Friday, November 20, 2015

How to Train for Your First Spartan Race

I completed my first Spartan race back in 2014 (full race recap here) and I had an absolute blast. I didn't really know what was in store for me and I think I was fine with being in denial. I figured I had the run part down. I knew how to run so an 8 mile run would be the easy part. I also assumed that since I was carrying around my 20 pound toddler all the time that I was set in the upper body department. Let's just say that I may have been a bit undertrained for the event. As a result of my mistake(s), I would like to offer some tips to help those of you training for your first (or second, etc.) Spartan race.

Train on hills. Not like dinky "hills" around your subdivision. As I live in the nice and flat midwest, my definitely of hills is a bit different than someone that lives in PNW. When training, go to a real trail, like a hiking trail, with sharp inclines. Do your long runs there. I'm not kidding. That is how the terrain will be on race day so why not train in the thick of it. If the terrain in training is more grueling than on race day, that will just make things seem easier, right?
Out for a run with Patsy, trying to train on some hills

Hiking in Leavenworth, WA.
We don't have this type of terrain in Illinois!

Don't Underestimate the Obstacles. Spartan usually posts photos of their obstacles the week before the race on their FB page, but check out some of the obstacles from events in other cities or events in previous years. This will give you an idea of what to expect and what to train for on race day. As a reminder, for each obstacle you don't/can't complete, you have to pay the toll of 30 burpees. Yes, 30. It eats up a bunch of time and burpees suck. I saw there were monkey bars and I thought, since I was awesome at these at the age of 9, that this would some how translate 20+ years later. Spoiler alert, it did not. I shouldn't have been surprised by this. Also, you should give every obstacle a try. Even if you don't think you can do it and you think 30 burpees might be easier, you never know what you're capable of until you give it a try.

Here is a preview obstacle from Spartan's 2014 Illinois race

Think About Your Race Day Outfit. As the Spartan super is a longer race, I was worried with what to do on race day. I ended up buying an inexpensive pair of capri pants so I could have some leg coverage for the woods. They definitely came in handy. I also opted for the short sleeve shirt versus tank top for some of these same reasons. Although the 2016 race is in June so capris and a short sleeved shirt may not be a smart option, given the probably temperatures. I also ran with an Ultimate Hydration pocket to hold a mini bottle of water and Picky Bar. If you don't wear pants with pockets, I highly recommend something like that. There is mud and water to climb and wade through. I do not recommend ziplock bags if you plan on eating these items. Get something factory sealed and if you usually only eat half, just bring 2. That opened item probably won't be good when you go to eat it later.

I don't know if I own enough green

30 burpees is a lot. 30 of any type of exercise is a lot. If you miss one obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees. There are a lot of obstacles out there. You probably will end up doing much more than 30 burpees on race day so you best be prepared. If you have to do less, that's great too. As much as they suck, practice doing burpees. That's really all there is to say about that.

Have you run a Spartan race before? Do you have any additional tips you'd like to add to the list? Is there anything I missed?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Meet Me at the Barre

The more I hang out with Meghan, the more I've been wanting to give barre a try. She really enjoys the workout and knows some of the local studios and what might be a good. A few (or several at this point) months ago I FINALLY took her advice and went to my first class at The Dailey Method. Your first class is free so I figured I had nothing to lose. I booked the class online through their website and I had heard that they offered child care for only $5 extra per class. They said they usually don't offer that option on the weekends but they would make arrangements for me so I could come. I arrived at class, ready to go and Patsy was just NOT HAVING IT with the babysitter. She just cried and cried. I ended up leaving the class after barely getting started and called my mom. She was able to watch Patsy for a little while so I headed back to the studio and they let me take another, full class, without a screaming and crying toddler in the background.

Once I got into it and was able to pay attention to the instructions, I absolutely loved it. The instructors are helpful, clear with directions and aren't shy about correcting you (off mike, not in front of everyone) if you're doing something incorrectly. As someone who is overly flexible, I really appreciate when the instructor corrects my form. I want to get the most out of my workout so I'm open to whatever it takes to get there!

Meghan and I after a workout, posing in the studio

As I've gotten farther and farther along in this pregnancy, the farther away all of my running dreams seem to be. I find myself struggling when I have to run across the street. When March comes and I'm cleared to run again, I know the road will be slow moving. But I'm REALLY enjoying these barre workouts and it makes me feel like much less of a lazy bum. Not to mention that it is a really great form of cross training that I definitely plan to keep up in the months to come.

The owner of the studio is even trying to plan some special pregnancy and mommy & me classes with some of the instructors that have children and have practiced barre through pregnancy. I am so grateful that I found a space to channel some of this athletic energy during this pregnancy! If you ever want to take a little drive out to Orland Park, I'm happy to meet you there.
Posing for some photos in my newest fall Oiselle items
Flash long sleeve and Meter tights

Monday, October 12, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015 - Spectating Recap

Over the weekend was my favorite day in Chicago; Chicago Marathon Day. The fun actually started on Friday when we headed to Spacca Napoli for pizza to meet up with a bunch of Oiselle teammates that were in town for the race, as well as new members of the team! Despite the long drive for me, the pizza was delicious and it was really nice to meet some new faces and hang out with some internet friends IRL. Patsy even had some fun too and made a new friend!

Oiselle Team right here guys!
Oh and this pizza was pretty delightful

I skipped the Saturday morning coffee and shakeout run to attend a barre class at The Dailey Method. It was totally worth it because I got a great workout and won a pair of barre socks during a raffle. Win-win.

Sunday morning I had coordinated the cowbell corner meetup. I had been to this exact location a few times before and I felt it was a good spot for spectators and runners. We were by UIC so we had access to bathrooms and a blue line El station. You could park in South Loop, avoid street closures and easily walk to your car. For the runners, mile 17 can be a dark zone. You still have 9 miles left to go and your body is starting to feel it. It really is a great spot, I think.

Selfie time!

Anyways, I met up with some team members bright and early (around 8 or 8:30) to get set up and wait for the elites to go by. We had our cowbells, healthy snacks, and cheering signs. Special thanks to Beth Gillespe for getting those signs made. They were perfect and I think they were easy to spot in the crowd! Even Patsy got really into the spirit and was waving around her cowbell, saying “go runners.” Seeing Deena Kastor go buy in a crowd of dudes and just being her awesome self was pretty amazing. I’m also a big fan of Sara Hall so I loved seeing her go by and PR by 15 minutes. Tera Moody also rocked it out and we got to see her. Since she is from Illinois and we met once at half marathon in January, we’re practically best friends. That’s how that works, right?

I had my camera out and ready to go. Special thanks to Charlyn and Paulette for recommending that I put my fancy camera into “moving subjects” mode. I was able to get some awesome photos of the elites and a bunch of our Oiselle team runners! Finding people in the crowd is definitely hard but it helps when there are lots of other folks helping spot out the Oiselle singlets with you! Knowing the product line as well as I do for the past few years, definitely helped in spotting some of those folks not in their singlets. Some of the earlier runners that were only running in a bra and shorts (where the bib number takes up most of the bra surface area), it was definitely more of a challenge. Shouting out “that was a Lesko bra with mac rogas” after they ran by isn’t as good of a photo.

Patsy was an amazing spectator and such a trooper.
I think she had fun out there cowbelling for all the runners!

Seeing everyone run by got me really excited and I may or may not have teared up while watching the Snapchat story… But seeing the sweat, pained faces, and having a friend drop out of the race, reminded me of the fact that running a marathon is hard. I really, really want to run and complete the Chicago Marathon someday. It is kind of my white whale. Although with the amount of work and effort involved, I would really like to wait until I’m done having children and I can really dedicate the amount of time and energy to be successful. I don’t want to run a marathon to finish the distance. I’ve done that already. I want to run a marathon to push myself and get a time that I know body is capable of doing. The PR bar for that distance is set pretty low so if all else fails, I’m hoping that I’ve at least got a PR in these old legs.
Twinning with local Oiselle team leader, Beth Gillespe

Congrats to all of the finishers out there and special thanks to all my fellow Oiselle teammates for being as crazy as me to get up super early to go watch some folks run by for several hours with me and my daughter out there on Cowbell Corner! Next year I won’t be running it, but I’ll try to be out there again to cheer everyone on!

To check out some of my experiences with the Chicago Marathon in previous years, check out the links below!



Thursday, September 24, 2015

20 Weeks, Now & Then


How far along? 20 weeks

Baby’s size/development this week: weighs about 10 1/2 ounces and measures 6 1/2 inches long; about the size of a banana

Maternity clothes: wearing them? Yes. I've been wearing maternity clothes since about the 9th week. With how nauseous I was, it was just so much easier. Plus, maternity clothes are basically like pajamas. They are the best. When people knock maternity clothes, I just don't get it. They are amazing.

Miss anything? I'm sad to miss pumpkin beer season this year. With Patsy, I had her in September so I was still able to enjoy some Pumking before the last keg was empty. I guess I'll just enjoy my PSL and suffer in silence until 2016 season comes around!

Food cravings? Nothing really. I've been craving a lot of ice cream lately and I've tried to curb that craving but I'm thinking a pumpkin pie blizzard is a necessity before the end of the month.

Anything making you queasy or sick? Strong cologne and perfume is especially disgusting.

Sleep: Meh. Sleep has been kind of sporadic. I can no longer sleep comfortably on my back so I've had to sleep on my side. Patsy still makes her way into our bed most nights and she likes to sleep horizontally between us (while also requesting that we "scooch over")

Best moment of the week: I was away for a work trip and I called my MIL to see how Patsy was doing. Patsy answered the phone and said "Hi Mommy!" and we proceeded to have a 2 minute conversation about where she was and what she had done that day. Sometimes having a 2 year old can be exhausting, but most of the time she's the sweetest kid around!

Nursery: The new baby and Patsy will be sharing a room. The new baby will sleep in our room for probably the first 6-12 months so I'm not in a hurry to make any drastic changes to the room at this point. We will probably need to buy Patsy a new bed so we can move the baby to the crib, but... baby steps.

Wedding rings on or off? on

Movement? The flutters and mini kicks come and go throughout the day.

Weird pregnancy thing of the week: My skin is soooo dry. I remember having this problem last time and it has come back with vengeance! Luckily I have some awesome skin cream that really help keep the dryness at bay. Thanks Kiehl's!

Daddy is feeling: excited to start feeling kicks soon.

Mommy is feeling: good and exhausted. It is tiring growing a human and chasing after another!

Workouts this week: I had plans for a barre class but Patsy came down with a nasty virus. I cancelled all plans and snuggles with my little nugget all night until she felt better. Thankfully I was able to reschedule something for this weekend!

Looking forward to: Dad being able to feel the kicks next!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday Patsy!

This past weekend we celebrated Patsy's 2nd birthday. It is hard to believe that 2 years have passed since she was born! (Patsy's birth story, Patsy's 1st birthday) We had a huge event for her first birthday so this year we kept it low-key with just friends and family. Here are a few pics from her birthday. She is in a big Elmo phase right now so that was the theme for the party. I think she had a fun time! It was fun to see her expression while opening presents and really having fun for the day.

Happy birthday Patsy! Our lives are better now that you're a part of it! So happy to spend the past 2 years with you and we're looking forward to many more!