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!