Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chicago Marathon

Well my friends, the day has finally come and gone. The day I had been anxiously (and terrifyingly) waiting for since March.

October 12th, 2014: The Chicago Marathon

Since I survived the 26.2 miles in nearly one piece, I thought I would share a recap of how race day went overall. Here it goes..

5:30 a.m. I wake up and Immediately get out of bed because I'm afraid if I don't, I'll reconsider this ridiculous thing and sleep through the entire day.

5:40 a.m. I force myself to drink 20 oz of unflavored coconut water. Which was a painfully gross way to start my day. Unfortunately I've convinced myself that this is what's necessary to become hydrated before races, and if I don't drink the coconut water I'll be dehydrated and will die of exhaustion.

5:45 a.m. In between gags of coconut water, I eat a peanut butter cliff bar. Another pre-race ritual. Thankfully one that's more enjoyable.

6:00 a.m. I leave my warm apartment and walk the cold, dark ten minutes to the train. My three-foot long plastic gear-check bag in tow. 

6:10 a.m. A police officer sitting in his car outside of the train stop hollers through his window at me, asking what all the big, plastic bags were for. I tell him about the marathon and he wished me good luck. Which made me smile.. impressive for the 6 o'clock hour.

6:20 a.m. The El arrives and it's packed with heavy eyed, anxious runners.

6:45 a.m. I overhear a woman talking about training in Salt Lake City and I can't ask her fast enough if she's from the great Beehive State, We bond and talk about skiing for the remainder of the ride. Which was a helpful way to ease my pre-race jitters for a few minutes. 

7:00 a.m. I arrive at Grant Park along with the 41,000 other crazies.

7:15 a.m. I get the lay of the land, check my gear-check and do some nervous leg stretches. 

7:30 a.m. The horn for the elite runners goes off... the people who will finish the race before I make it to mile ten. My stomach turns.

7:45 a.m. I go to my start corral and shuffle in with the thousands of people who expect to finish the run in the same time as me (between 4:40 and 4:55)

7:50 a.m. I realize my Spotfiy app isn't working and the playlist that I worked so hard on might not be heard. I realize I have some Adele, Taylor Swift and Destiny's Child on my phone and listen to that instead.

8:00 a.m. The horn goes off for Wave 2 and people start throwing their sweatshirts that they bought for $2 at Good Will days before in the air to the sidelines. No longer needing to keep warm.

8:05 a.m. The slow walk to the start line begins. Trying not to trip on the unwanted clothing items, banana peels and water bottles that scattered the pavement.

8:09 a.m. The walking continues.

8:12 a.m. Still walking.

8:16 a.m. I finally cross the start line. My stomach is turning, but I have a huge smile on my face.

8:30 a.m. - Mile 3 I realize that I have listened to the seven songs on my phone two times through. I check to see if my Spotify is working and miraculously it is. I feel like crying from happiness. 

9:05 a.m.  - Mile 5 I see my support group, equipped with a Hello Kitty helium balloon (the one Sasha and I picked the day before so I could spot her from the side lines), a backpack filled with things for me (tissues, water, energy chews, etc) and a whiteboard sign reading "Erica is our Hero".. although I was so overwhelmed I didn't realize it said this until I saw the photo later that day. I take my vest and my long sleeve off and throw it to Sasha and continue on. We make a plan to meet at mile ten.

9:30 a.m. - Mile 7 I pass my apartment and for a quick moment I think about quitting and going back to bed. I continue running instead and enter into Boy's Town, which was filled with sparkly signs with inappropriate messages. 

The signs along the course were so motivating, funny, and ridiculous, Here are some that stuck out the most:

"You are the Opposite of a Basic Bitch"

"Run Faster, I Farted"

"With the Power of Jesus Christ You Can do Anything. KEEP RUNNING!"

"I Hope You Don't Need to Poop"

"I don't Pull Out so Neither can You" (gross)

"I Don't Know You, But I'm Proud of You"

"You've Done Smarter things DRUNK"

"Run Quick, There's a Cute Guy In front of You and a Creepy Guy Behind You"

"This is the Worst Parade Over"

10:00 a.m. - Mile 10 I see my loves again and quickly stop so Sasha can feed me energy chews. Yes, I'm a diva and yes she's the best friend. They say they'll see me at mile 13. which will be hard for them to get to in 30 minutes, but I'm hopeful I'll see them.

10:31 a.m. - 13.1 HALF WAY I pass the half way point and start looking for my people. They are no where to be found. My side starts to cramp, but I realize I'm still breathing in and out through my nose and I'm not really that tired. I keep going.

11:10 a.m. - Mile 16  I enter probably the most boring part of the course. It's pretty industrial and there aren't many people, but I see mine and as soon as I do I run to them and hug them with all of my weight. Mostly because I'm tired of standing. I'm sure they enjoyed this since I'm incredibly sweating and smelly.

11:30 a.m. - Mile 18 My legs start cramping and I realize I'm smiling FAR LESS than I was at the nice spectators with funny poop signs. 

11:55 a.m. - Mile 20 I feel a tap on my back shoulder and turn around and see my sweet friend Nikki, who has been trying to find me for over a mile and finally caught up with me. She runs with me and is so motivating. 

12:05 p.m. - Mile 21 Nikki and I see Sasha and company and Sasha jumps in with us. Sasha is taking Snapchats and I have enough energy to roll my eyes at Sasha and tell her not to post those anywhere because I look like my dying. Seriously. I did.

12:55 p.m. - Mile 25 Sasha and Nikki stop running with me and tell me that they'll see me at the finish!

1:08 p.m. Mile 26.2 I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE!!! As soon as I did I started to tear up. Which is so cheesy and embarrassing but the feeling is so difficult to describe. I'm immediately given a foil sheet (is there an official name for these?) to keep warm, a medal and a beer, which I had three sips of before realizing that this is NOT what my body needs. I hand it off to Sasha and she happily drinks it. 

So there you have it my friends. The crazy adventure that I had on Sunday morning. the Chicago Marathon!

My official finish time was 4 hours, 52 minutes and 22 seconds. Which I am happy with! So many people asked me before the race what my time-goal was and I kept telling everyone that I didn't have one. That I just wanted to finish the run and was trying not to focus on the time. Which is partially true. But deep down I wanted to finish in under 5, and I did! 

I have also been asked a lot if I will run another marathon. Here are what my responses have been:

Immediately after the run:  "No."

Hours after: "Umm, probably not."

1 day post-race: "Maybe!"

2 days post-race: "Yeah, I think so!"

So, yeah. We'll see if another marathon is in my future.

Thanks so much for reading. 

xo, E

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chicago Marathon Playlist

I don't know how we've already gotten to mid-October, but here we are.

The Chicago Marathon is literally days away and I keep receiving reminders from my handy Countdown app about how many hours I have left before the race. Why I thought a countdown was a good idea, I'm not sure. At this very moment there are 2 days, 16 hours, 50 minutes and 27.. 26... 25 seconds left until the marathon.

My stomach has been turning uncontrollably for the past week and I'm honestly excited for race day to be here, and be over with. I'm sure once I'm in it, and I'm at the starting line with everyone and I hear people cheering I'll feel much more at ease.. but this build-up.. everyone asking how I'm feeling and if I've prepared enough. OY VEY. It's too much.

There are things that one should do the days leading up to a marathon, like hydrating and stretching your legs and warming up your muscles with some quick runs. But the most important thing in my opinion is getting your marathon playlist in order. I wouldn't run if I didn't have music, so a phenomenal playlist was definitely my number one priority. I've spent the last few weeks adding and subtracting songs to this bad boy, but I think I finally have the perfect combination of 90's hits, top 40, motivational tear-jerkers and obscene rap to last me the entire 26.2 miles.

I have 82 songs here, which equals just over 5 hours. Now, I'm very hopeful that the race won't take me that long, but just in case, I've added some buffer.

So here you have it, My Chicago Marathon Playlist:
  1. Phoenix – 1901
  2. JAY Z – Empire State Of Mind
  3. Destiny's Child – Independent Women Part I
  4. Kanye West – Jesus Walks
  5. Blackstreet – No Diggity (Re-Recorded / Remastered)
  6. Destiny's Child – Bootylicious
  7. Sixpence None The Richer – There She Goes
  8. Backstreet Boys – Everybody (Backstreet's Back)
  9. Barenaked Ladies – One Week
  10. Robyn – Dancing On My Own
  11. Lorde – Royals
  12. Destiny's Child – Soldier
  13. Marina and The Diamonds – Primadonna
  14. Avicii – Wake Me Up
  15. Destiny's Child – Survivor
  16. Ramones – Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
  17. Cake – The Distance
  18. Destiny's Child – Say My Name
  19. Eminem – Lose Yourself
  20. Becky G – Shower
  21. Daryl Hall & John Oates – You Make My Dreams
  22. The Killers – Somebody Told Me
  23. Joe Budden – Pump It Up
  24. No Doubt – Just A Girl
  25. Foster The People – Pumped up Kicks
  26. Destiny's Child – Jumpin', Jumpin'
  27. Jennifer Lopez – Jenny From The Block - Track Masters Remix featuring Styles & Jadakiss
  28. Kate Nash – Foundations - Full Version
  29. M.I.A. – Paper Planes
  30. Destiny's Child – Bills, Bills, Bills
  31. Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back
  32. TLC – Creep
  33. Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass 
  34. Maroon 5 – Maps
  35. Sam Smith – Stay With Me
  36. Magic! – Rude
  37. Jessie J – Bang Bang
  38. Meghan Trainor – Dear Future Husband
  39. Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass 
  40. Matt Pond PA – Champagne Supernova
  41. Nico & Vinz – Am I Wrong
  42. Vance Joy – Riptide
  43. Matt and Kim – Let's Go
  44. Matt and Kim – Daylight
  45. Aloe Blacc – The Man
  46. Foals – My Number
  47. Moon Taxi – Morocco
  48. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Ten Thousand Hours
  49. Earth, Wind & Fire – September
  50. Disclosure – Latch
  51. Pharrell Williams – Come Get It Bae
  52. Pharrell Williams – Hunter
  53. Bastille – Pompeii
  54. Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
  55. Iggy Azalea – Black Widow
  56. Clean Bandit – Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)
  57. Ariana Grande – Problem
  58. Ed Sheeran – Don't
  59. Echosmith – Cool Kids
  60. Calvin Harris – Summer
  61. Charli XCX – Boom Clap
  62. Milky Chance – Stolen Dance
  63. Nicki Minaj – Anaconda
  64. Iggy Azalea – Fancy
  65. Jason Derulo – Wiggle (feat. Snoop Dogg)
  66. Charli XCX – Break The Rules
  67. American Authors – Best Day Of My Life
  68. NONONO – Pumpin Blood
  69. Echosmith – Cool Kids
  70. Mystikal – Shake Ya Ass
  71. Bad Boys 2 The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Shake Ya Tailfeather
  72. Kendrick Lamar – i
  73. Clean Bandit – Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)
  74. The Black Eyed Peas – Imma Be
  75. The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
  76. M.I.A. – Paper Planes
  77. C & C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
  78. Katrina & The Waves – Walking On Sunshine
  79. Soft Cell – Tainted Love
  80. Avril Lavigne – Girlfriend
  81. Wiz Khalifa – Black And Yellow
  82. Daft Punk – One More Time

What do y'all think? Are there any essential tunes that I haven't included that I NEED to have?? Let me know and I'll be sure to add them. 

Also, if you want to use my awesome playlist for your own running adventures, you can find it on Spotify HERE

Thanks for reading and for your music recommendations!

xo, E

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A California Wedding

If you read my previous post, you know that my cousin Annalise got married last weekend in her hometown of Newport Beach. My parents and I ventured to California to celebrate and we had the best time. The wedding was beyond beautiful and it was so nice to spend time with family that I don't get to see very often.

The wedding was perfection and I wish I had taken more photos, but it was one of those events that is so wonderful and beautiful and special that you forget to take photos because you are having such an amazing time.

Know what I mean?

Obviously I captured a few photos (most before the reception started/aka before the wine was consumed). Here they are:

Padre and I pre-wedding ceremony.

Annalise and Steven's wedding ceremony started at 6 p.m., which was perfect timing for 1) beating the California heat and 2) viewing a beautiful sunset at the end of the reception.

My Aunt Toni and cousins, Annalise and Britta

The Leffler brothers.

My parents, the models. Seriously, how gorgeous is my mother? If my skin is half as beautiful as hers at that age, I'll be more than pleased.

The bridal party. There were 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen. God bless my cousin for keeping track of that many people.

The most beautiful backdrop

The wedding reception was perfection. It took place at a family friend's home and was filled with stunning lights, including this amazing marquee LOVE sign that lined that back of the pool. 

A blurry, dark photo that was taken after hours of dancing and drinking. Mi familia. 

"At last, my love has come along"
The last dance.


I'm so happy I was able to share this incredibly special day with my cousin and her new husband. It was the most perfect day in Newport Beach, filled with an overwhelming amount of love. 

xo, e

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Newport Beach, CA

I've been back from vacation for over a week and I'm just now starting to feel like I'm back in the swing of things. Whenever I take an extended amount of time off, it's such a struggle for me to get back into my normal routine. With the 9 to 5 schedule back in full force and with the uncomfortably early mornings paired with the unpacking.. it's just a lot to handle (especially when paired with the post-vacation blues). I'm ashamed to say that it took my nearly six days to fully unpack my suitcase. 

Blogging has taken a back-burner of sorts this past week to take time for all the (not-so-fun) tasks that consumes you post-vacation. Sorry for the hiatus.. and sorry that these photos are a week old, but better late than never I suppose. 

After my visit to Utah, my parents and I spent a long weekend in Newport Beach, California to celebrate my lovely cousin's wedding (photos of the wedding coming in a few days!). While we were there, we took full advantage of the scorching temps and spent a lot of time on the water, at the beach and... eating. Naturally. 

Here are some photos of our fun trip to the Pacific:

I am now the proud owner of an Angel's baseball hat as well as my dad's favorite daughter. I asked him to get my this for my birthday and I don't think he's ever been more proud.

Biking was the preferred form of transportation for the weekend. Beach cruisers make you look instantly cooler. 

The most lovely color for a front door.

This was one of the rental houses my aunt used for all of the wedding guests. It was so colorful and vintage and I didn't want to leave. This house has me inspired to add more color to my apartment. How awesome are the yellow cabinets and the fridge?

Sleepy eyes, messy hair and a latte (delivered to you in bed) make for the best birthday morning.

"The state breakfast of California."

I had the best weekend with my family and I cannot wait to show you photos form my cousin's wedding. It was the most beautiful, fun wedding I've ever been to. Equipped with the beach, marquee signs and lots and lots of (wine induced) dancing.

Come back soon to see wedding photos!

xo, e

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Thursday, September 25, 2014


Hi Friends. 

I have been a lady on the go recently and I've finally had a chance to sit down and relax and blog. 

Which was much needed.

Last week I flew to Park City to see my mom, dad, friends and HOWIE and from there my family flew to Newport Beach, CA to see my beautiful cousin get married. It was seven days of non-stop fun. From visiting with college friends and old coworkers, to running 20 miles to celebrating my birthday, it was a busy few days home, but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Obviously Howie was the best part about my trip and I cried when I had to say goodbye to him. I just want to steal him and bring him back to Chi with me. 

Here are some snapshots of my time in Park City and Salt Lake:

My padre's famous green juice. He makes these for breakfast every morning for himself and my mom, and when I'm home I have the pleasure of having them. They taste better than they look... although not much better.

My mom made my favorite meal while I was home.. Creamy pesto pasta with chicken. It's so delicious.

Here are some scenes from my 20-mile run. tried to find the flattest route possible, which was hard to do in PC. But I managed to get my training run in and met some cow friends along the way. I also started so early in the morning that I was able to see the sunrise over the mountains. 

My little car! This is the last chance that I got to drive her, since she's up for sale. She was the best car ever and I'll miss it dearly.. but a car in Chi just doesn't make sense. Bye Winnie Cooper!

My fave gal Lauren recently moved into the cutest apartment with an amazing balcony. She invited myself and some of my favorite Salt Lakers over for some wine and apps. She's just the best.

Lauren and I went to my favorite restaurant in Salt Lake, Eva, and had the best time. It was the best date.

Mister Howie trying to steal my coffee.

My parent's ski stash. I love all the colors.

I lucky enough to have TWO dates with this gal. We went to High West in Park City to listen to our friends' band play. It was the best time, definitely check out the band Porch to Porch HERE. Also, the drinks and food are ahhhmazing here, so that was an added bonus.

The most delicious whiskey lemonade and chicken pot pie you could imagine.


And obviously the tastiest thing that happened while I was home was this magic. I went to In-n-Out with JT that same day that I ran my 20 miles, so I felt as if I earned this. I even splurged and got a strawberry shake. And I ate it all and didn't feel one bit guilty about it. 

There you have it friends. My quick trip to Park City and Salt Lake. I had the best time while I was home and wish I could have spent a few more days. Being in Chicago and only being able to visit as little as I do makes me really realize how beautiful Park City, Salt Lake and all its people really are. I can't wait for my next trip home in December, when I can actually use those pretty skis of mine. 

I will be sharing photos of my trip to Newport Beach real soon. My cousin's wedding was the absolute most beautiful wedding I've ever been to, and I cannot wait to share it with you!

xo, e

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