Foto Monday(?): Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.  I suck at blogging.  I have a bunch of Foto Friday posts I want to do, but I can never manage to actually *do* them on Friday.  And I haven’t posted anything at all this month, so here’s a special Monday edition.  Lucky you.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my friends?  I do.  I love them for a lot of reasons, but I especially love the signs they made me for my big “events” last month.

Kim/Lindsey made the “Go Jill” signs for the half marathon.  The signs are a bunch of inside jokes all rolled into one (and, really, wouldn’t be that funny if I explained them to you. Trust me on this one.)  I honestly didn’t even “get” all of it when I saw Kim at Mile 11, but I L-O-V-E that she was there… with her trademark “cell phone” scream… and a sign!

The big signs were made by Nikki and Carrie for my Derby Debut.  I especially liked the “signs on sticks.”  It was awesome to see my friends holding these during the bout.  Kyle was on the floor with the Bitch E. Rich #815 sign.   Kim (and Donna?) made the smaller signs that say “Kill, Kill, Kill…, Bitch E. Rich likes it rough, and Bitch E. Rich is one bad mother F’er.”  They had a bunch more of the smaller ones, but I think I misplaced them along the way.

My only regret is that I FAILed to get any pictures of my “fans” with the signs.  Next time, fo sho.

Derby Debut

The first-ever bout of the Twin City Derby Girls was last Friday.  I was lucky enough to be part of this history-making event as a skater for the ‘Paign.  Our team lost to the formidable Boneyard Bombshells, but it was a hella good time.    Seriously.  Most. Fun. Ever.    I had a *lot* of crowd support– tons of friends and family were there to cheer me on and it was amazing.

For a quick introduction to derby (and some shots of me on TV!), check out this piece from the local news.  It was amazing to see it post-bout.  The whole bar was cheering!  Words don’t do it justice, so let’s have some pictures, shall we?

A view from above. See that pink track? I helped lay it... along with two real-life rocket scientists (that's me in the pink helmet)!

We started the night with a slow motion jam to help explain the rules of the game to our legions of fans

My team, the 'Paign during introductions. It's possible I tripped a bit when my name got called...

Best.Fans.Ever. (separate post to come on the awesomeness of my fans)

Bitch E Rich in action

Lining up at the pivot line (the stripe on my helmet means I'm playing pivot, which means I line up at the front of the pack for the beginning of the jam.)

of course, I don't always stay in the front. Here I am yelling at another blocker that the jammer is coming through

getting ready to block (note how sideways my helmet panty is in this one... awesome!)

Blocking. Technically, she's blocking me, but this is the best "real" action shot of me

and of course there was an after-party!!

All photos (except the last two) by Alex Wild.  He’s a wonderfully talented wildlife photographer who just happens to be married to one of our derby girls.  He is just getting into sports photography and it’s a real treat to have him with us.  You can see the rest of the pictures from the bout on his web site.

More derby awesomeness to come, I’m sure.

How to PR a 5K

3-5 months prior

1 month prior

  • Casually mention race to your boyfriend.  Suggest that you run the 10K relay as a twosome.   Subtly infer that you will beat him.

2 weeks prior

  • Run your first half marathon.  Live to tell (and write) about it.
  • Decide that the twosome is a dumb idea.  Tell boyfriend it won’t work out for scheduling reasons.
  • Have boyfriend convince you to re-consider.  Confirm with him that he’s serious. 
  • Sign up both the bf and  yourself for the race.  Realize there’s no turning back.
  • Convince some friends to sign up.

The week before

  • Run exactly twice.   For no more than 3 miles.  Call it “speedwork” even though you’re going at an 11:30 pace.

The day before

  • Remind your friends to hydrate. 
  • Drink lots of coffee.
  • Fail to hydrate yourself.

The night before

  • Go out for happy hour.  Have approximately 5 beers.  Fail to eat dinner.
  • Get greasy drive through burger, fries, and mozerella sticks approximately 10:30 p.m.
  • Go to another bar and have 2 more beers.
  • Wait up for the boyfriend to get home.
  • Go to bed around 2:30 a.m.
  • Toss and turn all night.

The day of the race

  • Get up at 8 a.m. with a MAXIMUM of 3 straight hours of sleep.
  • Attempt to hydrate.  Take some Tylenol.  Let the dog out.  Will the room to stop spinning.
  • Fail to find armband for the iPhone.  Decide this run doesn’t need to be documented.
  • Get the bf up at 8:30.  Calmly mention the race starts at 9:00.
  • Drive to race site.  Listen to boyfriend complain about agreeing to sign up.
  • Arrive at 8:45.  Find friends.  Give boyfriend keys.  Make way to starting line.

During race

  • Start the first quarter mile or so with super-speedy friend.  The one who just had a baby and still runs WAY faster than you. Begin to eat her dust as she pulls out ahead.
  • Realize that although the course is a boring loop you’ve run three times before, it’s not so bad.
  • Pass Mile one.  Get time.  10:12.  Not bad.
  • Pass the halfway point.  Hear people yell your name.  Realize it’s not the boyfriend. Momentarily worry that he has actually fallen asleep on the ground somewhere.
  • Pass Mile two.  Get time.  21:00.  Not bad at all.  Feel PR coming.
  • Decide that if you push it you can get in under 30:00
  • Feel a teeny bit pukey.  Decide that 30 is maybe pushing it a bit.
  • Near the hill at the end.  Realize you’re almost there.  See your super-speedy friend who has already finished.
  • Receive encouragement from a lady in a sports bra and biker shorts as you charge up the hill at the end.
  • Pass off your baton (aka tongue depressor) to the boyfriend.   Ask for your time.
  • Feel vaguely like puking.  But hold it in.
  • Do not receive a time.   Ask for it again.
  • Hear some random person say 32.  
  • Realize that this is almost a 3 minute PR.  Continue to hold back puking.


  • Grab some water and wait for your friends who are running the open 5K to finish.
  • Remember (too late) that they finish at a different spot.
  • Meet up with friends to wait for the boyfriend to finish.
  • Curse the fact that you didn’t look at your watch at the beginning.  Nor did you have your phone/RunKeeper.
  • Get in trouble for ogling a good-looking roofer.
  • Respond “no” when someone asks if that’s the boyfriend coming towards the finish line.
  • Realize that you do not recognize your own boyfriend when he’s running.
  • Cheer boyfriend on as he crosses the finish line.  Offer water and cookie that are respectfully declined.
  • Ask boyfriend what the final time was. 
  • Do the math in your head.
  • Lament the fact that said boyfriend, who is not a runner, and hasn’t trained ONE MINUTE for this race has beaten you. 
  • Listen as boyfriend describes excruciating pain he’s in and states that he’s never doing anything like it again.
  • Go to derby practice and revel in the fact that he will be unable to walk the next day.

That, my friends, is a sure-fire way to break your 5K PR.  It’s *technically* my 3rd PR in 6 weeks (the other two were default PRs since they were new distances), but I don’t have official results since only the relay is timed.   I’m 100% confident I could’ve broken 30 if I hadn’t been hungover, sleep deprived, and just a teeny bit bored.

Foto Friday: Dressing my best

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m participating in academicchic’s Dress Your Best week.  To tell the truth, I haven’t been dressing my best this week.  I’ve barely even put on make-up.  But Monday night I had to have my picture taken for our derby bout program.  The instructions were clear:  wear a black top.  Any black top.

photo by Alex Wild

(In reverence to academic chic, I’ll use their standard format for this photo)


  • top: Gap Outlet ribbed tank
  • jeans: Gap, distressed
  • bracelet: CDH awareness


The instructions were clear: wear a black top.  Any black top.  I chose this ribbed tank top from the Gap to highlight one of my favorite “features”:  my skin.   Granted, a lot of it has to do with the amazing lighting and photography, but I just love the contrast of my pale skin with the black top in this picture.   I also love how *much* of my skin  you can see…without being too risqué.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my skin over the years.  I’m pale.  I *can* tan, but it takes a lot of time and effort (and sunburns).  I’ve often felt self-conscious about being so pale.  I’ve tanned, self-tanned, spray-tanned, etc. in an effort to combat my pastiness.  (Hannah had an interesting post about the same subject yesterday.) None of these things are pleasant, nor do they last long, so I’ve learned to embrace my skin for what it is.

I mentioned in my last post that I asked my fb friends to name the one complement they get most often.  My answer was my skin/complexion.  Ever since I was young people have been telling me I have a good complexion.  Even before I really knew what that meant.

I was lucky enough as a teenager to escape the severe acne problems of some of my peers.  Not that I had perfect skin back then, but it was better than most.  Now that I’m “older” I often hear that I look younger than I am.   I haven’t (yet) had the struggles with lines and wrinkles other people of my advanced age (31) have had to contend with.

Pale is the new tan and today I’m celebrating my skin…  and good lighting… and amazing photography

On body image, sports, and fashion

WARNING:  This is likely to be a rambling and disjointed post.  Lots of stuff jumbling around in my head and I feel the need to get it out, but it might not be as cohesive as I’d like. [oh, and this has been in draft form for over a week… oops!]

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image lately.  Much of my thinking was sparked by this post from Jane which links to another post where a “bigger” girl was bullied online for wearing leggings.   As I’ve already established, I refuse to wear leggings.  But that’s not the point.   The point is that for the first time in, well, ever… I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin.

There are a variety of reasons for this (I’m at a comfortable weight, my boyfriend loves my curves, I’m secure enough to not want to be stick thin), but I think the biggest contributing factor is my participation in sports.  Through running and roller derby, I’ve learned to appreciate my body more as a tool and less as an object.  Not exactly a ground-breaking revelation, but still significant to me personally.

As much as sports have helped me feel comfortable with myself, it’s interesting to me how many *other* people assume that my running (and–to a lesser extent–derby) is about weight loss.   As if there is no reason–other than “looking good” — to maintain an active lifestyle.

People are always shocked when I tell them that I’m not running to lose weight.  Yes, I could stand to lose a couple of pounds… and it would certainly help my finishing times, but that’s really not why I run.   I run for the accomplishment, for the feeling of pushing myself towards a goal.  If it helps me look better in my jeans, great… but that’s not really the point.   I lost a whopping 2 lbs during my half-marathon training.  When I told someone this, they said: ‘well, it’s better than nothing.”

It’s also interesting to me how many people commented on how I *looked* after my half-marathon and not how I did.    I’m not one to turn down a compliment, and I really did look better than I performed, but I worry about people’s perceptions of me.   I finished that race feeling strong and confident and athletic… and I get “you look great.”   There’s deeper meaning  to unpack here, but I’m not sure I know where to start.

While thinking about all of this, I posted a question on facebook.  I asked my fb friends to name the compliment (physical or otherwise) they get most often.  Some of them happily played along while others made jokes.  One girl even said: “my legs and my hair– why do I feel weird saying that?”  We feel weird saying that because, as women (most of my respondents to my informal poll were women), we’re taught to be shameful of our bodies and to not “brag” about ourselves.  Note that I didn’t ask what people liked most about themselves… just what other people tell them about themselves.

Which brings me to the “fashion” part of this post.  The ladies over at academicchic are hosting Dress Your Best Week, which encourages people to dress to highlight a favorite body part.    They contend that we often dress to “hide” parts of our bodies that we find less-than-desirable, but we need to do more to flaunt those that we like.   To participate, I had to name 5 body parts I would like to highlight.    I apparently can’t follow directions, so I chose:  breasts, shoulders, and skin.

This week has completely gotten away from me, but look for a Foto Friday post highlighting at least one of my best features.

13.1 @ 31: Illinois Half Marathon Race Report

Wow… I’ve read so many race reports and now that it’s time to write one of my own, I’m not sure where to start.   First things first, I guess:  I ran the 2nd Annual Illinois Half Marathon on Saturday.  I finished in 2:40:27. Not my goal time.  Not even my expected finish time.  But, truth be told:  I’m not upset.   It was soooooooooooooooooooooo much fun!

The shirt:

I had the idea of putting “Half Virgin” on my shirt for a while .   When I got involved with roller derby, I knew I wanted to represent the team somehow.  Thus the “all derby girl” was born.   I went to Kim’s the night before and she helped me fashion my shirt out of iron-on letters and transfer paper. I think it turned out pretty well!

Half Virgin. You know, cuz it's my first time!

It was great having people yell "GO Derby Girl" at me.


Race day weather was less-than-ideal.  Most people were worried about the possibility of rain and wind.  Honestly, I would’ve rather had rain than the 92%-94% humidity we had at the start of the race.  At least it was overcast and the sun wasn’t beating down on us the whole time.

I was pretty nervous.  Pre-race anxiety hit me hard on Thursday and Friday.  But, for some reason, on race day I was calm. About a week before the race, I decided to run with Angela.  She and I were at about the same pace and we thought it would be good to have a buddy.  I attribute my lack of nerves to her being there.  Thanks, Ang.

Start to Mile 4

I was up early and got down to the finish line about 6:30. The 5K started at 7:00 and I wanted to cheer on Kim and Lindsey who decided to run the 5K at the last minute.  After they took off on their race, Angela and I took the requisite trip to the porta-potties and lined up behind the 2:30:00 or less sign.  We had both decided that 2:30 was about our goal pace.  And I told  bunches of people that’s where I expected to finish, even though my super-secret goal was to come in around 2:20.  After the prayer, National Anthem, etc. we were off. It took about 7 mins to cross the start line.  I started my RunKeeper app on my phone, but didn’t think to look at my watch.  D’oh.

I was having so much I didn’t even bother to turn on my music.  I was taking in the sights and just generally enjoying myself.   The excitement at the start was palpable.  Since we were back with the “slower” people, I didn’t really have to do much zig-zagging for position– a HUGE improvement over the 5K last year where I felt like I spent the whole first mile jockeying for position.  No walkers to contend with here.

I was talking to people around me and trying to find people I knew in the crowd.  When we turned on to Green St I said to Angela: “This is going to be fun!”  It was, but it was less crowded than I remembered. I spotted a few people I knew, though… so that was fun.  I skipped the first couple of water stops.   Somewhere around Mile 2, I lost Angela.  She stopped for water, and told me to go on.   It was great to have her there, but I’m happy we decided to run our own races.

Mile 4 goes right by my house and I was so happy when I saw my mom and boyfriend standing on the corner… with my dog!  They snapped a few pics and I was on my way!

flashing the devil horns at Mile 4

Me and my running buddies headed towards Stone Creek

Miles 4-8

The next few miles flew by. I was having such a good time… chatting with runners, looking for people I knew, cheering on the fans (more on this later).  It was like running through my hometown with a few thousand of my closest friends.  I really didn’t even “feel” it.  Yeah, it was muggy.  And when the sun finally came out, it was HOT.  But a little sweat never hurt anyone!  I took some Gatorade at the water station and just kept on trucking.   I saw my mom again right before we went into Meadowbrook Park at Mile 8.   She snapped a couple more photos and I introduced her to my new “friends.”  I made lots of new friends that day!

Waving to my mom at Mile 8. Hot, but still feeling good.

Miles 8-10

This is where I started to “feel it.”  I wouldn’t say it fell apart here, but the heat, humidity, and sun were definitely taking their toll on me.  Plus, it was a fairly boring and un-spectated part of the course (curiously enough, I LOVE running through the park during training runs, but it was boring for me on race day.  hmmm..)  I turned on my iPod at about 8.5 in an attempt to fend off the boredom.  It was about this time that I started thinking about walking.  There were plenty of people who had taken walk breaks already.  And my original plans called for walk breaks at Mile 6 and 10, but I hadn’t taken one yet.    By the time we hit the aid station at Mile 10, I was spent.  Not so much tired, but DONE.  I knew it was just 3 miles and I tried telling myself that I could run a 5K, but it wasn’t working.

Miles 10-12

These were the roughest miles for me.  I took more walk breaks than I’d like to admit, but my walk was faster than many of the runners around me, so I was okay.  It was also when I started to realize that I wasn’t going to make my 2:30 goal.  I wasn’t 100% sure what time I crossed the start line, but I could see it slipping away.  At this point, all I could think about was finishing.  I would walk-run-shuffle-walk-run-shuffle as much as I could.   At Mile 11, I saw my friend Kim.  She was waiting for me with a sign and jumped in and ran with me for a few blocks– it was awesome!!

Miles 12-13.1

At the 12 mile mark, I knew the end was in sight. I was bound and determined to run the last mile, although–honestly– I think I would’ve been faster with a few walk breaks.  The race ends on the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium (where the Fighting Illini play).  Last year in the 5K, we had to run all the way AROUND the field before going to the finish.  Luckily, that wasn’t the case in this year’s  half or full.  As soon as I saw the tunnel to enter the stadium, I knew I was home free.  I dug deep and SPRINTED to the finish.   I DID IT!!!

I'm a half-marathoner!!


I was in a bit of a daze immediately after the race.   My friend Nikki (who qualified for Boston last year and ran it this year) met me at the finish line and some of my other friends watched me finish from the stands.  My mom was there, too, and snapped a few photos.   I stuck around for a bit and watched Angela finish as well as my friend Erin finish the relay.  It was so fun for me to stand there in the finishing “chute” and yell encouragement at the runners.   Running a race like this really makes you appreciate the spectators and volunteers.

Kim & I post race-- she helped make my shirt, made me a sign, met me at Mile 11, came to the finish AND ran her first 5K that day. Goooo Keem!

Kim, Erin, and I post-race. We're already thinking about doing a relay in September!

After Erin finished and everyone dispersed, I grabbed some food and walked to my car.  Parking/driving was really easy for me, but I heard others had a hard time getting around.   I took a bath and we went out for a late lunch (apparently you can eat 2 lunches when you’ve just run a half marathon!).  I had HORRIBLE stomach pains all day.  I’ve never had any GI issues while running before, so I thought I was immune to them.  Guess not.  I’m blaming the Gatorade, cuz it was the only “foreign” thing I’d had that day.

I was a little sore the next day, but nothing major. I even went to skate practice, which–in retrospect– was a bad idea.  My quads are killing me today (Monday– 2 days later).  I also think I’m going to lose a toenail.  HARD CORE!

The swag: short sleeve tech tee, medal and cinch bag!

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Although I thought the race was really well organized,  the lack of water stops in the “middle miles” was  a bit of a concern.  By the time we hit the aid station after Meadowbrook, *everyone* needed it.   It felt like there were too many stops early on and not enough later in the race.
  • The crowd support was good and I enjoyed seeing people I knew on the course.  More often than not, though, I was yelling *their* names, not the other way around. I guess that’s what happens when you see thousands of people run by you.  I saw so many people I knew though, so it was cool.
  • In the same vein, I found myself cheering on the spectators, not vise versa.  I think by the time us slowpokes came by, they were bored of clapping. But I found that a quick “woo-hoo” would pep up the crowd a bit.  Which, in turn, pepped up the runners.
  • If you’re wondering how often I did this… apparently enough for one runner to ask me if I was a former cheerleader!  Hey, anything to keep myself going!
  • I also really enjoyed reading all the race signs and t-shirts.   There was a group of ladies who had “I’ll finish… eventually” on the backs of their shirts.  And another group had “friends don’t let friends run alone” which I thought was cute.
  • During the hellish Meadowbrook section, there was a trio of women who *had* to be sisters… and they were bickering the whole time.  It was both funny and annoying.  That was right before I put in my headphones!
  • I really felt GOOD during this race and I had so much FUN. I didn’t expect it to be fun. I expected the feeling of accomplishment at the end, but I wasn’t prepared for the actual JOY of running.  Nice surprise.
  • It’s probably because of how great I felt that I wasn’t more concerned about time.   My 10K time was 2 mins slower than the 10K I ran a couple of weeks ago.  And I was really disappointed then.   I know I could’ve broken 2:30, but I guess the old adage is true:  The first one really is just about finishing.
  • As much fun as I had, I really think some longer runs in training would’ve helped.  Not so much for “confidence” as I previously thought… but just to get me prepared. I don’t think I actually hit a wall, per se, but I think a couple of 11 or 12 milers under my belt would’ve helped in those last miles.
  • Everyone says that the crowd motivates you and helps you go farther than you’ve been in the past.  I think that’s true.  Unfortunately for me, the crowd “moving” me really only helps in the very beginning and the VERY end.
  • Although I had some pre-race jitters, I felt really relaxed for the whole run. I think that’s why I had so much fun.
  • Lastly (yes, this is a book)… I can’t express how much everyone’s support meant to me.  From calls and texts to comments on facebook and this blog, it’s been amazing. I heart runners and I heart running and I’m still on a bit of a race high.

Foto Friday: Fun with Photoshop

Big race tomorrow.  I’ve been doing everything in my power to not think about it, but it’s pretty much consuming my thoughts.  

Lots more than that later, but for now… I’ve been trying to teach myself Photoshop.  Here are some of my favorite creations:

Cutout derby girl

neon derby girl

charcoal chalk_pink


burglar_graphic pen

Kyle and I-- film grain

poster edges

Roxie really looks like a killer now!