Category Archives: Life

Thankful Things Thursday: On Friends, Team Challenge, and Pretty Dresses

Woohoo!  It’s Thankful Things Thursday again.  I look forward to this post all week.  It just makes me happy.

(Thanks, Ali, for letting me blatantly rip you off.)

I had a wonderful time last night at the Team Challenge Illinois Kick-off, but that deserves a post of its own.  So let’s dive right in, shall we?

I’m thankful for my BFF.  We met when we were 10 years old and have been friends ever since.  I’m so glad she lives close to me again so we can haul our butts to the gym together.  When I know she’s going to meet me for a class, I always show up.  I can’t say the same for plans that are only with myself.

I’m thankful for my generous friends and family.  After just a few e-mails and Facebook posts, I’m in awe of all the donations Goose and I have already received.  Our real fundraising letters haven’t even been sent yet!  (Though they were dropped off last night and should be coming to you early next week!)  I am grateful that so many of you see the importance of this cause.  The CCFA is an incredible organization and I’m honored to be fundraising for them.

Team Challenge is the bomb diggity.

I’m thankful for sore, tired muscles.  Barbell Strength class kicked my booty once again this week, and I’m still achy from Tuesday night’s class.  To classy tunes like “Push It,” “Ice Ice Baby,” and “Can’t Touch This,” I shredded my muscles to bits and pieces.  I can’t wait to do it again next week and I really can’t wait to start seeing a little definition in my arms… I hope.

I’m thankful for Google Reader.  I am a total blog junkie and I feel like I’m subscribing to a new one almost daily.  (And updating my Blog Love page every week or so!)  My Google Reader helps me stay on top of the blogs I love, all the while protecting me from the heartbreak of visiting a favorite blog to find it is not updated.

I’m thankful for a few freelance writing opportunities I’ve had lately.  I love the opportunity to grow as a writer, and a little extra cash never hurt.  In fact, I’m thinking of taking that freelance money and using it toward a fancy self-hosted blog.  Be excited for some snazzy changes around these parts.

I’m thankful for the amazing examples I have to teach me about marriage.   I will admit that, although this is very true, I only included it this week so that I could show you this.

My groovy parents. You're welcome.

I am certain that my mom will call me after she sees this post to remind me how in style they were in the 70s.  Whatever, Mom.  You look awesome.  So do Dad and his white tie.

I’m thankful for 90s music on the radio.  I heard Sugar Ray’s “Fly” yesterday and it made my heart happy.  I realize that I can choose to listen to 90s music whenever I want, but there’s something extra special about hearing it on the radio.  I am happy to admit that I busted out some awesome dance moves while singing along (loudly) in my car.

I’m thankful for the new dress that came in the mail yesterday.  I got it on clearance and it fits like a dream.

I’m thankful for early-morning phone calls from friends who know I’m awake at that hour.

I’m thankful for cool summer nights and mornings that reassure me that fall is coming.  Hoodie & jeans weather is my favorite.  It’s the best running weather, and also the best weather, period.

I’m thankful for Goose, who came home after a long day of teaching and coaching… and then picked up around the house.

Okay, tell me.  What are you thankful for today? When you’re finished telling me that, head on over and ask any questions you have about Ulcerative Colitis — write a comment or send an e-mail.  The Q&A will be posted on Friday!



Filed under Thankful Things Thursday

Sixty One Years of Inspiration

Sixty one years.  That’s how long my grandparents have been married.

Sixty one.

That’s why when Katy Widrick asked, “What does inspirational really mean?” I thought of them instantly.

Sure, triathletes and marathoners and Ironmen are inspirational.  But anyone who is or has been married will tell you that sixty one years of marriage is like running a marathon every weekend every single year.  It takes hard work, dedication, and commitment.  Lots of times, you wake up and think, “Why did I sign up for this?”  Sometimes it leaves you exhausted.  There are even times you wonder how you could possibly keep going.  But you do.  And throughout it all, there are amazing moments that make it all worth it.  The ones where you realize that you couldn’t possibly have it any other way.

We'll catch up to them in 58 years. (Photo: Becky Hill Photography)

My grandparents joke that the reason they have lasted so long is “whoever left had to take the kids.”  (They have seven children.)  Having spent years watching them interact, I can tell you with certainty that this is not the case.

I have never seen a more selfless woman than my grandmother.  She dotes on people with affection, kindness, and generosity.  It is all straight from the heart.  She goes out of her way to make sure all of her children and grandchildren know they are loved.  (And all equally, of course.)  I remember sleeping over at their house as a child and mentioning to my grandma that I wanted cereal for breakfast.  When I woke up, every kind of cereal they had was neatly displayed on the kitchen table, bowl and spoon waiting for me beside them.  If doting on her loved ones ever gets old or tiresome, she never lets it show.  My grandmother definitely shows her love through acts of service.

My grandfather is a proud, mostly serious German man.  He values his family and the family name is important to him.  As he ages, I have seen him become more expressive with his emotions.  But as long as I’ve known him, his love for my grandma has been clear.  His eyes light up when she walks into a room.  When he tells the story of how they met, his whole face lights up. His smile is from ear to ear as he animatedly shares that he was so ticked off that my she wasn’t available the first time he asked, and he fully intended to “date her until she was hooked and then drop her like a hot tamale.”  Well played, Grandpa.  Well played.

I will forever be in awe of their solid marriage, and I’m sure I will spend my whole lifetime trying to measure up to it.  (And my parents’ marriage, too!  Thirty three years, people.)  The older I get, the more I appreciate the hard work that they have put into their marriages to make this possible.  Marriage is the most fun I’ve ever had, but it’s also a whole heck of a lot of work.

And man, sixty one years is a long time.

Mom & Dad in their datin' days. Could they be any cuter?

So who do you admire?  Who inspires you?  Do you agree that marriage takes a lot of work?


Filed under Faith, Life

(Not) Back to School

Have you ever made a decision that was so big, so all-consuming at the time you made it, that you assumed it would haunt you for a while?  That you’d second guess and dwell?  I have.

When I left teaching, I was certain that  the first few back to school seasons would be a little rough.

I love back to school time.  I especially love shopping for school supplies.  And oh, Dixon-Ticonderoga Number 2 pencils.  (Seriously, no other pencil compares.  They smell like learning.

Ahhhh. Pencil perfection. (click for source)

Have I scared all of you away yet?

Ahem.  Anyway, with all that school supply love, I adored setting up my classroom.  I loved thinking about how to best arrange the desks, looking for new ways to get organized, and thinking about the coming school year and all the wonderful little people I’d get to meet.  Going to sleep the night before the first day of school was like going to sleep on Christmas Eve.  I was so giddy I could hardly contain myself.

The Book Beach. My lawn chair-tastic reading corner one year.

I loved spending the first days of school with my students.  Organizing materials, getting to know one another, and starting the year with some of my favorite activities.  In fact, I loved all the time I spent with my students.  If I could have just had the 8:30 – 3:30 part of teaching, there’s a good chance I’d still be doing it.

And yet… I don’t feel mournful this time of year.  I feel like I should, sometimes.  I still notice and celebrate the arrival of a new school year, but now it’s because it means Goose goes back to work and I don’t have to look at his peacefully sleeping face while I’m tearing myself out of bed at 5:00 am.

And it means fall is coming soon.  Fall is my favorite.

This is my dad. He picked that apple in the fall. Apple picking is rad. So is fall.

But the angst?  Sadness?  Longing?  They are not here.  Just constant reassurance that I made the right choice.  (Have I mentioned how much I love my job and all the things I’m doing now?)

Tell me about a big decision you made.  Was it more difficult than you thought it’d be?  Easier?


Filed under Life

Ulcerative Colitis Q&A

I used to be really shy about answering questions about my Ulcerative Colitis.  I was short, vague, and tried to avoid answering as much as possible. It just made me incredibly uncomfortable to talk about a digestive illness.  Let’s face it.  The symptoms are far from cute and not something you’d typically discuss with people you don’t know well.

Lately, I’ve become much more comfortable — in part due to having six years to adjust to life with UC, and in part because I’ve gotten involved with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  Getting to know others who live with Crohn’s & Colitis has made it so much easier!  Ulcerative Colitis is part of who I am.  So in honor of the new challenge Goose and I are taking on for CCFA, I thought it might be fun to do a Q&A post about UC.

Ally and I are pros at crushing UC & Crohn's.

Of course, I can only answer from my personal experience and knowledge base.  Colitis & Crohn’s effect everyone differently.  But since it’s not something everyone who reads this blog can relate to, it might give you a starting point!

Ask me anything!  Treatment.  Goose’s response.  How it effects my day-to-day life.  Related illness.  Farting.  Whatever you’re wondering, don’t hesitate to ask.  Comment below or send me an e-mail at

What questions do you have about Ulcerative Colitis?  Is there anything that took you a long time to get comfortable talking about?  Do you choose to keep certain big parts of your life hidden?


Filed under Living with Ulcerative Colitis

What Language Do You Speak?

I am fascinated by the concept of The 5 Love Languages.

click for source

The idea behind the book is that there are five main ways to express and understand love.  If you and a loved one understand love in different ways, you may be missing some of the ways they are showing their affection for you!  This applies to romantic relationships as well as friendships and family relationships.

The 5 Love Languages are:

Words of Affirmation
People who speak this language value hearing about how much their loved ones care about them and support their dreams.  They thrive on unsolicited compliments and words of support.

Quality Time
Individuals who speak this language need undivided attention. Nothing says “I love you” like a heartfelt conversation, hike in the woods, or a shared meal.

Receiving Gifts
Despite the way it sounds, this isn’t a greedy love language. People who speak this language value the thoughtfulness and effort that goes into gift giving.

Acts of Service
A person who speaks this love language would love it if you took out the garbage or ran errands without asking.  They love anything you can do to help them out.

Physical Touch
This person is that touchy-feely friend that you have.  The one who hugs hello and goodbye and grabs your arm with excitement.  They need you to be physically present with them.

To read more about the Love Languages, visit the official website.  Although you probably have an idea where you fall, you can take a quiz on the site to determine what language you speak.

Me?  Words of Affirmation.  This is no surprise.  I love to write letters and tell the people I adore how much they mean to me.  One of the most important things I did before the rehearsal dinner when Goose and I got married was write letters to my bridesmaids, parents, in-laws, and Goose.  It meant so much for me to get my thoughts on paper about how important they were to me and what it meant to have them be part of my wedding day.

I’m mushy-gushy.  I’m the friend that will randomly send an e-mail or note to tell someone I adore them.  I’m quite certain I’ve creeped out some bloggers with my overly-emotional “thanks for writing that post” e-mails.  It’s just who I am.


And that’s exactly why those kinds of gestures mean the most to me.  Last summer, Goose spent three weeks in China.  While he was there, I completed my first triathlon, started an internship, and began a new job.  Before he left, Goose left three cards for me.  Each envelope was labeled for the occasion when I needed to read it.  Race Day. Internship. First Day of Work.

It was so special to me that Goose took the time to write me these notes, and I loved reading them!  He even had flowers, with another little note, sent to me the day before the triathlon.  Because I value those kinds of things so much, the notes meant a whole lot to me.  Had he communicated his support in a different way, I may not have understood it in the same way.

Do you think these “languages” have merit? What Love Language do you speak? 


Filed under Faith, Life

That Saturday Where I Slept All Day

Oh, right.  That was today.

I woke up early to meet with some fabulous Girls on the Run coaches.  I love meeting with other women who are involved with GOTR — they’re always the same: vibrant, happy, and full of life.  You can spot a Girls on the Run coach a mile a way.  It was great to meet with everyone before the start of the fall season!

Anyway, once I made it home I had big plans for my Saturday.  A little lunch, a short nap, and then to conquer the to-do list.

So I ate lunch, took a little nap… and then Goose woke me up at 8:00 pm.

WHAT?!  Why is it dark outside?

I would be more upset about this if it hadn’t been a super productive Friday night.

Nearly 100 fundraising letters signed, stuffed, and sealed.  (If I have your address, be excited.  A letter will be coming your way shortly.  Want to beat the letter to the punch?  Don’t think I have your address? Head to our fundraising page.)

So Saturday’s plan is adjusted.  Dinner, a little work, and off to bed to wake up at a reasonable hour.  Goose and I have three miles (that we didn’t do today) to bang out tomorrow and then I have a to-do list to conquer.

Bring it, Sunday.

How are you spending your weekend?  Have you ever taken an unexpectedly long nap?  (This is not the first time I have!)


Filed under Life, Training

Thankful Things Thursday: On Comebacks & Goose’s Half Marathon

Hooray!  It’s Thursday.  I look forward to this day every week now, because it reminds me of how good life really is.  Oh yeah, it’s Thankful Things Thursday time.  I have so many things to be thankful for this week that I’m not even sure where to begin.  So let’s get a move on.

And yes, I blatantly stole this tradition from Ali at Ali on the Run.  Because it’s such a happy tradition, I know she doesn’t mind.

I’m thankful that Goose and I are running a half marathon together this December.  We’ve been talking about this idea for a while now, but last night we finally made it official.  Goose is running his very first half marathon on December 4, 2011.  We’re both taking on the Rock & Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon as part of Team Challenge to raise awareness and funds for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  (Why, yes, that is a link to our fundraising page.)  I am bursting at the seams with excitement about this.  It’s my comeback race.  A sizable goal, but one I feel is entirely doable with my current health situation.  We get to raise money for a cause that is very close to my heart, join an amazing team of runners who support that cause, and I get to do it all with the love of my life by my side.

Our little 15 minute run on Sunday? That was a "let's see if we could be running buddies" run.

Goose has always, always held firm that he is not a runner.  I truly believed that there were just some hobbies that we’d never share, and that running was one of them.  He’s proving me wrong in a big way.  (Does this mean I have to play soccer now?)  I am so touched that he’s showing his support for me in this way.  (Feel like donating?  Head here.)

On that note, I’m thankful for Team Challenge.  We attended an information meeting last night and it was incredible.  Everyone was positive, enthusiastic, and supportive.  There were so many smiles in that room, it was out of control.  Coach Brad talked about how they plan the training locations around bathrooms for their participants with Crohn’s and UC.  It’s the little things.

And the free t-shirts.

So pretty.

I’m thankful for water.  No, seriously.  I’ve been drinking H2O like crazy this week, and I can’t believe how amazing it’s making me feel.  No headaches.  No eating random things just because they’re around.  How did I not know water did all these things?  Clearly, I’ve been living in a box or something.

I’m thankful that Ali is ordering more of the infamous I [heart] Sweat tees. I think Goose and I each need one for our new half marathon training adventure, don’t you?

I’m thankful for the music at Tuesday’s Barbell Strength class.  Techno-ish versions of Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero” and “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” by Britney Spears?  Yes, please.  It kept me smiling when my muscles were crying.

I’m thankful for the College and Teen editions of Jeopardy!  Goose loves some Jeopardy! and I like to feel smart.  With the not-quite-grownup editions, we both win.

Thanks for making me feel smart.

I’m thankful for leftovers.  We had dinner at my parents’ house last weekend, and we have two or three meals in leftovers sitting in the freezer right now.  This means I don’t have to cook dinner tonight, and I have my choice of my brother’s garlic pepper chicken or my dad’s yummy homemade ribs.  Decisions, decisions.

I’m thankful for my gastroenterologist.  I am so, so excited to be running again.  I wouldn’t be bouncing back without his guidance, knowledge, and support of my goals.

I’m thankful that I was nominated for CBS Chicago’s Most Valuable Blogger.  You can vote if you want.  Yes, this is a shameless plug.

I’m thankful for the kind of friendship where you can go for months without talking and pick up right where you left off.  I caught up with my friend Molly this week and we didn’t miss a beat.  Part of this is probably because she seriously stalks my blog, so I just had to get caught up on her life.  She already knew about mine.  Still, there’s something to be said for the kind of carefree, close friendship that doesn’t need constant maintenance but is always there.

And who doesn't love a girl who will carry your lip gloss in her cleavage on your wedding day and help you reapply it 97 times? (Photo: Becky Hill Photography)

I’m thankful for Whole Living magazine. It shows up at my house monthly and I don’t know why.  But it does have some pretty rad articles, so I’m going to be a little sad if it ever stops.  Probably not sad enough to subscribe, though, if I’m honest.

I’m thankful for this week’s absolutely gorgeous weather. (Knock on wood.)  It’s been in the 70s and 80s every single day this week, with a light breeze and no humidity.  What more could you ask for?  We even slept with the windows open for a few nights.  Heavenly.

Your turn. What are you thankful for today?


Filed under Thankful Things Thursday

Strength & Awards

I finally did it.

Barbell Strength class!  This is the third week I’ve had it on my list of fitness goals, but I finally made it there last night.  (I enlisted BFF to come with me.  That way I couldn’t back out.)

I am not embarrassed to admit that I used really light weights and I was still sore by the end of class.  It’s the amount of reps that will kill you.  Ouch.  I’m so glad I finally went!  It’s a tough class, but I’m sure I’ll go again.  Bonus points for the fancy techno mixes of Enrique Iglesias and Britney Spears.

Okay, this is not the actual piece of equipment I used. But the weight is accurate.

I really enjoyed the group setting for lifting weights.  When I lift alone, (okay, the half dozen or so times I’ve attempted to lift alone) I get worried that I look funny, my form is wrong, or people are laughing at me.  In the class, it was easy to compare my form to the instructor and other participants.  I could ask questions if I needed.  And best of all, someone else was in charge of making sure the workout was appropriate and we worked all our muscle groups!  I love following someone else’s lead when it comes to workouts.


In other news… Forward is a Pace is up for an award from CBS Local!  I was nominated as one of the Most Valuable Bloggers in Chicago in the Health/Fitness/Medical category.  And now it’s all up to the votes.

If you feel so inclined, click the photo above to vote.  You’ll also see it in the sidebar of the blog until voting closes on September 9.  You can vote for one blog in each category every day.  (While you’re at it, head on over to the Sports category and vote for Pace of Chicago, my friend David’s incredible endurance sports blog.)  Thank you in advance!

Do you like to take classes at the gym, or do you prefer to workout alone?


Filed under Life, Training

Turn It Up

It’s a good thing VH1 no longer airs Motormouth.

Does anyone else remember that show?  They would plant hidden cameras in the cars of people who sang out loud while driving, thus exposing them on national television.

I would be the perfect candidate.  There’s nothing I like more than rocking out in my car, especially to music from the 90s.  Bonus points if the song just happens to play on a radio station.  Then it’s like a happy surprise and makes me crank it up even more.  (Thanks to 103.5 for busting out lots of ‘N Sync recently.)

While I have an undying love for the songs of my youth, there are some recent hits that I’m swooning over, too.

Hot Chelle Rae – Tonight Tonight

LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem

Jason Derulo – Don’t Wanna Go Home

Lupe Fiasco – Show Goes On

And of course…

Matt Nathanson – Faster

If you ever pull up next to me and one of these songs happen to be on the radio… trust me, you’ll know.

What songs are you loving right now?  Are you guilty of singing too loudly in the car?


Filed under Life

Because a Couple Posts a Day Aren’t Enough…

Clearly, I have a social media addiction.

I’m sure that’s the reason I decided to create a Facebook page for Forward is a Pace.

Want more of the random thoughts floating through my head?  Head on over and click like.

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Filed under Life