Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Summary Through Race Shirts

Monica at Run Eat Repeat did a fashion show with all of her race shirts one year and I totally loved the idea. Also, I think I had too much fun modeling my winter jackets... So here we go again!

Row 1: 
February 11 - Cupids Chase 5k
I didn't understand what "available" and "unavailble" meant when registering. Luckily they allowed me to swap.

March 18 - Get Lucky Half Marathon
I wear this hoodie all.the.time. I wasn't a fan of the race, but I'm glad I ran it specifically for this hoodie.

March 25 - Shamrock Shuffle 8k
I don't understand why the shirts are red either.

April 1 - ChiTown Half Marathon
My arms are long and therefore the sleeves and thumb holes do not fit properly. I still like the pullover though.

Row 2: 
May 6 - Palos Half Marathon
Love these shirts!

May 12 - Quarryman Challenge
The race was canceled but we still got to keep our shirts. It is a unisex long-sleeved tech tee. I am swimming in mine but it is nice for winter layering.

May 26 - Two Rivers Meet 10k
This race had menu pricing so you didn't have to buy the shirt if you didn't want to. This was my first race in Indiana, so I wanted the shirt.

June 3 - Wisconsin Dells Half Marathon
This shirt is sooooo soft. It isn't dryfit but it sure is comfy!

Row 3:
June 9 - Ragnar Relay Volunteer
This shirt is one of the stiffest cottons I've ever felt. I never wear it as it is quite uncomfortable. It was also so hot on race day, that they didn't make us wear these shirts, which I appreciated.

June 14 - Jim Gibbons 5k
The v-neck leads to this one fitting kind of weird. It is a women's size but I just don't like how this one fits. Plus, with it being black and white, I'm not quite sure how to wash it. Bleach or not? This is why I don't buy things that are multi-colored with white.

June 17 - Warrior Dash
An ill-fitting unisex tee, but the cotton is soft and comfy. Definitely an improvement over the non-soft cotton shirt from 2011.

July 22 - Rock N Roll Half Marathon
For some reason I ordered a medium in this race shirt instead of a small. I was unable to exchange it at the expo and I forgot to exchange it on race day. So now I have a too-big shirt that I don't wear all that often.

Row 4:
October 6 - Old Plank Trail 5k
I love that this shirt isn't white. However, my arms are too long for the sleeves. This is a common problem.

October 20 - Zooma Half Marathon
I'm not sure how I feel about this shirt. I thought I would love it, but I think the sizing is kind of weird. I would like it to be more fitted

November 4 - Hot Chocolate 15k
I love this hoodie! This race was very poorly planned and poorly organized, but they really improved on the swag from 2011 (those jackets were just awful).

December 9 - Jingle Bell 5k
Although it is another cotton long-sleeved shirt I don't need, I liked that the shirt had a Christmas theme. This is probably one I will keep around for a little while, if only to wear while Christmas shopping. :)

2012 Year Race Tally: 
5ks: 6
4 Mile: 1
8k: 1
10k: 1
15k: 1
Half Marathons: 6

PRs: 4 (5k, 8k, 10k, half marathon)

I did a lot of speedwork this year, since I wasn't marathon training, and it appears to have paid off. I know I still have better times in me, and I will be working on them this upcoming year (duh). It is kind of crazy to think I ran as many 5ks as I did half marathons. Before this year, I had only run a half marathon once. I ran more than my goal of 12 races, but I had a lot of fun doing it. Some races I ran with friends, and some I ran too close to one another. Either way, I am going to be more selective with my races in 2013 and I have been restraining from registering before the price increases (those totally sucked me in last year). What was your favorite race shirt from 2012? Have you collected as much as me over the past year?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Joining the Craze - Thoughts on My 1st Crossfit Workout

So last night I tried crossfit for the first time. I had heard about it for quite awhile and decided to see if it lived up to the hype. I was able to coerce Amanda to go with me after one of our Thursday night runs. I wasn't sure what to expect as I have heard various things from various people. Since this was our first time at crossfit, what we were tasked to do was very achievable. The instructor was very nice, friendly, and explained things well. He knew we were newbies so his instructions were easy to understand. It was definitely nice to have someone there with me who also had no clue what they were doing.

After our warm up (using the rowing machine for 500m) and some stretches, I realized that I might be in trouble. I hadn't had anything to eat since the energy bar I ate on the train (at about 5:30pm) and no water with me. I kept going through the explanation and demonstrations of each workout. Once the clock started, I think I took the first cycle a bit too fast as I lost steam and significantly slowed down during the later reps. I guess the same goes with crossfit as does any run or race. Be sure to not go out too fast! Haha. The cycle "WOD" included ball slams, sit ups, ring rows, and push ups. The push ups were what killed me. I could handle everything else, but the push ups took me forever and were very defeating. On the plus side, I can work on these at home and try to get better for next time. Maybe I have such a difficult time because of my long legs and arms? (That is the excuse I'm going with for now.) After a break, we did another thing where we pushed a weight across the length of the gym and back. This was the last item of the day.

After our workout as we were doing the end-of-class stretches, I started to feel light-headed and had to sit down. I was so embarrassed that I didn't properly fuel my workout and now I definitely know what to do differently for next time (because there will be a next time). I'm not sure if I'll get as into the whole crossfit thing as everyone else, but I had fun. It is a great alternative to stationary gym equipment that include strength and cross training all in one workout. The crossfit place that I went to was also quite reasonable and cheaper than some of the other cross training alternatives in the area (spinning, local community center classes).

Since every post needs a photo, I'm going to reuse this one of me attempting to flex in the mirror. That is one of the things I'm looking forward to this winter and spring... getting stronger!
I want to be able to lift (and replace) one of those 5 gallon Ice Mountain jugs without feeling like I'm going to die.

Have you tried crossfit before? What did you think? What is your favorite type of cross training and strength training?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Goal Assessment

Looking back on my goals in 2012, there were some successes and some not-so-successes. Some goals were much more attainable than others. I also did some other things that I hadn't planned on doing. One of the things I love about having a blog is the ability to reflect on what I've done in the past year, weeks, months, days, etc. :)

Goals for 2012:
1) Complete my first trail race -- I didn't really seek out many trail races. There were a few that came up but it was during my crunch time while studying for the exam. I still would like to complete a trail race so this may cross over to be a 2013 goal.

2) Complete 12 races in 12 months -- DONE. I actually ran 17 races in 2012. Holy smokes.

3) Finish a half marathon in under 2 hours -- DONE! Chi Town Half Marathon 4/1/2012

4) Complete a 5k in under 23 minutes (current PR is 23:03) -- DONE! Sheryl's 5k 4/22/2012 and the Old Plank Trail 5k 10/6/2012

5) Run at least 650 miles for the year (keep track with Daily Mile) -- DONE

6) Cross train with weights and cardio 4x per month -- This was a tough one. I did cardio cross training about 2-3 times per month and I haven't done weight training in about 3 months. I feel hard off this bandwagon while studying and I'm looking to get back on track for 2013.

How did you do with your 2012 goals? Were you able to accomplish everything you set out to do? Coming soon, new goals for 2013!! :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Less Dreadmill

Yesterday I hit the treadmill during my lunch break for a tempo run. Spoiler alert: things did not go well. The plan was to do a 1/2 mile warm up, 3 miles at tempo, and a 1/2 mile cool down. Perhaps it was a bit of an ambitious speed workout after not having done much in the past month. Maybe I was just having a bad day. And maybe I just need to strengthen my core more before doing this type of workout. Either way, my shins started hurting me part way through the 2nd tempo mile. I didn't want to risk anything so I cut the workout a mile short (and did some foam rolling afterwards). I'm looking to get on the exercise bike or rowing machine for some cross training today so that should be helpful. I'm not quite sure what happened. Maybe I'm trying to do too much too soon? Maybe this was too soon to try and incorporate some speedwork? I'll keep it easy the rest of this week and see how things go. I'm looking forward to my first "long run" in awhile this weekend!

After my workout, I was pretty sweaty and gross but was able to whip up a sock bun and look halfway decent for the rest of the work day (after taking a shower from the neck down, due to the adjustable shower heads in our locker room showers). Do you workout on your lunch break? If I'm working out during the work day, I try to take my lunch break later so I am only gross for an hour or two instead of more.
Sweaty post-run photo

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chicago Running Blogger Christmas Meetup

Saturday morning I got up bright and early. Not for my long run, but to get things ready for our blogger brunch! Maggie picked me up and we rode together (picking up Christina on the way) all the way to Erin's place in the big city! We dropped off our stuff and headed out for the run (but not before taking a group photo).
Photo Credit: Erin

Since we ran through part of the UIC campus, there were quite a few "This one time..." and "I remember when..." stories to those I was running with (I just couldn't help myself). After we got back, it was time for a mug of hot chocolate (perhaps with a little liquor in it) and for me to start prepping my brunch contribution, blueberry turnovers. They are best fresh out of the oven and I have not had success re-heating them so I prepped what I could and took over the kitchen once I got there. Once the blueberry turnovers were complete, it was time for me to put on my Christmas attire.

There was a little contest and I was hoping to win. Last year, we got a Santa Snuggie in our Yankee Swap family grab bag. (Front and back shots below, because it was crucial to get both sides. Thanks for the photos, Maggie!)
CRB Holiday Party CRB Holiday Party

After tallying the votes, I was determined the winner (yay!!). It was pretty exciting (for me, at least) and I loved the swag bag of prizes that Maggie and Kim had put together. Now it was time to mingle, eat, and enjoy the party (and eat some more). I got to meet some bloggers I hadn't met before and put some faces to web addresses. It was really great to hang with so many other people that share the same interests (running, blogging, food)... I really couldn't think of a better way to spend my Saturday.

Next, it was time for the optional gift exchange. It was a yankee swap grab bag and there were lots of running themed gifts (shockingly). I got to see some products I have not yet tried. (Those Injinji socks are still on my radar.) I picked Maggie's gift (not really surprised by this one) and I got a few more Bondi Bands to add to my collection. I really like them for the winter because they can help wick the sweat under my normal headband. My gift contribution was some Picky Bars in a box with cats lifting weights design, along with some pineapple Gu and a Oiselle temporary tattoo. (Photo of the box contents can be found here, with the winner.)

After the gift exchange, we took a big group photo before some folks started to filter out.
From L to R, starting in the back:
Back Row: AnneKatieEmilyCaryLaurenMaggieBobbiCharlyn
Second Row: AmandaKatie, Me, AmyMarcia, Kim
Front Row: RiyantiEmilyLindsaySaraEricaErin
In the front-front: Kelsey
Not pictured: Christina

Maggie and I hung around with some of the other stragglers and discussed spring race plans. We also tried to think of our next big blogger race that we've been planning since Zooma. It was then time for Kelsey and I to answer the age old question: who has longer arms. We've discussed this on one of Kelsey's blog posts (Is it weird that I looked that up? I didn't think so either.) and now it was time to test our theory. If you were wondering, my arms are longer than Kelsey, even though she is taller than me. We measured these proportions several different ways, each one creepier than the one before. (Special thanks to Maggie for taking photos to commemorate the discovery)
CRB Holiday Party
Who's taller? 
CRB Holiday Party
Arms Length
CRB Holiday Party
Michael Phelps Wingspan
I had a really fun time and special thanks to Erin for hosting! I had an absolute blast and am already looking forward to the next event! They always end up being lots of fun, with plenty of inside jokes, and tons of delicious food.
I'm still waiting on that modeling contact.

Have you participated in a Yankee Swap event this year? I always do one with my family every year, and these types of grab bags seem to become more popular every year. Do you also notice the trend of these events becoming more popular? What is your favorite food to make around the holidays?

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Favorite Races of 2012

I did my fair share of racing this year and there were some ups and some downs. When deciding on my 2013 schedule, it is definitely helpful to have an electronic trail of all your previous races, remembering things you liked and didn't like. Here is a list of my favorite races from 2012.

Shamrock Shuffle 8k
This is a big Chicago race and one I have a lot of fun with every year. I have run this race every year sine 2007. I'm already registered for the 2013 event, making it my 6th Shamrock Shuffle. I really like that you get the chance to run through the city without completing a huge distance like a half or full marathon. The entry fee is a bit on the pricey side, (around $40) but I think it is well worth it. The swag bag includes a dryfit t-shirt and that is about it. The expo is pretty big where there are plenty of free samples and good deals to be had. The race is put on by the same corporation (and same race director) as the Chicago Marathon so it is obvious that they know what they're doing. Everything is always well organized, packet pickup is a breeze, and things are fairly efficient. The post-race party is always really fun, filled with plenty of food and a free beer ticket. It is a great place to socialize with friends to talk about the race. As Amanda and I both like to call it the Best. Race. Ever. !! (Official website)

Palos Half Marathon
(aka the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon)
2012 was the first time I had run this race, but I had always heard great things (from both family and running friends alike). I was happy to get the opportunity to run it and I had a blast. That is, before I started to self-destruct because of how hot race day was... The swag bag was amazing, the shirts fit nicely, the expo was alright for being a local small-town race. The only thing I would say could have made this race better would be pace groups, and they are adding them for the 2013 event! A local running store puts on this race and you can tell it is put together by runners. The course is a nice "out and back" and would be a good place to PR. (Official website)

Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon
FNRC before the race
Having fun at the expo with Mag Mile Runner
I had never run a Rock N Roll event before 2012 because of the price. If you don't register early the price goes up, by a lot and quickly. Despite the larger-than-usual price tag, I think this is a great race. It is throughout the streets of Chicago, with pace teams, and a big expo. I think I had more fun at the expo than the actual race (but that was more due to my self-destruction because of the heat, as opposed to the actual race itself). Packet pickup was a breeze and things were run efficiently. They put on a lot of Rock N Roll races in tons of different cities and states and I think Chicago is one of the more efficient (and longest-run) ones. The medical staff was friendly and accommodating  the post-race party was great, and I love when races include a free beer at the finish. I'm not signed up again for the 2013 race because I am refraining from lots of summer races this year. If I wasn't doing Ragnar, it would be on my schedule for sure. (Official website)

Old Plank Trail 5k
The main draw for this race is that it is local (about 15 minutes from my house), it was the day before the Chicago Marathon (had my fingers crossed for an age group award), and it was extremely cheap ($15 if you pre-registered). If I was running the Chicago Marathon, I wouldn't have done this race. Packet pick-up was available race-day and things were fairly sufficient. As I arrived early, there was plenty of parking available (this race is still fairly small). The race was gun timed so you needed to start near the front if you were looking to PR. The course was scenic and along the local trail (although, it included a fairly large uphill bridge on the way out and back) but it made for a fun little challenge. The post-race eats were quite delicious including donuts, bagels, water bottles, granola bars, and coffee (my favorite part of local races). We even made it onto the local cable access channel (if you check around 3:14, 5:24, and 12:25 you may see a familiar face). This race was a lot of fun and I plan on doing it again next year.

For all of my full race recaps from 2012 and before, check out the "Previous Races" section of my blog.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Woes, Crossfit, and a 5k for Pepper

Last night we had our typical Thursday night run. Since I won't be doing my usual long weekend run due to our Blogger Brunch (#CRBHolidaze), I wanted to go a little longer. I didn't want to push it, but Maggie and I ran 6 miles. I wasn't even paying attention to our pace as we were deep in conversation. It really is great to have a running buddy, especially in the winter, for accountability and to help make things less boring.

Christmas is around the corner and I still have so much to do. This seems to happen every year, despite how much planning I try to do beforehand. Although, this year, I didn't get the chance to do much pre-planning. The tree is up, about half the presents are bought, and I still have a long ways to go. Oopsies. Part of the reason is that I don't know what to get folks. I often go the giftcard route if I can't decide, but I try to think of an actual gift first... And now it is also getting to be crunch time for the "free shipping" at various online retailers. And now I am anxiously awaiting several packages, hoping they arrive on time. Why do I always leave things to the last minute? My goal this year is to not have to shop on Christmas Eve. This usually ends up happening, but I'm going to try and avoid it this year, honestly. Are you a last minute shopper like me or do you get things done weeks (or days) in advance?

And I've finally decided to try Crossfit. (Although, I've heard that "You don't 'try' Crossfit. You either do it or you don't.") There is one by my house that is only $10 a try and I plan on going the week after Christmas. I could hate it (I think I might hate it) but I want to give it a try anyways (just to curb my curiosity, if anything else). If you have any tips for newbies, please let me know.

This winter I would like to have my little pup, Pepper, complete her first 5k. There have been a couple races where I've thought about it, but there ended up being not-so-great weather, dogs weren't allowed, or I wanted to PR and knew she couldn't keep up. Pepper was totally jealous of Waffles and Rex completing 5ks this past year, so we are in the search of a small, local, dog friendly 5k. If you know of one, please let me know! (If you're not sure if it is dog friendly, but it is a small and local race, I have no problems emailing the race director to ask.) :)

Goldendoodles think they are lapdogs.
I guess I help perpetuate this thought.
Since every post needs a photo, here is one of me with Pepper on my lap. Yes, she tries her darndest to sit on my lap and loves the extra pets and cuddles that ensue. I think she believes she is still the same size she was when she was a puppy. Obviously, that is not the case.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Treadmills, Potato Pancakes and Brunch Plans

Tuesday I got the chance to actually work out on the treadmill. I haven't run on a treadmill in awhile and I was reminded why I am not a fan of that device. I felt like I couldn't find a steady stride, and I kept getting static shocked from the "safety bar" whenever I would accidentally touch it. (I'm not sure if this is because my iPod earphones were rubbing against the bar or what.) Either way, it made for a very uncomfortable run. And, in true FWP form, the free wifi at the gym kept going in and out so I couldn't watch the old episode of The Office I was planning on. It was really annoying, but luckily I had some jams on my iPod I was still able to crank up. When you're out running by yourself, do you sometimes sing the words to the songs out-loud? Or am I the only one that does this? At the gym, I was mouthing the words, without saying anything out-loud and other folks around me probably thought I was a weirdo. It's alright, I was trying to have some fun while running on the treadmill. That can sometimes be hard to do. Lol.

Xaarlin (who blogs at Pain is Nothing) and I had made plans via Twitter to meet for lunch at the Chriskindlemarket in Chicago. Our first date was thwarted by rain so we rescheduled for yesterday. It was great to finally meet her in person (as it always seems to be when meeting fellow running bloggers). We chatted over some delicious potato pancakes, and oogled over all of the chocolate covered fruit and strudels while trying to restrain ourselves. We both bought some cool Christmas ornaments while talking a lot about or fur babies. I don't know what is up with me lately, but I didn't take a photo of the delicious food (I was too focused on eating it before it got cold). And then Xaarlin and I forgot to take a photo together too. I know, I don't know what I was thinking.

Tonight is our group run and I'm very much looking forward to it. Our group has grown quite exponentially lately and I think it has a lot to do with our consistency. Rain or shine, light or dark, snow or sunshine... we will be out there, at 6:30pm, regardless.
Here is our group from last Thursday (12/7/2012)... Love this group of folks!

This weekend, a bunch of Chicago Running Bloggers will be heading to Erin's house for a Christmas brunch after a fun run. The internets shall be aflutter with posts, Instagrams, and tweets of the event, you can probably count on it!  I'm having dreams of our Zooma weekend and I'm very much looking forward to it. We are doing a grab bag gift exchange too! It might even turn into a game of Yankee Swap so we shall see! There is also going to be a costume contest. I like dressing up so I'm going for the prize. I think I'm going to have some stiff competition though. We'll see who comes out with the win! If you're looking to follow the shenanigans checkout the hashtag #CRBholidaze to follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

Do you have anything planned this holiday season that you're really looking forward to??

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Random Tangent Tuesday

Now that the exam is over and my work life is back to a more regular schedule, I'm looking forward to my first real week "back." I seemed to have missed the unseasonably warm temperatures and I know I need to get used to running in the dark, frigid cold. The last 3 or 4 times I've brought my gym bag to the office, things have come up and I have not been able to go and workout. Today, I am vowing to get my run on, even if it is on the dreadmill.

Today The Clymb is having a deal on Oiselle clothes. If you have been wanting to try their stuff, this is a great chance to get something at a discount. Added plus, they arrive in time for Christmas (hint hint, to spouses).

I have a serious case of FWP today. I signed up for the Daily Mile Secret Santa and I can't decide what to get the person I've been assigned. I'm probably over-thinking it, but I just cannot decide what to get! I have to decide soon since the gifts need to be mailed out by Wednesday next week. Are you participating in the Daily Mile Secret Santa? Are you having the same issues as me?

And now, I'm going to be focused on training for the F^3 Half Marathon on January 26. I probably couldn't go out and run a half marathon this weekend, but I know I have plenty of time to get my fitness level where it needs to be. I am going to try to PR so we will see how that goes. Plenty of time, right? :)

Since every post needs a photo, here is a picture of Pepper, getting into the Christmas spirit. (If you follow me on Instagram, this is old news.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jingle Bell 5k Race Recap

I had signed up for this race awhile ago. Since my fitness has dropped off a bit in the past month, I knew a PR was out of the question. Instead, I wanted to have fun with this race. I had emailed the race director to see if dogs were allowed, in hopes of having Pepper complete her first 5k. They said dogs were not allowed (even though there ended up being more than 1 dog out on the course). I know Amanda has been doing some speedwork lately, so I had messaged her to see if she wanted me to help pace her to a PR. That didn't work out so well in February, but we decided to try it again this time.

On race day morning, it was freezing and rainy. Not really ideal racing conditions and I think we all thought about going back home and to bed. But we were all out there and ready to race anyways. This was a Christmas themed race and those are always my favorite! I drove to the race with my friend Kate S. and we met up with a bunch of other FN Runners when we got there.
Pre-Race photo with the FNRC
Can you spot the bloggers??

Race day packet pickup was easy and we got the chance to warm up in the gym while waiting for the race to start. Considering the weather, this was definitely a nice perk. I found Amanda and we headed towards the start line. There weren't pace signs but we made sure to start in front of the "competitive walkers" sign.

The gun went off and my Garmin was having trouble locating satellite and getting a pace. It was clocking us at a 16:00 mile to start, which was a bit nerve wracking. I tried to make sure we didn't waste too much energy weaving. I tried to stay in front as a guide, but I told her that I would do the weaving and to try to take the straightest path forward. As I am apparently not a great pacer, we took the first mile way too fast at 8:10. Oops! I'm blaming it on my Garmin. I looked at Amanda when I realized my error, but we slowed down a bit, once I had a better gauge of our pace. The second mile had a little bit of an uphill and there was a young boy who fought hard to not get passed by us. Lol. We passed him and I tried to gauge how Amanda was doing. Her previous PR was 27:55 (about a 9:00 pace). During the second mile, I could just tell that we were going to get that PR. Despite our first mile mistake, I could tell it hadn't taken too much out of her. Having paced Amanda during our previous race (and been with her during the final miles of a few marathons), I could just tell. I think I even told her that we had this. She was going to PR, I could just feel it. We clocked our 2nd mile at about 8:40. That was much more comfortable.
Thanks to a running group friend, we were able to get this SWEET action shot.
Look at that smile on Amanda's face! She know's what she's on pace to do. :)

For the last mile, I told Amanda that we wanted to try to pick off people as we were going along. Our goal would be to pass the person in front of us. This race was crowded enough to give that kind of motivation, but not too crowded. We passed some folks and I tried to give a range at how close we were to the finish. When we had a half mile left, I tried to continue to be motivational. (You know, typical "Kelly" energy, I guess you could call it.) We pushed towards the end. I told Amanda to "Go as fast as you can! But I know you probably already are!" Amanda admits to not having a kick so I was happy we took the 2nd half of the last mile a little quicker. The last mile was clocked at about 8:30. Amanda's Garmin finishing time was 26:12. (The race was gun timed so the official result was actually 26:22.) That is a PR by over a minute and a half. I was so happy for Amanda because I know she has working on this goal for over a year. I was so happy I could help her get there! :)
Post-Race photo... in all her PR glory! :)

I know we are all guilty of sometimes being too married to a pace that it holds you back. I'm kind of glad we took the first mile too fast. Amanda even said that her Garmin was clocking us at 8:10 and there was no way that could be right. It was right, lol.

After the race, we headed back to the gym, hung around and enjoyed the post race swag. There was soup, hot chocolate, pizza, Powerade, ClifBars, and cheese. I didn't try much of the food because we had planned to go out to breakfast afterwards. Quite a few folks in our running group got some awards (including a big PR and age group award for Maggie!) so it was definitely a great day for the club. After some cheering and photos it was time for breakfast.

In summary, I think this was a good race and I would probably do it again. I only wish it would I've been chip timed from the start. With so many people (about 400 participants), it definitely disadvantaged the average runner, who wouldn't start near the very front. The warming area and post race swag were some of the biggest perks.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sock Bun Vlog

Work is crazy busy this week so I haven't been able to do much running or blogging. (After taking a week off to study, I'm a week behind on everything else.)

And now, it is time for my first ever VLOG.

Wow, that was awkward. I still had fun doing it, even though it wasn't running related. Sock buns are really great for after a lunch time run at the office, or rainy days when your hair just doesn't want to cooperate. As I type this post, I am wearing one right now! It really is my new favorite hair style and I hope it never goes out of style!

I hope you enjoyed this vlog and maybe the next one will be running related... Maybe... (and hopefully less awkward, but let's not get our hopes too high...)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lady Problems (Not the Kind You're Thinking Of)

I recently added a new tab "famous runners" so I can keep track of the various running celebrities I've met over time. Although, I just had to add in the most famous person I've ever met, even though he's not a runner.

Growing up, I always wore tons of frilly girly stuff. Pink sweatshirts, bows in my hair, purple and turquoise jeans (hey, it was the 90s). Then, I got to a certain age and really grew out of the color pink. I'm not a fan of things pink and girly and you won't find much pink in my everyday wardrobe. The color doesn't really suit me, and I never think to buy it. (I always said that if I had a baby girl, she would never be in frilly dresses. Well, I have a female dog and she has just about everything pink so...)

When it comes to running clothes, apparently, I am in the minority. At the Chicago Marathon Expo, this was clear, as almost all of the running clothes in women's sizes (regardless of brand) were pink. I really don't understand this. Just because I'm a girl, doesn't mean I like the color pink. Give me navy blue, grey, green... These colors are rarely available in women's sizes, just in general. Is it just me? Am I alone in my thinking? Has anyone else noticed this? (I think the only pink item I own is my favorite running thing.)

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm totally on team purple.
Lavender Oiselle Lori Shorts
Purple ProCompression Marathon Socks
Brooks Adrenaline 12
Pepper Approved.
But as I've said before, variety is the spice of life! Since I won't do pink, purple is usually the next best "girly" option. I know there are plenty of females out there that love the color pink. I am just not one of them. I wish there were more companies that had a variety of colors for women. I think there are enough of us out there to support non-pink clothing.

What do you think? Do you love to wear pink? Do you wish women's running clothes came in more color varieties?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thank You!

Thank you for the support over the past few days/weeks/months as I have been studying for the big exam and haven't been around much. Special thanks to all my guest posters (Amy, Andrea, PauletteLisaMaggie, Amanda, and Nicole) that made things easier on me when I didn't have the time or energy to post. I'm happy to be back with the living in more ways than one.

Things on the running front have not been what they once were. I've been running a dismal 2 days a week for the past month. I knew this would happen, and I think my legs were happy for the break. I have a big 2013 planned, so I'm ready to start tuning things up again in December. I was happy I was able to at least get in a few miles here and there to help relieve some of the stress and anxiety along the way.

I am signed up for the Jingle Bell 5k in Kankakee next weekend. A huge group from our running club is going to be there and I'm looking forward to hanging out with everyone! I know I'm not going to PR so I offered to try and help my friend Amanda to a PR. We will see what the day brings, but I think she can do it. :) We all plan on wearing wacky Christmas sweaters and sparkle skirts to the race. I'm no stranger to wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, while running or in public.

What is the goofiest outfit you've ever worn to a race or group fun run?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Judgement Day

Tomorrow is exam day. 

This is how I will feel when I'm done.

Thanks for sticking around for the chaos these past few weeks! Things will be back to "normal" on Monday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guest Post - Run 3 Race Series

Resident fastie, Nicole Fritz, runs a lot of local races. There is a local series of races of various distances put on by the local park district. It is quite popular among local folks as you can sign up for all three races for 1 price.

Joliet Park District’s
Run3 Race Series

            Joliet Park District offers a great series of 3 races throughout the year.  All 3 races are held in or around Joliet, IL, which is approx 1 hour southwest of Chicago.  All 3 races are also located just a few miles off of Interstate 80, so they are also easy to get to.  The first race is held in the Spring, the second is in the Summer and the third and final race is held in the Fall.  For completing all 3 races, participants receive a fabulous hooded sweatshirt.  This year’s hoodie was a charcoal gray color and 2011’s was a basic black.  I wear both of mine ALL THE TIME.


Race #1: Rockdale Ramblin 10k

            The first race of the series is held in April in Rockdale, IL which is right off of exit 131 on I-80.  This 10k is declared the “toughest course in the Midwest” because of some major hills.  The weather was perfect though, with some chilly temps and overcast skies so the hills didn’t seem so bad (to me at least).

Pre race with some friends!  (Mag Mile Runner)

            During the race, I somehow forgot that this course was TOUGH and I wasn’t supposed to be running as fast as I was.  I was on track to cross the line with a PR if I just held onto my 7:15 pace…  Sure enough, I got to the finish line and my Dad snapped this pic of me…

Crossing the finish line with a shiny new 30 second PR! J

            At the completion of the 10k, finishers are awarded a “dog tag” as a token of their achievement.  That’s one of my favorite things about JPD’s races… there always have finisher’s medal’s! 

 Age Group awards with Mag Mile Runner

Notice the gray hoodie that I’m wearing in the above photo… this is the official race shirt for the 10k!!  Down the left sleeve is written “TOUGHEST 10k IN THE MIDWEST.”


Race #2: Sundowner 5k

            The 2nd race of the series is held in mid July, on a Thursday evening at 7pm.  For this years race, it was extremely hot and humid and race organizers encouraged participants to simply run for fun.  I listened to what they said and therefore finished with my worst 5k time in many years… because of this, I finished just out of contention for an age group award.  L 

The course itself for this race is very pretty.  It is basically just 2 loops through a pretty forest preserve.  There are a few rolling hills but nothing too challenging at all.

Basic white tech tee (unisex sizing)

 Finisher’s medal for a 5k?  Yes, please! J


Race #3: Red Eye 8k

The 3rd and final race of the run3 series is the Red Eye 8k.  Held on a Sunday in November, this race starts super early, at 7:15am.  It begins at Inwood Memorial Stadium on Jefferson Street in Joliet.  The course winds on streets, down a path, around St. Joseph’s hospital and then back to Inwood, where the finish is on the blue running track. 

Frankfort/New Lenox runners post race

 Age Group Awards

            JPD gives out age group awards for total time to complete all 3 races in their series.  I was lucky enough to earn first in my age group (25 – 29) and got to take home the pint glass in my right hand (above).  Also, I am wearing this years run3 sweatshirt in the above picture.

Run3 Goodies:
·         Rockdale Ramblin – Great quality gray hooded sweatshirt, finisher’s dog tag medal and yellow age group coaster
·         Sundowner 5k – White tech tee and finisher’s medal
·         Red Eye 8k – Black long sleeve tee shirt, finisher’s medal black age group coaster
·         Run3 series – Charcoal gray hooded sweatshirt and age group pint glass


More information can be found @  The dates for next year have already posted, so be sure to mark April 13th, July 18th and November 3rd  down on your calendar!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Post - Amanda @ Get To Goal

Today's guest blog post comes from Amanda! She may seem familiar as we've run together a few times over the past 1.5 years we've known each other (see slide show below). I hope you enjoy reading along! :)

Chicago Marathon 2012

Illinois Marathon 2012
Grand Rapids Marathon 2011

About me…

My name is Amanda and my blog is  I originally started my blog as a weight loss/healthy living blog while trying to lose the last 10 lbs of 90 lbs to get to my goal weight but since then, I realized there are goals throughout life so it fits no matter what circumstance I’m in.  It has since then turned more into a running blog. 

I never used to run growing up or in school.  I hated running the mile in gym class (which was the only running I did every year).  I have been working out since I was 11 years old though, doing fitness classes and at 16, my dad signed us all up at the gym.  I wasn’t too terribly active in school and hated sports (because I am just awful at them all).  I joined bowling for 3 years in high school because they needed people and I liked to bowl.  I was on the swim team my junior year (straight into varsity swimming!) because they needed people (we had only 3 people on varsity).  Both in bowling and in swimming during my first year, I was given the most improved award and my senior year of bowling I was given the MVP award.  I’m pretty proud of those awards because even though I wasn’t the best in the sport, I was the most reliable and I always tried my best (and I got the 110% award in swimming, lol).

Why do you like to run?
I like to run because it’s a huge challenge for me.  Whether I’m running 1 mile or 26.2 miles, there are many times I struggle or have self-doubts about it.  Nothing compares to the challenges I face, mentally and physically, while running.

Why did you start to run?
As I said, I never used to run.  My dad started running when I was a teenager and was doing 5k’s up to 10k’s.  Sometimes I would go for short runs with him but really don’t remember much of it.  He was faster and better so it wasn’t often.  When I was about 24 years old, I had a friend that was turning 30.  She wanted to run a 5k on her 30th birthday and asked me to do it with her.  I was overweight (well over 200 pounds) but decided to go ahead.  I never really trained.  I think we would go for a few runs every once in a while.  I ran my first 5k on September 20, 2003 in about 40 minutes.  I kept doing a couple races every year (the Shamrock Shuffle 8k and the Ridge Run 5k) even after my friend stopped.  In 2006, I decided to run a half marathon with a coworker (who was also not a runner).  If you notice, I just wrote that she was “also not a runner.”  I still didn’t consider myself a runner at this point even though I had been running for 2.5 years.  I never trained and would run maybe once a week if that, taking several weeks off at a time.  I struggled at my 5k’s and 8k’s.  I always walked within that first mile (or within a couple miles).  I ran alone and didn’t know anything about running or know anyone else that ran. 

My co-worker and I ran that half marathon together in August, 2006 (the Chicago Distance Classic, now called the Rock N’ Roll Half).  I really struggled after mile 6 and we just tried to have as much fun as possible.  I walked a lot.  I took pictures around mile 9.  And I started to cry when I crossed the finish line.  It was the hardest thing both physically and mentally I ever had to do.  I was exhausted and sore and swore up and down I would NEVER be ABLE to run a full marathon (nor did I want to).

It wasn’t until I started losing weight (and lost about 50-60 lbs) that my running improved.  This was in 2009.  Since 2003, I had been running races between 215-250 lbs.  I never gave up but I never got better.  In 2009, I was now less than 200 lbs.  I remember one day I went running, I picked a route that would be 3 miles out and 3 miles back (6 total).  I ran the whole thing.  From start to finish.  I wanted to cry.  I had never run that distance without stopping before.  I didn’t even realize I did it until I got home and thought about what I had just done.  That is the moment that I finally realized I was a runner.  This is not to say you are not a runner if you walk, or if you run 13 min miles, or whatever.  But for me, not knowing anyone in the running community, I never considered myself a runner until that moment. 

What is your favorite distance to race? 
I don’t have an answer to this.  I’ve read other people’s answers to this question and I think about it often.  I think I like the 10k to 15k distance the best.  Long enough to be a good challenge, but not too long.

What is your favorite race?
I’ve done the Shamrock Shuffle 8k every year except one since I started running (so since 2004).  At the time, it was the first major run of the year and everyone always has a good time there.  The energy of the runners is amazing and there are typically some great costumes.  Times have changed however and it’s not the first major run of the year and it’s hugely overcrowded but I still love it as one of my favorites.

Name 5 random facts about yourself 
1.       I used to bite my fingernails until I was in my mid-20’s
2.       I’ve been skydiving twice and love it!  I actually love a lot of extreme things which shock people because I’m a pretty shy and quiet person generally.
3.       I played the piano when I was younger and am a genius at Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…and I know the theme song from Cheers.
4.       I wanted to be an eye doctor when I was in high school.
5.       I can drive a stick shift car thanks to my mom teaching us to drive on hers (sort of stole this from Mag Mile Runner but it’s still true).

What is your favorite running temperature/weather condition? 
If you are a facebook friend of mine or a run friend (or lucky enough to be both), you probably know I HATE running in the cold weather.  But my ideal temp is 75, partly sunny with a slight lake breeze!  Ahhhhh!!!!

What is your most favorite piece of race swag? (Medal, shirt, belt buckle) 
I never used to run for the swag.  I don’t even know where my first 2 half marathon medals are!  So I’m not a huge swag person. I do like getting medals now though.

What is your biggest running accomplishment?
That’s easy, running the 2011 Chicago Marathon.  As I said before, I never thought I COULD run a full marathon.  I didn’t think I was physically able to do it.  Now I have 3 full marathons under my belt.  Never say never…

What is your next goal in running?
PR my darn 5k time!  I don’t consider myself a fast runner and I’m sitting on a PR of 27:55 from November 2010!  Time to change that.

What is something you want people to take away from this post?
Always believe in yourself and never give up.  It may be cliché but it’s true.  Nothing is impossible in the sport of running.  They say running is 90% mental, and I firmly believe that.  I ran a half marathon at about 230 lbs. I hear people say they can’t run until they lose weight.  That’s crap and I’m proof!   It’s ok to walk.  You don’t have to run straight through.  Just getting out there is an accomplishment.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Guest Post - Mag Mile Runner

Today's guest post comes from Maggie at Mag Mile Runner (again... thanks for 2 posts!!!) I am knee-deep in studying so I will not be back to posting until after December 1. I hope you enjoy!

What is your name and what is your blog (if applicable)?
I’m Maggie. My personal blog is, but I also manage and 
Why do you like to run?
So many reasons …
I enjoy my time spent running solo, it’s a good way to clear my head.
I enjoy running with others, new friends or running buddies I’ve known for awhile.
I like the benefits of running - I feel healthier than I have in a long time. I have more energy than ever. And I like being able to eat whatever I want.
I run because I want to keep pushing myself and see how far or fast I can go.
And I run because I don’t want to forget that I’m lucky to be able to run. I have two healthy legs, two healthy lungs, and a healthy heart. Not everyone does. So I don’t want to take that for granted.
What is your favorite distance to race?
I enjoy every distance! It’s fun to go fast at the 5-10K distance. Half marathons are fun because they are challenging, but attainable without taking over your whole life. I’ve only done one marathon so far, but it was such an awesome experience and so rewarding.
What is your favorite race?
I have done a lot of races that I really enjoyed, but so far no absolute favorite yet.
Even though it’s expensive, I like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half. It’s a fun, well done race, and you can get a lot of swag at the expo.
I like the “small town” half marathons that I’ve done - First Midwest Half in Palos Heights, IL, Sunburst Half in South Bend, IN, Applefest Half in Hollis, NH. All very well done races, and it’s nice to have “room” to run on a quiet course.
I really enjoyed the Rockdale Ramblin Run 10K (in Rockdale, IL). Small town race, lots of hills (which I actually enjoy, sort of), good crowd, you get a hoodie and “finishers medal” (dog tag), and it’s in mid-April, so good chance for weather.
Name 5 random facts about yourself
1. I’ve never dyed my hair and have no tattoos
2. I Facebook for a living (I work in online marketing)
3. I play the piano and the flute
4. I know how to drive stick
5. I didn’t run in high school, but I played volleyball and soccer and was on the dance team
Do you prefer cats or dogs and why?
Cats. I don’t know why. Cats are jerks. But growing up, I always wanted a cat, and my mom hated them, so I never got one. When I was an adult, I adopted a cat from my best friend. A couple years later, my husband and I moved in with my parents, and the cat came with. My mom, the cat hater? LOVES my cat. Anyway, I’m not sure what it is. I think cats are hilarious. And they are quiet, and easy pets - you can leave them alone overnight as long as you leave them enough food and water and a clean litter box. You don’t have to take them for walks. But there are still cuddly and rewarding. Although I would like to get a dog someday.
What sports or activities did you play when you were younger?
In addition to being on the  volleyball, soccer and dance teams in high school,  I also played flute in band and was on mathletes.  
What is your favorite running temperature/weather condition?
I really love running outside after it has snowed. It’s just so peaceful - most people are inside, and I feel like the snow on the ground “muffles” any noise. And it’s so pretty out - like you’re in your own winter wonderland. Also, I love running outside at night in December, when everyone’s Christmas lights are on.
Favorite workout tune of all time?
Lately, the only time I listen to music when I work out is during group exercise classes. Lady Gaga and LMFAO are great for spin class.
What is your most favorite piece of race swag? (Medal, shirt, belt buckle)
The Fort2Base pullovers. They are lightweight, quarterzip long sleeve shirts. Perfect for fall weather, but you won’t overheat. I have every shirt they’ve given out (the women’s light blue and men’s dark blue from 2011, and the women’s pink and men’s green from 2012) … maybe I can keep collecting all the shirts every year? It helps that my husband doesn’t wear his race shirts, so I order his in my size.
Proudest running moment?
Finishing my first half marathon. I didn’t really know what I was doing - my training was abysmal, I had no running group or buddy to train with, and no one to go to the race with. I woke up to rain the morning of the race, and seriously considered just skipping it. I didn’t, and I made it to mile 8 of the race, and felt like I couldn’t go on any further, so I mostly walked the last 5 miles. It was really hard. But I finished. And had no one I knew at the finish line to celebrate with, so I went home. I was really proud of myself afterward, and I’m still proud of myself, not just for making it to the finish and sticking it out to the end, but for even showing up at the start line. I feel like everyone needs a hard race to struggle through. It makes you a better runner. You realize 1) you can survive anything and 2) just how important it is to train properly.  
Ways to contact you:
Instagram - MagMileRunner