Fox Valley 20 miler.

This weekend was the Fox Valley Twenty miler and my final “test run” before the marathon to see if my training is on pace.  As I have said before…I am a solid believer in manifesting your goals and dreams, I mean REALLY people it works…for everything….there are NO exceptions.   BUT even I have my doubts, when those doubts come in I just keep staring at my goals on my mirror, working hard towards them and forcing myself to believe they are possible.  The funny thing is that even though I preach and preach this concept, I STILL am shocked when things come to fruition.

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Going into this race I didn’t want to pace, I just wanted to run how I feel and pray that my training paid off.  For a Boston Qualifying pace, at the very least I needed to finish under 2:50.  I won’t lie, I was a little nervous for this as I did not taper this week, I just took two days off beforehand but did all my normal runs and workouts.  Normally before a race week, I just do yoga to stay extra fresh.  So when I started looking at my watch the last ten miles I kept thinking I was doing the math wrong.  Things went through my head like:

“Hmmm I will probably hit my wall soon”

“Maybe the mile markers are off?”

“Am I even on the right course? “

“Did I take a wrong turn?!”

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Since this was a small race, I was by myself for a good 8 miles so you can imagine that how that made the demons in my head a little louder.  But then came mile 18 and I felt….fine.  I crossed the finish line at 2:39….WHAT?!  I mean I know I wrote in my blog that I was aiming for between a 2:30-2:40 but that was me being overzealous.  I would have been happy in the high 2:40’s.  See what happens when you WRITE down your goals and put em out to the Universe??? BOOM they get delivered right to your doorstep.  My goal for the marathon is 3:28 and that literally puts me SPOT on.   Later that day, I was checking the results to see my splits and I recognized my name on the leader board…huh?  That can’t be right, maybe there was another Jillian running?  It is a common name? Nope, there I was 4th overall female.  Seriously?  Who am I?

Speaking of goals, a friend and AU Colleague of mine ran the same race but did the full marathon this weekend.  I remember chatting with her a while ago about my goals for the marathon this year and she said something a long the lines to me of  “Oh, gosh It has been my dream to qualify for Boston!  But I just don’t know, they lowered the time this year.”  Guess what people…not only did this woman get a serious personal best but SHE QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!!  You know what is more awesome than breaking your own barriers?  Watching other people smash through theirs.   Most awesome thing ever.  WAY TO GO, DENISE!!

A couple short pace runs, 2 track workouts and a week of yoga and I will be ready to rock and roll.





Words are very powerful.  They can tear you down, build you up, and even convince you to do some crazy things.  Within my  Servant Leadership Masters program, we talk a LOT about awareness.   Being aware of your thoughts and how they affect you.  Being aware of how you present yourself and what you say.  And most importantly, being aware of others around you and their non-verbal communication.  We have done SO much reading, writing and exercises on this topic it is almost overkill.  BUT, in the past year, I have felt so much more aware to the point where it is disturbing.  No joke, I feel like I have an extra spidey sense or something.  I have always felt that I am a pretty aware person, but this program has really taken me to a whole new level.  What does this have to do with anything?

Well,  in my upgraded awareness I have picked up on things that really just plain bother me.   I almost wish I could  UN-notice them, but I know it is an incredibly useful tool for helping others,  so I need to suck it up.   I notice the presence of my thoughts and feelings more than ever before, I notice when others stop listening, when they are about to interrupt,  when they are feeling upset or uncomfortable, the change in body movement when something sensitive is brought up, I notice so much more about myself and others.


I have also noticed that those who seem to not be very self-aware at all, are more likely to use words without thinking.  We have all been there.  Caught up in our emotions and in the moment, we say negative things, we send that email that maybe we shouldn’t have,  or we vent to somebody we shouldn’t.   There has been some recent events at AU, that have caused many students to be upset.  So instead of voicing their opinion in a productive and respectful way, they have been filling up their Twitter and Facebook feeds with awful, terrible words.  I monitor student social media to make sure my student ambassadors are not taking part in negative banter about the school, so if it were up to me I would ignore it all together, but I cannot.   I think many in the younger generation don’t quite understand that words are now more powerful than ever before.  They  will forever follow us on places like Facebook and Twitter.  I cannot help but be saddened by how these students portray themselves to their peers, future employers etc.

It is not just on social media of course.   I witness the poor use of words  in my family, in my work place, among my friends and even I am guilty myself in my own relationship.  Why are we so quick to be mean?  Why do we use our words to hurt?  Does it make us feel better about ourselves? Why are we not more careful when we speak to others?

This could be in the form of an email at work sent behind somebody’s back, instead of confronting them.  This could be office banter to talk negatively about another co-worker.  This could be saying negative statements about a friend to another friend.  Or maybe it is just raising your voice or using a disrespectful tone.  Doesn’t matter what it is, it is not okay.


Speak up, but speak kindly and genuinely.  It is true that sometimes words that need to be said still hurt, but that doesn’t mean you cannot be respectful about them. It does not matter how frustrated you are, how enraged you are, posting hurtful words on social media, in an email or blurting them out before thinking can have an incredibly everlasting effect.  Our words should inspire, educate, motivate…not destroy others.

You may say your words quickly and never think of them again, but their effect will last forever.  Whether that is good or bad, is entirely up to you.  Choose your words wisely.

One month.

It is the official ONE MONTH mark until the Chicago Marathon.  HOLY COW.  Where did this year go?  You know when you think you have oodles of time to prepare for something and BAM it is here?  That is kind of how I feel right now.  I am just praying that I did enough these last 4 months, but there is always that doubt.  I should have done more pace runs, I should have done more speed work etc.  But I can’t think like that… I made a plan that I thought would work for me and I stuck with it.

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Last weekend I had my 2nd 20 mile training run and it was kind of awful.  I have awesome friends who split up the miles to run with me, but even though we were gabbing away and catching up on life, I could not ignore how crappy my body felt.  Now as I have said before, I typically am doing my long runs after a week of Crossfit so depending on the week my legs can either feel great or like lead, but even so, usually after a few miles I feel good enough to get into my pace.  Within the last 2 weeks, that has been more of a struggle for me more than than ever. I think with the combination of many long days at work, ridiculous wedding stuff that has come up (more on that later) my mind and my body these last few weeks have really been shot.  I just haven’t felt like myself in my workouts.  So I took some time off this week and did not run at all until yesterday.  I hit the track nice and early and felt AWESOME.  I hit way under all my marks and just felt really fresh.  I guess I just needed some rest.

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I knew having some bad workouts was bound to happen sooner or later, I was having way too many good ones.  But it is amazing how a few bad runs can really mess with your head.  Can I really do this?  Maybe I haven’t done enough? Who am I kidding, I’m not fast? Should I just give up?  Got to keep those thoughts out, they have no place here.

Next weekend is a big weekend.  It is my last 20 miler and it is an actual race.  So it will kind of be my last test before the big day to see if I truly am ready.  If I cross the finish line anywhere between 2:30- 2:40 I will be so excited, because it will mean the only thing holding me back on October 13th will be the battlefield of my mind.

Here we go! I got this!



Me and Society are in a fight right now.  Actually, we are in an on going fight, all of the time.  You see, we do not really see eye to eye on anything.  On right vs. wrong….on what is healthy and what is not… on what real success means…on what real happiness means.   Really on anything.


Society says you should spend your life’s savings (or heck put it on a credit card!) on this thing called a wedding and invite everybody you know even if you have not talked to them in years… because that is what everybody does!  What is a marriage if it doesn’t start out in debt? This is AMERICA! The land of irresponsible spending!

Society says you should spend endless hours at a job you hate… buy things you don’t need…to impress people you don’t even like.

Society says you should be skinny to be beautiful but then if you are too skinny people will say “eww too skinny go eat something” but then came “strong is the new skinny” and now people say things like “eww she is too masculine”.   Society says you are never good enough.

Society says that happiness is posting on social media constantly about everything you are doing, all the friends you have, all the wonderful places you visit, your poop of the day, heck just your thoughts and opinions on every issue known to man etc… but not actually living in the moment of your experiences.

I say society can suck it.


When I marry the man I love, it will be special.   I don’t need the perfect dress, the perfect hair, the perfect place etc for it to be special.

I am all about putting in the hours to get the job done,  even if that means being here on the weekends or working 12 hour days. I will do it without batting an eye but what I won’t do is keep that schedule 365 days a year.  I am lucky that my job is seasonal, so there are certain times of year where there is just more to do and not enough hours in the day but in the summer and winter, I can work my 40 hours and be okay to enjoy the finer things in life.   I love my job and I will do anything for my students but living a balanced life is a non-negotiable.  If not working consistent 70 hour weeks and not making 6 figures  means I am not successful, well then I don’t want to be.

In terms of my own body image, I have heard it all.  I’m too skinny, I’m curvy, I have too much muscle for a girl, I don’t have enough….the list goes on and on.  Guess what?  I am healthy.  I am strong.  I feel good in my clothes (most of the time, I AM human after all) and I do not need any kind of medication other than a healthy diet.  So whether you think I am too skinny, too masculine, not strong enough, simply does not matter.

Stop checking social media every 5 minutes.  Stop comparing your lives to others.  YOU have a good life.  And just because you don’t post about it on facebook every 5 minutes and check-in to every place you visit and tag all your friends….does not mean it is not real.

Society can suck it.  Rant over.




Knowledge is power.

As I enter into this new school year as a “veteran” counselor, I don’t have the same burst of energy and bubbly personality as I had my first year,  not to say I am not enthusiastic or excited, I am!  BUT, I feel as though I have really matured in this position.   I know how to work with my students and what the job entails, I know how to work with my office colleagues and face the challenges of higher education.   Instead of being the over-excited, over-enthusiastic, over-talkative person to make up for the knowledge I did not yet know, I can really hone in on my goals and my true skills.

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One thing I have noticed that happens once you become seasoned in anything,  is that you forget what other people don’t know.  I have worked with so many students that I often think that when I talk to a new one, they SHOULD know the admission process, they SHOULD know what steps they need to take in their college search.   Ironically, this is something I repeat over and over again in training with my tour guides- “Remember, this might be your 100th campus tour, but it is ALWAYS their first!!”, I say.   Yet, this is a principle that I often have to remind myself of as well.  Almost every family or student that comes into my office is going through the college search process for the first time.  They are confused.  They are overwhelmed.  They are lost and looking for guidance.  So it is SO important, that even if that is the 7th student I have met with that day, that I slow down my explanation, I ask questions to make sure they understand and I make sure that they know they can come to me for help.

But… we have all been there, no matter what your profession is, we speed through explaining things because it is natural for us, the information is embedded in our minds so it is easy for us to talk about.  We have also ALL been on the other side of this with SOMETHING.  That phone call with your insurance company?  That professor who lectured for 2 hours and you did not grasp a single concept?  It is the worst feeling to be on that other end, so desperate for guidance/important information… yet trying to get it from somebody who could care less if you understand it or not.  We are all experts in something, that is a gift.  But it is a waste of a gift if we cannot slow it down and help others understand.  What good is knowledge if you cannot share it?


So my challenge to you is that no matter if you are a teacher, a receptionist, a nurse, a mechanic, a manager…doesn’t matter.  Take time with each of your customers, clients, patients etc. to really connect with them, to understand them and to guide them.  Use your knowledge to empower others, not overwhelm them.  Use your knowledge to inspire.   The rewards you will get in return, will blow you away.

Stay blessed in the mess 😉