Tag Archives: milwaukee

The Sourest of Lemons

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“…how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.”

This quote was said in episode 1 of NBC’s “This Is Us” which happens to be mine, and Dan’s, favourite TV drama at the moment.  I can say that with certainty because even though we rarely watch it when it is broadcast on Tuesdays (doesn’t air until 10 PM) we record it and he often doesn’t wait for me to watch it.  That show has been my replacement to “Parenthood”, as it really is my “I need a good cry” show.  And a lot of the time, if one of us watches an episode before the other, we rewatch it together.  That same quote was shown on the January 17th, 2017, episode.  And it was timely.

I wrote my last post about a big event in mine and Dan’s life.  I was pregnant.  Note, I say was.  Last week Friday, we headed up to Calgary to get the optional First Trimester Screening test done.  As we did the two hour drive, we talked about baby names, what we really wanted to do when we build the addition, that we should probably look on Calgary kijiji and see if there were any good dressers or rockers we could take a look at on our way home.  We checked in to the radiology centre, I spoke with a receptionist about how I get a free photo of the baby, and we went into the small ultrasound room with a tech.  The tech gelled me up and got the ultrasound up and running.

And  what we saw was just a black, blank space.

Dan was oblivious for a few minutes, as he doesn’t know what an ultrasound is supposed to look like.  I didn’t panic at first; I thought “maybe they just have to move things around and zoom in and there’s the baby.”  But then, the tech had the screen zoomed out so it was the typical ultrasound view you are used to seeing if you were to Google any pregnant woman’s ultrasound.  The black space where there should have been a fetus had nothing.

The tech was taking measurements and very quiet, then asked me to go empty my bladder and come back and do it one more time.  I knew this wasn’t going to be good, but I was still very confused.  I came back, same results.  She said she needed to go talk to the nurse and doctor and would be back.  As she left I curled into fetal position and cried holding Dan’s hand.  What was going on?

Eventually, some people came back and explained I had an “Anembryonic Pregnancy”, also known as “blighted ovum.”  I had gotten pregnant, and when the egg attached to the uterine wall, it never actually became a full blown embryo.  Reading information online tells us the embryo absorbed back into the wall, but a gestational sac and yolk sac still remained.  This gestational sac kept growing over these weeks, and at 13 weeks it was approximately 44 mm.  My body kept thinking I was pregnant this whole time, as I was having many pregnancy side effects-sore breasts, extreme fatigue, more visible veins, gaining weight.  My body had decided to not clear itself of the pregnancy.  This sometimes could happen at 8-12 weeks.  I never experienced any bleeding, spotting, painful cramps.  I was still holding on.

Eventually I dramatically stormed out of the office because a nurse I didn’t know was trying to console me by rubbing my leg.  But then, like in a sitcom, I had to come back into the damn room and grab my jacket.  I was crying in the mall somewhere in North Calgary.  And we had a 2 hour drive home.  As Dan drove, I cried.  I looked at the form the office gave me that had a conclusion statement of “An intrauterine gestational sac is seen but the fetus and fetal heart rate are not identified.  Findings are in keeping with an early fetal demise.  MISSED ABORTION”  What a fucking dark conclusion.

I looked up on reputable websites to find more information about Blighted Ovum.  Apparently it is the cause of half of miscarriages.  A lot of times, women don’t even realize they have it….maybe they didn’t even know they were pregnant and they miscarried before they even had an ultrasound.  I also read that many doctors believe this occurs because when the egg is fertilized, the body recognizes some sort of hormonal abnormality.  The body decides it shouldn’t continue on and it isn’t viable.  I am not a bio teacher, but to me that sounds like a crazy good thing the human body can determine that.

I got myself sort of together and phoned my mom.  I just stared at Highway 2 as she said “oh honey…oh honey…”  I cried.  I messaged two other important people in my life right away.  I had to tell them.  Dan and I stopped at some townie bar in Claresholm to have a beer and dinner.  Dan’s idea for this was that he didn’t want us to taint a place we have good memories of back home in Lethbridge, so we may as well stop at this hole.  Actually turned out to be a good meal.  Damnit.

Dan and I got home and I didn’t even know what to do.  The doctors in Calgary had informed my OB-GYN’s office in Lethbridge, but nothing could be done until at least Monday.  I already had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday, but obviously this would be a very different type of appointment.

The feelings I had were MAD and EMBARRASSED.  I was MAD because if I had been able to get an early ultrasound this could have been determined at as early as week 8.  Still would have been tough to find out then, but instead we got to Christmas.  Then me announcing it to everyone before my Marathon.  And then just earlier that week I told my students I teach.  That’s where the EMBARRASSED feeling comes in.  Now I had to go face everyone and tell them this wasn’t happening.  I know it’s not the right way to feel, but I felt like I had lied to everyone.  

That night, I texted a handful of friends who we had told earlier in December, before announcing it to the world.  I wanted them to know before I told everyone else.  Then, I drank a bottle and a half of wine and stayed up till 3 am.  Saturday morning, Dan made me eggs and I puked up the bottle and a half of wine and the eggs.  I posted an informative Facebook status saying what happened and I sent an email out to the staff at work.  I asked for the staff at work to not reply to my email, which everyone respected.  I didn’t say anything in the Facebook post, but I turned off notifications as I didn’t want to keep getting notified that people commented.

I eventually looked at the comments.  Publicly, people shared they had also experienced a loss.  I also got texts and messages from friends who experienced losses like ours.  Some of my friends I were aware had miscarriages before, others I had not a clue.  Hearing from these friends who have families of their own made me feel better.  I went to work Monday morning, even though many people probably questioned my well-being.  I needed to go otherwise I would have just laid around feeling sorry for myself.  I also had to go because I needed to tell my students what happened.  I teach many mature students, age 15-18.  So it wasn’t necessarily a complete foreign idea to them that this could happen.  But it came as a surprise to many I think.  I told it straightforward and informational…I didn’t cry…I held it together…and then I went on to teach them pre-calculus.  Shit.

At my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, I told my doctor about my ANGER and EMBARRASSMENT.  She said those were totally normal feelings.  And then, we made a comment about it being a ‘fake pregnancy’ and she stopped us right there.  She said if we went on thinking about it that way, we would be really messed up.  It wasn’t fake.  It was very, very real.  It is still a loss.  But we can move on and start over.

I had three options for management of the blighted ovum presented to me—let the pregnancy miscarry itself on its own terms, get medication to force the miscarriage, or get a D&C (dilation & curettage) performed.  I at first had thought I wanted medication, but it was explained that the medication sometimes doesn’t kick in right away….and sometimes it doesn’t clear everything out…and you still need another ultrasound to make sure all the tissue is gone…and you sometimes still need a D&C.  So we booked a D&C for Thursday.

I’ve been in surgery before, so I don’t really get bothered about the idea of getting put under general anaesthesia.  I just wanted this procedure to be completed so we could move forward.  Check in at 6:30 am…in a pre-op bed by 8 am…IV with saline by 8:30…. moved to a different room by 9:50….into surgery by around 11.  Last thing I remember before being knocked out was the strangely soothing jazz/blues/I-don’t-know-what guitar music that was playing in the operating room.  I woke up in another room and all I wanted was water.  The nurse attending to me talked to me quite a bit and I found out she rode her Harley with her husband all over and really wanted to go to Milwaukee.  That provided distraction as I told her all about the summer festivals, tailgating, the microbreweries.  I was a fucking Milwaukee tour guide while hopped up on what I later found out to be Fentanyl.

We eventually were on our way out of the hospital by 2 pm.  Long day.  Requested frozen yogurt, got home, and plopped on the couch in the basement to watch TV.  I was bleeding but not throbbing in pain yet, as the anaesthesia hadn’t worn off.  So I told Dan I wanted to watch “This Is Us” from Tuesday.  He had already watched it earlier that week, and when I wanted to watch it Wednesday night he said he wasn’t sure if I could handle it.  Oh shit.  Watching it anyway.

Well, we watched it together.  It was a great episode.  It was basically the first episode, but from a different point of view.  I didn’t cry, mainly because I didn’t have any tears left in my tear ducts.  I went upstairs to get my water bottle, and in the fridge I find a bottle of lemonade….

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The tears flowed.  I went downstairs and Dan and I hugged.  It had been a really, really, really shitty week.  Extremely.  But we are strong.  We are going ot move forward.  We have eachother.  We have our family.  We have our friends.  We can turn the sourest of lemons into something amazing.

 

 

 

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August 2016—All in One Post!

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So, I did around 3,500 miles this month!….

In my car.

I haven’t been active here lately, partly due to my roadtrip!  On July 31st, I packed up my trusty 2009 Pontiac Vibe and hit the road.  Along with the essential clothing, toiletries and podcasts to entertain, I also packed my 9 year old beagle, Snoopy.  Where were we heading?  We were going across the border south east to my hometown of Franklin, Wisconsin.  We had stopovers planned in Longville, Minnesota (my aunt and uncle live there).  Snoopy is an excellent travel companion; I honestly cannot say that enough.  He just curls up and sleeps the whole time, does not fuss, and is excited to arrive to any destination.  So I kept myself occupied by listening to a variety of podcasts and when I really started losing it I would talk to Snoopy.

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All packed and ready to hit the road!

 

We made it to my mom’s on August 4th, and we stayed until August 22nd.  During that time, I was able to see all of my family that lives in the area, attend a closing day of Badgerette Pom Pon camp (I worked for Badgerette for 5 summers), watch the State Distinguished Young Woman show with my friend Maureen (I won 2nd alternate back in it’s Junior Miss hey day), go to two travelling beer gardens, see a bunch of my friends back home, eat and drink my way through both Wisconsin State Fair & Zoo Ala Carte, go to my favourite Mexican restaurant 3 times, play in a bag toss tournament, and so much more.

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“Swimming” with Snoopy in Lake Wabedo in Northern Minnesota

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When you are in Longville, MN, you go to the Meat Raffle at the bar….and win!

 

The main reason I drove was so I would be able to bring back the remains of my childhood that was still housed at my moms.  It wasn’t that she was forcing me to take it, but I have been gone since 2008, so I figured it was time.  Yearbooks, photos, games, puzzles, Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop, etc, etc, etc….It is now all back in Alberta.  I also packed up some New Glarus Beer, a ton of Wisconsin cheese, 32 bottles of Sprecher soda, and who knows what else.  Snoopy and I arrived back in Lethbridge on August 24th.  Wow, it felt good to get back!  We both missed his daddy Dan and his brothers Woodstock and Faron.

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That’s for DAMN sure!

 

During that trip, I also started running.  I had done my first 5km run prior to the trip in a numbing time of 33:43.  I had walked and jogged a bunch during it.  That was on July 28th.  Remember, my foot surgery was on June 10th.  I had been given the clear I could start running after my 6 week post op on July 21st.  I did my first humid (SO HUMID AND HOT) Wisconsin run on August 7th.  It was a little 20 minute jaunt that average 9:40 per mile.  Oww.  On August 11th, I went out to try and beat my July 28th 5km time.  I did so handedly, running a 30:02!  So close to that sub 30!  I did a couple other 1-2 mile runs during my time in Wisconsin, but I wanted to try and get under 30 minutes.  On August 16th, I set out to do that.  I ran that 5km in 28:20!  These gains I have made in less than a month since coming back into running are huge.  I was going nuts not running for over 6 weeks, and taking this time to get my newly fixed foot used to running (and running properly) has been great.

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5km well under 30 minutes!

 

Since returning to Lethbridge, I am happy that the humidity is gone.  I have ran on August 25th, 26th and 27th, and the weather has been glorious.  The biggest highlight was yesterday, the 27th.  I went out to run a sole mile with the goal of getting between 8:00-8:15, a pace I was always easily able to obtain on my runs, and my sweet spot for my Boston qualifying pace.  I finished that mile in 8:14!  Guess what world…LAMMERS IS BACK!

And guess what today is?  Today marks the start of WEEK 1 of my GOOFY CHALLENGE training plan.  I have put together a very non-aggressive 19 week training plan with the goal of “comfortable completion” of the 2017 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, which is a half marathon on Saturday, January 7th followed by a full marathon on Sunday, January 8th.  The even more special thing about this race is that I will be running my 2nd WDW full marathon alongside my best friend Ali.  It will be her very first full marathon!  I will be there to support her through those dark moments (especially between miles 15-23!!!)  She has run half marathons before, and I have set her up with a training plan to coincides with her Spartan Race and Crossfit schedule.  It will be a weekend to remember!

 

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The original “Pottage Pose” from the marathon portion of the 2014 Dopey Challenge in WDW

 

 

19 weeks is a LONG training plan.  When I ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2015 and Boston in 2016, I had an intense 16 week plan.  This plan does not include speedwork.  It just has two easy runs a week plus a long run on the Saturday.  Then, in late October, I add another mid distance run on Friday, which will help prepare me for the two day challenge that Goofy presents.  I am not going for any speed records at this race; I want to get my body back into running shape so I can begin to push myself again come the new year!

I have updated my 2016 race schedule, as I have a few local events in October and November.  I will be recapping those after they occur, and I will definitely be keeping you posted on how my Goofy training goes.  Until then, I need to get ready for my first day back at work tomorrow….Teachers start this week, with students coming in the day after Labour Day.  For teachers, this is our “New Year”.  Happy New Year to all the teachers, students and parents out there! 

8.5 Weeks Until Boston…Training Progress, Race Goals, Injury Update

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Helllllloooooooooooo!  Crazy to see on my training plan that I am now 7.5 weeks in, with 8.5 weeks left to go!  Almost at that halfway point!  Training is on schedule and I am feeling pretty good.  I lamented before how it is frustrating sometimes as I notice myself slower on some workouts this year than I was last year, but I then remember that last year I was coming off some strong races in late fall/winter so I was better prepared to enter training.  I have had some awesome training runs, though, and that makes me feel even more confident getting to this halfway point.  The 16 miler I have on Saturday will be my first true test, in my opinion, as it has the mileage challenge and the mental challenge.  I missed my first 16 miler two weeks ago because I was fighting this awful stomach bug, so I need to go out and just get the mileage in.  Nothing fancy, no crazy pace accelerations…just run 16 miles in my long-run pace range (7:48-9:04 per mile).

I also have mentioned before that not having any races lately has made it hard at times to really push my limits.  On February 27th, I will be doing my first event of 2016.  The Hypothermic Half is an event held nationwide and put on by Running Room.  I am doing this in conjunction with my 18 miler that day, so I am not going to race it, just simply use it as part of my training run that day.  The ‘competitive’ events come in March and April, as I have the local Moonlight Run 10km on March 19th and the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on April 2nd.  My dream goal at Moonlight would be to place in top 3 women overall.  The race can be all over the place, due to the change in weather, time of year, and the wicked hill climb for the last 3/4 of a mile.  Last year, while I ran faster than the year prior, I placed 5th overall in women.  I ran a 43:47.  In 2014, I placed 4th overall with my 47:27.  This year, I expect to be somewhere in between those times, but have no real clue how I will finish.  It really depends on who shows up on race day….and I don’t mean just what competitors….I mean what Andrea will show up?!?!?

For Trailbreaker, I am planning on pushing myself to the limits and run the best half marathon I possibly can.  To beat my personal best, I would need to run faster than a 1:35:41.  I did that time exactly one year ago in frigid temperatures.  My most recent half marathon time was my less-than-pleasing Lethbridge Police Half, where I had stomach issues the last 4 miles and dropped position and time, finishing with a 1:40.13…well off what I was capable of.  So really, I am aiming for anything under 1:40 at Trailbreaker, as coming off a week of ‘vacationing’ in Milwaukee is sometimes a bit much.  And since I have been training for Boston, I know my  legs are ready for this.  And, the elevation is lower back home, so you never know!  Lets just hope the humidity stays away!

Lastly….my foot.  It’s not an injury, per say, but a nuisance.  I know, KNOW it is getting more aggravated by the day as I keep pounding out the mileage.  The new shoes and orthotics have helped tons, and I am so glad I got them.  However, the only way for it not to hurt would for me to not run, walk, stand, be human.  So, I am just going to keep ruining my foot and build that bone spur up more and more until I have a surgery date set.  I have been putting prescription 10% Voltaren on it as of late, and this has helped numb the pain.  I am set to see my podiatrist next week to talk about pain management, and then I will hopefully be booking an appointment with my family doctor (and sports medicine extraordinaire) to have him inject something into it?????  I have been going to physiotherapy pretty regularly, and I am addicted to the TENS machine…those electric wave pulses (or whatever they are) on my foot feel SO GOOD.  I really don’t know how my foot will hold up on races, as during runs I don’t really think about it. It is after I am done running and my shoe is off that the throbbing really kicks in.  So the Hypothermic half, Moonlight Run and Trailbreaker will all be good indicators on how 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston will physically feel come April 18th!  I don’t really care if my foot feels like it is going to fall off during that race, because emotionally it will feel amazing!

 

 

A Decade of Marathons 

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I have wanted to do this post for sometime, but haven’t found time to sit down and do it. So now I am finally sitting down and doing it! While Vancouver Marathon has come and gone, I can’t stop thinking about that race. The more I think about that race, the more I think about the races I did before it. And then I realize how long I have been actively running long distance races.  

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I ran my first full marathon in May 2005. 10 years ago! It was the Madison Marathon in Madison, Wisconsin. I trained with a plan my friend Matt had put together and was able to finish in a respectable time. I was sore and felt like junk afterwards though! My body wasn’t used to the beating it was put through. I honestly couldn’t lift my leg over the tub to get into the shower a few hours after the race! But, even with all that pain, I was hooked. It felt great to do something not everyone can do! I did my second marathon the following year in 2006, when I repeated that very event. The heat index was out of control and they actually closed the course after 5 hours and 15 minutes. Thankfully I had finished.  

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I did marathon number 3 that same year in October-The Chicago Marathon! It was my first BIG event! 40,000 runners…through the streets of a big city…amazing crowds….I broke 4 hours in this event and felt unstoppable! The next year I did Madison again, and I dropped a few more minutes off my Chicago time. Wow…maybe I can keep dropping time? Maybe in the future I could qualify for Boston? Well, reality hit when I ran the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in October 2007. I ran my second worse race, hadn’t really properly trained (I had been working at Badgerette during the summer running Pom Pon camps and not really taking training seriously in between). When I did Madison Marathon the following May 2008, I only dropped half a minute off my Lakefront time. Maybe I wasn’t meant to get any faster??

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Madison Marathon 2005—4 hours 27 minutes 38 seconds

Madison Marathon 2006—4 hours 47 minutes 48 seconds

Chicago Marathon 2006—3 hours 59 minutes 25 seconds

Madison Marathon 2007—3 hours 56 minutes 37 seconds

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 2007—4 hours 42 minutes 18 seconds

Madison Marathon 2008—4 hours 41 minutes 50 seconds

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Then I moved to Canada. And I trained in Lethbridge for my first marathon in Canada. While the training seemed to go well, my body wasn’t well adjusted to the elevation and I bonked. I did awful. This was the Calgary Marathon in 2009. And after this race I took a hiatus from full marathons until January 2014. This was when I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon to cap off my Dopey Challenge four race adventure! Now, I had trained extensively for this event, doing many 10km and half marathons in preparation. And during that time I had dropped down all my shorter race times and had gotten faster! And all that hard work paid off because I didn’t just break 4 hours, but I ran my fastest race yet! This got me thinking about the elusive Boston Marathon again. If I focused on training for full marathons again and took my training up a notch, maybe, just maybe I could drop enough time to make it there! I trained for the May 2014 Calgary Marathon. I ran in, running way better than I had in 2009. But it wasn’t good enough. I was frustrated. I quickly registered for the Edmonton Marathon in August 2014, hoping to shave enough time off. I faltered. And it hurt. Maybe it was time to retire after running 10 marathons…

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Calgary Marathon 2009—5 hours 3 minutes 37 seconds

Walt Disney World Marathon 2014—3 hours 50 minutes 52 seconds

Calgary Marathon 2014—3 hours 46 minutes 22 seconds

Edmonton Marathon 2014—3 hours 44 minutes 59 seconds

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I decided to give my Boston Qualifying attempt one last shot. I trained my ass off for my 11th marathon, the Vancouver Marathon held this past May 2015. I had a training plan made specifically for me, and took things more serious than I ever had before. It was all or nothing. And that attitude paid off. I not only made the 3:35.00 qualifying standard for Boston, but I smashed it by just over 10 minutes! After 10 years of running marathons, I had finally achieved what every runner wants-to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon. And while one would think that marathon 12 would be Boston in 2016, it actually was when I went back up to Calgary in the end of May 2015 for a little redemption. I ran the 50km Ultra during Marathon weekend in a time of 4:39.37….I ran 50km in Calgary faster than I ran 42.2 km in Calgary 2009! I even managed to podium in my age group! 

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Vancouver Marathon 2015—3 hours 24 minutes 56 seconds

Calgary Marathon 50km Ultra 2015, Marathon Split—3 hours 56 minutes 37 seconds

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So now what? Well, marathon #13 will in fact be Boston 2016. I register for that during the second day of rolling registrations, on September 16th, 2015. Running my qualifying time by over 10 minutes paid off! I am all but set to be running the 120th Boston Marathon. I cannot wait for marathon #13, as it will be so sweet. Spending over a decade of my life…my 30 years life….so 1/3 of my existence….running marathons has paid off. Yes, it is a hobby, but it is an important one. Running all these races have taught me determination, focus, resilience and mental toughness. I faced triumphs…and frustrations. But I never gave up. Never, ever give up.

Milwaukee Recap and Training Countdown

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Three weeks to go until the BMO Vancouver Marathon!  My last few weeks have gone well, but I knew I had some crucial training runs coming up that needed to go well, as to boost my confidence.  Also, take into account I went home last week to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and this has historically led to me sluffing off on training.   I only skipled  (whoops) one day on my plan, so I am pretty proud.  I had slept in too late before a friend picked me up for the morning, afternoon and evening of activities, and by the time I got back home I was wiped.  What crazy activities did we do?  Well, went and got my bridesmaid dress for her wedding fit, and then we went to Potawatomi Casino downtown to play bingo for three hours.  We used to do this back when we weren’t yet 21, as 18 year olds can access the bingo hall at the casino, just not the casino floor.  I think the best part of it was just laughing at all the crazies around.  Best person we saw was a lady on the smoking side (glass wall separation) walking around with a surgical mask covering her face.  

 

Other Milwaukee-Related activities I partook in was watching the Badgers NCAA Final basketball game at the bar I used to work at.   They lost.   Then my mom, cousin and her husband went to Miller Park to watch the Brewers second game of the season.  They lost too.  But all was a lot of fun!  One of my last nights my mom and I spent a day and night in Milwaukee doing the Lakefront Brewery Tour, eating at some awesome local places, shopping, and then painting at Splash Studio.

 

  

  

  

  

Now, I didn’t just eat, drink and watch sports.   I did run.  I really did!  I even found one trail in the Franklin Woods that I honestly had never ran on before in my life.  It was super pretty!

   

 

It was also actually a lot of fun to do my runs back on the bike trail near my moms house.  It is really an awesome trail.  For the training runs that I did it worked quite well.  My best run was on Thursday morning when I did 5 miles at my Tempo Run pace.  I needed to be between 6:54-7:10 minutes per mile.   I was thinking “how the hell am I going to do this solo?”  I was going to get up real early to do this run but there had been thunder lightning, hail, rain, downpours, everything all night.  It was still raining pretty heavy.  I checked the radar and ther was going to be about an hour or so window at around 8:45 with no thunderstorms so I waited and headed out then.While it started thundering in the distance at mile 4, there was no lightning (just a steady rain), but this caused the trail to be empty!  You never see this trail empty.   Anyway, I head out unsure what I would be able to do, but I made it back home doing better than I could have ever hoped for!  I did my 5 miles in 35:18, with each mile being 6:52, 7:03, 7:19 (you can see this as the out and back point on the map where I had to do a turnaround), 7:03 and 7:01.  I felt like a million bucks when I got home!

  

So the running in Milwaukee went well, but I wasn’t home free yet,  what I was nervously awaiting in my Lethbridge home was my 20 miler run to do on Sunday.   After a week of making poor food and drink choices not conducive to a good training plans, and after a day of traveling….I needed to muster out 20 miles at a pace between 7:48-9:04 per mile.  The weather was quite windy, but the temperature was ideal.  I headed out optimistic and knew I wanted to push myself.  The route Runners Soul had planned for our club run today was awesome.   Only one big hill and the wind was fortunately at our back heading up it,   Running down the hill into softball valley first was more challenging, as it was the slowest downhill I have ever run!  Wind was pushing your body backward almost, and the water treatment plant sewage was wafting right in your face.  I managed to complete my 20 miles in 2:42:42 with an average pace of 8:08 an mile!   I am training for an 8:00 minute mile, so I am right where I need to be!  My fastest two miles were actually mile 3 and mile 20, each at a 7:48 and 7:49, respectively.   My slowest were mile 8 and 11, where I had an 8:29 (wind!) and 8:30 (hill!).   Being able to hold it together strong the latter half of this training run was my big concern, so the fact that I could makes me so excited for Vancouver….just three short weeks away!

   

 

Mustache Dache 5km Milwaukee-Race Recap

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I last wrote about my Tyranena Beer Half Marathon which was held on Saturday, November 8, 2014. That race was all about fun and helping Kirby get her best half marathon time (which did happen!). The next day, because of my planning, we had registered for another race…sort of my own mini “Challenge” weekend (Dumbo Double Dare anyone?). I had found while searching through Milwaukee area events that the Nationally held “Mustache Dache” would be stopping in Milwaukee on Sunday, November 9th. Of course we had to sign up! I told Kirby we were doing it (she was a little uncertain about this given that we would have done the half the day prior) and I encouraged my friend Maureen and her husband-to-be Ryan to sign up too. Before we knew it, 8:20 am Sunday rolled around and Maureen & Ryan were at my mom’s door to pick us up and head downtown!

I was looking forward to this race for three reasons. 1) I would get to do a 5km right in downtown Milwaukee, something I never have gotten to do. 2) I would get to do it with some of my best friends! And 3) I wanted to break my 5km personal best of 22:09, which was from the Milwaukee Brewers Sausage Race 5km from August 2003.

The day before was chilly for Tyranena, and today was no different. Add the fact the wind was coming off of Lake Michigan and it felt even colder. The race was said to be held at Veterans Park, which YES, it was. But we were all idiots and just assumed that meant starting at the War Memorial. So we assumed we would need to park in a structure. We decided to drive past the memorial to see where the race would be, and everything seemed desolate. No one was anywhere to be found. It was 8:50 am, and the race was scheduled for 10 am. We drove around a bit more and headed toward the kite stand at McKinley Marina (everyone back home knows what that is!) and VOILA! There was a small assembly of volunteers and a DJ setting up, and an empty parking lot to park in for free!

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We sat in the car bundled until we could go get our registration packets. We also spent this time trying to put on these crappy Dollar Store mustaches Maureen had bought. That at least kept us entertained and gave us some great photo ops!

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Speaking of photo ops, as Maureen and I were sticking out heads through the kite store cardboard sign pretending we were at Disney World using our Photopass, someone walked by and causally shouted “isn’t this race a little short for you Lammers??!!” Wtf. I have a buff on my head and a mustache stuck to my face, my head in a cardboard cut out….who here knows me? I sprint over to the guy who yelled at me, and lo and behold it is my Franklin Track & Field long distance coach from my senior year, Mr. Thorpe. So funny running into him, and nice to chat with him too. He would be running in the race also, but, I then found out he is in charge of the Milwaukee Movember chapter, which raises funds for men’s health and prostate cancer research. Last year they earned over $100,000! Amazing!

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Runners assembled near the start around 9:45 for the National Anthem, which to me was a tad ridiculous, as the Mustache Dache mascot Mo held the flag. Stay weird Milwaukee! Prizes were given to people with the best REAL mustaches and then for the people with the best costumes. Pretty soon we were lined up to the start and off we went!

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I ran off with a mission to complete-break 22 minutes. I would need to run 7:10 minute miles to comfortably do this. I knew mile 1 would be no issue (ran it in 7:00 flat) but mile 2 and 3 would be tough. At this point, the leader was off in the distance, but a man had ran up next to me. The only words I spoke was “I wanna break 22”. He nodded, and we would continue running together for the duration of the race. The wind was a bit tricky in spots, but when the wind was with us, I pushed extra hard to make up for the points for when it was a wall. Mile 2 was completed in 7:07….holy shit I could do this!

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The last mile of the race had you run down a peninsula that jutted out into McKinley Lake Marina, and then you turned around to head back to the finish line at the kite stand. After this turnaround I could see I was in a great spot for first place women. I kept pushing with my eyes on the finish line. Buddy who was next to me sprinted off when we hit the mile 3 marker and I tried to keep up. He got me on that last 0.1 miles, but what I got was a new personal best….21:08 to be exact! 1 minute and 1 second faster than my 11 year old record!

I was ecstatic. I not only beat my best time, but smashed it, and was able to do it while back home in Milwaukee! I got some watered, wandered around and cheered Ryan on into the finish line. He use to run cross country back in the day but hasn’t done much running for some time. Later that morning he would say that he wanted to sign up for more 5km races again!

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Kirby and Maureen had fun too. They used the “Dache” as a time to catch up and chat, as they hadn’t seen each other since my Wisconsin wedding reception in May 2011.

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They did a small award ceremony, where prize winners received a “Mustache Dache” cup. All the medals, shirts and cups were nice, but since this is a national race, they only had the national logo on it, and did not note anywhere that this was in Milwaukee. That is my only “complaint”, albeit a petty one.

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I got called up separately at the start of awards to be recognized as the first place female, so that was cool! I was hoping they would mention I came all the way from Alberta from this, but I should just be happy they could pronounce my whole last name. Funny thing—earlier on they posted printed results as people were finishing. I looked for my name and at first couldn’t find it, as I always look for the longest last name possible. Turns out that apparently on that print out my last name didn’t fit horizontally so it just said ANDREA. On the official results it has everything though!

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So glad I was able to do this race while home and get my friends to tag along too. Afterwards we headed to the Milwaukee Public Market, where I spent way too much money, and to Wicked Hop for brunch, where I ate was too much food (Virgin Bloody Mary with extra toppings, biscuits & gravy, eggs, and a bratwurst patty). But. I think it was all well-deserved!

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Tyranena Beer Run Half Marathon-Race Recap

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When Kirby came to Calgary for my full marathon in June, we came up with the great idea to fly out to Milwaukee in November and run a race together. We had found the Madison Marathon on Sunday, November 9th, but were looking for a half marathon. After a few more weeks of searching, I uncovered the Tyranena Beer Half Marathon, which would be occurring on Saturday, November 8th. I love running, I love beer, I love friends, I love Wisconsin….so we signed up!

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With the race start being 11:30, we didn’t have to leave my mom’s house in Franklin until shortly after 9 am. The drive to Tyranena Brewery is simple-head on the Interstate towards Madison and get off at the Lake Mills exit. We arrived to the brewery at around 10:15 am, and headed into the beer tent for the race packet pickup.

Pickup was a breeze, and in our bags were our shirts, dinner vouchers, race bib and drink tickets. This stuff would be put away in the vehicle until after the race was done, as the real party would occur after the finish line! Kirby was starting to get nervous, as it was pretty chilly out. Even though it was about 43 degrees, I’d bet the wind temperature was much colder. Kirby lived in Arizona the last 7 years, so her body was not used to this standing around in the cold. We hid out in the tent for awhile, then the car, and then we had to get ready for the race.

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The plan for this race was to run together. Kirby would be running her fourth half marathon, with her most recent about a month ago in Nashville, Tennessee. I had been encouraging her this month that she could run a personal best at this race, and I wanted to help her. I had thought her personal best was around a 2:18, so we were going to go for a 2:15. Now, I am fast-forwarding a bit because it was somewhere around mile 10 that she admitted she sort of lied to me and that her unofficial best time was 2:18, from the Phoenix Rock n’Roll Half. It was unofficial because she paused it during a long potty stop, and restarted her watch after the stop. She kept telling me she didn’t want to admit her time to me, and I told her she was an idiot because I didn’t think any less of that time, because it’s awesome! She is a former sprinter, who used to do the 400m in high school in 57 seconds. This girl is a former sprinter now turned casual long-distance runner! I was just happy to be running a race with my good friend!

So her personal best was from the Women’s Running Series Half in Tennessee from the end of September this year, which was 2:24.20. I also told her I would shame her on here for lying to me, because I picked the 2:15 goal based on a 2:18 best time! Part way through the race, I would start making changes to our goal, to eventually just get a personal best…no matter what. Now, I am not a mean friend, really, I am not….because wait until the end of this post.

So the race started and we headed out for our first mile at a great pace of 10:00. It was actually 9:59 and change, but pretty damn close to a perfect 10. The weather was still windy, yes, and cold, yes, and Kirby was cold, though I knew she would warm up. The initial plan was to run around 10:10 min/miles for the first 6.5 miles and then see how she felt. For a 2:15 you would need approximately an average pace of 10:17 minute per mile. I decided to lighten the mood and also take a selfie with Kirby at each mile marker, and she would hold up the mile number with her frozen fingers. These ended up being VERY amusing. Here are the first three miles and some of the pretty views we saw!

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The course was very nice, with some rolling hills through some VERY nice neighborhoods. The view of the lake was gorgeous. The only major hill was at mile 4, but otherwise I found the course pretty comfortable. The wind was bothering Kirby, and the cold air was causing it to be harder to breathe. I tried to be encouraging, and our pace was still on, so all was good. When we exited the lake view and headed towards a farm, the wind started to kick in even more. Miles 4-6 looked like this:

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Kirby was starting to hurt, and I told her it was totally ok if we slowed down. We were now on a gravel path (was a bit boring at first) but I kept just talking to her to keep her occupied. We were still on pace, so slowing for a mile or two would be good for her to catch her breathe. We were now on the Glacial Drumlin Trail, so the wind was blocked from the trees a bit. Miles 7-9 are here:

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So after mile 9 is when the truth came out. Kirby is such a positive person, so she really wanted to keep going at that pace, but I could tell she was hurting. I made the decision we would slow down lots and try for a 2:20 finish, and if not that at least get her under that 2:24. I knew even if she kept a slow shuffle we were set for this because of the pace we held the first six miles. The unfortunate part of the last miles on the course was the boring scenery. You wound through an industrial park and then up into an older neighborhood, down and back up to the brewery entrance. You could not see the brewery at any point until the final turn at mile 13 so it was very tough mentally. Kirby never complained, and the meanest she was during this segment was when she made the face for our mile 12 photo. Here are miles 10-13:

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We finished the 13.1 miles in 2:21.28…new official personal best for Kirby! I was so proud of her! She beat her old personal best by three minutes! So solid! She was so happy to be done though, not going to lie there! We headed into the post-race tent which was filled with bananas, cookies, nuts, chocolate, peanut butter sandwiches and water. And, of course, our medals!

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The major perk of this race was the bang for your buck with post-race party items. We went back to the car to change into warm clothes and headed back to the beer tent. We had two tickets for Tyranena Beer (YUM!) and a catered lasagna dinner. We couldn’t remember what the registration price was, but know it was under $50! Probably around $45. So, a beautiful course, shirt, medal, dinner, two beers, live DJ and a great time at a great price was perfect! The dinner was HUGE and the beers were tasty (remember, I haven’t had a beer in two+ weeks so it was VERY yummy). This was my cheat day, and worth it. The atmosphere was fantastic and we stayed until 4:15, and then it was back to Milwaukee.

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I would recommend this race to anyone within the area. Next year will be the 10th anniversary, and I am sure they will hit it out of the park. The weather could vary from a warm, Indian-summer 61 degrees to a full-blown blizzard, given the time of year, but the show that Tyranena puts on makes it doable! This will be a race experience we will never forget!

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Fly, Run, Fly, Run, Repeat….

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I am in row 2A of this 18-seater aircraft which is about to leave the Lethbridge Airport. Where am I heading? Milwaukee, of course! It is Remembrance Day long weekend, and we have Monday and Tuesday off of work, so this is the perfect getaway weekend. I did the same thing last year when I headed to Disney World for my first RunDisney event-The Wine & Dine Half Marathon. So in order to get the most out of this weekend, I used a half personal day for today (Friday), and now I get to enjoy twelve fun-filled hours of travel. Getting to Milwaukee via air from Lethbridge is such a pain….but I am happy I can use my Airmiles for this flight (trip cost about $160 in taxes only. Round trips!) even though it requires an early flight from Lethbridge (5:20 am), a dumb layover in Calgary and leaving at 10:15 am, then leaving Toronto at 6:20 pm. What a day ahead….

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…But it is worth it! This weekend was first discussed back in June when my friend Kirby came out to Calgary for the marathon. She flew in and did the 10km, while I did the full, and we had a great weekend. Kirby is a friend from my University of Wisconsin-La Crosse days, and was one of my bridesmaids. She grew up about 40 minutes from me, so she is also a Wisconsin girl. We wanted to head back not just for a Wisconsin weekend, but a run weekend!

On Saturday, we will be running in the Tyranena Beer Half Marathon, out in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Kirby has ran 3 half marathons, with her best time around 2:18, so we will run together on Saturday as I try to get her to 2:15! She is nervous about the cold, because while she grew up in it, she has been in Arizona since we graduated University! She is already in Wisconsin as I type this, and she told me she grabbed any clothing she owned that is remotely close to cold-weather wear! I told her that the cold will make her run faster as she will want to get more layers on!

In coinciding with my food/beverage overhaul, I am allowing myself the splurge of two beers after the race Saturday. Oh my god, those beers are going to be delicious. The beverage portion of my two-month experiment has actually been going smoothly—it is the food that isn’t. I am great with my whole-grain cereal/fruit/coffee breakfast and packed lunch…but dinner is a disaster. This week has been all over the place, with late nights at work and first aide recertification in the evening, so my dinners have not been the healthiest. And let’s be honest—a weekend in Wisconsin is never full of healthy food. I eat anything and everything I can’t get my hands on here.

Back to the running—so we are not just doing the Beer Half on Saturday, but we are also doing a 5 km on Sunday! It’s like a reverse RunDisney challenge, with a race two days in a row, but the longer distance first! A little over a week ago, I found some information about a 5km run down at Milwaukee’s lakefront—The Mustache Dache. It is a nationwide event, with runs happening in about a dozen cities. The name says it all-mustaches are encouraged, and this is a fun 5km! Since it is Movember, this run fundraised for prostate cancer research. I am really looking forward to this, as I have not done a “themed” run outside of Disney! And it won’t just be Kirby running on Sunday, but my friend Maureen and her fiancée Ryan are too! Kirby and Maureen are going to walk it, while Ryan and I push ourselves. He is like 6 ‘5″ though….so one of his strides will be 8 of mine.

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If you had read my Two-Month Experiment post, you would have also remembered I said I am doing a run-streak until Jan. 1st. So far so good….and yes, even today, on this day of travel. While I could have just maybe waited to get my single mile run in when I got to Milwaukee, I boldly set my alarm for 3:45 am today, and was out the door at 3:55. I ran a 9:01 minute mile and got ready for my flight. When I woke up my groggy husband at 4:25 am to drive me to the airport, he said I was dumb. Whatever Dan! I made a plan and I stuck with it!

Lastly, while my Twitter followers and friends on Facebook would have seen this, a casual reader may not have. I will argue with my husband that I am “dumb”, but I wouldn’t argue if he said I was crazy. Why? Because I have decided to give my quest for Boston one more shot. On Sunday, May 3rd, I will be running in the BMO Vancouver Full Marathon. You know how I said I am using AirMiles for this weekend worth of flights? Using them again for Vancouver, as I can head out Friday after work and be home Sunday evening, without missing a day at school. And going away for a race is always more fun, as a change of scenery and variety never hurts anyone, I have heard fantastic things about running in Vancouver, whether in this race of the SeaWheeze Half in August, so I became intrigued and investigated further. The fact I will be running at sea level is most exciting, and I know this can be used to my advantage since I live at 3,000 feet above! I figure with my diet change, my easy & consistent running in the last two months of 2014, and a training plan overhaul in 2015, I can make some real progress. I will be talking about this adventure more in the new year, but I figured I would let everyone know that I can wait to run in Vancouver, with the fantastic ocean views and more….Take Me to the Sea!

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A two month experiment

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I need to do something to my daily regime to liven up my body. While basic running is what I love, I noted in my last post that the act of finding a new route to run did wonders…but I need something more. Something that will help me see some visual results, which will in turn hopefully translate to physical improvements. Now that I have experienced one month of my 30s, I have decided to embark on a two-month experiment….

No booze….
….well, except for twice.

On Saturday, November 8, 2014, I am participating in the 9th Annual Tyranena Beer Run Half Marathon. I will enjoy my two included post-race beers after the event, and that is it. Come Christmas Eve, I will also enjoy a glass of wine during dinner. And then when 2015 rolls around I will reevaluate my training and beverage consumption, hopefully creating some more clearer goals.

This no booze will be interesting, because well one—it is well-known my husband and I love our craft beer. We even have a craft beer advent calendar that I purchase last month…but since I embarking on this experiment during December, we have decided to save the calendar for January as a nice treat (If Dan was drinking each beer on his own all through December I may crack.). But I’m curious to see what happens if I cut it out. Even without cutting it out or down last year during my Dopey Challenge training, my body composition changed rather drastically. The number on the scale lowered quite a bit, and I was surprised at by how much, even with no major diet change that was kept consistently. Yes, when Dan and I did our crazy “Clean-Eating Challenge” (Link is HERE)in June we both also lost weight, but we were tired and worn out. While I won’t be enacting another challenge like this at this point (not enough time to barely make a bagged lunch for work it seems this school year) I will be attempting to watch what I eat a bit. And with the decrease in alcohol, and in keeping up with my exercise, I am sure hoping I will see some positive changes that I otherwise wouldn’t see in winter months.

I have been trying to go into the school twice a week to work out with two friends. Yeah, I am going to admit to be failing at that. I am so not a morning person, unless it is for a race. 5:45 am alarm is ridiculous. But I liked it. So I either neither to just get my ass up. Or try something else for variety. Since I got Ali into running, I am keeping my promise and giving Crossfit a good old try. This Saturday I am going for the trial class to see what it is all about. No promises, but it will be something new.

In the end, I know I will end up mostly just running. But varying my calendar and adding new challenges for myself will be what keeps it fresh. I have a small handful of cross country runners who come run on Tuesday and Thursday with me after school—-it keeps us accountable. And also, with this “dry-streak” for two months, I decided to do a “Run-Streak” of my own. While many runners do “Run Streaks” in December as preparation for Holiday eating and cold weather, I figured I’d start now. I made a calendar and I am running every day from now until January 31st, even if one day is just a mile. One mile is the shortest distance.

I have now five events between now and the new year. Tyranena Half, Mustache Dache 5km (both in a week and a half in Wisconsin while I am home!), Claus Cause 10km, Santa Shuffle 5km, and on New Years Eve the Resolution Run 5km. Having events always keeps me motivated, and keeps me training, and even these aren’t any huge do-or-die type events, I am still motivated to do my best and reach goals in each. For instance, I will be pacing my friend Kirby at Tyranena in hopes of a personal best for her (2:15 is the magic number!). I am also hoping to get a personal best in the Claus Cause 10km (need below a 45:37!). And in the near 2015 future, I have my Spartan Race Trifecta looming (Temecula x2 and Kalispell) plus some other ideas of intense events up my sleeve.

So this two month experiment is just a stepping stone to help me see what I am fully capable of and in turn, hopefully, make me a healthier and stronger woman. I’ll be keeping you all posted in the process!

Epic Airport Post about People Watching at Airport Bars (Title Says it All)

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My times spent at airports have added up this year. I went to Disney in January for the Dopey Challenge, notably flying direct from Calgary, after the polar vortex hit. In February, I went to Milwaukee, April Quebec, June was Albuququue. And now I am sitting in Chicago. No, I am not heading to Milwaukee again. That’d make sense, since I am an hour away. I am en route to Calgary, though originally I was flying from Orlando to Houston to Calgary…but weather got on the way.

I am now delayed 2+ hours from “change up” flight to Chicago to Calgary flight, and in the end, I will be ending up in Calgary *hopefully* only 4 hours after my original arrival time of 9:00 pm. 1:00 am arrival and then a two hour drive to Lethbridge. Lovely.

So I am sitting at this airport restaurant bar in Concourse B—-Stefani’s Tuscany Cafe. And since these delays stress me out (note the post from January when I broke down in Calgary..read it here!…and I already lipped my poor husband off in an email today. Sorry Dan. Love you) I decided I needed to write this…

Who You See at an Airport Bar

Here are my unedited, sequential notes I took while sitting here in Concourse B…because why the hell not?

Guy next to me-business suit. Hunched over. Glued to phone. A sip of bud light left. Said nothing I was an inconvenience sliding in to the last spot at bar next to him. Is basically mute, when spoken to takes five seconds to respond. We had a little convo about the B gates, and he told me he knows Calgary is expensive. Now standing away. Checking phone. Pretending to watch golf. He hates me.

Woman who ordered a Stella with bedazzled phone case and shopping bags. Trying to look younger than she is. And I have no clue where she disappeared too.

Lady ordered side salad after asking about sides but also a meal and wine. She looks like she doesn’t really want to be traveling but making most of it. She had one drink and was out. A quick hit and run.

Guy over at the island bar facing the concourse who came up for another Bacardi coke. Sounds like he is here all the time. Knows bartender by name. Introducing himself to the guy next to I’m. He’s drunk.

Guy who looks familiar but I know I don’t know. Self explanatory. Who are you?

Lady in the pink 3/4 length polo that looks like it is from American Eagle 2000. She’s been drinking red wine the whole time and has her sunglasses unnecessarily on top of her head (it’s 8:17 pm and we be indoors!). She looks like she’s fun though. Wish a spot had been next to her when I sat. Fuck. I’m stuck here next to Mr. No Personality.

Old man with a hat. Totally exists not just while driving the Midwestern highways but at the bar. Can’t tell what he’s drinking by his mouth has been agape the whole time.

Foreign man with Russian accent who came up with half a Diet Coke bottle and ordered a Captain on the Rocks. Will he mix it in his bottle???….then his lady came, sat at the bar and clearly said NO to not having a drink. Bartender is not amused with them. Quickly cashed out. Not wasting his time.

Bud light and shock top pseudo-businessmen young guns. Can’t really tell what they are talking about. But they ordered beer and don’t seem to know how to drink a beer. I can see them from afar staring at their phones, sorta people watching, but then back to phones.

Now the guy who did not like me cashed out and left. I can now move my bar seat over now from the corner to actually see the tv! I have an empty stool next to me! Normal looking younger 20 girl came and ordered a Belvedere Water (had to settle with Grey Goose) but didn’t sit by me. Seriously—-do I smell? I can’t. I reapplied deodorant and brushed my teeth again after landing here. Wtf?

Four European guys who wandered past this bar, double takedm and were taken back. Not by me, but by Stella Artois. All four sidled up to the bar, taking up the stools between me and Mrs. Belvedere. One guy could say “Four Stella’s. Glasses” and that was enough for their beverages.

And then there is me-wearing the soffee shorts, untied Mizuno shoes, a sports bra with the straps hanging out at my neck, slim fit disney tee. Worn off makeup, crusted curly hair. Staring at my iPad typing furiously. I look up…everyone is forking food in their mouths, drinking, and on devices. No one is having a conversation. I am one of them. But…I think it’s safe to say I’m the gem of this Chicago O’Hare airport bar.