Vacation :: good for the soul

I truly believe that sometimes God just wants us to rest. Church and productivity and work are all great things, but sometimes we just need a break, a Sabbath. (Can a Sabbath consist of two weeks of vacation??) We had a great visit to see friends and family in Illinois. Two weeks is the longest Aaron and I have had off work together in over two years! Well, two weeks that were just for relaxing, not moving halfway across the country.

There’s no way I can rehash everything that happened, nor do I want to! It’d take forever! We saw most of the friends and family that we wanted to see; to see everyone is just impossible unless we didn’t want any downtime for ourselves. We stayed with my in-laws, and my parents took us to and from the airport in St. Louis. We spent five days in Chicagoland with Bruce, Katie, our 4-year-old niece Lena and 4-month-old nephew Rand. They affectionately call me “Aunt LizBiz”. We were able to be there for Lena’s birthday party and Rand’s baptism.

We took them to the Brookfield Zoo!
I totally made his hat! Cuteness. 100%.

I got a few runs, which were lovely in the crisp winter-ish air. The Midwest has had a very mild winter. Aaron and I did about 8.5 miles the day after we got back. We realized just how small our hometown is. We wove our way through streets and parks. I love that everything there is so familiar. The Monday we got back from Elgin we ran 16 miles, which was great. We started out at about 7am, which is relatively late for me to start a long run like that. I also ran with my friend Darla and even got up at 4:30 in the morning to go to BodyCombat with her. (I did come home and go back to sleep for awhile.)

We ate. A lot. We went to all the places we wanted: Lou Malnati’s (awesome Chicago deep dish), Double A’s, Steak n Shake, Ernie’s Family Restaurant, Flat Top Grill, Our Inn Place, Avanti’s, Monicals.

In Elgin, all five cousins got their photos taken. Super cute. I love being an aunt to these kids.

I learned how to crochet. I had learned a really long time ago but it never stuck with me. My grandpa refreshed my memory and I’ve been crocheting like crazy! I also got a smartphone, finally. It all started because I accidentally (I swear!) dropped my iPod in the toilet and it was… dead. Drowned. My sister Emily and I switched phones since she didn’t want the smartphone anymore.

What else can I say besides it was a much needed R&R. We had no issues with our flights or baggage and got in Saturday evening. Yesterday we took it easy: went out for breakfast, went grocery shopping, I got a starter and seeds at Lowe’s to *hopefully* grow some herbs and veggies. I expected to feel worn out yesterday; instead I was energized! Soon I’m off to work and hoping that I can stay stress-free for awhile….

>Race Report: Shamrock Shuffle 8K, Chicago

>I have no photos to post yet but the race was great!! First things first: my goal was 47:00 and my actual chip time was 46:18!! I was excited.

Katie and I took the Metra into the city this morning at about 6AM. We got to Union Station and pondered how we would ever walk a mile in 45 minutes, haha. We got to where we were meeting her friend who had picked up our packets for us. I was very excited about the shirt and 1) it fit! (our tech shirts from the Turkey Trot were waaayyy too small) and 2) they were actually Nike shirts, white with green lettering. Very nice.

There were 40,000 runners! I was in Start Corral D (they had A-H, so not bad!) and didn’t cross the start line until 17 minutes showed on the time clock. I started my Garmin and took off! I should add that I didn’t have music with me; I made a conscious and purposeful decision to challenge myself that way. I was really able to focus on my breathing.

Here is a map uploaded from the Garmin of the route.

The elevation gain and loss was only 9 feet.. so a very flat course.

I think I started off too fast because by mile 2.5 all I was thinking was, When will this be over?! But I kept chugging along and finished strong. At one point my Garmin lost GPS signal, so my pace was all messed up, but it got the time right.

Here’s a graph of my HR throughout..

See? No spikes, just a good progression to the end of the race.

Post-race I had three glasses of Gatorade and a bottle of water. I ate a banana and protein bar. Of course, the best part is the post-race beer. Haha, it’s always cheap beer and this is the first race I’ve been to that’s had it.

We lounged around on the grass by Buckingham Fountain and then decided to walk up to Navy Pier. We had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp, a first for me. Yum. We took a water taxi back to Union Station and boarded the train for Elgin.

It was a great day with beautiful weather. Seriously, we couldn’t have had better weather up there. My skin shows it though; I’m sporting the first sunburn of the season. I’m gonna fryyyy in Texas. I had a nice 24 hours with Bruce, Katie and Lena. I’m thankful that Aaron’s family has been here for me throughout his time away.

20 days!