One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident


12 Miles, Chicago Pizza with a Side of BlogHer

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Preparing for a long run is funny. You guys know I don’t really like calling myself a runner. I mean I do but I don’t. Sometimes I swear I have an identity crisis.

Anyway, running for me is a funny funny thing. Sometimes I can run a mile or two and hate every single second of it. I’m constantly questioning why I’m doing it. What’s the point? However, when it’s over I always feel FANTASTIC but the actual act of running can sometimes be tortuous.

Then there are times I can run 5,6,7 even 10 miles and love every single second of it. I’m shocked how every miles seems to fly by. It may be physically hard but in a strange way I enjoy it. And of course I always feel FANTASTIC when finish.

Today was one of those latter days. I’ve been psyching myself up for a 12 mile run in Chicago while here for BlogHer. I was worried about it but at the same time I knew the more people I told and the more I said to myself I was going to run 12 miles the more I’d be prepared. It’s almost like studying for a test without having to remember any facts. I can’t just cram for a 12 miles run the night before I have to let my brain get used to the idea for a few days. Honestly, I think that makes a big difference in my mental state for any run.

So this morning when I got up around 6:30 (you’d think with no kid and no husband I’d sleep in, right? nope not me.) I was tired but excited for my run (all the studying paid off.) I wanted to see the trails on the lake and take advantage of the flat long paved path while in Chicago.

The run started beautifully. It was a sterling day. Perfect temperature and a nice breeze off the lake.

my run in chicago

The first 2 miles were a CINCH! I swear all these flat runs are really starting to spoil me! The fact that I didn’t have music didn’t phase me a bit. Oh! I forgot to tell you. My headphones broke. So I ran music-less but was still able to use the Nike+. I have to admit, I didn’t miss the tunes at all. I’m surprised as I love music but the beautiful views kept me going. Plus I had a ton to ponder from the conference.

Around the 2.5 mile mark I noticed a water station! Apparently Fleet Feet sponsors water stations around the lake. How cool is that?!?

water station on run

I started running again after a quick chat with the water station volunteers. As I’m admiring the view and thinking about a few things I overhear two women I’m passing. They mention the word Expo and I have to ask them if they were at the BlogHer conference. It ends up they weren’t but we chatted for a little while while we ran.

After a bit I peaked at my arm for the mileage (remember, I don’t have headphones) and I was SHOCKED to see 4.2 miles. I just ran 4 miles with no music and it was a breeze. I kept a nice slow steady pace and just got lost in my thoughts while people watching and taking in the beautiful area.

It was around this time my back started to hurt. I’m a little worried as this was the first time I’ve ever had pain while running. I’ve gone to a chiropractor but I want to get a second opinion. As soon as my benefits kick in from the new job I’m going to seek out a specialist. My doctor doesn’t seem to think its a big deal but knowing my family history (Mom just got back surgery) I want a second opinion. This time the pain was definitely spinal.

So I eased up a bit and checked my milage again. Almost 6 miles already! 6 was my halfway point but I actually wanted to go a bit further so I’d end where the water was when I was finished. Then I could take a nice stroll back to the hotel. I really like walking a bit after a run. I’m not sure why.

I decided to run until I found a nice spot. Coming up on some boats and I was just about 6.5 miles in. Perfect. I stopped to give my back a rest and snap a photo for twitter (I was shooting updates during the run.)

me at the halfway point

I then walked just a little but until picking up my pace again. I loved the different view on the way back. Speaking of, you know what I saw beside to beautiful skyline, gorgeous lake and crystal blue sky?


People walking and running. Skating and rollerblading. Swimming and hiking. There were running groups and solo cyclists. Mom’s with strollers and Dad’s with really cool bikes.

dad with cool bikes
Note: I asked the cyclist about the bike. I never saw one of them before. You? He was from LakeShore Bikes. Super nice when I stopped to talk to him.

I also saw a little girl dump a bucket of water over her head and giggle. A pair of old men playing chess. I even saw a dude on a bench smoking a joint (doesn’t really fit but, hey, it cracked me up.) lol

These people were all different colors, shapes and sizes. I was totally inspired but them all doing their own thing. I simply loved it! And you know what… I felt as if I belonged. That sounds funny and I realize that but for years I declared my hate of exercise. I thought I wasn’t athletic. I thought I wasn’t built for sports. Yet, here I am running 12 miles in the midst of all these wonderfully active people and I fit right in. Not because I’m thin (which I used to think was a requirement) but because I’m just simply there. I would have fit in if I was out for a simple stroll or strapping on rollerblades for a ride. Everyone would. Why didn’t I see that before?

Anyway I’m getting too cheesy… back to this run. After I stopped to ask the cyclist Dad about his bike I picked my pace back up and started to enjoy the return views. Let me tell you, Chicago is one beautiful city! I paused to give my back a break and snapped a few photos while I walked.

more chicago

By this time I was about at the 9-10 mile mark I think. I was really starting to remember the terrain and I was getting exited as I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to finish the 12 miles. I starting thinking back at the half marathon and how I was about to pretty much run one on my own. (you don’t know how bad I want to say UN-EFFING-BELIEVABLE — then again, guess I just did. ;~)

As I approached the end of the run I have to admit I missed my girl telling me "400 meters remaining". I had to peek down at my arm a few times when I got to the 11.5 mile range. I was just so darn excited that I actually did it!!

This is where ended…

I was so happy and had such a smile on my face people must have thought I was crazy. And if they didn’t, they changed their minds when I whipped off my running shows and walked in the water. :)

my feet in the water

The way I figured it, I may never be back to that spot again. I needed to soak up as much of it as I could. So I stood there in the water taking pictures.


more chicago

Even snapping one of myself.


I then strolled back to the hotel (barefoot) and snapped a couple shots of the scenery.

Navy  pier

more city shots

After I got back to the hotel I had to scramble and pack. I was having my first ever experience with authentic Chicago Style Pizza at Gino’s East with AJ and Mary.

AJ and Mary

Here’s my take on the whole Chicago pizza thing… it’s AMAZING but please… please don’t call it pizza. What I ate this afternoon was sausage and pepper pot pie with sauce. It was a good sausage and pepper pot pie with sauce but if I can’t pick it up and fold it, it’s not pizza. ;~)

As for the "side" of BlogHer I forgot to tell you guys about the live blogging area on the BlogHer site. There is a transcript of the panel I was on about body image as well as all the other sessions. One of my favorites was the Advanced SEO but you can read a recap of any session on the site.

phew! Did you make it this far? Sorry a bit long winded. Funny thing is I have a billion ideas for posts but no time to write them. Returning to my day job tomorrow. Geesh… what a whip back to reality. Ugh. So hard after all this fun.

Oh! and here’s the run…

My 12 miles run
Chart taken from the Nike+

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There are 28 comments so far.


    July 26, 2009

    I used to bike that route when I lived in Chicago, it was my favorite ride and I did it almost every weekend (not in snow, of course). Love riding along the lake! Sounds like you had a great time at BlogHer.


    July 26, 2009

    Isn’t that path the best? I love that all kinds are always there, in all weather. Oh, and I love that you’re wearing your necklace!!


    July 26, 2009

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the necklace. I was going to link to ya but I for on Fri (SO tired) I’ll get you.. promise! :)


    July 27, 2009

    I can’t wait until I can run like that. I can actually run a long time on an elliptical (it’s my favorite) but it’s very low impact, which is good for my big butt. :) Hate that I missed BlogHer this year, but I will be there with bells on next year. Working on going to FitBloggin’10 as well.


    July 27, 2009

    What an awesome run! Ever since I saw the Spirit of the Marathon movie I have wanted to run along the lake in Chicago. One of the great things about traveling is finding a new place to do a long run.


    July 27, 2009

    YAY! You did it… so happy for you! I love all the pictures. You did have a beautiful view, but I don’t think I would have made it without the music. I give your major props for that one :)

    Yes, pizza is not pizza unless you can pick it up and fold it! Definitely agree with this statement!

    Have a great week!

    Mary @ A Merry Life

    July 27, 2009

    I love Fleet Feet and the fact that they do stuff like that. chicago is such a great city for active people.

    Oh, and tt definitely isn’t pizza. Its like a dough bowl of cheese sauce and sausage. Hehe. But still yummy.

    Have fun at work this week! :)

    Lara (Thinspired)

    July 27, 2009

    Roni, I am so inspired by this post and that run. I especially appreciate your thoughts on fitting in. Congrats!!


    July 27, 2009

    Glad you had a good time in the city. I was thinking about you during your 12-miler, wondering where you were on the trail. I’m in the NW Suburbs and was just at the Lakefront for the Overnight 18-mile walk around the city. It seems to change every time I’m there.

    Anyway, I don’t think you got a good example of Chicago pizza (not a fan of Gino’s East), or at least not the kind you can get at some small, independent places that’s reallllly good. I know what you mean about the pizza you had. It’s not my favorite, either. Try a thin crust, or “flat,” pizza next time, cut into squares, topped with tons of cheese with the “toppings” under the cheese. Check out the “thin crust” info on this page: — for an example. It’s easy to make at home if you have a day where a little extra cheese is welcome. :)

    Laurie Ann

    July 27, 2009

    If you ever get back to Chicago please go to Lou Malnati’s. You definitely can’t fold it but it is one of the best damn things I have ever eaten in my life. I dream of it and thank my lucky stars there isn’t one in Ohio. If there was I would be as big as a house!

    Charlie Hills

    July 27, 2009

    Woo hoo! Chicago. Good to see you enjoyed my old stompin grounds. :)


    July 27, 2009

    Roni, you are so amazing! Hearing you talk about running always makes me feel so inspired. I like what you said about belonging as well — I’ve noticed hints of that myself. When I was trying the C25K program, I used to always get nods and smiles from other runners I would see, even though I felt like a big fat sweaty disaster. But to them I was just another person enjoying a workout and the outdoors. Imagine that!


    July 27, 2009

    AWESOME JOB ON THE 12 MILES! I’ve been so jealous all weekend (watching blogher updates on Kath, Jenn, and your sites!) Looks like a fabulous trip!

    Random question – is that a gracie’s gear sports bra? Did you order it online or find it in stores? I really want to get one, but I don’t want to deal with the hassle of ordering online and getting the wrong size. Advice/thoughts?


    July 27, 2009


    I reviewed that awhile back…

    I actually bought mine at the expo for the balt marathon last year so I was able to try it on. The next took some getting used to but I really like it and the company is nice to work with.

    Hope that helps!


    July 27, 2009

    Roni – thank goodness! You also feel sometimes that “when it’s over I always feel FANTASTIC but the actual act of running can sometimes be tortuous” – I’m so relieved that it’s not just me. ;)

    BTW, I also have a similar bike attachment. It works wonderfully with my 5 year old daughter, plus teenagers and other moms keep on admiring it. Terrific for family bike rides, when 5 year old wouldn’t be able to keep up. Gives me an extra bit of power on those hills – that is, when she pedals. Plus, this year she shouts out “faster, faster, mommy! wheee!”, rather than last year’s “aaaahhhhh! we’re going to crash! stop!”


    July 27, 2009

    Muy impressivo on the running! I’m considering starting again (I feel more at home in my body when I do run), but haven’t gotten myself really back out there yet.

    BTW, the bike type is also referred to as a “tag along” type. We have one by Novara (REI) that my almost-5yo daughter rides and LOVES. Now, if she’d just finally decide to learn to ride her own bike too!


    July 27, 2009

    Hi! I stumbled upon your blog from @FleetFeetChgo . I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your stay in Chicago for the BlogHer conference and got a chance to do your long run along our awesome running path! I’ve logged many miles along the path and am thankful to live so close to it. On Saturday, I volunteered at the Diversey location (north of the LP Zoo) of the Fleet Feet hydration station and loved seeing all grateful runners/walkers/cyclists grab some water and Gatorade. Keep up the great work with running and maintaining a healthy lifestyle! :-)


    July 27, 2009

    I totally agree w/you on the potpie thing :) I went to Chicago for the 1st time earlier this month, & had my first Chicago “pizza” – the crust is really just a bowl for the fillings – delicious! But, not pizza :)

    Cynthia (it all changes)

    July 27, 2009

    I love your run and the pics. I often feel the same way about running. I don’t really call myself a runner because I don’t do it everyday and I don’t always do a lot of miles. And some days me or my body just don’t want to run so I walk or get on the elliptical. But on those awesome days I just want to run and run and run some more. I had a great run late spring where I ran out 5K and was going to walk back. I just decided to run and felt great. I can’t wait until I can run an entire half marathon.

    BTW good thing you are getting your back checked. I had back surgery last september after 3 herniated discs. After surgery it took a bit to build back my stamina but I feel great.

    Take care and sorry for the book.


    July 27, 2009

    If you get a chance to meet Haley from The Cheaty Monkey at Blogher, don’t pass it up! I have been reading her blog for a few years and she should be there…


    July 27, 2009

    What an awesome run! And thanks for sharing the great photos! I felt like I was right there with you! ;)


    July 27, 2009

    we were in chicago over the weekend too. i think i stood and watched for about 10 minutes. all the people, swimming, running, biking etc. i had no idea lake shore was so crowded.

    also i don’t care for gino’s pizza. i think the “crust” taste like corn bread. i love regular white flour pizza as well!

    Great job Roni! You look amazing after your run….I always look scary after my long runs!!!
    And, your post has convinced me that I can’t wimp out from my run today for the sole reason that I left my ipod at home. So, thanks!


    July 27, 2009

    I used to live in Chicago; God your pictures brought back some nice memories. Made me miss home (Chicago will always be home). Congrats on your run!


    July 27, 2009

    Great job on the run!!! I loved all the Blogher pics and am super bummed I couldn’t go (just started a new job in MD) – I even got a ticket offer from the wait list!


    July 28, 2009

    So glad you had a good time in Chicago. I’ve lived here all my life and don’t think I could live anywhere else. Well, maybe Florida during January and February…Anyway, about the pizza. It drives me crazy that that’s what people call Chicago pizza. We call it “stuffed” or “deep-dish.” And almost never eat that when we order pizza, nor does anyone I know. We order regular, thin crust pizza, only ours is cut in squares. And it’s fabulous. Chicago has awesome pizza. My husband does not like the “folding” thing…he lived out east for 4 years and just didn’t get it. It’s funny, one of our friends from Jersey was here for our wedding and freaked when he saw the pizza cut in squares. He asked, “How do you eat it?”

    So glad you had a great time! Come back soon!

    Barack Like Me

    July 28, 2009

    Glad you enjoyed our city, our wonderful lakefront path, and the great folks from Fleet Feet who come out during marathon training season! Next time you’re in town, head south along the lakefront — much (MUCH) less crowded and a chance to see the fountain in Grant Park (For “Married with Children” fans), the Field Museum and Aquarium, Soldier Field (with horrendous modern addition), and a beautiful park dedicated to fallen police and firemen.


    July 29, 2009

    Thanks for sharing your incredible story. It is truly inspiring. I kept imagining myself on the run too!!