chance to skate didn’t come all that often. Just a few times in college, arranged by the dorm RAs, and later when I worked across the street from Millennium Park and I would keep a pair of skates at my desk to use during my lunch break when I could find enough time to get away. But my dreams of being a great skater never really went away, and any time there’s an opportunity to skate someplace fun, I always want to do it.

Back to Present Day
So, here we are, back in the present day. I find out about the open skate at Soldier Field, and I want to be a part of it. I sign myself up for the Hockey City Classic mailing list, and wait patiently for details. Oddly enough, right around the time I get an email about the free passes Office Max will be giving out, I also happen to have met a special someone whose love for skating even greater than mine. (A hockey player, no less). It’s perfect! I’m going to not only get to ice skate at Soldier Field, but I will have someone to do it with who will be just as excited about it as I am. (Let’s call him Hockey Guy).

The day of the skating pass giveaway comes and goes. And it completely slipped my mind. I missed my shot!

At first, it doesn’t bother me too much. I’ve already skated a couple times at a couple different rinks this winter, and I’m okay with not getting passes.

But as the date gets closer, I find myself regretting it more and more. So, I start to look for other ways to get tickets. Someone is bound to be getting rid of some. Some person who maybe snagged some for free looking to make a profit. Or someone who just can’t go, and wants them to be put to good use. I can ensure they are put to use.

Late one night, I find out I’ve secured a pair of tickets. I’m pumped! It’s for Monday morning, so I tell Hockey Guy about the tickets, and we both plan to take Monday off work. We’re going to have a whole fun day off together, skating and hanging out downtown.

And then the bomb hits. The person who was giving me the tickets put them in the mail. The USPS. In Chicago. Anyone who lives in Chicago and has ever needed something to come in the mail probably knows where this is heading.

The tickets were mailed Monday afternoon. A week before the event. Wednesday comes, then Thursday. No tickets. They have to be here by Friday, right? Nope.

So all day Saturday, I sit in my apartment, stalking the mail lady, waiting for my last chance.

Stalking the mail lady

Stalking the mail lady

Finally she arrives. I throw on some shoes and run downstairs.

No tickets!

At this point, I’m heartbroken. I’m angry. I’m disappointed. I’m dreading telling Hockey Guy that I’ve let him down.

For the rest of the day, I mope around, being mad at myself for dropping the ball not once, but twice on this. I should have tried harder. My whole mantra since starting this blog is supposed to be, “If you want to do something, make it happen. Don’t just sit around waiting for it to happen to you.” I sat around. I waited ’til the last minute. And I failed.

However, after the pity party I threw for myself all day Saturday, I woke up on Sunday with a better attitude. Somewhere between motivation and desperation, I started up my computer, went to Craigslist, and found a 6-day old post from someone who had 6 tickets for skating at Soldier Field.

I took a deep breath and started my email. Hi, there. I know this has been posted for a while, but is there any chance you still have any of the ice skating passes left…

Closed eyes. Hit send. Here goes nothing.

And a few hours later, there’s a reply in my inbox! She still has four tickets available. If I want two of them, I can meet her in Bucktown and pick them up today!

Trying hard not to get too excited, just in case something falls through a third time, I get in my car and drive down to the Starbucks at North and Damen. Not too long after, I have the tickets in my hand!

photo (20)

Not only am I going skating at Soldier Field, but these are a better time slot, and were cheaper than the original ones that never came in the mail.

I made things happen for myself. And it paid off.

We ended up having an awesome day, and skating on Soldier Field was incredible.





Follow Up: In case you were wondering, I did manage to get a refund for the tickets that never came. And yes, Hockey Guy has agreed to teach me how to hockey stop so I can cross it off my list. I’ve already had one lesson, but it may require several more. Stay tuned.

January Monthly Update

How is it the last day of January already? This month has been a whirlwind. It’s a good thing though. January tends to be a hard month for me, but this year it’s been the best month I’ve had in a long time.

However, my blogging tends to suffer when things are good, because while I have a lot to write about, I have very little time to do it.

Anyway, here’s a quick recap.

Races Run – 0. For the first time in over a year!

Races Registered For – 3.

Miles Run – 10.7

Visits to the Gym – 10

Books Read – 1.5

Life’s List Items Crossed Off – 0, but one’s in the works (Learning to do a hockey stop on ice. One lesson down, but it may be a several lesson undertaking)

Ice Skating Outings – 2

Goals from January: Status Update

  • Cut back on drinking.Done! Offically had more non-drinking days than drinking days this month!
  • Go to the gym at least 20 times. – Failed.
  • Host an Iron Chef potluck. Complete! (I had intended to blog about this, but clearly never got around to it.)Image
  • Survive what will likely be my craziest month ever at work.Complete! And it was less crazy than anticipated. 
  • Start playing on my Skeeball league (I hope this one doesn’t conflict with goals #1 and #2) – Done! Last week was the Meet and Greet. First game it tonight!
  • Cook more meals at home.Done! Thanks to a little help from a good influence in my life. :)

January Highlights

  • Mom’s Surprise Party
  • Playing with my nephew


  • Both indoor and outdoor ice skating
  • Guinness Beer Dinner
  • Bulls Game
  • Brunches with several different friends I haven’t seen in a while.
  • Initial planning phase of my August Euro-trip. (more to come)
  • Watching all three Mighty Ducks movies back-to-back
  • Hosting a successful Iron Chef party
  • Meeting people who clearly are meant to be a part of my life.
  • Being the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

Goals for February

  • Visit my college roommate in Galena
  • Go skiing
  • Keep working on my hockey stopping abilities
  • Start running more
  • Continue going to the gym
  • Work out 3-4 days a week
  • Continue eating more meals at home
  • See a concert in Milwaukee with an old friend
  • Attend the Chicago Running Bloggers Beer Run
  • Start the CARA 6 Series running group
  • Read at least 2 books