Race Report: Chase Corporate Challenge

This week, I ran my first Chase Coporate Challenge. Back when I worked for a suburban-based company, I was jealous of people who got to run the Corporate Challenge. When I found out last year that my company participated, I was so excited! But that was when my knee started bothering me, so I gave up my bib for another employee to use. But this year, I’ve been averaging … 5 miles per week on a good week for the past 9 months, so I figured my knee could handle it.

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Digital Marketing pals

I heard this race is a bit of a cluster f*ck. That is not an exaggeration. It’s about the size of the Shamrock Shuffle with zero corral organization. Lots of n00bs and non-runners, so even though the race organizers suggest faster runners up front and walkers in the back, it’s not enforced. Just getting to the corrals was like slow-moving cattle, and then I finally found a spot in the barricade to squeeze through. The race started at 7pm … and we just stood there. I was around the signs for “Corral” D, which I think was the last one. Starting in A or B may have made things slightly better, but I’m not sure by much.

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I noticed the leaders had finished the race and were walking around our corral as we finally started inching toward the front. I think I crossed the start around 7:35ish. And sure enough, the entire 3.5 miles were spent weaving around walkers, many in groups. Some wearing jeans or carrying bags/purses. It was like the biggest Turkey Trot ever.

Given my low mileage and the weaving, I had no idea what to expect for my pace. I forgot to bring my watch with me, and even though I had my phone with me, I didn’t care enought to use the Nike+ Running app during the race. Plus the majority of the course was on lower Wacker and lower Randolph, so it may not have registered correctly anyway.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that I did better than I thought I would have.

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Because my last name is such a secret. 

I think this is the fastest pace I’ve run in … maybe a year. So that’s nice.

After exiting the finish chute with water and a banana, I made my way back to my company’s tent. I didn’t realize it until comparing notes on Facebook the next day, but my company had a nice spread. Cheap beer and good stuff like Fat Tire and Stella, and burgers, BBQ pulled pork, BBQ brisquet and sides. Although the tent next to us (CDW?) had a DJ and were having quite a party. I hung out until 9:30 before hopping on a Divvy and heading home.

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Even though the race was kind of annoying with the crowds and the walkers, I’d do it again. My company covers the race fee and provides food and beer, and you know, “team building.” I’ll just make a better effort to start closer to the front.

Save up to $40 on the Spartan Race!

I have a new goal for 2015! My husband and I are going to run the Spartan Race! The Chicago Sprint (4+ miles) to be specific. And you can save up to $40 if you want to attempt a Spartan Race!

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Use code MEMORIAL to save $40 on the Spartan Beast, $30 on the Spartan Super or $20 on the Spartan Sprint. Any city, any date! But act fast! This offer ends on 5/27! Search dates, cities and distances, and sign up at Spartan.com.

So, back to our race. I have only attempted one obstacle-style race in the past, in a pirate costume. I rolled my ankle jumping off an obstacle and that was kind of it for me.

However, inspired by Kelly and Meghan getting through the Spartan Super last year (8 miles!), and all the strength training I’ve been doing in place of running, I’m ready to give this style of racing another go! And I’ll have my (Former) Sailor by my side to hopefully give me a boost when I need one. But we’re playing it “safe” and going for the 4-mile Sprint option.

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Want to Spartan with us? Register by 5/27 with code MEMORIAL to save $20/$30/$40 depending on distance.

Have you done a Spartan Race? Please give me all of your advice. 

#getUplifted at the Uplift Chicago Pop-up

Uplift has been offering women-only classes at their boutique studio in New York City for a few years … now Chicago ladies can enjoy it too at their pop-up location in River North!

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Right now they are offering all strength-focused classes, and I attended one on Monday. Maybe it was the warm temps outside, but this class had me sweating up a storm. One thing I liked about the format (at least, this instructor’s format) was that we never repeated a move. We did bicep curls for 30 seconds, then moved to another bicep move. Our workout used a resistance band, dumbbells and body weight. Probably given that it’s a women-only studio, the dumbbells only went up to 12 lbs (I think), although those had my muscles screaming after enough reps.

Uplift plans to add more teachers in June and will start offering HIIT classes in addition to strength, as well as lunchtime classes and more morning options.

Uplift is offering classes in River North at Indigo Studio through September. In addition to a large, mirrored class space (and a second studio for future use), the space also has showers available. Check it out yourself via upliftstudios.com or ClassPass!

Blue Island Beer Co. is officially open

This past Saturday was the Grand Opening for my friend Al’s brewery, the Blue Island Beer Co.

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Al & me

Al is a friend of my entire family … even some of my extended family. He went to high school with my brothers, and briefly lived with my family when his parents moved out of state. (And since we were the same size, I would steal some of his clothes.) He’s been in many garage bands with my oldest brother. One of my middle-older brother’s jobs is working for Al’s housepainting company. Both of my brothers stood up in his wedding, he stood up in their weddings, and he helped with the “sound” stuff for my wedding.

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The Bobs – uncle and husband

Al’s been brewing his own beer and has been a big supporter of the local craft beer scene. So no surprise that the Grand Opening had a big turnout; it was great to see so many people supporting the BIBC and craft beer in the south suburbs.

If you want to check them out yourself, the taproom is open every day of the week except Tuesdays. You can drink in the taproom, bring home a growler, or order a keg for an event. I believe their beer is on tap at some local establishments (don’t quote me) and they plan to start bottling soon. Right now they have an IPA, amber, hefeweizen and black ale on tap … and some pretty interesting beers coming up!

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I loved the Mad Men Series Finale

This will obviously contain spoilers.

Mad Men is one of the few shows I’ve watched from start to finish while it was on. (My So-Called Life and Felicity were the other two.) If you don’t watch the show, last night, the end of season 7, was the series finale.

There was a lot of speculation, even before it was announced how many seasons the show would go, how the series would end. Would the opening credits be foreshadowing – would Don Draper jump out of his office window? Would we see him an old ad man in the 1980s, graying, and working on some national brand campaign, on wife number whatever? Or … meditating at a new age retreat on the ocean? Is this the start of Richard Wayne Gary Wayne from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?

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One theme throughout the show is the idea of being alone. In the very first episode, he told Rachel Menken:

You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget.

And he never did. He spent seven seasons trying to find a connection, mostly with women. And yet, he still always felt alone. It was sad when Betty pointed out to him that his own children will be better off with their uncle than their father, because what they are used to is rarely seeing their father. We might have wanted Don to be able to swoop in and Betty to forget the past and pretend that Don will be the parent his young sons need. But Mad Men isn’t Full House. This isn’t a sitcom. The great thing about Mad Men is that it was real. It handled situations the way people really do.

There were three things I really liked about the way Don’s story ended in the series.

He finally confessed his failures, to Peggy, the living person who knows him best. He spent his entire adult life living a lie, and living under the burden of that lie. In the last two episodes, he finally confessed his darkest secrets.

Don, forever feeling alone, finally connected with another person. He was dragged to a “retreat” and left there alone with no way to leave, and found himself in an “I feel” circle. And someone else admitted what Don himself had been suffering from for years – loneliness. For once, Don didn’t feel alone. He felt vulnerable and finally found the connection he had been searching for.

Finally, at the end, Don uses his personal experience to create an ad campaign that people can connect with. This should come as no surprise – he literally did the exact same thing at the end of season one when he used his family photos to pitch a campiagn for the Kodak Carousel. That’s what Don does. That’s what made him so great at selling. And when he finally felt a connection, finally found what he had been searching for, he created a campaign encouraging others to do the same, to make the world a less lonely place. And of course it would be one of the most well-known iconic campaigns in history – haven’t we all been waiting for Don Draper to “create” such a campaign, for seven seasons?

And Joan is a badass and started her own production company, let go of yet another man who wanted to control her, and Peggy finally found love – in the office of course, because where else would she?

Did you watch the Mad Men finale? What did you think? Did the amount of Halloween decorations drive anyone else batty? (Har har)

It Happened Again

I passed out again yesterday. This was the first time I passed out from giving blood. I was at the health fair at my office, doing a blood draw, and the first poke didn’t work, so the phlebotomist asked if she could try again. I was already feeling kind of nervous, and thinking maybe I should decline … but I was already there and wanted to get it over with. The second poke was successful, but right after she finished … I blacked out.

Once again, I started dreaming. When I came to, I was being wheeled (in a desk chair) into a hallway next to the room where the health fair was happening. A bunch of the health fair people were crowded around me. I was confused as to why I wasn’t waking up in my own bed … and then I realized what happened.

“Did I faint?” “Yes.” “Did I fall out of the chair?” “No.” “Well that’s good.”

The situation was a bit traumatic – your body literally gives up, so fainting is never fun. But this time around, I had a lot of friendly co-workers to help me out. A nice lady from HR, the head of security (who told me he is/was an EMT), and a couple of co-workers from my team who I requested they go get. One co-worker escorted me in the ladies room. Another co-worker rode with me in a cab to go home. The head of security pushed me around in a wheelchair, and held a garbage can for me while I “refunded” my apple juice in the middle of the lobby. I was both embarassed and thankful, but they told me this is not the worst they’ve seen. We have a big office.

And then I spent the rest of the day sleeping, taking breaks to eat something or watch TV, then back to bed. After about 16 hours of sleep, I feel back to normal today.

And thus went fainting episode #6 (over 20 years).