Monthly Archive: January 2015

12 ill miles down

I’m super proud/happy that I got in my 12 miler on Sunday. This wasn’t the furthest I’ve ever run (although that would be doubly sweet) with my previous half marathons I’ve done a handful of 14’s. But I was especially sick last week. On Thursday after staying in ALL day I cracked open the Z-pak because I was feeling a double ear infection. On Friday I woke up feeling a smidge better.  Woke up Saturday feeling the same as Friday.  Despite not leaving the house for 3 solid days I was not feeling great.

Saturday night I over researched “should you run if you’re sick” on google. I didn’t want to make my disease worse…but I had missed a full week of running (4 runs) and hadn’t run in 9 full days. I had to get this long run in.  I had to.  12199145326_f2b0c9e68a_z

So I decided I was going to go for it and set my alarm. I was really happy when I woke upon Sunday morning and did feel better than the previous days. Was I 100% healthy? Not even close, but I felt so much better. So I started prepping for the run. Drank a cup of coffee, had two oranges, had some porridge, drank a liter of water, drank my special B-12-cranberry juice-lemon-apple cider vinegar “cocktail” and had a banana. I stretched and rolled out a little. I packed up loads of Kleenex, my water, and some energy gel and was on my way. E and Stella were left sleeping in bed.

The group I run with is from my Jog Scotland group on Thursday nights. One of the gals is running a marathon the same weekend as me (different marathon though). Her plan is different, but basically we both need to run for long periods of time on the weekend so it works out. There are 4-6 other people who have been going on the long runs with us who aren’t training for anything. This is only my second time running with them. The first time (2 weeks ago) we did a 10-mile trail run, which is what both I and the other marathoner needed. This past weekend I needed 12 and she only needed 10- and it seems the general theme is people going on long runs that aren’t training for anything- stop at 10.

So to get my 2 extra miles in- I ran to where we were meeting (1 mile away) and I’d run home. Running there was excruciating. Instead of my legs being fresh- they were just dead. They had comfortably turned back into couch potato legs. And for some weird reason my right calf was all cramped up and hurty. I couldn’t breathe. I had gone through 2 Kleenexes already on my way there. It was straight uphill the entire mile. I stopped to walk like 3 times. It wasn’t going well.  I really wanted to throw in the towel.

Thank god I forced myself upon this group of runners. I know beyond a doubt I would not have gotten the run in if I weren’t in a group. I tried to stretch out and explain that I was ill to everyone in case I needed to bail and we headed out. Most of the whole first half was on a slight decline- as we were headed to the port/beach so that was good. It was a rough run with the abundance of snot I had, the fact I couldn’t hear out of my right ear, and the calf pain. But worse- the blisters I was previously nurturing into calluses had gone back 4 steps in my running break and were burning and I could tell filling with ooze.

This is what I had when I got home:

This is pretty gross, eh?

This is pretty gross, eh?



But I made it!  I stuck with and somehow managed not only to NOT get dropped behind, but when we ran past my house I didn’t turn in early.  I ran to the starting point and then back to our house to get in my other extra mile.  I didn’t even take a nap after the run but I did sleep like the dead last night. And am happy to report I woke up this morning feeling another smidge better, not worse! And after draining the blisters my feet are looking a lot better. Now I just need to roll out my calf. But my biggest worry about marathon training in Scotland was not having a group to train with like CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) but I knew I couldn’t get long runs in by myself all the time. I’m really glad to have gotten out of my comfort zone and try group running for the first time and push myself into being more outgoing.

Does anyone marathon train on their own?  How do you stay motivated?  Or at what point in sickness do you cancel your run?

Routine Life

Tonight I told E I’d start ironing his shirts when I’ve figured out my routine. He replied that we’ve been here 6 months, that the “getting into a routine” excuse doesn’t really apply anymore. Holy cow, 6 months and I’m just now starting to feel settled. We didn’t move into our house until the end of September and of course that took time to adjust to. We didn’t trade in our rental car and get our real car until the last week of November. Then we were in Vienna, than home. It may be late in the game, but I finally now feel as if I’m able to settle into and figure out a routine.

I think I’ve been pretty kind to myself in the process, but it’s a mind trip. If we only stay 2 years… a quarter of our time abroad is over. That’s scary and stressful. Our ideal plan would be in Scotland 203 years, and somewhere else abroad for another 2-3 years. Over Christmas my mother told me that she’d be dead before I came home. That wasn’t guilting at all…

But really it takes so much time to adjust, you have to stay a bit to make it worth it. Not just make the move worth it, but getting out there and putting in effort to meet people, create friendships, become a part of the community….give your daily life some goals and meanings (assuming you’re a ‘trailing spouse’ and not working full time.)

From when I started this post until now, I had another big routine bucking experience immediately followed up by another. We had our (scheduled 4) 5 days of filming for house hunters international.** It was literally 5 days of your life on hold. Meaning I missed my long run- which luckily was a cut back to only 7 miles. But really starting the first day of filming, Friday, I began to get sick. It only got worse as the days continued. I think Sunday and Monday my throat was in immense pain. That did go away by Monday but I was getting more congested, my body ached, I was exhausted. And then we added on a day of filming, Tuesday! Every night when we were done we’d struggle to find some food for dinner and then go to bed. One night we were in bed at 8, the other nights 9.

On Wednesday, I had a full day with an AWA (American Women’s Association) board meeting, followed by a birthday potluck lunch and seeing a movie, with a couple hours of down time that finished with book club. I barely made it through. Another day without a run. Thursday I swore not to leave the house and I upheld it but had a lot of work to do with my consulting agency and didn’t really rest per say.   I did cancel my golf lesson. Thursday night went crashing down with a double ear infection, massive amounts of body aches, and general meltdown as it was my father’s birthday. It was a bad night. And my sack of sad self finally broke and cracked open the 1 year expired Z-pak we had and took the first dose.

So now on Friday, I cancelled my PT appointment (because I hadn’t run in a solid week- why would I really need to go to the PT) stayed in bed and slept until noon off and on. I did have to force myself up to do some more work. And at that point I went to the door and had a lovely feel better goodie bag with muffins and chocolate and sweets (and even some posh biscuits for Stella) from a very sweet friend. I’m feeling a bit better but am planning to lay low another day. I MUST get in a 12 miler on Sunday. After a full week off of running….

So yeah, the point of all this I guess is it takes me a really long time to get into a routine. And these slight little setbacks or breaks from routine- 5 days in Vienna, 2 weeks home, 5 days of filming…really throw me off course. I am crossing my fingers to not feel like death Sunday, get my run in, and come back with a vengeance to my weekly routine.



**There will be at least 1 (if not 3) posts on being on House Hunters International, but need to get over this disease, find my routine, and most importantly review all those pieces of paper I signed to make sure I don’t get sued.

Gotta Get Swoll

Gym Weightlifting

I realize I need to lift.   Again. I used to lift. Several times I used to. Most recently was probably like 7 years ago. Shit. That was forever ago. Wait…I do recall lifting at FFC (Fitness Formual Clubs – a Chicago gym) for at least some period of time. So let’s say I haven’t really lifted in 5-6 years. And since I haven’t really run in 2(ish) years, I guess that’s not that surprising.

But with getting back into the running and being healthier and not being such a sloth thing…I started lifting again. Really, just to compliment running and to make running as easy as possible. The first month or so, even though I was just running 3 miles, my upper body was dying. And I like lifting. I kinda know what I’m doing. I like free weights and knowing my way around them. But I had decided not to lift lower body (despite my love of dead lifting) because I didn’t want to further exhaust them ham-hocks.

So for 7 weeks I lifted! My 2 days looked like this:

Day 1

  • Bench Press
  • Bent Over Row
  • DB Shoulder Press
  • Standing Tricep Extension
  • Barbell Curl

Day 2

  • Assisted Pull Ups
  • DB Side Lateral Raise
  • Tricep Cable Press Down
  • Cable Curl

For about 6 weeks I followed this, did 3 sets of each, with 8-12 reps. On week 7 I attempted to do the same routine, but with heavier weights to do 3 sets, but only 6-8 reps. The first round was rough…I felt my shoulder stretching on bench press and backed off. I was pretty conservative and didn’t have nearly heavy enough weight on it because I was still cranking out about 12 reps. Just proving that I could actually have had heavier weights the previous weeks. Then on week 8, I decided to go all out. Bench press was difficult without a spotter since I have difficulty getting my shoulder to get the weight (dumbbells) up to start with, but I got it. Bent over row- fine. Now for shoulder press. I got through 2 sets, and it was hard. I didn’t want to go lighter, so I rested up and with all my might tried to throw those weights up for the first rep.

Then my shoulder started dislocating. I am very acutely aware of what this feels like. It was on its way up and out. I stopped immediately. Dropped the weights. Freaked out and started crying. I am pretty sure the only reason it didn’t dislocate was because in my surgery to reconnect the labrum tears, they also added in a fake “bumper” on my shoulder socket that the bone would have to additionally jump to get out of socket. It was an awful feeling. I seriously live in a constant fear of my shoulders becoming dislocated. At home, the fear is manageable. At the gym or out in the world, it’s a pretty intense fear. Especially when I’m alone because if I do dislocate- it is quite an ordeal and I don’t think it would translate well in Scotland. My screaming, running around, getting to a wall and slamming into it and/or laying down and rolling to force it back into place and/or running up to strangers begging them to bear hug me and pop it back in.

It probably didn’t help that the week before I was trying to shove a suitcase overhead in a plane that was far too heavy for me to lift above my head. There was a definite shoulder pain. No attempted dislocation but I felt all the ligaments streeeeeeetch. I emailed my PT and she felt pretty sure they didn’t tear. But who really knows.

Then being away from the holidays I had every intention to lift to some degree. But I didn’t. So now, into double digit runs (whoop, whoop!) I need to get back to it. As much as I enjoy real weights…I think I’m stuck with lighter weights or at least using machines from here on out. In addition, my knee PT wants me doing leg press, lunges, and squats 2x a week as well. I’m going to have to figure out my plan of attack and what I feel comfortable doing ASAP. Because I really can’t end up like this:MCX1mE9CnY-8

Race Recap: Detox 10K

Who doesn’t want to start of the New Year with a brisk 10K race? Especially one that starts with a solid 2K uphill? Right…


Detox 10K official logo- how appropriate


Our friend sent out the info on the Detox 10K, as he was doing it, and invited E & I to come along. Pretty sure we wouldn’t have done it if not for being invited by friends. To be far, it was January 2nd…not the 1st. Which I liked because who wants to wake up early on the 1st day of 2015? Not me. Also, it was on a Friday. Which is a holiday in Scotland as part of Hogmanay. Technically, E was supposed to work as they observe UK holidays, not Scotland’s but he sorted it out with work. And this got me out on an extra run before my long run of the week (9 miler) on Sunday.

Cost – fine

The race cost was £17, which is alright without converting. Just alright because of coming up short in the goodie bag and t-shirt (see below).

Parking – fine

We pulled into the first parking we saw- a small lot about 1.5K away from the start. While we had an easy out and all that…we had to walk to the start. 1.5k isn’t far by any means, but when you’re freezing cold and trying not to slip and face-plant before a race- it sucks. So don’t park at that first place in the future. Apparently there was parking much closer. Also, since there was no bag check- we were faced with walk in our sweats and stuff all the way back to the car, then coming back to the start freezing (I guess it could have been a warm up) and having to walk freezing all the way back to get warm clothes post race…. But what we did was just throw our bag under a table in the town hall building and hope the honest Scots wouldn’t steal our wallet or sweats. Spoiler alert: they didn’t. Honest Scots prevail!

Bathrooms – doable

The town hall building where you got checked in and your bib etc had a 2-person stall. Otherwise, there were 2-3 Porto potties outside. E opted for the latter and was the first person to use them and beat the rush. So he said that was good. I stood in a bit of a queue to use the indoor bathroom (because I was cold and knew I’d have the longest pee ever), which wasn’t too bad. And I like to be warm when I’m peeing so, whatever.

Registration – fine

I was in the bathroom when E went to get our bibs and t-shirts. Check in was quick he said, they had our numbers and safety pins (although the bibs were strangely large). The t-shirts were very cheap white cotton T’s and they only had large and XL left. Not that I need another crappy t-shirt, but it was kind of annoying to not have my size despite that we were there early and had pre-registered. I never understand how some races miscalculate that so severely.  But the registration was inside- so that was nice.

Timing – good

It was a device I had never used before. It was a bracelet that went around your ankle and had an adhesive strip to fasten it. Kind of like a festival bracelet. It worked just fine but in general I prefer a device that doesn’t have to be removed (specifically cut off me) right after crossing the finish line. Kinda makes things messy.

Course – blergh

Every review you read about this course is true. It’s a solid 2k uphill to start. It’s hard. And I like hills, but I could have used some flat ground somewhere in there and there’s none. But worse, is that much of the rest of the course is downhill. I am not a downhill runner. It hurts my knees tremendously. (And for the next I from being sore to excruciating IT band pain from said downhill).

Screen Shot

For the most part, you’re on country roads…so it’s not like there was tons of traffic to battle…but the roads were open and so you did have to deal with cars. I forget the measurement but I think about 7-8k you’re on a farmer’s path. Which means frozen mud and poop and super uneven ground from tractors and carts and things going through the mud/poo pre-freeze. It’s also a very narrow frozen mud/poo path so at times you’re forced to stop or walk to get around someone or to use the only trekable part of the path. Lot of stop and go.

Then right when you got off the farmer’s path, you were on a small paved road, that was downhill (who would’ve guessed) and a solid sheet of ice. So I had to walk that part because I wasn’t about to risk slipping and getting injured for marathon training.

Then you’re on a bigger country road through the small downtown for the rest. Most of the ice was gone, so that was okay. But then you had to run past the offshoot where the finish line is and do an additional loop past it. I hate having to run past finish lines on race courses. It’s such a mind trip. Here I was hauling ass to beat pink shorts in front of me because I thought I was turning into the finish line- and I still had the big loop to do. Needless to say I blew my energy too early and pink shorts won this round.

But the sun was shining, you’re in the country.  If I wasn’t half trying to push it/concentrate on my knees I would have taken pictures.  Everyone knows how much I appreciate herds of sheep and cows as my spectators during a race.  But really, it was pretty.

Still, the course left room for lots of complaining. But for most of it – it is what it is. They’re not going to go through the trouble of shutting down roads for all 10 cars that pass through in few hours of the race. It is an uphill start and downhill the rest of the time. And ya never know what’s going to happen with the weather and the farmer traffic on the weeks leading up to the race- and hey, the farmer let’s us run on his path so we can’t complain.   I do think they have the power to change the end of the route so you don’t have to do that loop past the finish line.  Or maybe after doing it once, it’s not so bad knowing about it in advance for the next time.   But because of the fierce downhills and the pain that followed- it’s really just a blergh.  I totally understand a lot of runners love downhill and will totally disagree with me on this.

Goodie Bag – Needs improvement

You got a plastic bag at the end. It had a juice box, bottle of water, stale granola bar, and a pack of gum. Enough said.

I should say that they also had soup afterward- but I didn’t have any. Maybe if I had some I’d let the crappy goodie bag go…because amazing soup is better than more goodie bag items.


More serious competitors than my last (and first) Scotland Race. But you’re looking at a rough 10k course in freezing temps…something that the faint of heart runners are more likely to pass on. That being said, everyone’s super nice per usual.


No medal. I’m perfectly fine with that.


59:15, a 9:32 pace. With the walking on the ice, my slow down-hilling, and the stop and go of the farmer’s path- I was pretty happy with that.

Leaving the race I thought I’d for sure do it again. But the knee pain I dealt with the next week really made me rethink that. I’m not really sure. I guess I would consider it. But not if marathon training. Or not if my knees grow worse with age. But maybe if my knees rebound to be the knees of 12-year-old Lauren…then I’d be all in.  The course while having it’s challenges, was pretty and diverse.  And who doesn’t want to start off a new year with a race?

NYE in Stonehaven

Stonehaven is this super cute little town about 15 miles south of Aberdeen on the coast. And since (first documented) 1908 Stonehaven has been doing their Fireball Festival on New Year’s Eve. We definitely wanted to go see this and it was one of the main reasons we flew back to the UK before NYE.

We started the evening having a casual potluck dinner with friends and then drove down to Stonehaven. We didn’t get there until about 11:30, so admittedly, our spots to watch weren’t the best. But the evening starts with everyone doing a countdown to midnight (hurrah) and then the “swingers” coming in and lighting their balls from a big sort of firepit (it looked like). They walk up and down the street swinging their fireballs and eventually walk out into the harbor (low tide) and throw their balls into the sea.
fireball 2

You can learn all about the fireballs here:

My favorite tidbit taken from that website:

Also a word of advice, never wear your best clothes to the fireballs as there will be sparks flying along with smoke and even Whisky!  Don’t be surprised if you end up with little burn holes in your clothes, this is normal, try swinging the things!

We actually had a super mild night- I was sweating in a sweater and my Canada Goose. I hadn’t read about sparks flying…but due to our un-prime spots, our entire group remained burn free.  Always good.  After the fireballs are launched into the water, there is a pretty good firework show.1013613_10204720957937495_2851016319868439303_nfireworks

I kind of am intrigued how one becomes a fireball swinger. Because, what would make my life in Scotland more memorable than being a fireball swinger before I leave?! Alas, it seems it’s a little bit of a secret society/invite only. And I don’t think they want my expat ass flinging fireballs over my head with my dislocating shoulders. A running blogger (that lives in Stonehaven) that I follow actually got invited to swing the fireballs last year and she does a great recap with wonderful photos here.

More than anything I was so impressed with how friendly and peaceful everything was. I mean, the Scottish do have a reputation for drinking, but more than that- if you had this event in Chicago on NYE…there were be arrests, fights, probably a stabbing or two. Everyone was in such a great mood! Maybe there is a correlation between the peacefulness of an event with the amount of men in skirts? Because of course- men were in kilts everywhere! That never doesn’t make me happy. We even went to the event with our friend Dough, a real Scotsman, wearing his “casual” denim kilt. Oh the joy in my heart.

Doug's casual kilt

Doug’s casual kilt


Here’s a video from the association of the main parade this year:


And you can click below for my less than stellar videos of the tossing of the fireballs and the Scottish drumline getting down after the festivities were over.


Scottish Drumming

Jetlag + Unbroken = nocturnal

I feel like going to a new destination…any destination is pretty easy. Generally, flying abroad from the states you’re on an overnight flight where you can at least get a few hours of sleep. You land in your new country in the morning and just hit the ground running. Maybe going to the bed a little early that night, maybe taking it a little easy (no walking to the top of Sacre Coeur AND Arc de Triomphe). But it’s pretty doable. Then when you return home, that’s the struggle.

So going back to the Midwest, despite flying out in the morning (not the evening) was pretty easy. I slept a couple hours on the first flight to Newark. It was a long day (about 17 ½ hours) but when I got home around 6:30- I stayed up until a normal time catching up with family. Admittedly, the first week, regardless of how tired I was from running around all day into the night, I’d wake up around 7am. Then there were the days when I HAD to wake up earlier than 7. I think a couple days we got to sleep in until 10. (I love to sleep. LOVE IT. I could sleep all day, everyday…it’s a constant battle not to). But all in all, it was an alright transition.

Now the flight back over here- miserable. First flight to NJ at 2, leave NJ to Edinburgh at 7pm and we were only able to grab a couple hours of sleep. Then we had the never-ending (2 hours) drive up to Aberdeen from Edinburgh. We got in around 2. Passed out for 4-5 hours. Forced ourselves awake for some Lost and Chinese takeout. Then went back to bed and were asleep by 10pm. We slept until noon. Poor E had to work on the 30th and 31st. I was sleeping until 11am or noon these days…not only from jetlag but because I started reading Unbroken…and that book with the different timezones- I was staying up until about 2 am.

We made it past midnight on New Year’s Eve (hurrah- recap coming), got into bed before 2am. And then I slept until 3! E was up at noon apparently. He thought I had died in my sleep. We had a race on January 2 (recap coming) so I HAD to get up at a decent hour. But all weekend my hours were erratic, I was a super big laze ball, and had no reason to really adjust because I just wanted to stay awake with Louis Zamperini. (We did finally unpack our suitcases, I did about 4 loads of E’s laundry, went grocery shopping, did about 4 hours of work for my consulting gig, and got in my long run of 9 miles so really, not THAT lazy. Just not abiding by normal working hours.)

Well it’s the New Year (um 7 days in?!) and I really need to get my sh*t together. Scratched Monday (slept until noon) but was up at 8:30 yesterday and 8:30 today (though I stayed in bed snuggling Stella until 9). Still having the hardest time falling asleep at night at a reasonable hour though. It’s hard when yes, I have things to do every day. But most times nothing that HAS to be done at a specific time, or even HAS to be done.

Today it’s a 5 miler in horrific wind, laundry, some consulting work, and putting away the Christmas decorations. Tomorrow I have a 3 miler and some gym time, checking in on a friend’s house and a promised trip to the beach for Stella and I hope to tackle the office that was never put away. Friday, I’ve signed up for something that will sure to cause me misery and likely lasting pain- cardio tennis at 9:30 am with a friend and then I really MUST register for a doctor, heavily hydrate for Saturday’s 10 miler, meal plan, and finish the office (fingers crossed). It’s not a ton…but it’s still rough making it through on this wonky sleep schedule!

How long does it normally take you to get over jetlag? What works best to adjust to a different time zone?

An Expat Holiday

Getting back on track.  Working through NYE, jetlag, and getting set up for January’s consulting work. And I really didn’t have any time to write while stateside.  As stated, we did Thanksgiving here in Scotland. Which will probably be the trend. But we definitely were coming home (Chicago/Northwest Indiana) for Christmas. I was home exactly 2 weeks. E came home for 9 days. It was pretty exhaustingly hellacious. Does that mean we won’t come home next year? Absolutely not. But, we’ll have to evolve and do things differently.

My wonderful childhood home.  Fills me with so much love.

My wonderful childhood home. Fills me with so much love.

First, lessons learned.

  1. It is always cheaper to pay for extra luggage, rather than overweight luggage. Even if you have to go buy the luggage from the airport kiosk…it will be cheaper. Now you know. Don’t test it and thank me in advance.
  2. If traveling with fur-baby, even if said fur-baby has always managed bathroom business at the utmost professional manner previously. Always be prepared for the very rare instance that an emergency strikes. Wee-wee pads.
  3. Request everyone order your presents and have them shipped directly to your home. And then open up wrapped boxes with pictures of what they ordered. Because it ain’t gonna fit. Extra and overweight luggage be damned.
  4. Extend your originally planned trip by at least 4 days.

I spent 4 days in Chicago.

  1. Hair appointment-Trader Joe’s stock up-Shrink appointment-new baby visit-running store drive by.
  2. Shopping and lunch with my mom.
  3. A party and day of filming for something that rhymes with louse punters.
  4. Blackhawks game.

    We won!

    We won!

I spent 2 days in a dentist chair.

  1. Root canal and cleaning.
  2. Crown

I took Stella to the vet 3 days.

  1. Consultation
  2. Teeth Cleaning
  3. Tapeworm treatment (she doesn’t have tapeworm, it’s a requirement to get her back into the UK)

I had drinks with a friend 1 night.

I saw my best friend, her baby, and family for about an hour.

I went shopping (mostly for others or with my mom) at least 5 times.

I ran 31 miles (6 runs).

And I can’t break down the timeline, but I was trying to hang out with my mom, 2 brothers, sister-in-law, new baby nephew, godfather, goddaughter, in-laws, and E’s 2 brothers as much as possible. Oh and E’s grandmas and cousins. And playing with a lot of dogs.  Oh the joys of coming from the same town….We jumped from house to house, event to event, family member to family member, sometimes splitting up to conquer more. Every night, we would fall asleep as soon as heads hit the pillow and have an alarm set to (or goddaughter) wake us early the next day.IMG_1038

Christmas Eve dinner

Christmas Eve dinner

I love my baby Max-deer!

I love my baby Max-deer!

So without going too deep into everything….it was great being home. I wish it had snowed but glad I’m back to the UK before the 0 degree temps came in (that’s 0 Fahrenheit peeps). Next year I’ll probably stay for 3 weeks. And still expect to be run ragged. There’s just so much to do and people to see.  It’s all good, but it’s stressful.  Really stressful.  It’s still being debated if and when I’d return next year (other than Christmas)…we’ll play it by ear. But the days are already getting longer and my door is open for visitors!


1st course Christmas Eve- Mussels with sausage...mmmm

1st course Christmas Eve- Mussels with sausage…mmmm