Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-Embracing The Day Off

Monday already huh?  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  I feel like this was the first weekend that we have lived in Chicago and had both good weather and enough time to get out and really explore/enjoy the city.

Saturday morning we had an early group run.  This week was 12 miles, which was the longest distance for many.  Others have done a half marathon before, but let’s admit it, 12 miles is just about as close to a half as you can get.  So you can imagine what a big deal this run was; our first big hurdle.  The weather also thought it would be really funny and get super humid just as we started our run.  But everyone hung in there and got their miles in.

The humidity did make the end of the run a struggle for many.  As we were coming up to the final 2-3 miles (the hardest part of just about any run) I had the chance to chat with several runners.  Some were getting a second wind, and others were just ready for this whole thing to be over with.  In an attempt to find a silver lining I said, “We only have two miles to go and then you have 48 hours of no running!”

I kind of shocked myself with that statement.  I had never thought about it like that.  It has been awhile since I really looked forward to my day off in that way.  When I first started running I would do  three miles every morning, six days a week and then take a rest day.  Boy did I look forward to that rest, mostly because at the time I hated running.  Now I could easily run ten days in a row before taking a rest (but I know better).  Sometimes when you really get into running, taking that rest day can be a difficult thing to do.  Or if you are like me and eat a ton of tortilla chips and enchiladas you wake up on your day off and want to throw on the shoes to reverse the damage you did the night before!

Thinking about finishing that long run and having a 48 hour break had me thinking a lot about days off.  It was going to be a beautiful weekend.  Perhaps we should find a way to enjoy it.

When I arrived back home I took a nice little nap.  I woke up and had some lunch and then guess what I did?  I took another nap!  Then my husband and I did something we haven’t done in at least a year.  We sat on the couch and watched a movie.  By the way, if you haven’t seen “Gravity” I highly recommend it.

Almost had a freak out moment when we turned on the TV and all the channels were upside down!

Almost had a freak out moment when we turned on the TV and all the channels were upside down!

Then after I had spent most of the day sitting on my butt (or sleeping) we decided to head out and explore our neighborhood.  We weren’t sure where we were headed but we decided we would pick a place for dinner on a whim.  That’s where the tortilla chips and enchiladas came into play.  We ended up at Garcia’s in Lincoln Square where we had a delicious splurge dinner…..and a giant margarita.  Yum.  On our way home we stopped at a local pub for a microbrew.  And then I slept some more!

Hello giant margarita!

Hello giant margarita!

When I was younger and lived at home I would have an occasional day where I would sleep really late or take a long nap during the day.  I commented about the guilt I felt from this to my mom.  I remember her telling me not to worry about it, my body probably needed the rest.  This is a good rule to remember.  Over the past week I logged 51 miles and started my Saturday off with a 4:50am wake up call.  If your body wants to rest, let it take a rest.

Sunday morning was a fun adventure for us.  When I was a little girl my grandparents had several exchange students live with them at different times.  Two of their exchange students stick in my memories even though they visited us when I was between the ages of 2-6 years old.  Jean-Marc was from Belgium and after he lived with my grandparents for a year he continued to come back for many summers.  He continues to make nearly annual visits with his wife and daughter.  I think of him as one of my uncles.

Laurent was another exchange student who came from France.  I was four when he lived with my grandparents.  It was a difficult time for everyone as my grandmother was very sick with cancer but in true Besaw family fashion, they still made his stay a special one.  I remember his high school graduation and eating caviar with champagne (sparking grape juice) and feeling like high society.  But my best memory is from a summer camping trip when Laurent taught my brother and I to take a strand of spaghetti and let it hang out of our mouths, then pretend to twist our ears as we slurped the noodle into our mouths.  My mom was mortified and we loved it!

As luck would have it both men were in Michigan visiting our family last week and Laurent made a trip down to Chicago over the weekend.  Yesterday I had the chance to meet my other uncle that I hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years.  We met at the Chicago Zoo with his wife and children and a few of their friends.  I hadn’t ever been to the zoo, so I got to be a tourist with them.  It was a beautiful day and a great reunion.

Laurent7

Great reminder that we should all take some time to stretch our hammys!  Primate yoga anyone?

Great reminder that we should all take some time to stretch our hammys. Primate yoga anyone?!

From there we wandered the five miles home together and then enjoyed a nice evening.  It was our one year wedding anniversary and we celebrated with a casual dinner.  Last year at our wedding we came back to our suite to find a small bottle of cava waiting for us.  We had already had enough to drink that night and we were exhausted so we took that bottle with us.  I recently found it and put it on ice.  It was the perfect way to end our night since we didn’t save any of our cake.  Hey you know I have a major sweet tooth!

Anniversary2

It was a lovely casual evening and weekend.  We had a great time together.  We exchanged some small gifts.  When we were up in Wisconsin I was shopping with friends and came across this paper weight.  It was perfect because the traditional gift for the first anniversary is paper and my husband’s name was on it……

Anniversary

How was your weekend?  Did you do anything special to enjoy your day off?

Take It Easy

IMG_5463

Saturday morning I woke up with some nice tight legs.  It was that kind of burn that makes you cringe as you get out of bed but also gives you a smile because you know you worked them pretty hard.

Part of me (the sick running nerd) wanted to suck it up and go for a run but it had been a week since my last day off and I knew that my mind and body needed it.  Sometimes we runners get so stuck in our daily routines, or perhaps running obsession, we forget that we need a break both mentally and physically.  There are two ways to do this by either taking a full rest day or an active rest day.

Generally I recommend an active rest day.  This means that you aren’t going to kick your feet up and lay around on the couch all day watching reruns of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  Instead you might enjoy a nice morning of sleeping in followed by a walk, bike, swim or any other easy and low impact activity.  Giving your body some sort of stimulation is a good thing and can actually aid in flushing all of that lactic acid out of your legs after a long week of running.  An active rest day can help your body to recover and be refreshed for the next week ahead.

Taking this time off will help your body to replenish its glycogen stores which is essential if you are training for a distance race.  It will also allow your body to recover which is essential for avoiding injury.  Your mind also needs this time to take a break, necessary to avoid falling into a running funk.  Going without a break can leave you mentally exhausted, leaving you dreading every single run whether it is long or short.  Taking a break isn’t going to hurt you, if anything you will return refreshed.

Sometimes even an active rest day is too much.  When I am training for a race I plan on Sunday as my rest and recovery day.  If it is nice out I love to wander around and check out farmers markets or just take nice long strolls without any plan in mind.  However, I continued doing this during my marathon training and I found that come Monday my legs still just felt really heavy and my body in general felt really exhausted.

For the remainder of my training I avoided much of any activity on my rest days.  I slept in and just lounged around.  It wasn’t easy for me to do at first but once I started to see a difference in the way I felt at the beginning on my next training week I was convinced.

It really is important to listen to your body and find what works for you.  Many runners enjoy doing a light jog the day after their long runs and if that works for you that is okay!  Others enjoy changing it up and taking a yoga class.  This is also a great option and can really help to loosen up those tight muscles.  As with anything else in running it is important to experiment and see what works best for you.  Just make sure you take a rest day.  No cheating!

On my Saturday rest day I was looking forward to hosting dinner later in the day.  I had gone the day before and bought everything I needed to make my slow cooker Italian beef.  But my husband happened to ask me that afternoon if I remembered the bread for the sandwiches.  I am so glad he asked me.  We rarely keep bread in our house so it was a funny mistake to be made.  We had to take a picture of my arms full of bread because it was so atypical of a shopping trip  for us.

Bread

Dinner was a hit but we really knocked everyone’s socks off with dessert.  Behold the chocolate fountain!

ChocFountain          ChocFountain4

It was so fun to hang out with friends and family.  I was nice and rested on Sunday for a slow 7 mile run with my husband.  Then I hung out at the curling club with my new friend Flat Stanley (A special thanks to our friend Aubrey for allowing us the pleasure of being his tour guide for a few weeks).  Now that is a weekend!

IMG_5464