Friday, May 1, 2020


Checkin' in here. Because it's been a minute and some serious shit's gone down.

I'll be honest with you, fully. I have my days. Sometimes I have a few in a row. And then, I'm fine for a week, give or take. I've had the full blown roller coaster. I started the stay at home orders fully working from home, but only at part time hours. I started the last week of March going back into the office (with only 5-7 other people, all of us in our respective corners guarding a container of Clorox wipes) for only a few hours a week. After day 2 it was obvious, I was needed more than a few hours here and there. Back to a full time I went. And in office.

I won't lie, at first this made me very apprehensive. But the office had been deep cleaned, and every door handle and light switch was lysoled pretty much as it was touched. If anything, this place might be cleaner than home. We continued to take our places in the office, each guarding our own canister of lysol wipes, ready to attack. But Megan.. do you really need to be in the office? I know, it sounds crazy. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is at home. So to answer your question, yes it is. 

I work in continuing education. We are a tiny school in comparison to so many others, our total population hovers around 200 people year round. Up until March 30th, 2020, we were 100% brick and mortar. There was a very brief 2 week period where our entire curriculum was put online. I can't take credit for it, but it was a major project that many would describe as "moving mountains" and it is one of the more impressive things I've ever seen done. Our education journey continues while our students stay home.

But if I'm being honest it's still not complete and it won't be for a long time. We're building what we need as we need it. Our systems don't speak to each other so I speak many languages and do double the work to make them speak with each other. I am a help desk for a system I'm still learning myself. I'm a therapist for students who call in, mid break down because of life. I'm a cleaning lady cleaning up after myself every hour. Along with everything else that my job description already entailed. 

To add to it, I haven't been to a gym in 6 weeks. This is 100% without a doubt the longest I've ever gone without a gym. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know I live at the gym when not working. So, it's been interesting. 

My husband works nights. He usually leaves around 5pm and gets home between 3-5am, depending on the night. Pre-COVID? No big deal, I'd head to the gym and do my thang. Now? I had to learn how to ride my bike indoors about 30 feet away from him quietly. I had to learn how to shower quietly. I won't lie, it took us easily 2 weeks, if not longer, to get into a rhythm that worked. And it's still not perfect. 

But can I just let you know how G R A T E F U L I am. This is a time in my life I never imagined I'd live through. Yet here I am, and I'm lucky enough to be able to help others through this terrible time. I come home sad a lot. Sad because it was a rough day. Sad because Rob and I literally exchanged hellos in the driveway while he left for work as I just got home. Sad because I was SO hopeful to race this year. Sad because I can't see my family the way I want to. Sad because I miss my friends like crazy. Sad because my legs crave a recovery swim day like you can't f*ckin' imagine. Sad because when I go to a grocery store, people are almost afraid to look you in the eye. Sad because I have some close friends who are have been working on the front line in hospitals and morgues daily, and hearing their stories makes my heart sink. Sad because I know the world is missing out on so many milestones right now: 1st birthday parties, weddings, grandparents meeting their first grandchild, high school graduations, senior proms. You know, the big things in life you dream about. But I'm waking up everyday and helping others get an education. And soon those people will walk into the healthcare field ready to fight this battle. And I'll have had a {small} hand in that. Like I said... G R A T E F U L.

Rob and I will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary in a few short weeks. Had you told me 1 year ago that this is what our life would entail... 😖

But if anything, this time has taught me to slow down. Appreciate. Respect the day you've been given. Tomorrow is promised to no one, and this is a thought that races through my mind daily as I watch the news and see the COVID-19 updates. 

This is a common view for me after work these days. Something I can't say I did a lot of, pre-COVID life. As much as I wish I could share this time with friends and family, I'm respecting what the world has asked of me and keeping my distance and falling a little more in love with me. A little more in love with my husband. Appreciating what we have and praying that our world will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon. 

If you need us, us Sloan's are over here hunkering down. I often go on baking frenzies and leave treats on doorsteps. If this is something that interests you, let me know and I'll add your house to my list. You'll never know when it's coming. Instead, one day you'll open your door and smile just knowing that you're about to sink your teeth into some homemade love from the Sloan's. 

Whoever needs to hear this... Chin Up Charlie. This too shall pass. A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor. We're in this together.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Shelter In Place

It's safe to say that the world is in a pretty sensitive spot right now. We've entered unchartered territory as a nation. I like to think of it as a giant game of monopoly, but with no rules. Sure, go ahead and buy that hotel but you risk losing your life savings and health if you do. Or not. It's up to you.

Many of us are stuck at home, either working (or not), teaching the kids (how do teachers do this everyday?), or suddenly finding ourselves navigating the kitchen for the first time (oi, goodluck with that one). I'm also fairly certain that such a drastic change in life comes with a variety of emotions.

I can't get these kids to concentrate, there are so many distractions.
I don't have a home office, how am I supposed to work at home?
Cooking daily is not something I'm made to do.
How will I pay my bills this month?
When can I see my family again?
I miss putting on real clothes. What is makeup again?

There's a lot, and I mean a lot, of stress and anxiety that has suddenly hit us, and pretty much overnight. I'm no genius or scholar. I'm just a woman with her thoughts that likes to spew them to the world from time to time. And here's what I know:

You're not alone.

No one knows what will happen tomorrow or the next day. We've entered what we might have once considered the "Twilight Zone." Everyday feels like Christmas Day with the lack of traffic and stores open. Yet, no one is allowed to hug or be near each other. No one is familiar with this sort of behavior, and we're all trying to learn what the new normal is supposed to look like.

Sitting here after my most recent baking endeavour my husband walked into the kitchen and grabbed a Dove chocolate and said, "Hey, honey! Think fast!" The chocolate flew across the room and I caught it in mid air. While enjoying my little treat, I realized that Dove hit the nail on the head:

Embrace Optimism

Now, normally I'd sit here and tell you that I'm not an optimist, I'm a realist. But right now, we need more optimism. I like to think things happen for a reason. Maybe this is what we all needed to remember to slow down in life. Stop and smell the roses. We're all stuck at home and we're all stressed about one thing or another. But let's not waste this opportunity.

Clean out that closet you've put off for years.
Sit with your children and make learning a family affair.
Teach your kids the life that school can't. Laundry. Cooking. How to sew a button. Basic life skills.
Garage needs a makeover? Time to tackle that project.
Cook with your significant other. 
Let yourself sleep in. Reset your body and mind.
Go outside and breath that fresh air that your normal day to day life doesn't allow.
When you go the mailbox and see your neighbor, get to know them (6 feet apart) Create those relationships you've never hand a chance to before.
Gym is closed? Use your creativity and find a way to break a sweat with whatever you have at home.

But let's not forget. There's a reason we're required to stay home right now. We need to do our part to flatten this curve. Stay home and do what you can to embrace this time we suddenly have been given. Wash your hands. Eat healthy. Get proper rest. And try to stay calm. We're all in this together.

Social Distancing with the Husband and our drone

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Running Into Uncertainty

10 days. The last we spoke was 10 days ago.

Can we rewind 10 days? How much will that cost me? A roll of toilet paper? (to soon, sorry.)

If I knew then what I know now. Famous last words.

Unless you've been living in a dark hole for the last month, you've probably been educated thoroughly on COVID-19. And in the last week, this virus has gotten everyone's attention and faster than any angry mother that has threatened a spanking on a bare bottom. 

At the beginning of February, I drove my father to St. Alexius in Hoffman Estates for his final cataract procedure. Days before, the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed at that very medical center, the first case in Illinois. I pulled up and noticed a lady wearing a mask as she walked into the hospital.

"Uhhhhh Dad you sure about this?"
"Yea, Meg. I'm fine. SEE 👀 you later, HA!" - Jack Hode

Fast forward 5 weeks. Illinois currently sits at 160 cases and as of Tuesday afternoon, we experienced the first death over this unknown.

How has this impacted me?

10 days ago I was confident I'd be able to toe the line of my first race of 2020. That didn't happen.

10 days ago I was able to go to work and see all our students. I was able to converse with them. I was able to tell them they MUST improve attendance in order to graduate. I was able to discuss Spring Break plans with them.  I haven't seen a single student since Thursday morning.

10 days ago I was able to go to a grocery store without concern of shelves being empty. This is a very common thing today.

10 days ago I was able to stop at my parent's house without worry or fear of infecting them. I had to make the very difficult decision to stay away from my parent's house until this becomes less scary, due to their age and health concerns.

10 days ago I started every day confident that all events and businesses would continue running and operating at normal expectancy. These days, Randall Road is a ghost town and there wasn't a single official St. Patrick's Day event last weekend.

Moral of the story: This. Is. H U G E.

The last 48 hours have been some of the most difficult for me. I'm sure it's no secret to you all, I tend to worry more than most. Lately it's been in overdrive. Yes, the media has played a nice little role in that. Yes, I've read my facts. This virus isn't as deadly as others we've seen. But this one offers more unknowns. This one is taking out entire COUNTRIES at one time. Sleep hasn't been easy to come by. I toss and turn quite a bit. Do I worry about getting sick myself? Eh, not really. I'm a healthy, active 32 year old adult. If I were to get sick, chances are I'd be ok.

But, the scariest part for ME is.... there are people walking around with this virus that never show symptoms and don't know they carry it. What if that's me? If that's the case, how likely is it that I could get my parents sick? My 95 year old grandmother? My father-in-law, who is already in a somewhat fragile state?

I'm scared for those that aren't allowed to work and worry about how they'll feed their children. I'm worried for anyone who could potentially lose their job over this virus. I'm worried what this will do to us economically in the next 3, 6, or 9 months. I'm sad for all of the Weddings, Holiday Celebrations, Baby Showers, Family Reunions, and everything in between that this will be ruined in the months to come.

This is bigger than us. This is bigger than we know. It's hard to wrap your head around something you can't physically see. At some point, we'll all be able to see it. We'll know a friend, co-worker, acquaintance, or family member who was diagnosed by COVID-19.

So what can we do?

I'm sure there's no definite answer to that. The obvious is to follow advice given to you. Wash your hands. Eat healthy. Get proper rest. Stay at home. Distance yourself. Another thing I've found to be extremely helpful.... GET OUTSIDE. KEEP MOVING.

But Megan.. what? You just said to stay at home. 

We might all be quarantined right now, but the best thing you can do for your spirits and your health is to breath that FRESH air. Go walk the dog. Go for a jog. Put on a few layers and take your bike out for a spin. Find a way to take in that spring air and vitamin D. Gyms might be closed but that doesn't mean A N Y T H I N G. Now's when your 1st grade creativity comes into play and you start using canned goods as ankle weights. {Need workout ideas? You know who to call!}

10 days ago I was certain I'd be able to give you my racing lineup in the next few weeks. Now, most races have been cancelled through May. We are all entering a huge unknown. I'd like to sit here and tell you that, "Sure, June is when we go back to normal!" But... is it? The uncertainty of the future has everyone in a frenzie, a mass panic. One thing I can guarantee is that I'll still be running, straight into this day to day uncertainty.

Last weekend, the March Madness Half Marathon was cancelled for the first time in 42 years. It's truly one of a kind, and my heart hurt badly when I heard the news. Of course it was for the best. But that didn't take the sting away. Being the creature of habit that I am, I knew immediately that this wasn't something I was willing to give up. Official race or not, I'd be running that course on race day at 8:35am (official start time). I recruited the healthiest friends I could find and we met up (in a group of less than 50 and kept our distance during the entire run) to race the course.

March Madness Half Marathon 2020
None of us wanted race weekend to play out this way. But we weren't willing to let it cramp our style. I've said once, I'll say it again. This endurance community, we roll D E E P and we're thick as thieves. There's no other I'd rather be apart of. 


**To everyone out there doing the hard stuff: the doctors, the nurses, the teach from home teachers, the grocery store employees, the single WFM moms, I see you all. And I'm a huge cheerleader and fan. Chin up. 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

2020: Comin' in Hot

It's been a while.

A long while.

I know, I know. Guilty as charged.

I can give you excuses, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to a few things. Confidence & Denial. I lacked one while the other overtook my thoughts.

I finished The Chicago Marathon and deep down, I knew I possibly shouldn't have even started the race. I was worried about the damage I had done to both of my hamstrings. Recovery after Chicago proved that I was definitely fit, in shape. But.. both of my hamstrings never bounced back like I needed them to. I was starting to think I wasn't ever going to run the way I used to. I lacked any confidence in myself and felt like my best days were behind me.

I put my running shoes aside for a while. I convinced myself that rest was all they needed. I hit the pool 5 days a week. I started biking much more, 3-4 days a week. Running was cut down to 1-2 days a week, and very very slow. If I use different muscles around them while they recover, this is the same, right? WRONG. I was in denial that I needed anything other than rest.

Thanksgiving weekend came around and I had the opportunity to lace up my running shoes 3 separate times at local fun runs. And I did. And let me tell you, it was a huge mistake. By the time the 3rd race morning came around, it took everything I had to put any sort of hop to my step when the gun went off. My hamstrings were screaming. Violently. With such rage. So many people asked me, "How'd you feel!? Isn't it great to be running again!?" I don't know if I thought I was telling the truth or what, but I realize now I was in denial. "Yea, it was great! I loved it!" Deep down I knew, something had to be done.

This past year there was the shortest amount of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Rob and I were scheduled to head out of town on the 27th of December for our Honeymoon in Cozumel, Mexico. I knew my journey to healthy run legs was going to have to wait until we returned. In the meantime, I found my massage therapist and begged her to help relieve some of the tension, knots, and scar tissue that I had built up in my hamstrings. Every session with her was helpful, but not 100% what I needed.

I came home from Mexico and the search began. I had heard many times of people going to see Denise Smith at Smith Physical Therapy and Running Academy.   BFF and coaches wife Jacqui is her biggest cheerleader, so I decided to give her a call. The last thing I wanted was to go to a doctor have them tell me to "stop running" or "you need XYZ and it doesn't look good." But at this point I just wanted to run the way I know I could. I was tired of always being in some sort of pain. I needed help.

Spoiler Alert: At one point, Jacqui and I had back to back appointments 💖

I walked into her office on day 1 and spent 30 minutes telling her everything. Literally, from day 1 when I first noticed issues with my left hamstring (training for Grandma's Marathon in 2018) all the way to present day, where both my hamstrings felt like rubber bands about to snap at any moment. I gave her all the details, probably more than she bargained for. She sat and nodded, took notes, smirked, and asked me ALL the questions.

Meg: "So, how bad do I sound? How broken am I?"
Denise: "Honestly, you sound very typical. And this can be fixed. I don't want you to stop running." 

You wanna talk about music to my ears!? Holy sh*t, this woman gets me.

A few other things she said:
1. Time. The hamstring is one of the hardest muscles to heal when injured, and it can take a LONG time. Patience is key.
2. That said, consistency. Keep up with everything I tell you to do. Even after the pain is gone.
3. Strength. You can't be apposed to strength work. Because of how the hard the hamstring has to work, at some point it's going to rely on all the little muscles around it for help. All of those muscles need to be strengthened in order to keep all systems working.
4. Flexibility. If you don't understand the value in what seems like a "minor" stretch and how it translates to the run, this will be difficult. 

I left her office after our first consult and was ready to start getting to work tomorrow. We created our schedule, once a week on Monday evenings at 6pm until further notice. I have spent Monday after Monday with Denise teaching me different stretches I didn't know were stretches, that stretch muscles I didn't know existed {caveat, HOLY HELL DID THEY HURT.} We moved onto minor strength work that put me out of commision for a day or 2 because apparently I'm weaker than I thought? She always spends the last 10-15 minutes working on my hamstrings and lower back, digging deep with her thumb or even busting out her famous cups. 

This was super weird

It was a feeling like I've never felt before

I always leave her office feeling a combination of relief with my progress and slightly overwhelmed with how much homework I have to add to my plate. But every run I've had since day 1 with her has progressively gotten better and better. Fast forward to present day, and my stretches no longer burn like hell and I can perform any strengthening exercise with confidence knowing that the next day I'll still be able to run.

Added Bonus: she's your biggest cheerleader 😉

Let's set the record straight. I'm not 100% yet. I still have my moments that remind me I'm not "healed" entirely. But I have turned a HUGE leaf from 3 months ago. I don't skip speed workouts. I have run the super hilly March Madness course 3 separate times this spring and each time I've recovered similar to years past. There were times in the past 3-5 months I've struggled to get through a simple recovery run because I've woken up in so much pain. Mileage has decreased drastically since Chicago. But since seeing Denise, I have officially run 3 consecutive 30+ mile weeks in a row now. And if I'm being honest, I'm simply over the moon about it. 

So, here we are. 1 week out from the unofficial start to the season {March Madness Half Marathon} and my legs are officially back in working order. I'd like to say I plan on truly racing March Madness next weekend, but I'm not sure what will happen. It's looking to be seasonably cold day with possible snow. If my legs show up on race day, then I'm gonna roll with it. But if they don't..? Well, let's just put it this way... I've got to much riding on my season to ruin any chances I have of Ironman-ing in 2020. That's right... you read that right. Ironman. I didn't get the chance last year. And I missed it terribly. And now that I have the confidence I've needed for quite a while, I'm planning on making up for lost time.

Hope you're ready. I'm planning to wear down my keyboard and lock you all into my journey this year with all my racing endeavours. 

Cozumel, Mexico
January 2020
And I'm takin' my husband/spectathlete with me. Cheers!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Chicago Marathon 2019

Before we get into details, let me start by saying... I couldn't be happier with the way the 2019 season ended. Yea, sure a BQ at the end of the year woulda been nice. But hey, the race went about how I expected it to and I had the time of my life in the process. 

Let's also go over a few things...

...The last time I ran the Chicago Marathon, there was no lottery system to enter. You simply went to the website and signed up and knew instantly what you were going to be doing the 2nd weekend of October. 

...The last time I ran the Chicago Marathon, I wasn't searched at the entrance of the expo. Yea, for real. You could just walk in. Imagine my surprise this year when I walked up to the entrance and had to hand over my bag and let them pat me down.

...The last time I ran the Chicago Marathon, Grant Park wasn't completely closed off to spectators before the start of the race. This year? If you weren't a runner, you couldn't even enter the park (which wasn't even close to the start line/corals). Along with any opened liquids, all liquids that weren't sealed had to be left outside the park entrance.

...The last time I ran the Chicago Marathon, I found Rob and family and friends almost instantly after finishing the race. Spectators were literally allowed... almost anywhere. This year? All spectators that entered the park/finish line area had to go through security and were only allowed at the "Athlete Reunite" section of the park. I walked a casual half mile after finishing the race before I found a familiar face. 

...The last time I ran the Chicago Marathon, The Boston Marathon bombings hadn't happened yet. 

Yea, that last one kinda hits home, doesn't it?

That just meant this smile was that much larger all day long

I signed up for this race a year ago with truly 1 hope: enjoy the day & the city of Chicago and to close out the wedding year as a Sloan racing in the best city of the world. Race week approached, and I knew in the back of my mind that I had higher hopes, but at the end of the day, LIFE challenged me this summer. And I knew when I walked into McCormick Place with my father on Friday afternoon that I was in this race for the basics, FUN.

I tried to tease and tell him that bib was linked to HIS name, not mine 😉

I slept in Saturday morning, set no alarm. If there was any chance of speedy legs, R E S T is what the doctor ordered going into Sunday morning. I packed my bags and headed downtown to meet my brother and our crazy friends, The Green Guys. They were back in action, painted Green head to toe to help promote the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. I promised to be their security at the expo for a few hours on Saturday, but that was about it. I found them in the Hyatt McCormick Place 99% green and ready to mingle with all the Chicago Marathon participants. And as soon as we entered the lobby leading into McCormick Place, the mayhem started and I turned into "the picture girl." 

At this point, it doesn't even phase me

I originally planned on sitting the expo out on Saturday, putting the feet up and kicking back. But looking back, I'm so glad I decided to hang with the guys. It kept my mind at ease, didn't allow me to overthink race day which could have potentially lead to a harder pill to swallow on Sunday afternoon. I watched these guys pose with police dogs, kids, international runners that had NO CLUE why 3 American men would paint themselves green, and even a mannequin or 2 at the Nike store. I watched people point, laugh, stare, and simply question their sanity. And it still never gets old and makes me laugh every single time. 

DJ Booth at the Nike Store

Ain't no Laws when you're drinkin' Claws


Because this expo offers SO many photo opportunities

Alas, it was time to hunker down for the night after a hearty burger, brussel sprouts, and Chicago's finest 312 with Rob's sister Kim and her husband Jim. They were kind enough to let me crash with them the night before so I could be as close to the starting line as possible on race morning. And when I mean close, I mean... I walked 10 minutes from their front door to the start line. Yes, I ran one of the Major Marathons and literally walked to the start line, I was that close. As long as is I live, that will never happen at any other Major Marathon that I have the privilege to run. 

Race morning arrived and I actually felt like I slept a full night's sleep. It was a great feeling, I felt like it was another day and I was headed out for a workout! I made my way to my gate and was pleasantly surprised when I was searched at the entry of Grant Park. My half drank bottle of water was also confiscated from me. Well, this shit just got real. I had plenty of time before I NEEDED to enter my coral, but there was such a hype about "crowds" and "security" and now I was seeing why. There were multiple levels of security to walk through before you were even close to the bag check/coral area. 

Buckingham Fountain at sunrise

This site, this was also something new to me. Maybe it's because I've been stuck in the triathlon world for so long? But... can't someone just change in a porta potty? You know how many porta potties I've changed in in my life? Or trees I've hid behind? Buildings? Alleys? 

I opened the door on one of them, no toilet.
Literally just 4 porta potty walls.
I made my way to my coral after checking my bag and sending out my farewell text to the family. I sported a very fancy pair of WalMart sweats that cost me all of $10 that I planned on stripping as soon as the race started. It was a balmy 40 degrees at the start and I wasn't about to be cold for 45+ minutes before the gun went off.

I made my way to the 3:25 pace group and introduced myself to the pacers. 2 women and 1 man. All of them strangers to each other, all seasoned, decorated runners themselves. One of which had just run Milwaukee LakeFront Marathon only 7 days prior and PR'ed herself with a casual 3:01. I actually asked her (without any filter) "Wait, you're sure your legs can handle 26.2 back to back weekends, especially after throwing down a PR?" She laughed and promised me she'd be ok. 

The gun went off and it was 8 minutes before I crossed the start line, even though I was in the first wave. I told the pacer my BQ story before the start and wanted her to know I was going to hang with her as long as I could and that I was putting 100% trust and faith in her because at this point, I had nothing to lose. The first mile was as crowded as expected, but the energy was simply A M A Z I N G. Bridges covered in spectators. Running on Lower Wacker gives me a rush like I can't describe. (It's similar to the same rush I feel while driving on it, fearing for my life). Not a car in sight, just me and 45,000 of my closest friends sharing the streets of Chicago. 

The first mile ticked by and it was a tad slow, but I expected it to be. We started at the front of Coral D so we were running into the back end of Coral C. And, GPS can't be trusted for the first few miles of Chicago because of all the buildings. So, it could have been faster than we thought. And.. it could have been slower than we thought. We closed in on mile 2 and I hung tight to the pacer and didn't let her out of my reach. We crossed the river for the 2nd time and I took a second to glance around and take in the moment. And wouldn't you believe, my eyes scanned over the median of the bridge and there stood this 6' tall skinny white man with his arms shot out wide with a confused look on his face. Any guesses? 


Somehow, he skated his way out onto the MIDDLE OF A BRIDGE over the Chicago River, climbed the median and scaled the tallest pole he could find. Totally solo in the middle of 3 million people. My guy, expert spectator. He knew what he was doing. He had spotted the 3:25 pace group and was trying to make himself as large as possible in case I'd spot him, and sure as shit, I did. 

HONEY! I yelled.
HODE! He yelled back!
My heart burst with joy in that moment. I had spotted my husband in the middle of 3 million people. Out of pure chance. It's not everyday you can literally own the streets of Chicago on foot and spot your #1 in a sea of people.  Shortly after that moment, my watch beeped mile 2 and it was much slower than mile 1. I still didn't worry to much, the pacers elicited such confidence at the start, I was sure they had a plan.

And it was a last minute plan. I turned my head and could tell the 3 of them were chatting and seemed a bit nervous. I heard things like "1 minute back" "no no, GPS is off." "no, it's not that off, I have splits written on my arm." And just like that, I could feel the pace drop. And quickly. Mile 3 and 4 dropped down to 7 minute miles. Way to rich for my blood. But I did my best to hang with them. I spotted Rob one more time before we started to head North, somewhere in the middle of our quick "speed session." I could tell, slowly but surely, I was fading from the front of the pack. I told myself to lay low for a mile, regroup, and make your way back up to the front of the pack. Because if I'm being honest, this pace group was rollin' DEEP and being at the back of the pack could easily put you 30 seconds behind pace.

At the 8K mark, I knew Mark would be with The Green Guys (The Shamrock Shuffle is 8K so that's where they would be hanging out and cheering.) I passed through 8K and high fived The Green Guys. I never saw Mark, but it's very possible he was mere feet away but I missed him in the crowds.

We reached the turn around point at about mile 8 and I was still hanging towards the back of the pace group, but I could tell that I was working way to hard to run an 8:00 mile. This is how I should feel at mile 18, not mile 8. It was in that moment I decided, somewhere between Wrigleyville and Boystown, today was going to be FUN. I was going to run just to run. I was going to laugh at the drag queens in Boystown. I was going to high five little kids on the side of the road. I was going to do what I set out to do a year ago, I was going to enjoy this city.

I wasn't about to "walk" this marathon, but it wasn't going to be a record setting day. Boystown offered quite a party, Drag Queens galore. There was a stage where many of them stood and performed. One of them even called me out as I ran by. The smile on my face grew by the mile. I was about to enter the loop again and the crowds were starting to grow THICK again. I let the energy carry me for a few miles. My pace dropped slightly, but not enough to give me hopes of a fast day. Just about mile 12, I  saw a women on the side of the road, frantic and cheering. Hell, most people were. But this one.. she was different. Something possessed me to turn my head and see what was bothering her. And wouldn't you believe, one of my college friends (who was also at my first Chicago Marathon in 2011) was screaming her lungs off at me, "HODE! HODE! HODE!" I couldn't believe my eyes and backtracked a half step and swung my arms around her neck and squeezed tight for a split second. This running world, this city, it's damn powerful and amazing. 

Mile ???

It was less than 2 blocks later I decided to scan the opposite side of the street and once again, Rob and I locked eyes. I darted diagonally across the runners (not easy, at all) and ran up to him. He ran with me for a block or 2 while I filled him in on how my goals had changed for the day. He sent me on my way with a running kiss and promised he'd see me sometime soon. I didn't doubt him at all.

I made my way West and that was when the wind REALLY made itself known. It was quite present all day, coming at you from every angle. But West was where the headwinds came from. By mile 14 I had to pee like I hadn't peed all night long and then just decided to go for a run. Mile 15's aid station offered no available porta potties so I waited until mile 16. FINALLY. I pealed off course and time myself to see how long it took. I kid you not, this was a solid 30 second pee. Good thing I suppose, I was hydrated. And when I took off again into the land of Pilsen, I felt like a new woman that had a little hop in her step again.

Side Note: Out of all the parties going on in the city that day, Pilsen EASILY offered the best party. Completely with Mexican music and little Grandma's wearing warm poncho's trying to hand out taquitos to runners and Day of the Dead costumes ALL OVER. It was amazing. It was also hard to tell when Pilsen ended and Little Italy began. The party continued and flowed from one ethnicity to the next. Next thing you know, I was about to enter the ever popular China Town, but not without a Rob (AND MARK!) sighting! This time, they were DEEP in the back of crowd, jumping and yelling obnoxiously. I flashed a wave and thought to myself, "how in the hell did they get here? Surely they know, if you show up in China Town, you don't make it to the finish line?" The course is hard to navigate from China Town to the finish if you're a spectator. I assumed the next I'd see them would be at the Athlete Reunite Area.

The next couple of miles kind of blur together until I made my way to Michigan Avenue. Fatigue had set in miles before and I was feeling it. I prayed for the turn on Roosevelt, signifying one more turn on Columbus before the finish line. I looked for a few others I anticipated seeing on course. I put one foot in front of the other and just before mile 26, Mark and Rob made their final presence of the day. Front and center on the fence line. They had to have broken ever traffic law known to man and demolished a few people to get that spot on the fence. I took that turn on Roosevelt and muscled up the small hill as I approached Columbus and I knew I was going to have break away if I wanted to break 4 hours. I dug deep, found a gear that involved playing with fire because at any moment a calf cramp could take me down, and crossed the line with 8 seconds to spare.

Still no idea where this was but I'm almost convinced it was near the very end

I never stopped moving and kept going all the way until I found Rob, and then Mark. I melted in both their arms and couldn't be happier with my day. I gave it what I had. I had fun. I saw the city the best way I know how.

My Favorite Men

They comforted me, hugged me, and made sure I was mobile. Once they realized I was good to go, it was a mad dash to back to the car to get Mark to work on time (In Fulton Market. On race day.) Let's just say, I know for a FACT these 2 broke traffic laws all day long. "Honey, the police are ALL busy right now. Don't worry." - Rob.

I get emotional when I think back on this day. I don't have many pictures to offer but I kind of prefer it that way. I have everything stored away in my mind. Every drag queen, every aid station volunteer soaked in water, every incredible view. It's all tucked away for a rainy day. When I'm wondering why on Earth I put myself through this, day after day? When I need just a little more out of my legs before the workout is over. This, this is what race day is all about.

And with that, I give you 2019.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Throwing Caution to the Wind

I wish I could go back and recap the last 4 months of life. 'Whirlwind' doesn't even start to describe what my world has been since Rob and I said "I do." Weddings and birthday parties and more weddings and more birthday parties and bachelorette parties galore! The summer of celebrations, I like to call it.

I knew this summer would be hard for Running/Triathlon Megan. I snuck in a few races here and there. I never stopped running. I swam and biked as time allowed. After my failed attempt at a BQ in April, I had hopes of going back to Duluth, MN in June to race Grandma's Marathon. {Or as I call it, Christmas Day for runners in June.} But life got hectic between April and June. I officially tied the knot and I attended 2 other weddings, consecutively after my very own (1 of them happened to be one of our groomsmen, whom Rob also stood up for). None of these events came with early bedtimes or hydrating beverages such as water or a variety of sports beverages. I truly C E L E B R A T E D everything and that will always come with a price. A headache in the morning? Maybe. A little less sleep? Always. A diet you aren't used to? 100%. I always put on my shoes on the next morning. But the quality of my running I was hoping for wasn't always there. So at the end of the day, I decided to forego Grandma's Marathon and put all my eggs into one basket. The Chicago Marathon.

The last time I ran The Chicago Marathon, circa 2011
You can spot me in the pink tank, running with Brian

Which leaves us here.

I got my butt back into gear. I've put the work in. But I continued to "celebrate" my way through the summer. I didn't nail every workout. I didn't have time sit in my boots every time I needed to. I slacked on my stretches when I needed it most. But, as of today, I'm actually feeling pretty good about this whole thing. I'm a firm believer in "You get out of something what you put in." And I know for a fact that my lead in into The Chicago Marathon hasn't been perfect 100% of the time. {Truth bomb, it never will be either.} But I can say with certainty that I didn't have the focus, energy, or time to commit to training that BQ needs this time around.

But here we are.

By no means do I think this will be an awful day. I'll run this marathon in the greatest city in the world and I'll have a smile on my face regardless of how fast or slow I finish. But, the last time I qualified for Boston, I had 19 seconds separate me from a qualification and the starting line in Hopkinton. And that was after laser precision focus all winter long. I was probably the strongest runner I've ever been at that point.

And since that race, the BQ standard has dropped by 5 minutes. {Currently 3:30 to qualify, approximately 3:27-3:25 to RUN Boston} Which means I need to shave off roughly 3-5 minutes if I actually want to RUN Boston 2021. And I have to be honest and real with myself. I'm not an athlete that has plenty of time to spare. I'm playing with seconds here. But stranger things have happened.

8 years ago. All of us still friends.
Every single one of these people attended our wedding (or stood IN it)

The weather is looking pretty damn good. It has me "giddy" if you will. Last week I ran after work and it was hotter and more humid than most of my workouts all summer long. So, I'm hoping I have some hidden fitness that will come show up on race day now that the weather is cooperating. My legs have done this distance 13 times before, so I'm hoping some muscle memory kicks in at some point. I've also been much better and proactive about taking care of myself. I've had 2 massage in the past 3 weeks and I'm currently sitting in my Normatec boots and I have a date with my STIM unit tomorrow night.

Chicago Marathon 2011: Boyfriend
Chicago Marathon 2019: Husband

So, if you find yourself interested in my racing endeavours, you can track me on the Chicago Marathon app on Sunday morning. I'll be in the first wave, coral D, meaning I should take off pretty close to 7:30am. Bib 14721. If you'll be on course, I'm planning on gluing myself to the 3:25 pace group towards the front of the group (because claustrophobia is a REAL THING in this race in tight packs). I'll need every ounce of positive energy, good vibes, extra prayers, and anything else you can send my way. But in all honesty, sometimes life is about throwing all caution to the wind and seeing where it takes you. And this kinda feels just like that.

I'll see ya on the other side. And not in 4 months, sometime next week. I promise.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Wedding 5.26.2019

A few days ago my mom asked me, "What day is the wedding blog going to be done?" I laughed and realized.. I hadn't even thought about it. But the more I sat on the idea, I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity for me to savor the day.

If you're interested in my non-racing life for a little bit, this one's for you. If not, I promise we'll be back to regularly scheduled programming after this.

Spoiler Alert: It was the most perfect day

Our day was more than just 1 day. It was an entire whirlwind weekend. We started the journey solo, arriving in 2 separate cars packed to the gil a few hours apart. We rushed around. Unpack this. Get this to wedding planner. Deliver this to florist. Soon it was 9pm on Thursday, May 23rd and we sat down together to enjoy dinner together. This was the last meal we'd have alone together before the nuptials.

Spotted Cows with Cheese Curds on the way

Family and some friends started to arrived on Friday. It was one of those days I didn't plan for. I went for a run after our morning massages, showered, and got dressed. When I left my room at 1:30pm to greet the first family member, I didn't realize I wouldn't be back to my room at all. I carried a Bride 'sippy cup' of wine around with me all night. In and out of the resort bars. Not one bartender stopped me. I filled it up at friends rooms along the way the entire night. We drank, laughed, danced, sang, and loved every minute of that spontaneous day and night.

Hode's at The Abbey 

Those Sloan boys ☘

Saturday involved a full round of golf for the boys while I greeted the girls as they started to arrive. A little morning run, a little lunch with the girls, and next thing you knew it was time practice marrying the love of my life.

Ready... set... where's Lindsey?

I spoke at the rehearsal dinner. I had thought about what I wanted to say, I even jotted down a few notes. There was a theme. There was a message. But as soon as I stood in front of all my closest family and friends, I melted. And fast. I had dreamed of this day for so long. Everyone I love the most, all in one room. It was here and the emotion overtook me faster than I imagined. I wear my heart on my sleeve, that's never been a secret. But that night, everyone saw a pretty deep side of Megan they probably didn't bargain for.


Sunday morning arrived and I barely slept a wink the night before. It could have been the nerves. It could have been all the "last minute texts" I was sending out to the groomsmen and family. Or, it could have been my beloved Matron of Honor snoring her ass off next to me. I dunno, that part is still up for debate. Regardless of any sort of snoring volume at midnight, 1am, or 3am, I'm certain the adrenaline in my veins kept me in a love struck haze between sleep and awake all night long. I was sitting upright scrolling my phone before 6am. I got up to make a cup of coffee and Kait turned and spotted me across the room. We both did a little silent dance so as not to wake Jacqui or the other maids in the massive suite.

The next part of this story shouldn't shock you. I took the girls on my last run as a Hode. At 7am the morning of my wedding. We laced up and hit the road. I've started most of my days as a Hode with a run. How could I start the last day any different?

There's Lindsey!
And Ian took Beth's place during the run portion of the day

The girls and I headed to the salon after a quick rinse to start the getting ready process. Rob had spent the night at Lake Lawn Lodge. He enjoyed a suite fit for a King (or a small army) and slept in before he met his brother for breakfast. The girls finished hair and makeup and picked up lunch as we headed back. I lost my phone between the salon and The Abbey. Room serviced decided not to come clean the room while we were gone. All those little things that you don't plan for, yea they happened. 

The rest of the story will be told mostly through pictures. I'll jump in and explain a few things here and there, but I'm going to try and let the pictures tell the story. Our photographer is truly one of the best. She deserves every penny plus some. She walked into a mess of women half naked, some applying makeup, some still eating lunch and she asked 0 questions. She adjusted her lens and off she went. You aren't going to see all 1,800 photos (yes, seriously) but I'll do my best to show you all the winners. If pictures don't interest you, this is your cue to move on.

Getting Ready: The Girls 

I made sure to have all of Rob's sisters and nieces come to the room while we were getting ready. We had ALL the females of all ages, coffee, champagne, and hair curlers in 1 room.

Seeing Rob's sister and Godmother for the first time
Karen's face in the background is also priceless

Petal Patrol..

...gettin' all glammed up with mom 

But first lemme take a selfie 

Mom finally arrived 💖

Easily 100% my favorite picture of my mom and I
Making sure Mia had the perfect fit

Spoiler Alert: I didn't wear running shoes down the aisle 

Dad decided to wait until this moment to see my dress for the first time

And so did Mark 👫

Getting Ready: The Boys

There's a difference between boys and girls...

That difference includes serious hard alcohol and hearty meat sandwiches on your wedding day

The room we had reserved for the boys to get ready had an air conditioner on the fritz.
Poor Smitty was just lookin' for some airflow...

I was told that Google was utilized many times to figure out how to fold those little devils..

Ring bearer Leo. Over it.

The room next door had air though ;) 

Who needs dress shoes?

17 going on 25

Jen saved the day with the boutineers..

All the men needed help

Best man & My man 

There may or may not have been blood involved when Rob shaved that morning...
There also may or may not have been makeup involved as a quick fix...

Ring Bearers off duty




Baby Boy + all 6 Sisters

1-10 + Poppi

The Sloan Boys

Those baby blues 😍

Because this was my favorite part 

Ceremony Favorites

Mr. & Mrs. Sloan

If you look closely..
...our dad's in the background 

Post Ceremony Portraits

Rob's Grandma Dolly

We are FAM-I-LY

My Grandma Angie

Sloan, Party of 36

Poppi, 1-10, Spouses

ALL of my siblings 👭👬👫👫👭👫
That A-frame 😍

This crew 💙

Mr. & Mrs. Sloan 💖

I could go on and on. The pictures never end, and I'm completely ok with that. You just got a small taste of what our day was. 

Thank you's are heading out in the mail shortly but I think it's important to mention how deeply appreciative Rob and I are for everyone that helped make this day what it was for us. Our love story to get to wedding day wasn't short and there are plenty of people that have helped us write it over the years. Not a day goes by we don't understand that. Without any of you, we wouldn't be us. 

Cheers 🍺 

The Sloan's