Well….I have procrastinated for so long about catching up on my blog that now the task seems daunting…however seeing as how we are experiencing nothing short of apocalyptic weather here in Arkansas, I am taking this opportunity to provide the abbreviated photographic version of the story.  So here goes…reaching all the way back to October 12′ we begin with a delightful first trip to Chicago…ROAD TRIP!!!! Kelly decided to ‘go big’ when she signed up for her first marathon and chose one of the largest races in the country and well I decided this was a great opportunity to be a supportive friend…ie…eating and shopping my way through the city over the weekend!

Yellow 'Livestrong' balloons all over the city…great reminders!

Regardless of your personal feelings about Lance Armstrong, the ‘Livestrong’ Organization was a sponsor of the Chicago Marathon and there were jewels like this one all over the city…really…it…was…quite…cool.  Maybe one day I’ll write a blog about how I DON’T hate Lance even if he did ‘juice’ throughout his career. There’s no amount of juice in the world that would make me a world class athlete! ANYWHO….

We had a great time shopping and sightseeing before race day…we also froze our butts off and used this opportunity to justify the purchase of additional clothing…or at least I did…

At the Bean
At the Bean

The scenery was beautiful and the colors of fall were in full display…

Fanstastic Views of the City!
Fanstastic Views of the City!
Chicago Skyline
Chicago Skyline

The Miracle Mile did not disappoint and was miraculous for my closet…not so much my wallet. We also found this place…

Supportive carb loading...I win at this EVERY TIME!
Supportive carb loading…I win at this EVERY TIME!

Our culinary experiences were amazing and covered a wide spectrum of indulgences from traditional Chicago deep dish pizza at Gino’s East, to Italian at RPM and the modern American foodie fantasy that is Chef Stephanie Izard at Girl and the Goat.  The Goat is easily one of the top foodie excursions of 2012 and is on the top of the list to revisit! In my food coma I dismally failed to snap pictures of the beautiful creations from the Goat but they live on in my mind and in my dreams!

and….the real reason we came to Chicago…oh yeah…to run…

He's faster than me…Olympic Runner Lopez Lomong at the Expo

So this guy is really fast and inspiring (Olympic Runner Lopez Lemong) and this autograph is about as close as I got to working out all weekend…but Kelly on the other hand…well she smashed her first marathon…in the face…with a chair!

Looking strong at mile 13...
Looking strong at mile 13…

I watched literally thousands of runners waddling/falling down the steps at the finish…and Kelly…well she was no worse for wear…looking fly and smiling!

Kelly OWNED Chicago!
Kelly OWNED Chicago!

We had a great weekend, dampened only by the speeding ticket I received on the way home!  About a month later we ventured down another road of athletic insanity with a little race called RAGNAR…beware of the following…the sights, sounds, smells and sheer organizational workload is not for the faint of heart…proceed with caution!!!

In case the name Ragnar is new to you…the concept is fairly simple really…or at least it seems that way…2 Vans, 12 People, 200 Miles in a 32 hour non-stop relay race from Chattanooga-Nashville. Each person runs a total of 3 legs, with mileage of anywhere between 10 and 21 miles…easy enough, right? Yeah…that’s what we thought. Delirium and survival instincts overtook us throughout most of the race and seriously inhibited the collection of photographic evidence from the events in questions, but believe me…12 of us lived to smell…I mean tell the story…

COMMIT OR BE COMMITTED….the organization required by my OCD team captain nature nearly put me in the looney bin…runners are picky people and when there are 12 of them on one team…chances are at least a few of them will get injured before the race actually takes place…have backup team members! Secondly, no matter how much you plan…the unexpected will still happen…so just let it go…(repeat to self every 15 min).  Overall it was a very challenging weekend but it was so much fun, lifelong bonds were forged in the back of stinky 15 passenger vans while we cheered each other on to the finish line. These vans literally became like a traveling home where we slept (barely), ate, dressed, bathed (hahaha…sort of), told stories, navigated through deliverance country and learned the limits of mental and physical fatigue!

You’d just have to be there!

Images like these are forever forged into my memory from jokes and lessons learned about running and bladder control…who knew? These are the Eternal Secrets of the Cha Cha Sisterhood and there are oh so many more!

Stinking home on wheels...
Stinking home on wheels…

Much like Tough Mudder, we all told ourselves we were crazy in the midst of this CONSTANTLY uphill battle, and believe me…burn those elevation charts…expect to climb for 200miles! Right Beth?

Months later I still LAUGH OUT LOUD every time I hear this song…

But in the end…I’m pretty sure we would all do it over again, just a little bit smarter next time. Don’t be fooled, just because you are running this race in intervals does not make it easier than a half marathon (lies I tell myself), after your first run you are fatigued and you do not recover between…nor do you sleep or eat properly…this could be aptly renamed the Zombie Relay…or The Night of the Living Dead.

We survived!!!
We survived!!!

FRIENDS DON”T LET FRIENDS DO STUPID THINGS ALONE…or only once!!!  Ragnar…we will be back…maybe not soon…but it will happen and in the meantime we are still running and getting into trouble together…long live the group text!

Running each other through weddings, dresses, children, puppies, relationships, heartaches, hangovers, bloating, cramps, crisis, career, accomplishments and whatever else life brings our way…and isn’t that really the point? Ragnar isn’t for the faint of heart…but neither is this little thing called LIFE…looking forward to more miles and memories!